Poll Question 186 – Should mods release demos?

22nd August 2010

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

I originally used to believe that the bigger mods should release demos. I viewed things from the perspective of retail sales. A player is a customer and a mod a product. Players “pay” for their mod by the time and effort of downloading and keeping up to date.

To convince players that they should play a particular mod, a demo could be used to show how good a mod is. I no longer believe that’s true.

I now believe that players will try anything and the time and effort put into releasing a demo is better spent making the final product better. A crappy demo won’t stop anybody from trying the final product, unless the final product is crappy, in which case the demo was just as wasted as if it were fantastic.

I suspect that modders want to have a little “pat on the back” for all their hard work, especially since a big mod is the longest commitment that some young modders have made in their life, it can be easy to lose focus and motivation.
I also suspect it’s in lieu of a real beta testing programme.

Let’s not forget that a great demo doesn’t necessarily mean the final mod will be great either.

Demos are useful for convincing me to try a game that costs money, because I am highly unlikely to buy it otherwise, but for mods I am struggling to see the benefits to the player. As mentioned above maybe it helps the modders keep working but that should be addressed in other project management ways, not by releasing demos.

As you probably know Wilson Chronicles released a demo this week and it seems to have been well received. I haven’t played it because it’s from about halfway in the mod and why would I want to spoil the surprises?

You could argue that modders could make new levels just for demos, but that’s an even bigger waste of time, because that effort should be put into the game.

So, if you are in favour of mods releasing mods, please tell me how you think we all benefit. Unless you just want something to play because of the current shortage of mods, which is just selfish. Shame on you.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Wilson Chronicles looks great and I look forward to playing the whole thing, I just can’t see a reason to release a demo, can you?

The Poll


  1. Cameron:D

    No, I don’t think they should. I’d prefer to play the final full version of it rather than being given a small section.

  2. Re2deemer

    “So, if you are in favour of mods releasing mods…”

    Anyway, I disagreee with your notion of “players will try everything”. Players won’t try everything,even if everything is free. I’ve seen this on numerous occasions across the Internet where a person would ask if they should try this piece of free software/mod or another. If asked why they can’t just try both, they make up excuses about not wanting to install unknown software, slow internet, just wanting to hear second opinions first…
    Essentially, they are too lazy to try things. I mean, if everybody tried everything, would you really need the ratings for mods on your website?

    With that said, I have to admit that in the case of mods, a well put together trailer would, in my opinion, be better than a demo.

    1. “Users” might not try everything but I honestly feel “players” will. Remember, this site is all about SP mods and that’s really what I am referring to. I take your point about free software though because I am exactly the same.

      That said, a lot of players won’t play mods if I or other reviewers have given something a bad review. Whether they would play it if they didn’t know anything about it, I don’t know.

      Essentially, they are too lazy to try things. I mean, if everybody tried everything, would you really need the ratings for mods on your website?

      yeah, I think I would because readers till like to discuss things. But it comes back to the point about players often like to hear what others have to say, as you mentioned.

      I still think that if somebody released a big mod, say at least 2 or 3 hours hours of play, that even if I and all other reviewers said “Avoid It!” a lot of players would still try it, because we are generally starved of good, long SP mods.

      Maybe it’s different with MP mods, I’m not sure.

  3. Trailers (videos) and images, yes.
    They keep us informed and interested in the progress of the mod.
    They do need to be released on a regular basis though, say 3 monthly.

    Demos, no.
    Releasing a Demo near completion is a waste. I’d rather they finished the mod.

    A Demo of the 1st chapter or 2 is a tease and leads to disappointment as we lose faith that the mod will be released.
    Dangerous World is a good example.

    ‘Proof of Concept’, however is valid. Besides getting player feed back on the idea, story,setting etc of the mod, it can also act as a mass beta test early on.
    ‘Proof of Concept” does not raise, or should not raise, players expectations of a release any time soon.
    EG 99 bolts: Chasing Winona.

  4. GoodGuyA

    If it’s a big mod and they think they actually have a responsibility to tide fans over. Unfortunately, for the majority of mods, this is just not so. Very few mods have fanbases at all and unless it’s a sequel or a spiritual sequel there’s not going to be any big need to play it. For the most part, no.

  5. peter

    I said yes its good because you can see the progress of the mod. But no it should not be released at the same time as to mod that would sort of defeat the purpose.

  6. I voted no, but it also depends on the scale. With something like Black Mesa, I’d just like to get an idea of what the controls feel like and if it will run properly on my computer or if it will be a complete lagfest, but ultimately that does boil down to being more of an open beta than a demo.

  7. JohnnyMaverik

    I voted yes but to be honest, only when it’s a single player mod, that’s grown a large following that have been waiting for a year, and there is still a year to go, do I think it’s essential. Black Mesa Source could have done themselves a massive favour by releasing a short demo/showcase a year ago, not that I really care, just an example. I don’t think it’s a bad idea though, I don’t often play them simply because more often than not a demo will be released a month or couple of months before the promised release date, so I wait it out, but it certainly does no harm, unless the demo contains a load of unfinished work and damages the mods reputation but that’s demo’s in general not just demos for mods.

  8. eXeC

    I don’t think mods should release demos. In a modding context they are a pointless waste of time. I said this to Wilsons Chronicles when they announced. Meh, I’d rather see a highly polished finished product than a demo thats been thrown together.

  9. CubicVirtuoso

    Yes. gimmiegimmiegimme I like more stuff on my steams games list. However all of you have valid points, but honestly I did enjoy the Wilson Chronicles demo and it did get me more excited and following the mod work closely. You can only do so much with videos and images – I want to feel the game under my fingertips; to me only a demo can do that.

    I will admit though, 90% of the time demos are a negative thing, they usually get me less excited about a mod or angry that they are ruining some point of the mod. But in the case of WIlson chronicles I feel they choose a good area to show, nothing ruined in terms of plot and a few areas that I might have to replay earlier. All in all it brought light unto a mod that I don’t normally follow extremely closely.

    So yea – demos are good; especially in this case (with Wilson Chronicles), but generally they ruin the experience and time should be spent elsewhere.

    I think mod teams need to gauge when they need to release a demo. If a team is very popular and alreayd has a lot of followers or it feels it needs to expand it’s PR then releasing a demo is probably a good thing. The average “moddb viewer” doesn’t really care much about text or images or videos, but they will certainly download a demo if it’s available.

  10. Hec

    I agree in part with this issue, because I tought demos of mods are more like a very democratic way to show the community what you are doing and ask for their feedback so thats cool, because when we play demos we turn ourselves as a kind of beta testers, and thats fine.
    On the other hand, it could maybe spoil the action in the real mod release, or if something happens and the developer doesn’t complete the mod, well is just a terrible shame… so I just say think twice before playing a demo of a mod.

  11. Pro’s and cons…There as as many arguably valid reasons for supporting the release of a demo for a mod as reasons not to. Ultimately, I believe most are based solely on personal preferences ( as my own are ).

    I voted no. Personally, If I’m interested enough to track a mods development over a period of time, I’m waiting for the finished project. Hopefully it’s ” open beta testing ” has garnered some constructive feedback for my game-play benefit.

    1. There as as many arguably valid reasons for supporting the release of a demo for a mod as reasons not to.

      I disagree. I’m interested to hear what you think are the valid arguments, though.

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