[This article by Ryan Henson Creighton is re-posted from the†Untold Entertainment blog, which is awesome.]
i'm not necessarily going to do a daily play-by-play of the entire Spellirium pre-order campaign, which we launched today to Seussian fanfare, because SNORE. But today was eventful enough that i wanted to record a few tidbits for posterity.
For startsies, my Internet service provider decided that this would be the Best Week to do nightly maintenance, and threatened complete shutdown every night at 1am. Picture me sitting at my living room table last night, double-fisting laptops and hopped up on Dr. Pepper, straining my neck muscles at the sloooowly-creeping upload bars on YouTube as the clock raced towards 1am. John from Rock Paper Shotgun had told me the schedule for their impending Spellirium alpha impressions article. It was slated to go live at something like 2 or 3am Normal Person Time (did you know the sun comes up at a different time in Britain? Talk about Bizarroland.), and so it was an actual race against the clock to get everything working before my service cut out completely.
It was a thrill-a-minute, let me tell you.
By 1:20am, the campaign video and the PC versions of the different reward tiers were launched and tested, but i still had this pesky Mac problem (did you know the buttons do different things on a Mac? Talk about Bizarroland.), and home Internet access did indeed go down.
And so it was that in the middle of the night, i packed my PC and Mac laptops into a suddenly achingly heavy backpack, and ventured out into the inky void to find a 24-hour Internet cafe. i launched the Spellirium pre-order campaign from behind a grody grease-covered desk that smelled of corn chips and despair. Bedtime last night was 4am.
When i awoke only four hours later, i launched the announcement post and started the Buzz Machine. By midday, former intern Mo had alerted Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, two adventure game mainstays, to the campaign on Twitter, but Tim couldn't see the site for some reason. This all led to some groaners about a database-themed adventure game. Venerated adenture dev Noah Falstein chimed in. It was all very surreal:
Noah apparently didn't get the memo about that joke, so Ron got a dig in:
Why was the site down, anyway? It likely had something to do with Tycho Brahe of Penny Arcade (on whom i blame the entire concept of Spellirium to begin with because of his outlandish review of Bookworm Adventures so many years ago):
— TychoBrahe (@TychoBrahe) April 9, 2013
SOLD, you fucking bastards.SOLD spellirium.com
The site was brought to its knees. i had been there twice before, but i hadn't learned. i managed to restart the server a few times, before MySQL completely crashed, which i guess is the point at which the LucasArts vets tried to access the site.
Folks on Twitter suggested that i house any and all images on Amazon S3 servers to alleviate the load. That was all well and good, but i couldn't get into my site to make those changes, and i had never dealt with a database crash before. i called my hosting company and asked what was up.
It was particularly stressful to make a support call when i knew that a bajillion of Tycho's followers were trying to see what he was so enthusiastic about. The guy on the support call restarted MySQL for me, and then suggested one little tip that would make everything run a bit more smoothly:
Him: Click on the admin page.
Him: Now click on the "server update" button. Tell me when it's finished.
Me: Mmmm ... okay. .... Now. It's finished now.
Him: There. Now your server has 2x the memory.
Me: It ... what?
Him: Do you have any more questions?
Me: .... uh .... yeah, actually.
Me: If there was a way to double the server memory all this time, why did you wait for me to click that button? i probably would have been okay with YOU pushing that button. Without me. Like, a long time ago.
Him: Well, we just kinda wanted you to know about and appreciate the upgrade, i guess.
This was some full-grade ruby-slippers-return-you-immediately-to-Kansas bullshit right here.
With double plus server memory, i was able to access the campaign site and offload most images to Amazon's servers, except for the gigantor full-page background images, due to a Wordpress weakness. The last little surprise of the day was this conversation i had with a friend of mine on Facebook about Spellirium:
Only a few minutes later, i was watching the pre-order emails fly by, and i see one from "Kim Swift". i thought "that couldn't be the Kim Swift, could it? One of the original developers on Portal? What kind of an insane coincidence would THAT be? Talk about Bizarroland." Yep. It was that Kim Swift.
And she was only one of a number of amazing devs i admire and respect who decided to give Spellirium a shot today.
In summary: Day One was a roller coaster of emotions, and now i need a powernap. Day Two of the Spellirium Pre-Order Campaign begins tomorrow.