A Discussion about Posting Demos/Incomplete Games

I want to preface this by saying that the main reason I ask this question is because I’m working on a game of my own. I’m hesitant to post anything about it before it’s a complete product, though, for a few different reasons. I know the obvious answer when working on a game is to post about it and release a demo if it’s in a state that’s playable, but I feel like all too often on this site I’ve seen games that are unfinished and really shouldn’t be released in the states they often will be in.

For example, just recently the most popular project on Weight Gaming, Forks, was canceled and the creator had this to say - “I made a mistake by unveiling Forks before it was 100% done. It’s entirely my fault since everyone here has been nothing but kind, but knowing that I was keeping you guys waiting while all of those life changes were happening to me kept Forks in the back of my mind.” Now obviously if I ended up posting my own project it would be nowhere near the scale of Forks, and it would probably be nowhere near as popular, but I think the core principle still stands. Sure, posting a game early can help build up hype and allow people to provide feedback and constructive criticism, but I feel like when you post something on here about how you’re making a game it’ll make you feel obligated to follow through with it. And obviously that can be a good thing, since it can provide more motivation to finish it, but it can also be a bad thing in the way that it may make something that was once fun feel more like a job.

Things can also become very problematic if you completely lose motivation to work on a game. If you’re promising to people that you’re going to make a game, and you lose the drive to work on it, it’ll feel horrible no matter how you slice it. You either end up doing something that you have no desire to do, or you leave people hanging and feel guilty about potentially misleading them. I feel like I’ve seen the same thing so many times, where someone sets out to make an incredible product that’ll be exactly what they want to see in games, but they end up becoming too ambitious and lose motivation because they pile too much work on themselves.

The project that I’m working on currently isn’t super grand, but it’s also not something that you could crank out in just a few days. I feel like I have the motivation to finish it, but I can’t really know for sure until I actually do it. I could end up getting burned out on working on it halfway through, and if I had made a post about the game before then, I would feel terrible for not following through.

Sorry if this ended up becoming more of a rant than a discussion, but I’ve been feeling this way for a while now and I just wanted to put my thoughts out there so I could hear what all of you have to say. So, what does everyone think? Is posting a demo/incomplete game a good thing? Is it worth the risks or potential downsides? (Also, if you’ve actually posted a game before then please specify because I think your input will probably be a bit more valuable than people who haven’t)


Personally? For most games I like having demos available.

Even if a game doesn’t get finished for whatever reason it’s still nice to have something as apposed to nothing. There’s a couple of games on this very site that had a demo released, I got hyped for the full version, and then for one reason or another couldn’t be finished. While it does suck when that happens, I still enjoyed the time I spent with the demo version regardless.

However I can defiantly understand where your coming from with the issues of trying to show off something that might never be completed.

Ultimately, if you want to just focus working on the full game, that’s fine too, there’s nothing wrong with working on something until its done.


The point of a demo is to showcase your product to a prospective customer. Drum up hype, interest, investment. Within the community there are those that are often looking to give back and show off a demo or game as to say thanks. This is a community of people that is meant for the support and development of fat and expansion themed games, after all. Game dev is not easy, but it can be fun and rewarding.

If you ever feel obligated to follow through on something or feel like you’re forced to finish something you start because otherwise you are going to disappoint people. Then yes maybe release something early isn’t the best way to deal with it for you. Not every game needs a demo or an early announcement. Since this is a community of devs ranging from no experience to verterans with multiple completed games, and their supporters, there isn’t going to be a catch all best way to do things.

I think personally tron’s statement about releasing something too early is only filtered through a lens of a person that is a people pleaser (nothing wrong with that) that has the guilt and regret of a fresh uncompleted project and the letdown/disappointment of fans. I don’t know if tron would look at the situation the same with it being so fresh and with the thought of all the people that were inspired by forks and all the fans who appreciate that it just exists regardless of completion status.

There are plenty of people that have made a game or started projects because forks inspired them. There are quite a few big and small projects on the site that have another project that inspired them. I see this common comment with some older or more popular projects like the weighting game, some bullshit, eat the dungeon, space thumper, fetish master, piece of cake, super fatty rpg, lot of text adventures, or game jam games. And since it’s a game dev community these games have a wide range of scope and completion statuses.

They and many others have influenced people to try their hand at game dev and that ultimately is the goal and encouragement from the heads of the community to others. Is to try to put yourself out there and do something for fun and through common interest. A game demo is not needed for every project however, and should really come down to what works best for the dev and what they feel is right. I think it would be a shame to not put something out there in this type of supporting community with the worry of disappointing people. You won’t be able to please everyone and honestly you have to do what makes the most sense for you as a dev.


I wasn’t expecting to get such an in-depth response this quickly. Alot of the points you brought up I never even considered, so I wanted to thank you for giving me such an insightful response. I’ll definitely be considering your words for some time, especially when thinking about whether or not I want to post a demo for my own game.


If you want to publish a demo to collect the necessary feedback for the further development of the game, then do it. There is no point in dwelling on the possibility of losing motivation in the future. Just don’t promise people that the project will be completed. Having a project does not oblige you to complete it, but if you published a demo to attract people to make donations to the development of the project and later close it, then I would call it a bad deed that crushed the hopes of the fans.

This is the exact reason why I have been working for three years on my Skyrim mod project that I showed off here yesterday. I kept it quiet for 3 long years until it is now at a playable state. Playable, but not finished.

To me this remains alright tho, I am not charging money for it. But if I would have some kind of financials with it like a Patreon it would become entirely different. Suddenly, I have to provide progress. Consistently. Right now, if I want to, I can just drop it and leave it be.

I think the way to approach the demo depends on what you’re doing with the game. If you want to market it in any way, then the demo serves as a basic token of credibility to attract interest, and you have a certain obligation to people who are giving you material support. I don’t know much about that angle, however…

If you’re just making a game to post for free, then you must understand that everyone who dislikes your project or who complains pessimistically that it has flaws can kiss your ass. I don’t mean that you should disregard meaningful criticism, but I mean that you’re making it for free. You literally owe no one anything. If you feel like posting the demo, then do. If not, then don’t. Sure, it may be good to add polish, but also, you’re under no obligation to do so. Your absolute sole metric for any decision should be what makes you happy, as the only wages your effort on a free project can conceivably pay are happiness and satisfaction. If a demo sounds pleasant, then post it, or don’t. What the crowd thinks is irrelevant, as they don’t pay your salary, or even provide pocket change.

I say this as someone who has a free demo of a game posted here, but works on it sporadically. I think I set a rough guideline for when I’d update it that I’ve ignored because I simply felt like it, and because I wanted to go collab with someone on a different project. I feel mildly bad to the people who want to see more of the game, but I did them a favor by posting what I had, as I believe some content is better than none. A level of detachment goes a long way towards being able to create even fetish work without losing too much structural integrity to outside pressures!


Posting incomplete work has allowed me to share Python/Ren’Py code that others can learn from and/or freely use themselves. At the very least, if someone sees something I did, they can message me and ask me how I did it instead of struggling and potentially leaving their game incomplete.

Yeah, it sucks that I can’t finish anything, and it sucks to disappoint people, but I’d almost always rather get a thanks from a dev than praise/criticism from players.

Speaking as someone who’s actively studying game development at a university, getting other pairs of eyes on your project can be very refreshing. Granted this is a very different kind of development environment, but having others provide feedback was very useful. It gave me a more concrete understanding of how my vision lined up with the experience and expectations of others. In some very niche cases it even inspired some changes that were super helpful.

That being said I totally agree, there’s a prevalent pattern of announcing a project and providing regular updates, exposing the game’s “good bits” as/when they’re made and then getting mired in the reality of execution leading to audience and creator frustration. Yandere Sim is an infamous example of this, and while I strongly doubt anyone here is even half as much of a mess as that dev, there’s definitely something to learn from just how dysfunctional his process is. It’s simply unrealistic to assume you’ll be able to submit updates for public consumption at a steady pace, because we’re all human, we all have external lives and we all have our ebbs and flows in motivation.

I also strongly believe scope creep is a project-killer. I’ve seen it happen to my projects, my peers’ and it seems to continue to be a problem all the way up to the upper echelons of AAA companies. It’s really astonishing how quickly things escalate once you add “just a couple little things” here and there.

On the subject of demos, I think they can serve one of two purposes, depending on what kind of state your project’s in.

It can work like a taster sample, a restricted access view of what the final game would look like to get people familiar with the concept so they can decide whether the game is for them. It’s a fair bit of effort, but this way you maintain that polished look to the audience.

Get players in on what you’ve made regardless of how shoddy it is - as long as it can function - and view them as guinneapigs who’re reporting back on what does/n’t work or appeal to them. You’d be sacrificing a bit of the magic of your game by laying it so bare, but when a game’s in its formative stages it can be a really quick way of finding out what to keep and what to cull.

I’m a strong believer that the only bad art is bland art. Even unfinished projects have value, so I’d be very happy if people shared discontinued projects because that way it’s more material to learn from.

That being said, these are just based on some observations I’ve made that I’ve found helpful for myself.
Nobody knows your process better than you, and so long as you’re not charging money for anything, you’re free to reveal as much or as little as you want.


Games are meant to be tested in anyform available. If you don’t think it good enough to be posted. Then don’t. Demos are always menat to be a mess. We are here to see what problems can occur during production of the game.

IMO demos are good. most cancelled projects would be cancelled either way. If they’re cancelled after a demo at least other humans gained some enjoyment instead of no one having anything.

Even wildly unfinished I’ve enjoyed forks a hell of a lot as is.

tl;dr What’s so great about giving something an ending?

I think a good chunk of unfinished games come down to how overwhelming it can get filling in all the content between your key moments, whether that’s level design, combat encounters, management, or exploration. It’s definitely more fun (as someone who likes programming, which I imagine people who make games tend to be) to make new systems than to figure out how to incorporate the ones you have into gameplay.

The other side of things is how many damn features you have to put in for even a small game to feel complete. Want audio/video settings? Now you gotta make a menu system. Want people to not have to start over every time they open the game? Gotta make a save system. Want anything in the world to change based on what you do? Gotta make an event tracking system.

You end up getting into this conundrum of it seeming to be a waste to spend so much time making systems for a short game, but not having enough actual content for a longer game. That being said, one way to alleviate these kind of things is to scavenge as much as you can from other projects you’ve done. 9 times out 10 I’ve found it’s faster to fix/modify an old system than to do it from scratch, mostly because you’ve already done the workarounds/debugging/testing.