Up a Level
Glitch

I don't play a lot of games. There are two big reasons. The first is that both EDM and my writing take a higher priority than that mythical "relaxing" thing. And when I'm relaxing, I feel like I'm wasting my time. Ignore the fact that relaxing actually makes it easier to write and I have more energy, but that's a hangup I've been struggling with for the years.

The second is that the programmer side of me starts to pull apart games. I think about "how could I write that" somewhere in the 30+ hours that I end up playing. Most of the time, the grind coupled with the what-ifs ruin it for me.

Of the games I do play, Glitch is probably the longest I've played a social game in years. I loved its quirky charm so I was sad to see that it is shutting down.

Honor

I think how Glitch is closing their doors to be honorable. They are willing to give back all the money made in the last year if the players wanted. Yes, they went back into beta and didn't make promises to succeed, but I think the fact they are offering to do that is something worth to take note. They did the right thing.

Now, it would be nice if the refund page had a slider much like Humble Bundle. I got quite a few months of enjoyment out of it, but I'd rather have only a small percentage of the money back, not all of it. Likewise, I'd be willing to kick some toward the charity but I'd like the spread it around.

Open Sourcing

In the Question and Answer below, they had this entry:

Why don't you give the game away or make it open source or let player volunteers run it?

Glitch looks simple, but it is not. Any massively multiplayer game is several orders of magnitude more complex than a multiplayer game (and those are usually an order of magnitude more complex than a single player game). The state of the world changes hundreds of thousands of times a second, and each of those changes has to be immediately saved in a way that is safe and redundant. Most of those changes — decrease in a chicken's lifespan, the regeneration of a rock, the health of a tree, the movement of every player — have to be sent from server to server and from server to player's local computers. If you're in a busy place in Glitch, your computer might be receiving hundreds or even thousands of messages about stuff that's happening around you every second.

It takes a full-time team of competent engineers & technical operations personnel just to keep the game open. Even if there was a competent team that was willing to work on it full time for free, it would take months to train them. Even then, the cost of hosting the servers would be prohibitively expensive.

This entry bothered me for more than a few reasons (and actually why I'm writing this post). But, I have multiple reasons for feeling that they should open the source and assets to the world (ideally on Github, but that's me).

Now, these reasons are hinged on the assumption that Tiny Speck is walking away from the game instead of keeping it back to repackage at a later date. But, if they want to keep their assets in hand for later, then just say that. If you give the above reason, then I think there are things they can do.

Technical Complexity

Glitch is a complicated game, there is no doubt about it, but the answer given isn't the right one. There are people who do things like that, simply because they love the game. I had a friend who played Daggerfall for years because it was the game they liked. Browncoats have been clamoring for Firefly for over a decade. There are still people trying to recreate Elite because they love it. When Aquaria went open-source, there was a flurry of activity to expand the game but there are still people making changes to the game on various sites.

I'd rather that folks at Tiny Spark didn't make the assumption that people don't want to take on that risk. Even if the full version of Glitch isn't a possibility, I could easily see fans rebuilding the front end in HTML 5 (or the API of choice), reworking the back end and generally making it more efficient or specialized. Like Linus' Law, most technical hurdles are shallow when viewed by many fans.

In college, I was really into the MUDs. That is a game that required a reasonable amount of effort and programming to get anything done. I spent hundreds of hours in the ROM, Merc, and custom code bases simply because I could. Years later, a few of those patches showed up in other MUDs. Likewise, I spent hours creating MUCK areas because I just like creating things.

The complexities of the system isn't a hurdle for people who really enjoy the game. Also, if the game isn't at the commercial scale (e.g., just for a few hundred players), then one probably wouldn't need the infrastructure that the full version required.

Assets

I love the avatars from Glitch. I also like the trees, the rocks, and everything else. If nothing else can't be done, please go the route of Danc at Lost Garden and open up the visual assets. Give them a good Creative Commons license. Use BY-NC-SA if you don't want people making money off it or some other, but please give the general world those graphics and music. Ideally, the original Flash/vector versions. The game might not live on, but there would be thousands of game developers out there who would love to use them either as a prototyping set or simply a base to start off from.

The look of Glitch is gorgeous but relatively similar. If the game was opened, then people could add to the graphics and give it more variance. There is a large enough mod community out there that I think people would love to create areas (including tiles) and expanding the game to include more elements. Yeah, some of them will look terrible, but others will fit right into the game and spread out into other projects that use it.

As a side note, I have a small project on the back-burner to do the same thing with Lost Garden's tiles, for a game inspired by Glitch. So, I think it would be awesome if they did the same.

Lessons

This is a harder one, but no developer works in a vacuum. Instead, we build our work off other's, including using them as examples or to get ideas. Releasing the source code would give people another chance to see how things worked or how it was put together. The code might be Code That Man Was Not Meant To See, but there are no doubt thousands of lessons in what worked, what didn't work, and how to do better in the future.

If Speck doesn't want people to make easy money off the code, giving a restrictive license like GPL. If they don't care and just want to see what happens, go with a permissive one like MIT.

I'd say "think of the children" but I hate that phrase. So, think of the indies. You might help them succeed with the lessons you already learned.

Respect

I like Glitch, but the way Tiny Speck is handling itself earned my respect. A long time ago, I had a company that we decided to shut the doors. We did the same thing, gave money back and helped all our customers migrated to our competitors. Seeing another person doing the same thing means a lot to me.

In the end, I thank Tiny Speck for all the time they spent on the game, the hundreds of hours I enjoyed, and I wish you the best in the future.