Glitch: Imagination and the Housing Reset

In two more rounds of sweeping changes made to Glitch (that I’ve decided to cover together, as they’re related), Tiny Speck has added the new Imagination (iMG) system, as well as the long-awaited housing reset. The imagination change (and the user interface changes that go with it) possibly marks the biggest change made to the game since I’ve joined (and possibly since its inception – even though I’m not really familiar with the game’s history before last November). Once again, this review will include not only facts, but also my opinion on the changes (which, aside from one major thorn, is mostly positive).

Imagination

Imagination cards, and some new UI bits

The first of these recent rounds of changes was the conversion to Imagination. Imagination, commonly referred to as iMG, is the replacement to the old experience (XP) system. Earned by the same actions that earn XP, including gathering iMG quoins, which replace XP quoins, and new Qurazy Quoins (which give huge amounts of iMG), seen below (although upgrade cards exist that increase the amount some of these actions can dish out), the primary difference is that imagination (which I’ll refer to as iMG for the rest of this review) is spendable. The player is dealt three cards, which they can re-deal for free once per day. They can then purchase one or more cards using iMG. These upgrades include improvements to Super Harvests, improvements to learning speed, increases to one’s energy tank, and increases to one’s quoin multiplier, as well as some pretty random stuff. My upgrade video will primarily showcase energy tank and quoin multiplier cards, as I’d already purchased most of the unique upgrades during the conversion.

An iMG Quoin (the small purple one) and a Qurazy Quoin (the large white one)

A selection of my purchased upgrades

Supposedly the experience is to be different for a player new to the game. For those who have already been playing, our XP was converted to iMG (and our levels dropped accordingly – Level 60 players were moved to Level 42). Note that I said “levels.” This means that in addition to being spendable, a lifetime count of iMG earned is also kept. This determines one’s level, in the same way as XP previously accomplished this task. However, one’s energy tank (or mood tank, which is now tied directly to energy tank) is no longer level-dependent. At the time of conversion, energy tanks were, however, assigned based on level (level 60 players received energy tanks of 1610). Now, energy tanks can be upgraded using cards, allowing for absurdly high energy tanks. Mine, for example, is 5990 at the time of this writing (for comparison, level 60 players had energy tanks of 2860 before the conversion). While it is not my goal to cover strategy in this review, it is worth mentioning that the community as a whole questions the value of having a large energy tank. I find it convenient, but it does vastly increase teleportation costs, and it does make mood harder to manage, although mood is a non-issue if you have a supply of the Rookswort herb to munch every ten minutes. Following is a video demonstrating the upgrade card system.

Some of the “upgrade” cards are not actual upgrades, but purchasable items. These include the Reshuffle Card, and the Get Out of Hell Free Card. These cards are also much cheaper than the upgrade cards. The Reshuffle Card allows additional reshuffles to one’s hand past the one allowed per day, and the Get Out of Hell Free Card allows you to leave hell with full mood and energy (normally, one leaves hell with almost empty mood and energy). These cards can also be found on the auctions.

The upgrade card system, if used wisely, allows a player new abilities that really enhance gameplay. One of my favorites is a card that increases the amount of seeds received when shucking herbs. While a lot of the upgrading felt like buying back things I already had as parts of skills, this isn’t much of an issue since at the point of conversion, almost anyone who had played much at all received so much iMG that it was easy to buy back all the abilities one might have had before the conversion, and more. Actually, as far as new players are concerned, I see this as a good thing. Previously, you could basically just sit around and learn skills all day, and never play the game. One could become “really good” at Glitch, and never actually enter the world (in reality, some skills were tied to a few easy to earn achievements, but almost any of these could be earned in mere minutes). Since the only way to earn iMG to purchase these upgrades is to actually play the game, this now requires active involvement in the game in order to improve one’s character. As it should be. It’s only fair that in order to become good at something, one should invest time in doing so. It’s how it works in the real world and in most games, and now Glitch also works this way.

User Interface Changes

Many user interface changes were implemented at the time of the iMG conversion. Look back at my first review, then look at the following screenshot.

Different, huh?

I don’t really know how to describe why, but as a 99% generalization, I like the UI changes. It’s more modern, or something like that. Energy is now represented by the curved bar near the top left. Mood is now represented by an image of your player avatar in the same location, whose expression changes based on your current mood level. This also replaces the player menu that used to be present in the upper right corner. Click the mood image (or your name above the image) to access the player menu. And in perhaps the most controversial change of all, the magic rock (or familiar) that used to occupy the center of the screen is now gone. In addition to the keyring upgrades, the functions previously accessed via the magic rock are now accessed by means of the iMG menu, as seen below.

The iMG menu

While I also think the magic rock was a nice, uniquely Glitchian touch to the game, and will be missed, I’m rather enjoying the new UI for the most part. I do have two minor complaints though. The first is that the new UI seems to add a little more lag to the game. The second is a “scrolling” behavior that has been added to the iMG, energy, and currants meters. If one of these is increased or decreased, as opposed to quietly changing to its new level, it now increments toward that level, much as the display on a gas pump might. And, to me at least, it gives the impression that even a small change to these is actually much bigger. I don’t know why it gives me that feeling. Maybe it’s just because so much attention is being drawn to it. But to be honest, I really don’t like it. Now, onto the housing reset and related stuff.

The Housing Reset, Construction, and Imagination (Again)

First let’s briefly revisit cultivation (along with a not-so-brief video), which I covered in my previous review, and how it now relates to Imagination. Now that housing has been reset (meaning houses, yards, and home streets have been restored to their default states, and old houses are gone), cultivation items cost iMG (like upgrade cards do), and all changes to stuff are permanent (as in they won’t be reset again). Unlike upgrades, housing-related upgrades are exceedingly cheap. By “exceedingly cheap,” I mean possible to max them all out with about one day’s worth of iMG grinding. It’s worthy of note that I’m only talking about upgrades that can be purchased with iMG right now (enlarging one’s home street and back yard, and placing cultivated items in these locations). Housing expansions, which are performed using a Construction Tool, are quite a bit more involved. I actually managed to fully expand my house in one day, but I found doing so exceedingly taxing (it’s worthy of note that it probably is not intended to max out one’s house in one day; this was just something I really wanted to do). In addition to now costing iMG to cultivate one’s street and yard, players are no longer limited to one of each resource per home street or yard. The only limit now is the size of the land on which the resources are to be placed (I have thirteen tree patches on my fully-expanded home street). The price of any size increase or resource goes up with each of that increase or resource purchased, but it’s only by amounts that any player with an efficient iMG-gathering strategy would find trivial. In summary, cultivation now costs iMG. But it’s fairly easy to max out all cultivated resources, as opposed to upgrade cards, which keep appearing indefinitely.

The Housing Reset

Yesterday, housing was reset. This means that all customizations a player made to their house, home street, and back yard, were reverted, and the house was returned to a template state. This was only planned to happen once, meaning now players can customize their houses with confidence, knowing that their changes are now permanent. This has four major implications. The first is that old houses are gone. New houses are now the only houses. Old houses, while inferior to the new ones, will live on in screenshots we’ve taken of them days before the reset.

There used to be a signpost leading to my old housing quarter here

The second is that furniture items can now be crafted. We’ve been given a small selection to start with, but beyond that, furniture items are crafted using a Construction Tool (this also includes Wall Segments, used to expand one’s house). Resources needed to do so include Planks, other wood items made from Planks using a Woodworker, metal items made using a Metalmaker, and Fiber (and fabrics made from Fiber) and Snails (obtained from the new Fox and Sloth). Following is a video demonstrating construction and house expansion.

The third, visible in the video above, is that many upgrades to furniture (as well as most wallpapers, floors, and ceilings) now cost credits. I’ve always wondered how Tiny Speck stayed afloat, considering previously the only real gain acquired from purchasing credits or a subscription was extra clothing and vanity items (although it was more than worth it anyway, in my opinion at least). Since you’ll likely want lots of (upgraded) furniture, this may finally provide them with what I’d imagine to be much-needed income. Which is great news, because I really want Glitch to stay around for a long time (and ad-free; I admire the fact that TS respects clean user interfaces and doesn’t try to gain revenue by placing advertisements in the game or on the Glitch web site).

The fourth change brought about by the housing reset is what happened to the items stored in our old and new houses. They were placed in Moving Boxes, which were placed in our newly-reset houses. This is the major thorn I mentioned at the beginning. Unpacking these boxes left all your items in a huge pile on your floor.

Really? FML. 

As seen above, for those of us who hoard things, this was unpleasant. I know I managed to pick up that mess in a few hours’ time (I made sure to clean it up completely so I could create the review screenshots and videos), but organizing all that stuff was not fun. As picking up Moving Box contents won’t affect new players, and those who play the game already have already suffered it once and shouldn’t have to again, I won’t focus on this much. Suffice it to say cleaning that up was extremely unpleasant and tedious.

Where from here?

Aside from group halls (which the staff have been rather quiet about lately), imagination and the completion of housing mark what more or less amounts to the completion of what we were promised at unlaunch. And Tiny Speck has delivered on those promises and more. The game is almost completely different now than it was before the unlaunch. While I don’t know what all TS has planned for the future, it seems like the most sweeping changes are now in place. Stewart Butterfield (the creator of Glitch) has suggested that player-driven vendors and craftybots (used to automate crafting) are some of the next things to be in the works. I look forward to these upcoming changes, and trust that they’ll be every bit as impressive as the previous ones.

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