Wii Fanboy interviews High Voltage on The Conduit (continued)

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Wii Fanboy interviews High Voltage on The Conduit (continued)

Stylistically, it's been compared to Half-Life and Perfect Dark. What games have inspired design choices in The Conduit?

Rob: One of our goals from the very start was to make a fast-paced accessible FPS. To that end we looked at and stole shamelessly from mega-hits like Halo and Half-Life, recent titles like Resistance: Fall of Man and Metroid Prime Corruption, as well as classics like Goldeneye for the N64. We wanted to pick the best features from these titles, the things that made them fun and memorable and have features like those in The Conduit.

Matt: We've done art direction for so many different titles, and we've learned a lot about establishing a strong and cohesive visual style. The Conduit's art direction has come mainly from taking real world styles and locations and combining them with our own alien technology concepts and aesthetic design preferences. I suppose that it looks similar to those other games, but in the end it's The Conduit's own unique premise that has largely driven the artistic vision. When combined with the features that are specific to our engine tech, The Conduit will look stunning by the time it reaches the player's hands.

Will there be a calibration option, so we can "aim down the sights?"

Rob: One of the things we learned in our development process was that customization of controls is essential to an enjoyable gameplay experience. To that end, we allow players to customize sensitivity, dead zone sizes, as well as control layouts. But, if you mean, can you actually use the iron-sights of your guns, that answer is "not exactly". The reason being that several of our weapons are alien in nature and don't even have iron-sights... but you will have sort of an alien vision mode with some of the weapons.

Matt: There'll be on-the-fly, in-game look sensitivity adjustments, as well as a fully map-able control scheme, down to the button, in the game's front end UI. Players will be able to map the game's controls completely to their own liking. There'll even be a couple of alternate control methods for those that don't care as much for the Wii pointer style of directional turning. There'll be lots of options for maximum playability.


There hasn't been much word on who the publisher for The Conduit is. Rumor has it, Nintendo is actually going to publish the game. Can you comment on that? Can you announce one at this time?

Matt: I can neither confirm nor deny this, senator. ;) All I will say is that thanks to the explosion of interest in this title, we've had a lot of publishers knocking on our door.

Control-wise, will there be options for other methods outside of the Wiimote and nunchuk? Will it support the GameCube controller? Classic controller?

Dan: There are movement and weapon functions in The Conduit that require the Wii Remote's pointer, accelerometer, depth, and cursor rotation functionality in order to perform. The Conduit isn't your standard ported-over-to-the-Wii style of game. Using the Classic or GC controller kind of defeats the purpose of what we are looking to do.

Matt: With The Conduit we want to redefine first person shooter controls. Hard core FPS gamers that have played the game have told me that they are now convinced that Wii is the best system for the genre. When you play it you'll realize very quickly that the Wii Remote is an incredible control device for this type of game. It just feels amazing to play.

Rob: I think if you are buying a Wii, you're buying it to make use of its motion sensitive controls, which are tailor made for an FPS game.

Aside from the controls, what are the game's strengths that separate it from other existing PC/console FPSes?

Rob: I would say that would be the ASE or "All Seeing Eye" device. In game, this piece of hardware allows a player to adjust the "phase state" of things. This makes invisible enemies and hazards not only visible, but able to take damage. It also makes invisible cover and platforms become solid, leading to more gameplay. We also reveal secret puzzle locks that must be solved to get to special weapons.

Dan: We've put a solid amount of effort into enemy AI for The Conduit. A pet peeve of mine is single player FPS games where the enemies just stand there getting blasted, and don't seem to be reacting to the world around them. In The Conduit, our bad guys can hear and see, understand the use of cover, have variable levels of aggression, use grenades effectively, advance and retreat, and can determine when the player is susceptible to attack (i.e. reloading, exposed and moving in their firing cone). I think focusing a higher than normal amount of the dev time on AI makes our single player experience better than most other FPS titles out there. Of course, the overall look we're able to achieve with our advanced engine tech is also something the makes The Conduit a superior FPS game IMO.

Matt: I think that going back to the Wii Remote, The Conduit has a unique control system that feels more like a VR experience than the typical spring loaded joystick controlled videogame. I also agree that the ASE device offers a unique style of gameplay that hasn't really been seen before in other games. Having the ability to discover and phase useful objects into the environment to assist with combat is a lot of fun. Beyond that, it's just rock solid action all throughout the game. There'll be fierce enemies, bad ass weapons, and white knuckle battles. It's going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

Does the game run at 60fps? 30fps?

Matt: If we can hit closer to 60, then that will be great! But for right now we are shooting for a steady 30fps, with zero drops in framerate. The whole team swears by the fact that a solid 30fps still feels great. Even our studio's most hard core PC FPS gamers think that The Conduit feels just right at 30fps. The quality will be there, and the game will look and run amazing by the time that it ships.

Dan: The game will run absolutely solid at 30fps. For HVS, choice is either to have less visual splendor and run at 60fps or achieve the look we want for the game and run at 30fps. 30fps is a frame rate that is plenty responsive for FPS gaming and we are valuing the increased visual detail we can offer over the slightly smoother gameplay we might otherwise get by scaling this back.

High Voltage has made an adventure game/minigame collection for the Xbox (Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, also on PS2 and PC), and now they're making an FPS for the Wii. Is this ironic or strategy?

Rob: I like to think it's beautiful strategy. At the time Magna Cum Laude came out, the Adventure game market was woefully barren. So we found a title and a publisher willing to take the risk to revitalize that genre. Now we're trying to do the same thing with FPS's on the Wii. We feel that The Conduit will be like rain in the desert, which seems to be the case judging by the online response.

Matt: Diversity is key. We don't like to sell ourselves short by sticking with one genre or style of game. High Voltage knows that it's okay to try new things. We've learned a lot after 15 years working with so many different publishers, developers, and licensors. I could go on about how licensed game restrictions, publisher mandates, and drop dead unmovable release dates ultimately affect the quality of your game, but this project is very different. The Conduit is something completely new for our studio. This game will rock!

The company seems very (vocally) confident about the ability of The Conduit to revolutionize Wii gaming. Was it always in the plan to build up so much hype, or was the hype a natural product of enthusiasm? Has the hype been more than expected?

Rob: The hype has certainly been more than I expected and I am grateful for it. However, it is a two-edged sword. While the hype has helped give us the pick of litter for a publisher, it does mean we have a LOT to live up to. But I think we are up for the challenge. =)

Dan: There aren't many large scale multiplayer games for the Wii at this point, nor any that push the Wii graphics HW to the extent we are. So, from these standpoints – The Conduit will be revolutionary for the Wii gaming market. It is HVS's belief that although there are great FPS games on the 360 and PS3 – what they all lack is the kind of unique motion sensing based control schemes that makes The Conduit for the Wii more fun to play. Giving gamers a great looking, great playing, great controlling FPS title is something we feel is worth hyping!

Matt: The plan all along was to maximize the potential of the system, and then build a game that showcases the engine tech and the fun of the Wii Remote. Every developer talks big about their own game, but no one at High Voltage could say for sure how well our audience would react to the screenshots and gameplay video release. We've always just been focused on making a great game, and the result is that The Conduit seems to be building its own hype. And we're very appreciative of all the kind words and support we've received from the Wii community.

Is The Conduit sharing tech with Animales de la Muerte? Where did the concept for that one come from? Is it still on track? Really, anything we could learn about Animales de la Muerte would be wonderful.

Dan: Animales is using the same engine tech as The Conduit, but in a much different way since it's a 'toon shaded game.

Matt: I don't want to say too much more about the title until it's closer to completion, but I will say that it's going to be bloody fun. By the way, much respect to our friends in Mexico. However, screw PETA...no animal in this game is safe!

Anything about multiplayer? Many of the folks interested in the game are looking to have some kind of online multiplayer, preferably something on-par with Medal of Honor: Heroes 2. Are you trying to implement Wi-Fi compatibility? Local multiplayer?

Dan: We are working closely with Nintendo to be able to provide the kind of multiplayer gameplay that we know the market wants.

Matt: Nintendo has been really helping us out with technical support but we still have more questions that will need be answered before we can release any specifics about our multiplayer modes. Obviously we want to be competitive with the other online console games, but we'd rather wait until we've got something great to show off before we make any announcements about this very important feature.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!

When not writing about games, we enjoy talking to the people that make them. Be sure to check out our interview with Wii mastermind Johnny Lee, as well as our chat with Didian Malenfant from Ready at Dawn on Okami for Wii. Oh, and don't forget our chat with Hudson's Mike Samachisa on Deca Sports.
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