Glitch: Another One Bites The Dust

No time for long commentary.

Just goes to show, ultimately, big games are still a business.

Commercial viability to keep the company going is still important.

On a personal level, it doesn’t pay off to be too heartily invested into any one game.

Circumstances may change beyond control.

There’s always another game.

Gamer cred can stretch through multiple games.

For what it’s worth, I played Glitch from time to time.

A lot of that time was just “playing” or checking on the offline skill progress bar now and then to watch it increment like a long-term version of Progress Quest. Never found much reason to keep busyworking hamster wheel “speeding” up the time to skill up. Still got there in the end.

Lots of Glitch was a busywork achievement hamster wheel for item, for goals, for achievements.

Still whimsical fun, ‘long as one recognizes it for what it was. Something to pass the time with. Be entertained by.

Lots of their zone design was very creative and unique. Aesthetically pleasing, quirky, playful music, cute stories, some platforming and puzzle jumping fun. Throw in crafting and collecting and farming style activities, low pressure, sandboxy but with guided progression at the beginning.

Nice of them to offer refunds back. They really did a lot of things right as a company (morally and design-wise) – except where financial stuff was concerned, I guess.

They had an optional cash shop for clothing and customization and what-not. I was always under the impression that it was working for them, that they had monthly subscribers and enough people paying for credits to keep them going – given the amount of people I see around with oodles of customised clothing and houses and towers and things.

Guess it wasn’t enough.

I’d always managed to play it for free and settle for being less fancy, until I decided on a whim one day I wanted to look nice and wear a top hat and look like an English gentleman. Then I just spent 3 bucks and played dressup to amuse myself. Don’t begrudge ’em that sum at all.

Perhaps it might have been enough for a smaller sized firm, but I guess keeping Glitch going requires too much manpower with too little income.

So long, Glitch. It’s been swell.

Glitch: The Dangers of Self-Righteous Groupthink

Today, I witnessed a mob in Glitch.

No, not an NPC mob(ile), but a lynch mob.

Figuratively speaking anyway, before someone comes down on me for being disrespectful of true lynchings where people lost their lives. But as in bullying or mobbing as defined by Wikipedia, verbally, over the public Global channel.

And shamefully, directed at a self-professed kid.

It all started when some Glitch player came onto Global, asking if anyone could give them some items. (Aha! Begging behavior, any MMO player probably has Kid Alert bells ringing by now.)

Somehow as multiple conversations were going on at the same time, that same Glitch player, in the course of joining in the conversation and attempting to brag a little (BEEP! Kid alert, arrogant bragging!) revealed themselves to be just under the legal age for Glitch. (Glitch’s Terms of Service unequivocally deny anyone under 14 years of age from playing the browser MMO.)

The multiple conversations were immediately derailed as a couple of established Glitchen jumped on the fact of that player’s age, lol’ed and jeered a little, told him about the TOS violation, and over the course of 10 minutes or so, declared they were reporting him, brandished it around like a threat, yelled at him to log off, spoke about him as if he wasn’t there, “watched” him stay online (the term “stalking” comes to mind, but that might be a little extreme), told him that they were watching him stay online, and demanded he log off right this instance.

In fact, one or two went as far as to switch over to the Live Help channel to see if any Staff were present so they could tattle about him to them.

Faced with that sort of harassment, the poor kid eventually gave in and did as he was told.

I can’t help but feel sorry for him.

Perhaps I should have said something at the time, but it’s always been my habit to stay silent and off any group chat channels, I prefer to watch from afar like a cultural anthropologist. Putting in my input there and then would disrupt the social phenomenon *wry grin*.

I was heartily tempted to send the guy a private tell to ask him not to take the harsh words and “outcasting” to heart, but I admit it, I was afraid for my own toon.

Because hell, I’d know what I would have done at that age of 13, just shy two months of 14 (or so he claimed.) Log off that character and make a new one and come right back and this time, shut the fuck up so that any self-righteous bastards wouldn’t have a clue. Very very tempted to tell him this, but you know, this stuff could be logged and monitored like probably all chat channels are in an MMO, and theoretically, he was indeed in the wrong for breaking the TOS, and I didn’t want my toon (with lots of time invested in it) associated with any of the uproar.

(Out of ignorance, no doubt, who reads those TOSes anyway, right?)

And because I’m also afraid of needy kids. You know the kind, show them a bit of kindness and leeway and they’ve stuck on you like a leech, begging you to “help” them with… everything.

Despite all that though, I don’t think it excuses the behavior of those players who essentially lynched the poor chap off the game.

I wonder what kind of impression he would have left with, regarding the players of said game.

Part of my empathy, I guess, is because I faced similar abuse from an A Tale in the Desert player once when I had just started messing about with the beta on a trial account. No, I wasn’t underage, but a trial account has connotations of ‘noobness’ and a veteran player got very mad at an ignorant faux pas of mine (I built a compound too near to theirs, but it looked pretty far to me at the time) and pretty much chased me off their land with a verbal shotgun and made me feel very very unwelcome. Gee, if this was the kind of insular reception new players got, I told myself, they could take their silly old game and stuff it. (It wasn’t, and I eventually tried again elsewhere, with a different name and account, but I was /this/ close to walking off for good.)

And part of me can’t help but think about the other MMOs I’ve played and how more accepting other players are of kids in their game. On my old MUD, one of my best friends and guildmates was a mom who’d let her 8-year old son play from time to time. She’d let us know, oh, he’s on my char now, and we’d take care not to say overly adult stuff on our chat channels, watch him zip erratically from place to place with good humor, and as he got older, 11-12-ish, even praise him to the high heavens when he’d sit and take over for his mom on the equivalent of a raid. He basically just needed to watch his hp and hit a ‘heal’ macro to keep his character alive and hit another skill to do damage – he did pretty good, actually. I’ve never played World of Warcraft to such a hardcore extent, but I’m willing to wager that similar things happen there.

In City of Heroes, you could sometimes tell that you were playing with an underage kid (beyond just suspecting it based on their behavior and typing/speech patterns.) Once or twice, I’ve seen weirdly hopping characters just bounding around shooting grey con mobs and moving in erratic fashion, and on their bios would be a notification, like “This is an X years of age kid playing, all his tells are turned off, he will not respond, etc” and you just grin and leave ’em alone – or you watch for a while because it’s obvious they’re having such unadulterated glee and fun and it’s so refreshing to see. Or you get the parent who tells you outright that they’re letting the kid steer for a while in missions, no one I’ve teamed with has minded, a couple good players can easily cover for one or two less-than-optimal performers, etc.

Then there’s the “Is this really an issue?” issue. I don’t remember precisely, but when I was 13, I’m almost sure I was off dialing into free BBSes unsupervised and playing door games.  Like urm, Legend of the Red Dragon, which, hem, included the opportunity to flirt, marry and have sex with certain NPCs. Of course, I was smart (and paranoid) enough to know not to reveal any personal information, be it age or home address, to anyone.

Which, given the ubiquity of social media sharing these days and the revealed ‘stupidity’ of the self-professed kids in freely sharing their personal details and information, may be asking a bit much of all of them. Sadly. Which is why I guess things like COPPA turn up to protect them from themselves.

It’s interesting to see how different MMOs handle the ‘child’ issue. I actually Googled up WoW’s and LOTRO’s Terms of Service to see how they deal with it. World of Warcraft asks account holders in their TOS to agree that they are legally an adult in their country of residence., which covers the varying age of majority for different countries (normally 18-21), and they can then, at their discretion, authorize a minor for whom they are a parent/guardian to play, with the license granted to them.

Lord of the Ring’s TOS doesn’t specifically mention anything, but a quick forums search reveals that one has to be apparently 13+ to create the account, and it is permissable for a parent to use their own personal information to sign up for an account for a minor under that age and thus authorize them to play.

I couldn’t find anything in Puzzle Pirates’ TOS, but apparently, age limit for most of their servers is 13+ and they have a Family Ocean with no age limit where they’ve removed poker games and so on.

It’s kinda curious that Glitch has a zero tolerance 14+ years of age limit, when most other places have it at 13+, and make no allowance for play with parental supervision. Very odd. Perhaps they just don’t want any legal trouble and are playing it very very safe.

Still, the whole incident leaves me with a bit of an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

I keep thinking of the Edmund Burke attribution. Paraphrasing, “The only thing necessary for evil to prevail (or triumph, depending on which quote website you ask) is for good men to do nothing.”

Should I have spoken up and said something? Was I guilty of passive evil, of allowing something that I thought wrong (the rampant bullying), to continue unchallenged?

Then again, the players who perpetuated the wrong were perhaps thinking the very same thing. There was a TOS violation, and they could not help themselves but to call it out and call it loudly, to the point that they perhaps indulged in groupthink and the self-righteousness of their cause, and decided to enact vigilante justice.

Perhaps, the Glitch Staff on the Live Help channel said it best. “If you find someone violating the TOS, please report him and let the GMs/staff deal with the issue and move on.”

No need to drag it out and have a pitched battle on public chat channels.

Glitch: Updates

So much for good intentions and the vagaries of real life. Long overdue on this post, but nevermind, we push on.

I haven’t managed to spend a lot of time in The Secret World lately. The story and atmosphere are still interesting, but I haven’t been able to shake the feeling this week that it all takes too long. Wait for patch, wait for client to load, wait for loadscreens per zone, wait for the NPC to finish voice-over talking (I -could- skip it, but then what would be the point of playing the game?), wander over to whatever area, killing several umpteen dozen mobs along the way for the quest, rinse and repeat.

It’s not bad, by any means, but anticipating the many waits puts me off even starting. Sort of MMO procrastination. How strange.

So instead, I have been dabbling. My current retreat has been Glitch, with a side of desultorily attempting Fallen London/Echo Bazaar once more. (I’m stuck in a Nightmares loop, and haven’t had the patience to keep logging in every couple hours for the measly 10 turns to get out.)

I’ve been messing around with Glitch since Massively introduced the game, but taking it slow and steady and with many breaks in between. To me, it’s a whimsical, musical crafting sandbox. It’s amusing how many A Tale in the Desert players also play the game (I see a lot of recognizable names on the global chat.)

Yep, I said sandbox. Mostly because there is no one linear commonly-accepted path to advancing in the game, and there are also too many things to do all at once. To me, a sandbox game is one where you have to pick your own goal and work on it and choose your next direction when you’re done. It’s also a toy, in that you can play with it and have fun in a totally non-productive way if you so wish.

Glitch, to me, works that way. You can run around the world exploring and seeing new sights, taking screenshots along the way. You can visit and socialize with people. You can choose to chase the umpteen Achievement badges. You can work on the quests that pop up as you earn new skills and do new things (mostly it’s a good goal for newbies, but in the mid-game, I’ve mostly stopped paying attention to those. My personal goals are more interesting and take precedence.) You can customize and decorate your avatar or your house, or arrange furniture around like you’re playing with a dollhouse (though extreme vanity would cost real money to buy the pretty stuff. Me, I’m cheap, I’m okay with my house looking like all the furnishing came from IKEA.)

An interesting trend are the new additions which are pushing Glitch in the direction of being also a platforming game. I previously teased Guild Wars 2 for being a 3D platformer with all their jumping puzzles, and Glitch seems to be the new 2D kid on the block. They added two new areas, Roobrik and Balzare. I have no idea what they’re really called, but my name for them is Imagination Forests.

They’ve quite a number of imagination quoins (those floaty things) in each room/zone, and the whole place is made up of lots of tall trees and platforms. So you get to jump back and forth to collect all the quoins to the accompaniment of bouncy cheerful music. There’s a random chance of each IMG quoin having a higher than average multiplier on them, so you stand to earn a higher total IMG per Glitch day from them to make all that bouncing around worth it.

I quite like them. The place to go for really high multiplier quoins is still the Ancestral Lands, but I don’t really like to visit AL daily. The time limit on staying in the Ancestral Lands always adds “gogogo” pressure, you may chance on juju bandits you have to dodge or lose an item (easy enough, but stressful when you worry about browser lag) and worse of all, AL is crowded. Everyone’s already been by and scooped all the good stuff, usually.

My uncompetitive bone would much rather meander about the forests, sending my avatar playing around the branches like a little boy with nary a care in the world, having the freedom to back and forth in and out of my house as I feel like it.

Seeing as I never regularly managed to fill my quoin limits for the Glitch day previously, these forests come in very handily. Now I can. And bonus IMG is always good for spending on the upgrade cards, which is a relatively new system the devs added around the same time as the new housing, when they removed xp and replaced it with IMG that could be spent.

Speaking of the upgrade cards, the other contributions to platforming include the triple jump cards, which increase the height of the triple jump you can do, and a new series of “Ticket to” various places called Arbor Hollow, Cloud Flight, Sky Plunge and Radial Heights. Activating the cards brings you to a special room where you get to jump around and collect quoins, and if you manage a special pattern (at least in Radial Heights) you may get bonus rewards. Mostly, I love them for the sheer glee and delight of flying around and soaring, screw the quoins.

Radial Heights especially has fantastic music. (Take a gander at the youtube video.) When I first visited that special room, the music charmed me to such an extent, after finishing lighting up all the stars and picking up all the goodies, I decided not to leave and spent a good fifteen minutes just bouncing around in no set order, hitting stars and having them chime along to the music. Sort of impromptu music making. I bet many kids would be mesmerized by that room.

I think part of the charm of Glitch, especially for adults, is that it gives us permission to unwind and harken back to days of childlike imagination. It’s very good at what it does.

Nothing you do is wrong in Glitch. Inefficient, maybe, but if efficiency is not your goal, why bother? And even if you accidentally do something “bad,” like mismanage your energy and run out and “die,” you go to Hell – which is an amusing enough place for being dead, affords an exploration badge the first time, and increments a death badge achievement, which encourages some to die on purpose daily.

And like I found out, by sheer accident, there’s also a new death-related badge added recently.

Rofl’ing on reading the text truly cut the pain of accidentally falling over and conking off when I didn’t want to.

As for what I’ve been doing in there, about a week or two ago, all my house-related skills (furniture making, fiber arts, etc.) finally completed their long offline learning times, and I decided to start belated house improvement. (I think most established Glitch players have long completed those things, and me, I’m just starting, heh.)

You can hurry the learning of skills by regular donation to favor shrines of the Giants, but I kept metagaming and thinking “grinding” and “itemsinks” and “my god, I’m actively wasting my time buying into this hamster wheel of frantic activity that gets swallowed by the trash cans of the game, just to speed up something that’ll take 14 days to maybe 7 days if you work your fingers to the bone.”

Seeing as Glitch isn’t the only MMO I’m playing, it was less stressful to just set the offline skill and forget about the game and let it do its thing in its own time. Patience works wonders.

Now I could have hurried house improvements by buying stuff from other players, but I just don’t get my fun from the game that way. I prefer self-sufficiency and do-it-yourself over currency trading. I worked on the second floor addition to my house – something which took a surprisingly huge amount of resources I never bothered to collect, so I had to go around to get them (the players have developed various resource routes using their home streets – something truly ingenious, if a little game-breaking, imo, as it concentrates a lot of previously spread out resources into one place. Using these resources grants the player who created them extra IMG, so it is a mutual benefit social exchange.)

I don’t know if there are hardcore Glitch players who bother visiting all the streets to collect the total amount of potential resources a day. I do know that after 2-3 streets, my already-quite-full-of-random-crap bags were close unto bursting and I headed back home instead.

That done, I’m back to my goal of carpeting the walls in Storage Display Boxes or SDBs.

Previously, the only way to store goods in houses was to chuck them all over the floor. This makes for a distressingly messy house and makes it hard to find anything in the piles of stuff. (You could also lock them away in bags in cupboards, but it involved lots of clicking and opening of storage items to find what you wanted also.)

My house is unfortunately still mostly in that state, but if I get enough SDBs on the walls, I figure I should be able to take most of the junk off the floors eventually.

And maybe even get the pets out into the yard.