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Gamertell Interview: High Voltage Software’s David Pellas and David Antognoli talk Conduit 2

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High Voltage SoftwareBack on April 15, 2011, Gamertell was fortunate enough to attend a Conduit 2 launch event at High Voltage Software’s headquarters. We were able to watch developers play Conduit 2 and test out the multiplayer with other attendees. Since then, I was fortunate enough to ask High Voltage Software’s David Pellas and David Antognoli some questions about not only Conduit 2, but also about the 3DS, WiiWare and even the future of the Conduit series.

High Voltage Software and Sega’s Conduit 2 is a Wii exclusive and direct sequel to The Conduit. In the previous game, Agent Michael Ford learned that an exiled alien named John Adams was using a group called Trust to take over Earth. Previously, we saw Ford enter a conduit at a Trust base about to fall apart, and he winds up on a Trust oil rig. Ford must now fight against Trust and Adams.

GAMERTELL: When you first started work on Conduit 2, did you have any ideas in mind of things you felt you absolutely had to do or include in the sequel?

David Antognoli, Conduit 2 Designer: “We knew we wanted to strengthen the single-player experience by adding more wow moments, opening up the level designs, and injecting more narrative into the experience. For multiplayer, we wanted to ramp up everything–more weapons, more maps, more customization, more modes.”

GAMERTELL:How did the reviews for The Conduit influence Conduit 2?

David Pellas, Conduit 2 Design Director: “The reviews for The Conduit helped us pinpoint what areas of the game we needed to work on. We immediately started working on a solution to the hacker problem and redesigning how our single-player campaign progressed.”

GAMERTELL: The Conduit had some multiplayer issues with hackers. An IGN article from April, 2010 mentioned that “security will be tightened” to deal with this situation. Can you elaborate on what this would entail?

Antognoli: “We targeted this problem from the onset of Conduit 2’s development and have embraced a variety of strategies to deal with it. Perhaps most visibly, we have implemented a patching system for Conduit 2 that allows us to update the game post-release in order to patch up any known exploits.”

GAMERTELL: What games, books, movies or TV shows they were you really into while making Conduit 2?

Antognoli: “Lots of science fiction!”

Pellas: “I enjoy many different interests, but the show that I have been enjoying through the development is Super Natural.”

GAMERTELL: Did any of your personal experiences influenced Conduit 2‘s design in some way?

Antognoli: “We live to make games so everything is personal. That said, much of the design for Conduit 2 was already thought out from The Conduit and during the early months of development. Once we established our goals, we had a lot of work to do in order to complete those goals at a quality level that we were excited about.”

GAMERTELL: What kind of challenges did you face in creating a game with online multiplayer that supports up to 12 people, considering how user-unfriendly the Wii is when it comes to multiplayer matches?

Pellas: “Actually, the multiplayer for Conduit 2 was much easier to refine and implement that it was for The Conduit. During the development of The Conduit, we spent a lot of time iterating, testing, balancing, and writing network code. This process was arduous but in the end we delivered a very solid experience. For Conduit 2, we did not start all over and those lessons learned on The Conduit actually gave us a tremendous leg-up for Conduit 2.”

GAMERTELL: “What made you decide to remove drastic motion controls from Conduit 2? Did you feel it would make what is a more serious game more gimmick-y?

Antognoli “For single-player, it is true that we limited the motion-based interactions in the game. We felt like they slowed the game down and that wasn’t what we wanted. As for game controls in general, we still utilize motion controls in the default control scheme and feel that they bring a unique Wii-twist to the game experience. That said, players do have the option to customize their controls or use the Classic Controller / Classic Controller Pro.”

GAMERTELL: Could you specifically go into why Nintendo requested no Wii Speak support?

Pellas: “During discussions with our partners we decided together that it would be best to support the HeadBanger peripheral, rather than the WiiSpeak. There were a number of reasons why we chose this direction, some technical and some not so much. In the end, we believe we chose the best technology to support and received the best results.”

GAMERTELL: How do you respond to and feel about criticism from gamers who feel that the Wii is unsuited to a FPS, and that a game like Conduit 2 would be better suited to the PS3 or Xbox 360?

Pellas: “We politely disagree. Wii gamers deserve games developed for their system of choice and the FPS genre is a much loved genre that deserves to be represented on the Wii.”

GAMERTELL: High Voltage developed the Quantum3 engine for the Wii, which you’ve used with The Conduit and Conduit 2. Do you have any projects in development that will also be using this technology? Or are you hoping to refine/enhance it for future projects?

Antognoli: “Our Quantum engine is a tremendous accomplishment for our company and we are very proud of the technology. We are definitely not ready to retire it and in fact, we just made a round of improvements for a couple future projects.”

GAMERTELL: Can you talk about any games that you may have been developing, but had to scrap? If so, what elements if any were carried over to the Conduit games?

Pellas: “We are always working on something “extra”. Many of these ideas are just concepts that we attempt to prove. A good many of these make it into our games. As for any specifics, I can’t really say because those that weren’t used yet will likely be used in the future.”

GAMERTELL: Is there any chance we could see a Conduit 3, if all goes well? Or perhaps even see a variation for the 3DS? There was that 3DS proof of concept demo of Conduit 2 at GDC…

Pellas: “We would love to make a Conduit 3, but that really depends on how well Conduit 2 does. As for the 3DS, we really like the hardware and have already developed a tech demo that involved portions of Conduit 2 running of the hardware. As for what the next steps are, we are unfortunately not talking about those yet.”

GAMERTELL: Speaking of the 3DS, how do you feel about Nintendo’s new handheld, both technically and just in general?

Antognoli: “The 3DS hardware is definitely cool. There is a lot of power packed into that little package and as I mentioned before, we are already developing tech for it. Personally, I think the augmented reality stuff is incredible and has really jumpstarted some interesting conversations internally.”

GAMERTELL: Now that WiiWare demos have begun popping up on the Wii Shop Channel, can we expect to see demos for High Voltage games like Gyrostarr?

Pellas: “We currently have no plans to offer demos of our previously released WiiWare games.”

GAMERTELL: High Voltage Software tends to make a balance of games that are more for advanced gamers, like The Conduit, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and Hunter: The Reckoning, and ones that are for children and casual gamers, like Lego Racers, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Country Dance. Is there a variety or genre of game you prefer making, or do you enjoy the general challenge regardless of the final result?

Antognoli: “It’s awesome to work on a variety of games. It keeps things fresh and helps round your skills out by exposing you to a variety of ways of doing things. While I love working on core-games like Conduit, I also enjoy working on other games.”

GAMERTELL: Previously, High Voltage’s Eric Nofsinger said that High Voltage Software wants to make Wii games that don’t “look like crap.” Aside from games like The Conduit and Conduit 2, do you have any other plans for similar quality games?

Pellas: “We work very hard on all of our games and we develop each of our games to look good and play well, regardless of platform.”

GAMERTELL: Tablets are huge now. How is High Voltage Software trying to capitalize on that market?

Pellas: “The market is interesting and we are definitely not ignoring it. We unfortunately can’t talk about anything official yet.”

GAMERTELL: Finally, what’s the best shooter on the market right now, excluding Call of Duty?

Antognoli:Conduit 2!”

Pellas: “Definitely Conduit 2! We just spent 24 straight hours playing the game and I was left wanting more.”

Conduit 2 launched on April 19, 2011. It’s $49.99 and features not only a robust single player experience, but also a local multiplayer mode for up to four people and online multiplayer for up to 12 people that doesn’t require friend codes to play online against other people. There are still friend codes, but you can play against random people without entering any, if you’d like, and add random people to your rivals list.

Read [Gamertell] Site [High Voltage Software]

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