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 A Word About Game Demos (Commercial)

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vaudy
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PostSubject: A Word About Game Demos (Commercial)   Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:39 pm

This one is directed at the ever-growing number of casual RPG developers out there, who will probably never read this post in this tiny, hidden corner of the internet, but one can hope. Perhaps I can repost this somewhere.

I have this to say about your game demos: The first hour of your game is not just, you know, the beginning of the game. It is what sells your game.

What I mean is, I like description and plot summaries and screenshots just as much as the next gamer, and those things are what will get me to try your demo. But when it comes to actually handing over my money? Your demo is what convinces me to do that, or fails to do, as the case may be.

If I don't enjoy that first hour, I will assume I won't enjoy the rest of the game. Simple as that.

It doesn't matter if the gameplay becomes more complex later. It doesn't matter if the story becomes deeper or more intricate later. You need to give me a reason to play now. (Yes, even if you're Amaranth or Aldorlea, though I'll say that those two are as big as they are because they largely succeed at this.)

That means you have to introduce, as much as possible, anything that makes your game unique in terms of gameplay, and it means you have to have a strong story hook, and it means that you have to have good pacing and good balance. Building tension is critical in making me excited to see where the story goes, but you also have to give me a little taste of exploration and combat.

Show, don't tell.

Make that first impression count.
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