Despite its flaws I really enjoyed The Conduit, and for all of the new things it tried on the Wii I thought
it did a pretty good job. It did have a few first-time jitters, however, that kept it from reaching its true potential. High Voltage Software has taken the constructive criticism of their fans to heart, and are readying the highly ambitious sequel, Conduit 2, for release early next year. I talked with the game's producer, Keith Hladik, about the many improvements and new features in the sequel.
Hello, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
The Conduit’s gameplay felt like an homage to classic console shooters—GoldenEye 64, Perfect Dark, Timesplitters. From what I’ve seen of Conduit 2, I’m getting much more of a Modern Warfare vibe; am I that far off?
We’re honored to be grouped with such classic shooters. One of the goals with the first game was to bring our love affair with the First Person Shooter to the Wii. For Conduit 2, we looked at what other games were offering on other systems and felt fans of The Conduit and shooters in general would appreciate the same gameplay elements brought over to Conduit 2. We are still whole-heartily an original Sci-Fi shooter, and take solace in the fact that both the gameplay and setting we offer is very unique to the Wii.
The first game had some great plot threads—John Adams as ousted Sumerian god Enlil, the number stations, the messages on the walls—but it was all a bit vague, as if hinting at a much bigger story. Are those threads coming together in Conduit 2, and will the plot expand into something more elaborate?
I’m glad you picked up on the subtlety in the first game! :) Conduit 2 brings players right into the middle of the story this time around. We aren’t trying to put it off to the side as we did in the first game. We have a lot more story elements and we are deeply integrating those elements into the gameplay this time around.
When we last saw Agent Ford he was jumping through a conduit, wearing standard Trust armor and with Prometheus in tow. Conduit 2’s box art shows him rocking some much heavier gear—did Ford get an upgrade, and is Prometheus’s head still stuck in the ASE?
Conduit 2 picks up right after the first game and sure enough, good ol’ Prometheus is still stuck in the ASE! Without going into too much detail, Michael Ford will be finding out there is much more to his battle with Adams than he suspected. Players are in for a few surprises and we can’t wait to see what fan reactions are.
Speaking of the All Seeing Eye, I’ve heard it’s playing a much bigger role in gameplay this time. Can you talk about some of its new functionality?
The ASE definitely has a few new tricks up its sleeve this time around. One example is that the ASE can now scan hidden objects to award blueprints to new weapons or coordinates to new levels. Players will definitely want to explore the world this time around because you never know if that dented vent leads to a secret room where a powerful weapon can be found.
We’ve seen some pretty cool weapons so far—my favorite is the vortex gun, just like that scene in District 9. What other new weapons are in the game, and will classics like the Carbonizer and Striker return?
We are very proud to say that nearly all the weapons from the first game make a return in Conduit 2. When we were designing the new weapons, we drew from many resources like novels, comics, and movies but the minds of our team was where a lot of the more incredible weapon designs came from and those are the ones we are most proud of.
The first game had some very talented voice actors. Which actors are returning for the sequel, and are there any big name voice actors for new characters?
Due to scheduling conflicts none of the actors from the previous game are returning. Conduit 2 features a new group of very talented actors that we believe do a fantastic job making our characters come to life.
The Conduit’s graphics set new standards for the Wii. What improvements can we expect in both the Quantum 3 engine and the art direction for Conduit 2?
We have made a lot of enhancements since the first game. The engine has matured, the art direction is improved, and the game design is more focused and fun. With The Conduit, the engine was being developed while we were making the first game, so a lot of the gameplay that was designed to take advantage of the tech never came together as we had hoped. For Conduit 2, our Designers and Artist were able to stretch their legs and make Conduit 2 a much better looking and playing game.
I thought The Conduit’s main theme was pretty catchy, and the level music wasn’t bad either. Will we hear some familiar tunes in the sequel, and what plans do you have for new music?
We have a really talented group of musicians at HVS who are crafting the music for Conduit 2. You will definitely hear some familiar themes, but we have also incorporated more orchestral elements that ebb and flow with the game play. The music in The Conduit was loop based and we felt some what repetitive. This time around, the music has been tailored for each scene and is tied much closer to the narrative of the gameplay.
The first game had a great multiplayer but cheating hackers ruined the fun in short order. What steps are being taken to prevent cheating in Conduit 2? Can we expect server moderating, patches to plug exploits, that sort of thing?
We have been working with Nintendo on banning hackers since the first game’s release. We are going to support downloadable patches and hot fixes that will help fix exploits found. We are also taking measures to ensure the same types of hacks on the first game do not happen on Conduit 2. I obviously can’t go into much more detail other than to say we are working hard to preemptively thwart hacking in Conduit 2 and will continue to work hard on solving any problems that may arise.
I’ve heard the multiplayer has seen a massive overhaul, with a new matchmaking structure, a class system and a full set of suit upgrades and perks to go with it. Could you tell me more about that?
We’re really excited about Conduit 2’s multiplayer. One thing in particular is that players can set up to 4 load-outs for their characters. Players can choose from a wide variety of weapons and suit upgrades. Players can now take two weapons and up to four suit upgrades with them into multiplayer matches. With so many weapons and suit upgrades available (some unlocked), players can play how they want.
Another big feature for Conduit 2 is the inclusion of split-screen multiplayer, which supports up to four player multiplayer on the same screen. We are offering an extremely wide array of multiplayer options for Wii owners that just aren’t found in any other game. With 12-players online, at least 12 maps, 14 unique game modes, voice-chat via the PDP Headbanger headset, Friends and Rivals chat, and a huge variety of weapons and suit upgrades. Players are getting a very robust multiplayer offering along with a thoroughly improved single player campaign!
Is post-release DLC possible?
Yes, we are discussing many options at this time but we are not ready to discuss anything solid yet.
The Conduit had a slick special edition bundle with some nice box art and a few extras. Are there plans for a Conduit 2 collector’s editions with cool swag? I’ve heard rumors of Conduit 2-branded Headbanger headsets…
We certainly have something up our sleeve but cannot disclose any of the details yet though, sorry.
It was recently announced that Conduit 2 has been pushed back. Are there any specific reasons for this, and is it still on track for an early 2011 release?
We want to create the best game possible and after GDC and E3, we received a lot of great feedback. This along with our own internal examination of the product allowed us to push for more time so that we could attain that goal. We think gamers will appreciate the extra polish that the team is able to add to the experience when they get to play the game early next year.
We'd like to thank Keith for taking the time to answer our questions.