Stewart Butterfield and his company Tiny Speck have come out today with a game they boldly assert could be "the greatest game there ever was". The massively-multiplayer, Web-based Flash game was unveiled this morning and will be opening for private alpha testing soon.Flickr co-founder
While the game will not be fully open to the public until late in 2010, the current site not only gives us a preview of what Tiny Speck has been working on, but offers a way for you to keep track of what's new and sign up to be one of the game's testers.
What's Your GlitchFirst, let's get the name out of the way:
It's called Glitch because in the far-distant and totally-perfect future, the world starts becoming less and less probable, things fall apart, the center cannot hold, and there occurs what comes to be called the "glitch" -- a grave danger of disemprobablization.
We had a chance to talk with Butterfield this morning about what to look forward to and the game he described was certainly something different. Though he says they haven't determined the pricing structure and are now just halfway through development, the game will primarily be free, with additional features and in-game goods available for purchase.
Glitch, from the looks of the preview video, looks like a standard side-scroller game with a Flash look that will be appropriate for all ages. As the FAQ states, the only thing you'll be killing in this game is your time. Butterfield said that, from the beginning, they were looking at creating an "something that's non-violent, a little bit more absurd and surreal."
In The Minds of GiantsThe game, Butterfield told us, "takes place in the minds of these giants that are walking along and singing and humming the world into existence" - a reference to aboriginal myths of the world's creation. This backbone gives the whole game a flexibility that seems to be key, both in the experience of the game as well as the game-play itself.
"If you're in someone's imagination, even the rules can change to a certain extent based on location," Butterfield said, noting that games visual and aural design will change throughout.
Calling the game an "emerging collaborative situation," Butterfield said that the players would really create the game's dynamics as they went along.
"The social, economic and political structures that people evolve will change the direction of the game," he told us. "You can have a supply and demand economy."
But on it's most base level, the game is still a puzzle-based side-scroller, with some interesting new potential.
Where Will It Go?One of the things we're immediately wondering about is the connections with social media made available by a Web-based platform. Already, the public beta testing sign-up offers a connection with Facebook Connect. The brief FAQ on the site hints at the social nature of the game, reading "We'll make it easy for you to find [your friends]. And since it is all one big world, there are no worries about who is on what server."
This could be a big leap from other MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft, where you have to chose a server, only to later find out that half your friends are on this server, while half your friends are on different servers and you can't play together.
In addition to the potential for social interaction, such as tweeting your in-game location - one example offered by Butterfield - Glitch also provides an API that will allow for even more extra-game interaction and expandability.
For now, get there quick and sign up for private alpha testing, which starts soon. Public beta testing will begin this summer.