Why Release a Beta as a Demo?

As I release my Manager: A Sports Management Mystery demo/beta, I want to explain why it’s not just a full release of the demo; why am I widely releasing a Beta version, which almost certainly will have bugs (perhaps even fatal ones)? A few reasons …

Being a single-person team, I feel that there’s so much value in having other eyes look at the game that I’m willing to take on any sort of reputational risk in order to make the final release better and more robust. I have very specific areas I feel pretty competent in (I’m no 10x engineer, so I won’t say I’m an expert at anything): I’ve spent years developing my AI engines (both for personalities and for human-like memories) and I’ve been involved in various aspects of writing/editing for decades, so I think I’ve done a decent job with those (although I also know that dialogue is probably the weakest aspect of my writing, and this game is chock-full of interactive conversations, so …). On the other hand, UX and design aren’t my strongest skills, and art is about as far from a “skill” as one can get. And putting everything together into a game is, well, a first for me (not counting SteamSaga, which never quite got this far). So I figure any constructive comments/advice I get can only be helpful as I finish the back half of the game.

(As an aside, I often feel I’m very good at coming up with the base of something, but by myself I’m not the best at fleshing something out. So outside comments are again a very good thing …)

Second, the original intent of this entire project was to create a simple (!) demo of my personality engine so I could create videos about game building using it, and show that numerous NPCs could use the engine simultaneously (64 in Manager). These aspects of the project are ready for documenting (whether that be blogging or videos [although I know how exciting my YouTube vids are lol] or some other format), and I’m excited about releasing these.

I’m both excited and nervous about releasing any sort of game or story or anything, to be honest. I look back on my old short stories and nonfiction writing and think many of those were really good, but I fear that I’m out of practice now (having been on the editing/proofreading side of things for years now), and my only game “release” was the SteamSaga demo at PAX some years ago, where one bug resulted in a player somehow flying up into the sky and being unable to come down, just before the project itself crashed into the ground (all the wrong highs and all the wrong lows). So I am filled with trepidation … but, one cannot grow without getting some kind of feedback, cannot ever tell one’s stories to the world without actually letting the world see them. And so …

(As always, comments on this blog should be tweeted to me @QuantumTigerAI, posted in the QTG Forums, or emailed to one of QTG’s contact emails. The actual comments section has been overrun by spam bots, and I don’t have time to weed through them every day.)

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