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Independency: The Worlds Belong to Us

Columns By Shannon Doyle on December 16, 2014

The Worlds Belong to Us

Back in 2012 there was this little MMO darling that was loved by many, one that I personally wanted to try out but never got the chance to. That gem of a game was called Glitch. MMO bloggers that I follow spoke nothing but praise and the announcement of the shutdown hit fans hard. Thankfully, unlike many MMOs that shut down Tiny Speck was able to put the art and code from Glitch into the public domain. This meant that we would soon see the world of Glitch again right? Sadly, no. It has taken a year since the code and art was released and been two years since the MMO shut down, but it was just recently revealed that there is a project to revive Glitch in the works! It is called Eleven named after the eleven giants of Glitch.


Eleven is now getting ready for the very early alpha stages which will only be open to thirteen very lucky people. These people are being hand picked by the small development team based on their abilities to alpha test and five will be chosen based on how actively they follow Eleven on social media. Sadly it’s most likely too late for this round. But, in the future there will come a time when we can all jump in. Until that time comes though there is still plenty to do.

One of the most interesting parts of the Eleven website is a built in version of character customization. You have access to a beta version of the character customization process. Characters can be dressed up in a huge selection of clothing and the customization option on faces rival some of the more popular MMOs on the market today. After you’ve finished making your characters you can get a bit of code that will allow you to load the costume again in the future. My favorite thing to do on it though has to be the random button. You will end up with the most insanely random, most WTF looking things you’ll ever see. Or at the very least you’ll be inspired to make even more characters. After you finish making characters you can head over to the official forums where they’re talking about everything game related from tattoos to street names.

Eleven, and Glitch are part of a growing trend in the indie game industry that promises the code and assets for a game will be released to the public should the studios ever have to stop running the games. This insures that people don’t have to face the loss of their favorite games anymore, a problem that is plaguing the industry. Assurances like these also encourage players to play while the game is being run by the people who created it. There is never the concern that six months down the road a shutdown will suddenly be announced and you’ll never see the game again. Eleven has shown however that these sorts of things do take time to come about. So while you will get to play that game you love so much again it will take time to come about.

Why don’t larger studios and publishers do this? In many cases the issue is with the code. Code from failed games often gets reused in newer games that are released. Should the code be made public it could open up opportunities for abuse. It is rarely a case of greed as so many angry former players of games would suggest. By opening up the code to the public, companies like Tiny Speck are taking MMOs away from being purely business and making them something special. These MMOs are able to turn into communities, worlds of their own. You wouldn’t close down a town because it wasn’t making enough money. Sure, people might slowly move out of the town to other towns but they do so always knowing that if it doesn’t work out they can go back home anytime. That, I think is the goal that these indie studios ultimately have in mind. It is a noble goal that one day may become the norm.

As more and more games are shut down by the big players the little indie gems like Eleven will still be there. The popularity of indie games is growing every year especially thanks to crowdfunding in all its forms. Unfortunately this is one trend I really don’t see catching on with the larger MMOs. Just remember, one day even the big boy on the field will be shut down. I won’t be too bothered though, I’ll be playing Eleven.

This really is an exciting trend and I’m so glad that Glitch will be returning to PCs everywhere soon. There isn’t really much to share about it yet as everything is being kept behind the curtain of alpha. But I suspect now that the alpha is coming there will be more news about the revival project on a regular basis. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the development of the game as I know so many others already are.