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

Ben Judd, Thursday 05-22-2008, 07:23:09

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?

Thanks!
Ben

Comments

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Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008
The first half of the first level is way too short for a demo, IMO. Given that the game has twelve regular levels, I don't see a problem with the whole first level being the demo. At least let them kill the platoon at the end (if there is in fact a platoon at the end of level 1 in BCR). But then I've been playing the game for a long, long time and can clear the first half of the level in about two minutes (including a communication). I'll be buying the game on the first day so the demo isn't that important to me.

Your other decisions seem sound though.
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008

Agreed

If there's one portion of the game that everyone will go ape for; it'll be that first half of the level. Nostalgia kicks in full force, new comers will be able to experience swinging, the communicator, and ball blasting imperials. Further more you're providing two challenge rooms. All in all I think that's solid and you shouldn't try to sweat the demo too much as every gamers mouths will be salivating at the site of BCR arriving on their respective system's download network.

Your only real concern should be putting that game on my TV screen as soon as humanly possible ( which I know it is so pardon the redundancy ).

PS- Whatever happened to the user submitted reenactments of the exploding heads?
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008

Demo or not... when?

I too am buying the PSN download the day it comes out. So I don't care about the demo unless it's released sooner than I can buy the full game. So it was going to be released to buy in May 2008 and now it's not. So when are we going to get a solid release date for the full BCR PSN purchase?
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008
I've played many demos on XBLA and the content of those demos really ranges from game to game but there are afew that last for about 1-2 minutes. I think if you have all the parts already outlined above in the demo you should be ok, you might want to extend the demo level to when you enter the tunnel and up to the first door down there after fighting some badds, so it is a bit longer and you start to do alot more of the intricate swinging with combat. Thats just my two cents.

Anyways, like always can't wait
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008

LOL Chill!

wow people sure are anxious.
I think comparing this to a fighting game is bad since all you need to be satisfied with the experience in the fighting game is as you mentioned some very meager stuff.

I don't see how someone could have one stage from BCR and be satisfied with just that. Especially considering the variety in the stages this game had. (Area 5 was my favorite)How about cutting the single player demo off right before an intense boss fight. Like, let us watch the cool cut in scenes and right when the battle is gonna start you stop it and some big text come on the screen saying, "SIKE! Just a demo buy the full game!" 2 Challenge room stages sound perfect though.
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008

My Suggestion

I'd give Single Player/Co-op (Full Area 1) Complete with 1 Boss battle, again probably the Boss from Area 1. The 2 Challenge Mode Stages and lastly Hacking Mini Game, yet again from Area 1 (That is if there is a hacking game in Area 1; Pretty sure there is though considering there's a Communicator in Area 1). That'll would be that. I think being that the game has 11 other areas (Excluding the netural areas, where there are some great conversations and plot advancements) that the demo would give a lot without people begin satisfied, and if they are they would clearly miss out of the full context of the game, as you have Co-op which is most definitely replayable, Multiplayer, which wouldn't even be playable in the demo, Leaderboards (This is a big plus, many gamers are big on the accomplishments side of things, so this will allow gamers to compete while enjoying the story, and thus giving replayability as one would continously try to climb on top of the leaderboards in both Single Player and Challenge Mode. The biggest thing I think you guys would have to worry about, is not how much content will be in the demo, but conveying what gamers would be missing if they download the demo and try to get "Satisfaction" of it. Quite Seriously, I'm a native at the Playstation Forums, and you have many rallying around BCR, both new and old players, I'm pretty sure its the same on the Xbox side. NGBC is the one you've really got to push with gamers, as they seem to be anticipating BCR more so than NGBC. But as far as BCR goes, I think you guys may have it wrapped in a bag, with or without Demo, hopefully I'm right. In any case, thanks for the heads up, I'll definitely will pass the information of a Demo coming.
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008

Also When will Demo release

Just a question, will the demo be released before BCR Fully Releases, or Simultaneously?
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008
Is there going to be the overhead view levels as per the original as well? I would include 1 of those, the 1st level, a neutral zone, 1 hacking game and 2 challenges. Seems fair to get a shot of everything. No matter, I have played the original so many times that this is a guaranteed buy for me regardless.
Username:
Date posted:
05-22-2008

A 12 level game...

So there are "only" 12 levels in the game, huh?

Hrmm...

Anyways, the demo will be submitted with the full game so they will be hitting around the same time. As much as you'd think a demo would be a simple thing it does require separate submission forms, coding, etc so hopefully it will have the desired effect. It truly is one of the best looking games you will see in 2D.

Ben
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

Demo suggestions

Hi Ben, all,

First off, terrific job in handling everything leading up to the launch! Know that there is an army of old-school gamers ready to buy this on day 1, myself included.

Anyhow, I agree with all of your choices but have a suggestion for the demo level 1: it would be cool to allow the player access to the elevator shaft (and block off the horizontal tunnels leading further into the level). It gives the BC virgins out there a chance to 'free fall' and make a saving grapple before the spikes at the bottom, and shows off the interior environment a bit. If it isn't too much work to arrange it, it would be awesome to let the player descend into the shaft and gain access to the communicator room, and then use the COMM/WIRETAP to insert some funny/clever dialog prompting the player to purchase the full game.

Thinking about it some more, what would be REALLY great would be to utilize the boss dialog engine and have an enemy soldier, G. Killt or maybe the dwarf boss standing behind the barriers into the rest of the level, and taunt the player ("Go Ahead. Shoot Me!") – prodding them to purchase, again with some witty banter from Spencer ("I would, if this cheapskate would just drop the $10 and buy the game already..."). It would be a cool way to show off the type of dialog/exchanges you obviously have worked so hard on for the boss fights without giving away anything substantial.

Anyhow – be encouraged and keep up the terrific work!
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

Sounds Perfect!!

Still in shock that we only have to dish out a little over 2 gallons of gas for this game. Thank you so much and keep up the great work! In the end, Im sure we are all hoping for this game to sell big time so that you and your team can make even more great classic remakes. 2D is awesome! You younger gamers are in for a huge treat! Just hooking up the good old NES and replaying BC is awesome but when BCR hits the consoles & PC, there is going to be soooo much more of a great replayable game for the cost of almost nothing. Well, $10 is still $10 but you get hours and hours of Old school gaming with new school additions.

Havent even played it yet but it gets a 10/10 from me and hopefully from every gaming site and magazine!
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

demo...why?

Seriously...I don't think a demo is even necessary for Rearmed. Just release it already!! I'm honestly more pumped for Rearmed than I am for MGS4. BC is honestly the coolest game I've played in my 31 years of life and I can't wait to hear the remixed version of the sewer level!!! AHHHHHGG!!! The anticipation is killing me!
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

You wanna know what I'd do?

Of course you do! I have the internet so that automatically makes me an expert on everything. Joking aside, I'd keep everything simple. Most demos on Live usually last me anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Some last even longer if they're addicting.

For the story mode I'd just drop the player in the first level. Let them reach the level boss; show the dialog; then end the demo. Give them a taste and then end it with a cliffhanger. Make them want it. Throw in some little screen and a few sentences telling the player to "Buy the game to get the full bionic experience!" Or something to that effect. Better yet... Make the dialog so that the enemy taunts Spencer for not buying the full game yet. Throw in some of that famous Capcom (Sexy) localization humor. The stuff that made Phoenix Wright so damn popular.

If memory serves me right, the first level should serve as a hefty bit of content. Especially if you take into account that new players are going to spend a bit of time trying to grasp the arm mechanic. I'd also imagine that new players are the ones who will spend the most amount of time screwing around in the demo. Veteran players will likely purchase the game straight off because they know what they're getting into.

There's also a radio on the first level so you can throw the hacking mini game in there. That is, of course, if you didn't deviate THAT much from the original game and the hacking deserves it's own special attention.

If you really want to, throw in a short video at the end showing off all the gameplay and bosses. I wouldn't, because I usually want to skip those videos and play the demo again.

Throw in five or ten challenge rooms, just for good measure then shove it out the door. Then go out and have a drink to a job well done!

That's my two cents, take them as you like.
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

Nice comments guys

I really appreciate 'em!
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

12 levels

Ben, in my many times playing the game, I was pretty sure there were 12 regular (not neutral, not top down) levels... unless you've gone and added MORE sidescrolling areas for me, in which case I will not refuse them and you would instantly become a god amongst men.
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

@Ben

Here's the deal. If the demo is coming out the same time as the game then just half of stage one is fine. If the demo is coming out two or more weeks before BCR, then you have to give us all of level 1 with the boss battle. As for the other additionals, I don't see them necessary in the demo. Reason being you either love the game or hate it. If you hate, then your not going to want to play the challenge rooms. Besides man, your charging $10 for the game, don't knock yourself out over a demo.
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

@Ben

Also just listening to the stage music and dude you should release the tracks for download. A dollar a song.
Username:
Date posted:
05-23-2008

Come ON!

Look, I know you guys have been working your butts off on bionic commando rearmed for quite a while now, putting in tons of overtime and basically living at work to finish this game for the fans, but you guys have to know a better release time than just saying, "We are shooting for a June release." I mean come on, you guys are CAPCOM! You guys have made some of the best video games ever and have been doing it for years, and all you can say is," we are shooting for a June release?", and still unsure if your gonna make that! Why?! I think you guys are holding back information from us, you have to know a smaller window time frame than the time frame you have told us. I have been reading the posts on this website and I can say without reservation that their is a bunch of devoted bionic commando fans here, including me, and obviously you know it, and I think you don't want to tell us that anything is wrong because you are afraid of making the community mad, but if you keep pushing the date back, your gonna make the community mad, especially if you keep pushing the date back right around the time of release. You guys keep talking about the "approval process". You guys know how long that takes, at least roughly. The way you guys talk about the process,you guys treat it like its something brand new that Capcom has never done before. Now, i can't speak for the whole bionic commando community, but I check this site everyday for new info and it just seems like you guys are saying without saying,"We know a release date, but its not as close as we keep telling you." CAPCOM has been making games for years so I would imagine you guys having some better idea about a release date than what you have told us. I'm not trying to be mean, just seems really odd, thats all.
Username:
Date posted:
05-24-2008

Time Limit Demo

Ben, I'd have to say that maybe you should consider some sort of time limit on the demo? For instance, put 3 levels into the demo but only have 4 or 5 minutes of actual alloted playing time. Once the 5 minutes expires, the demo ends with an advertisement for a full download of BCR. The 5 minutes can be replayed and replayed and people can see how far they can get. It works for both newcomers who fall a lot, and BC experts who could get past level one in a few minutes.
Username:
Date posted:
05-24-2008

DarkJediNova

Go read over my post on the previous blog entry. The problem is that we are doing things in the game that haven't been done before. They are no standards so we have to wait until we get the green light and proper procedures from 1st party to accomplish these things sometimes.

Yeah, we've published tons of games and there is an "expected" window that you can shoot for. That was May for us. However, I don't think there has been a 3rd party title so far that featured:

1. Different content per sku
2. Simultaneous launch worldwide and on all skus
3. Connectivity with another packaged title.

Every time you do something new you can only guess. However, one of the other big problems is that first party sets the release date in a lot of situations so even if everything is approved an ready to go, if they want to hold it, there isn't much we can do.

It's not a fun boat to be in but that's where we are. Once we know more, you will.

Ben

Username:
Date posted:
05-24-2008

On release dates.

Lay off on Ben on the release date. I work for a software company and I'm in the same boat right now. It's crunch time and we're trying to get our latest whiz-bang feature filled version out. We've got beta testing customers and we're banging on it as hard as we can. If Ben gets BC:R out before we start shipping our latest software en masse, then I will certainly throw back a beer in his honor.

Shit happens and we've had to delay too - but there's a lot of challenges. Europe and Canada have their own demands. Resellers have a finger in the pie too.

We've been waiting 20 years for this. What's another month? I'd suggest playing the Penny Arcade adventures game in the meantime. By the time you're finished with that, you'll be ready to dive right in to BC:R!
Username:
Date posted:
05-24-2008

@navidee

Yeah, the Sewer music is my favorite as well. You can hear it using the following link and the song is called "Leap of Faith."

http://www.bioniccommando.com/music_player.php?loc=us
Username:
Date posted:
05-24-2008

I understand

Look, I can understand that you would have a unique perspective on the release schedule of software dvincent, and I understand that Ben is under alot of stress, and for the record, i wasnt trying to mean or point fingers, I just didn't understand, but Ben cleared it up for me.

BUT, I wanna know, Ben, and I'm sure I am not the only one, from everything you have experienced as a producer, everything that you have seen going on with BCR and the things that have gone right and wrong, after explaining to me about first party rules about release dates, after everything you told me and explained to me in your reply to my post, in your honest opinion...

Do you think we will see Bionic Commando Rearmed in June?
Username:
Date posted:
05-25-2008

I won't need the demo to know to buy this but...

I would go with some of David Crumb's suggestions- make the demo the entire first level up to the boss battle along with the hacking minigame and 5 of the challenge rooms. At the end, throw in a teaser saying "buy the full game and get...", mentioning the 50 challenge rooms, multiplayer, etc.

While I was disappointed with the game not showing up in May I do understand the frustrations of getting things scheduled. Here's hoping for June!
Username:
Date posted:
05-25-2008

Honestly....

Personally, I would forgo the demos for the PC/PS3 versions, it's only $10 for cryin' out loud.

But since you're doing it anyway...and you MUST release one, one FULL level (the whole shebang) (Level 1 of course, include the boss fight) and as you mentioned 2 challenge stages as well as 2P co-op for the demo level.

That should be enough for any people new to the franchise to decide whether they like it enough to plunk down $10 whole dollars. And if they can't decide after that, well I don't think anything will convince them to pay for something that is this awesome. Or they have brain damage (I'm leaning more towards this).

And just since you asked, I hated the God of War 1 demo, just when the boss fight is getting going, bam, demo ends. I mean what the ****, that pissed me off, if you want to me to buy your game, then let me see what I'm suppose to be excited to play, don't short change me by stealing your own thunder and thinking that will make me want more. (still haven't bought the game FYI)

Best Demo (off the top of my head) was probably REZ for PS2, I got the full stage 1, boss fight, so I consider that good.

Btw, timed demos suck. REALLY suck.

Lastly, add in a little movie at the end of the demo (if it's not too much of a pain in the @$$) showing what's to come, that to me is the "carrot" after a cool boss fight.

Hope this answers some of the questions you posed.
Username:
Date posted:
05-25-2008

more vidoes ?

Will we see a video of the new game play before BCR before it is released? YOu said its like daylight and dark between the old and the new and i dont want to be left in the dark.
Username:
Date posted:
05-25-2008

Thank you God

Hey, this is my first comment ever, and I just want to say thanks to everyone for making this happen. When I heard about a new, 3D version of Bionic Commando I almost freaked out -- I had to read the article again 5 times just to make sure I read it right. Then when my cousin told me that they were also doing a 2D remake I was stunned. That is a LOT of attention for an IP that hasn't hardly been touched for over 20 years.

Absolutely fantastic. You do know that you and your team has large shoes to fill I'm sure... the original game was nothing short of a masterpiece. Not to mention that I was only 6 or 7 or so when I played that game, so I have very fond memories of playing it with my Dad. So it is special for many different reasons. Can't wait for ReArmed. My Dad and I will have to play that together, oldschool style.

Anyways, I think it is really cool that you have such close communication with the real fans, although in all reality we probably compose a very small amount of the people who will end up buying this game.

ONE THING that I do want to say,is that I really, sincerely hope that you and your team has not dumbed this title down in any way, shape, or form to make it more "accessible" to "casual gamers". I hate that term. You're either a gamer or you're not, you know? Take Turok for instance. Propaganda really f'd that game up from what it used to be. I had it reserved and ended up not even buying it. Allow me to say that I don't have anything against "accessibility" in a game, because I would define accessibility as on-screen text on how to perform certain functions, and things of that nature. However, things get bad when developers start making compromises such as "recharging health" (when not used tastefully), too much auto-aim, and generally just making the game way too easy. I hope BCR challenges me just as much, if not even more so, than the original game.

BCR FTW
woot woot
Username:
Date posted:
05-26-2008

Welcome Aboard

Lukeman3000, nice to have you here. Although I was a bit older when I first played BC, I'm sure a lot of us here have some special memories about the game so it's nice to find more people to connect with on that point.

Don't worry, there are some parts of BCR that are incredibly difficult. The challenge rooms and certainly the hard difficulty are something that you are really going to have to have some mad skills to beat. There are some parts that are easier but I like to think that the game is now something that everyone can appreciate thanks to the new difficulties.

About the new videos? You should expect to see some new stuff soon. A lot of good announcements will hit soon.

Ben

Username:
Date posted:
05-26-2008

Great

That is totally awesome. Thanks for the welcome!

Good to hear that this title will still be challenging. You may find this amusing, but I woke up this morning expecting to turn on my xbox and download BCR. I was under the impression that May 25th was the release date. Strangely enough, however, I could not find it anywhere, so then I went online to find out what the heck was up. Eventually, I came to bioniccommando.com and found out it had been delayed (wah wah). Well, it's all good. Ninja Gaiden II is coming out in just a few days and that game will keep me busy until BCR whenever it comes out.

Thanks again for the kind words and I hope you guys are making something that you can all be proud of when you're done. For the record, I wouldn't charge a measly 10 bucks for this game if it turns out to be anywhere close to how I hear it's going to be.
Username:
Date posted:
05-26-2008

When

To heck with the demo...I want the game.
Username:
Date posted:
05-27-2008

I couldn't stand it any longer

I just couldn't stand it any longer. I went and downloaded an NES emulator and started paying the original NES BC again. I was worried that after not touching it for over 15 years I'd realize it wasn't as great as I remembered.... Well its as good or better than I remember (although does anyone know how to get out of zone 09 when you didn't bring the right gun to get through the door?). I blew a whole weekend playing it. Man I can't wait for Rearmed.
Username:
Date posted:
05-29-2008
this sounds good to me! any demo is a good idea
Username:
Date posted:
06-04-2008

July??

PSU claims that Ben Judd mentions that July is a possible month for the BCR to be released. First, is that statement true? Second, if you can't give an exact date for any reason. Do you think it will be early, mid, or end of July?
Username:
Date posted:
06-06-2008

Multi-versioned Demo...

For me, a demo isn't necessary, since I'll be purchasing BCR anyways. But what would be cool is to have Level 1, 13, 1 Hacking minigame, and 3 Challenge Rooms available, plus include the same options in the Classic version.

Also, in the end product, being able to play multiplayer with classic Spencer would be wild.
Username:
Date posted:
06-13-2008

A Little Extra, Please?

Ben,

I almost completely agree with what you've got slated for the demo, and I know the announcement was made a little while ago. The co-op, hacking game, and 2 challenge rooms are plenty for a demo, but I too would like to see the entire first level. Adding the Boss fight would be great, but if not, least give us the cut-scene leading up to it.

Schwanny, if you didn't bring the 3-Way cannon to 09, hit B, A, and start ( or is it select? ) at the same time and you should go back to the deployment screen.

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