Hi guys! One of the things that I really miss about the early development period of RotR was having the time and motivation to post really detailed ‘gamedev’ posts. There was a certain point where we had to leave such posts behind, replacing them with updates for our backers and players. Well now the game is released (By the way, Ruin of the Reckless is available RIGHT NOW), so we can finally get ‘back to basics’ as it were, sharing interesting tidbits about our development and iteration process. And it just so happens that we have quite an interesting tidbit to share indeed!
About two days after release I posted an AMA on reddit expecting a small boost for our metrics. Instead we ended up having the 50th most successful reddit AMA of all time, collecting 35,800 upvotes before it was over, rocketing to the #1 spot on the reddit front page and sticking around up there for about 11 hours. (Here’s a link in case you missed it.)
This puts us ahead of some very notable AMAs; The scientists at NASAs New Horizon Team, Senator Rand Paul, The Wikileaks Staff, Jon Stewart, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Mike Rowe, Bill Nye, Key and Peele, etc…)
I won’t pretend to know ‘why’ that happened… but I wanted to take some time here to tell you guys the story of our actions leading up to that moment, as well as the overall impact of this event on our business. Perhaps others can learn from our experience and benefit somehow…
There will be three posts in this series (Part 1 – The Failed Post, Part 2 – The Successful Post, and Part 3 – The Business Impact)
Part 1 – The Failed Post
So firstly I just want to establish that before this whole event Danny and I had basically decided that we never wanted to post on reddit again. After many attempts to post on various subreddits under an older name, we were made acutely aware that it was frowned upon to use an account just for self promotion of our product (Yes, I know, we’re dumb, sorry.)
Reddit has something called the 1/10 rule, which means that for every ONE post you make promoting your own work you must make TEN posts about other things. Each subreddit is different, some ignore the rule, some follow it very closely, some actually hold posters to a higher ratio or even insist that only submissions count towards the total. We didn’t understand any of this, really, and that was our mistake. We had developed a HUGE backlog of posts on indie-dev subreddits (where they mostly ignore the 1/10 rule.) After several ‘hot’ submissions were taken down from other subreddits, we realized that the account had to be abandoned completely, as it would never ‘really’ be allowed to post on any non-gamedev reddits ever again.
So about six months ago or so I created a new reddit account ‘InsanelySpicyCrab’, and resolved to almost NEVER use it for any kind of self promotion at all. Instead I just lurked, made small submissions, and commented on minor things. If Ruin of the Reckless came up for some reason, I would actively avoid discussing it publicly, directing others to PM me instead. This was all in the service of a naive hope… that somehow when we released we would be allowed to post one ‘big’ thing that blew up and made it to the front page. I knew it was a long shot, but it seemed like it was worth a try… so I puttered about posting about ‘whatever’ and making sure the account was active.
On April 23rd, 2017, I messaged the moderators of iAMA and I let them know that we planned on doing an AMA to celebrate our release on the 26th. I gave them almost the exact text of the post and cleared it with them in advance. I was assured that everything looked good and it would be no problem.
Release rolled around on April 26th, 2017. Following the hectic PR schedule we had arranged with the help of Charlene at Player Two PR we began sending out press releases and doing the rest of the ‘normal’ stuff you would expect around that time. I also went ahead and posted up the AMA that we had cleared with mods.
The post seemed to be doing well. We were getting a healthy engagement level with plenty of comments and up votes. It wasn’t blowing up like crazy or anything, but it looked decent and we were more or less satisfied. However, about 2 hours later, the post was mysteriously blacklisted. (When a post is blacklisted it remains ‘active’, but no longer appears in reddit users feed. Essentially, this kills the post.) I have had posts blacklisted before and generally you get a message from the mods explaining why… but we got nothing. No explanation, no communication at all.
WHAT A DISASTER! It was release day, this AMA was a big part of our plan… so I messaged the mods on reddit – no response, then I tweeted to them – no response… then I emailed them – no response. We waited and waited, but still no response. After nine hours I came to what I thought was the only logical conclusion, “The mods are deliberately ignoring me.” It hardly mattered anymore… release day was over. The ‘front page dream’ was dead.
Late in the night I finally received a response from a mod. An automated bot had mistaken our post for a crowd funding advertisement because the title contained the word “Kickstarter.” I explained the entire situation; that our Kickstarter had actually ended seven months ago, that I had cleared our post in advance with the mods… I insisted that the only fair thing to do was let us post again, and luckily the mods agreed.
Alright, conspiracy is over, the mods are just doing their jobs… all is right in the world. However, I didn’t really want to post the new AMA immediately since we were so exhausted after release… so I resolved to revisit the AMA on the 28th. I figured that it wouldn’t have much of an impact this time. In my mind, we had already used up much of our goodwill on the first one that was taken down. “Better than nothing”, I thought. We’ll eke out a tiny PR boost and be done with it.
Well, as you know, that isn’t quite how it worked out…