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How two indie devs got 36.4k upvotes on Reddit

by Rocky Kev on 05/01/17 10:24:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

If you’re looking for the ultimate guide to getting to the front page of Reddit, this is NOT IT.

But if you want to know what happened when the two-person dev team of Faux-Operative Games, Charles and Danny made a post that got 36.4k upvotes on Reddit, this is it.

What were some achievements of their post?

  1. Their AMA post went on the Front Page of Reddit.
  2. It stayed there for more than 12 hours (average posts drop off at the 4-hour mark)
  3. It’s one of the top Ask Me Anythings for the month of April - joining Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, rapper Lil Dicky, and a 74-year-old European grandma. (This should be on their resumes now!)
  4. It gave them a huge boost in attention and sales - which I cover later in this post.

Reddit’s Funky Formula

First, some clarity. The Reddit voting algorithm uses fuzzy numbers.

While Faux-Operative Games’s AMA had such high upvote numbers, it’s impossible to know what those numbers mean really. Did 36,400 people think the AMA was interesting? Did the level of engagement make the post rank higher and gave it more visibility? Or was it some weird, mysterious backroom deal where ten men in suits decide this should be Friday’s top post?

There’s no way of knowing.

What data do we know:

At the time of my data gathering (Saturday night) –

 

There were 2516 comments.
The team made a total of 680 replies to Redditors, with Charles making 401 replies (totaling 30,741 words) and Danny made 279 replies (totaling 8504 words).

(And very rarely did they copy/paste. I read through the whole thing!)

At typing 40 words per minute - that’s 981 minutes or almost 16.35 hours STRAIGHT of writing replies. That’s not including reading replies, formulating thoughts, and navigating through the nested threads.

To put that in perspective, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone clocked in at 76,944 words.

These guys wrote half of a book in less than 24 hours! (I didn’t say it would be a good book.)

That alone made me super excited to reach out to them.
As for the impact in regards to sales, I’ll cover that later in my interview.

Interviewing Faux-Operative Games

I sent an email to Charles (InsanelySpicyCrab) and he graciously gave me the chance to ask him and his partner David (FyrFoot) questions. They are legitimately grateful to be in their position, and were transparent with their responses. Here are my questions. 


QUESTION: Why did you think it was successful?

CHARLES: Honestly, we don’t know. Maybe it was the timing, the tone, or how we answered questions. Or maybe it was the game!

It feels like we won the lottery.

The first attempt (April 26th), after 100 upvotes, it was taken down. It mentioned our Kickstarter, and a bot just took it down. Before the post, I cleared it with another mod and asked ‘This is what we’re posting, is this okay?’ and someone said it was fine.

So when they took it down and didn’t respond, I thought there was a conspiracy against us!

On that same day, the Gorillaz had an AMA. And we don’t? Where’s the justice?! (Laughs)


QUESTION: What happened?

Charles: When it was taken down, I emailed, tweeted, pm them. And the mods finally got back to me and let me post again.

The second attempt was on Friday. (April 28th)

Danny: I didn’t even know Charles was going to post it a second time. I was groggy and half-awake. My girlfriend woke me up and told me; you’re on the front page of Reddit. And I was like, WTH?

Charles: I expected it to do worse than the first post. But Reddit is weird.

The post was in-between:
* Riots in Venezuela
* A dog running into a window.
* And a post about Joe Biden.

By the end of the AMA, our post was rated higher than the Gorillaz. There’s no reason we should be above the Gorillaz.

We’ve done nothing in particular, except working 13 hour days - but lots of people work hard. There are ten thousand indie devs that work twice as hard, harder than us.

Later on, Danny found this article about staying on the front page of Reddit. It was by coincidence that we followed the post… posting at 9 am, including numbers in the post, being a text-based post, etc.

The truth is - we got super super super super lucky.
Post the exact right thing at the exact right time.


QUESTION: Did the success of the AMA take over your entire day?

Charles: I went to the bathroom, and Reddit’d on the phone. And my AMA was second on the front page.

I thought, “Oh no, this is a mistake.”

Originally, I wanted to work on Ruins of the Reckless all day, and I had an interview at 7 pm with the Bammsters on Twitch.

Because of the AMA, I answered questions all the way to 7 pm! Actually - I was 10 minutes late. I was still trembling. But the interview was such a needed break.

  • In all honesty, what was your initial feeling to answering all the questions?

Charles: It was very stressful. Shaking. Super nervous. It was nerve-wracking.
I had very foolishly said I was going to respond to every question because honestly, I never expected it to get so far. I was hoping for a small PR boost.

I was always waiting for that moment for some disaster to happen. With so much attention, one thing could make it go completely wrong.


QUESTION: After the Reddit AMA post - what was the impact?

(Before the AMA post) Ruin of the Reckless’ sales was doing okay, for an indie game.

(After the AMA post) The impact of the sales and community presence is pretty significant.

It was VERY VERY noticeable. People contacting me. Things like this interview and for keys. Articles are coming out because of the AMA.

The cool thing for us, we can make the Ruin of the Reckless better. We now have the resources and the confidence.

There was also a lot of people putting it on their wishlist. With just the wishlisters, it gave me a lot of confidence.


QUESTION: What advice would you give to someone who finds themselves in a situation like yours?

Charles: Eat!

My GF came home at 10 pm and realized I didn’t eat, and I was shaking, sweating. Maybe that’s why I was having such a physical reaction. I barely got up to make a cup of tea. I ran a hot tea maker and forgot like four times.

I strongly recommend if you’re answering every question, take a 20-30 minute break every few hours. It will probably still be on the front page.

Danny: It helped to have both of us answering.

Charles: So many people contacted us for Steam keys, and we wouldn’t be able to do it all.

If you’re doing it on your own, at least hire a dedicated PR team, at least for a week! Charlie ([email protected]) has been going through and doing the real deal before we send them keys. Otherwise, we’d have a hundred keys getting resold on G2A.


QUESTION: Something that Redditors respected was your tone. Were you conscious of your phrasing?

Charles: I made a conscious effort. It’s going to sound cheesy. There’s always going to be hate, but be earnest and provide honestly truthful answers to every question. Treat them with respect.

Danny: Some comments were really stupid.

Charles: 8 to 10 hours in, a little towards the end, you were snarky at people.

Danny: Someone was snarking us super hard “your graphics look like s#@$.”

Charles: Danny said, “Our graphics are awesome, and our game is great.” I wanted to take it [Danny’s comment] down.

We even answered the trolls. A lot of the time, people are surprised to even get an answer. I think they’re so used to AMAs that didn’t get any replies.


QUESTION: Any last feelings you want to share?

Danny: We’re just stoked that anyone wanted to play our game. We’re just two people who want to make some really cool games.

Charles: I really care about the fans and the community, and really take care of our people. I'm happy we were still at the stage we could easily talk to each of our fans and hear every individual specifically. I would be sad when there was too much feedback for us to hear and respond to.

Wrap-up

Thanks Charles and Danny of Faux-Operative Games for taking the time to answer my questions and being super awesome guys.I purchased the Ruin of the Reckless and I'm excited to play it.



[Edit: A minor quote restructure!]

 

Rocky (@Rockykev) is an overall chipper fellow who works with indie developers like you to market, through content development and audience building - because you want to develop video games to make a sustainable income, so you can continue making video games. He's the founder of Serious Game Devs Only, a community of likeminded indie developers who know they can make video games full time and not struggle to put food on the table.

 


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