Our build process and server have been working amazingly. It runs 24/7 and continuously builds and deploys to our development and QA environments the moment new code changes have been committed to the repository.
Each night, a new Release Package gets built and is available to be deployment into our live environment. The package includes database and website changes.
We are using CruiseControl and MSBuild to handle our automated build process and PowerShell to teardown, recreate and deploy both website and database.
As I mentioned, everything is running very smoothly and even at this early stage of hosting a live environment we are able to deploy in a matter of minutes.
We have 3 versions running in production; test, alpha and live. We deploy to 'test' first so we can ensure the latest Release Package has deployed successfully before we clone 'test' and roll the cloned copy into live. The 'alpha' version will be used to give our playtesters sneak previews of what is coming down the line.
All three versions are available on the website, deployed to the same hardware and infrastructure setup. For us this is important, as it allows global access from anyone we wish to see the various versions and we are therefore experiencing the true performance that players out on the web will receive.
If you haven't visited ilkor.com in the latest few weeks then I strongly advice that you do. Not only is it starting to receive new content, but the performance has improved by 300%!! Sounds impossible, but go and check it out for yourself. The user experience has greatly improved and the response times are super quick.
This is even more impressive considering the hardware Ilkor is being hosted on. We are running it on a dedicated server, but it is a fairly low spec machine. As soon as we start getting the volume of players we expect we'll need to beef it up somewhat, but for the moment it is doing an amazing job.
With the website now 95% optimized we are really focusing on pushing new content into live on a regular basis. Our aim is to have something new on the website every two weeks.
New content will be mostly added to the Features section of the homepage for a little while. This is being achieved by serving up the content in our specially skinned scroll popups!!
We've just released an update that gives more information on Lord Vega and Orco. You can get to this information from the homepage. Click on the 'Core Features of Ilkor' and then click on the images of Lord Vega and Orco.
Eventually this entire 'Features' section will be riddled with additional content which will help provide a richer backdrop to the game setting and mechanics.
Once everything is in-place these various pieces of the puzzle will give you a complete picture of what Ilkor: Dark Rising is about.
A screenshot has been included of what a 'scroll popup' looks like.
Many apologises. It's been a little while since our last blog entry. I can't believe just how quickly the time goes when you are busy
And we sure have been busy!!! It's now been a month since we went live with ilkor.com. The site seems to be holding up nicely.
In that time we've had a surprising amount of people signup to be part of the playtest, especially considering it isn't due to commence until June 2012. Having said that we do expect to get the playtesters involved much sooner than that.
We've also refined the website during the month of July, it has already gone through a number of updates mostly centred around performance and optimization improvements. I think we've managed to reduce the image sizes by about 3/4. The site now runs alot quick and we've had some very positive feedback.
On the development front we're working on the character creation process and will be involving our playtesters over the next few months to ensure what we're doing is right. I can't say much more about this here other than the setup will be a two step process. Players will be able to join and get playing very quickly.
We've also made a fairly big technology architecture change. We're now using MongoDB for our database needs. Originally we were going to be using SQL Server and Mongo just for the map components but now the entire game engine will be run off MongoDB.
The only exception might be our messaging and forum system. We've been exploring the idea of integrating phpBB into the game system. This uses php and either mySQL or MS-SQL. Our investigation has concluded it could be the best choice for Ilkor and although the integration won't be that straightforward it is possible. With some luck we should have this in place and ready for exclusive use by our playtesters by the end of the year.
Other than that we've been getting a fair amount of coverage on the various PBM and Gaming Forums and will soon be putting together a small low key marketing campaign to help spread the word of Ilkor further afield.