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EXECUTION The CASE and CAPE Master Plan

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Andreas Thiel

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Might as well try to get this going again.
I am still struggling to keep my sanity. Feels like I am not winning.

I have a new job now (since December, actually). While I do work with more modern technologies and am surrounded by people at an insanely high level, I have traded some of my previous troubles for new ones and kept some of the old ones.

There is no real onboarding. Getting familiar with processes and code should happen organically over time. Fair enough, while I am one step away from a Senior title (but with what I consider Senior pay) it is okay that the burden falls on me.
Still, this is something I am really bad at:
Figuring out what metters in an insanely complex environment. Figuring out the right questions ... and figuring out the correct person to ask.

Feels like I worked on 4 minor tasks in the 5 months. Everything else is discovery, meetings and management overhead. One of the bigger tasks can be considered a complete bust and I need to worry about my standing.

What worries me the most is that I was completely "out of order" over the last few weeks and barely made it across the finish line of two weeks of (paid) vacation days - which I use to recover at home.

On the plus side, I got several nice habits established.
Bought a digital piano and practiced one particular song for at least 30 minutes each day.
Started with a body weight exercise program in my morning routine and am transitioning into weight lifting at home.
I eat a lot more, even though I could not keep up the attempts where fixing meals took more that 5 minutes. Putting stuff in the oven and waiting does work. Looking back at my goals, right now I
seem to be firmly above 70 kg - next stop 80 - which will be really hard.

I want to go back to the idea of turning May and November into novel writing months.

Regarding business execution, I am not doing well in the hope department.
For a while my goal has been spending 30-45 minutes using Blender (the 3D software ...) and 15 minutes of content creation planning.
After work I was unable to do that, though. I opened Blender and stared at the screen ... but had nothing more to give.

Plan A is still trying to get momentum going. Maybe these vacation days help.
I also want to decide what project I should go for. The options:
  1. Go for the jugular: actually work on CAPE already, with a generic foundation but an initial product for game developers
  2. Go for a 2D Game: Brawlhalla fighting mechanics in a Metroidvania style environment
  3. Go for 3D virtual reality content, which I think is currently a weird market for an underserved audience
 

Andreas Thiel

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The result is: I will start working on the CAPE project. I plan to eventually use the domain creataur.io to offer a service.

Game Development was a close second on the list. It would have been problematic with a straightforward big bang launch, but combined with LetsCreateGames.com with Info-Products around byte ... I mean bite-sized content the idea became more appealing.
In the VR departments creating videos with Blender would be the easy project. Considering that gaining momentum using Blender has failed and I have no idea how to monetize the videos (maybe Patreon could work, but not with a great experience for Patrons) it is a bad idea. Eventually I would have looked into interactive projects. But that is even harder to get into.

What I like about the CAPE project is that it has the potential to be the ultimate golden goose with countless opportunities to pivot and branch out.
Both the other projects can benefit from it. The downside is that creating the foundation will take a long time and the details are very tricky. Will need to get into pretty scientific stuff eventually.
 

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I have updated the Master Plan document with the high level thought process:

 

Andreas Thiel

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Created a high level project structure.
Technologies I plan to use early:
Docker, Java/Spring, Groovy/Spock, Vue.js, D3, PostgreSQL

Eventually:
Keycloak, WebXR, Kubernetes, ANTLR

I will probably add to those lists over time.

After initially decent progress I pretty much did not know what to tackle next.
That is why I decided to plot a plan through the next tasks:
  • Functional Concept
  • Technical Concept
  • User Interface - Metadata
  • Metadata Service
  • Metadata Primitives
  • Data Creation Service Foundation
  • User Interface - Data Creation Foundation
  • Data Creation - Music
  • User Interface - Data Creation - Music
  • Data Creation - Calligraphy
  • User Interface - Data Creation - Calligraphy
  • Data Creation - Buildings & Interiors
  • User Interface - Data Creation - Buildings & Interiors
  • Data Creation - People
  • User Interface - Data Creation - People
  • Data Storage Service Foundation
  • User Interface - Data Storage Foundation
  • Asset Creation Service Foundation
  • User Interface - Asset Creation Foundation
I will work on several at a time, because some back and forth between many of them makes sense.
What I won't do is "jump" over tasks that are not in progress.

Current annoyance is that I have to figure out how to tell IntelliJ that I have an SSH Key for my GitLab Server. That should be simple, but apparently even JetBrains is looking for creative ways to make things as difficult as possible.
 
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Andreas Thiel

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Really not quite happy with ... everything. Guess I am more preoccupied with investments than I like to admit.
At work things are going okay this week, but there is still much upside potential. I can't concentrate and am still hoping for one of those phases where my just brain delivers. One of my bigger problems was probably my diet. I ate too much in the evening. Often 500 grams of french fries (the oven kind) ... that might be too much after a while. Really need to add shakes now and probably split one meal.

IntelliJ pushes now. But the solution feels wrong. I added the key to my OS user ssh directory, but it is not my identity. It should just be some key that lies somewhere ... and IntelliJ should know the location.

I created a Vue.js project. I realized the most reasonable way to create the Functional Concept is to prototype in Vue.js and make screenshots. That is why I will be working on the first three tasks at the same time for a while.

Since I updated the Master Plan, my vision of the rough technological concept has improved ... I think.
Initially I thought that a more traditional, partially monolithic solutions would make sense, with hardcoded services specialized on creating different kinds of data. But that approach is problematic.

At some point I want external systems to be able to fetch just the rulebooks that explain how to create data and assets. In time sensitive applications they can't delegate to a remote service.
There will also have to be a cursor like data creation mechanism, where only a part of a world gets rendered. Requiring services that store a state for each user would not be feasible.

The new plan is creating a DSL that is aware of all the primitive data types and offers low level actions that can be combined to rulebook scripts.
 

Andreas Thiel

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I registered solidindie.com after reading "The Great Rat-Race Escape ".

The Creataur idea has evolved some more. I have a better idea of what microservices the idea will need, but new challenges keep popping up.

Feels like I am going in a circle, but after reading the book I am once again where I have been at least 5 times before: I am convinced that creating a full blown tech company before I can poke the market with a cute MVP product is a bad approach.

Going back to the 10/5/1 Planasy planning board, I feel good about the Information Product approach again.
I might want to take a look at where things went wrong the last time, but I think as always conviction faded as my belief in the product vision died while the projected time and effort exploded. Was too optimistic about the potential to make Creataur a bite-sized endeavour as well.

Poking the market with a Blog and establishing the email list asap makes more sense and is not a complete departure from the CASE / CAPE vision. Maybe a necessary detour.
Publish articles, engage with indie hacker communities and keep launching information products that get more sophisticated over time. If possible, throw a SaaS subscription service in there for good measure - but I understand this detailed plan will get slaughtered.

10 YearsTransition to realizing Creataur as a tech company
5 YearsPublish and Propagate Information Products
- The Solid Indie Tour (Book)
- The Solid Indie Workshop(Book)
- Solid Indie Security (Book)
- (Solid Indie) Dashboard - SaaS Subscription
- The Solid Coding Academy (High End Online Course)
1 YearCreate content and start poking the market
-SolidIndie.com - Indie Hacker ideas, process focussed
- End of 2021: Blog is launched, email list established
- End of 2022: A first book is published (The Solid Indie Mindset)

To go with "The Great Rat-Race Escape " terminology, I am convinced of the true-value, especially of my vision for The Solid Indie Tour. But what will the market say when I poke it? I suppose it will be key to demonstrate relative-value in order to increase the perceived-value. There is a huge risk that I will drown in emerging ideas and effort. When I play the thought, it seems like I want to do too many things again. But initially it feels like all of it is needed.

If I target a book launch 10/2022, start with 2 customers and manage to double it each week, I could end up with 4,096 buying in the last week of December. But is there a painful limit to the addressable market? Biggest risk I see right now is that there might be too few people who are willing to take the red pill and take the uncomfortable approach to Indie software development. The mass market product might not pay off in a significant way and my hopes would hang on a high end coding course that will be hard to publish within 5 years.

I feel like a Blog and free example projects are needed. That requires a significant time investment. I'd be juggling many tasks, like adding content to the Blog, working on public code repositories and writing the books (probably working ahead for the next books in the series as well).
A way around this dilemma might be launching the Mindset book with zero promotional backup and without expectations - hoping enough people will discover it later when the pudding-proof materializes.
Focus on Blog, content and engaging with communities ... but no hard deadline for the demonstration projects. They are done when they are done. No propagating the products until the excellent demonstration content is out there - just market research, outreach and experimentation.

Another thought is that an Indie Dashboard SaaS solution that attracts 50,000 subscribers who pay $5 would generate income each month, after taxes that could be around $125,000 each month. You can halve that a few times before it loses its appeal. To unlock its potential it cannot be tied too closely to the coding centered solidindie.com brand. When authors, coders, freelancers, game developers etc. find is valuable, I can see that number happening. I also have a loose vision for its features.

Such a finished project could serve as the demonstration that I desperately need for solidindie.com credibility.
My emotions jump on VR, platform games, animation and similar things, but the boring web application with a companion app might just have more potential.
 
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Andreas Thiel

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
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Aug 27, 2018
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Karlsruhe, Germany
I really have conviction issues. I don't think a book is a great first product (launch ... and let nobody know), so I am planning to work on the SaaS solution and growing a mailing list first. The repository exists, just need a definitive direction regarding the functional and technical concept.

I don't really believe in the upside potential of a SaaS product that targets independent creators - at least not on an emotional level. I do think real value and relative value could be off the charts, but perceived value ... now that is tricky.

Free trial as a possible solution? Mileage when it comes to social media outreach? I need to remind myself that it absolutely makes sense to poke the market with such a product. I can keep it rebrandable so that I can test assumptions, pivot and increase the reach.

That is why I created a visual planasy. The Blog combined with a mailing list can open doors that I can't even think of.

planasy2021.jpg
 

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