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MMObility: Glitch's new updates stretch players' imaginations


When Tiny Speck, maker of the wonderfully odd browser-based sandbox Glitch, announced that it would be taking the game back to a beta state in order to retool many of the game's most essential systems, I was skeptical. Heck, I've remained skeptical. I stopped streaming the game due to time constraints but continued to log in and enjoy it. More specifically, I didn't feel like continuing to stream it until the new releases were officially released. I tend to enjoy betas but want to hold back my opinions until games are actually open, and this return to beta made me feel the same way.

Lately, however, the changes being tested and implemented into the game have just been too cool to stay hushed about. Housing is receiving wonderful, wonderful updates that will allow for complete creative freedom that is rarely seen in MMO housing. The UI is transforming as well, and new skills and creatures are being introduced.

Beta or not, there is some crazy-cool stuff going on in the land of Ur. In fact, check out these brand new patch notes!

Glitch screenshot
Let's talk about the housing changes first. Houses in Glitch have always been pretty cool, but they were essentially a place to hang out and grow plants and animals. I found my house to be quite bland after a while mainly because nothing changed, ever. I couldn't put my signature on the place even though I spent a large number of currants, the in-game monetary unit, on it. I found myself logging into my home only to gather pig meat and butterfly milk to sell on the market.

"Players will be able to add new levels to their houses, meaning more vertical room for more stuff. Furniture, chairs, tables, shelving units and many other common household decorations can be upgraded and changed."

The new changes will completely change everything there is about housing currently. Players will be able to add new levels to their houses, meaning more vertical room for placing more stuff. Furniture, chairs, tables, shelving units and many other common household decorations can be upgraded and changed. On top of that, players will be able to drag items from their inventories into their houses. That means that if I find a cool piece of fluff or a box, I can drag it into my house, and there it will remain until I pick it up. Placing an inventory item removes it from the player's inventory, which opens up more storage for players. Storage and organization has been quite the hassle in Glitch for some time, so being able to stack music boxes or arrange food items in a display is awesome.

I can picture entire floors dedicated to crafting, cooking, art, or player-made displays. There are very few MMOs I can think of that have allowed for this amount of creativity. Free Realms is pretty good about giving players the ability to build entire themeparks out of their lots. The only other titles coming to mind that allowed players to literally drag items from their inventories would be Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. We also have sandboxes like Second Life that allow this as well, but it's easy to argue that games like that are not games but living worlds. There is a difference between a world like Linden Lab's and one that has a set of rules and a background of lore like Glitch.

Players can also change the size of their housing plots, switch out the themes and settings, and even cultivate their land to include garden plots, mining nodes, and firefly hives! Does this mean players will never leave their houses? I don't think so, but it does encourage players to use their houses for much, much more than storage for piggy plops and a dozen garden plots. There are many more changes, but let's switch topics to iMG, or imagination.

Glitch screenshot
In earlier versions of Glitch, players finished quests and gathered items to gain experience. As they gained, they also raised in level. Really, it felt a bit pointless to me. If I was only growing in level to continue growing in level until my head hit the level cap, what's my inspiration? For so many years, players have been grinding dungeons or roleplaying to put some zing in their gameplay. Grinding after levels is boring. Tiny Speck has noticed this and decided to switch out levels for imagination. The imagination I have saved up can be used to customize my character further. I can spend it on housing changes or cards that adjust how I perform in the game.

Let me reiterate something I've said many times before: If there is one thing a game can do to make money, it's sell customization. Allowing players to buy or grind their way to a unique character is almost always seen as harmless because all it does is make for more variety in the game world. The brilliant thing is that I have never met a player who would rather have a generic character. Everyone would like to stand out or to be unique, somehow, either by being the toughest damage-dealer or the best-dressed. If I grind away on missions or gardening in Glitch now, it is actually going to make a difference to my character.

At this point in my gaming life, I really don't care about being the best or the toughest. It's hard to say that I ever wanted to be those. But I have always wanted to be unique. Even as a kid I would try my hardest to stick out and to be different. Once I got into gaming, specifically MMO gaming, I wanted nothing more than to make a unique character. Now, thanks to what I have seen so far in these new changes to the world of Ur, I can successfully stick out even in a world of oddities. There are fewer and fewer games that allow for such freedom, so I welcome the chance.

Hopefully by the time you read this, the servers will have reopened. In that case, you can find me in my in-game house. I'll be busy crafting a custom art gallery.

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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