Although The Conduit had a lot of hype to live up to, it proved to be a pretty solid first-person shooter despite its flaws. The same can arguably not be said of its sequel, Conduit 2, and senior producer Kevin Sheller explains why the game felt so rough around the edges.
As part of a Gamasutra feature, Sheller spoke about the effect of readying demos for shows and conventions had on the development timeline:
Members of any team thrive when they have clear goals to accomplish and the deadline in which to accomplish them — especially when these are defined early and often... Unfortunately, the milestones were never defined with enough detail, nor given to the team early enough. Instead, many of the goals given to the team were based on meeting requirements for product demos given at various consumer, media, and developer shows and conventions.
You would think that having a promising demo to show off would mean that the finished game itself would be equally as compelling. Not necessarily. Sheller explained the detrimental effect the hype surrounding Conduit 2 had on meeting deadlines:
Often this resulted in the team diverting from meeting an actual milestone in favor of prepping the game for the next show. This approach resulted in awesome demos at the expense of the completed game. Had the goals been based more on the production timeline, been given better definition, and been revisited throughout development, the team would have been able to focus better and the end of project push would not have been as elongated.
Chief creative officer Eric Nofsinger has also given a dissection of what he felt went right with Conduit 2, and also the things that went wrong:
The first positive that Nofsinger talked about — which was evident from the beginning of the Conduit series — was that the studio was willing to take on feedback from the fans. Its Quantum 3 engine had also matured, the team felt like it knew how to get the most out of it, and because the studio had started on the multiplayer side of the game early, it was one area that felt sizeable and refined. Compared to its predecessor, Conduit 2 was a more developed and evolved IP and the general motivation and morale of the team was something that Nofsinger felt was responsible for making the game what it is today.
That's not to say there weren't any bumps in the road. As Sheller had already pointed out, the lack of clearly defined milestones proved to be detrimental to the overall end product and ending up rushing the development of the game. Nailing the script with the right tone proved to be a difficult and time-consuming task. With other IPs that needed working on, like Tournament of Legends and The Grinder, the studio had to divide its attention up elsewhere. Lastly, the studio had to say goodbye to numerous staff members during 2010 as High Voltage Software laid off 25 employees.
Do you agree with these points? To hear Nofsinger talk more in depth about the highs and lows of Conduit 2, head over to Gamasutra.