Hi, I'm Daniel, I don't know what I am

My day job is computer programming. My preferred (and current) work arrangement is contract. I get bored easily with traditional employment, so I switched to an arrangement where job hopping isn’t considered horrible.

Like many people here, I have more ideas than time. Historically, I have switched between ideas as quickly as I used to job hop. Right now I’m forcing myself to ride my current idea out. It costs me basically zero money, nobody expects a response time that would interfere with paying jobs, and it’s in a niche that I have genuine interest. Basically, I’m looking to actually give this idea enough time to have successes and failures to learn from. It’s about time.

The idea is a website for players of Magic: the Gathering.

Right now there are deck building websites (two major ones that the vast majority of the market has tried at least once, a small handful of minor ones that most have not heard of), there are meta-game websites (mostly one dominant one, at least three smaller ones, but this is a niche used by fewer of the community, so even the dominant one is sometimes not known). At the core, the site essentially combines both of those features into the same site. There is definitely some value to having both in one place, but it should also be noted that those that exist are pretty mediocre. Mine right now is sadly no better, but there is ample room to be significantly better than the competition.

There are vague plans on how to take the site into truly unique areas. Some of those ideas have code written (mostly hung up on UI issues). Some are little more than ideas. None are fully live at the moment, so right now there’s no truly unique features.

There’s also no monetization. For now, that’s fine. Monetizing things is one of my things I set out with a goal to learn though, so I do need to tackle that at some point. For this project I’d be more than happy breaking even though, so my sights are fairly low. Ideas for monetization are quite varied and probably deserve their own post(s) if I were to go into them.

The site as it stands today is http://www.gracefulstats.com . The URL is fairly bad, and will probably change when and if I start marketing in earnest. I’m at a blank for better names, so I used an existing URL.

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My first thought was “Huh, for dead people then?”, but then I checked the sales figures… jeez, this thing is huge and still growing!

I know nothing about MtG, so I just wish you a good luck.

P.S. I’m a contractor too. My side-project schedule is 2 hours a day after 9pm (kids went to bed) + paying a subcontractor in Ukraine.

Yep, they had a very rough year a while back and lost a lot of players. Combine that with the fact that many people played as teens, never got super into it and sorta faded away and a lot of adults assume that it’s either gone or still just a game for teens. But a surprising number of them did stick with it (myself included) and the game is VERY deep if you spend the time learning it. There’s a guy in his 40s that has participated in the tip-top tiers of competition in three different decades now. It’s remarkable.

I’ve always preferred to think about “projects” versus “jobs,” but that doesn’t always fly in the world of work(craft).

I don’t know anything about the game, but it sounds like if anyone could find a way to monetize it, it would be you, based on your interest. (Though it seems like you’re enjoying your time irrespective of financial outcomes, which is profitable of itself.)

Good luck!

It sounds like you’re moving in a lot of directions with this (working on a bunch of features, getting stuck and switching to something else, not finishing much). It sounds like you need some focus for your efforts and you need to stick it out on a couple of things. You’re already doing that on the site overall, so that’s a great sign. You can do it on a smaller scale too.

Monetization aside, you need to solve some other peoples’ problems. You’ve said a lot about what you think the community needs, but you haven’t said much about what other people are saying. If you’re not already doing this, get feedback on a list of possible features (specific stuff) from people in the community. Get 20 different people to tell you what’s most valuable to them, in your list. 50 is better, but start somewhere. You’ll start to see patterns emerge, even with a handful of responses. Then tackle the stuff everyone wants, one feature at a time.

Pretty much right on.

I think one of the core problems is that inside of this market are several others, with disparate needs, and I haven’t picked one of those fully.

Casual Normals
They don’t need much. My competitors are likely good enough, to be honest. I could be prettier in theory, but my design sense isn’t great, and I doubt I’ll be enough prettier to really pull a substantial number over.

These guys come up with their own decks and never play “net decks” or decks that someone else designed. These people are my ego-driven consumers. They want to share their decks with others. They want to prove that they beat “real” decks. This is where I mostly identify. This is the group that is most likely to form a supporting community.

These people are net deckers and are unapologetic about it. They want to win and you win by playing the best deck. They play a LOT of competitive magic. They are primarily interested in finding out what others are playing, especially if it makes their deck comparatively better or worse, and so that they can make tweaks to their deck to compensate. This is the most likely group to pay, since they often MAKE money by playing the game, but they’re also the smallest group by a large margin.

Casual Fringe
There are alternate formats that people play. The most popular one is probably EDH/Commander, where decks are 100 cards instead of 60 and the vast majority of cards you can only have one copy of (instead of up to 4). A lot of deck sites get really awkward with such large decks (mine included, currently).

Most of what I’ve implemented hits multiple groups: comments are useful for all groups to varying degrees. Metagame tracking is useful for Brewers and Grinders. Where I’ve mostly been hesitant are things that only one group wants, since halfway through I’ll decide another group is the important one.

Sounds like you’re on the right track, as far as knowing your audience(s). As you said, committing to one will probably help a great deal. Maybe you can put some time bounds on it: say, commit to work only on really targeted stuff for Brewers for 6 months. Plan to re-evaluate at that point, and then don’t worry about whether you’ve got the right audience in the meantime.

If I had to pick, it would be one of these: the group I affiliate the most with, or the ones most likely to pay.

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I own a heavily aged domain, thejitte.com if you wanted something related or fancier for a url. :wink:


I was going to pay somebody to write some content and flip it but we could work something out if you were interested.

Oooh, that’s an interesting proposition. Not sure if it’s in the barely-existent budget, but worth a conversation. Now to figure out how to move this conversation into private…