News Article

High Voltage Explains What Went Wrong With Conduit 2

Posted by Trevor Chan

Plenty of mistakes to learn from

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.


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User Comments (37)



jkshaz said:

For some reason to me it sort of comes off as an excuse. ie "We didn't design anything badly we just needed focus". Then again, though, I didn't think the game was as terrible as a lot of others clearly did.



warioswoods said:

I've seen similar things happen when development (of a database-driven project, application, etc) gets eclipsed by the demos and presentations, so that you end up using hurried and chaotic techniques to impress the constituents with what you'll be able to do, while continuously falling behind on actually going back to rewrite or recode the internal architecture of the project properly.



erv said:

Creativity and design isn't systemized. One of the big mistakes "management" makes within multimedia industries.

Once I finally find an employer with a vision instead of two balance sheets at the end of the year, I'll stick. Otherwise, I stick to branding consult and leave the choices to themselves.



Just10 said:

I still think it's a great game. They definitely improved its online functions. I just think they could have spent less time on the single player and more on the CPU A.I. and detailed the graphics for the local and online multiplayer better. They were quite a few bugs, however. Nothing too obnoxious, though.



Chris720 said:

It failed because it's just crap. The story mode is short and boring, the voice acting is awful and the gameplais very slow and the controls felt very rigid compaared to other FPS' out there.

The Multiplayer is nice and all, but the amount of weapon spam and no "balancing" as such to make it fair, literally no weapon rivalled another and most were just all gimmicks, they look nice but they can't kill anything!

The other reasonn is The Conduit never really broke ground and made a impact and it was just atrocious leading to Conduit 2 being named and shamed because of the first outing.

Another thing too... it was never its "own game", it took parts from Halo, took parts from CoD, took parts from other FPS' and meshed them together into a really awful game.



C-195 said:

Well, at least HVS is learning from it's mistakes; this probably mean's Conduit 3ds will be far superiour to both 1 & 2.
xDemon720x: Your on the verge of trolling here, you've already stated in the forums that you hate it.
On a side note, a few of your arguments fall flat with me, did you even stick around long enough to get all the patches? Online is pretty balanced now, except for the stealth perk and the SMAW, but HVS is working to fix that. "Can't kill anything!" I've been killed with every weapon in the game!



WaveGhoul said:

HVS, them and their lame excuses, I can't stand the company.
They can't pull on ounce of creativity or imagination out of their A****.

Have fun making your shiny pretty graphics with up to code partical effects and having trillions of customizable options for your own precise Wii remote controls....While leaving a complete empty void for everything else that is much more important. HVS is one of the worst developers in the industry the way I see it. Any decent game developer could do what they do in their sleep...WayForward for example, which is another none japan related developer destroys them in every sense of the word.



BulbasaurusRex said:

You can argue that Conduit 2 is mediocre (I personally think it's great, and the continuous patching has really improved things), but it's clearly better than the first game. If you claim that the first game is "pretty solid," then this sequel is at the very least the same.

EDIT: By the way, there's a new patch out today:

1. Armory Exploit - If anyone tries to enter the game with two primary weapons and no Armory Upgrade, the game automatically equips them with a pistol as their secondary weapon.

2. Rapid Pausing Exploit - The gravity exploit recently discovered has been fixed.

3. Blinding Powder Adjustment - If you melee someone who has Blinding Powder equipped, the meleeing player is blinded, creating another defensive use for Blinding Powder. (supposedly a new way to counter the Stealth perk)



Kirk said:

That's not what went wrong.

The designers/directors/producers just don't quite know what makes a very good game, or certainly how to make their game a very good game.



komicturtle said:

If the controls weren't jittery and people didn't run on Dial-Up, then I'd be playing this game continuously.



AVahne said:

My suggestion for HVS:
Forget demos and showings. Do what Nintendo does and only show your game when its near completion so you can put more time and effort working on the actual game.



Cheeseknight said:

So I've been around here for over a year but just now making an account so I can post my .02 for this article.

After that garbage HVS pulled with, I will not buy their games anymore. For me, that tops the Activision fiasco. I have too much respect for the journalist lifestyle for me to put up with a company that tries to sabotage freelance writers. That's not cool guys.

Gyrostarr is the one and only HVS game I will ever own.



King_Boo said:

maybe the grinder will take everything they've learned and be an A game or better, it has been in development for what 3 years or close to it.



Henmii said:

"High Voltage Explains What Went Wrong With Conduit 2"

I know what went wrong: No inspiration inside the persons working at High Voltage!! If you don't have it, don't make games!!!



motang said:

I'm actually looking forward to th Grinder, hopefully it won't be canceled.



Bankai said:

Interesting. So out of a feature "What went right and wrong with Conduit 2" you got the headline "What went wrong with Conduit 2."



Burn said:

I have nothing against Conduit 2, in fact, I'd put down cash right now for Conduit 3 (but chances of that are unlikely).



Burn said:

I have nothing against Conduit 2, in fact, I'd put down cash right now for Conduit 3 (but chances of that are unlikely).



composerzane said:

Classic controller unalterably maps duck and sprint (IIRC) to the same button. Sprint cannot be held down in its default setting without losing control of the right control stick, and does not continue if you release the button. Lame.



JaxxRaxor said:

First of all, I think that Conduit 2 has great online multiplayer. The ability to patch means that in quality the online multiplayer will eventually supercede the patchless online multiplayer of Wii FPS contemporaries Black Ops and GoldenEye.

Second of all, the biggest mistake is not with HVS itself but with Sega. Unlike the first game they basically refused to market the sequel. They made a big mistake releasing the game the same day Portal 2 and the new Mortal Kombat were coming out and not bothering to put in any advertisments. It is the lack of advertisments and being put up against high profile games, not the mixed metacritic/gamerankings score that made the game sell worse than The Conduit.

HVS major failings was in the single player. Despite two major delays from when it was supposed to come out, it seems they didn't really work on the game. There are quite a few bugs and some major performance issues that happen during the campaign that HVS failed to make. Also the campaign teeters between being a paraody of other FPS games and a straight conspiracy shooter, which helped make the single player campaign worse than the first game (in my opinion).

Also in terms of the Grinder, they don't have a publisher yet (despite a tentative release date of Halloween 2011) and with Sega's poor treatment of Conduit 2 it's unlikely they will publish HVS's newest game. So there is a good chance it will be canceled.



C-195 said:

All the comment's here are either people bashing HVS or giving them tonnes of praise, not one stretch of middle ground to be seen, sigh.
JaxxRaxor: every delay was so they could work on the mulitplayer.
WaveBoy: do you like ANY FPS's?
WarioWoods: Nails should be made to wear helmets around you



SwerdMurd said:

wow I was expecting this article to be like 20 pages.

(there were a lot of things wrong with it)



TheGreenSpiny said:

@16: Calling that guy a freelance journalist is like calling Ed Wood a film director. Niether of them has any right being in thier chosen profession. His "review" was worst peice of unprofessional garbage I've ever read. HVS just gave him a taste of his own medicine.

@waveboy: We get it. You don't like FPS. You like 2D games. Move on. I doubt Wayforward could do any better seeing as how thier 3D games suck. And I'm not sure why everyone rips HVS for it's lack of creativity... It's not as if Wayforwards 2D designs are all that original, like the Conduit series they riff from multiple sources.



JaxxRaxor said:

You don't think my post was middle of the road? I said I thought the single player portion of Conduit 2 is mediocre at best and worst than the first game while I praised the multiplayer?

I didn't know that Black Ops on the Wii gets patches. I assumed it didn't because the Wii version doesn't get any of the DLC maps that the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions receive.



Cheeseknight said:

@28 A taste of his own medicine? Surely you are joking - you actually think that it's right for people to have a temper tantrum when their games are reviewed poorly?

I said nothing about the quality of the review, only HVS's juvenile way of demonizing the reviewer. It was childish and immature, and something I expect out of a celebrity NOT a (once) respected developer.



Splat said:

Was it really that bad? I own the first one it's a decent game but nothing special.



Splat said:

Sorry for the two posts in a row but while I have not played Conduit 2 I find it hard to believe that it is on same level as Black Ops. I got to give Activision alot of credit for not watering down the Wii version of their game like alot of other developers do. Like I said I haven't played C2 so I can't say %100 which is better but Black Ops is easily the best FPS I have played on the Wii.



wanderlustwarrior said:

To be honest, what I'd heard was "we were so busy trying to keep fire on the hype, we forgot to make the game".

I don't love or hate High Voltage. I find Gyrostarr fun, even if I don't play it often. Never really cared for the Conduit series once I'd seen footage of the shipped product in action (shooting the environment not doing anything is inexcuseable), and I never cared for FPSes in the first place.

Also, High voltage had been disappointing ever since they let their company website fall 3 years behind, only updating it because of The Conduit.

So at this point, I'm just, meh.



Acidfoxdyi831 said:

its sux things were that bad because i loved the first conduit and i jus wanted to cry about how bad c2 was. hopefully if it comes down to make c3 it'll be the best way possible



luminalace said:

I liked Conduit 1 but hated Conduit 2. Also as a COD Wii online player, I think Conduit 2 failed in that department too. Still I agree that their engine is solid but that does not make a fun game!



Junkface said:

Please forgive my ignorance but is there any way they could put out a patch to address some of the control or other issues?



Blaze said:

Your saying it failes basically because it didn't have a set date to be finished by? That's a pretty lame excuse!

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