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My friend and I are making a video game. Occasionally we want to release little tech demos that demonstrate our progress. A demo would not at all be the finished game, but would rather show off some part of the engine that we have completed.

At first we called these demos, but we are afraid that the word demo implies that they represent the finished product. Is there a good single word that refers to a little mini-program that demonstrates progress but is not the finished product?

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What's wrong with calling them "tech demos"? – Jim Jun 13 '12 at 6:38
Proof of concept is actually often used word for such a piece of software as well. – Allan S. Hansen Dec 10 '15 at 9:15

I suggest calling them pilots, even though that's more commonly used to denote sample episodes of a proposed TV series. Also, as each of these technical demonstrations illustrates some new aspect or feature of your game engine, consider the word featurette, which refers to "a relatively short feature film". You might also consider words like highlighter, showcase, exhibit, and proof-of-concept.

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Well highlighter and showcase seems the most suitable, the others are more appropriate for television productions. Although I remember there was such word, but I can't remember it now. It was about having several products and you are showing the best of them, that carry the concept when making presentation. – speedyGonzales Jun 13 '12 at 10:22
The synonyms for 'pilot' in this meaning are: prototype, alpha release, qa version, interim release, work-in-progress, partial release. 'demo' is not a synonym because a demo may not even be a working version, simply a mockup. A beta release is not because it is intended to be a full feature release (but possibly minor bugs). – Mitch Jun 13 '12 at 13:14

Actually, "demo" is the right word for it. According to Wikipedia,

A game demo is a freely distributed demonstration or preview of an upcoming or recently released video game.

You can also use:

  • First playable
  • Alpha
  • Code freeze
  • Beta
  • Code release
  • Gold master

depending upon the current stage of your game's development. And if you have to release more than one version at a particular stage, you can name them by using a combination of numbers and periods (dots).

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Alfa and Betta products refer to finished products in testing phase, something like release candidate (RC) with almost all the features already done. He is talking about showing something different to the people- Mark Zuckeberg's The Facebook without marital status. – speedyGonzales Jun 13 '12 at 7:59
That's why I have said, "You can also use:.... depending upon the current stage of your game's development " – user20934 Jun 13 '12 at 8:02
@rudra, I haven't been to this site in a while and having returned I find that you spend a lot of time being partially (or entirely) wrong and then being really indignant and peevish in being corrected. In this particular case, you're offering an answer where it's clear you have absolutely no basis of understanding of the question. Is there a word for such behavior? How does one describe in a single word a person who can't help but chime in with advice on matters where they have no expertise? ;) – Dr.Dredel Jun 13 '12 at 9:08
@Dr.Dredel A guy with who has been a member since 1 year, 4 months and a reputation of 144, suddenly returns after a long time and finds out everything about a particular user (in this case me), and claims that he (i.e., me) always gives incorrect answers. WEIRD and CREEPY. Are you sure you are not one of those fake accounts? – user20934 Jun 13 '12 at 9:20
@rudra, yeah... pretty sure I'm not a fake account. Granted I only saw a handful of your responses, but they paint a pretty obvious picture of exactly what I describe... namely, someone that takes things personally when nothing personal was said, gets affronted easily and is tirelessly (and tiresomely) defensive. Your response to me doesn't do much to offer contrary evidence to my impression. Anyway... I'm being cheeky. You should carry on in whatever way makes you happy, obviously. – Dr.Dredel Jun 13 '12 at 9:23

You could call it a prototype. Unlike demo, it's clear that a prototype is meant to be thrown away and never delivered as part of the final product. That emphasis is often necessary; otherwise project managers may get the impression that it's good enough to ship just because it looks like it works.

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That's a terrific question. Are you referring to partial builds of the entire game? Or do you mean that you're looking to show off specific in-engine features, like for instance if you develop a really good way to simulate material waving in the wind and wish to show this off?

For the former I would use "playable partial builds", the "partial" will leave no one confused that they're not looking at anything like a finished product.

Another way to describe them is "game fragments".

If you're talking about in-engine features I would call them that. "This is an example of an in-engine feature we call "breezy cloth". etc.

I strongly suspect you are asking about the former, though, so, while I don't think there's an official term for it, combining "playable" with "incomplete" (in one form or another) should get you to a term you like pretty quickly.

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When we work on a website or microsite, we use the word mockup for a previewable, but perhaps not fully functioning phase of the design and development process. It's at a stage where we show a client before we invest the time to finish the project. The mockup entry in Wikipedia seems to offer the same use of the word:

In manufacturing and design, a mockup, or mock-up, is a scale or full-size model of a design or device, used for teaching, demonstration, design evaluation, promotion, and other purposes. A mockup is a prototype if it provides at least part of the functionality of a system and enables testing of a design. Mock-ups are used by designers mainly to acquire feedback from users.

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