Upcoming release - 30.8.2011 and 31.8.2011
Finally after 8 months of a release silence, we will have a release! First one will go 30.8.2011 to the test build environment and the day after to the public build environment.
We are not going to announce it loudly because first we want to test the new auto-updater functionality. All of you who watch our forum will be informed soon enough and you will get a list of new features, screens etc.
One of the new features is peer-to-peer downloading. What does it mean? Until now, when you downloaded the setup file for Miner Wars or when you launched the game and it detected an updated version and then downloaded it - all these data came from our server at Amazon S3 and we had to pay for every single byte.
Not anymore! From now on, everyone who runs our setup or auto-updater seeds the data to other people. This helps us to keep low traffic costs.
The good thing about this is that you will be seeding only while setup or auto-updater runs. After it's done, no more uploads for you – we hope to use this function especially for after-release traffic peeks, when many people download the new release at the same time.
Saved money goes to charity and our pockets. By charity I mean more money for development - better and greater features. Everyone will be happy.
If you are interested how much money we speaking about, here is a simple math: we pay roughly $0.090 per GB. If we assume that one customer generates about 1GB of traffic by downloading the setup file and then a couple of updates, then 100,000 users generate costs of $9,000! That's not a killer, but I am personally scared to death by a vision of having 1,000,000 users and paying $90,000 or even more, because things can go only worse - people can start downloading like crazy, uninstall, reinstall, update, and all that would generate a lot of traffic.
EDIT: The new peer-to-peer setup will be postponed to next release due to some difficulties we have encountered during the last testing phase.
Moving to a cloud
On Friday we started having outages on our server. Very strange thing, monitoring tools didn't show any hardware or software failure. Server just kept restarting every couple of hours.
We knew that one day we would need to move to a more reliable environment, not depending just on one piece of hardware. However, there were other priorities, so we were postponing it. But now we were pushed by upcoming release, so we had to make a quick and brutal decision.
How to pick up a cloud server provider in 1 hour and during weekend? Well, that's simple - I already knew RackSpace and their portfolio of products, that their clouds have persistent storage, that they support people online 24/7 etc. - so I just visited their site, made the registration, created and configured new cloud server and within 30 minutes we had a new server. Then we moved there our web sites, databases and game services within a couple of hours.
The best thing about the cloud server is that when the physical hardware it runs on dies, they restart our server from the image within a couple of minutes. No worries about configuration, backups, etc.