Just a place to write about the stuff I make, do, think, and maybe eat

Playtime For The Buck

Project Factsheet


http://playtimeforthebuck.zequez.com (moved from playtimeforthebuck.com)



Time Invested:

102hs (public work log)

Skills Set:

Ruby with Rspec for the scraper, JavaScript/CoffeeScript for the front end


A guy donated like 3 dollars in Bitcoins, cool guy

Release Date:

Late 2014

Current Enthusiasm:

Pretty high, I'm working on the next step

A screenshot of the web app

That looks awesome! What is it though?

I know, I know, the best thing since sliced bread, right? Well, initially when Steam started the reviews system, I saw that they included the playing time of the person for each review. So I though, "wouldn't it be nice to see the average playing time for every game?" and if you divide it by the price of the game, you can see... the playtime for the buck.

The idea was to scrap all the games and all the reviews and make a database with them, then I could analyze the data and sort it however I wanted! I ended up adding much more than playtime/buck, you can filter and sort games in multiple ways. Want to check the best rated RPG games, with more than 50 reviews, that cost less than 5 dollars, and are on sale, done.

I'm a data-fan so when I look at that big-ass table with unlimited filters and sorting mechanisms, the sheer density and the ease of accessibility of the data makes me puke rainbows.

How was it done?

This is my favorite part, the whole system runs as a static page. I feel guilty for abusing the Github pages, but hey, I'm not putting any ads, and I'm not targeting profits yet, so I guess it's OK.

The scraper

The scrapping it's done with a Ruby gem, PTB-Scrapper, it would be unfair to call it a script. And yes, I do realize I misspelled scraper, and added an extra p, but when it was too late when the first guy pointed it out.

The the scraped data is stored on a SQLite database, and then it's converted to a single json file for the front end to use.

The actual Ruby gem creates a few rake tasks to facilitate the scraping of all the things. I don't want to go into too much detail, but the source it's there.

The front end

OK I kind of messed up with this one? Why, you might ask? Well multiple reasons.

  • Error 1: I decided to use Jekyll to build it
  • Error 2: I decided to not use any front end framework
  • Error 3: I didn't write any tests

So the whole front end infrastructure it's hanging from a thread, that's why I want to rewrite it and make it more solid. At least I separated everything with classes.

It works like this. It loads a single page, and then it loads the big-ass JSON file from the server. And then it just works like a regular front end app. There are many quirks, like the handling of the URL, since I tried to make some pre-rendering for SEO purposes, which worked pretty well, I mean I'm not sure if it helped the SEO, but the pre-rendering worked.

The builder

A third project? Yes, a third project.

The builder takes care of the following:

  • Includes the scraper and the front end as gems
  • Runs the cronjobs to get the data and build the front end
  • Pre-renders the front page, and other pages with pre-made searches with pretty URLs using PhantomJS
  • Commits the generated page to the static page
  • Pushes the static page to Github

What happened?

Well I didn't make a lot of publicity, I posted it in a few relevant subreddits, and it got a pretty good reception and I always comment with a link if I find someone asking for something that PlaytimeForTheBuck solves.

I kind of let it go for a while, I just have a cronjob running in my personal computer that takes care of updating. Last week I realized that I was starting to get a pretty good amount of visits! On May it hit 1k! And June 1.6k! And then I realized it was mostly spam traffic from some russian sites, which was a bummer, but hey, the good Reddit reception was still there.

What are the plans?

I want to rewrite it with a legitimate back-end, probably Rails, and a solid front-end framework, which I'm still undecided, I did have experience with Angular in my last job, but I don't really like it too much, and I need something really fast.

I want to add features like data from different stores, system requirements for games, average value of steam cards, a top-list review system for SEO purposes and getting the name out there!

Blog posts about the project