Interview / The Conduit developer High Voltage Software talks shop
TVGB: You mention the Wii remote controls being great for an FPS but it seems it can be a tricky thing to get right. Red Steel is an example of this. How are you working with them? How will they work?
MC: First-person shooters are made for the Wii, and with the first-person shooters coming out so far they’ve done a really good job with the control system. When I first started playing Wii FPSs, I knew that what was missing in other games was that direct interface. You’ve really got a winner there with the control schemes.
RN: Props to any team that’s developed any game on the Wii. They laid out a lot of frame work. No comparisons should be drawn between The Conduit and Red Steel because it feels nothing like that. The closest comparison that could be drawn to is probably Metroid in terms of how solid it feels. Some of the ways we’ve implemented things, we’ve taken more from Medal of Honor in that regard. We’ve really tweaked the camera system for turning because you really do feel that you’re very in control of your character. I think the problem with those games is that you feel like it’s a cursor when you turn and move, where with our control scheme you can just pretty much immediately attack to the side or behind you because of the way we’ve balanced it out.
EN: There are loads of adjustments you can make with the controller too. You can adjust the dead zone, the sensitivity of how fast your cursor moves, and we’ll also allow you to customize the control scheme so you put jump on the trigger as apposed to shooting or melee at one spot or not. The one thing we learned is that everybody is different and we’re giving people the controls to suit their own taste.
TVGB: Two words. Voice and chat. Is it coming?
RN: We are pushing really hard for it and still have details to work out. We have some options to accomplish voice chat, our engineering staff is working very closely with Nintendo. If High Voltage has its way, there will be voice chat. It all boils down to can we get the technology in time or not.
TVGB: So what about the multiplayer that may or may not be accompanied by this voice chat?
EN: We’re currently working hot and heavy on multiplayer. There’s still some components that we can do simulations on to determine how many players we can have. It’s looking like 16 players is going to be our number but that’s still TBD. We’re working very closely with Nintendo about getting the most out of the system and we’ve been working on getting the most out of the multiplayer. We’re shooting for what folks would expect form a high-end multiplayer but with the unique game mechanics of The Conduit.
RN: Our plan is to use the ASE in multipayer as long as the technology is there to support it. We want to use it as much as we can.
TVGB: And how will this multiplayer run? Friend codes?
RN: A lot of that is still being determined. We are working with Nintendo on it.
EN: We have been looking closely at the online components on all the consoles and we’re trying to give the best user experiences on the Wii. I’ve had my own share of headaches with some titles on the Wii. I think a lot of that was ironed out with Mario Kart and I think consumers will continue to see improvements.
TVGB: Switching back to the single-player — can you describe the gameplay a bit? Will it all be fast shooting or will there be stealth areas and the like?
RN: Our game is composed of several different levels or missions that have a lot of variety. Some are more non-stop action. It also depends on the various puzzle aspects; you could clear out a room but have to unlock a door. We like to think that at the core it’s a very fast paced action shooter with some puzzle elements. If you like to snipe you can do that. If you run in and like to be John Wayne, we work for that too. Then like Half-Life we have puzzle things, but it’s primarily action.
TVGB: How involved is the story, or are you more focused on just providing some fast paced FPS action for the Wii?
RN: From the research and everything we’ve done there are 3 types of gamers. One is the kind who says ‘where am I supposed to go and what am I supposed to shoot?’. But the higher level gamers want more story so we want to appeal to them all. We think we have a pretty robust story and we’re trying to do some things that tell it very stylistically. We want to start posing a lot of questions, especially here in the first product we’ll be dropping a lot of breadcrumbs to see if people pick them up.
MC: So, yes, there is a robust story. We want to make it as robust as possible but we won’t be telling you everything.
EN: We’re telling stories through in-game events and a lot different technology. We didn’t want to tell a story where you were sitting around with long cinematics, which might be beautiful, but we didn’t want the player to watch a lot of movies.
RN: Kind of like Portal, the story is there in our game if players want to look around and pay attention to it. But if they want to just run around and shoot and blow things up, we’ve got them covered too.
TVGB: Was that talk of a sequel I heard?
MC: We are anticipating no fewer than 30 Conduits. (laughs)
EN: We would like to see a sequel. We’ve got enough story in this and enough ideas that we can take this for a long time to come. But of course the market is going to determine sequels.
MC: We’re building a brand with The Conduit and we want to make it better with every version if it happens.