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.
At the time of writing this we have just 10 days before we launch ilkor.com. We're all very excited but nervous!!
We are determined to launch our website on the 1st July. Remember, the game won't be available to play yet, you'll have to wait a while longer (read below for more info). However come the 1st July you'll be able to find out information on the game, learn when the Ilkor will be available to play, sign-up for the beta playtest including some hidden surprises coming your way over the next few months.
The Ugly: Nervous because there is just so much to do still. We had hoped to be in a much better position than we are right now but for a stack of reasons we are running behind in putting together the content. I can see alot of late evenings and spending most of the coming weekend working on the outstanding tasks. We want to launch with at least a 'half decent' website. I'm sure we'll be updating the website on a continuous basis post launch date, but non-the-less we want our first web-presence to be a good one. The finishing touches just seem to take so much longer than we at first thought for numerous reasons, still making silly mistakes despite all our experience in web development!!
The Bad: We had hoped to launch the game on the 7th Jan 2012 as a beta playtest. However we have had to review that date. It appears that date is a little too optimistic. We don't feel comfortable with that date any longer. Unfortunately we are going to have to push that date out by at least a few months. You'll learn about the revised date on the 1st July. This is something we have thought about long and hard over the past few weeks. We felt it was too high risk to keep to such a tight deadline date and for what reason? Why do we want to put such pressure upon ourselves? Sure we want to get the game finished and open it for everyone to signup, play and enjoy, but we are doing this in our spare time. It is therefore difficult to forecast just how much development we can achieve in a specific timeframe. I really hope you are not too disappointed. I can assure you it will be worth the wait.
The Good: Keeping the best for last. We're busy setting up our web and database server. This task is happening this week while the final touches to the website are getting developed. The website is looking really great and should be available in all browsers including mobile. We've chosen a solid and reliable hosting company called ElasticHosts. They have a wonderful model and will allow us to scale when required. I'll blog about our technology stack sometime in the future when I have more time on my hands. The content is also coming together which includes alot of juicy game material, artwork and general information regarding the great features of Ilkor.
OK, well thats about it for the moment. I best get back to the grind to ensure we meet our launch date.