Games without Demos

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Pleng, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. Pleng
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    Pleng Custom Title

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    Articles have often been referenced in conversations on this site, which refer to research that has apparently shown that having a demo version of a game available is actually harmful for sales. If this is the case then this absolutely astounds me. I can perhaps understand it being true for absolutely top-line, AAA squared franchises like Sonic, Mario, Mario Kart etc where firstly everybody knows what they're getting anyway and, secondly, a demo might perhaps might risk not living up to expectations or even be able to really showcase too much of the game to be worthwhile, anyway.

    But browsing the Nintendo eShop, I see 10s of games that look reasonably interesting - but there's no way I'm going to drop 10,20,30 pounds on them if I don't know how they play! Even gameplay videos aren't going to really show off how, for example, the mechanics of a racing game feel when you're actually trying to control it.

    So I'm interested in other peoples views. I guess a lot of people on this site are excluded from this conversation due to piracy. Even if you pirate to test and then buy later... But for those who don't pirate, do you buy games without playing demos first? If so how do you know you're going to enjoy them? Or are you the type of person who will play a game if you've paid for it even if it's not actually very good?
     
  2. Taleweaver

    Taleweaver Storywriter

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    I have a confession: yesterday, I pirated opus magnum opus because I wanted to know how well it played. Had there been a demo, I would've tried that instead. However: I'm not going to buy it yet anyway (money's tight right now). So...I guess that one counts as a "demo's don't increase sales".

    Second example: UT2004. The demo came with but a few levels (one deathmatch and a vehicle combat one), but these levels were feature-complete. Meaning: the full game had these exact same levels (so no "you'll get this extra weapons", or "the layout is better like this"). While the game shipped with multiple dozens of levels, I have to admit these were among the top tier in terms of quality.
    Well...two years down the line, you could still find fully packed demo servers. Servers set up and maintained by people who never bought the game in the first place but just kept on playing those same levels (or rather: the same level, as these rarely switched game types).

    For my third point, I want to turn the situation around: can you not find out online whether you will like these games or not? I bet that there are reviews and movie walkthroughs for even the most mundane of games.
    It's admittedly not the same as playing yourself, but you should get a good feeling on this as well (and yes, that goes for me as well: I could've easily estimated I would've liked opus magnum, and be right about it).


    EDIT: almost forgot an important one:
    Point four: how about a game WITH a demo? I present...factorio. The online community goes plain NUTS over this one. It has all the features that would draw me in, so I downloaded the demo, ready to be blown away.
    ...I just felt "meh" in the end. I can see why people like it, understand the appeal...but it just doesn't click with me. The interesting part about this: if I had put 20 bucks down, I'm fairly sure I wouldn't have dismissed it that fast. It would've been that classic "oh, okay...just one more hour" that would just stretch on until god knows how long. But because it was a limited, free demo, I had no investment in it.
     
    Last edited by Taleweaver, Oct 5, 2018
  3. kikongokiller

    kikongokiller GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    It's harmful to sales because potential consumers can find out just how bad your game is. That's all there is to it.
     
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  4. Pleng
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    Pleng Custom Title

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    I dunno... these just seem like examples of badly thought out demos. Giving too much of the game away, or not showing off enough. Surely all you need is a 1 level/map demo, which finishes off with a big advert showing clips/pics of all the extras you get in the full game? I mean, I'm not familar with any of the games mentioned so it's difficult to get a 100% genuine perspective, but to me it seems that publishers are getting demos wrong and then going "oh well, they hurt sales"; much in the same way you get publishers putting out bad games in a franchise and then going "oh well, people aren't into this franchise any more" when it doesn't sell well.

    Yea, I guess this is where I just differ from most people; if a game is anything other the very good, I don't bother with it whether I've paid for it or not. I'll just switch back to a game I actually enjoy playing, or go and do something else.

    You see... here's my process:
    I see a game on eshop.
    I think "oh that looks interesting"
    I see it has no demo
    I move on

    That store listing right there is the publishers opportunity to get my attention. I'm not going to waste time and effort looking for reviews, then trying to figure out from a load of (probably conflicting,) stories whether or not I would enjoy the game.... The publisher had the opportunity to capture my attention and failed. There's plenty of at least a few of other games with demos that I can try
     
  5. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo G'nome

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    I forgot
    I would imagine the only real reason a lot of modern games don't have demos anymore is less because of an impact on sales and more because devs/publishers simply can't be bothered to spend the time to make them anymore. With things like Youtube game reviews, amateur lets players, long plays, and Twitch streams where you can ask about mechanical details being a thing, I can see why a publisher or a dev would just think "Why should we waste our time making a demo when people can already just watch gameplay?".

    While that might not be the preferred solution for you (which is something I'd agree with myself), for most others it's enough to show them whether they'd like a game or not, so there's no real financial reason a developer should spend the time making a proper demo.

    Lack of demos is one of the reasons why I essentially pirate every game that may be interesting to me before I try to buy them. Since most digital marketplaces still don't offer a decent refund system, I'm more much wary about spending the little extra cash I allot to video games each payday on something I end up disliking that I can't return. Like you, if I don't enjoy a game, I tend not to sludge my way through it to find good points and would rather just move on to some other game, regardless of how much it cost.


    For those that buy a game, not like it, and play anyways, it's actually a psychological thing that people do when they make a purchase they can't easily refund or back out on. For games, there was a "theory" that stated that people who buy games they end up not enjoying are much more inclined to, at the very least, "get their money's worth" out of game vs pirates who can simply try a game, discard it if they don't enjoy it, and move on to the next. Though these days that's moved from just applying to piracy to applying to things like "Steam sales" or "game bundles" or "giveaway games" and such (since you only spent $1 on that bundle of 4 games, so who cares if they're all bad!).
     
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  6. Pleng
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    Pleng Custom Title

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    Tom I understand how all your points could be valid in the eyes of publishers who are selling to "gamers", so yes I can see there how there's less need for a demo. But when you get to indie titles, or games that are targeted at the more casual market, I don't see how a publisher could even *think* of not putting a demo against their game. For these publishers, the first impression they make on a potential sale from a casual browser is a small image in a search result or featured listing. If they peak enough interest to warrant a click, then they have their product page to make an impression. That page will most likely only ever be viewed the one time by the prospective purchaser... Having a demo on that page gives not only a feel for the game (if done well), it provides a second-chance to get a click back to the shop page and a potential purchase.

    I do wonder if a lot of indie publishers have perhaps read the theory that game demos harm sales and decided to not provide one based on that, without perhaps thinking about how it may or may not apply to them.

    Or maybe it is in fact a big enough of a generalisation, and I'm just overthinking the whole thing...
     
  7. wormdood

    wormdood pirate booty inspector

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    i say this often but i pirate and a lot . . . but not all the time basically only when piracy is simple. with that said i do buy games and when i do i dont even look for a demo, not because i pirate but because if i find one i expect it to be a lame implementation there are several problems with demos

    1. demos often are just a tiny amount of content in the case of a fps its usually like 1 level with prefab characters or in a fighter like 2 fighters . . . my point is its often hard to grasp the feel of the game as a hole if you only get a supper stripped down version . . . that leads to every game you demo feeling like racing on the same mario kart course as shy guy over and over (thanks ds download play)

    2. demos that are really the full game with content locks . . . why on earth should i need the same amount of harddrive space as the full game if i cant pass the opening area and thats not the worst kind of full demo . . .

    3. time locked demos . . . you can only play for a set time usually 1 hr (more recently time frames have evolved to a developer chosen weekend) not only do i need to download the whole game and play when they want me to but i feel compelled to speedrun and when successful have no need to buy the game as i can just look up any cutscenes i skipped via YouTube

    4. similarly there are activation locked demos . . . you can only use this demo 5-10 times so dont you dare let the kids touch your system or it may be locked next time you power on your console

    5. demos were not always like this once upon a time they were production copies of in development levels and as such often felt like less than the completed product as such when you got hyped up there was a chance that the game is different in a unknown number of ways from lighting to controls to characters to levels none of it was 100% guaranteed to be in the game . . . this in itself can cause problems when your expectations dont match up

    6. demos that have exclusive content that you can transfer to the full game (im looking at you pokemon) . . . usually irrelevant as far as a demo goes as the main draw of the demo is only interesting to fans of the games and not new consumers also it becomes more like an annoying free dlc you get for going through the tutorial twice

    7. demos that have there own storyline/setting independent of the game . . . i dont think i need to explain why this is bad

    8. sites like twitch and youtube make it so you can see the game / talk to the gamer . . . but thats not a real alternative for demos though . . . but if you take the streaming approach a little further there are things like teamviewer (pc) and shareplay (ps4) to allow us to demo the game to a friend (in a lending sort of way)

    when i factor all these things its no wounder demos are diapering they are limited often in ridiculous ways (only 2 activations left . . .)

    edit:
    i generally dont so i usually stick to developers i trust

    depends on the situation a digitally purchased game for a console/handheld yes i will play it even if its trash (cough adventure time: etdbidk) but in all other cases no, lame steam games will simply be forgotten and boring psychical games get resoled or traded
     
    Last edited by wormdood, Oct 5, 2018
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  8. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    If the world was like me then it might make some sense.
    There have been a fair few occasions where I can say "I got mine" after having played a demo or a volume of content substantially similar to that which a demo would contain*. For the most part I don't care about completing a story or 100%ing a game. I am more about experiencing mechanics and trying to figure out game design than anything else. Prebaked loadouts or limited character selection is seldom a problem for me as it tends not to change games too much and if it does then it is a bad demo. That said I can't get there with let's plays (though can well see others doing so) which is probably a big part of why I find the format generally so frustrating.
    For such purposes a use limited demo might make some sense, and indeed I struggle to see some why people find them so objectionable.

    *in many cases unless such a game becomes my meditative game it will be that -- I could have experienced everything the average MX vs ATV or Skate/Tony Hawk game had to offer in one level. However free roam modes in those were so very nice for relaxing with that they rose above that and single level would not quite have got there.

    On the matter of different strokes for different games then much like the potential loss of revenue (either from no purchase or delayed purchase) from let's plays I would say it varies between gameplay style, though different things between those.

    On "full size demos" then they are mostly because either the full game is there and with an unlock code it will be, or because enough of the game needed to be there and the level/character/whatever components stripped from it don't represent a lot of space. I imagine we will probably be seeing a bit more of the latter in years to come if and when table based/data driven AIs take off.

    Demos carrying over into full. The main reference point for me here is the dead rising 2 kind one where you are in a small town beforehand -- limited versions of full game mechanics, entirely different level, generally self contained story. Wonderfully done that was.
     
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  9. Scarlet

    Scarlet A Convenient Oddity

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    I mean I have a friend that just plays demos if she's content with them. She had the Puyo Puyo demo for like six months before somebody else bought her the full game as a gift lol. If there are more people like that in the world, maybe they do hurt sales? That being said, I'm sure that kind of person is relatively uncommon.
     
  10. Pleng
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    Pleng Custom Title

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    @FAST6191

    A remarkably concise answer for you, and pretty much a perfect summary of how I feel about demos vs YouTube vids.

    I have little knowledge of the gaming scene in general, having ducked out around the time of Saturn/PlayStation, then dipping my toe back in with the Wii and DS/3DS/Switch.

    Obviously in the Megadrive/SNES days demos on those systems were impossible (well financially unviable) due to the cost of storage medium, but the Amiga/ST/PC magazines always were loaded up with demo disks, as were the tape based systems before them. However cartridge game rentals were a great "try before you buy" method.

    Obviously in those days things were very different with no YouTube or online distribution.

    From reading answers to this post it appears that there seems to be an issue not only with so few games having demos, but of the ones that do, them just being done poorly. I wonder if it's a case of publishers not putting enough thought into demos - I image they're generally probably cooked up by the development team with the marketing team having little say in the process other than deciding whether one should actually be produced or not.
     
  11. Taleweaver

    Taleweaver Storywriter

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    It's the second time you blame the existence of a demo as a reason that people not buy the product (because it's done poorly). But what if there is no way to do it right?

    Indie games in particular usually don't have a bloated storyline or mechanics that rely on improving so cutting it in pieces would give a sub optimal effect, or even one that pisses people off. Would you buy te tris if it missed the long piece? Or when you would get kicked out the game every five minutes?
    Mobile even serves as an example on gbatemp. I'm getting pretty tired of discussing games on that platform because some are so convinced that it's just all freemium crap that they don't even try paying for games on the platform. Just yesterday I saw someone down vote a game (the sequence on Android) for being an actual demo instead of an adware ridden full version
     
  12. Pleng
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    Pleng Custom Title

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    I'm not blaming poorly done demos for people not buying games; I've never played a demo that hasn't given me a decent enough taste of the game to decide whether I like it or not. Other people have alerted me to the issues of demo quality, so I'm really just hypothesizing as to the possibility it might be the quality of demos that are harming sales as opposed to the existence of them in the first place. I don't know, and I doubt I'm going to do a whole lot of research to find the answer. Maybe the research has already been done, or maybe it's only ever been researched in the binary form (does a demo exists? have sales been impact?).

    I would argue that games without bloated storylines, and that don't rely on improving are ideal targets for demos. You only need a level or two of a simple platformer or single track of a racing game to decide whether you're likely to enjoy the game....

    ...Of course, not every game could have a workable demo solution. You're right - I can't imagine any way that Tetris could be put into demo form.

    I've yet to find many demo/full game combinations on Android. I had the opposite issue when trying to evaluate a popular Rally game. In fact not quite opposite; it was a demo version and adware-ridden. I sliced my way through one forest of adverts to evaluate a course. I figured it might be a worthwhile game but wanted to check out some more of the options on available which the demo did showcase, but I simply gave up halfway through the second round of adverts... So that was at least one sale lost to the lack of a reasonable demo.
     
  13. mightymuffy

    mightymuffy fatbaldpieeater

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    Wow some big posts here! (I even scrolled down thinking 'I bet one of them's FAST!' ...wasn't disappointed!)

    Personal opinion (and it may have already been posted - sorry lads I've not fully read them!) - demos are great!!... but I can see why they've died a death this gen. Far cheaper and easier to post videos up online.
    Plus I think, by and large, most game makers AND gamers are very 'safe' these days - even I'm one of them! DQXI. Forza Horizon 4. Red Dead 2. Fallout 76. Smash. Sonic Mania DLC. By E3 this year I'd either decided (or already knew) this was my lot for this year ....I don't need demos for any of them, didn't download the Horizon 4 one, don't need to try the beta tests, I'm just getting them. (Plus money is also a bit tight here so I'm not gambling on anything else)

    I miss the days of XBLA, with new demos every week - 99% of games had them, and I used to lap them up, but I probably wouldn't bother if that still happened now: maybe I'm just a jaded old gamer, maybe there's too many games/too much shovelware being released now, I dunno.. Also, and I'm gonna use Horizon 4 again ...that demo is ~30GB?! Who the fukk wants to download that much for a few mins gameplay? I can understand why the games are so huge nowadays of course...

    It's just far easier, less time consuming, etc etc, to stream a few minutes video.
     
    Last edited by mightymuffy, Oct 9, 2018
  14. Taleweaver

    Taleweaver Storywriter

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    Hard to say. When I look back at my favorite demo's (UT, Tony Hawk pro skater 2, original doom, duke nukem 3d), then I'm embarrassed at how little I went from "wow, I REALLY like what's being offered" to an actual trip to the video game store a couple blocks down the road (I bought UT years later, pirated doom until 2017, and IIRC I never even bought THPS2 or DN3D :shy:). Practically all my purchases in that time where from word of mouth of friends.

    Maybe I should've linked to this video earlier, but extra credits certainly has made an interesting video on it: linky.



    I would think so too, but I already pointed to UT2004. After checking, that demo was as follows: One single level for 5 gametypes (years later, they added 2 extra levels). So 7 levels...of a total of no less than 121 (or "a gazillion" if you count the ability to download and play custom levels, mods, mutators, skins, and so on, and so on). Nonetheless: even years after release, demo servers were pretty active and full.

    The "games without bloated storylines" is harder to argue. I remember playing a game ('the uncertain'). I thought it was just the first episode in a series, but no: it was a demo. It was pretty intriguing, but it was the shortened part of a game that only had the first demo out. Not only did I not buy it, but some months later I had the chance to pick up the full first chapter of the game in a giveaway. I opted for another game. Now, I know: we might just be different in this regard. I mean...right now I've got an enormous backlog. I can't be bothered to play anything that isn't a full version anymore (why would I want to try out a part of a game that I then have to purchase when I can actually play the games that I already did buy but never got around to? :unsure: ).

    Sorry, but I'm not convinced. You say that you're a lost sale, but if it was really only the ads that held you back (of which you know won't be in the final product)...then why didn't you buy the full game? Heck...you could even buy the game and test that out for a few hours (remember: android has a refund policy shortly after trying a game*).
    So...I don't mean to blame you, but to me this sounds like you simply were never a potential customer to begin with. A fallacy most gamers fall for is that marketeers look at their CUSTOMERS. People who claim to be interested but don't buy the game (be it pirates, demo players or just people visiting their web site) simply don't count.


    *I only used this once. There was this one boardgame that looked incredibly fun and moody. And it went on sale (less than 2 bucks, probably). But when playing, it just didn't click for me. At all. I can get into details as to why I didn't like it (it certainly wasn't anything technical...just absolutely not my preference), but instead I just refunded my money.
     
  15. wormdood

    wormdood pirate booty inspector

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    yeah yo when ever i dump my poorly edited heart out he shows up with a much more concise rebuttal :whip:
     
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  16. The Real Jdbye

    The Real Jdbye Always Remember 30/07/08

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    If the game is really worth buying, then playing the demo will make you want to buy it.
    If playing the demo doesn't make people want more the game was probably not worth your money to begin with, and that should be an indication to the devs that they're doing something wrong, not that they should stop providing demos. Kind of a dick move to not provide demos just so that people will have to buy the game to find out if they like it, at which point it's too late to change your mind if you don't like it.
    It shouldn't just be a question of "will this make us more money?", it should also be about informing the consumers so they can make the right choice on how to spend their money.

    I probably buy games after playing a demo about as often as I don't. Indeed, some games I didn't end up buying, I might have bought otherwise if there was no demo available, but demos and piracy alike have also helped me discover new games and game series that I might not have given a chance otherwise, which could result in getting more diehard fans that will stick with the series in the long term and buy any new entry that comes out.
    For example, I recently tried out the Dragon Quest Builders demo on Switch. Normally it's not a game I would consider buying, as my Minecraft days are long over and it lacks the multiplayer aspect that made Minecraft fun, so I couldn't see myself playing it the whole way through. But after playing the demo (which was a really long demo BTW, impressed with that), it made me want more, so I'll probably end up buying it.

    And if they are worried about people "getting their fill" of the game from the demo, why not just make the demo shorter? Not that this necessarily always works out, the Portal Knights demo was crazy short and basically just a tutorial, but unlike Dragon Quest Builders it was rather boring. Maybe it gets better, but I'm not willing to risk buying it and not liking it any more than the demo.

    There is a fine balance in how long a demo should be and it depends on the type of game. It should at minimum be long enough to give you a taste of what the full game is like, but stop at a point where you are ready and wanting for more. The Dragon Quest Builders demo stopped at the perfect point when you just finished the introductory stuff localized to one small area, had a lot of fun with it, and were ready to explore the wider world. Of course you're going to want to buy the game to see what lies beyond that portal. Portal Knights did essentially the same thing only the introductory stuff was a very short tutorial with not much happening which didn't exactly get me hyped for the rest.

    But for some genres of games, demos are probably less effective. For example, getting to play one stage in a racing game, fighting game or shooter with a few characters available isn't particularly exciting. Only having access to one stage is obviously gonna get boring though if you're a big enough fan to keep playing, but probably isn't going to influence your decision to buy it much either way.

    And one specific example is Puyo Puyo Tetris. The demo essentially gave you access to a large part of the game (although with limitations), and you could be perfectly happy just playing the demo over and over if you're a puzzle game fan and never feel the need to buy the full version. There isn't really much to puzzle games like this, so demos don't really work that well for it.

    Stuff like big RPGs and action/adventure games though, there's no excuse for not having a demo for those. It's the kind of game you really need to play all the way through to fully experience and if the game is actually good a demo is guaranteed to leave you wanting more, unless it wasn't your cup of tea to begin with (in which case you probably wouldn't bother trying the demo anyway)
     
  17. wormdood

    wormdood pirate booty inspector

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    the demo for ff7 . . . have you ever wondered how quick baddies in the first area would die to bahamut well lucky you if you played the demo you got just that (also firaga) it was obviously to show off "properly?" the combat system but just left the game feeling boring and oversimplified . . . if i based my purchases on experiences i would have missed ff7
     
  18. The Real Jdbye

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    I didn't know there was a demo, was it distributed on a magazine demo disc or something?
     
  19. wormdood

    wormdood pirate booty inspector

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    yes OPM (Official PlayStation Magazine) if i am not mistaken . . .
    edit: i was wrong about the demo's source . . . here is some info regarding the demo Final Fantasy VII demo | Final Fantasy Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

    2nd edit: i had the first release of the demo and it was my anger inspiration for . . .
     
    Last edited by wormdood, Oct 9, 2018
  20. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Speaking of old PS1 demos and having mentioned Tony Hawk above I shall have both a request to see and something hopefully of minor historical interest.

    I once played a demo of the first game. The level was Chicago but it was not a contest like in the normal game, and there were some notable differences (the lack of all those rafters above the half pipe for one). The demo was from a UK magazine or similar. The gameplay was a lot "floatier" is the only way I have been able to describe it and the graphics slightly different -- we had a nice chipped PS1 so I was already very well versed in Tony Hawk by this point, was then round a friend's and got a go there and failed miserably as it was so different.

    In previous discussions where I brought this up some mentioned a US based Pizza Hut demo. There is footage of that. Nothing like what I recall here. That was a demo of more or less the final game.

    I should probably go ask someone in the Thug Pro ( http://tonyhawkgames.wikia.com/wiki/THUG_Pro / http://fl1ppy.com/thugpro.html ) circles but eh.

    Going marginally off topic as well then when I was watching this I was reminded of several responses to this thread
     
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