Conduit Publisher: Impending
03 Sep 2008 23:39
David MarseillesDavid Marseilles

Conduit Publisher: Impending

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From PAX, ArsTechnica reports:

"You want to know about the publisher, don't you?" Rob Nicholls, the game's designer, asked when he saw my media badge. He had effectively read my mind and answered in turn. "We're not ready to officially announce anything, but things are in the works. Look for the word in the coming month."

Over the past few weeks, Nintendo Wii Fanboy has repeatedly noted the oddity of publisher choice being a teaser. They failed to note why, instead making it sound like some sort of off-the-wall decision by a developer that might not know what they're doing. It's valid to note the oddity of the situation. It's very strange not to explain why publisher choice is SO important. So WiiHD will.

Not every publisher can bring their own online network to the table and completely ignore Nintendo's backward FC system (should the need arise). EA has already done it (the need did arise). One presumes Activision could, were they so inclined. If Nintendo were to publish it, obviously they could make any exceptions to their current rule-set that they wanted to (and no one would be happier than WiiHD if Nintendo suddenly went reasonable on us) , but it would be unprecedented.

A game like this, unlike some others, NEEDS a sane lobby system. So far, Nintendo has refused to make that sort of system a part of their Wi-Fi Connection network. So if you want it, you need a publisher willing to provide it, or you need Nintendo to make a BIG change.

Outside of features, one of the reasons this game had been so hyped is that basic game decisions (such as not including the letter "Z" at the end of the title) were made without publisher interference. If a publisher is getting signed now, they still have plenty of time to ruin the game. This consideration favors different publishers, since EA and Activision are often too big to be bothered with quality (especially on Wii). Capcom would be an encouraging choice on the quality front.

If HVS pulls a rabbit out of their hat, and manages to present a publisher capable of providing a full feature set and not ruining the game, it would be about the biggest news of this game's life-cycle. It might also guarantee The Conduit will become one the best games of the Wii's entire lifespan and launch a new franchise as well elevate HVS to the top of the Wii developer ladder. The wrong choice could make The Conduit forgettable and a source of buyer's remorse.

The stuff Wii Fanboy would probably expect to be a publicity tease, like the online feature set, are directly tied to the publisher decision. If you dig back through some earlier interviews, you'll find HVS discussing publishers in relation to feature questions that they couldn't yet answer. Do you want lobbies? Do you want solid communication options? Do you want good matchmaking? Do you want a decent ranking system? Then you care how HVS makes THIS decision. It could be the most defining decision of the game.

And there's more.

"We're going to ship with a full single player campaign and both offline and online multiplayer. We're also working with Nintendo now on getting LAN play working [via system link]."

Off-line multiplayer? Splitscreen has been denied in the past. Did they re-assess that decision? Is the offline some sort of cooperative play with rails or quasi-rails? Or might this be off-line vs? Keep your fingers crossed.

Finally, not content with what they've already got, HVS used their PAX demoing to aggressively solicit feedback from gamers so they can make the most of the next 6 months:

Nicholls admitted that there was much tweaking to be done. "We've been drilling normal [non-media] gamers to get a feel for what works and what doesn't," he said. "We're looking to make the controls not just functional but fun, too." And drill he did. I listened intently as he polled the gaming public about their experience with the game and listened carefully to the feedback, especially the negatives. Without dismissing a single criticism, Nicholls made note of the problems and rewarded gamers' honesty with buttons and shirts.


Screenshots:


The manual from 4colorrebellion.

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Via ArsTechnica | Permalink


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