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High Voltage Producer: Demo Development Hurt  Conduit 2
High Voltage Producer: Demo Development Hurt Conduit 2
June 30, 2011 | By Staff

June 30, 2011 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Production

As part of Gamasutra's latest feature, a postmortem of High Voltage Software's Wii FPS Conduit 2, the game's senior producer, Kevin Sheller, writes that meeting demo requirements lead to crunch time.

"Members of any team thrive when they have clear goals to accomplish and the deadline in which to accomplish them -- especially when these are defined early and often," he writes.

"Unfortunately, the milestones were never defined with enough detail, nor given to the team early enough. Instead, many of the goals given to the team were based on meeting requirements for product demos given at various consumer, media, and developer shows and conventions."

The original game in the series was a large focus of the press prior to its release thanks to it being a rare example of a Wii-exclusive first person shooter new IP, which means that the sequel was also highly promoted.

"Often this resulted in the team diverting from meeting an actual milestone in favor of prepping the game for the next show. This approach resulted in awesome demos at the expense of the completed game. Had the goals been based more on the production timeline, been given better definition, and been revisited throughout development, the team would have been able to focus better and the end of project push would not have been as elongated," he continues.

This is an opinion recently shared by Fable developer Peter Molyneux in a Gamasutra interview. When asked if demos hurt productivity, he replied, "Absolutely. In fact, we've always struggled a little bit with that, because I've hated actually doing demos for demos' sake. You have very little time to make a game, and a great press demo for a really important product can suck weeks of time away from the team."

The full Conduit 2 postmortem, which has five things that went right with the game and five things that went wrong, is live now on Gamasutra.

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s d
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Even with clear goals and milestones a publisher can set a developer up to fail with a demo. Not only can demos KILL productivity for the team on the whole project (removing focus from the main milestone/game), many times the demo work, which was beaten out with countless hours of OT, is not even incorporated into the final game. So a lot of that OT work is thrown out. Essentially publishers can push a 2-3 month demo on the team (in the middle of their dev cycle usually) wearing them down creatively. If the demo development time takes away from the productivity of the final product then is it really worth it?

Jorge Hernandez
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This also doesn't take into account the time needed after the demo to undo, remove, and fix the half-assed hacks that went into making it temporarily look good: taking EVEN MORE dev time away from the actual game.