Creative's Workshop 2020

The Little Bot That Could

What happens when you do the smallest thing possible for the smallest group of people?

20. What’s your process?

Prompt: Have you built something? How did you build it? What was your process. Write it down.

After you’ve written it down, does explaining the process make it more likely you can build the next thing with intent?


A long time ago, I made an online Twitter bot that posted notifications when certain events happened in a certain mobile game. I made it for myself as a former avid fan of said game, and it exploded in popularity thanks to one choice moment.

https://twitter.com/fehgauntletbot

The Problem

In said mobile game (FEH for short), a event ran for 144 hours straight, and during each hour of the event, certain effects were set into play. These effects could make or break your success in the event, and since each hour’s effect was random, you would have to check-in every hour to see what was going on. At the time, there was no way to check the current hour’s event conditions outside of the game, and this was HUGELY frustrating for me as a hardcore fan of FEH. Could there be… a better way?

The Solution

I was just starting my journey as a software developer, so I still was very green with how problems like this should best be tackled. Since I had no qualms or frame-of-reference , I just… went for it. :man_shrugging: Through an extensively simple program, I was able to get event-data from outside the game, make calculations based on it, and sent any useful information over to a twitter account so everyone could hear about this hour’s event conditions. Nothing special, but at the time with no other options, it didn’t have to be.

Finding My Audience

Successful applications are as much a marketing problem as a software development problem.

I just barely learned how to code this thing, so how the heck was everyone else gonna find out about it? At the time, the only two outlets I knew how to advertise on were twitter and reddit. And so I did. And so I found no traction. When everyone is always posting something, why should your thing be more special than the next? My posts about my useful bot got lost in all the noise, and I almost gave up then and there.

Then I got my lucky break. As I was making my rounds posting about my bot on twitter, at the time, a community-run account noticed what I was doing.

https://twitter.com/FEHeroes_News

Since they had spent years cultivating their audience for FEH, they decided to give me a shoutout to promote the great work I had done with my bot.

That one shoutout was all I needed, and within 1 day I had amassed over 1000 new followers!

Iterative Improvements

As I began to get a feel for what my followers needed from my bot, I slowly made changes here and there to make usage of it as streamlined and easy as possible. Through these small changes over the years, I peaked at 4.2k followers, and I was in awe of what a simple little script of code was able to do.

Delegation

I think the funniest thing about this bot is that I actually got one of my friends to start volunteering his time to create content for it! There was an annoying part I unfortunately couldn’t automate out, so I trained said friend to do it in my stead every event, and ever since then he gets a nice cool $25 for his 20 minutes of effort. :money_mouth_face:

Uncertain Future

As time progressed, an official Twitter account for FEH news was created, and the account that gave me a shoutout slowly faded into obscurity. I felt really bad that I never got to thank them properly, so going forward I will make my best effort to be gracious towards people as they help me throughout whatever journey I’m on.

There was also one scary time when my Twitter bot got suspended for quite literally no reason, and I realized something important that day: this was never really my bot to begin with, it’s Twitter’s. It’s their platform, and if they ever decided to ban me outright for no reason, it is well within their right to do so.

I had never really “funneled” my power users into my future works, so if I did really lose the account that day, that audience would have been lost forever. In the meantime, I’m trying to move my bot off the Twitter platform and eventually to another platform I have more control over, but only time will tell how much more I will work on this.

Monetization

I never really had a plan on how I wanted to take this bot, I was a hobbyist to the core and only created it to serve the community and myself for an extremely niche issue. This lack of planning made me realize I cannot afford such wishy-washy development if I’m to develop a longer and more complex project in the future. Since this bot has already been in usage for years… I think I will keep running it for free. Maybe I’ll make a donations page to offset the cost of me paying off my friend $25 :joy:

Replicable Success

A lot of the success I generated from this bot was completely coincidental, so it made for a terrible learning experience. After watching these two videos, I realized exactly how I accidentally succeeded, so now I use these as the baseline for any future software applications I try and cook up!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNSFITFh-Vk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnUO6tdmscI


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