What to include in a demo

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by BlackRoseMii, Oct 6, 2013.

    Tags:
  1. BlackRoseMii

    BlackRoseMii Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    655
    Likes Received:
    597
    Location:
    Germany
    First Language:
    German
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I'll make this quick: I'm working on my first game right now and wondered when to release a demo. I thought about the story until the first boss. (Which includes 2 towns, a second teammember, 1 forest and 1 dungeon and a boss) My brother though said it would be better to cover a certain timespan within the storyline or a feature that hasn't much to do with the story itself.

    What do you think? What makes a good demo anyway?
     
     
    #1
  2. Firgof

    Firgof Artist / Designer Veteran

    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    214
    First Language:
    English
    Objectively: The best demo is one that represents your game accurately and clearly.

    Try to show the viewer what playing the game is like -- but try to take care to not embellish so much that you distort the representation.

    In my opinion a "Vertical Slice" is a great way to show off a game.  Find a section of the game you think both sells the idea of the game and represents it fairly, complete and polish it, and package that section as its own demo.

    You could also do a 'stitching' style demo, where you take different sections of the game and weave them together -- this is a technique that's been showing up more often lately as it also doesn't necessarily give away the plot due to the timeline and transitions between elements being unreliable.

    Finally, you can create an actual demo -- a complete 10-15 minute game which shows off the game's mechanics and gives a preview into the world and its backstory but is its own separate entity as well.

    Ultimately: It should be polished, it should play well, it should be relatively bug-free, and it should tease and not whet the audience's appetite.
     
    #2
    Erynn, Lorenze and Tatsude K. Hitori like this.
  3. hiromu656

    hiromu656 Praise the Sun (Arcana) Veteran

    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    123
    Location:
    Chicago
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    A demo to me is anything that captures the "essence" of the game. For instance the demo for Dragons Dogma has character creation, the intro and a boss fight with a griffon. Of course this isn't all the game is about, it captures what you would expect from the game along with its biggest selling point (the combat). If you have a lot of combat, show that off, if you use many chains of dialogue, show that off, if you have a nice crafting system, show that off. A demo doesn't have to be everything that you've made up to this point, and a demo could even be something specifically put together for the demo (as in it may not be in the full game).
     
    #3
  4. muramasa

    muramasa Abomination of life, or life itself. Veteran

    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    293
    Location:
    CR
    First Language:
    Spanish
    Here goes my personal definitions for what is an alpha, what a beta and what is specifically a demo. I clarify this part to define what is not recommended to be a "demo".

    Alpha. Covers the main parts of the gameplay. This is the barebones of your design. For an RPG, the basic aspects of your battle, the most important parts of your exploration part (maps and such). Since RPG Maker gives you pretty much a full working engine, almost everyone starts here since the moment of clicking the "New Project" button.

    BUT! There are cases where it isn't. Not only on non-RPGs made with RM. Some people are wild and crazy, and their RPGs are WAY overelaborated, and the basic RPG idea isn't even close to an alpha.

    Beta. This is the development status at which 90% of the gameplay mechanics are set into stone, already implemented and ready for the 100% content completion run! This is a moment of cellebration and booze.

    Demo. Short for demonstration. A demonstration of what your game offers to your public. And, as a demonstration, it needs to be, at least, beyond the alpha status, and much better if it > beta.

    Remember a demo is what you're going to show to your future public. This is what they have to expect. So, it needs to leave them with interest, and as amazed as possible <3. So, the ideal thing to do is to select the part of the game you think that represents the best of your game, and of course, at the same time, not cause huge spoilers and all that. Also give them some things to play with, without making them wonder how the hay this game works.

    Obviously, there isn't a recipe to how to present a game, but this is a very rough idea,

    Orochii Zouveleki
     
    #4
  5. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    20,798
    Likes Received:
    10,584
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    At the risk of sounding boring and conventional, I think there is still something to be said for giving X amount of the actual game, starting at the beginning.  Why?  A few of the main reasons:

    As a potential player I want to know what the game is actually like - not a stitched together showcase which, at least sometimes, gives a wholly unrepresentative impression of the quality of the game, because the dev chose the best bits for it.  This can be the consequence of what the post above suggested when murama wrote "the ideal thing to do is to select the part of the game you think that represents the best of your game".  It could be the best of your game, and the rest sucks, and if that's the case then I, as the player, will feel like I've been tricked.

    I want to know if the game has got a properly thought-through balance of the different components; again this is something that I'm unlikely to get a true impression of it's a selection from different parts of the game.

    I'd like to be able to form at least a tentative initial judgement about how well the story and character development will be handled.  For this I need to see how it starts and progresses.

    If I like what I've seen, a nice bonus is that I may be able to use my save file to continue when more of the game (or maybe the completed game) is released

    There is the obvious question of how long "X amount of the game" should be.  If you want to use your demo to show what your game will be like, then it has to be, imo, at least 30 minutes, and preferably an hour.  If it's to showcase some aspect of the game, then you can ignore what I've written here and have something that's 10-15 minutes and that only features that aspect e.g. the battle system, or a couple of the mini-games if you've done them, that sort of thing.  Just don't call it a game demo, then everyone will be clear about what they are getting.
     
    #5
    Solo likes this.
  6. Solo

    Solo Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    1,104
    Likes Received:
    154
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    Yes, yes, and yes. Like you said, this is honest.

    This too is virtuous. ;) It's what I plan to do, anyway.
     
    #6
  7. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

    Messages:
    14,548
    Likes Received:
    2,902
    Location:
    Philippines
    First Language:
    Tagalog
    yeah I prefer a demo of the first part of the game as it's usually less biased than a demo that is a stitch of the best parts of the game... Also, on the dev part, if you're going to do the stitch method, make sure that the other parts of your game will be as awesome as those included in the demo, else the players might feel really bad...

    If you want to show the best parts of your game, I think taking a video of it is a better idea rather than putting them up in the demo...

    So it will be like:

    Do the first part of the game type of demo

    Then release a vid teaser showing the main features of your game

    Basically, no matter which one you choose, just make sure that the whole game stays true to what they will experience on the demo... Else your players might go away...

    PS: adding the save thingy is good, but it might be hard to do if your demo is created during the not so final parts of the development because you might be changing things that are saved in the save file which will make the changes not show if the player loads his file... one sure thing would be changes to the actors because actor data is saved to the save file...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2013
    #7
    Solo likes this.
  8. Alexander Amnell

    Alexander Amnell Jaded Optimist Veteran

    Messages:
    3,405
    Likes Received:
    1,730
    Location:
    Zaječí
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    Gotta agree with the last 3 and also kind of with the others as well. A demo should show off the main systems of the game so it should be at least long enough to accomplish that but I like demos to also give you a bit of an idea into what the game's story is about in addition to what it's various systems do. Basically the way I look at it the starting sequences of the game should be where most of the unique systems are explained. Maybe not in depth but you should be given some idea as the beginning is where you give tutorials and such.

    In my game I'm going to release one probably when I've gotten the first sequence of each of the three protagonists down well. The demo will introduce the player to these characters as well as a few important secondary characters/npcs and each one will feature something different. (ex. the wandering magician will have a demo on how some of the unique magic systems work, the warrior character will showcase the battles by ending with a boss fight and so on)
     
    #8
  9. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

    Messages:
    14,548
    Likes Received:
    2,902
    Location:
    Philippines
    First Language:
    Tagalog
    Also, if it's a game with a deep connection to it's story, it's good to have your demo build upon the player the excitement for the story itself...

    Personally, I find it more appealing to have the demo about the start of the story while the features are just viewable in a video or something... mainly because I think it's more rewarding to the player if the demo is the actual start of the game rather than just something that the dev put up to showcase all of his systems...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2013
    #9
  10. NPC

    NPC Auteurist in this world Veteran

    Messages:
    1,312
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    At risk of ruining any pace for this thread, I pose the question:

    Would you think it would be a wise idea to ever create a prologue 'demo', as if to create something that uses all the features of the main game, shows off future ideas within the game, and even adds to the story? 
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
    #10
  11. kerbonklin

    kerbonklin Hiatus King Veteran

    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    281
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I need to disagree with everyone here saying "showcasing mid-portions of games (ie: systems/mechanics/battle) makes for a bad demo."

    Let's look at various AAA demos out there that were great.

    Legend of Zelda - Windwaker demo contained a playthrough of the first dungeon + grapple hook, and a playthrough of when you had to sneak past the moblins to get your sword back. Both sections fully lacked story-essence, but the demo was still amazing and showed what the game was like as an action-rpg, especially the graphic/visual style it used.

    Dead Rising demo was 15 minutes of killing zombies. It was massive fun and had no story.

    Lost Planet demo was similar to Windwaker, also was amazing.

    Crackdown 1 demo as well was a freaking blast, rampaging through the city GTA-style fighting thug-gangs.

    Gears of War beta demos were pure multiplayer, extreme fun. Can still be called a demo cause you can still play it.

    TL:DR demos don't need story showcasing at all to be enjoyable and/or profitable. As long as what you do in the demo is FUN! The point in the demo is to promote your game's release, building hype, and making the player want to BUY (unless free, then play) your game. It can be story only, it can be action/gameplay only, It could be both. As long as it's fun!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
    #11
  12. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

    Messages:
    14,548
    Likes Received:
    2,902
    Location:
    Philippines
    First Language:
    Tagalog
    Do you know what's the common ground of those games? They don't rely that much in the story (at least those that aren't Zelda)... How will you even show a demo of the story when your game has a shallow story in the first place? For those games, doing a story-based demo is almost always a bad idea...

    Most of those games, even if they have a story, doesn't rely on it and the story isn't a big part of it... Like zombie shooter games, they can have a good or a bad story but nonetheless people will play them (if you release a demo, they will all be lining up), why? because people love zombie shooting games...

    And what's more? Because they are AAA games... Especially games that were already there for decades (like Zelda)...

    In the end, your Demo should always be based on what your game's selling features are... If you market heavy story, then make it storybased... if it's a shooter game, make a demo that includes the shooting experience... and more importantly, stay true to your demo... a false demo might make you money for your first game, but the broken trust of your customers are hard to get back...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
    #12
  13. kerbonklin

    kerbonklin Hiatus King Veteran

    Messages:
    1,728
    Likes Received:
    281
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Lost Planet has a very nice story, and Gears of War has novels....NOVELS!  That's kinda like saying Halo has a shallow story line, which has a hell lot more novels than Gears does, while both games being action-shooters.

    Edit: Gears of War has 5 novels in the series that goes with it's 4 games.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
    #13
  14. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

    Messages:
    14,548
    Likes Received:
    2,902
    Location:
    Philippines
    First Language:
    Tagalog
    well, Halo has a nice story, I know for a fact because I've read the novels (a few of them, personally liked Fall of Reach)... though most people I know who plays it only plays it for the multiplayer thingy... 

    and I never said they have a shallow storyline, what I've said was that, for things like shooter games, players will play them regardless of the story... at least for most people I personally know, and from what I see around the net... because personally I prefer shooters that has story, because I'm not much into multiplayer skirmishes...

    it's like a shooter game (from a AAA company) is already on the top 5 list of games to buy,  then if it has good story, it simply puts the game to top 1... though Halo would probably be always at the Top 1 of most fans... The only reason why I don't have Halo yet is because I don't have a console to play it in... :(
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
    #14
  15. hian

    hian Biggest Boss Veteran

    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    451
    Location:
    Japan
    First Language:
    Norwegian
    I agree that a demo doesn't need to contain story, but that completely depends on what kind of people you want your game to cater to.

    Most fps games, and Zelda are not really narrative driven games.

    Zelda is an adventure game with some RPG elements, but with the exception of skyward sword, the Zelda games have a setting, a premise, but very little in terms of complex story-telling. Same goes for most fps games.

    Saying that Halo and GoW has novels, is irrelevant though. The games are the games. Saying that the games have stories because there exists additional media expanding on the game is a fallacy of composition.

    If the game has a great story, then the game has a great story period.

    As for demos, in this context, particularly rpgmaker demos, I prefer them to start at the beginning, featuring the intro, a town, a dungeon and an introduction to the core mechanics.

    I feel that's the best way to give an extensive feel for the game.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
    #15
    Engr. Adiktuzmiko likes this.
  16. Aubrum

    Aubrum Warper Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    First Language:
    English
    You should do like the demo for "Eternal Sonata." What they did there was there was no story, and you played as 3 characters and fought through 2 dungeons. The main point was to get a feel for the way the game works. If you don't like that method, then you should reveal part of the plot at the very ending; Like the first episode of "Mirai Nikki" or "The Future Diary" (They're the same thing) Make something that would get players pumped to see what's going to happen next.
     
    #16
  17. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

    Messages:
    14,548
    Likes Received:
    2,902
    Location:
    Philippines
    First Language:
    Tagalog
    The good thing about doing a first part type of demo for story driven RPG games is that it gives the player the feeling of familiarity once they play the actual game... This is a bit personal, but for story-driven games, I like game-series because it creates a kind of nostalgia when playing thru each iterations (which I don't feel for games that don't really have a deep story within the game)... so I really find the first part type of demo a really nice way to start a game too...

    and IDK, but I simply don't want to compare the demo that we make in RM to the demos of AAA games... unless of course you have already established some kind of playerbase... Because for AAA games, we already know of the quality of games that the companies make, so it's like they only need to show us (not all, but I think a lot of players, especially those company fans) a bit of what to expect and we would buy that game...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2013
    #17
    Solo likes this.
  18. Solo

    Solo Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    1,104
    Likes Received:
    154
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I could not agree with you more.
     
    #18

Share This Page