Since last March, the Flickr co-founder and three partners have quietly been developing an online social game they hope will appeal to a wide audience. CNET has been there to document the creation of their start-up.
On Tuesday, Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield and three partners, as well as a small staff of full-time employees and contract illustrators and writers, are publicly announcing the online social game, Glitch, that they've been developing since last March. Their start-up, Tiny Speck, has been largely under the radar since its founding last March.
Since May, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman has been visiting with the team for a behind-the-scenes story about the project.
This gallery contains a series of concept images from the game's development, as well as screen shots from the latest versions of Glitch, which is scheduled to go into private alpha testing starting Tuesday.
The game takes place inside the memories of 11 giants, far in the past, and players must try to grow a bright future through a series of puzzles, quests and social interactions.
A very important element of the game is its many aesthetic styles, each of which was created by a different illustrator.
This image, like several others in this collection, is one of several illustrations compositions in development that Tiny Speck is considering or is in the process of building out as location styles in the game.
A screen grab of the finished egg plant, as it appears in game. This specimen is almost fully mature and in near-perfect health. Egg plants only grow underground. Their eggs can be eaten or used in recipes, and they are also the source of all animals in the game: by seasoning an egg with particular combinations of other ingredients and taking it to a chicken for incubation, a player can create any of the animals in the game.
The Tiny Speck team was geographically dispersed, with the founders living and working in home offices in Vancouver, British Columbia, San Francisco, and New York.
On a regular basis, the team--the founders and employees--would gather for off-site meetings. This photo, taken at a San Francisco off-site in January, reflects the ideas of four days of intense work by the team.
Tiny Speck's home page, which until Glitch's formal unveiling, has revealed almost nothing about the company. The page allowed anyone interested in finding out what the company was working on to sign up to join the alpha or beta testing.
For those who took the time to indicate that they want to be part of the testing group for Tiny Speck's project, the company provided a small list of links that offered veiled clues as to what the project was all about.
Tiny Speck bought Glitch.com in January for a low-five figures sum. Once the company took possession of the domain, it had nothing on it but the word "yay!" This screen shot was taken on February 2, a week before the official launch of Glitch.com and the beginning of alpha testing for the game.
To Tiny Speck, it is important that those participating in the alpha test be the kind of people that are likely to provide the most valuable feedback. As a result, the company asks anyone interested in being part of the alpha to fill out a survey that reveals their interests and their potential to help the team make Glitch as strong as possible.
As Flickr historians will recall, the photo-sharing service emerged from the online social game, The Game Neverending. Though the team behind that project set it aside to work on Flickr, they never let go of their desire to build such a game.
This is a screen shot of Game Neverending's home page.
"Paper was the main [(Game Neverending] currency," wrote Cal Henderson on his Game Neverending Museum site, "and could be transformed a lot. The above is a transformation matrix which i *think* is complete.
"Sheets, quires and even reams of paper grew on paper trees throughout the world.
"Red paper grew in the firefields. Yellow paper grew in the desert. Blue paper grew in City Undersea. Green paper grew in the swamplands. Brown paper grew in treehouses. Purple paper did not grow anywhere, but could
be sold for 5,000,000 shekels per sheet."