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How about selling a "proof of concept"?

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basically, sell tech demos. you take a concept or two and put it in a game. like say you think you came with up this novel idea for stealth and slow-motion. well you'd make a 2 to 3 level game showcasing (being the focus of) these two concepts. on the DVD you'd have 4 or 5 games like this. obviously, you'd sell them at bargain bin prices (10, 20 bucks). and even have an online component that allows players to vote for which demo(s) they like the best. you think that would work or be profitable?

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I'm not sure people would pay for game demos. Usually the model I see is for proof of concepts to be released for free, then the ones that get the most attention are extended into properly polished full games.

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If you're making Portal: yes. But that's because Portal, while being a proof-of-concept piece, is also an excellent game in its own right.

There's nothing wrong with making a very short innovative game, but nobody is going to pay money for a half-assed demo when there's hundreds of freebies online.

You're better off making that concept and then trying to get it shown at the festivals (IGF/Slamdance/Indiecade), then using that publicity to get funding and do a full commercial version of the title. That method works often so long as your game is good enough (see N, Gish, flOw, Everyday Shooter, Braid).

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Original post by JBourrie
If you're making Portal: yes. But that's because Portal, while being a proof-of-concept piece, is also an excellent game in its own right.

I thought Narbacular Drop was the proof-of-concept (and free), while Portal extended that to a commercial game.

Although I might be wrong and there was a free mod of Portal for some time - I don't have Half-life 2 so I'm not well versed on the mod scene.

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
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Original post by JBourrie
If you're making Portal: yes. But that's because Portal, while being a proof-of-concept piece, is also an excellent game in its own right.

I thought Narbacular Drop was the proof-of-concept (and free), while Portal extended that to a commercial game.

Although I might be wrong and there was a free mod of Portal for some time - I don't have Half-life 2 so I'm not well versed on the mod scene.

I guess it depends on where you draw the line, since neither of them were "defined" as a proof-of-concept. There was no free Portal (other than Narbacular Drop). But in comparison to the "industry standard" methods of game development, I would consider Portal to be a proof-of-concept piece: a side project that allowed Valve to experiment with the portal mechanic in a relatively safe environment before deciding whether or not they would go head-first with a full sized portal-based game. The fact that they packed it in with the Orange Box doesn't immediately exclude it from being a proof-of-concept.

Be sure to note that this is totally my own thoughts on it, and isn't at all an insult to the Portal team (they're friends of mine, so if I insulted them they would probably hunt me down and kill me [grin]). I think it's amazing what they were able to create (one of the best games in years), but it seems to me that it was most useful to Valve as a trial to see just how much mileage they could get out of that one game mechanic.

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Mount and Blade; they're basically selling the proof of concept, with a free demo up to level 6. However, they are also making it into an actual game, and buying it now gives you the future full release, but at a discounted price.

Selling a tech demo on its own won't really work. Portal isn't a tech demo, it's a fully fledged and developed game. Its dialogue is apparently very good, and that's not what you focus on in a tech demo for proof of concept.

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The terms 'fully developed games' and 'proof of concept' are not really mutually exclusive. A proof of concept being an exploratory project to examine whether certain game-play ideas will work in a commercial project. The best way to do so would be to develop a small game, as best one could, and present it to the commercial market.

Portal allowed Valve to really play with ideas, but having the resources and reputation they do, they could develop the game fully and distribute it with the Orange Box. This is, in some ways, free, as most people would have bought the Orange Box anyway. The novel game-play also attracted further attention to their main product, the Orange Box. The best effect, however, was that the Orange Box was a trial of the game-play. The concept was successful enough that the game could sell on its own, or warrant further sales of the Orange Box.

This, however, is a rare case. I think that you need a very strong reputation to sell proof-of-concept games. I think one way you could approach it is episodic releases. If you FULLY develop your proof-of-concept, as Valve did, and present it as episode one of a game series you would wish to produce, should it be successful, it may draw more attention. I think the most important part is that your proof-of-concept be more than just a game-play demonstration. It needs to be commercial quality.

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Original post by Argus2
Why would a consumer care about a proof of concept?


We seemed to care about Portal.

If you can make VERY well polished (yet short) games that revolve around a very unique concept, then chances are you can sell it well if you can find a way to generate some traffic looking at the game.


Are you going to sell a disk of 20 random games that are little more than university class tech demos to prove students can use OGL or DX and make a game that can last 10 minutes? Not likely.

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Original post by Talroth
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Original post by Argus2
Why would a consumer care about a proof of concept?


We seemed to care about Portal.

Portal is not a proof of concept, it is a polished, tested product with many playable levels. Proofs of concept do not have weighted companion cubes. A game based heavily on a single idea is still a game. A real proof of concept limits itself to a demonstration of the concept, otherwise every game with a new idea is a proof of concept, which is obviously bogus.

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