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    "Glitch's Graceful Exit"


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    "Glitch's Graceful Exit" Empty "Glitch's Graceful Exit"

    Post by genkicoll on Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:43 pm

    This is how you shut down your MMO's servers for good: Glitch's graceful exit
    by Laura Blackwell @pcwdownloads - December 10, 2012

    Developers and players pour themselves into building up MMOs, but the games can't always support themselves, and then those worlds blink out. All too often, MMOs close but don't offer closure for the workers who spent so much time on them—nor for the players who expected to keep playing for years. For instance, City of Heroes went dark on November 30 with little in-game fanfare aside from what the players brought themselves.

    Glitch, the nearly indescribable (and indescribably delightful) browser-based open-world sandbox MMO, closed last night after three years and two betas. Developer Tiny Speck gave the quirky, innovative game a memorable ending that made the blank stare of the servers more bearable for loyal players and development team members.

    This is how they did it. And this is how it's meant to be done. Providing everything from special screenshot collections of player avatars to physical mementos art books and CD sets, both the Glitch developers and its most ardent players worked to ensure that even a virtual world lives on long after its servers have shut down.

    Play it straight

    When a game shuts down, it can be an emotional blow to players. Dr. Henry Lowood, Curator of History of Science and Technology Collections for Stanford University Libraries, says, "When you have memories, a sense of space, you always have a sense of having been somewhere. You end up with associations with that world. Even though you know they're not real, the associations are real. When those are disrupted—especially in a way that would be catastrophic, when it goes dark—it's like a tidal wave or an earthquake wiping out a town. It's not exactly the same, but emotionally and in terms of memories, it's very similar."

    Sophia McKenna, whose Glitch character Voluptua Sneezelips reached the level cap of 60, remembers her reaction to the November 14 closure announcement . "My status update at the time was simply, 'devastated.' Glitch is such a beautiful world and it's heartbreaking that it's going to be no more. I've spent every ounce of spare time—and then some—in this game since I started playing."

    Tiny Speck anticipated such reactions. The Glitch Shutdown FAQ, posted along with the announcement, even included the heading "I'm really angry about this!" along with the anticipated player questions. And on the same page, under the heading "We are really sorry. We failed you," Tiny Speck offered players the choice between a refund, letting Tiny Speck keep any money paid, and charitable donation. "Donating to charity is a new one," comments Lewis Ward, a gaming analyst at IDC.

    Tiny Speck CEO Stewart Butterfield thinks providing refund options may have helped bring out more charitable feelings in the players as well. "They've been very supportive. There have been a few people who are angry, but it's fewer than one in a hundred. Ninety-nine percent are supportive and understanding, although, of course, sad."

    Continue to give while asking for nothing more

    On the official shutdown thread in the Glitch Forum, Butterfield (via his Glitch identity, Stoot Barfield) informed players that not only would Tiny Speck return their money, they would give subscriber benefits and 2500 credits to all account holders. In Glitch, 2500 credits could buy a near-total home and tower remodeling, with enough left over for a killer wardrobe.

    "It's a classy way to handle this," says IDC's Ward. "It's certainly respecting the gamers they were able to attract and showing some appreciation for them."

    Tiny Speck resurrected favorite rare in-game items, such as the Stoot Barfield Pullstring Doll and the 2010 Glitchmas Yeti, as rewards for participation in the last feats. The company also continued to release new content, from feats to recipes to new areas, until a few days before the closure. Players raced to earn new achievement badges and take screenshots in the just-opened areas. "In my experience, once a game company has announced that a game is shutting down, all development ceases," says Ward. "The decision to release content after that date is a bit of a surprise."

    Taking care of their own

    Players enjoyed the fresh content, and developers enjoyed creating it. Butterfield said that much of that content was almost completed when the staff was notified of the game shutdown—and the jobs that would go with it. Letting staffers complete their own pet projects was a way to recognize their work.

    The shutdown FAQ also included a link to a "Hire a Specker" page with photos, skills, and contact information for laid-off Glitch staff. "It looks like significant planning went into it," Ward observes. "For such a small company to have significant planning around that process isn't always easy. I give the Tiny Speck executive team credit for clearly thinking about this and trying hard in what has to be a trying time for all the employees."

    hree weeks after the Hire a Specker page appeared, Butterfield says, "So far, so good. A lot of people have the luxury to choose between different offers. Many are still interviewing, many have already accepted offers."

    Tiny Speck's Technical Community Manager Kevin Collins, known in-game as kevbob, says, "I think it was handled about as well as it could have been. We always knew there was no guarantee that it wouldn't work out in the end, that's how it is in business. Stewart has made sure that we knew if there was anything he could do to help us land in a new gig, he would do it." About his overall Glitch experience, he says, "I miss working with them all, and even though the game didn't work out, I have no regrets of the time I spent working on it."

    Give it a good ending

    Glitch, like most MMOs, didn't have a long plot arc planned. The tales that made the setting—and the legends in the feats and quests—were the extent of the story. That said, Butterfield had some plans for how to end Glitch "since the day we started. You have to be conscious of the risks."

    In the final days of Glitch, the Forehorsemen appeared on various streets, crying out, "The end is neigh!" On the penultimate day, the "hi" signs that appeared when players greeted one another became "bye" signs.

    On the last day, server load went up as players logged on. Lag became frustrating for many and insurmountable for some. Beau Hindman streamed video of his last hour as Glitch "Beau" on Massivelytv.

    Each of the eleven Giants—the godlike beings that imagined the world of Ur and its Glitch population—appeared to speak a few words. A minute before the ending, a server message rolled onto IM windows, saying "We really, really love you. You have no idea." "Goodnight, Groddle," a haunting lullaby sung by player Lelu and accompanied by Glitch Sound Designer and Composer Daniel Simmons, closed the game. "Goodnight, Groddle" was a familiar and beloved tune to longtime players; the song closed Glitch's first beta and was used in the popular GNG Music Block rare item in-game.

    Read the rest of the article here:

    Never be a prisoner of your past.
    It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.

    "Glitch's Graceful Exit" O9fj

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