When you present a game it’s okay to tell about the game, show images and video clips but nothing beats letting user experience and evaluate the game by themselves.
Yesterday I talked with Edoiki game artist after he had read my idea for a new game mode. I had explained the game mode idea in our forums, but before artist had a chance to say anything I asked him if he would like to test the demo. “Sure”, he said.
The gameplay was made roughly in just few hours and all the unit graphics on the screen were placeholders, and even the user interface code was far from being polished. Before we could start, I needed to explain some rules and meanings like “blue color means dead unit”, “red is for civilians” and so on. In this alpha prototype there was nothing expect the core game mechanics made for two players.
We took couple of quick matches that took a few minutes each. Here’s the comment he wrote to our project’s discussion forum:
“hum-hum, game description text seemed a bit vague for a description and i was just about to complain on the down sides of it (as usual)…but once we got playing with the actual game, it all were clear and obvious, and it was a whole bunch of fun and excitement too…seriously, it ROCK’S AND KICKS (bottom)! Brilliant!!! “
While I was pleased to see his reaction, I must say that this lesson about letting user experience the product really hit me. Design documents are okay, but before players can fully understand what the game is all about you need to have a demo.
Some marketing specialists might recommend “showing instead of telling” but I really think “experiencing instead of showing” beats that. Rather than just giving a sales speech, let the customer experience your product.