A Glitch in the System
As you’re well aware, I’ve been trying to level all ten character classes to 85 before the next expansion drops. I’m still pretty confident I can do it (I’ve got 7 done, one at 79, one at 50, and one still languishing at 28), but there’s been a recent problem I’ve experienced that’s slowed me down a notch.
You see, dear reader, when I had a half hour or so to kill between other activities or when I had an afternoon off, I’d hop on whichever “unattached” toon I had (meaning I wasn’t committed to leveling with someone) and queue for dungeons. Things were going swimmingly as I leveled my DK, since he is a tank and able to queue instantly.
Then I made a mistake. I had heard a lot of the hype about Glitch, a free to play MMO touting being the first non-violent MMO ever. I was intrigued by the idea and gave it a chance. All screenshots are taken from their site since I haven’t learned the skill that allows you to take your own screenshots.
It’s 16 levels later, and I’m still playing during those short downtimes I have. The game is deceptively complicated, starting you off with some basic information in a tutorial, then growing increasingly more complex as it develops (the way any good game should). Like most modern MMOs, the game is very non-linear, allowing the player to explore zones, experiment with objects (don’t taste the butterfly lotion…), and learn new skills.
The skill system works like EVE, in that it takes real-world time to learn skills. You can learn a set number (28, I think) at no penalty, but then each skill beyond that takes exponentially longer. There’s a set of skills in the game that increases the “freebie” cap for skills and simultaneously reduces learning time (those were the first I invested in), but some skills (like my most recent choice) can take a week of real time to learn.
The game seems to be based on the idea of collective action; that people working together can make the world a better place. It paints itself this way by letting people work together for greater rewards (each extra person mining a node at the same time provides every other person extra ore), take care of community garden areas, or simply pet animals and plants to make them healthier. However, therein lies the rub (pun intended); in the end, the game is about accumulation, like every other MMO out there.
In Glitch, your goal is to get favor with the giants, important deitical entities who’ve dreamed the world in which you play. To gain their favor in the most efficient way, you have to donate things to them, and the more complicated and valuable the thing, the more favor you get. That means doing a lot of crafting, and to craft you need mats, and to get mats you need energy, the limiting factor in the game. You get a certain amount of energy to spend in any particular “game day” (4 hours of real time), and every action you take drains some of it. You can get more energy by cooking and eating foods (the cooking takes energy, too), so that drives you to collect more crafting mats.
In the end, then, this game is as much about greed as every other MMO. It’s much more pacified and communitarian about the greed, but still it asks you to accumulate as much as you can to donate it to invisible giants for favor. I’m not sure I like the implications.
That said, I’ve enjoyed the game quite a lot, far more than I expected. I felt QUITE silly at first due to the graphics being so elementary, but I’ve never let graphics – good or bad – scare me off of a game, so I kept playing. I was able to get over the graphics pretty quickly, though I feel like I really only have two settings on how I can dress my character: ridiculous or douchey.
The menial tasks that take up most of my time surround my home ownership. I tend my crop garden, pet, feed, and “nibble” my pigs (“nibbling” is how you get meat in a non-violent game, apparently), and tend to my spice, fruit, and wood tree orchard. I then make these mats into various foodstuffs, donate them to giants, and log off. My days of exploration are already moving behind me with the rare occasions where I venture forth to harvest a ton of something I need but can’t grow. The pod-based isolated lifestyle emerges in the game, too, since I can grow and harvest my own junk without having to worry about people “stealing” it. Greed again.
The quests are skill-based, and I’ve run into a problem since my last two skills took about 2 weeks to learn, but haven’t generated a quest. I suppose it’s possible to run out of quests (though I have one in my log that I just can’t get to work. Screw harvesting peat bogs). I’ll be forced once I get back to the “real” skills (as opposed to the learning skills I’ve been focusing on) to do some more sallying forth, but until then, I just live a quiet life at home and in my own neighborhood.
To be fair, I quite liked the concept of Harvest Moon, the old console video game, so I’m not new to the whole farming aspect of video games (literally farming, in this sense). Some might dislike such a slow-paced, non-violent game, but it appeals to me just because it’s different than the norm (another of Glitch‘s advertising points).
- I liked the skill/quest relationship, where learning skills generates quests, but I’m worried about the implications of this long term.
- I liked the freedom to explore and develop your character as you see fit without social pressures making the decision complicated.
- I like the gathering system that rewards multiple people taking from a single node.
- I like the creativity of the game concept.
- I didn’t like the graphics, though I understand they fit the genre.
- I didn’t like a few of the quests (such as one that requires you to coordinate a large group of strangers over a rather shoddy and unreliable Internet connection to act simultaneously on a single object).
Overall: It’s probably the second best Free-to-Play game I’ve played (I played LotRO and DDO when they cost money, so those might have ranked higher otherwise) after Vindictus. The nice thing is that I haven’t run into any place where they’ve asked me to pay real money, so it truly feels free to play. The worst that can happen from trying it out is you waste an hour or two, so why not give it a go?
Stubborn (who’s named the same in Glitch, so if you look it up, give me a ring. Issy plays, as well, though I won’t share her name here; speak to her if you want it)