We bought the domain KallaX.io one year ago 🎂 so today we are celebrating domain registration day with a little history lesson.
KallaX is a small tool that allows you to search in multiple board game collections at once – ideal for planning game nights with friends.
The original name for the project was GameWasm. It started as an excuse to play around with Blazor WebAssembly and a board game collection app seemed like the perfect 'hello world' project to test out a new framework. The market was (and is) flooded with various small websites and apps to track your board game collections and plays - but our little homemade survey revealed there might be just a tiny room for one more player if they could nail search - particularly searching in multiple collections.
So we started working on the project with one goal in mind;
It should be easy to search in combined board game collections.
We announced the project back on January 4th, 2021 and slowly began working on the project in our spare time. It became our little sandbox to test out technology that we would not be allowed to implement at work - such as
- Blazor WebAssembly
- Protocol Buffers
- Experimental Slug Generation
- .NET 6 in early preview ^-^
In March 2021, we reached a point where we were ready to start configuring hosting. We picked up the domain KallaX.io - a reference to the popular piece of furniture often used for storing board games (the only acceptable use of a kallax, really) combined with io which stands for input/output and is often used on websites to indicate interactability. An adequate name if you ask us.
Development is still sporadic at this point - but hosting opens a whole new range of learning possibilities and things to experiment with. We pick a cloud provider (with a free tier that lures people in) and start playing around.
We try our best to stay within the free tier and decide to give the project a year to reach a minimum of 100 users. Otherwise, we'll trash it once the bills start coming and just enjoy our learnings. This provides an interesting challenge as you have to optimize quite a bit to ensure the project can run on 1GB of memory even during peaks 😅 we off-load as much as possible to the client.
September 6, 2021 - personal note; I quit my Software Engineer job and relocate from Denmark to Spain⛰️ more spare time for the project.
October 10th, 2021 we send out the first batch of invites to 10 users who had shown interest in our survey. The site is only accessible with an invite code.
October 12th, 2021 we open up a Discord server and for feedback.
October 15th, 2021 we start giving invite codes to everyone who joins the Discord server as we are trying to create a small community of users who want to help improve the site through feedback.
January 7th, 2022 we add public profiles and showcase them on Reddit. We gain 100+ users in 24 hours, more than doubling our user count of just 87!
January 14th, 2022 - personal note; I relocate to Canada🍁 to start a new job as Game Developer for a studio in Vancouver.
March 5th, 2022 we are HOT 🔥 on /r/boardgames and receive more than 20.000-page visits and gain 300+ users! Still running on a t2.micro instance.
March 13th, 2022 we reach 600 users and start hosting images on our servers in highly optimized formats and serve them through CloudFront.
March 16th, 2022 we reach 1000 users!?
March 23, 2022 we celebrate domain registration day 🎉 with
- 👥 1.062 users
- 📦 83.405 tracked games
- 🎲 12.489 unique games
- 🌐 24.846 images on CDN
- 🗳️ 37 votes on games to play
The project has been received way better than we could have imagined when we started working on it. We have evaluated the project and smugly concluded that it seems to be of use to a niche subset of the board game community.
The total cost for the first year has been US$79 which is an acceptable cost considering this is our hobby. The monthly cost seems to be in the range of $65-70 for current usage once we become ineligible for the free tier program.
KallaX is not a commercial project and is not meant to be - it is meant to be a free tool accessible to anyone who might enjoy it. We have decided to do our best to ensure the project stays online as long as the site is actively being used which for now means splitting the bill between us.
We have set up a Ko-Fi page, per request, if you feel like chipping in on hosting and potentially allowing us to upscale the solution. However, it's important for us to stretch that this is not required nor expected and does not provide you with any benefits on the site. The current cost is well within what we are comfortable with paying out of pocket to keep the site alive.