Can you state your full name and duties with High Voltage for the record?
Dan: My name is Dan Kaufman, I'm the Software Development Director for High Voltage Software. First and foremost, I make sure we are staffed up with highly skilled programmers who can work on games as challenging and with the potential of The Conduit. I also oversee the development of technology at the studio, allowing HVS to achieve its strategic goal of being able to make any game for any platform, on time and on budget.
Matt: My name is Matt Corso. I'm the Creative Director at High Voltage Software. I've been with the studio for almost 10 years and have worked on lots of titles including the Xbox Hunter: The Reckoning games back in the day. I'm in charge of managing the studio's art and game design departments.
Rob: I'm Rob Nicholls. I've been with High Voltage for almost four years and have been a video game designer for over 10. Currently, I am the Lead Game Designer on The Conduit. It's my job to conceptualize and provide structure to ideas, maintain the game vision, as well as oversee all of the design activity.
Can you give us a breakdown on what The Conduit is all about? What does the story center around? Does it take place on Earth? What time period is the game set in?
Rob: The Conduit is a first person adventure game that takes place on Earth in a fictional near future. The main character, "Mr. Ford," works for an undisclosed government agency that has assigned him to investigate a possible extra-terrestrial encounter. The whole situation ends up going terribly wrong when the player discovers that there's a lot more going on behind the scenes than anybody could have realized. Players are going to be very surprised when they discover the real truth that surrounds us all.
In some of the screens, we see the protagonist is dressed (or are they two different protagonists?) in what seems to be a tuxedo, while other screens show him/her in a really badass blue suit. What kind of role will the suit play in the game? Will it offer the player any kind of special abilities?
Rob: The agency that Mr. Ford works for has developed its own unique technology that goes far beyond standard military weapons and gear. Our protagonist starts with some equipment given to him by his mysterious contact, "Mr. Adams". Later in the game, Ford acquires the "badass blue suit", which is actually a high-tech piece of battle armor. That explains the blue power suit that you see in the screenshots. The suit offers many combat enhancements to help get the job done right; greater jumps, better health regeneration, and damage resistance.
Matt: As for the tuxedo, it's actually more like a men's business suit. Guys like Mr. Ford need to look their best when investigating alien conspiracies. Unfortunately, they sometimes find themselves unprepared for when the truth starts shooting back at them. After a little help from his boss, Ford will not only acquire the blue suit, but also new weapons and devices that provide cutting-edge combat capabilities.
Would this graphics engine have been possible on the GameCube? What were your biggest challenges when creating the Quantum 3 engine?
Dan: Interestingly, many things we are doing on the Wii would technically have been possible on the GameCube. However, we are able to render many more visual effect elements per scene on the Wii due to its higher CPU / GPU processing speeds and increased memory.
Matt: Maybe we could have gotten close, but we needed Wii's own specific enhancements to pull off the stuff that we're doing with our game.
Can we expect better-than-Xbox levels of detail and shaders in The Conduit?
Matt: Let's just say that the team has pretty much had to ignore the graphics of the other titles that have come out on the Wii so far. The team says that it feels a lot more like they're making a 360/PS3 title than a Wii title. Our Quantum 3 engine tech is amazing, and when players see the final polished results, it's going to look incredible.
Rob: Our Quantum 3 engine has provided us with the means to produce some really amazing graphics despite the limited resources available on the Wii. That and we have some truly amazing artists working for us!
Dan: The Wii has a fixed function graphics processing pipeline, so it isn't really a direct comparison and the vertex / pixel processing on the system is not technically done via "shaders". What HVS has done is find super creative ways of utilizing the fixed functionality of the Wii graphics HW to produce effects that have historically required shaders to create. This includes bump and environment mapping, end to end illumination, projected lights and shadows, interactive water, HDR, bloom, emissive materials and a host of other high end effects. What's awesome to me is being able to offer these kinds of next-gen visual details on a platform that also allows us to make unique FPS gameplay due to the amazing control scheme of the Wii.