Ex-Nortel employee says made-in-Ottawa technology could save video game publishers millions of dollars.
Ottawa’s long history of networking companies might not seem to have much to do with video games, but that history – and the talent around it – is what led one Vancouverbased game developer to open an office in Ottawa.
Akimbo Creations hired its first local employee in January. The company, which is less than two years old, has since expanded its local presence and now has five employees in the capital who are working out of an office at Invest Ottawa headquarters.
“The Ottawa area is really the technology area,” says Akimbo CEO Behrouz Poustchi. “The Vancouver area is really the game area.”
Akimbo Creation’s Ottawa team will work on a new peer-to-peer technology that Mr. Poustchi says could save the publishers of large multiplayer games millions of dollars.
He plans to use the technology in the game his company is currently developing as well as license it to other game developers.
For Mr. Poustchi, it’s a way of hedging his bets in a fickle market.
“Creating a game is a very risky business, so I needed something a little bit more than just a game that may or may not succeed,” he says. “We obviously think it’s going to succeed, but I’ve seen a lot of games that don’t succeed as well.”
Mr. Poustchi says it makes sense to locate his technology team in Ottawa.
“It’s a networking project that we’re doing (and) all the good networking people should be in Ottawa,” he says.
Mr. Poustchi should know. He spent a long time in the capital’s networking industry while at Nortel in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In the early 2000s, he was the chief technology officer of Ottawa-based Nimcat Networks, which developed peer-to-peer phone technology.
That experience is what led to the technology that Mr. Poustchi’s company is currently developing.
Currently, most multiplayer games use a client-server model, in which all the data about what players are doing has to go through central servers.
That means gaming companies
require massive numbers of computers and have to pay for large amounts of bandwidth because everything a player does or sees in the game has to be sent back and forth from those central servers.
Mr. Poustchi’s technology is based on a peer-to-peer system in which the processing done by the central server is decentralized and handled by players’ computers.
His technology also has what he describes as “fault tolerance,” with multiple machines doing the same calculations to catch dishonest players.
“If someone’s cheating, we can quickly detect it in real time,” he says.
That’s particularly important, he says, because many modern games are dependant on micro-transactions. Cheating could upset a game’s economy or turn players off before they start spending money.
“We are talking to some developers, so the interest seems to be there,” he says.
But Mr. Poustchi’s company isn’t just developing networking technology for games – it’s also making its own games.
On Sept. 12, it launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund continued development of its first game, ARC
The company has received some funding for development from the Canadian Media Fund and has already done significant work on the game.
However, Mr. Poustchi says the money raised through the Kickstarter campaign will allow him release a more polished product and gather feedback from potential fans.
The campaign’s official target is $100,000, but Mr. Poustchi says he hopes to exceed that sum. He says his bigger goal is to develop a game that looks as good and plays as well as any big-name title.
“Creating a game is a very risky business, so I needed something a little bit more than just a game that may or may not succeed.” – BEHROUZ POUSTCHI, CEO OF VANCOUVER-BASED VIDEO GAME DEVELOPER AKIMBO CREATIONS
Akimbo Creations CEO Behrouz Poustchi.