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April 22nd, 2008, 21:30
The demo for the original Fallout was also a stand-alone area (a town) that was not part of the actual game, IIRC.

Demos are tricky to pull off well, especially in an open-ended game. A poor demo can potentially lose a lot more customers than a good demo will gain.

You essentially need to build a self-contained area just for the demo that showcases a large subset of the game's functionality. Companies often do this for internal presentations, conventions, the press, and previews, but they are usually not appropriate for releasing to the general public as a "demo" without a significant amount of polishing, bug-fixing, and re-balancing.

The initial part of a game such as this is generally not a good indicator as to what the game as a whole will be like (i.e. Fallout 1 & 2 fixations with rats, scorpions, and molerats for the early game). So it may seem like a good idea to take a section from the middle of the game and isolate it for a demo. But then you have to take into account that this section is no longer in its original context, and will need additional exposition so the player understands what is going on, and perhaps a tutorial shoehorned in where it doesn't appear in the actual game. It will also likely need extensive re-balancing and re-design, as the game design for this area assumes a level of familiarity and skill on the part of the player that they are not going to have on account of not having played through the earlier stages of the game.

It is far better, in my opinion, to not release a demo than to release a demo that gives false impressions as to how the full game plays. It's very easy to get this wrong and surprisingly difficult to get it right. And the last thing that Bethesda wants to do here is release a demo of Fallout 3 that showcases gameplay that can be easily digested in about an hour (i.e. combat), because it will inevitably lead to more cries of "they made Fallout a dumbed-down action shooter!!!"

The game is already being judged before being played; the last thing anyone needs is a demo that only reinforces those knee-jerk reactions because it doesn't have time to delve into the deeper gameplay present in the actual game.
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