Monday, May 02, 2011
This Saturday I had more fun in a MMORPG than I had for the whole year yet: I was playing the early beta of Glitch. What is Glitch? Well, the devs call it "a web-based massively-multiplayer game which takes place inside the minds of eleven peculiarly imaginative Giants". I'd describe it as a 2D non-violent MMORPG. And while this is still an early version, and not even yet open all of the time, I guess the 2D non-violent MMORPG part is going to stay. This is a very different game from classic MMORPGs, or as the devs say: "What's different? For starters, it's all one big world. Which means everyone is playing the same game and anyone's actions have the ability to affect every other player in the game. It also involves very little war, moats, spaceships, wizards, mafiosos, or people with implausibly large muscles."
If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say that most of you never played a MMORPG which doesn't have combat. But then again all that MMORPG combat you know doesn't really involve fighting; you just click on things or press keys. So I hope you believe me that clicking on things and pressing keys is also perfectly possible in a virtual world without combat. And what a world that is! 2D side-scrolling, yes, so don't expect photorealistic animations and textures. But those photorealistic animations and textures usually cost hundreds of millions, and then the investors want "something like WoW". So Tiny Speck, a small company, wisely decided to rather make a game with a lower budget (still several millions), and rather put that budget into developing an interesting world and good gameplay instead of top-notch graphics. So the world is big, full of creativity, open (there are no instances), and dynamic, with the players able to change things in the world.
But Glitch isn't just some "social" virtual world, there is a real MMORPG gameplay in there. You have levels, a skill system, and quests which are about teaching you about the many different activities in the game, and not repetitive "kill 10 foozles" affairs. Gameplay revolves around activities that consume energy, like gathering and crafting, and then getting that energy back by eating. But to eat, you need to get food first, and that involves farming, gathering, and cooking. There is a whole skill-tree just about making food! Glitch even has player housing, so one early big step forward in food procurement is getting a house with your own little "Farmville" garden in the back. But that is just one of many different gameplay activities. Don't let the cute, family-friendly look fool you: Glitch is actually quite a complex game; well, I guess you could just run around and explore if you feel like it, but if you want to get anything done, there is a lot of planning and optimization involved. The trailer on the Glitch homepage gives you a first idea on how many skills and recipes and activities there are.
As I said, Glitch is still in closed beta, with a release "sometime this summer", although that is the sort of flexible release date announcement which I wouldn't bet on. But when it will be out, it will be Free2Play, but with an item shops in which you can't "buy win". There are various clothing and outfits for sale, and the only non-fluff shop item rumored to be in development is teleportation tokens. There will also be premium accounts with a subscription with access to yet more fluff, if you prefer that method of payment.
I played all Saturday, and made it to a first house, and level 13. Now I'm really looking forward to be able to play again, at the next test session. The game already runs very well, but the devs are adding lots of new features all the time. If you want to check it out for yourself, right now the only thing you can do is sign up for the beta. Or wait for open beta and release. I'll keep you posted.