Gamasutra is partnering with GameProducer.net for a series of Q&As named 'Producers of the Round Table'. In this installment
, veterans at Red Storm, Bizarre Creations, Relic, and Gas Powered Games discuss practical tips and ideas for effective game scheduling.
How do game demos factor into the scheduling process? Relic Entertainment producer Adrian Crook has his own thoughts on that topic, as reflected in this excerpt:
“Well the nice thing about console demos these days is that because of the decreased lead time for electronic distribution (i.e. Xbox Live) vs old school magazine disc distribution (i.e. OXM), you can usually wait until the code is locked for submission before generating the demo. Putting together a demo is relatively easy after you've submitted to first party, as you're mostly sitting around and waiting anyway. But putting together a demo for E3 or another trade show has to be scheduled.
Sometimes it's worth creating a separate code branch and small demo team specifically for the demo, other times the demo goals are aligned enough with the project goal that almost the entire team can focus solely on the demo. So I'd say for end-of-production demos, don't schedule them - do them during submission. But for middle-of-production demos you definitely need to carve out sufficient time/resources to complete something solid.
Re: whether or not demos are worth it, I think it depends on how confident you are in your product and how your product's buzz (or lack thereof) is trending. If your product is "flying under the radar" but you think it's strong, do a solid demo and surprise people. If Marketing/PR has done a killer job and has your product top-of-mind, but you have concerns about the level of polish you could implement in a demo, then don't do one. Pretty simple.”
You can read more from the complete feature
, including additional insights on game production scheduling from Robbie Edwards, senior producer at Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft, Peter O'Brien, producer at Bizarre Creations, Harvard Bonin, senior producer last at Electronic Arts, and Frank Rogan, producer at Gas Powered Games (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).