Gaming start-up Scalify receives $2m funding boost from Starfish Ventures

Scalify's Badumna technology has potential applications beyond gaming

New start-up company Scalify has received a $2 million funding boost from Starfish Ventures for its peer-to-peer technology called Badumna.

Badumna improves the performance of multi-player games by allowing users to interact in real time in virtual environments. It also saves costs by cutting out the need for a client server, instead delivering functionality straight to the end user.

“There’s a performance benefit, in terms of it being quicker; there’s a cost benefit because you need less servers and less bandwidth; and finally you have less constraints about how you can design these games,” Steve Telburn, CEO at Scalify, told Computerworld Australia.

“Traditionally, game developers or publishers need to design games with those constraints in mind in terms of performance constraints. [This means] they can’t have too many people in the same spot at the one time because that will create performance issues and they’re limited in terms of the functionality that they can offer to the players.”

The name of the technology was inspired by an Australian spider — Telburn said it was an apt analogy for how the technology works like a web to connect different users.

Badumna originally started as a research project addressing the issues of client server model gaming and underwent about five years of development, according to Telburn. It is to be officially launched in October 2010.

“People have intuitively always thought peer-to-peer is an appropriate model for online games, but there have been issues with actually implementing that in terms of the technical issues that need to be resolved. That’s what the research effort was focused around,” Telburn said.

He believes the research team at NICTA (National ICT Australia) were able to navigate these difficulties by approaching the problem from a telecommunications perspective, which is where NICTA’s experience lies, compared to from a game development perspective.

However, Telburn said there are potential barriers to companies adopting Badumna’s technology, including “the uncertainty around peer-to-peer networking, because people have considered that this is a solution, but they haven’t been able to implement it properly in the past”.

“[Another] key concern that people have is around cheating, to the extent that you can prevent cheating. But we have solutions for that as part of the key innovations that these guys have come up with.”

While the first version of Badumna was only compatible with Unity, Scalify plans to release an Adobe Flash compatible version, with a major revision to the technology to be released in the July quarter of this year.

“Adobe Flash support is our number one priority at the moment. Over time, there are other things we can offer in terms of functionality that utilises the peer-to-peer network so that we can broaden the scope of the types of things that can exploit that network,” Telburn said.

“Then we also want to look at other applications beyond just gaming, so there are some interesting applications and things like location-based services or collaboration tools...anything where you’ve got lots of users online at the same time is a potential application for us.” This includes telehealth applications.

Some small “indie developers” have already used Badumna, with several companies using the technology to launch products in the next six months, according to Telburn. Scalify is also working with larger publishers for more established games, but Telburn said he can’t divulge who those companies are.

Scalify is the eighth spin-off company of NICTA. Other spin-off companies include Nitero, which received $1.4 million in government funding from Commercialisation Australia for its ‘GiFi’ technology, which uses a high frequency wireless technology to facilitate high-speed data transfers between devices.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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