RoboAwesome interview with Josh Olson of HVS.
The sequel to 2009′s award-winning shooter, The Conduit, is upon us. I recently had the great opportunity to ask Josh Olson — Producer of Conduit 2 — some questions regarding the highly anticipated Wii exclusive shooter. Read on to get the latest scoop on Conduit 2, but be warned: there is talk of the mighty sasquatch and a photo too awesome for the average human eye to behold.
RoboAwesome: Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what your role in the production of The Conduit 2 is?
Josh Olson, Producer.
RA: Tell us a little about the name of the game – I’ve seen it just as “Conduit 2” on the official website as opposed to “The Conduit 2”. Are there plans to include a fancy subtitle?
JO: We got rid of the “The” for being too fancy. Fancy we’re not. Cute perhaps. But not fancy. We’re sticking with “Conduit 2”.
RA: Regarding the first Conduit game, what are the things you disliked about it? Would you say the team has taken experiences from working on the first game to help improve this next installment?
Pictured: Josh Olson of High Voltage Software, Conduit 2 Producer.
JO: We had a ton of lessons learned in the first game that we’re working really hard to rectify in Conduit 2. The great thing moving forward with the sequel is that so many of the systems and features were already in place – the controls, the customization, the engine, the multiplayer – and that allows us to really focus on finding the fun this time around and not spend so much on figuring out the tech. Telling a better story, improving the AI, and embracing the sci-fi are all focus points in Conduit 2 – things I think we didn’t do a real great job of the first time around.
RA: So we’ve heard that the game will have “big vistas” and “branching paths” in levels. Can you give some more details as to the amount of exploration in each level?
JO: One of the shortcomings of The Conduit (Damn that “The”!) was that while we conceptually had a cool location – DC has so many iconic landmarks and buildings – the player spent most of the game inside an office complex or underground bunker and you didn’t really get a feel for DC. You weren’t outside much. We’re really trying to offer more of those open environments to players this time around and avoid the corridor-room-corridor-room feel of the first game. We want to open things up more and have some longer range engagements. On the exploration front, we’re populating levels with a lot more conspiracy objects and things to find – which are linked to our unlockables system – to encourage players to spend some more time looking around and exploring.
RA: The first major boss fight of the game is with a giant sea serpent (which is totally awesome). What other huge boss fights and “wow moments” can we expect in The Conduit 2?
JO: We’re not quite ready yet to reveal any of the other bosses, though we joke internally about having the leviathan pop up in every level of the game. Siberia? Sure, why not. Agartha? Of course! We’re much more sci-fi in C2 so we can explain it all away by blaming the fnords, or the large hadron collider, or sasquatch. That hairy bastard is definitely up to something.
As for the “wow” moments, it’s something that we didn’t do enough of in the first game – they were largely added at the end of development. This time around, they’re part of the initial design and intended to really add some oomph to the experience and tell a better story. They’re definitely not tacked on.
RA: Instead of pacing the game similar to other mission based shooters such as Call of Duty, Atlantis seems to act as a sort of hub world between missions in The Conduit 2. Were there any specific games that inspired this type of level progression?
JO: We’re not going super-hub or open world sandbox with Atlantis, but we do want the player to have some choice in tackling the missions. You’ll return to Atlantis periodically throughout the game and be able to access different conduits to take you to different places. Beyond that, I don’t think there was any one game that inspired us to go this route. It’s certainly not a new thing – the latest Wolfenstein did something similar – we just thought it was a cool idea that gave the player a bit more choice.
RA: Other than selecting the next mission to take on, what can players do in Atlantis? Are there shops and other things of that nature?
JO: There’s a weapons locker in Atlantis that you can use to select your weapons for the next mission (provided that you’ve unlocked the weapon, of course) as well as a few as yet undisclosed things. There’s also a McDonalds and a Starbucks. There were plans for a KFC too but it fell through – something about profit margins and chickens of the sea…
RA: Naturally there are going to be a lot of new guns in The Conduit 2, but does the team have plans to incorporate melee weapons or MotionPlus support?
JO: Above all else, we’re a shooter – and we want the player to keep the pointer on the screen. Anything we do on the Wii MotionPlus front will be to supplement the experience if the player has the peripheral and will in no way be required to play the game. That being said, it’s something that we’re still evaluating.
RA: With many recent and upcoming titles placing a heavy emphasis on co-op, will The Conduit 2 feature any story mode co-op or co-op centric multiplayer modes?
JO: We are supporting co-op through the Team Invasion mode. Up to four players will be able to take on AI opponents in a variety of maps and complete a variety of objectives. More on this soon!
RA: There’s already been talk of adding features such as custom weapon load-outs and perks into the online mode of The Conduit 2. Can you go into detail about how these features will work?
JO: We have a class system in Conduit 2 that allows the player to define pre-set weapon and grenade loadouts and suit upgrades (perks). Models can additionally be modified with a variety of armor pieces and primary and secondary colors adjusted to your taste (i.e. pink). My model of choice is the trooper with a boot knife accessory. It’s a good look for me. The boot knife is completely for show – I can’t use it in the game – but it does make the other players (who are most likely sporting the lame radio accessory) say “Hey. That guy’s got a boot knife.”
RA: Can you give us some details on other new competitive online modes that will be in the game?
JO: We have a few new modes that we aren’t ready to talk about yet, but we have added classic control point game modes, as well as control points that are independent of the mode, but offer the team that controls it an added bonus, such as extra XP or extra damage. It leads to a lot of side skirmishes as players vie for these secondary control point bonuses while not perhaps going after the main objective.
RA: Will there be a big head option for the offline multiplayer mode? (Say yes).
JO: Yes. And you can play as a sasquatch too…carrying the leviathan from level to level on your back. Am I joking? I don’t know. It’s late.
RA: Can we expect to see a playable build of The Conduit 2 at this year’s E3?
RA: Is there anything else you’d like to add for all the fans out there reading this and eagerly anticipating the fall 2010 release of The Conduit 2?
JO: Watch out for that guy with the boot knife. He’s one bad mofo.
Conduit 2 is set to release Q4 2010, exclusively for Wii.