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How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 6:12 am
by DustyManson
I have made a few short pretty much linear otome games with a few choices but nothing too complex.

I'm starting to work on my first full length otome game with various love interests, a friend option, and even a cat option for those that would rather just have a cat and not date anybody.

My issue is I'm not sure how much of the game I should have as the demo

Re: How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:47 pm
by fleet
I've seen commercially released games where the demo is the first chapter.

Re: How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:25 am
by Wudgeous
I think as a general rule, the players should see enough of the game to know how it functions, and enough to be briefly introduced to most of the characters.

Re: How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:32 pm
by Mutive
The goal of a demo is to get a player to buy the full game, right?

So I'd argue that a demo should be long enough that a player can get a sense of the game + why they'd want to play it. This means it can be as long or as short as it takes to "sell" the player.

(With that said, it's rare that I'll "try out" a game for more than about 15 minutes. If the game hasn't interested me in that time frame, I'm probably going to pass. So making sure you "hook" your players in that much time is probably a good idea!)

Re: How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:00 pm
by papillon
Consider what the purpose of your demo IS. Not all games have them! If you want one, what do you want it to accomplish?

Is it to upsell the full game? (In which case, you don't want to make a demo until your game is DONE!)

Is it to demonstrate the game mechanics for fundraising purposes? (like, are you trying to go the kickstarter route?)

Is it to demonstrate the idea of your story so that you can recruit artists for your team?

Is it meant to be a free central story with separately-purchased chapters/DLC?

Is it meant to be a fun standalone that people will keep circulating and playing on its own whether they ever get the full version or not?

These things make a difference to your design.

Re: How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 8:23 pm
by Katy133
I think a guideline to start with would be asking yourself if the demo includes these three things:
  • Establish the premise and main conflict.
  • Establish the protagonist.
  • If there are any mini-games or gimmicks, include a snippet of it.
There will always be exceptions to these guidelines (example: Some story's plots have the protagonist revealed late in the story, giving the audience a "decoy protagonist" in the meantime), but if you break these rules, only do so because you know why you are breaking them.

Re: How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:09 am
by mikey
In addition to what's been said already, I find demos valuable for allowing me to look at all the settings and what effect they produce.

I bought Shibuya Scramble (without a demo) and was driven to insanity by the inability to set instant text display. Other VNs may have permanently animated cursors, or only have a limited number of save slots. These are not always deal breakers (some even prefer them), but it's good to know what kind of "player comforts" you are getting.

So having a demo (at all) is already a good decision from my perspective. I actually typically buy the few expensive AAA games that I have my eyes on pretty much sight unseen or just by watching some gameplay, mainly because these are already "budgeted". I know I want them.

However I have bought a disproportional amount of my non-blockbuster titles, such as sub-20-eur indie games based on demos. These were unplanned buys, but by playing the demos and knowing what I can expect my brain classified them as "considered impulse purchases" :D and allowed me to spend the money.

Re: How much of the game should be in the demo?

Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 1:28 pm
by Elsa Kisiel
papillon wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:00 pm
Is it meant to be a fun standalone that people will keep circulating and playing on its own whether they ever get the full version or not?
I love the "standalone" kind of demo so much! Not a lot of game do it, but as a player, I think it's great that a demo can be a "bonus content".
Like the demo for stanley parable. It's the same kind of humor and mechanic, but it's a different game than the game itself, and I was delighted as a player to learn about the demo after I've finished the game.