It’s a bit of a slow news day, so why not take the time to read a four page post-mortem on the Conduit 2? It’s an interesting read, particularly the bit about the story. In a nutshell, High Voltage hired a writer and said writer came up with this epic tale that was unfeasible due to the size of the necessary cut scenes and the fact that the development team wanted to go lighter in tone. As a result, a lot of what the writer wrote was scrapped and the internal team worked last minute to get the script where they wanted it to be in time for the recording sessions. That explains a whole lot as the “comedy” in this game is just plain lazy. Lots of dumb quips and cheeky video game references, things I would expect from a frazzled team looking to meet a deadline rather than someone who gets paid to write as a full time profession. Then again, Gears of War 2 was written by a Writer with a capital “W” and that game’s dialog is abysmal, so what do I know?
Post-mortems are always interesting to read and this one is particularly interesting to me as it involves a franchise I enjoyed and a development company that I’ve always had great dealings with. Hopefully they can learn from their mistakes on Conduit 2 and come back swinging.
6 thoughts to “Conduit 2 Post-Mortem”
Writing remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks in video games. So much video games writing is absolute trash, even when it’s celebrated as “good” that usually means “good…for a video game”. The best game scripts tend to be just slightly above the quality of a SyFy original movie. Of course, you’ve got 15 year olds claiming that shit like the Final Fantasy games are “well written”…
God of War is another one written by a Writer…and it’s so laughably schlock, the lady really should have done it under a pseudonym.
The script in games- including characters, scenarios, subtexts, dialogue and so forth- is almsot an afterthought far too often. There’s a reason why Uncharted 2 was such a smash and I doubt it was the canned platforming, the Indiana Jones/Clive Cussler pastiche, or the ho-hum cover-based shooting…it was the writing. Naughty Dog emphasized a very strong script with solid character writing with people that talk like actual people and it paid off in spades.
As bad as LA Noire was as a game and as sprawling and disjointed as its story was, some of the writing was as good as I’ve seen yet in games. Mainly because it was _adult_, was about _adults_ and _adult subject matter_, and was _for adults_. I love comics, B movies, pulp horror, whatever…but bad writing is bad writing and most games are bad writing that can’t get out of the genre ghetto or the level of Young Adult fiction.
As for this game, the first one was so badly written with such a terrible scenario virtually anything could have been an improvement. At least the ending of Conduit 2 was, um…singular.
Overall I’d agree with that sentiment. Story telling is really not something that is the high point of the genre.
I think one of the most infuriating examples of this is the original inFamous. I actually enjoyed the story of that game, but then you get to these characters that are totally illogical and jump through these mental gymnastics that are simply ridiculous. Cole’s girlfriend is probably the highest on this list. She hates him because she blames him for the death of her sister and 10,000 other people…because he was a courier carrying the device. Did he push the button, or even know what the fuck the damn thing did? No, and any sane person would realize that blaming someone for doing that is every shade of mentally handicapped in the spectrum.
Thats hardly the only time that sort of stupidity happens in the game, but it probably has the most far reaching effects. Because the love interest was such an insufferable character, I had no problem at all letting her die to save the doctors. I might actually have had to think that moral choice through when I first played the game if I felt she was a sympathetic character, but I didnt even hesitate. In a game that is all about making choices that tend to be black and white, the ONE choice in the game that is actually morally ambiguous was completely wasted because they failed to make the character I was supposed to save someone I actually liked.
Infamous 2 is even worse…the writing is much, much worse overall and the morality issues boil down to choosing between a bland, vanilla by-the-books girl and an destructive, outrageously racist caricature of an African-American female. Guess which one is the “bad” one. I’m sort of surprised there hasn’t been more outcry about her…I quit playing the game because the writing was so terrible and also because I couldn’t stand hearing “Cole baby, we’s a be gonna blow some shit up real good naw!” one more time.
There is one hilarious morality choice…you can choose to silence those incessant hippie bucket drummers and other street musicians. It’s a “bad” choice…but how’s that for undermining serious moral decisions in a game, particularly when it’s misfiled as a “bad” thing to put a stop to bucket drumming?
But hey, it’s open world, so the writing doesn’t mean jack shit anyway as long as you can run around.
I would be shocked if they’re going to be able to find a publisher for the Conduit 3. The Conduit 2 has sold so poor I don’t think High Voltage will be able to go back to it for a while. But then again, I don’t really always know how these things work.
High Voltage has shown they have the chops to do some really great technical work as the Quantum3 engine is one of the best looking on the Wii. But from the few games I’ve played that HV has developed that’s where my praise stops. I love their passion and how connected to their community they are (though this may have been not so great for the Conduit 2′s development, who knows?), but something is just missing. Perhaps it’s funding and they just don’t have enough time to do what it is they want or perhaps they just don’t have strong leadership and ideas don’t become executed properly. Whatever it is I truly hope they’ve learned their lessons, though there was something off-putting to me in that post mortem. It may have just been the way it was written.
Anyway, I’ve gotta say, it’s too bad that they developed on the Wii. If they pushed the 360 or the PS3 to its limits, I think they might’ve secured better contracts for their future games. The Wii though, well, we’ve all discussed the myriad issues with third party devs on the Wii. HV placed a bet on the Wii and it appeared to work out well for them at first, not so sure it has anymore. Then again, I really don’t know how these things work.
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