Jan 16

Newly designed social network and enhanced toolset presents a cohesive gaming experience across fragmented landscape. Multi-game matchmaking is an industry first.

Today, Echobit, LLC (http://www.echobit.com) announces the release of its next generation social network and toolset for gamers, called Evolve (http://www.evolvehq.com). After an exciting 8 months in closed beta (and adding 8,000 members along the way), the three-person startup has quietly built a platform that maximizes the reach and influence of gamers’ and the games they play within the rapidly expanding, increasingly disconnected video game universe.

FRAGMENTATION = FAIL
The video game industry is multiplatformed and wildly incongruent. PCs and consoles have been joined by mobile devices, social networks and tablets to amass a global audience of over 1.2 billion gamers—up from 250 million just a few years ago—an audience with extremely limited ability to consolidate their various exploits into one discrete gaming context. “Today’s gamers want to remain whole and in control of their gaming lives across any game, publisher or platform,” states Adam Sellke, Co-founder and CEO of Echobit. “Publishers and hardware manufacturers like Activision/Blizzard, EA, Ubisoft, Valve, Zynga, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and others are all protecting their respective turfs on Battle.net, Call of Duty Elite, Origin, uPlay, Steam, GameCenter, Xbox Live, Play Station Network and the like. That’s nuts. These silos and walled gardens unnecessarily constrain gamers’ freedom, so we created Evolve.”

L’EGGO YOUR EGO
Evolve provides gamers an elegant view of their gaming world from a single profile. From it, players are treated to stats, rankings and charts of the games they and their friends are enjoying. Evolve not only gives players a place to roost, but also plenty of ways to crow. “A big part of gaming is bragging,” contends Sellke. “Evolve lets you really show ‘em who’s boss.” The platform supports the ability to import and aggregate various gaming achievements onto a profile. Also, Evolve members are equipped with “live” badges for touting their prowess with up-to-the-minute data on sites and forums. Evolve has recently added in-game screen and video capture to help gamers “prove once and for all that their kung fu is the best,” says Sellke.

QUIT PLAYING WITH YOURSELF
There are a lot of social tools and game tracking/achievement aggregators out there, but no other platform directly facilitates game coordination and connectivity like Evolve. “Everything we do is aimed at maximizing the gaming experience for gamers,” says Sellke. “A big part of that is bringing gamers together and reducing the time it takes to actually get playing.” Multi-protocol IM, group chat and in-party VoIP allow gamers to connect, gab and kvetch to each other, virtually anywhere, in real-time. Friendships can be inherited from Facebook. Others are able to be recruited via invitation links that bring players together as friends or into groups and parties. Joining a party establishes a VPN connection in one-click for LAN play and built-in VoIP. One other feature, an industry first, is the party finder—a universal matchmaking system that allows gamers to poll the network for multiple games of interest at the same time. As soon as the system finds others who share the same pursuits, all those concerned are offered a match and, upon acceptance, are instantly placed into a party.

SUMMARY
Fragmentation and platform proliferation threaten gamers’ ability to maintain a singular reference point to their gaming activities and limits their social value. Evolve, through its game-agnostic connectivity tools and common player profile is establishing a free, open and universal platform in this space, spanning the void and making it the inevitable solution.

Aug 10

Security Patch: New redistributable for VC++

You’ve probably heard about the critical security fixes that Microsoft released recently. This means that whenever you distribute a new build of your product, you must remember to ship the latest version of the VC++ redistributable package with it (VC++ 2005 and 2008). If you don’t, your customers will get endless side-by-side misconfiguration errors.

If you’re like me, you still want to be able to run debug builds on your test machines. As always, you need the Debug CRT for that, which I’m sure you know isn’t part of the redistributable package. Microsoft has documented two ways of installing a debug CRT on test machines:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa985618%28VS.80%29.aspx

I personally use the second approach since I know exactly which files get copied to the target machine and it’s just less intrusive in general. Read more…

Mar 01

Improving my Remote Desktop Experience

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately and I’ve found it particularly convenient to simply remote into my machine at the office and do all my work through Terminal Services (or are we supposed to be calling it Remote Desktop Services now?). This allows me to access the virtual machines and the servers located at the office without major latency. If you’ve ever tried using VMware Server Console through a VPN connection, you know what I’m talking about.

I always listen to music when working. At work, that’s not a problem since I’ve got all my music stored on my work computer. However, when on the road all my music is stored on my laptop. This becomes a problem since my laptop’s music player cannot be accessed without first minimizing the fullscreen remote desktop window. Read more…

Jan 17

Security on 24 (the show)

I spent some time last night catching up on the new season of 24. The first three episodes have a large emphasis on security and hacking of secure networks. In one of the episodes, the network administrator is tasked with restricting access to certain information because there’s a leak inside the FBI. That same network administrator is also responsible for tracking down that same leak, and at one point she goes down to the mainframe to confirm the user name of the person. Before logging in on the mainframe, she cautiously looks over her shoulder to make sure nobody is around to see her type the password.

What cracks me up about this is that when she gets back to her own workstation, it’s not even locked! If you’re worried that people might be snooping around and you know for a fact that your account has unrestricted network access, why the hell do you leave your computer unlocked when you go somewhere.

Just a random note :)

Jan 07

When security gets in the way of things, pt. 2

I recently wrote about security when it becomes a nuisance rather than an effective safety mechanism. Not long ago, I had a similarly unfortunate interaction with a large American bank.

Shortly after I had created my account, it turned out that I’d given them an incorrect mailing address because the agent at my apartment’s leasing office had accidentally written the wrong street number on the leasing papers (well done…). Even though only the last digit was wrong, and the street number one I’d been given didn’t even exist, it meant I had to get in touch with my bank, insurance company, etc., to make sure they all had my correct address.

Unfortunately, changing the mailing address with my bank turned out to be more difficult than expected. Read more…