I'm a fairly unexperienced game developer, (despite having some coding abilities) as i never really had the opportunity to launch more than 1 "finished" game. So in terms of getting the word out, marketing or even getting usefull feedback of players, i have very little experience.
Now, i'm working for almost 3 years on a game which i'm developing in my spare-time. Despite its pretty long development cycle it is a fairly "simple" game.
The question i'm asking myself multiple times (and more frequently as time goes on) is: - When should i release a demo? (Should i release a demo at all?)
I don't want the players to play it now and loose interest afterwards after the game finishes. (as it will take maybe another full year until it is even remotely finished.) But at the same time i know that i have to do something in terms of marketing (it is going to be a free game, but i would like to reach as much people as i can) as despite the 3 year long development cycle, not many people know about this project. (Which isn't really optimal, as i have a potential target audience which i know would like a game of this type.)
My strategy up to this point was to simply develope it in my spare time, not having a demo at all and only showcasing (meaningfull) progress of the game in youtube videos (This videos are released every 2 or 4 months, depending on how much time i have to develope the game...) and only release the game after it is more or less finished.
Its a very strage scenario for me to be in. I would love to let people know about the project (like every other dev), but at the same time i fear that people will be put down by its quality (alpha-state) and that they aren't going to be interested in it afterwards after they played it. (The only thing you can currently do is to "free-roam" > no objectives whatsoever.)
So my question is: Am i to worried about this stuff? Should i release a demo? (Now or later after it's more polished?) What are your experiences in releasing games or using demos?