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Postmortem: High Voltage Software's Conduit 2
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Postmortem: High Voltage Software's Conduit 2


June 30, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

3. Attention Elsewhere

2010 was a very busy time for the studio. Along with our various publisher and licensed titles, we were developing two more original IP: Tournament of Legends and The Grinder. Their teams were exploring new game genres, working under strict deadlines, and had extensive management oversight.

Meanwhile, the Conduit 2 team was trusted to essentially manage themselves. It was felt that, since it was the second version of a successful title, they could be given more flexibility and freedom in terms of running the project.

It was only when the project started to fall behind schedule that upper management started taking a closer look at the overall state of the project. They quickly realized that it was not becoming the type of game that they had intended, and with deadlines looming, drastic action was taken, as detailed previously.

4. Reduction in Force

Like the rest of the gaming industry in 2010, High Voltage Software wasn't immune to hard times. With publishers mitigating risks and the economy in trouble, we had to take financial action.

What's especially difficult about this is that our culture is an aberration in the game industry. In the nearly 18-year history of the company, we'd only had one layoff of any significance -- but that is what happened to us in 2010. This had been a corporation built on stability and longevity, and our employees had come to expect it.

Unfortunately this affected the Conduit 2 team dramatically. Not only did the company take a huge morale hit from the loss of dear friends and colleagues, but the Conduit 2 game team was heading into a crunch that would not end until the game was to be delivered for final Nintendo submission.

There's not much that can be done to lift the collective mood of a company facing all of these odds, but we did what we could. We reached out to our employees as often as possible to let them know how valuable they were, we offered assistance to those who needed to land new employment opportunities, and we rewarded the Conduit 2 team when they reached newly-defined targets that got us closer to submission.

5. Rushing Through Development

Early on in development, the Conduit 2 development team implemented new features to the point where they could be demonstrated, but were not complete. When much of the project is composed of partially-implemented systems, it makes the game code's structure unstable and hard to work with.

What's worse is that after the layoff, we were left with unfinished systems combined with team members that didn't fully understand how to work with them. This added months to the development cycle as each fixed bug can potentially spawn or expose multiple new problems.

Conduit 2 is a huge game, much larger than anything our company has ever developed before. The time needed to complete a project of this scope was definitely underestimated.

Conclusion

We have always been passionate about making games, but the experience of creating The Conduit and Conduit 2 has truly redefined and improved High Voltage Software. The excitement generated by the series has earned us multiple E3 awards, gave us a powerful fanbase (we love you guys), triggered a bidding war among publishers for future projects, given us the freedom to create additional new IP, and has given our studio a much higher profile that ever before.

But even more important than the attention that the Conduit series has given us, are the things that we have learned while developing the two games. We faced, and conquered the challenges that each title gave us, learned to make hard choices, and forged strong connections to our fanbase. All of these things have made us a better company, and allowed us to make better games -- a fact that you can see for yourself in Conduit 2.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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