Thank You, Ryan Davis

ipadryanburger

Hey folks. I learned as many others did on Monday that Ryan Davis of Giant Bomb passed away last week. I’ve always attributed the success of Cook, Serve, Delicious! to Ryan, but I feel like I need one last blog post to sum up just how much he’s changed my life.

Way back when CSD was released in October, it was a complete failure in sales. The first weekend of its release I had little to no traffic, coverage, or anything to inspire the game being picked up by the public or media. I made maybe a few hundred dollars. I talked with my mom at lunch that Sunday, telling her what was going on, and she told me it was a long road I was traveling and I shouldn’t be too disappointed so early on. She was right, but she was my mom, so of course she was right. It didn’t prevent me from feeling any less of a failure however. I had made a hardcore cooking sim that didn’t branch to casual buyers, and didn’t appeal to regular game players. What was I thinking? How could I have not seen this before?

Once I had a press release sent out, I had a few smaller blogs asking for review copies, which I readily sent out. Fishing through my emails, I saw the sender’s name- Ryan Davis. I froze. Not the Ryan Davis I’ve been listening to for years on Giant Bomb. That can’t be right. No way. I clicked the email. He was interested in checking it out, and asked if there were any press codes available. It was him.

I emailed him back, in a very professional manner as if I was sending a few codes to any other blog/news site, clicked send, and immediately ran around my house screaming. Then reality hit me again: once he played the game, I felt like he would probably pass on it. Maybe if I was lucky he’d email me back about his thoughts on the game, but I didn’t hold out too much hope. And then the next day, in the Giant Bomb schedule panel I saw the words “Quick Look: Cook, Serve, Delicious!” coming up the following afternoon. I couldn’t believe it (you can read more info on the impact the QL had on sales here).



Later that month there was a multi hour Twitch event going on where people would stream themselves playing games for charity, and Chase Pettit decided to stream CSD. Ryan was pleased.

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I remember waking up early that morning, watching the stream, and then realizing Ryan was in the text chat. This was the first time Ryan was seeing a 1-star restaurant (the QL was of a zero star restaurant). “THIS LOOKS LIKE A WAFFLE HOUSE! THE CUSTOMERS LOOK LIKE PEOPLE FROM WAFFLE HOUSE!” Holy crap, talk about validation. Sara Gross (artist on the game) was there too, and I think we both felt in a way that we had made it. Looking at the outpouring of support since Ryan has passed, we were definitely not the only ones to feel that from Ryan.

As I was prepping the iPad version, I wanted to send out my thanks to Ryan and Jeff in a more public manner. So I had a randomizer change the title of a Corn Dog recipe to “The Gerstmann” one out of every 20 times, and rewrote one of the hamburger recipes to say “The Ryan Davis.” I didn’t know if I was crossing a line…if they would be more weirded out than anything else…but in a later podcast Brad Shoemaker would mention his surprise on getting a Ryan Davis burger request, and it was all worth it just to hear their reactions.

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Later in January, I had a small prototype of a game I released on iOS, called ShellBlast Forever. It was a small bomb defusing game that I knew wasn’t going to make much money, and somehow made even less than that, yet Ryan still found out about the game and asked when it would be available. The next podcast he made sure to mention the game in the New Releases section, even though they almost never cover iOS releases. I was blown away.

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I’ve always thanked him on Twitter and on my sales articles, but never personally/directly thanked him. So in May I sent a lengthy email explaining how much he had changed my game dev career, and so on. I’m not sure why I felt the immediate need to send that to him. It just hit me out of the blue: thank that guy, and do it today. A few weeks later, he emailed me back, and this was the last part of the email:

It's damned encouraging to hear that some real good can be had out of all my professional silliness.

Very much looking forward to your next project! Let me know if/when you need some Twitter Pimpin' for it.

Ryan Davis

And that was Ryan. I’m a nobody in the game industry, but he made me feel like I had accomplished something. When I had heard the news this week I was completely devastated, but also thankful that I was able to send that thank you email back in May. I learned through blogs and articles about the hundreds of people he had helped, not just in those listening to the Bombcast, but game devs in their own careers as well, getting projects noticed by people over at Sony, encouraging the guys at Harmonix in their own game development, and so much more. I had no idea, but that was precisely the point, because he didn’t do it for himself. He did it because he genuinely cared. What a great man.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    I bought CSD due to that Quick Look. So glad to hear how Ryan helped your career, he was an awesome man.

  2. Whoisyao says:

    Ryan’s enthusiastic love of your game got me to buy it, and I loved it as much as he did. My girlfriend too. We both want to thank you and him for that.

    Being a fan of his and then having him turn into a fan of yours must have been amazing. He really knew when he found something really good, so his love of your game must have been truly validating.

  3. SplitNova says:

    Well said.

    He will be forever missed.

  4. chubigans says:

    @Dave thanks man, he was indeed.

    @Whoisyao gosh, I never thought about him as a fan…that sounds crazy to say even now! Even if I had sold zero copies after the QL, I would have felt completely validated thanks to Ryan. I cannot thank him enough.

  5. Seth says:

    I just also wanted to say that I bought CSD based on the QL (and I also now throw my hands in the air when I say it, just as Ryan taught me to). I also voted for it on Steam Greenlight, but I couldn’t wait and bought it on both the PC and iPad. I am also immeasurably happy that Ryan has been immortalized with his own burger.

  6. Mat says:

    I love the way he said it. Cook… serve… DELICIOUS!

  7. Seth says:

    Agreed Mat! And I should have also said that this, like many of the tribute pieces I have read, was both touching and inspirational.

  8. Charles says:

    Yep, I ended up buying CSD because of the quick look too.
    I’m sure there are countless other indie titles I never would’ve found out about if not for Ryan too.

  9. Brackynews says:

    Great writeup! Glad I found my way to your games. OB and CSD are inspired and polished.
    The crew are so often adamant that they are not Game Developers. But what I believe Whiskey Media gave them the opportunity to do, is be Developer Developers. [insert Ballmer joke here if you must]

    Just being friends with their “indie” professional userbase like you, or C418, is as important to them as welcoming veterans into the fold and expecting Ed Boon to show up and shoot the shit. I follow the accounts of Hec Sanchez and JohnnyV on the site. I post on their walls and make sure @thevowel’s Person page is current. I love adding People to the wiki even more than games.

    They do take a lot of guff about friendship bias, but those folks are often looking for a “journo fight” because they’ve been unhappy with the industry and its reviewer methodologies for so long. Personally I stopped caring about reviews years ago. Also they are handily ignoring the fact that the GB crew have impeccable taste in friends. Kasavin don’t make no two-star title! And the track record for honest this-is-what-I-play reviews, and calling out true dog shit is pretty well established.

    Some people want to dislike what others like just to be contrarian; doesn’t make them right or wrong, it makes them irrelevant to the way Giant Bomb has reframed the question, and our perspective on the industry. Jeff and Ryan have made that legacy together.

  10. Torrey says:

    I found what you had to say very touching. I somehow missed watching the CSD quicklook, but after having watched it, I immediately got the iPad version. Ryan will always be awesome.

  11. aDuder says:

    I watched that Quick Look Ryan made of Cook, Serve, Delicious!, bought it immediately after and absolutely loved it! Great job, dude!

  12. chubigans says:

    Wow Brackynews, great post. Absolutely spot on.

    Thanks everyone for the kind comments, they mean quite a lot. :)

  13. Bob Barker says:

    I always wondered how GB caught wind of CSD considering I hadn’t heard anything about it prior to the Quick Look. I bought CSD (Vertigo Gaming bundle) immediately after watching the Quick Look. I keep hoping to see CSD come to Steam (voted on greenlight) so I can stop re-downloading the whole game to patch ;)

    I never knew about the Gerstmann or Ryan burger.

  14. Y2Ken says:

    I picked up CSD following that Giant Bomb quick look – a video I have watched 3 or 4 times because I loved it so much.

    I still routinely pick up the game every week or so, it’s become one of my “chill-out” games. So thanks for making such a great product, and thanks to Ryan and Jeff for bringing it to my attention. Bless that man.

  15. Tim says:

    As a gamer and fan of Giant Bomb, I was hit really hard by the death of Ryan Davis. I remember seeing the QL for Cook, Serve, Delicious on Giant Bomb and thought it looked neat. Ryan was certainly enthusiastic about it, and the thing about Ryan was that his enthusiasm is infectious as hell.

    I’m currently unemployed, but I promise that as soon as I get a job and some extra money to spend, I’m going to pick this game up to not only give you another sale, but as a way of helping spread the joy that Ryan Davis could bring to people.

    Thank you for writing this blog entry.

  16. chubigans says:

    Thanks again for the support, I’m really glad I was able to share my experience with y’all.