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A game demo is a (usually) freely distributed piece of an upcoming or recently released video game. Demos are typically released by the game's publisher to help consumers get a feel of the game before deciding whether to buy the full version and/or keep it.
Freeware is software, most often proprietary, that is distributed at no monetary cost to the end user. There is no agreed-upon set of rights, license, or EULA that defines freeware unambiguously; every publisher defines its own rules for the freeware it offers. For instance, modification, redistribution by third parties, and reverse engineering without the author's permission are permitted by some publishers but prohibited by others. Unlike with free and open-source software, which are also often distributed free of charge, the source code for freeware is typically not made available. Freeware may be intended to benefit its producer by, for example, encouraging sales of a more capable version, as in the freemium and shareware business models.
A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that have been developed either internally by the publisher or externally by a video game developer. As with book publishers or publishers of DVD movies, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising.
In the early 1990s, shareware distribution was a popular method for publishing games for smaller developers, including then-fledgling companies such as Apogee Software (now 3D Realms), Epic MegaGames (now Epic Games), and id Software. It gave consumers the chance to try a trial portion of the game, usually restricted to the game's complete first section or "episode", before purchasing the rest of the adventure. Racks of games on single 51⁄4" and later 3.5" floppy disks were common in many stores, often very cheaply. Since the shareware versions were essentially free, the cost needed only the covering of the disk and minimal packaging. Sometimes, the demo disks were packaged within the box of another game by the same company. As the increasing size of games in the mid-90s made them impractical to fit on floppies, and retail publishers and developers began to earnestly mimic the practice, shareware games were replaced by shorter demos that were either distributed free on CDs with gaming magazines or as free downloads over the Internet, in some cases becoming exclusive content for specific websites.
Shareware is a type of proprietary software which is initially provided free of charge to users, who are allowed and encouraged to make and share copies of the program. Shareware is often offered as a download from a website or as a compact disc included with a magazine. Shareware is available with most computer software. Shareware differs from open-source software, in which the source code is available for anyone to inspect and alter; and freeware, which is software distributed at no cost to the user but without source code being made available.
Apogee Software, Ltd., doing business as 3D Realms since 1996, is an American video game developer and publisher based in Garland, Texas. The company is best known for popularizing the shareware distribution model for video games in the 1980s and 90s, as well as for creating game franchises, such as Duke Nukem. 3D Realms was founded by Scott Miller in 1987 as Apogee Software Productions, in preparation for the release of Kingdom of Kroz. Apogee Software adopted the trading name 3D Realms in 1996, and the rights to the former name and logo were eventually sold to Terry Nagy in 2008, using which he established Apogee Software, LLC.
Epic Games, Inc. is an American video game and software development company based in Cary, North Carolina. The company was founded by Tim Sweeney as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991, originally located in his parents' house in Potomac, Maryland. Following his first commercial video game release, ZZT (1991), the company became Epic MegaGames in early 1992, and brought on Mark Rein, who is the company's vice president to date. Moving their headquarters to Cary in 1999, the studio's name was simplified to Epic Games.
Shareware was also the distribution method of choice of early modern first-person shooters (FPS) like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom .
First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre centered around gun and other weapon-based combat in a first-person perspective; that is, the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist. The genre shares common traits with other shooter games, which in turn makes it fall under the heading action game. Since the genre's inception, advanced 3D and pseudo-3D graphics have challenged hardware development, and multiplayer gaming has been integral.
Wolfenstein 3D is a first-person shooter video game developed by id Software and published by Apogee Software and FormGen. Originally released on May 5, 1992 for MS-DOS, it was inspired by the 1981 Muse Software video game Castle Wolfenstein, and is the third installment in the Wolfenstein series. In Wolfenstein 3D, the player assumes the role of Allied spy William "B.J." Blazkowicz during World War II as he escapes from the Nazi German prison Castle Wolfenstein and carries out a series of crucial missions against the Nazis. The player traverses each of the game's levels to find an elevator to the next level or kill a final boss, fighting Nazi soldiers, dogs, and other enemies with knives and a variety of guns.
Doom is a 1993 first-person shooter (FPS) video game developed by id Software for MS-DOS. It is considered one of the most significant and influential titles in video game history, for having helped to pioneer, along with the 1992 game Wolfenstein 3D, the now-ubiquitous FPS gameplay type, and has been frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. The original game was divided into three nine-level episodes and was distributed via shareware and mail order. The Ultimate Doom, an updated version featuring a fourth episode, was released in 1995 and sold at retail.
There is a technical difference between shareware and demos. Up to the early 1990s, shareware could easily be upgraded to the full version by adding the "other episodes" or full portion of the game; this would leave the existing shareware files intact. Demos are different in that they are "self-contained" programs which are not upgradable to the full version. A good example is the Descent shareware versus the Descent II demo; players were able to retain their saved games on the former but not the latter.
Magazines that include the demos on a CD or DVD and likewise may be exclusive to a certain publication. Demos are also sometimes released on cover tape/disks, especially in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, but given the increasing size of demos and widespread availability of broadband internet, this common practice throughout the 1980s and '90s gradually lost cover focus to full games. With the advent of console online services such as Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, demos are also becoming available as a free or premium download[ citation needed ].
A magazine is a publication, usually a periodical publication, which is printed or electronically published. Magazines are generally published on a regular schedule and contain a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by prepaid subscriptions, or a combination of the three.
Compact disc (CD) is a digital optical disc data storage format that was co-developed by Philips and Sony and released in 1982. The format was originally developed to store and play only sound recordings (CD-DA) but was later adapted for storage of data (CD-ROM). Several other formats were further derived from these, including write-once audio and data storage (CD-R), rewritable media (CD-RW), Video Compact Disc (VCD), Super Video Compact Disc (SVCD), Photo CD, PictureCD, CD-i, and Enhanced Music CD. The first commercially available audio CD player, the Sony CDP-101, was released October 1982 in Japan.
DVD is a digital optical disc storage format invented and developed in 1995. The medium can store any kind of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.
Console manufacturers also often release their systems with a demo disc containing playable previews of games to be released for their console.
The availability of demos varies between formats. Systems that use cartridges typically did not have demos available to them, due to the cost of duplication, whereas systems supporting more cheaply produced media, such as tapes, floppy disks, and later CD-ROM and DVD-ROM have; the Internet has more recently been a source for demos, although typically this is in addition to other distribution media available for the system in question.
A ROM cartridge, usually referred to simply as a cartridge or cart, is a removable memory card containing ROM designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console or, to a lesser extent, electronic musical instruments. ROM cartridges can be used to load software such as video games or other application programs.
Magnetic tape data storage is a system for storing digital information on magnetic tape using digital recording. Modern magnetic tape is most commonly packaged in cartridges and cassettes. The device that performs writing or reading of data is a tape drive. Autoloaders and tape libraries automate cartridge handling. For example, a common cassette-based format is Linear Tape-Open, which comes in a variety of densities and is manufactured by several companies.
A floppy disk, also known as a floppy, diskette, or simply disk, is a type of disk storage composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic enclosure lined with fabric that removes dust particles. Floppy disks are read and written by a floppy disk drive (FDD).
Game demos come in two variations: playable and non-playable (also called a "rolling demo"). Playable demos generally have exactly the same gameplay as the upcoming full game, although game advancement is usually limited to a certain point, and occasionally some advanced features might be disabled. A non-playable demo is essentially the gaming equivalent of a teaser trailer.
Generally, playable demos are stripped-down versions of the full game, restricting gameplay to some levels, only allowing access to some features, or limiting the amount of time playable in the game.
However, some demos provide content not available in the full game. An example of this was the Age of Empires demo which included a Hittites campaign and two maps not available in the full version. Also, the Half-Life demo Half-Life: Uplink is a self-contained game, adapted from material cut from the development of the main game. The demo for "The Stanley Parable" takes place in an area created specifically for the demo to show off the premise and humor of the game, as the narrator states multiple times that the player is taking part in a "video game demonstration".
In other cases a demo may differ from the equivalent section in the full game, for instance when the demo is released as a preview before the full game is completed. An example of this is the demo for Mafia II which took place in an altered version of the Buzzsaw mission set in the 1950s, as opposed to the equivalent mission in the full game, which was set in 1945.
Demos for platform or other action games generally only include the first few levels of the game. Demos of adventure games are often limited to a very small number of rooms, and have the "save game" feature disabled. Demos of sports games usually limit play to an accelerated half-time or complete match between a small number of teams (which at the same time led to the practice of "demo expanders" that allow the tweaking of some of those settings). Likewise, demos of racing games are ordinarily restricted to a single race with a pre-selected car.
A non-playable demo is a recording of gameplay, either recorded in a video, or played through using the game's own engine showing off the game's features. They are mainly displayed at gaming conventions, such as E3, when the game is still in early production as a technology or gameplay preview. Such demos might also be distributed through the Internet or with magazines as trailers for an upcoming game, or featured at retail stores (often among playable demos).
The Family Computer Disk System is a peripheral for Nintendo's Family Computer home video game console, released only in Japan on February 21, 1986. It uses proprietary floppy disks called "Disk Cards" for data storage. Through its entire production span, 1986—2003, 4.44 million units were sold. Its name is sometimes shortened as Famicom Disk System or simply Disk System, and abbreviated as FCDS, FDS, or FCD.
Ninja Gaiden is a series of video games by Tecmo featuring the ninja Ryu Hayabusa as its protagonist. The series was originally known as Ninja Ryukenden in Japan. The word "gaiden" in the North American Ninja Gaiden title means "side-story" in Japanese, though the Ninja Gaiden series is not a spinoff of a previous series. The original arcade version, first two Nintendo Entertainment System games and Game Boy game were released as Shadow Warriors in PAL regions.
Llamatron is a computer game programmed by Jeff Minter of Llamasoft and released as shareware in 1991 for the Atari ST and Amiga computers and in 1992 for MS-DOS. Based on Robotron: 2084, players of Llamatron control the eponymous creature in an attempt to stop an alien invasion of Earth and rescue animals—referred to as "Beasties"—for points. Players advance by destroying all of the enemies on each level using a laser that fires automatically in the direction that the Llamatron is moving. Various power-ups exist to aid the player in defeating the wide variety of enemies and obstacles they face along the way.
Alone in the Dark 2 is the 1993 sequel to 1992's survival horror video game Alone in the Dark developed and published by Infogrames as the second installment in the series. It was ported to the PC-98 and FM Towns in 1994 and to the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer in 1995 under the same name, and to the Sega Saturn and PlayStation in 1996 as Alone in the Dark: Jack is Back in Europe, and renamed as Alone in the Dark: One-Eyed Jack's Revenge in North America.
Zero was a video game magazine in the UK, published monthly by Dennis Publishing Ltd. between November 1989 and October 1992. It won the InDin Magazine of the Year award in both 1990 and 1991, and was also briefly the best-selling multi-format 16-bit computer magazine in the UK.
Covermount is the name given to storage media or other products packaged as part of a magazine or newspaper. The name comes from the method of packaging; the media or product is placed in a transparent plastic sleeve and mounted on the cover of the magazine with adhesive tape or glue.
Video game packaging refers to the physical storage of the contents of a PC or console game, both for safekeeping and shop display. In the past, a number of materials and packaging designs were used, mostly paperboard or plastic. Today, most console and PC games are shipped in (CD) jewel cases or (DVD) keep cases, with little differences between them.
A disk magazine, colloquially known as a diskmag or diskzine, is a magazine that is distributed in electronic form to be read using computers. These had some popularity in the 1980s and 1990s as periodicals distributed on floppy disk, hence their name. The rise of the Internet in the late 1990s caused them to be superseded almost entirely by online publications, which are sometimes still called "diskmags" despite the lack of physical disks.
The Sango Fighter games are a series of fighting game for DOS made by the Taiwanese Panda Entertainment. Set in the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, it is very similar to Street Fighter and Samurai Shodown, but with historical context.
Import gamers are a subset of the video game player community that take part in the practice of playing video games from another region, usually from Japan where the majority of games for certain systems originate.
Eragon is a third-person video game released for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows, developed by Stormfront Studios. Also released are unique versions of Eragon for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, and mobile phone handheld gaming systems, primarily developed by Amaze Entertainment.
Zone 66 is a top down, multidirectional shooter released in 1993 for IBM PC compatibles as shareware. The game was created by a North American Demo Scene group called Renaissance, and was published by Epic MegaGames. The group developed a 386 protected-mode (PMODE) extender to enable the game to play on a 386 processor clocked at 16 MHz with full screen updates. This required the PC to be rebooted before and after play, so the game could bypass MS-DOS and boot into its own environment, like PC booter games of the 1980s.
Artillery games are early two or three-player video games involving tanks fighting each other in combat or similar. Artillery games are among the earliest computer games developed; the theme of such games is an extension of the original uses of computer themselves, which were once used to calculate the trajectories of rockets and other related military-based calculations. Artillery games have been described as a type of "shooting game", though they are more often classified as a type of strategy video game.
The VTech Socrates is an educational video game console released in 1988 by VTech. The console features a robot character Socrates, named after the philosopher. The character is visually similar to Johnny Five from the Short Circuit movies.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a kart racing video game, part of the Sega Superstars series, produced for Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, and Microsoft Windows, featuring characters from Sega franchises. A mobile version has been developed by Gameloft. The game was released for iOS in June 2011, as a paid download. A version for OS X was released by Feral Interactive in April 2013.
The Nintendo eShop is a digital distribution service powered by the Nintendo Network for the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and Nintendo Switch and by a dedicated online infrastructure for the Nintendo Switch. Launched in June 2011 on the Nintendo 3DS, the eShop was enabled by the release of a system update that added the functionality to the Nintendo 3DS's HOME Menu. It is the successor to both the Wii Shop Channel and DSi Shop. Unlike on the Nintendo 3DS, the eShop was made available on the launch date of the Wii U, although a system update is required in order to access it. It is also a multitasking application, which means it is easily accessible even when a game is already running in the background through the system software, though this feature is exclusive to the Wii U and the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo eShop features downloadable games, demos, applications, streaming videos, consumer rating feedback, and other information on upcoming game releases.
The Xbox One system software, sometimes called the Xbox OS, is the operating system for the eighth-generation home video game console, Xbox One. It is a Microsoft Windows-based operating system using the Hyper-V virtual machine monitor and contains separate operating systems for games and applications that can run on the console. It is located on the internal HDD for day-to-day usage, while also being duplicated on the internal NAND storage of the console for recovery purposes and factory reset functionality.
VGA-Copy was a MS-DOS software to copy floppy disks. It was able to read erroneous floppies.