Thank You, Ryan Davis
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 Bubble Cash 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.