Poll Question 099 – What the best amount playtime for demo for a mod?

19th September 2008

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I used to believe that the larger mods should release demos, just like games. Now I’m not so sure….

What the best amount playtime for demo for a mod?

Recent Releases

There have been a few recent demo releases and I used to believe that this would be a good thing. Unfortunately the releases I am thinking about release very large demos and I believe that may have a negative effect.

We need to think carefully about why demos are released. Are they released to convince players to buy games? If this is the case then mods don’t need to do it because they are free.

Are they released to keep the noise level of the mod higher than if media were released? Maybe, although in the case of retail games it’s got to be the reason above. Therefore do mods need extra publicity? Maybe, maybe not.

What should be clear is that the demo should encourage the player to download the full mod when it is eventually realsed. In that case the mod just needs to be quite small and represent the best that the mapper can make. In fact, I believe the demo shouldn’t feature ANY part of the released mod but a specially built are of the mod, that perhaps can be seen from the full release.

For me anything more than 30% of playtime of the full release is too much. In the case of Mistake and Half-Life: Episode Two it’s highly unlikely I will play the full release because I’ve already played too much and don’t want to go back and start gain.

Of course the authors could release save points for player to continue where the demo finished but it’s not just that, it’s getting back into the story etc.

The Poll


  1. Hoyy

    Strictly sticking to the no demo to 15% part. When people play too much of a demo, they are going to miss the action of the compelte mod and not gonna want to play at all, so there shouldn’t be any surprise or a demo might be released for once in a while when the mod has great expectations but sometimes it apparently is dead.

    See: Black mesa source.

  2. firba1

    I think that demos are a bad idea period unless they can actually be used as a standalone part of the game (tutorial, prelude, etc.). I think that mods” reputations by themselves are enough. However, for game length mods (i.e., Black Mesa), it might be appropriate. I just think that a demo of a mod that is normal mod length just isn’t right to do, just a demo of Portal would not be right to do, unless it is one of the things I mentioned above.

  3. Anonymous

    As far as I understand, a demo is simply a method of showcasing the engine itself and nothing else. Since it’s assumed the author is working with a pre-existing game, starting with the prerequisite of already having the engine beforehand, there’s no point in releasing a demo.

    For the case of both Mistake and Half-life: Episode Two, both authors seem to have released almost-complete games as ‘demos” in an attempt to get feedback and support. However, while it’s understandable to want support and feedback at this point, this is why betas exist. If anything, both ‘demos” are suffering from a case of mistaken identity and are basically public betas with the endings cut out of them.

    That, in itself, is probably the main flaw here. The authors want positive feedback, but are going to get ragged on by people who have completely shifted their view of the mod because the ending was such an anticlimax instead of what the mod author was actually going to do. Imagine if Half-life 1 ended right where Gordon was about to teleport to Xen. Imagine if Half-life 2 ended JUST before the final battle with Breen. Imagine if Doom 2 ended before the Icon of Sin map. Now imagine that those versions of the games were free while the full game still cost $50 when it came out. Would anyone buy it? No. Now think of that money as positive feedback.

    I guess my point is that of the two mods mentioned, they released too much of the mod to be called a demo, and not enough to call complete. I’m most likely going to play it again whenever they finish their mod completely, but not because I want to finish it once and for all. It would more likely be to help forget that this mod once had no ending…

    However, I vote 30% because Doom released its first episode as a demo, and that never hurt Doom.

  4. As far as I understand, a demo is simply a method of showcasing the engine itself and nothing else.

    I don’t agree with that. A demo could be used to demonstrate new weapons, new gameplay mechanics etc. In the case of mods it’s an opportunity for players to see the quality of level design.

    I agree with everything else you have written.

  5. Ashkandi

    Yeah, my mod release is rather a beta without the story.

    So demo is upto 30%.
    Beta is over 70%.

  6. Sortie

    The purpose of a demo is of course to encourage players to play the final game.

    I believe the best way to do so, is letting them play a part of the final game. This way the players will have a clear image of what to expect from the final product. However, gamedesign-wise this can be rather difficult. The players will rarely be able to perform well in the later levels, if they haven’t played the previous, or at least a tutorial. This is probably why games like HL2 and Bioshock had their demos take place in the beginning of the games.

    Now, there are problems with lengthy demos. As Phillip already pointed out, playing large parts of a game leaves little interest in playing the full version, if obtaining it requires money or just the effort to download it and replay it, and just playing through it yet another time is just boring. (In the perfect world, it should be fun to play a SP mod twice).

    Don’t try and say that “a demo should be 15%’, or “30%’. A demo should be as long as it needs to be. As previously stated, the purpose of a demo is to encourage players to play the final mod. The content should be a part of the game that truly represents how most of the game is going to be. The length of a demo should be the length of whatever amount of gameplay it takes to represent the final game. Therefore, I will not vote in this poll, I don’t know how long short is.

    I constantly re-release my mod under the label Demo, (technically it is a Beta), and I see that some players have little interest in replaying the mod, while some people are willing to replay it over and over again. This is serious people though; most average gamers probably don’t plan on doing so. From this experience I find it clear that longer demos should be avoided, especially if there is no replay-value.

    Therefore, a demo should be a short part of the final game that works stand-alone of the final game that requires no previous experience with the final game.

  7. don’t try and say that “a demo should be 15%”, or “30%”.

    I agree but I find that I need to be quite limited in my poll choices or it just becomes a list of comments with no conclusion.

  8. firba1

    I’d like append my previous comment. I don’t think that just mods shouldn’t have demos. I think no games should have demos (unless they are backstory, tutorial, etc.). I realized this with the game The Force Unleashed. I noticed that before I played it’s demo I was really interested in the game, but afterward I was not that interested. And after that my friend got the game, and I played it, and I can say I’m honestly more interested in buying than before I played the demo. So I think that for the most part, demos are a bad thing, no matter what game it is.

  9. A demo should only showcase features of the mod that deviate from the standard. I don’t think a demo for a mod should actually include any part of the mod its for, but should act as a training area for the new features that will appear in the mod.

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