Survival Of The Smartest: Evolve

By Jim Rossignol on April 22nd, 2011 at 12:00 pm.


UPDATE: Use this link to sign up to the beta, and there’s an RPS group already in there, I believe.

For the past few months I’ve been playing around with an unreleased gaming application called Evolve. It’s an interesting piece of software, rather like Steam without the digital distribution, and with a whole load of other functionality that is otherwise spread across different applications such as Hamachi, Raptor, and so on. Evolve is an attempt to merge all of that stuff into a single system that will encompass both LAN-bridging systems to play older games, and social networking systems to make it easier for people to play in larger groups. It’s a website, a social network for gamers, and an overlay with stuff like an in-game browser. It has even more exciting features planned, too, as this interview reveals.

Impressed by what I’d seen, I decided to talk to founders Michael Amundson and Soren Dreijer and find out a bit more about where the Evolve project – which is about to launch publicly – is going.

RPS: Can you tell us a bit about the background of this project? Where did it come from?

Amundson: Back in the summer of 2005 Soren was working on a PC gaming app called LANBridger, and he built it because he was having a bit of trouble playing a few different LAN games – namely things like Dungeon Keeper, and I think Halo might have been on the list too – across the internet with a couple of his friends in Denmark. So he was working on that and I happened to be studying abroad in Denmark that fall. We had got to know each other via an adventure gaming website, and so we grabbed lunch a few times and ended up chatting about games. He started talking about LANBridger. This sounded pretty cool, and it was before things like Hamachi and so on had really surfaced. We started talking about how it covers a lot of useful cases where people are playing games across the internet and the games aren’t co-operating. We figured that we could do a whole lot more than create a network-level application, which was all that was the original intention.

After about three years or so we realised we should call it something better than LANBridger, so we came up with this Evolve concept, and we started working on a whole suite of services – chat, sharing information like Facebook, friends systems, status updates and so on. Fast forward a few years from there and in 2010 we had something to debut to people. That was where we started our first closed beta.

RPS: So what sort of state is Evolve in now, in 2011?

Amundson: All the functionality of the application from way back in 2005 is in there, and we have built that into a system called “parties”, which let you group up with friends and that automatically puts you on a virtual local network, which works across the internet. For older games, where the servers might have been taken offline, or where they only had LAN protocols, this is a great way to play.

We also have a full-fledged IM client, with group chat available, this allows you to see who is playing what, interact with people, join people in other games, and so on. We also have an activity feed that tracks what games you have been playing, and for how long. You can also see that in other people’s profiles, see what people are playing and what they are up to.

So we have basically been building a social network, and we’re ready to do something more interesting than simply being a social network, which brings us to where we are now…

RPS: So why would I install this when I already have Steam installed? Which I do. And most of our readers will.

Amundson: Sure, that is often the first question we have to address. What we felt Valve had done with Steam is approach the platform as a mechanism to distribute games. They had everyone working to unlock Portal 2, for example, as a consequence of that. But, for the rest of it, well, it feels like Valve’s zeal isn’t there. There are areas where it doesn’t feel like the functionality is fleshed out. When you log in the first thing you see is the store, it is there to sell you something. Recommendations, new stuff, that’s the priority, and the community is hidden a few tabs across.

You can create a group on Steam, but you also want forums, video-sharing, things like that. Steam groups have a calendar and a chatroom, and that’s where it stops. Evolve is a purely social counterpoint to Steam. There’s X-Fire, Raptor, and so on, too, and these are more trying to be a chat client. The stuff they offer is a glorified IM client that might let people know what game you are playing. What we trying to bring into Evolve is the step way beyond that. For example we want to offer a widget platform, where people can take a bit of functionality they’ve built into a game via the overlay we’ve created.

Dreijer: This is where we are fundamentally different to all those other guys. We’re trying to make it the same experience you have on the desktop – all your chat windows and so on, that can all be brought into the game. We want to be able to offer a widget platform to add to that, so people will be able to bring in a CPU-usage meter, for example, or a map for playing WoW, and so on.

Amundson: Maybe I want a quick search for WoWHead, and I could use a browser and visit the WoWHead homepage, but maybe that’s overkill. People could instead do a widget that could allow you to get these search results up in-game. Another example might be data-mining, and people like saving out data from their games and analysing it. Widgets should be flexible enough to do that. A DOTA replay manager, for example, could take data out of that for the widget and give players more data to work with.


RPS: So these are plugins purely coded by users?

Amundson: Yes, a parallel would be add-ons for WoW, or plugins for WinAmp.

RPS: So you are are announcing Evolve to the world… what’s next?

Amundson: We’re now fully opening the beta over the next few months, and we’re aiming to deliver matchmaking. And we’re doing that differently. One of the most frustrating experiences in gaming is having this game you are really interested in playing, but you don’t have any friends online to play it with. Well, then you fall back on matchmaking. That’s fine if it’s a game where you can hop-in solo and have a blast, like Team Fortress 2, but if you are playing DOTA those hop-in experiences can be a lot less worthwhile if you can’t get people together ahead of time. So what we are looking at is allowing people to get matchmade and dragged into a channel simply because they are interested in playing a game like League Of Legends, or Magicka, or something like that. The idea is you fire up Evolve, select a game, and that says “I’d like to play this, fix that for me”, and then Evolve finds other people who are interested in that game, and matches these people up and puts them in a voice and text chat room, as well as a virtual network. So instead of having to struggling forwarding ports to play Borderlands, for example, you can just play, because you are already connected via the party’s virtual network. Evolve has already done the hard work! We’re trying to get that wrapped up in the next couple of months.

Dreijer: The other issue with matchmaking in games is that if you fire up a game and hope to get matched, then it doesn’t work if there aren’t that many people around at the time. For some games it’s okay, but other, maybe older games, it isn’t. So you could maybe set that up in Evolve and say “search for me” and Evolve does that while you play something else.

Amundson: Right, matchmaking is only ever with people who are online, in-game, but not playing. Evolve should allow people to go play The Witcher, but still be available for matchmaking in Magicka.

Dreijer: So you could set it up to say “if anyone ever pops up who wants to play Dungeon Keeper, then I want to play”. And when that person comes online you get matchmade.

Amundson: Universal matchmaking. It’s a spontaneous chat channel and virtual network that allows people to meet up and play. It’s all the tools they need to get a game going.

RPS: That is clever. Is there anything else you need to explain about Evolve so people get how it is different from other overlays?

Amundson: This is a platform that exists in the same way on the web, on the desktop, and in game. What distinguishes us from the competition is that you are at work with a browser open, and it allows you to access chat, forums, even widgets. And that is much the same experience as you would have in-game with the client overlay running. The reality is that gamers spend most of their time in-game, and so we want to bring all that stuff into the game. If you can do it on the web on Evolve, you can bring it in game.

RPS: Hmm! So, you are not tied to either digital distribution or a major chat client. How do you expect to pay for continued development? Evolve is, surely, going to be free to use?

Amundson: So at the moment monetisation is one of those things that we’re punting on. We’re building a kick-ass product, and we’re working on getting people to be interested in it. When it comes times to monetise there are a variety of options – like making some new features paid-for additions to the client, or simply allowing people to upgrade to “support of Evolve” status and unlock additional features. That subscription might give you access to a more sophisticated set of tools.

There are also some interesting ways to do advertising. The more obnoxious advertising gets, the less people seem to be interested in it. We think it might be better to get big companies to sponsor events – so we could do a certain amount of paid-for functionality that becomes free for a few weeks when a company sponsors it.

Dreijer: We’ve also been looking at wagering. We have groups and clans on Evolve, and we could do ladder systems. We contemplated adding wagering to that.

Amundson: That’s a lot of what’s going on in the pro-gaming circuit, and making it a bit more friendly. There’s a difference between someone who will take a week off to play at a pro-tournament, and the people who are just good players, and we think we can offer something to that wider audience with that.

RPS: So people can go away and try Evolve now?

Amundson: Yes!

RPS: Thanks for your time.

__________________

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79 Comments »

  1. BAshment says:

    I like LANBridger.

    Edit: I think steam handles the community aspect well enough, and I don’t see the appeal of game overlays mimicking social networking sites.

  2. mandrill says:

    Interesting.

    How are they getting around the obvious issue: ie the fact that a lot of people use Hamchi and other VPN systems to circumvent the DRM on pirated games which stops them playing the official multiplayer (but which doesn’t prevent LAN play)?

    Are they working with the publishers to prevent this? If not, how are they going to get publisher support for their software?

  3. Bilbo says:

    But, I’ve already got Steam, and I’ve already got Hamachi. Why do I want this? The anti-steam arguments kinda read like rubbish – there are steam forums, and people like buying stuff, so that’s pretty much sunk them, actually.

    AND you want a subscription fee? No thanks… no thanks

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      They’re not asking for a subscription fee.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      “…simply allowing people to upgrade to “support of Evolve” status and unlock additional features. That subscription might give you access to a more sophisticated set of tools.” (emphasis mine)

      You’d be getting, in effect, a “Lite” version, unless you paid a subscription.

      Granted that’s just one of several possibilities they mentioned, but it was the second one after “pay for better features”. And the other two options seem kind of… unlikely to earn much money, shall we say.

      I wish them the best, but in this interview they didn’t do much of a job of making it seem desirable, at least not to me.

    • Bilbo says:

      @Jim
      Really? It sort of sounds like that’s one of the options they’re considering. Yes I realise that it’s optional, but I don’t like the sound of it all the same. Considering it’s all functionality that can be accomplished with free tools anyway, luring users into using their format and then slapping a fee on “more sophisticated” functionality – which could mean *anything* – is a bit underhanded. If they weren’t on the market, we could all continue using our non-converged solutions for free and in peace, but if they get a decent uptake rate people could find themselves using their service just to keep up with their chums, and in so doing find that they need to pay a subscription to host servers or whatever. So, generally, not a fan. I don’t wish them any specific harm, or anything, it just gets my back up when web 2.0 types come along with grand plans to monetise things we already enjoy for free.

  4. Harlander says:

    Doesn’t this also fail on XP?

    • pepper says:

      To those saying that there is no client for XP, its pretty much dead for development of new products. Microsoft doesnt support it anymore.

  5. a.nye.123 says:

    “You can create a group on Steam, but you also want forums, video-sharing, things like that. “

    No, I don’t. Besides, Steam already has forums.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      This. It just doesn’t seem like anything new or useful.

    • arghstupid says:

      You could have said the same of facebook, that did nothing new – its all about how well things are integrated. Relatively hardcore gamers are much smaller market then everyone with an internet connection however, so could be hard to make it turn a profit. On the other hand if a blog can do it…

    • soundofvictory says:

      The thing that has me excited is the virtual network thing a la Hamachi. Sure you could just use hamachi, however that really only works if you already have someone to play with. What if you have a hankering to play some obscure decade old game’s multiplayer, but you don’t know anybody else who has it. Through the social network features and matchmaking thingy, you might be able to get a little game together.

      That is something that steam doesn’t *technically* offer.

  6. airtekh says:

    “I fancy playing this, who else wants to as well?” is a feature I feel has been sorely missing from Steam for quite a while now.

    I’m intruiged.

  7. Pwnedge says:

    Having used this a few times to play WC3 with friends, I can say that it’s without a doubt the best VPN I’ve used, with everything working straight away and hassle free for everyone involved. I really can’t imagine the social networking side really gathering any momentum though.

    • heartlessgamer says:

      I guess I just won’t understand the push for social media on top of every great tool being made. How about they just make a kick ass tool to bring gamers together and drop the social media. People are not going to give up their Facebook/Twitter/Whatever for another social platform. Why unnecessarily compete with billion dollar companies?

      I wish these guys success. There are some great ideas here, but it looks like a project where scope creep has gotten way out of control.

  8. skinlo says:

    Its a very tough market to crack, I wish them luck, but I fear it may not be successful.

  9. Leverpastej_ says:

    Matchmaking for older games that only has lan sounds very interesting.

    • McCool says:

      This. Bloating a service that sounds this interesting with the 17th Social Network I apparently have to be a part of and other similar useless features is actually a turn-off for me. But a match-making service for games that only had LAN options? Seriously, where do I sign up?

    • Masked Dave says:

      Also this.

      That out-of-game match making service, along with the ability to setup all the games you might want to play if someone becomes available is the killer feature for me. I usually get around to playing co-op games a bit late, when most gamer friends have gotten bored, or just that being an adult with a job now means I can’t structure my life around what time everyone else can get to a computer too (growing up sucks). So the idea that I can get on with playing Dragon Age or whatever and just have something ticking away to warn me that I can finally play those L4D2 campaigns I never got the chance to before is just brilliant.

      I signed up to this ages ago (from an RPS newsletter I think) and forgot about it. That matchmaking thing will make sure this is a must have for me now.

  10. Cooper says:

    The most useful thing I see here is the match-setup system. I’ve always wanted a way to highlight a game I want to play, then wait for friends who want to play it too (or in the case of something like Multiwinia – anyone…), whilst I get on playing something else.

    Surely it worries the developers that Valve will simply copy their best ideas into Steam? Unless being invited to a job at Valve is their plan…

  11. Rebel44 says:

    Their financial plan doesnt look very reliable.

    Also as others already said: If many people use it only to play multiplayer of pirated games it will be impossible for them to get support from poblishers and developers.

  12. persechini says:

    Interesting for a start. Remember steam wasn’t nearly as polished when it was first released. But they DO try to hard to make the same cake and sell as a pie. Even the interface is designed after steam

    From what I could take from the interview, I think this would be a nice steam-like management for non-steam and/or older games, possibly for GOG too (since they don’t have any kind of management-community-chat-etc software). Getting the shortcuts into steam just dont feel the same

    But at the end, I think it would be just good if they get bought by valve and we see the one or two great features that stand out built into steam, mainly matchmaking for older games and games with a not so great built-in system, a better overlay browser engine (thou I guess newer IE engines and webkit on the mac version render this one less important), and whatever usability the interface gives us that surpasses the experience with other overlays

    Bottomline, I would definitely use it over windows games explorer, xfire, and the likes, but going straight for the leader takes a lot more innovation, specially when steam satisfaction levels are quite high

  13. salejemaster says:

    Dungeon Keeper, YES!

  14. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    GameRanger is what I’ve used to play HoMM3 in the past. It worked great for me.

    This sounds like a slicker, more modern approach to the same thing, though. I’ll be interested to try it out.

  15. CaLe says:

    This is probably nice for people with friends.

    • Ridnarhtim says:

      Fair point. I have like 3 friends who play games at all >.>
      But maybe it’s a way to find people who’ll play with you. The matchmaking sounds good.

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      I agree as well, none of my friends are gamers… So I’d be interested to see if you have to be friends or if it will connect you with people who just want to play a game. It seems like the latter but should probably check out the beta to give them feedback. Overall I have to agree I would rather this company get absorbed into Steam than have yet another community to join and remember to go to/sign in. Best luck to the devs and much appreciation for attempting to fix some of the issues with playing classic games!!

    • amishmonster says:

      So far it’s good for making new connections; there are people looking for Minecraft servers, pointing to their own, etc. Plus the social network is good for things I don’t want to put on Facebook.

  16. Rii says:

    The offline matchmaking stuff is intriguing.

    I wish them the best of luck. Unfortunately, I think they’ll probably need it.

  17. Ridnarhtim says:

    I definitely intend to try this out, and I hope it works out, because it certainly sounds like something we need.

  18. Noun says:

    There are a lot of different features software like this should have… But none of the has them all. That’s why I have Steam, Xfire, Raptr, Impulse, Hamachi, Fraps and some other programs installed… And Steam is the only one of them I use daily (BTW, it has now that screenshot feature and will get video recording soon. That will probably make Fraps obsolete.) because all my friends use it. I’m not sure if I’m going to give this a try… Probably it will become just one more item on that list.

    But oh well, I wish them luck.

  19. Hyoscine says:

    So, this should go great with a GOG habit.

  20. rashan says:

    it certainly looks interesting, and many of the features mentined (widgets in the overlay for instance) are things I’ve wished would be added to Steam… but how will it work with games tied to Steam already? I suppose you would have to disable the steam overlay for starters…

    • amishmonster says:

      Nope, as long as you have the overlays bound to different keys, they don’t conflict at all. I was using the Evolve overlay in Portal 2 yesterday without issue.

  21. pakoito says:

    Its not available! Only beta signups WTF?

    LIES!

  22. abigbat says:

    For one beautiful second I thought that said Evolva and got all excited over a possible sequel.

    Sad face.

    Sounds like an interesting service though!

  23. The Hammer says:

    Incidentally Jim, is there going to be another round of beta sign-ups for RPS subscribers soon? I’m very interested in trying Evolve out, but the last two times keys (?) have been sent out, I’ve missed the deadline!

  24. GenBanks says:

    Steam intertwines your ownership of a game with the community, so you’re automatically being social without any effort by earning achievements, taking screenshots for yourself etc. And user game recommendations work well in the context of a platform with an integrated store, and that also promotes community and conversation.
    Hopefully Evolve will get some of their more original ideas out there, but it’s difficult to imagine them carving a long term niche for themselves unless valve really sit on their arses and don’t continually add to the social features of steam (unlikely).

  25. Tony M says:

    Most of Steams features and integration only work for games you bought IN Steam (or have a Steam key). For non-Steam games its basically just a shortcut and thats it.

    Tony

    • lorddon says:

      This. Having something that works for all my games, regardless of where I bought them, would be downright awesome.

    • pakoito says:

      Also I won’t have to alttab for MSN/Facebook, or check gamefaqs which crashes half of GoG catalog.

    • Noun says:

      Steam Overlay, the most useful thing in the entire platform, works just fine in every game newer than Age of Empires II for me. I play all older games windowed. A 800×600 game wouldn’t look good on a 1920×1080 monitor anyway.

    • Unaco says:

      Actually… a fair number of Steam features are available for games you add as a shortcut. As Noun says, you get Steam Overlay for these games… which gives you an in-game browser, access to your Steam friends and community, access to Steam chat rooms and the like. The browser isn’t perfect, but it gives you enough to check a forum, consult a walkthrough, or check if the problem you have is common or similar. It can be a little temperamental for some older games, but I haven’t come across one that I CAN’T use it with yet.

  26. Mr_Initials says:

    i did think that people actually thought they could add this to the comments and expect people to buy from them. And its a CLOTHING SHOP. Why do i need to buy clothes?

    Edit: evolve looks pretty sweet though i’ll check it out

  27. Zaboomafoozarg says:

    I think you mean Evolvə.

  28. Olivaw says:

    I think this is a very interesting idea they have, and I love the idea of having a single program do all the work for me in playing old games over the internet, and making that (and finding other people who want to play said old game) an easier process.

    But if they don’t know how they’re going to monetize it, I don’t see this working out.

    Unless they plan to just get job offers from Valve. Because I’d be all in favor of that.

  29. snv says:

    “We figured that we could do a whole lot more than create a network-level application, which was all that was the original intention.”
    That’s called Feature Creep.

    Sounds like Gamespy. First it was great at what it was supposed to do (beeing a Matchmaking tool). Then it exploded and became unusable obese.
    Same as ICQ.
    Same as Azureus.

    • mamu says:

      We’re trying very hard to offer a rich set of features, but not weigh ourselves down with bloat. We realize it’s a very hard challenge, and we’re going to do our best not to turn in to another GameSpy.

      The client software is a bit heavy on RAM and CPU usage at the moment, but that’s more because we’re a two person engineering team and we’ve not yet prioritized optimization of the software.

  30. Tyshalle says:

    Yeah, I am not convinced of this either. It’s funny how they make fun of Steam for selling games, which, y’know, is how they profit off of their software that they provide to people for free, fully featured, and then their response to how they’re going to profit off of their software is: “Durrr…. we’ve got some ideas, like gimping the free system and making people pay for the good features.”

    I’m not sure that what little they are doing differently is going to be enough to make them successful at this given their current business model. Which is a shame, because it sounds like a neat enough idea.

    • mamu says:

      Hey there, I’m the Amundson guy from the interview.

      We definitely aren’t making fun of Steam for selling games. We’re just saying that’s their focus, it’s what they do extremely well, and that Steam Community isn’t necessarily their top priority (and really, it doesn’t need to be).

      When we say we’re punting on a business model, we mean it. We’ve not really decided for sure how to monetize, but we don’t intend to gimp what we offer for free. More like: (and this is strictly an example) say we offer hosted VOIP for your clan/guild– we might charge for clans and guilds who need > 16 voice slots.

      Hope that cleared things up a bit.

  31. Gar says:

    Talking about Steam, he says:

    “When you log in the first thing you see is the store, it is there to sell you something. Recommendations, new stuff, that’s the priority, and the community is hidden a few tabs across.”

    You can change this in the options… You can make your preferred page your library or the community tab, which will be the new first thing you see when you log in :)

    • Teddy Leach says:

      It’s also hardly difficult to mouse over the the great big ‘Community’ tab. It’s even in big letters just so that you can see it. It’s not hidden in the slightest.

      But thanks for the heads-up, Gar! I never really went into the Steam options to check for that. It’s just something that’s never bothered me. I like to be able to tell at a glance if there’s a sale on.

  32. Jimmy says:

    xD cruel, but funny…
    In the future people will look back and laugh at our social networking craze / bubble

    RPS readers are probably not the target audience here, for we are superior

  33. Alexandros says:

    It’s an interesting idea, one that I would definitely want to at least try out. Does the system work for games that already have some sort of “social” functionality, like Steamworks games or Uplay titles?

  34. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    If properly it tracks game usage universally like Xfire, as well as bundling social network and LAN functions I’m all for it.

    My problem with Steam is that the community integration could be better and I do wish it tracked games other than those you bought on the service.

    I’ll happily run both, hell I still run Xfire in the background mainly to track my hours and IM a few people.

  35. tomeoftom says:

    It looks absolutely fantastic. Few issues, though, dev “mamu” in the RPS chat says:

    “gfwl does the most obnoxious thing possible (surprise) with lan play: it locks you in to a 30ms challenge/response… so internet play via lan is just impossible, without using various dubiously modded DLLs”

    which is a shame, but I have such high hopes for this thing.

  36. jamesgecko says:

    I’m not a huge fan of having to install random mysterious drivers with my applications. Is this for the VPN functionality?

    • jamesgecko says:

      Ok, so the ONLY thing it really does is function as a chat/VPN thing with a generic social network bolted on. It also has the failing of every single other Steam-alike in that I can’t use it to track the time I spend playing random indie games (no Minecraft? You monster!); only the titles they deem worthy enough. And the UI is skinned and sluggish, as is required of any gaming-related utility. I don’t need VPN stuff, and I any social networking I want I already do through Steam and message boards. Sorry, uninstalled.

    • amishmonster says:

      Actually it tracks Minecraft just fine, not sure why it wouldn’t have been for you. Also, the supported game list has grown pretty quickly (I’ve been in the beta for a while) and I think the main bottleneck is the small dev team, not anything like perceived “worthiness”.

  37. pupsikaso says:

    Uh… “social network” for gamers? What kind of idiots think that gamers need “social networks”? We’ve got our own networks. They are called guilds/clans/websites/whatever, thank you very much. This facebook thing has really gotten into people’s heads hasn’t it?
    F* right off, “social networks”…

    • mamu says:

      And guilds and clans often have websites. And those websites often have forums. And a community. One of the things we’re trying to do with Evolve is let you host your existing community in one location. We know several people who are affiliated with more than just one guild or clan, but they’re spread across several forums and websites as a result.

      (We’re not trying to be some sort of Twitter for gamers.)

  38. Teddy Leach says:

    I’m a little sceptical, but I’m going to see how it is all the same.

  39. Gabbo says:

    Well if the networking features work better than Hamachi, then it’s not all bad. A few friends and I occasionally throw down for various older games and Hamachi is really hit or miss. I don’t really care about any social networking aspects, I’ve got enough of them, don’t need more. But if it does make networking old games easier, I’ll give it a shot.

  40. Gabbo says:

    If the networking aspects work better than Hamachi, which I have had consistent problems with for years, I really don’t care if they have social networking. I’ll give them a shot based solely on that and never touch the other features.

  41. DOLBYdigital says:

    Just want to thank ‘mamu’ for providing some additional insight and calmly responding to even the most obnoxious comments with further clarification. Good luck guys!!

  42. Pretzel says:

    They really need a killer app for this to work. Steam had HL2 and Counterstrike to build it’s user base. The plugin support reminds me of the WoW ui modding. They need a game that really benefits from their features that it becomes popular. Staying free is a good idea, but any subscription price would probably kill it.

    My suggestion, sell to GameStop and add it to Impulse as the social component.

  43. Cromwell says:

    Ok, I am into it, 2 ^^
    Same name as here: Cromwell

  44. Mario Figueiredo says:

    The fact Evolve exist to offer an alternative to other more dominant options is already a good thing. Even if we were to ignore or disagree with Echobit’s efforts into creating something new and compelling, companies like this, and their projects, have the ability to keep the dominant companies on their toes. And that is a good thing.

    Personally, I find their service charming. The thought of an independent company, not tied to games sales, offering a complete platform for multiplayer (with an obvious love for LAN games as a bonus) is their selling point on my case.

    If I’m in the “business” of supporting indie game developers, I damn well be in the business of supporting indie gaming platform developers!

  45. destroy.all.monsters says:

    Sadly too late to get in on it.

  46. Daniel Klein says:

    It should be pointed out that there doesn’t seem to be a client for Windows XP.

  47. wcaypahwat says:

    Ouch. Did somebody namedrop portal or something?

    Seriously though, this is a couple of dudes working on a project, on their own time. They have some great ideas. A lot of it is merely improvements on what’s already about, but that’s a good thing if you ask me.

    A little encouragement, or at least constructive criticism wouldn’t go astray.

  48. Mr. Magoolachub says:

    This seems like an interesting idea, though I’m still a bit wary on how they plan to monetize it. It sounds interesting and I’ve applied for the beta, but the thing is I don’t really feel I -need- Evolve, so charging money in the wrong places would be a rather large incentive for me to just forget about the whole thing.

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