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Talking Topic #9
News posted 21st March, 2007 by The Chris Street  
Do you believe in releasing demos within the Click Community?

This is the discussion for this weeks Talking Topic!

You might believe that releasing demos allows users to give you feedback - but that can be demotivating, so you might choose not to release demos. On the other hand, you might think that demos can help to generate excitement towards your final game. And then there's the factor of whether or not the final game will ever actually be released... what are your thoughts?

Please submit your opinions in the comments thread. Remember to keep things clean, and please respect the opinions of other individuals. And, if you have any ideas for the Talking Topic, feel free to mail them to me! Happy debating!

Click here to view previous Talking Topics

Posted by Dr. James MD 21st March, 2007

Releasing a demo - they look like nice catalysts for hype building.
Releasing a beta - no. You only need 5 people to beta/usability test anything. Not a bloody army of angry klikers.

Posted by Klikmaster 21st March, 2007

I think a demo is ok, as long as the game is over halfway done and has a more-or-less finished engine.
Releasing a demo too early means not so useful feedback and for some reason demotivation..
Posted by Willy C 21st March, 2007

I think Demos ruin the final product, especially if you have story driven games. I'm all for releasing a game engine test to a small audience. Then release a the entire game-when its finsihed, to a small audience for testeing. Other than that, trailers are pretty cool.
Posted by Radix 21st March, 2007

I don't see the point in releasing an incomplete product beyond generating hype, and I'm not a fan of hype.
Posted by Hempuli 21st March, 2007

I usually upload 1 demo before the whole game. But yeah, in games where the story is the important thing, demo's ruin the idea. Although in the Underside, the beta was so short that you didn't get a sligthest idea about the whole story.
Posted by Bo Fu 21st March, 2007

A demo can fulfill several purposes:

- Generate hype for a game. There are, of course, lots of people who dislike hype, such as Radix, and this certainly is a valid point.
- Allow a broad userbase to point out a game's flaws, thus allowing the developer to address them.
- Allow users to download a relatively small file compared to the full game so that they can see if they'll really be interested in the full game.
- Allow the public to play a game long before it is released. Sometimes, the demo can also have exclusive content not found in the full game - a prequel teaser, if you will.

I don't think that demos should be made for short games, of course. Demos don't ruin a game's story if they don't reveal the whole story.
Posted by MJK 21st March, 2007

Personally I don't release demos because most of my games are equally small anyway.

But generally, if you have a good concept and time to put some extra effort in releasing an effective demo, then demos are only good. Assumption is that you want to maximize the volume and interest of the audience towards your game, and demos simply are a solid way to advertise your future creation.

I don't know if it's just me but I have a feeling that in Click community, demos are sometimes released because of impatience in development process and only because one needs to get something to show for others. Someone could make a research about how many demos eventually end up as cancelled/abandoned projects.
Posted by ncsoftware 21st March, 2007

I mainly release demos to the community to get some feedback and after a while I remove them again. There's always people giving helpful comments, but unfortunally you often get remarks you can't do anything with at all and don't even make sense at all. Something like I don't like fake 3D graphics or click games cannot use 3D graphics and so on. don't use the standard movement seems to be favourite around here also. A lot of people outside of the click community could care less if it has the standard click movements and it's not an issue at all.

After I've reviewed the helpful comments, I finish the full game and then look for a publishers to release it.

As for creating a hype, releasing demo to create a hype amongst the click community often works counter-productive.

Demo are good, but be prepared to browse through way too many non-sense comments. I wish people would really make helpful comments to aid the design of the game.
Posted by Hayo 21st March, 2007

I stopped releasing demo's years ago. I don't really like hearing anything about my game till it's done. Fishhead 4 was abandoned mainly because of what people said about it. After a couple of people told me guitar music didn't suit the game (which was by the way all about guitars) it pissed me off enough to stop working on it. The only thing I do now is releasing some screenshots, just to let people know something is coming so it won't go unnoticed.
Posted by DS Strider 21st March, 2007

Honestly, releasing a demo or a full fledged game leaves you open for criticism, good or bad. if you took your time and made every effort to make your game enjoyable, then I say send in your demo and listen to what people like/don't like about it. Then work from that towards your finished game.
Posted by RenatoDep 21st March, 2007

I think releasing a Demo is usually a good thing, To get the opinion of people and see what to work and improve before final release. But here at TDC mainly it's rough and I am thinking twice before doing so.
Posted by axel 21st March, 2007

I personally don't like giving away too much of my game, before the release. I never release any demos or public betas. Instead, I pick a few random people I trust from my MSN list, and let them test my game. That way I get the feedback I need, without having to reveal my game to the public.
Posted by Tim 21st March, 2007

"demotivating" good one chris!

Anyway, I think that well put together video clips of gameplay are much better than releasing demo's. They don't allow the user to play. I solely agree with axel here, that if you need to get feedback, ask some random person on or two you MSN to test it out!

Releasing Demo's tend to give too much away, but if the game is undoubtedly HUGE then that needs to be taken into consideration. Whereas if it's some little puzzle game, people will often play the demo (and with first impressions being most important), then not play the full version. So you have to be careful here really.
Posted by axel 21st March, 2007

Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but:

"A lot of people outside of the click community could care less if it has the standard click movements and it's not an issue at all."

Wrong. People outside the community complain about the standard movement engine for the same reason that we do: It's buggy and flawed, and thus it ruins the gameplay. If the built-in movement just did what it's supposed to, then people here probably wouldn't be as picky about it as they are now.

Posted by BROO 21st March, 2007

Publishing Demo = Demotivating. After criticism: "Oh if they're complaining, why should I finish it? ", after positive comments: "Crowd's happy , I got positive comments , I'm so happy . I don't need anything more.".

Most clickers I know, produce games only to get good comments from others. So I do avoid publishing any previews (even images or game's title).
Posted by RenatoDep 21st March, 2007

"Most clickers I know, produce games only to get good comments from others. So I do avoid publishing any previews (even images or game's title)."

As much as everyone would love that, I personally do not expect that. I want to hear what people want to be improved in the game and whatnot, it's to me more of a test drive. The problem is that people here at TDC, mostly do not offer constructive critism, they will just shut the whole thing down without even an explanation, it's sad so I just go to other sites to seek opinion, or of actual game professionals I work with in my day to day job.
Posted by RenatoDep 21st March, 2007

day to day job I mean, I work in the game industry.
Posted by axel 21st March, 2007

"The problem is that people here at TDC, mostly do not offer constructive critism, they will just shut the whole thing down without even an explanation"

Posted by RenatoDep 21st March, 2007

Posted by RenatoDep 21st March, 2007

bah who cares you got my point
Posted by Blueberry 21st March, 2007

If the games are so long that a demo can be around 2% of the final product or mainly just the engine then it can be "justified". But when the demo includes 1 of 2 levels it's a bit point less to even create a hype. Video trailers with gameplay are better.
Posted by David Newton (DavidN) 21st March, 2007

I'm quite surprised by the anti-demo feeling here - I've released demos for all but one of my games, as I feel that after a few months of working on a game I need a bit of a boost from people actually seeing what I've been doing.

Constructive criticism... I've actually not had a problem with this apart from on a couple of my very early games. People are keen to point out flaws, but better to do it then than allow something really annoying into the full game unnoticed.

As for betas, I experimented last time I released something with posting a "test version" on the Clickteam forums first and inviting bug reports before releasing it to the general Internet. That worked out rather well, too, though it wasn't very well organized and it became difficult to note who had reported what.
Posted by axel 21st March, 2007

Newt: I wasn't correcting your grammar or anything. What I meant was that yes, we do have a lot of idiots on this site. But if you really think most of us can't give constructive criticism, then I don't think you take criticism very well...
Posted by Del Duio 21st March, 2007

Well, the demos I release are usually the only ones most people will play (if they are pay games I mean). Nobody will buy something they can't try, and the demo's the best way that I know that can accomplish this.

Or something like that
Posted by RenatoDep 21st March, 2007

No, I do take critism well, and I do want to hear people's opinions. I've changed my game alot to fit what people commented about it. The problem is that most people here just shoot things down without giving a chance. I've been in the click community since KnP, and that's just the feeling I got ever since. is much better to show your work to, people seem to be better about it. Clickmag, the french site also, people are just different there as well, much more mature. Also, TDC is very much about popularity, it really reminds me of High School. But there are some people here who are good, and as much as we don't see eye to eye on certain things (Axel), i've taken alot of your critisms into consideration and I've appreciated them.
Posted by axel 21st March, 2007

Yeah, okay. I just reacted on when you said that most of us don't give proper criticism. I personally don't think it's that bad, but I know what you mean. TDC is the most popular klik community around, with the most members, which means there are a lot of great people here, but also a lot of idiots.

Oookayy... I'm way off topic again <_<
Posted by Reno 21st March, 2007

I think demos are good as if someone is not good with the game, somone will tell you and your open to change
Posted by axel 21st March, 2007

Lol, thanks for pointing that out Captain Obvious
Posted by 21st March, 2007

Axel, do you like Lex Luthor or what?
Posted by Silveraura 21st March, 2007

Personally, I don't release demos anymore, because a lot of the time, people will play the demo, then think that they've seen enough to dictate
the final game, so they don't even try the final game.

This is different though, if you're making a full fledged adventure or rpg, but for the most part; releasing a demo of a click game is relatively useless, since the games are generally small by nature.

Wait till you've finished the game, build up a little hype here and there with previews and spoken word, but in the end; don't be impatient, get the critique when the game is truly at it's peak of quality, not any time sooner. Thats what I say.
Posted by 21st March, 2007

So, what your'e saying is, a demo should be released when the game has reached it's peak of quality?
Posted by Hayo 21st March, 2007

Releasing a demo to get feedback in order to make your game better is kind of a bad excuse, it would work in a more mature community but here 80% of the people is either moronic, jaleous or plain cocky so you're better off asking some sane induvidials for feedback and advice.
Posted by Hayo 21st March, 2007

Edit: Adam whined I spelt jealous wrong.
Posted by 21st March, 2007

I think Hayo is jaleous.
Posted by Hayo 21st March, 2007

And he wasn't the only one.
Posted by RenatoDep 21st March, 2007

well Hayo, depends where you release it. Hence why I don't really bother at TDC.
Posted by Ski 21st March, 2007

I did not whine I was trying to be kind
Posted by Hayo 21st March, 2007

Oops. Well I meant whining in a...kind way?
Posted by Superfunk 21st March, 2007

I'd probably release a demo of a huge project that would be really awesome, but I will probably almost never release a demo.
Posted by Dr. James MD 21st March, 2007

Those planning on releasing demos to get feedback - go read up on It's a fantastic place to learn about testing. I can't remember the exact figure but using 5 people to test something will find approx 80% of the problems. 15 people will find 100% of the problems.

Closed betas work better and keep out non-constructive comments.

Releasing demos of puzzle games where one formula is copied over to each level with little added to the full game other than more of the same is a bad idea. But I think for these large games we're getting now a demo is a good idea. In the case of The Underside theres probably a slew of items/weapons in the full game.
Posted by 21st March, 2007

There should seriously be a Doctor Who klik-game.
Anyone feels motivated to do it?
Posted by Ski 21st March, 2007

New series starts soon. Also you're not the latest Dr Who
Posted by 21st March, 2007

I'm the best Dr Who ever. The new one is a joke.
Posted by Tim 21st March, 2007

Na your not. I saw you last night in "gone in 60 seconds" ... you died.

I'll tell you who is a joke - Tim Westwood.
Posted by Dr. James MD 21st March, 2007

New Doctor Who
Life on Mars ends
Posted by Ski 21st March, 2007

Life on Mars sucks.
Posted by Tim 21st March, 2007

Shup it's better than Dr Who.
Posted by Muz 21st March, 2007

Most of my games are way off what the industry usually does, so they're full of gameplay flaws and bugs that I often fail to see. After all, there's a reason that a lot of people don't make the games I do. Whether I like it or not, releasing demos often saves me a lot of time finding those gameplay flaws and saves me even more time for not working on something that people won't play.

Demos are kind of a bit of a motivator, since they show that I've done the bulk of my work, including all the annoying engines. I don't normally give out the story in my demos.. most of them are a release of the tutorials part or one of the campaigns in my game.

But overall my game design schedule goes something like preview -> demo -> full game. So far, there hasn't been a game worth completing so haven't reached that part yet. Maybe someday..
Posted by ncsoftware 22nd March, 2007

"Those planning on releasing demos to get feedback - go read up on It's a fantastic place to learn about testing. I can't remember the exact figure but using 5 people to test something will find approx 80% of the problems. 15 people will find 100% of the problems. "

No way, I'm not sure who made up those figures, but that's all they are made up figures. Why in the world does Microsoft release it's products to millions of beta testers if 15 can do the job? All of the software I do own has been tested by 100's of people, even clickteam have more then 15 commited testers.

Posted by Dr. James MD 22nd March, 2007

Not sure who made up the data? How about Jakob Nielsen, probably the smartest guy on the planet when it comes to usability and testing.

Oh and wrong address

The actual article is here too for anyone interested,

Microsoft get away with large testing groups. If you read (if you can) the "When To Test More Users" paragraph it mentions about greater numbers of distinctive groups of users. An OS would need that with the near unlimited number of hardware customisations out there, an MMF game does not. So long as the right 5 people have been selected.
Posted by Del Duio 22nd March, 2007

Except for Captain of the Guard 2, I've released demos simultaneously with the full pay game. The theory is if someone plays the demo and is psyched to buy the whole thing.. and it's not even READY yet.. What's to say they'll come back in a few months and get it then?
Posted by ben mercer 22nd March, 2007

Jeremy you need to me more skeptical of what Jakob Nielsen's article is actually useful for. Sure, 5 people would be fine if you wanted to find all the bugs your stock control program, but balancing the weapons in an MMORPG? When you want to know what people in general think of your game 5 people is a pretty poor statistical sample.

I tested my game with 5 people who all thought it was great, yet when I released a demo I realised that there were still issues that needed picking up on.

I think demos are a great way to get your bearings with a game. With my current game, I planned to build and release it within a month. I released a demo and through user feedback realised that the game had more potential than I thought, so set about improving it and it has now been in the making for several months. I released an improved version of the original demo, and got yet more user feedback.

I think demos are certainly useful, but they don't work in some situations. If your game is short then there is no point. If your demo is slated, it is frustrating but sometimes it gives you the jolt you need to realise the game is crap and you should start on something new. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

If you want a general idea of what people like and dont like about your game by far the easiest way is to release a demo IMO.

Life on mars is great.
Posted by Hempuli 22nd March, 2007

Lol, now guys In Gwerdy Chat are testing my Ninjagames beta
Posted by Beau 22nd March, 2007

I use to release demos, but stopped after I never finished a game that had a demo. It gave me a sense of completion, and usually a reason to start a new 'project' while I 'saw how people liked the demo', but I never went back. And this is a solid 4 or 5 games that went away due to demos. I do betas now. And never ones that have any sort of screen referencing the fact that "the game will continue from this point" I just put big walls in the way.
Posted by Del Duio 22nd March, 2007

The trick is to make the whole game first, and then go back and limit things / ommit stuff to form the demo. And if you can take out chunks of code you should do that- otherwise people will find a way to "unlock" your whole game, cos' peoples is smarts!!
Posted by 22nd March, 2007

Lol account deleted! Good one, Admins.
Posted by Muz 22nd March, 2007

If your game is going to be free anyway, why limit it? I find it better to just put in a few levels that show off the whole game, just for support/motivation.

Actually, I think he's right about the 5 people thing. 5 people will find 80% of the bugs, assuming they play from beginning to end, if it's a linear game (no alternative plots, no choices, just a simple game).

But for things with lots of choices, you need one person taking each path. With complicated games like Civilization or the Total War games, where there's lots of things to do and many ways to do them, you'll need a hell lot more testers, just to see which part breaks when you focus on it enough.

And most of the time, wiping out 80% of the bugs really isn't enough. The remaining 20% could be what makes the game not fun, as you would see if any of you watched the world championships of FIFA 2006 (the EA game). Nobody won with pure skill, most people won by finding the flaws in the game and a bit of skill.
Posted by Disthron 23rd March, 2007

Personally, I like the idea of a demo. It allows people to know what is coming out and to "try before thay buy". Even if it is just in bandwidth.
Posted by JFrudy 26th March, 2007

i think demos could be nice to gather feedback from, but im not sure if its worth all of the criticism and the annoying hype that can gather up from it. as long as you are releasing a chunk of the finished game that is. i dont really think that its a good idea to release an engine thats not finished, because then people wouldnt get the right feel for the game. but hey, thats me.


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