Glitch: the new game from Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield

Steward Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr, has just launched his next act, a web-based multiplayer game called "Glitch." It sounds a lot like the original game behind Flickr, Game Neverending, full of puzzles, whimsy and warmth (like Stewart). The game's in private alpha now, but the intro video and Daniel Terdiman's profiles of the company on CNet are damned exciting:

A new game that went into alpha testing on Tuesday, as reported exclusively by CNET, Glitch (see related behind-the-scenes feature about its development) is a puzzle-heavy, Web-based social MMO built around sending players billions of years into the past to develop the optimistic future that today seems increasingly unlikely.

"The whole world was spun out of the imagination of 11 great giants," said Stewart Butterfield, the president of Glitch developer Tiny Speck, and better known as the co-founder of Flickr. "So you have to go back into the past, into the world of the giants' imaginations and grow…the number of things in the world, grow it in terms of physical dimensions, to make sure the future actually happens. So all the game play takes place in the past inside the world of the giants' imagination."

While Glitch shares some of the features of hard-core MMOs like World of Warcraft and EverQuest–principally quests, leveling up, an in-game economy and working socially with other players, as a 2D Flash game–it might at the same time feel mildly familiar to players of Facebook games like Farmville or Nintendo titles like the many iterations of the Mario franchise.

In depth with Tiny Speck's Glitch

(Thanks, Stewart!)