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Is too much of a demo too much of a good thing?Vote Now!

Ben Judd, Thursday 22-05-2008, 07:20:28

So here's the deal: we have gone back and forth talking about whether to include a "play before you pay" function for the PSN version and the PC version of Bionic Commando Rearmed (as you might be aware, for Xbox Live Arcades titles you must include a demo, so that point is moot).

In the end we decided to throw in the extra man hours and create a demo for all 3 versions of the game. No doubt to the average gamer this would seem like a very simple task but alas, it is not. Every time you are using different hardware it means different rules, different submission forms, and different headaches.

But that is another discussion for another day. One of the things we spent a fair amount of time discussing was just how much content to put into the demo. Believe it or not, demos can be a very slippery slope. Put in too little and people don't see the fun in it. Put in too much, and they don't feel the need to buy your game.

For example, let's imagine a fighting game. If you allow people to choose two different characters and play full matches online, then there are some people who will be totally satisfied with that experience. But if you don't at least allow them to fight against someone online, they won't know how well the game plays or how fun it is.

So, choosing just want to put in and just want to lock out is crucial for using the demo as the proper hook that it should be.

With BCR, that is pretty complicated when you think about all the parts we have in there:

1) Single player
2) Co-op
3) Hacking Mini-game
4) New bosses
5) Multiplayer
6) Challenge Rooms

So what do we go with?

Well, the first thing that gets cut is Multiplayer. I know some people aren't sold on this but it is usually the mode people really enjoy the most. I'm sure that will become public once more of the press play it.

We have decided to allow people to play co-op so that they can see how the cool split-screen feature works.

However, that brings up another question: just how much of the game should they be able to play? One area? One area and one FSA (formerly "neutral") zone? Half the game? No doubt most of you are thinking that we should add in a lot of stuff but the best demos are the one that leave you hungry. It's like wanting a value meal and only getting a small drink, 5 french fries, and a hamburger bun. Sure, that would taste good but it probably is only going to make you want more... and that's what we need here.

So, we are thinking of allowing people to play up until the underground section (1/2 a stage) since that is enough time to get used to the swing mechanics, drool over the graphics, etc. I can say that we have included a few secrets and easter eggs for those who want to play the demo through and through.

So the next thing is the challenge rooms. There are over 50 slated. So just how many are going to put in the demo? We are currently considering 2. One that is a more basic challenge room for beginners and one that is really friggin' hard to get those classic BC players to see just how much the challenge rooms are gonna kick their butt.

Finally, we will most likely be adding in the hacking mini-game so that people can get used to it. I'm a fan of puzzles so it hits a sweet spot with me. Some people are not but in that case you just don't need to hack.

So that's where we are today. Just curious, what are you throughts about a demo like that? Also, have there been any demos in the past that you thought were not well designed? Too short? Too long?



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