September 12, 2009

The Games that GarageGames Plays?

A few weeks back, I wrote about my experiences with GarageGamesiTGB product and what I found missing from it, as well as how the product could be improved. Of course, my blog doesn’t have that many regular readers and I don’t update it that much. So the notes were just for those searching Google for opinions on iTGB so that they would know all the facts before they bought the product. So I was rather surprised when I received a rather vitriolic comment on the second post about iTGB which attacked me rather than provide anything more concrete about the iTGB product itself than to say that GarageGames is “one of the very few companies that’s out there trying to provided productive tools for development on the most open, accessible platform there is today.” (his words, not mine).

The comment did read a bit as if it had been written by a GarageGames employee and I said so in my response to him. And I also re-iterated the points that I was complaining about with regards to iTGB – that GarageGames was misrepresenting iTGB as an easy to use tool when it really wasn’t. Plus, their support (both pre- and post-sales) is barely there since they seem to depend on users searching their forums. Why pay a lot of money for a product which is billed a “professional” level when the support just isn’t professional level?

He came back with more vitriol and personal attacks about my competency to judge the product but never really responded to the “sock puppet” thing except to deflect it with a comment about how he liked sock puppets and so on.

If there had been one comment, I would have thought that the guy was somebody who came across the blog accidentally and was just hurt by the besmirching of the good name (as he saw it) of one of his favourite products. But two comments? That seemed a bit beyond the call of duty. So I took a look at my comments section and I noticed that both comments had come from the same IP.

Comment Info

So I did a look up on the IP and this is what I found (I’ve taken out parts of the page and am showing only the two relevant bits):
IP Lookup
IP Lookup Result

Hmm … so the comments were coming from somebody who was staying at a hotel in London? What business traveler actually takes the time to respond to blog posts if they are traveling? That looked a little suspicious. Of course, one might point out that I had no reason to actually believe that s/he was a business traveler or that s/he wasn’t an employee at the hotel or that the person might have been on vacation and spending a rainy day indoors by looking for some trolling action. All of this was possible :) But the tone of the e-mail and the rabid defense of GarageGames, made me think, now more than ever, that this might be an employee of GarageGames.

So I checked on another thing. I checked my Apache server logs to see if the person had come from Google or some other search engine to my site. I wasn’t very surprised to find that this wasn’t the case. They weren’t referred from another site but came to my site directly – probably via a bookmark or a link from an e-mail.

Sure, again, this wasn’t conclusive proof. There are utilities around that help you erase your tracks, to hide referrers and so on. But it was beginning to look more and more (at least to me) as if this person was from GarageGames and was simply trying to make the company appear look good by making all sorts of claims. Honestly, it would have made GarageGames look much better if they’d listened to my constructive criticism and made some changes. But this probably was cheaper :) (Again, I should try to be objective and mention that it’s possible that GarageGames as a corporation might not have known about this little stunt. It might have been just one individual acting on their own.)

Anyway, I didn’t see much point in following this up further because I didn’t have conclusive proof. Plus, the individual never came back and so I just let it go. That was, till today. Today I was taking a look at the GarageGames forums for something and came across this post:
GarageGames Post

What? A GarageGames employee was actually visiting London the same week that the comments appeared on my post from a London hotel? How coincidental can that be? (Actually, to be fair, it still could be coincidence but it’s beginning to seem more and more like it isn’t …) According to his profile, Brett Seyler is an employee of GarageGames (and I think I read somewhere else that he was director of technology or marketing or something …).

So did Brett Seyler post those comments? I don’t know. It’s possible that this was still done by somebody not connected to GarageGames. It’s also possible that there were other GarageGames employees traveling with Brett and the comments came from one of them rather than Brett himself. I have no way of knowing. But the evidence is piling up against GarageGames and if these shenanigans indeed were carried out by one of their employees, then they are indeed rather contemptible. Fix the issues, acknowledge you have issues, don’t try to intimidate people and spread false propaganda – that’s how I would approach it. But then again, I’m not a corporate type :)

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Tags: Real Life, Software, Technology
Posted by Fahim at 6:21 am   Comments (4)