Passion helps, a lot!
Lets-Flip was a project created from the launch of Oldschool RuneScape. I played Runescape back in the late 2000's while at school, probably a bit too much, but I was always a fan of 'merching'. Trading with other players and by buying an item then marking it up and selling it for a profit of the difference.
With the launch of Oldschool RuneScape, an opportunity presented itself, and I had the skills and knowledge to capitalise on it.
During an update to Oldschool RuneScape, a 'Grand Exchange' was created, this is a trading post where offers can be left and other players on other servers would still be able to purchase them. A third-party client by the name of OSBuddy created an API which allowed people to see the latest trading price of an item, and around 40% of the players used this client providing reasonably accurate data.
So here was the plan:
- Create a website/forum
- Use the API from OSBuddy to track item prices
- Provide additional functionality on-top of OSBuddy, since they focus on the client itself.
- Allow people the ability to profit.
- Advertise via Streaming on Twitch.TV
Make it Work. Make it Better.
Here is how it began, a Google Spreadsheet that was placed on the stream. A simple proof of concept to begin what would become a crazy few months.
The forum then began, and work began on creating a version of the spreadsheet into a page on the website which works with data to improve its ability to help other users communicate and also help teach people how to play the game in a way to make in-game money.
At first the feature was simply an embed of the Google Sheet, then selected items by me or members of staff on the forum where picked and placed in front of users. This is when I used my personal knowledge and experience from my stream.
A major problem with streaming this content is that users will 'snipe' you in price. If an item was, for example, 5,000 gold and you placed an offer on the Grand Exchange, a user watching the stream could place an offer of 5,001 and snipe you. This meant having a curated list of dedicated items would never scale well. The plan was simple:
- Download live prices from the OSBuddy API once per minute.
- Sort those prices into profitable items.
- Select 100 randomly from that list.
- Display 5 items at a time in front of users, and scroll through the 100 over time.
This created a scenario where 2 users may see a similar item, but no more than simply playing the game. The items are random, the items they see are random, sorting is still functional and allows users to profit more.
Here is what the table looks like
The effectiveness of this update was enormous! The site grew massively from the moment the update was pushed and the stream promoted the site, which promoted the stream. A feedback loop began and you can see that in sign ups and engagement on the forum.
Updates continued to be created and the stream continued to grow, to the point where I was the top stream in the Oldschool RuneScape category for the day! This was a huge achievement to me and showed that I was onto something, it really drove me to improve the site which I believed was the selling point rather than myself.
- Favorite items. The ability to save an item to always display on the chart page was added.
- Alch for Profit. A spell in Oldschool RuneScape which allowed players to instantly turn items to gold, sometimes would be profitable to do so. We sorted the data to show these.
- Improved item pages. Displaying averages, previous prices, and traded amounts.
- A pause button. The auto scrolling kept items fresh, but users wanted to be able to control the system. Pause, next and back were added. With a timer to control the scroll speed.
At its peak, Lets-Flip was having 150+ people on the site at any one time, enjoying the game they loved with a passionate group of like-minded people.
At the time, I was suffering mental difficulties but did the best I could at the time. Streaming is a really demanding job on top of working on this project and others.
My willingness to accept help from members of the community was low to none, as OSRS is notorious for having players that would hack others. OSRS Gold has real world value, and a site like this with people's information was extremely valuable and a huge target.
I stopped streaming, the site continued to run but slowly died as better, more robust competitors were made and I closed the project down as it was a hack risk both to my own server and to the OSRS community members who had used my site.
Learning from Lets-Flip
I loved this project, I loved how it brought my friends together and what was created as a community with me at the forefront. But personal life and mental health is paramount.
- Being first doesn't make you the best, don't sit on luck.
- Understand the limits. Sometimes you will simply not win.
- Monitisation plan. Lets-Flip was supported by the fact that the stream community donated to me in order to keep it afloat. Overall it was a net-loss project by some margin.
- Streaming sucks. No really, I like to chill and spend time relaxing. Streaming is not a life style choice for me, being a top 1% streamer might be worth it? But not for me.
- Community building. It wasn't all negative. The community building skills and aspects learned from this have carried forward in everything I do.
- 1 update can change everything. Clearly turning the proof of concept which worked into a fully fletched idea with the Chart v3 update changed the game. It made the sign explode and likely was the catalyst to the sites reasonable success.