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Flickr Co-Founders Return To MMO Design With Glitch

Flickr founders Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson are getting back to their video game startup roots with Glitch, a 2D Flash-based social MMO set to launch later this year.
Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson, best known as two of the original creators of successful photo sharing site Flickr, are getting into MMO development with their latest project, the 2D Flash-based Glitch. Described on its official website as a "massively-multiplayer game playable in the browser and built in the spirit of the web," Glitch is a sidescrolling game that allows the player to explore "the minds of eleven great giants walking sacred paths on a barren asteroid who sing and think and hum the world into existence." The pair's company, Tiny Speck, is distributed primarily between Vancouver and San Francisco, as described in an extensive CNet profile. It also includes key Flickr developers Serguei Mourachov and Eric Costello, as well as Digg's Daniel Burka, who serves as design director. MMOs aren't new ground for the Flickr founders: Flickr itself was originally born out of a now-defunct MMO called Game Neverending, which closed about nine months after Flickr officially launched. Butterfield and company apparently never gave up on the MMO aspirations, and with social gaming taking off, the group thinks it "can do for [MMOs] what Nintendo's Wii did for video game consoles," according to CNet, by introducing a level of accessibility the genre has not traditionally maintained. Glitch will operate on a model incorporating both optional paid subscriptions and virtual goods sales. Tiny Speck says it's a "collaborative simulation" with "anyone's actions have the ability to affect every other player in the game" -- but, unlike most MMOs, that interaction is nonviolent. According to Butterfield, target demographic is "people with above average intelligence and sophisticated tastes, in their 20s or early 30s," or what he calls "the intersection of NPR listeners and game players." Tiny Speck hopes to launch Glitch some time this year, and is allowing prospective players to sign up for an alpha test at the game's site.

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