Weekly Blog: Starwave Defender Coming Soon, UE4 Marketplace, and Website Instability

So I’ve put writing this off all week for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to publish this on the same day I released my upcoming game Starwave Defender
  2. There has been an absurd amount of instability with my web server

Website Instability

Turns out, I misconfigured PHP when I was setting up my server, and I had two different process managers spawning and killing my server processes. That resulted in my swap space being completely full due to an army of zombie processes, which was in turn causing the MySQL server to die repeatedly. While those issues were the root of the instability, I’ve also been getting a surprisingly large amount of requests to my server. So far I haven’t been able to figure out if its search engines indexing my site constantly, or if it’s the seemingly never-ending pile of bots trying to login to my WordPress installation.

For anyone interested, a lot of guides about the Apache fcgid mod mention adding the following line to the handler script:

export PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN=8

Normally, that would probably be a completely acceptable thing to do, however, with the version of the mod that I was using it turns out that was a terrible idea. Setting that to 8 resulted in over 300 PHP processes running, each using 300MB of ram. None of them would ever die either, I had to do full server restarts to clear them up. In my case the correct value for that export was 0, which allowed the mod’s internal process handler to deal with the processes.

After I got that cleared up today the website has been pretty stable, however, there has been an occasional 15 minutes of downtime due to the maximum connections being reached. I’m actually having that issue as I type this. I’ll have that sorted out later tonight, but I want to look into the reason it’s happening before I up the limit. My server is nowhere near full resource capacity right now, so I should have no issues even if I do just need to up the connection limit.

Unreal Marketplace

So, I’ve actually had kind of a meh experience on this front. I went in with high expectations, however, the responses I’ve received have been fairly poor, canned-sounding messages. On multiple occasions during the process, which, by the way, took an entire month, I had asked for a response. I never received responses, however, the first request for a response I could understand because what I asked for was actually sent as part of the automated “we got your message” thing. Now, the only reason that I’m actually displeased about the whole thing is that after my assets were denied, I was never provided with any meaningful details about why so I could fix the problems.

I asked for more details, however, its been a week and a half since I did so, and I still haven’t gotten anything back. To sum up my experience with the Unreal Marketplace and compare it with the Unity3D one though: Epic Games has some work to do. Not only have the Epic Games team failed to respond to me on multiple occasions and taken far longer to process the submission, when I last failed the quality checks on the Unity3D asset store I actually got a response telling me what was wrong. Hopefully I can get more information from them and get my assets on there, however, the lack of response has been really displeasing.

In the mean time if anyone wants to check out the assets in question, you can find information about them over on the Starbox Collection page on this website. While there are already a number of space-themed skyboxes available for Unreal Engine 4, more variety is always good as different people like different things. If anyone wants the Unreal Engine version contact me or let me know in the comments below so I can increase my efforts. I’m looking into selling both versions on the itch.io store.

Coming Soon: Starwave Defender

Speaking of itch.io, I plan on selling games over there. In particular, I’ve been working on an updated version of Starwave Defender. I made Starwave at the beginning of 2015 as an Android title, however, it never really made it past the front door. While it was enjoyable to play, the limitations that Unreal had at the time made publishing a mobile game somewhat difficult, and it never made it past the testing phase.

I’ve remastered the entire game, and just about everything is much better now. I no longer plan on releasing it for Android, and I’m shooting solely for the PC market as my testers all seemed to enjoy playing it more on their computers with their controllers than they did on their phones and tablets. Below you can find some screenshots of the game.

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This is a screenshot of the older version that I was making for Android, it’s far less detailed.

Screenshot_2015-01-06-14-39-59

For anyone interested in how I setup the scene and other graphical effects, I plan on covering that in my blog post next week. Speaking of graphics, the skybox used in the game is actually from the Unreal Engine 4 version of the Starbox Collection that I was trying to get on the Unreal Marketplace. Getting back to the topic of future topics though, I might also go over how the AI works, and how I had to implement it to maintain high performance, along with any other information people might be interested in. Some other things that would possibly be interesting include the Options Menu implementation, I’ve seen a few different people selling these on the market, however, not many tutorials on how to make them.

That’s all for this week, even if it is almost next week already. I really didn’t expect to be publishing this on Sunday. Hopefully next week I’ll either be releasing Starwave Defender or announcing its release date. It depends on what bugs I encounter and how fast the guys at Epic Games can respond to me about a question I’ve got regarding itch.io’s pay what you want feature. For the record, I have no dislike for Epic Games, they’re all pretty cool guys and are usually super helpful when I’ve talked to them, however, my experience with the Marketplace was less than stellar.

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