Celebrate the weekend with a new beta release featuring various bug fixes and the new sponsor badge in the client.
• • • • •Full Changelog
- Added small sponsor badge for non-Helix members to the bottom of the friends window. Stay tuned for more news regarding our sponsors!
- Made the updater a bit more robust in an attempt to resolve a mysterious error that could sometimes prevent an update from being applied correctly.
- Fixed an issue that caused a blank window to be shown when attempting to link a legacy Justin.tv account instead of a regular Twitch account.
- Fixed issue preventing the Evolve Windows service to start properly when running under Wine. Thanks to Espionage724 and the WineHQ folks for the heads-up! Please note that there's still work to be done before the client is operational under Wine.
As some of the more tech savvy among you may or may not already know, a major security vulnerability was disclosed to the public on Monday. The vulnerability, which impacted many services that rely on encryption, is called Heartbleed.
• • • • •So... What's Heartbleed? The simple (if still a bit technical) summary of Heartbleed is this: for nearly two years, a bug has existed in a library millions of websites and developers depend on to ensure security for communication that runs over the internet. That bug allowed anyone to ask a server running the vulnerable code to fork over a small amount of memory from the server. A malicious user could simply keep asking for small chunks of memory, which could eventually reveal things like usernames, passwords, and the special secret that make HTTPS actually secure. If that's not easy to understand, there's some excellent news stories here and here that might be easier to follow.
• • • • •What Steps Did Evolve Take? Upon learning of the vulnerability on Monday afternoon (US Central Time), we took immediate action and patched the buggy library. By mid-evening, all our servers were patched. As of this morning, we've reissued the security certificate that protects your traffic when you visit the Evolve website and use the Evolve client. At this point, no aspect of Evolve is still vulnerable to Heartbleed.
• • • • •What Should You Do? As Evolve is still quite small, and thousands of far bigger internet services were also impacted by Heartbleed, the chance that your account was compromised as a result of the vulnerability is quite small. Additionally, we've been monitoring account activity closely, and have noticed nothing out of the ordinary. That all said, it might be a good idea to use the General Settings dashboard to update your password to something new.
Hey gang! As several of you pointed out to us today, it appears that Powered by GameSpy will be shutting down at the end of next month. While it's a bit sad to see one of the grand-daddies of multiplayer PC gaming going the way of the dinosaur, it's perhaps not terribly surprising, either. For those of you keeping score at home, this marks the second multiplayer gaming service on the PC to start winding down in the last few years: Games for Windows Live faces an uncertain future and has been yanked from several titles. Fortunately, Evolve's party system kicks ass and takes names for many of the titles that are impacted in the looming shutdown. Remember that parties work with any game that includes LAN play, regardless of whether that game's centralized matchmaking is still operational. If you love these games,
help us spread the word about Evolveon Reddit, game forums, or wherever you hang out online. Finally, we'd like to remind those of you enjoy using Evolve for free that picking up
Helix or Party+goes a long way toward keeping us chugging along smoothly!
• • • • •Games Powered by GameSpy Note that a few of these titles may not have included LAN-based multiplayer, although, at a glance, I'm pretty sure most of them did.
- Alien vs Predator
- Alien vs Predator 2
- Battlefield 1942
- Battlefield 2
- Battlefield 2142
- Battlefield Vietnam
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2
- Call of Duty
- Call of Duty: United Offense
- Call of Duty 2
- Call of Juarez
- Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
- Civilization III
- Commandos 2
- Commandos 3
- Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines
- Commandos: Behind the Call of Duty
- Company of Heroes
- Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
- Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
- Crysis Warhead
- Crysis Wars
- Far Cry
- Hexen 2
- Jagged Alliance
- Jagged Alliance 2
- Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
- Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
- Medieval Total War
- Medieval Total War 2
- Quake 2
- Quake 3
- Quake 4
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
- Postal 2
- Shogun Total War
- Soldier of Fortune
- Soldier of Fortune 2
- Star Wars Battlefront
- Star Wars Battlefront 2
- Star Wars Jedi Outcast
- Star Wars Jedi Academy
- Star Wars Republic Commando
- SWAT 2
- SWAT 3
- SWAT 4
- Titan Quest
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
- Tom Clancy's HAWX
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
- Tribes 2
- Tribes Vengeance
- Two Worlds
- Two Worlds 2
- Unreal Gold
- Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War
- Warhammer 40K: Dark Crusade
- Warhammer 40K: Soulstorm
- Warhammer 40K: Winter Assault
- Unreal Tournament
- Unreal 2
The weekend came and went, and you may have noticed I failed to roll out the 7th chapter in the Complete History of Evolve. Sincere apologies, but, as it happens, I was rather sick last week, and thus derelict in my duties. Happily, I'm no longer sick. Even better, I've written the next part, and you're well on your way to reading it right now!
Last week, the tireless trio of
myself [mamu]had finally managed to roll the closed beta of Evolve out the door. Our kick-ass overlay and lean, mean, serving machines were ready to conquer the gaming world, one beta invite at a time. Read on for the continued adventures of Evolve's closed beta!
• • • • •Thunderous... Silence In retrospect, launching a closed beta for a product on precisely no one's radar turns out to be a pretty silly thing to do. On
10 Oct 2010, if, by some remote chance, you had happened to discover Evolve, you were stuck waiting for us to deliver an invite to your email inbox before you could grace our hallowed halls. Thus, although we managed to get all of our friends and acquaintances to join up in short order, by the end of Oct 2010, our total userbase was sitting at a piddly
23. And that was counting dreijer, Adam, and me! If we were a bit wiser, we might have realized that closed betas work when there's a bunch of momentum built up before your launch--momentum we certainly didn't have. But we weren't wise guys, and so the closed beta sign up restrictions remained in effect for quite some time.
• • • • •Westward, Ho! Even if our userbase wasn't growing rapidly, we were still committed to the ideas behind Evolve, and hellbent on finding some bigger firepower to back us up. As you might remember from a few chapters ago, we'd been funded by an investment round comprised of our friends and family. Although it was enough to build out the initial version of Evolve, and keep us going for quite a while after, we decided it would be a massive boon to raise a bigger round of funding and relocate to
Silicon Valley--where legend told of technology and money flowing like milk and... honey? And so, at the ungodly hour of 4 in the morning on
1 Nov 2010, the lot of us piled our equipment (and ourselves) in to my 2-door car, and set off for the sunny promised land of Northern California. A grueling 30+ hour journey later, we pulled up to our rental apartment in the heart of San Francisco, exhausted, but optimistic that we'd reach new heights with Evolve in short order. Adam, our CEO, had lined up several meetings with storied venture capital firms located in and around the San Francisco bay area. While dreijer and I banged away on updates to the Evolve website and client, Adam rehearsed the pitch we'd be making to investors. Things were looking good! We mozied in to our first "big money" pitch toward the end of our first week in the city. An associate with the firm had agreed to hear us riff on Evolve and our plans for the fledgling enterprise. It was just after lunch, and our nerves had kicked in to overdrive. Would they get it? Would they view our plans as overly ambitious? Or not ambitious enough? Would we throw up our hastily consumed lunch on to the conference room table? The door swung open, the associate sat down at the table, and our pitch began. An hour later, we'd gone over every aspect of Evolve, done our best to answer the myriad questions thrown our way, and were on our way back to the apartment. As we left, we were told we'd hear back as soon as the firm's partners had a chance to go over the concept. Exciting! Three weeks in, as our time in San Francisco drew to a close, we'd managed to pitch Evolve to three venture capital firms, and, disappointingly, received three "thanks, but not our thing, sorry" responses back. Our grand plans for a big funding round crashed to the ground, and we packed our gear up for the return trip to Minnesota. All was not lost, though. During our time in SF, we'd managed to kick out three updates to the client and website, and recruit several brilliant folks in the industry to advise us as we continued on our journey. We might not have pulled off that big venture capital funding round so often romanticized in film and newspaper headlines, but we were still stoked to have honed our pitching skills, improved our product, and landed a great team of advisors.
• • • • •A Rock, a Paper, and a Shotgun One of the advisors we'd managed to land, it just so happened, was none other than
Jim Rossignol, the founder of
Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the brilliant PC gaming blog-and-community. Although Jim was busy growing his own ventures, he generously offered to hear our plans, offer insight where he could, and introduce us to the RPS community--which he thought would have a lot of interest and feedback of their own. It was early December when the plan was set in motion. Jim wanted to let the paying supporters of RPS--a motley lot of 700-odd gamers--know about us. We were excited at the prospect, but wanted to get a few more critical features rolled out: the forums, some party system improvements, and the group system. (You'd be right in thinking Evolve of late 2010 was a very spartan platform compared to today.) We knew we'd need a month or two to get these ducks in a row, and, as it happened, our unofficial mascot, Charles Darwin, had a birthday coming up. Why not ask the RPS subscribers to check us out on Darwin Day,
11 Feb 2011! The day had finally come. Our ducks had been rowed, and the invite system prepared. Magicka, a brilliantly fun arcadey-type click-em-up had just come out, and we decided the best way to get feedback on Evolve was to bring the RPS subscribers together to play some rousing rounds of Magicka through the party system. Jim put together a quick explanatory email, sent it out, and we waited. Our first mini-surge happened in the blink of an eye. Evolve, then just under
150 strong, grew by nearly 100 users over the course of the morning. The
RPS groupon Evolve was packed to the gills with curious subscribers, who tossed out feedback and wisecracks left and right. At the event's peak, 4 simultaneous Magicka parties were running, and nearly 30 people were chattering over each other in the group. We tried our best to soak up the reactions, reply to everyone's messages, and, somehow, managed to sneak in a bit of time to play the game, too. Darwin Day ended before we knew it. We catalogued the hundreds of pieces of feedback we'd been given, and marveled that our little slice of the gaming landscape, puny as it may have been, had finally started to grow. Little did we know how big our next surge would be.
• • • • •To Be Continued... Our first dip in to the Rock, Paper, Shotgun community would soon be followed by a much bigger event, and the summer of 2011 would prove to be downright explosive. Stay tuned to find out how in the next chapter of the Complete History of Evolve!
Hooray, weekends! Hooray, more of the Complete History of Evolve. We're on part 6 now, and things are about to get real. How real? Really real. Really, really, real.
Last week, I talked about
Adambecoming our CEO, our failed bid for fame and glory in the Minnesota Cup, and the very exciting news that we'd raised a round of funding big enough to let
me [mamu]start working on Evolve full time. Read on to hear about our first year toiling away in the coding mines, attempting to breathe life into our ambitious plans.
• • • • •Making the Overlay
Feb 2010marked a new chapter in the saga of Evolve. Empowered by our first round of funding late in 2009, we decided it was time to put our pet project back on the front burner. And, given our lofty goal of working with all games, what better way to do so than to spruce up the overlay concept dreijer had originally built for his university project? Revisiting the overlay, we realized dreijer's initial approach might need some serious reworking. Overlays are something of an inexact science, and the way dreijer's code worked meant there was a very real chance some games might incorrectly detect Evolve as a cheat program. If that were to happen, we were pretty sure we'd be dead in the water. A team of 3 making a product with a tiny user base basically meant we'd never get the attention of the game developers to resolve any incorrect blacklistings. And what gamer would be willing to put up with Evolve if it meant they couldn't play their favorite games while it was running? So we went back to the drawing board. "What if", asked dreijer during one of our many brainstorming sessions, "we didn't build our overlay like everyone else? What if our overlay worked at a lower level--somewhere deep inside the bowels of Windows?" Intrigued, Adam and I encouraged dreijer to pursue this idea. In essence, rather than directly mucking about with the game itself after it was launched, the Evolve overlay would work by simulating a GPU driver--the special code that lets games talk to the graphics card inside a computer. It might still be possible for a game to notice our clever overlay, but at least there would be no reason to wrongly suspect it of being a cheat tool. Because we would be so low-level, we wouldn't have access to the parts of the game necessary to make cheating possible. The anti-cheat problem was solved, but a thousand new problems quickly replaced it. As it turns out, faking a graphics card on Windows is considered completely taboo. dreijer was working completely in the dark. There were no forums to turn to, and the questions he asked Microsoft's developer support were met with a flat "don't do that" response. Hours turned to days, days to weeks, and weeks to months. Would we be stuck with the original approach, cheat detection be damned? Happily, that answer would turn out to be "no!" After hitting the thousandth roadblock, dreijer called in a favor with a friend he knew at Microsoft. "Could you ask your coworkers if anyone there would be willing to lend me a hand?" As luck would have it, dreijer would be introduced to the perfect person: a guy who literally wrote the book about this part of Windows. After an email conversation, dreijer's contact filled him in on the last pieces of the puzzle. On
14 Jun 2010, at exactly 9:22 in the morning, dreijer called Adam and me over to his computer. "Hey guys, I have something you should see!" Curious, we huddled together, peering expectantly at dreijer's screen. He launched a game: Serious Sam II. The menu appeared. dreijer tapped a single key on his keyboard. And boom! In glorious ugly-as-sin green-and-gray, the Evolve test app appeared on screen! dreijer's crazy overlay idea was a success! Over the weeks following the mid-June milestone, dreijer steadily improved Evolve's overlay. It crashed less and less, and worked in more and more games. As things came together for the launch of our closed beta in Oct 2010, it looked like our big overlay bet would indeed pay off.
• • • • •Server Ahoy! While dreijer was toiling away on the overlay and all three of us were brainstorming new ideas for Evolve, I was tasked with writing the code for Evolve's servers. Even though I'd had a few years of experience building web apps between when I had graduated from college and when we landed our funding, Evolve was shaping up to be something far more sophisticated than anything I'd worked on to date. What we had in mind involved everything from friend lists and instant messaging, to profiles with detailed stats, forums, groups, and the integration of LAN Bridger as a core part of Evolve. Not to mention wish list ideas like automated matchmaking, voice chat, and integration with a half dozen popular social and gaming services. Although a bit daunted, with dreijer taking the lead on the client, and Adam helping the business side of things, there wasn't really another option. I'd have to man up, and figure things out. Progress came in bits and pieces, starting with the website. It wasn't long after our Feb 2010 kickoff that the website code allowed you to register an account, and log in. After that, I coded up the ability to add and remove friends, and built out a simple profile system. By
Jun 2010, the same month dreijer had his overlay breakthrough, his client was able to talk to my server, and I turned my attention to the real challenges. How would the instant messaging part of Evolve work, and how would we tie it together with the website? I had no idea where to begin, and dreijer's background in client software meant he didn't, either. After a serious amount of scrounging, we settled on a chat server that seemed popular, and attempted to figure out how to get my code to talk to it. Bringing chat online would take several more weeks, but by late summer, things were working smoothly. Friends from the website were shown in dreijer's client, and you could start chatting with them with a quick double-click in the friends list.
• • • • •The Launch As things solidified in both the client and server, we started thinking about launching a closed beta for Evolve. We knew it'd be an uphill battle to get anyone to join the platform, but, by launching, we'd at least have something to show the world, and a benchmark to improve upon. It was late
Aug 2010, and although much was left to do, the three of us agreed to launch on
10 Oct 2010--10/10/10--a suitably digital date for a very digital product. In the march to the 10th, our days got longer, and stress piled up. Features we'd meant to include at launch, like an interactive feed showing what your friends were up to, were dropped in the name of making sure we were ready. And then the day came. 10 Oct 2010. Our launch day. I began setting up our main server, located in Dallas, Texas, in the late afternoon, and was almost immediately beset by unexpected delay after unexpected delay. Hours rolled by, and before the three of us knew it, it was midnight. After sticking the delays out with me until the wee hours of the morning, dreijer and Adam turned in for the night. I kept plugging away at the deployment, driven by grim determination. Finally, at 5:29 in the morning, the server was live. I entered in a few commands, and, as if by magic, a beta invite appeared at my personal email address. I accepted the invite, and one minute later, I had joined Evolve. dreijer and Adam joined immediately after waking up, and shortly after, the three of us had friended one another. It finally happened. It may have had a pared down feature set. It might have only supported 100 games. But the Evolve closed beta was live--there could be no turning back.
• • • • •Next Week... Coming in next week's installment of The Complete History: Evolve starts growing. Adam arranges for a whirlwind investment tour of Silicon Valley. We relocate to the heart of San Francisco for three weeks. And things only get crazier. Make sure you stick around!
As you may have noticed, the header area of the Evolve site has changed a bit. Instead of the classic nebula background, we're now rocking an aggressive shot of tanks rolling into battle, courtesy of the fine folks at Wargaming.net.
World of Tanksmarks our first foray in to sponsorships, something we're trying out to hopefully help offset some of the costs of running the Evolve servers. For those of you worried that we're about to become a cesspool of blinking, auto-playing, in-your-face advertising, please don't panic! We carefully vetted World of Tanks as a partner, and the sponsorship banner we've put up in the header is one we carefully crafted out of the art assets provided by Wargaming.net. We're keeping very tight control over who we bring in as sponsors, and what form those sponsorships take. We'd love to hear your feedback, as well as any suggestions you may have for other sponsorships in the future.
Happy Saturday, all! Pull up a chair and join
me [mamu]for the fifth chapter in our ongoing series, The Complete History of Evolve. Read on to learn about
Adam'stransition from advisor to CEO, our first investment round, and the roaring return of the Evolve project. If you're new here, or just didn't feel like reading
last week's installment, here's the gist: although
dreijerand I had made some progress on Evolve, real life commitments and the LAN Bridger project pushed Evolve to the back burner. Adam came on board as an advisor. And the three of us finally met face-to-face for a few rounds of drinks at The Muddy Pig in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
• • • • •Adam Steps Up When we left off, it was
late 2008, and dreijer and I had invited Adam to join Echobit as an advisor. Although we had decided to temporarily shelve the Evolve project, we wanted to get a bit more serious about LAN Bridger, and Adam's previous business experience struck us as a great compliment to our grand, but perhaps naive, plans. The new year was upon us, and over the weeks that followed, it became clear that taking LAN Bridger to the next level would require more effort and discipline than dreijer and I had been pouring in to the project. Hamachi was becoming wildly popular, and LAN Bridger was still just a speck of dust on the radar compared to it. A few months in to
2009, we started bouncing around the idea of raising a small round of funding--enough to let dreijer and me start working for Echobit full time. Thoughts of Evolve also began to resurface. Perhaps we could raise enough funding to pursue them both? If we were going to get a lot more serious about Echobit as a company, and our two products, we realized Adam would need to be more than an advisor. Until this point, I'd been taking the liberty of calling myself Echobit's CEO, although doing so was born out of an idle amusement at job titles more than a clear background justifying the role. And so, in the early months of 2009, dreijer and I pitched Adam on becoming Echobit's CEO, and, effectively, our third partner and co-founder. As you may have guessed, he said yes, and has served as our CEO ever since.
• • • • •The Minnesota Cup & A Concept Trailer With Adam taking the business helm as CEO, we felt emboldened enough to dust off the crazy schemes we labeled Evolve, and see where they might take us. Together, the three of us hatched a plan to enter a local entrepreneurship contest, The Minnesota Cup. In exchange for submitting a detailed business plan, competing startups would receive critical feedback from regional business luminaries, exposure to the local investment ecosystem, and a chance at winning a not-insignificant amount of capital to help shore up operations. It was the perfect opportunity for Evolve! We officially entered the Cup on
31 May 2009, with just hours to spare before the deadline for the contest's first round. But would we advance to the next round?
Fun AsideWhile we waited with baited breath to hear back from the contest judges, Adam had conjured up an idea to make Evolve, still mostly words on paper, a bit more real to any potential investors, as well as the Minnesota Cup's judges. As Evolve was more than we could reasonably expect to launch without a bit of capital investment, why not simulate the product in the form of a concept trailer? We could whip up a script, and design something resembling an interface, cobble together some game footage--and combine these ingredients into a few minute explanation of the Evolve concept. We took the video idea over to the local production wizards at Fischer Edit, and over the summer, the team managed to produce
this awesome, if now a bit dated, concept trailer. The days continued to tick past, one by one, until
16 Jun 2009. Adam got the email first. We managed to beat out hundreds of other pitches, and made it as semi-finalists in the Minnesota Cup! Round two would prove a bit more elaborate than round one--to enter the Cup, we simply needed to put together what effectively amounted to an elevator pitch. To advance as semi-finalists, we needed to build a business plan, with explanations of how we would build our product, who our competitors were, and how we would make money. We submitted our 20 page business plan at the end of July, and played the waiting game once more... would we advance to the Minnesota Cup finals? Sadly, the answer came back in
Aug 2009: no, we would not. Our plan, even though it was accompanied by our snazzy concept trailer, had failed to convince the contest judges that Evolve would ever gain a significant number of users. Today, we're proud to say we have more than
370,000 reasonswhy those judges were wrong! Although we were a bit dejected from losing out on the Cup, we nevertheless opted to march on, and begin our search for investors in earnest.
• • • • •The First Investment As it turned out, that search wouldn't take much longer. Adam's penchant for pitching Evolve had only grown in the weeks following our participation in the Minnesota Cup, and by
Oct 2009, he'd managed to pull together a round of angel funding large enough to permit dreijer and me to start working on Evolve, as full time employees of Echobit! When Adam broke the news of our successful raise to us, we couldn't have been more ecstatic. We knew the road ahead would be a difficult one, but we finally had the opportunity to make Evolve a reality. My employment started in
Nov 2009, and dreijer scooted himself up from Kansas City, where he'd been working for the past year and change, in
Feb 2010. Onward and upward!
• • • • •Next Week... Tune in next week as The Complete History of Evolve puts the pedal to the medal, and dreijer, Adam, and I gear up to launch the private beta. What could possibly go wrong?
The weekend's in full swing, and by now, you ought know what that means! A new chapter in our ongoing series, The Complete History of Evolve. Read on to learn what happened to our first forays building Evolve, more about our future CEO, and the first time
myself [mamu]met face-to-face. If you haven't read
part 3 from last weekend, I'll recap the nitty gritty for you: dreijer and I had settled on a name for the successor to LAN Bridger, Evolve; dreijer took a stab at building Evolve for his senior university project; an old roommate and I looked in to building an Evolve Facebook app; and I met our future CEO at a local tech event.
• • • • •dreijer's Senior Project When we left off last weekend, it was
late 2007, and dreijer had come up with the excellent idea of using Evolve as fodder for his senior university project. The core concept we'd had in mind for Evolve involved a universal matchmaking engine. We wanted a tool that let you just log in, hit search, and boom, find a match--for any game (well, PC game) you wanted to play. By the mid-2000s, the cutting-edge of matchmaking engines were no longer simplistic free-for-alls. Algorithms like
Elo, originally devised for rating chess players, had been adapted for the madcap world of online gaming. For his project, dreijer had settled upon the idea of adapting an Elo-like rating algorithm for all games. After a match, anyone could rate players they'd met in the match, and the system would keep track of these ratings across all players and games. The ingredient that made it particularly clever involved bringing this rating mechanism in-game, but without developer assistance. We already knew we could get around the cruddy online-play modes many games included at the time--that was the entire basis of LAN Bridger. So dreijer began looking at ways to get his rating and matching interface injected in to games. Although overlay technology in 2007 was perhaps less exotic than in the few years previous, it still wasn't (and isn't) exactly straightforward. The basic idea dreijer conjured up involved hooking some of the internals of the games' rendering stack--only Direct3D for the scope of his university project--and adding textures representing his interface before the final image was sent out to a monitor. As spring 2008 rolled around, dreijer had made significant progress. His rudimentary matchmaking system could be brought up in a few different games, and while the skill-rating prompt had to be manually invoked (dreijer's code couldn't determine when a match had ended), it did the job. dreijer handed in his project to his university advisor, and waited for the evaluation--failure to pass would have thrown a wrench in dreijer's diploma. A few weeks later, the good news came: dreijer had passed! He had graduated from
DTUwith flying colors. In between all the madness surrounding his university project, dreijer had even managed to squeeze out another few updates for the still-nascent LAN Bridger.
Summer 2008came and went quickly for the now-graduated-and-job-hunting dreijer, and by fall, he'd decided to head to the States for a paid position with a tech company in the midwest. Exciting news, as this meant dreijer and I would finally be in the same time zone. Perhaps we could accelerate our big plans for Evolve!
• • • • •The Facebook App While dreijer was churning away on his university project, you may recall that an old roommate of mine,
Jeff, and I had started tinkering with a
Facebook app. The basic idea was to create a sub-profile within a Facebook profile, dedicated exclusively to gaming. Players would be able to rate games, add games to wish lists, and suggest games to their friends. If the app was to have any use, we knew we needed a reasonably large database of games to power it. But where to get such a database? We first thought about scraping
MobyGames, only to discover they require third-parties to license their data set. We emailed them to enquire about licensing opportunities for extremely early-stage companies such as ourselves, but heard nothing back. With MobyGames out of reach, we started looking for alternative ways to build the games database. After some brainstorming, we settled on scraping
Wikipediainstead. As it turned out, games on Wikipedia have a consistently structured sidebar with key information: names, genres, release dates, publishers, developers, and so on. We just needed to normalize the format of some of those pieces of data, and... Boom! Games database here we come! Jeff banged out the original parser in his free time--he and I were both seniors at Carleton College, ostensibly with course work to complete and senior projects of our own to finish--and before long, our games database had more than
10,000 entries, enough to make the Facebook app useful. I tuned the parser a bit more, and Jeff and I joined forces to build a rudimentary framework to power the backend Facebook's servers would hit when players used our app. We pushed the basic app out the door in
April 2008, and started roping our gaming friends in to using it to show off their gaming prowess. Over the next several weeks, we expanded functionality, eventually going so far as to include an in-app movie player with game trailers for popular and upcoming games.
• • • • •The Fate of All Things Our grand scheme was to eventually unite the Facebook app--or at least similar functionality like profiles, game ratings, and etc--and dreijer's senior project together under a unified Evolve banner. Unfortunately, life had a few other plans. Jeff wound up trekking around the world shortly after he graduated, and it became increasingly clear that the little Facebook app he and I built wasn't going to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of Superpokes, Graffitis, and so on--apps that racked up millions of users in the span on weeks. dreijer and I decided to terminate the Facebook app in the summer of 2008, and with dreijer getting ready to move to the US, and LAN Bridger starting to gain a small but dedicated following, we shelved his senior project, too, in favor of keeping LAN Bridger's momentum rolling in our precious little spare time. Thus, by
late summer 2008, Evolve had returned from whence it came. The ambitious plans dreijer and I had first laid out in those first fateful meetings in 2005 were effectively dead. How would Evolve ever come to life?
• • • • •Adam's New Startup By the
closing months of 2008, I'd gotten to know Adam much better, the result of collaborating with him on a new startup concept he'd been teasing out over the summer. Adam, if you recall from part 3, was the guy I met at a local tech event I'd attended in late 2007. The new startup Adam was ring leading involved building an online music platform similar to what Spotify, Rdio, and others would eventually bring to the market. Adam had brought together several acquaintances well-versed in everything from application design to marketing to programming, and was working out a game plan to get the ear of the record labels--something extremely critical to the startup's chances of success. Unfortunately, although the idea was an excellent one, the timing was a bit late. As 2008 marched to a close, one music streaming service after another was cropping up, many of which had already built up relationships with the music industry, in addition to being backed by large investment rounds. And so, in late 2008, with the music streaming startup a seeming impossibility, dreijer and I approached Adam with the idea of advising us in our endeavors with LAN Bridger. In
Oct 2008, after a pitch over lunch, and an introduction to dreijer via Skype, Adam graciously agreed to come on board and help us figure out how to turn Echobit in to a more serious venture--and perhaps resuscitate our ideas for Evolve!
• • • • •Face-to-Face-to-Face As the weeks rolled by, and 2008 finally drew to a close, a fortuitous circumstance arose. dreijer, who had settled in to his job in the midwest United States, had decided he'd spend his Christmas in the US rather than traveling the several thousand miles back to his homeland of
Denmark. I suggested dreijer come up to Minnesota to spend the 2008 holidays with my family--which meant flying to Minneapolis, crashing at my place there, and joining me for the multi-hour road trip to and from the northern wilds of
Minnesota. With Adam now on board as an advisor, and dreijer coming to Minnesota, we realized we really should seize the opportunity, and bond, face-to-face-to-face over a beer (or six)! And so, on
29 Dec 2008, after dreijer and I returned from the Christmas holiday up north, we joined Adam for a night at the fine Saint Paul drinking establishment known as the
Muddy Pig. Good times, and several delicious beers were had by all--hangovers, miraculously, kept to a minimum. To this day, Echobit is still made up of the three of us that had met at the Muddy Pig: dreijer, Adam, and myself.
• • • • •Next Week... Our little saga picks up the pace next week, with tales of our first investment, Adam's new role as our CEO, and renewed work on the tabled Evolve project. Until then!
Update 1 - 00:39 UTC Clients can once again log in to Evolve. It will take 30-45 minutes before all clients have managed to log back in. Hang in there while we're crushed under the awesome force of all of you hopping back online!
• • • • •Original Post A core Evolve server crashed a short while ago. We've rebooted it and are in the process of bringing up the rest of Evolve as we write this. Hang on a bit longer!
This release improves video recording, detection of Quick Sync on machines running Windows 8+, and works around recent issues with the detection of external broadcasting tools. Hooray! Read on for the full changelog.
• • • • •Full Changelog
- External broadcast detection has been updated to work around recent Twitch API changes. As a result, the client once again properly detects external broadcasting tools such as OBS and XSplit. Note that detection can take up to 2 minutes to kick in, depending on the load on the Twitch servers.
- Quick Sync feature detection for broadcasts has been improved for machines running Windows 8+.
- Fixed a crash if a broadcast was stopped and restarted in rapid succession.
- Fixed a crash if webcam was removed while a broadcast was stopping.
- Fixed a rare crash when joining a new party while already connected to a different party.
- Fixed an issue that caused a browser window to open when the client entered offline mode and the feed tab in the main window had been used.
- Fixed an issue that prevented video from being encoded for certain game resolutions.
About the Blog
You're reading the official Evolve blog. We regularly post details regarding upcoming features, game releases, changelogs, and an occasional comment about the industry. Make yourself at home!
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