Demoing the game

This week marks the release of the Eternal Threads demo, which offers players a chance to dive into the game’s timeline. David Bottomley, Designer, breaks down how it all came together.


Why create a demo?


We were always mindful that merely looking at screenshots or videos of Eternal Threads could lead some audiences to mistake our game for a survival horror or a walking simulator. While it certainly shares some elements of the latter, it is absolutely not the former.


Given the non-linear nature of the game and the multiple layers to each character - not to mention the fact that the narrative itself is the puzzle that needs solving - we felt that the best way for players to understand how it works was to play it themselves.


Demoing felt like a pretty daunting prospect at first, but having already shared the game outside of our production bubble, we got enough positive feedback to confirm that we weren’t just tilting at windmills. Now we’re ready to share it with the rest of the world!


Piecing the puzzle together


Most game demos tend to be similar to a ‘vertical slice’, which is essentially a slice of cake where you give the player a taste of all the layers and experiences that the end product has to offer. With Eternal Threads, the ability to move up and down the timeline at will is so intrinsic to the gameplay that a single slice of a much larger cake was never going to convey everything we needed it to.


The only alternative was to give players access to the whole cake, but for a limited amount of time. As such, the demo gives the player full access to the abridged timeline from the game. The actual game features both an abridged timeline and a full timeline, with the best endings only possible in the full version.


To restrict the player in the demo, they will only be able to play for one hour, watch twenty five scenes, or save two of the housemates – whichever comes first.


Gauging responses


When we had a demo up for NextFest, watching video playthroughs was fascinating. Some players proceeded linearly, some followed specific characters or plot threads, and others jumped to the end and worked backwards. It was amazing to watch these players explore this open narrative however they wanted to.


With the launch of the demo, I’m looking forward to watching people play the game and hearing them relate how they discovered the game’s secrets.