To HVS Tony, a look at what's wrong with the graphics of The Conduit (2).

#1Dark_GaiaPosted 4/7/2010 5:12:52 PM
Please note that I did NOT write this. It was written by a friend of mine. He sent this to the feedback e-mail on HVS's website, but he's afraid it might be looked at by whoever that checks the mail and not reach the eyes of someone on the staff. Plus, he screwed up the placement of a paragraph in the original e-mail so putting it here can also fix that. This is a look at why the visuals look so weird in The Conduit.

The Conduit suffers from imbalance of detail and shaders between the characters and the backgrounds. Both of your games has excellent shaders for your characters, but most of the backgrounds are incredibly flat, lack lighting, or material shaders. This causes your characters to stick out against the environments; like they don't belong there.

Let's look at Super Mario Galaxy, that game also pumps a ton of effects. Mario himself is lit with simple rim lighting and pretty much nothing else. The backgrounds aren't incredibly shader heavy but they all have a coat of rim lighting, and they're in harmony with one another. With more complex object like an apple planet, and there would be a specular map to give off sheen of an apple. You run on metallic surface, there would be environment map bump mapping to give the surface definition and extra detail. Everything is gradually revealed instead of being all piled together. Well, you might say Super Mario Galaxy also benefit from a more simplistic art style thus it doesn't require as much shaders on the characters and backgrounds. True. But what about The Grinder?

Now keep in mind I'm basing my argument on the old screen released last year.

The Grinder looks fine. Your vampires are specular mapped? That's probably it. Your background don't have any particularly interesting shaders, but the simplicity of your vampires and monsters allows them to blend in to your environments.

http://wii.ign.com/dor/objects/67276/the-conduit-2/images/the-conduit-2-20100331100926558.html?page=mediaFull

Here's a new shot from The Conduit 2. It's early, but the finished Conduit 1 also had this problem. Here you have these 2 soldiers with reflection, specular, normal maps and god know what else I'm missing. Then you have that gray box thing to the left of the screen shot. That thing is flat and devoid of shaders. The same could be said about the entire background. It's like looking at 2 different games in one screen. This is a unique problem only The Conduit suffered from. I have never seen a game with this problem before.

While I don't know the full extent of the Wii's abilities, there might be ways around it if you can't program the greatest concrete shaders on the Wii. It's not just concrete, but I'll use this as an example for now. Instead of concrete, why not marble tiles instead? The Wii's environment map bump mapping would be easy to give the tiles the extra pop and details. Think around the problem and design the look of the area based on what you can accomplish with the Wii. Don't pile everything onto one character just because you can.

Example: Remember the hallway path leading to the filtration room? There were so many pipes but they were flat. Imagine if you had environment map bump mapping running along your pipes. It would give the pipes the detail and lighting to stand out and look like giant lead pipes.

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2007/303/915692_20071030_screen162.jpg

Something like that from Super Mario Galaxy would work wonders on them. The bumpy details would only be visible to the eyes when the camera is at a certain angle from the pipes. That would add so much visually to the scene, and there's much more you can do than just that.
#2Dark_Gaia(Topic Creator)Posted 4/7/2010 5:13:40 PM
My hunch is that the Wii's limit is used up on just the characters with absolutely no power left to do anything on the background save for the occasional detail. If I'm wrong, great! Add a little something to your walls and surroundings to spice things up. It's not that your game takes place in real world Washington DC, it's because everything else is flat and dull. Emboss map your walls, floors, or maybe even snow.

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2001/vgnews/102201/roguel_screen007.jpg
http://i41.tinypic.com/1yyc1.jpg

Another issue with detail in the first Conduit was that your designs are too busy. You have normal maps for tiny pointless details.

http://wii.ign.com/dor/objects/14248157/the-conduit/images/the-conduit-20090622041540848.html

Look all the layers of folds and wrinkles on the alien armor in that screen. The details are too small cluttered when they're far away, and when they get close enough we're too busy trying to kill them to care. Like the way you guys go overboard trying to pile shaders onto a character, you do the same with detail. The Wii unable to normal map as well as the other consoles, so instead of wasting it on something we might not see, why not use normal maps to smooth out your characters instead, or create big bold details. I find that people respond better to smooth round characters without visible polygonal edges than simply piling on normal map details. The Hazmat Suit enemies work well with the normal maps for wrinkles and folds due to the simplicity of the character.

http://wii.ign.com/dor/objects/67276/the-conduit-2/images/the-conduit-2-20100331100928902.html

Look at that shot. Look at the soldier. The lighting is a mess due to the amount of details and shaders piled onto him. I can barely make out the details on his body, but his stainless steel bathroom handle armor is screaming out with reflections and refractions. Once again, the backgrounds are flat and dull looking. Now you're doing 4 player split screen, so things are even smaller.

I know you guys are very talented and can push the Wii hardware, but a little subtly can go a long way. Mario Galaxy has a lot of reflective surfaces, but you don't see them unless the lighting hits it just right in a small concentrated area of the object. Instead of trying to kill the Wii with excessive normal maps, why not use the Wii's built in environment map bumpping and emboss mapping a little more? Use normal maps to remove sharp polygonal edges. Don't pile everything onto the characters so that you don't have anymore fillrate left to give the backgrounds a little attention. Good textures can work just as well as shaders (see Metroid Prime series). Consider removing the excessive lighting in the game. Are you guys using HDR? The light just bounces off so unnaturally off the guns and generally offensive. I rather have faster frame rate than the screen turning green whenever I get health. Lower the amount of detail if we can barely see them and aim for higher frame rate instead! Your lack of balance is the reason your technologically superior game isn't getting universal praise in the graphics department.

I really hope this e-mail can make it into The Conduit 2 team to make a difference. I just hope I'm not too late and there might not be enough time to change. The Conduit doesn't suffer from being generic, but rather a problem that's never occur in a video game before.
#3DarkZV2BetaPosted 4/7/2010 5:54:26 PM
I had no problem with the visual direction of The Conduit. In fact, I quite liked it. It was unique.
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#4venusePosted 4/7/2010 6:15:50 PM
dark gaia i completely agree with everything you posted. i always thought alot of the enemies were over designed causing a cluttered look instead of a stylized look. i really hope they read your friends email because it was well written and he points out alot of valid points. although from looking at a few new screen shots from Nintendo power i think they have reduced alittle bit of the cluttered look of their enemies although i cant speak for the whole game.
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#5Dark_Gaia(Topic Creator)Posted 4/7/2010 6:23:58 PM
I didn't write that. I'm just posting it for someone without an account here.

I also agree with what's written there, but if I want to add my 2 cent, I also don't like the art direction either. There are a items in The Conduit really bothers be for being ugly, and I don't mean graphically. They just look ugly.

The alien weapon refill pod thing is ugly.
The flying bug like thing is ugly.
The termite pods are also ugly.
Their tree roots are ugly.

I don't know why, but these items really bother me in just how ugly they look.
#6FPS1337Posted 4/7/2010 6:48:35 PM
I don't get was so wrong. I would like more freedom, and more paths, but I dont mind the graphics. The graphics for the Conduit were great, just some of the art was a little upsetting. Seeing from some screens i saw of the conduit 2 the art looks great and since this is just the beginning of conduit 2 and it will only improve. I wouldnt stress about the photos.
#7Dark_Gaia(Topic Creator)Posted 4/7/2010 6:53:59 PM
He's saying the details are out of whack. Things don't look like they're from the same game. There are things that are super detailed and slick while others are dull. This is a problem not seen in any game before. It's not even about the art being "upsetting". I'm guessing the what upset you is also the weird balance between characters and backgrounds.
#8DarkZV2BetaPosted 4/7/2010 7:00:21 PM
Actually, it's quite common in games. I see it a ton.
Like I said, I had no problem with it in this game. It gives it a unique feel that suits the game very well. I'd rather it not be changed, and given the limitations of the TEV unit, odds are, it's not going to change no matter who wants it to.
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#9CoelarapaimaPosted 4/7/2010 9:45:48 PM
Dark Gaia posted...
I didn't write that. I'm just posting it for someone without an account here.

I also agree with what's written there, but if I want to add my 2 cent, I also don't like the art direction either. There are a items in The Conduit really bothers be for being ugly, and I don't mean graphically. They just look ugly.

The alien weapon refill pod thing is ugly.
The flying bug like thing is ugly.
The termite pods are also ugly.
Their tree roots are ugly.

I don't know why, but these items really bother me in just how ugly they look.




What are you expecting from Aliens?? (or clones of aliens) do you think HVS should...
Turn the drones into happy smiling druids
turn the alien weapon refill pod into a magical glowing pink treasure chest full of sparkles and glitter!
Make the flying bug alien a pegasis that flies and drops candy!
make the termite eggsacks into santa's sack of toys
and make your ugly tree roots into a nice soup.

Would this make you happy? Seriously, gawd.
#10WiiThokoPosted 4/8/2010 1:23:37 AM
^This