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Monday, October 17, 2011

Glitch review


Glitch is one of those games that I would never have seen myself playing, the way I can't see myself ever playing Farmville. I heard about it by chance and seeing that it's a freemium MMO, I decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, I liked it a lot. It may not be as complex or involving as World of Warcraft but it has surprising depth.

At first impression, Glitch may look like a children's game, all done in Flash and with those cute and colorful graphics. Don't make that mistake because it is not. Even their FAQ specifies that you need to be minimum 14 to play and children between 14 and 17 need a parent's permission.

So what the heck is Glitch? First, Glitch is a browser based game made in Flash. Second, it's a weird sort of hybrid between an adventure game, a platform game and an MMO, or a cross between Farmville, Mario and World of Warcraft if you will, except that there's absolutely no violence in it (or at least none that I have discovered so far). Glitch is essentially billed as a "social" game, in that it actively encourages players to interact with each other and help one another. I'll get more into that later.

Glitch takes place in the strange realm of Ur, which is a world that exists only in the collective dream of 11 giants. If the premise seems fantastical, that's because it is. Throughout the game you'll come across numerous picturesque and so-very-strange landscapes, a world that only a fictional giant could dream. In the game, you play the role of a "glitch" which is essentially a denizen of this uncanny place.



You navigate the game by moving left or right, jumping up or down, just like in a platform game. The world is made up of various zones which usually share a common theme. You can view each zone as being the product of one giant's imagination. Apparently even the artists who designed them are different, so the graphic styles also differ from zone to zone.


Zones are further divided into streets with wacky names. All the action takes place on these streets. You explore the world by moving from street to street and zone to zone. Streets in the same zone share the same basic art style but zones vary from a desert setting to forests, highlands, bogs, a wintery place or two and other places which are very hard to define.


The goal in Glitch is to... Actually there is no goal and there is no end game. At least not like in games such as WoW. It's a sandbox game in that you are free to do whatever you want. As you first start the game, a short tutorial guides your steps until you start getting the hang of a few basic actions but from there on you are free to explore and advance at your own pace and in your own style.


Stats

A Glitch character does not have classic attributes like Strength, Intelligence and so on, but (s)he has a thing called "metabolics" which is a collection of several vital stats. These are Mood, Energy, Experience (and level) and Currants.

Before starting a new character you are given the option of customizing his/her appearance but this can be changed later at any point.


Mood is gained by performing various actions and it measures your general happiness. If you are happier you gain more XP and lose less energy. If you are not, the opposite happens. In my time playing Glitch I never had to worry about Mood. Since I perform a lot more actions which increase Mood than decrease it, I'm always extremely happy.


Energy is the most bothersome thing so far and that's because every action that you perform requires energy. In other games this is called "health" and when it drops to zero, you die. It's much harder to regain energy than it is to spend it, especially considering that energy slowly drains away even when you aren't doing anything. You can replenish it by eating, meditating and you get some of it back by completing quests. At the end of a game day (4 real-time hours) your energy will also be topped off.


Experience is generally gained by performing actions and completing quests. "Performing actions" includes a wide variety of things but I'll get into some of them later on. As you gain new levels your maximum energy and mood levels increase. That's good because you can perform more actions with one "fill up" as you level up. From what I can tell so far, there are no limits on how many levels you can have. I heard of a player reaching level 101 in the beta but I imagine that is very hard to accomplish with casual play.


Currants represents the game's currency. Think of it as "credits" or "gold" or "dollars". You gain credits in many ways: by completing quests, by selling items to vendors, by finding coins (just like in a platform game) or by selling stuff on the auction house. I will refer to them as "credits" henceforth, to prevent confusion.


Pet Rock

Your constant companion during your stay in Ur is a magic rock that you can access from the top of your gaming window. This rock gives you quests but more importantly learns skills for you.



Activities & Socializing

So what is there to do in Glitch? Lots of things. For starters, there's the exploration aspect. Initially you'll probably be overwhelmed by the plethora of streets and zones but all this is made easy with the help of a map and a "GPS mode" in which you can click on a destination and the game gives you turn-by-turn directions.



There are many strange and weird activities that you can engage in. You can, for example, pet and water trees for a boost to morale and XP but at the cost of energy. You can pet piggies which subsequently allow you to "nibble" them, giving you meat. You can hug chicken which gives you grain. You can massage butterflies with lotion, after which they allow you to milk them for, you guessed it, butterfly milk. Then you shake that milk transforming it into butter. Compressing it renders cheese. You can turn these various ingredients into food by using the correct tools (such as a Cutting Board or a Frying Pan). To use tools you also typically require the appropriate skill. But more on that later.

The same weird universe which makes chicken give you grain, also provides Egg Plant which are a type of tree which, when harvested, gives eggs. You can use your skills and the appropriate tool to transmute cherries into all kinds of fruit. You can also mine 4 different types of ore (which has further uses). Here's where a very nice social aspect of the game comes in. Mining is similar to WoW. A mineral node has several "charges" which you deplete by mining the node with your pick. Each charge takes about 10 seconds and yields a number of ores plus, occasionally, a precious gem. One or more players can also mine the same node, which depletes it quickly but gives each player a bonus based on how many people are mining the node at the same time. This is really cool because once a node is depleted, another one spawns nearby within a short period of time. So not only is "ninja-ing" permitted but it is actively encouraged and highly recommended.



I don't really socialize a lot in MMOs, as you all know, unless I need help with something. The Glitch community seems very helpful indeed. Just ask in general chat and someone is bound to help you. One instance where I needed help was when a quest required me to borrow a tool from another player. I needed another repair tool to repair my own repair tool. I know, recursive, right? At low levels those tools aren't exactly cheap so it takes a measure of trust to just hand that item to another player. Yet, that's exactly what happened: a guy offered to help me and we both got our stuff repaired.

That's about as far as I got with socializing but it feels like a very helpful and nice community. But then again, there aren't many ways in which to grief players. The only things which seem to deplete are mineral nodes (where you are rewarded for sharing with others) and coins which you grab by touching them, but coins respawn quickly anyway. (BTW, coins can give you energy, mood, credits and favor with the giants). Stuff that can be harvested, such as the various trees and animals, yields mats for each player separately so there's no fighting over resources. Typically resources from trees and animals can be harvested once a (game) day. Speaking of which...


How time flows in Glitch

In Glitch, one game day is the equivalent of 4 real-time hours. Moving to a new day does several things: it fills up your energy levels, it resets resources on trees and animals (though resources seem to replenish more often than that but it bears testing) and it resets your quota for various actions. For example, you are only allowed to collect a certain number of coins in a game day.

Days are grouped into months but what strage months they are! The shortest (Recurse) has only 1 day, while the longest (Fever) has 73 days. And their names are, well, judge for yourself. I lol @ them all the time.


Inventory

You start up with 16 item slots. Each slot can hold a bag, while bags can have 10 to 16 slots. This gives you a maximum of 256 item slots which is quite a lot.


Skills

Skills are what gives even more depth to Glitch. They are a collection of passives and actives and essentially open up the world to you. While at the beginning you might be limited in what you can do in the world, learning a skill or three starts to open your horizons. You can cook a myriad different recipes, plant and harvest your own crops, grow your own farm animals, buy your own house (more on that later), mine, teleport, dabble in alchemy and engineering and loads of other stuff. The devs also add new skills in time.

Remember the pet rock? The skills in Glitch are learned one at a time but the rock does all the learning for you, in real time. Level 1 of a skill might take, say, 10 minutes. The next level might take 35, the next 2 hours, the next 8 hours while the last one can take a few days. The cool thing is that you can play the game or logout during the time a skill is being learned because the rock does the learning for you! You can even check on your progress from the browser window, without entering the game world. While it is perfectly possible to learn all the skills in the game, it's all a matter of time. The more skills you learn, the longer it takes for subsequent skills to be learned. For example, if skill A can be learned in 1 hour with 0 total skills learned, the same skill might take 1 day with 30 skills learned. But then there's a skill called Better Learning (which has 5 levels) which increases the number of total skills you can learn before receiving a time penalty. So far, the longest skill I've had to learn took me over 4 days. But that's ok because at this point I have learned over 35 skills which allow me to do almost everything in game, albeit not efficiently all the time.





Housing

Glitch is one of those few MMOs which provide housing for players. This is done via instanced housing districts. There are districts scattered throughout the different zones and each district has a certain type of house. Some are cute cottages, others are tree houses, others are apartments in highrises, some are underground hovels while yet others are sprawling mansions. Homes range in price from 1500 credits to 50,000 credits. For my first home, bought around level 11 or so, I paid 4000. It's located in a mountainous area, with living quarters underground and a garden topside.

Houses offer several things. First, there's a storage area with additional slots which varies depending on the price of the home. Then there's a trophy case, which apparently displays your "trophies" on a shelf but I still have to find a use for that.



Then, each house has at least a small garden plot, as well as patches where you can plant trees. This means that you can plant, tend and harvest crops in the privacy of your own home. You can also keep animals and there's a whole system for collecting meat and milk from them automatically, which I have yet to explore.




Achievements

Glitch has a zillion achievements associated with all the actions you might perform in the game. The fun thing is that thresholds are seemingly random. For example you might get an achievement for petting 111 trees, or for milking 87 butterflies. So there's no round number like 100, 1000 and so on. Achievements are not meaningless either: they all give you experience and favor so it's both fun and practical to reach a new milestone.



Favor and the gods

The "gods" in glitch are represented by the 11 giants. They each have shrines spread out randomly on streets, one shrine per street. You can build favor (or reputation) with the giants by donating items to their shrines, by completing quests and through various other means. I won't go into many details why it's important to cultivate favor with this guys, suffice to say that it's worth it. One good reason is that each skill is associated with a primary giant and two secondary giants. You can't progress past a certain skill level if you don't build up favor sufficiently with the patron giant.



Trading and auction house

Like in most MMOs, trading can be done directly by handing an item to another player, through an in-game mail system and via an auction house. I haven't done a lot of person-to-person trading but I have used the auction house to buy, but mostly to sell stuff. It works well and it has a "live search" function where it narrows down results as you type something. Furthermore, it groups results based on the items which match your query and then you can drill into the specific item where you can see the price per unit as well as the price per stack.




Death

Death in Glitch occurs when you run out of energy. That's why you need to keep an eye on your energy level. Still, death is very forgiving. You end up in Purgatory where you have to squash grapes a few times until "they" let out. If you use the keyboard to do this, instead of the mouse, it's just a matter of hitting Enter over and over again (thanks to the context-sensitive menus) while moving over the grapes. When you get revived you get about 15 energy so you won't last long if you don't eat immediately.


Other stuff

From what I understand, the world is not static. New zones and streets are continued to be built, by the players themselves. There are communal events where players can contribute mats to build a new street. This is akin to the opening of the gates of AQ in WoW.

One particular street is winter-themed. The temperature is so low that your energy (essentially your life force) drops continually while there. I had to go there for a quest and it provided a frantic change of pace.

There are random events which award you with random items, as well as keys that you can find which unlock special areas filled with goodies. I have found a few keys but have yet to visit one of those areas.



My goals

I have a few simple goals that I wish to achieve. I continue to learn new skills even though it's becoming increasingly difficult. I aim to learn every skill that is useful to me. Then, I want to make enough credits to buy the most expensive home (50,000). I currently have over 20,000 credits at level 17. After that? I don't know but I'm sure I'll find stuff to do.


Conclusion

There are many aspects of Glitch that I have omitted or haven't discovered yet. Sometimes I get bored with the game and take a few days off. It doesn't matter because I can keep learning my skills while I'm away.

I haven't even discussed the paid portion of the game. As far as I'm concerned I don't find any use for any of the stuff offered by paying. You get more character customization options, including cosmetic stuff that you can buy, as well as teleportation tokens which allow you to teleport anywhere in the world but I'm happy the way things are without paying.

One thing that annoys me a little is the energy issue. Almost everything you do eats your energy. To replenish it you need to eat. To eat, you need to cook (which uses energy) stuff that you have gathered (which uses energy) or buy food (with credits obtained from other activities which require energy). Even this problem is beginning to fade as I gain levels and learn new skills. That's because upgraded skills allow me to perform various actions at a lower energy cost, while gaining levels gives me a bigger energy pool (which gets replenished daily or when I level up again).

While Glitch might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's a refreshing (and non-violent) change from games such as WoW or World of Tanks. I started skeptical but soon grew to love it. I highly recommend it.

9 comments:

Loque said...

Hehehehh welcome to the "Social-flash-facebook-like" games, Darth. Ncie review, but I'll be honest: I did not really understand what's Glitch. Apart from being a sandbox, of course.

Now... if you enjoy this kind of stuff I strongly sugest you to experimento "Adventure World" on Facebook. It's nice and well done.

I'm currently on Titan Quest and I'll be on Torchlight 2 as soon as it hits the stores.

My hopes for Diablo III are reduced to zero, to be honest. Reading the official forums makes me cry: developers keep saying they are still overhauling "core" things such as runes and classes.

Darth Solo said...

Well, you're gonna have to try Glitch, because it's hard to pigeon-hole into a certain genre. It's a social game with platform and RPG elements. Hey, try it for an hour and if you don't like it, you won't lose anything.

As for Facebook games, sorry but I don't use FB and hopefully never will. Although, truth be told, I did create a fake account but only so I could sign up for a sweepstakes. Even then, FB started asking me for personal details (such as a valid phone number) which I won't be giving them. One of the biggest strengths of the Internet is the ability to stay anonymous. FB nullifies that.

I really hope Torchlight 2 will have a demo so I can get a feel for it. I didn't like the first one but if #2 feels good, I'll buy it to pass the time unti D3.

As for D3, it's ok. I can wait a few more months. I just hope they can release a perfect game. If not, there are always patches...

Loque said...

I already tried Glitch the day it came out, I was very curious indeed!

As for being anonymous, just use your fake account and fill it with fake stuff, no one will care (unless you get reported for a very specific reason). You don't need to provide phone number and real address to be online.

FB games are good. Not all of them, but some are worth a try. Cityville and Adventure World are good examples.

TheGrumpyElf said...

I've been playing since release myself and must say I love it. It is different from anything I play and I like that about it.

I am not a farmville/facebook person, do not even have a facebook account, but I can surely see how games like this could be a fun way to pass the time.

I describe it to my friends as a silly waste of time that really has no reason for being, and it is great.

Not sure if I will continue playing after I get to max level, which should be in about another 2 weeks (near the top of the pack as is), but for the time being I am playing and it is fun.

Hope they add something to the game for players like me, the ones that are not there for a social aspect. But even if they don't it is a very good game I would suggest to anyone, even more so to people that like facebook type games.

Darth Solo said...

@Loque - I can't even get into FB anymore. Here's what I get when I try to log in:

"Use a phone to verify your account

The phone number you use can only verify one account. Once you enter your number, you'll receive a code that you'll be able to enter on Facebook to verify your account. Your phone number will only be used to verify your account and will not be shared with anyone without your consent."

It must be a new thing. None of people I've asked have heard about this.

@TheGrumpyElf - I shudder at the thought of playing Farmwille. Yet, I can't help but feel that Glitch does have some Farmville elements, particularly the gardening/livestock aspect.

What is max level? I'm wondering what I'll do after I buy my expensive house, which should come pretty quick, since I already have 40K credits.

TheGrumpyElf said...

Max level is 60.

Do not buy the 50K ones, get one of the new ones they are releasing soon in groddle meadow for 15K. (might need to refresh a lot to find one, thy are really hard to get) The 15K houses rock and I think are much better than the 50K ones.

I am in a 15K house even if I have over 200K already. Have not even entertained the idea of a 50K house. Why? Less trees and more plots? I don't want to spend the whole game day tending to plots. I like having my trees. Just my opinion at least.

Darth Solo said...

I read a piece about a girl who reached level 101 and I think that was in the beta. Is that even possible?

Hmm you might be right about the houses... although tending plots isn't that bad and with my high skill levels I'm starting to get good rewards from them. Have they introduced the new houses yet?

TheGrumpyElf said...

They must have, my place had 6 blocks on it and now has something like 36, so that means they added 30 blocks worth of houses between when I posted and when I logged in this morning at some point.

Yeah, I read the 101 as well, that was beta, but so is this. If you hover over your level it will tell you xx/60. While I might be wrong, that means you are current/max. Hence the reason I think it is 60.

Darth Solo said...

Guess what? I bought my 15K house. I scanned the housing market and there were the new houses!

These new ones are great! 36 storage slots, 5 patches and 16 plots! Awesome.