They Made Flickr. He Made Katamari Damacy. Together, They're Launching Glitch

The colorful, imaginative online game from the team behind Flickr and the man behind Katamari Damacy goes live today at 1 p.m. eastern.

In Glitch, players ramble through the collective imagination of 11 god-like giants. The free-to-play world exists on a persistent, ever-evolving playground that is shaped not just by the game's developers, but by the players.

"Our vision for Glitch is to bring a new level of creativity, beauty and social engagement to players who expect more from their online social gaming experience – an experience that has value beyond traditional forms of entertainment," said Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of Tiny Speck. "Glitch is an experiment in culture building. We provide raw materials and a stimulating environment, but it's the players who bring the infinite world alive, shaping it with their imagination."

Over the summer, Glitch made a splash when they announced that they had enticed retired game developer Keita Takahashi to join them in Canada to work on the upcoming game. Takahashi, famed Japanese game designer and creator of surreal games like Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, told me at the time he plans to be work to make the world unique, fun and surprising.

They Made Flickr. He Made Katamari Damacy. Together, They're Launching GlitchS

Speaking with Stewart Butterfield, founder of Glitch developer Tiny Speck, last week, he told me that Takahashi is well into the swing of things, delivering on his promise to keep things surprising.

"It's been working out really well," Butterfield said. "We let him do whatever he feels like doing. He's been working on everything from quests to iPhone mini games. Some ideas are super whacked out that are impossible to do and some are very tractable."

Butterfield says the whole team is "super excited" for today's launch of Glitch. It's not the first time players have gotten into the surreal world, but it's the first time the game world won't be heading for a reset soon after.

The game has been in a sort of constant beta for months with more than 27,0000 people going through the tutorial and checking out the world.

That beta testing focused on trying to get rid of things like repetitive actions that were boring, but rewarded the player. That's because Butterfield doesn't want Glitch to rope people into doing things they find boring just so they can get experience.

"We made huge changes going back to the beginning,"he said.

But Glitch is designed to be flexible, in fact it's so flexible that the team can roll out changes while people are playing the web-based game.

They Made Flickr. He Made Katamari Damacy. Together, They're Launching GlitchS

"Because of the way we developed it we think of it more like launching a website then launching a game," Butterfield said. "We're going to be continuing to develop it.

"It's totally the opposite of shipping a CD. It's not even like an MMO. It will be changing all of the time. It's going to be continually evolving. Things can appear in the game as people are playing."

The game will also have strong ties to other outside programs, like iPhone games. The idea is that eventually players will be able to, for instance, play a game developed by Takahashi for the iPhone that uses their Glitch character, a character that will return to the web-based game with the spoils of their iPhone gaming.

They Made Flickr. He Made Katamari Damacy. Together, They're Launching GlitchS

"Glitch provides a rich development environment with highly engaged and active players," said Cal Henderson, co-founder and vice president, engineering at Glitch. "We built Glitch in a new and different way from most games, designed for maximum flexibility and ease of deployment. With a community of developers leveraging our API, we can't wait to see how Glitch makes new and exciting appearances in the real world."

If you're interested in checking out the game, you can sign in starting at 1 p.m. eastern here.


You can contact Brian Crecente, the author of this post, at brian@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.