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Flickr Co-Founder Developing Experimental MMO in Giants' Brains

| 24 Nov 2010 14:52

The minds behind Flickr are currently working on a new kind of social MMO where users create the world in a giant's imagination.

After selling Flickr to Yahoo, a few years later co-founder Stewart Butterfield and three other Flickr team members decided to form a game development company called Tiny Speck. Tiny Speck hopes to change everything we know about social gaming with Glitch, an MMO that the company calls a "next-generation social game."

Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield spoke to VentureBeat about the project which is planned to launch next year, and despite everyone and their mother saying they'll change the social games space these days, Butterfield might actually be able to do it. Glitch's alpha trailer, shown here, makes me want to yell: "I get it, you're in the giants' thoughts," but the ideas behind the game sound intriguing.

Glitch is a side-scrolling web-based MMO that takes place in 11 giants' thoughts. Every single player exists in the same world. Users will be able to develop new locations through missions and collaborative multiplayer quests, though they don't create art assets as with Second Life just yet. When a new area in the world is unlocked, players choose the direction they want it to take. Each area must be balanced against the players' desires and the necessity to protect it from attackers like the Rook, an evil crow that can warp the environment. Players apparently don't directly fight against the Rook, but heal the damage it does with alchemy and other methods instead.

Butterfield says that Tiny Speck wants Glitch to "develop a longer-term relationship with the player" than other titles like FarmVille. The fact that every player is in the same place is allowing the studio to add "cool features that other people haven't done before." It'll have both the traditional free-to-play payment model, with users purchasing virtual decorations and clothing, but also a subscription plan for premium features and other experimental revenue generation features. For example, Butterfield says players might be able to purchase an in-game billboard to advertise their in-game business or to get people to join their "cult."

The premise of Glitch is to get it on as many platforms as possible. It won't be a Facebook game and might not launch on Facebook at all. Tiny Speck is aiming to get players engaged in the game through both the web and portable platforms like the iPhone with mini-games that might provide unlocks in the larger game. The goal is "deeper engagement and retention," Butterfield says.

With Glitch, there certainly seems to be a big effort over at Tiny Speck to change what we know about social games. You can't make smoothies in FarmVille, I know that, so Glitch has at least something going for it already. Glitch is currently in its alpha stage and should enter beta next year. It's planned for launch sometime in spring 2011. For more information, check out the game's website here

Source: VentureBeat

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