Glitch (video game)

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Glitch Logo.png
Developer(s)Tiny Speck
EngineAdobe Flash
ReleaseSeptember 27, 2011

Glitch was a browser-based massively multiplayer online game created by Tiny Speck (which would later make Slack and be renamed Slack Technologies). The game was developed under the leadership of Stewart Butterfield.[1]

Glitch was officially launched on September 27, 2011,[2] but reverted to beta status on November 30, 2011, citing accessibility and depth issues.[3] Glitch was officially shut down on December 9, 2012.[4] In 2013, Children of Ur was created as a fan project and is currently up and running for public use. The whole game is being rewritten in HTML5 as an alternative to Dart, Glitch's original language. On December 9, 2014, another fan project to relaunch Glitch under the name Eleven began alpha testing.[5] An alpha tester described Eleven as "identical to Glitch".[6] The two fan relaunches were made possible when all of Glitch's artwork and most of the source code was released under the public domain-like Creative Commons license CC0 on November 18, 2013.[7][8]


Glitch was a casual, 2D browser-based game featuring a strong multiplayer component. It deliberately steered away from combat mechanics, instead focusing on collaborative crafting and gathering activities. Players were prompted to complete quests and perform various activities that would change the persistent world. Players were invited to expand upon the world, shaping its growth through various activities such as growing plants and trees and cooking food items. The game was free to play, but players could spend money to acquire a number of things such as customization options for their avatar.[9]

Upon logging in for the first time, a user was brought to a one-time street (area), in which a staff member, or specially appointed user (called a "greeter"), would briefly explain the game and show them some features. Once left, the greeting street could never be re-entered. After the "unlaunch" they had a new, more complex and full introduction, in which it was done by NPCs, rather than players.

The game also had "groups". Groups were tabs in-game (along with individual user IM tabs) that functioned quite like modern chat rooms. The players could create their own groups, join another person's group, or go on either one of the two default groups, one of which was "Live Help", in which users could help one another with general gameplay, the chiefer authority (excluding staff members) here was a "Helper," separate from a staff member, as helpers were mature and professional players appointed by staff members, whereas staff members had contracts and worked for Tiny Speck, the other default chat was "Global Chat," this was for general discussion of any appropriate/popular topic.

Eventually, Tiny Speck introduced "Guides," which were players specially appointed by the staff to help others learn the game in a special, introductory area.

If a player was being disruptive, disrespectful, rude, flooding, or cursing constantly, the player character could be taken to a black room with a single, low light lamp. The user would be accompanied by one or many staff members trying to calm them down and if that did not work, the avatar could be locked down to a chair and the player booted off for an amount of time, called a Time-Out.



Glitch's lead designer and Tiny Speck co-founder Stewart Butterfield began conceiving the game that would later become Glitch as early as 2002. But because of difficult financial circumstances at the time, he and his colleagues at Ludicorp instead focused on a side-project which later became Flickr. In 2009, Butterfield founded Tiny Speck with the aim of creating a social game.[9]

Glitch has been confirmed to be created on February 21, 2009 (first day of official gameplay).[citation needed] However, the earliest date on the Glitch calendar is either April 1, 2009 or May 22, 2009, which therefore presumes that the game was created before the calendar was implemented. The game was also played on the company's website ( before being transferred to Glitch was announced in July 2009. All traces of gameplay history have gone as far back as July 2, 2009. In February 2011, the game went from closed alpha to beta.[1]


Glitch was officially launched on September 27, 2011.[10] But two months later, on November 30, 2011, Glitch "unlaunched", reverting to beta status.[11] The developers cited issues of accessibility for new players, and depth of gameplay for experienced players.[3]

Glitch had test sessions that ran for usually about a week to a month, in which bugs were recorded, and then for a week or two, revisions were made improving the game, based on player bug reports, staff found bugs/errors, and/or source code updates. At the end of each one, Glitch would throw a massive party, called an End of the World Party, a.k.a. EOTW, EOW, in which a large majority of the players would gather in a suggested area and party, several items were dropped and people even decorated with the items. At the last 60 seconds, the staff members, on an account called "GOD", would speak so everyone in the whole world (also known as "Ur"), even those not at the party, would see him speak, his text would also be shown in the game windows itself, and a song would play called Good Night Groddle, made by Lelu, and improved by Daniel Simmons, Glitch's musical editor,[12] replacing trumpets that sounded the original ending. The last message of the game was GOD saying "*poof*".

Closure and fan relaunch[edit]

Glitch was permanently closed in December 2012,[13] due to limited audience appeal.[14] The company received praise for providing players with continued access to certain game resources and for caring for its laid-off staffers.[13] One year after the game's closure, some of its source code and artwork were released to the public under the Creative Commons Zero license.[7][8]

Due to popular demand, Glitch was revived as a fan-made fork named "Children of Ur" which aims to keep the charm of the original game while adding a few twists.[15] The project is hosted under MIT license on GitHub where Glitch's original ActionScript was ported to Dart.[16] Currently, the game is in pre-alpha, but most of the textures and basic fundamentals have been implemented. Anyone can test it out and report any bugs to the developers that work to bring back the game.

On December 9, 2014, another fan project to relaunch Glitch under the name Eleven began alpha testing.[5] An alpha tester described Eleven as "identical to Glitch".[17] A video released by the developers of Eleven demonstrates many of the gameplay features functioning as they originally did in Glitch.[18] The "Eleven Giants" source code repository is hosted on GitHub under the MIT license.[19]

In January 2019, another Glitch remake was launched under the name of "Odd Giants". It is closed source, developed by a small team and supported by the community via Patreon.[20]


Glitch was well received by The A.V. Club, who gave the game a B+ and commended its open-ended approach and variety of tasks.[21] Ars Technica found the game fun, filled with funny little touches.[9]

Joystiq's Beau Hindman named Glitch "Most Charming" in his 2011 Frindie Awards (selected from free-to-play, indie, browser-based games).[22]


  1. ^ a b Terdiman, Daniel. "Watching the birth of Flickr co-founder's gaming start-up". CNET. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  2. ^ Terdiman, Daniel. "Glitch launches; CNET offers an instant-entry pass". CNET. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b "The Big Unlaunching". Tiny Speck. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  4. ^ "A sad announcement from Tiny Speck". Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  5. ^ a b "'Two Years Past' or 'Welcome Home'". The Eleven Project. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Eleven alpha tester: Game is 'identical to Glitch'". Massively. Archived from the original on 20 January 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b tinyspeck (2013-11-18). "Glitch is Dead, Long Live Glitch! - Art & Code from the Game Released into Public Domain". Retrieved 2013-12-11. The entire library of art assets from the game, has been made freely available, dedicated to the public domain. Code from the game client is included to help developers work with the assets. All of it can be downloaded and used by anyone, for any purpose.
  8. ^ a b Blackwell, Laura (2013-11-18). "Afterlife of an MMO: Glitch's offbeat art enters public domain". Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  9. ^ a b c Reimer, Jeremy (2011-11-08). "Butterfly milking and pig nibbling: building the strange world of Glitch". Ars Technica. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Tiny Speck's Glitch Goes Live For Everyone At 10AM PST Today – TechCrunch". Retrieved 2011-09-27.
  11. ^ "Glitch 'unlaunches' to add new features – Massively". Joystiq. 2011-11-30. Archived from the original on 2018-09-25. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  12. ^ "Lelu creates EOTW song, edited by Daniel Simmons".
  13. ^ a b Blackwell, Laura. "This is how you shut down your MMO's servers for good: Glitch's graceful exit". PCWorld. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  14. ^ "Glitch closing down, cites limited audience – Massively". Joystiq. Archived from the original on 2012-11-16. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  15. ^
  16. ^ ChildrenOfUr on
  17. ^ "Eleven alpha tester: Game is 'identical to Glitch'". Massively. Archived from the original on 20 January 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Eleven Preview". The Eleven Project. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  19. ^ License on
  20. ^ "Odd Giants". Odd Giants. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  21. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily. "Glitch Game Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  22. ^ Hindman, Beau (December 28, 2011). "Free for All: The first annual Frindie Awards". Joystiq. Archived from the original on February 10, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014.

External links[edit]

  • Glitch official page
  • Children of Ur "Children of Ur", the first fan-made browser-based remake of Glitch made using the official source code release
  • The Eleven Project "Eleven", another fan-made continuation of Glitch based on the official source code release
  • Odd Giants "Odd Giants", fan-made remake with Patreon based support