What do you aim for in a demo?

cale199

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I've spent about a week designing systems in my game. It's got a day night cycle, hunger, hunting and foraging that changes depending on region. I've just added a system where you order armour from the blacksmith and it takes time. It's a decent amount of work, but there's no reason to play. I know I need to add quests and stuff to do, but I want to know how much is a good amount for a demo.
 

Htlaets

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A demo should have enough content to make it clear what the gameplay loop of the game will have.
 

HarlekinLehl

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I went with an early access kind of approach. I set up an itch.io page and a Discord server where people can just grab the game, play and and receive updates aswell as watching the progress and getting involved in the making process.

That way I can recieve valuable feedback aswell as bug reports wich I would seriously never find by playtesting myself.

If you want to strictly stick to a demo, I would agree with @Htlaets here. Enough content to show off the gameplay loop and mechanics the player can expect in the future. If the game has story too, I would say enough story to get the player interested in it.
 

Sullien

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A demo should be made like a prototype of a game, ideally you want the most important core features to be there so the people that play it know what to expect from the full game, doesn't need to be particularly long, the idea is for players to get a feel of what the complete game will be about.
 

Kes

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There are at least 2 distinct approaches.

The first is to release a section of the game (maybe specifically constructed for the demo) to demonstrate what the game might be like once it's finished. With this approach you get some early feedback and may build up a long term interest/fan base with it. Problems include: the player's save file will be of no use for the game when it is released; you can't give a realistic idea of the story or of the pacing in the game; you might change some of those mechanics in the final version and players who wanted the original features might be disappointed; glitches might mean that people have a negative opinion which they carry into their opinion about the released version.

The second is to wait until you are much closer to completion and then release a demo of the initial portion of the game. This option still gives you some feedback, but it might be a bit late to incorporate it unless it's a really serious issue; players' save files can be carried forward into the game; players have a more realistic understanding of what the game is like. If your game is slower paced the player might not see enough to get an overall perspective of what the game offers.

My personal approach has been to release a free demo (my games are all commercial) which starts at the very beginning and ends at a convenient point about 1 - 1.5 hours in (assuming you do everything). This enables players to see clearly what they are going to get and decide from there whether they want to buy it or not.
 

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