Interviews

The Conduit

Interview: High Voltage on pushing the boundaries of Wii

High Voltage Software's Josh Olson, producer on The Conduit, says that the developer's upcoming Wii exclusive FPS is both the best-looking game on the console and will offer the best online experience on the system. He's pretty confident, then. Read on to find out why...

Can you give us a quick overview of what The Conduit's about and when and where it's set?

Olson: The Conduit is set in a near-future Washington, D.C. where things are going horribly awry. There's a virus that's decimating the workforce and missing persons reports have skyrocketed. Domestic terrorist attacks and assassinations are commonplace, and the government has declared martial law.

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No one seems to be able to do anything about the rapidly deteriorating situation except for an enigmatic government organisation known as The Trust. As Agent Michael Ford, a new recruit for The Trust, you find yourself thrown into the middle of the growing chaos and work to uncover the truth behind everything that's going on.

Why is Wii the best platform for The Conduit and what does it have over other platforms as a host for FPS games?

Olson: Much has been made of our tech and rightly so - we feel that that we're the best-looking game on the console. It's really all about the gameplay though, and in targeting the Wii we focused very heavily on the unique controls. We feel that with The Conduit we have a perfectly viable 'third scheme' out there for FPS games and we look forward to throwing ourselves into the never-ending debate between the relative merits and shortcomings of the dual analogue and the mouse-and-keyboard among fanboys.

I don't think that previous Wii FPS titles have made a compelling argument that the pointer and Nunchuk belong in the discussion. With The Conduit, we think we absolutely belong, and hope that more developers look at developing Wii-exclusive FPS titles that take full advantage of what it offers.

What's your view on the current - albeit small - crop of shooters on Wii?

Olson: Thankfully, a few titles have gone before us and been a huge help in showing us what works and what doesn't work using the pointer and Nunchuk. The biggest lesson learned has been the intelligent use of the accelerometers. They're a powerful tool - and can add a lot to the experience - but you need to be very careful as well to avoid a gimmicky implementation that ultimately detracts from the overall gameplay.

We use the motion controls where they make sense, and in our case, think that a more restrained approach is the way to go. We don't have any shake-it-like-a-Polaroid-picture moments in our game, and it's all the better for it. It's a lesson that we learned to some extent from looking at the other FPS titles on the console.

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Along these lines as well is the fact that with only a few exceptions, shooters on the Wii have been ports from other consoles. To be really successful, you need to develop exclusively for the Wii and truly take advantage of what it offers rather than trying to make it fit within the limits of an existing game mechanic or functionality.

More core-focused, mature titles are now starting to crop up on Wii. Why is this and do you think the trend will continue?

Olson: Our Wiis were gathering dust. Wii Sports is fun to play with my parents and family, but what do I do with it, as a core gamer, after I've bowled my hundredth set in a row? Until now, the answer has been: not a whole lot. There's a huge install base for the Wii - I think there are something like 8 trillion of them out there - and we don't believe for a second that everyone is content to play these more casual games exclusively. There's plenty of room for us on the Wii - we'd be content if only a trillion of all of the Wii owners bought our game.

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