Interviews// E3 2011: Hitman Absolution (Part 1)

Posted 16 Jun 2011 12:31 by
Hitman Absolution was shown behind closed doors at E3 this year, and itís looking like IO Interactive are back on form with Agent 47ís latest adventure.

I had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Tore Blystad, the gameís director, on a range of different things regarding the demonstration (which you can read all about here) and the franchiseís past.

Bring a packed lunch; it's a Part 1 and all that.


SPOnG: It looks like youíre taking Agent 47 in some new directions here. You said in your presentation that the library level isnít your normal hit. Will we be seeing this concept carried throughout the rest of the game?

Tore Blystad: That was only a small section of the game, showing this Ďhunter being huntedí scenario that weíve never done before. Throughout the game, things will turn into the more classic Hitman scenarios you remember from the past.

The thing is, what we found with the old games was that the structure was very rigid. Every level was basically built up in the same way. We wanted to have a more flexible structure to surprise the player as they progressed. And thatís down to the fact that we have two different kinds of audience - the super-hardcore players who will go through every level a million times, and those who just play more as an adventure game.

We want to please both, so we tried our best to offer a variety of scenarios with lots of depth for both kinds of player. But we have more than just the classic and Ďhunt or be huntedí scenarios. We have many different ways that we present gameplay to the player.


SPOnG: How much of the action is scripted and how much of it is in real-time?

Tore Blystad: We donít have a lot of scripted scenes. The base AI of every NPC is very high, and theyíre programmed to dynamically react to different situations depending on how you tackle the scenario as a player.

For example, if two guards standing on different platforms talking to each other about a hole in the ground - if you take one of those guards out the other will respond accordingly. You can leave them alone and hear out their conversation. Or you can lead them apart and silently take one out and see how the other continues unawares.

All these things are meant to be open ended, and as a player you can toy with the enemies and play with different strategies to change these acts. You feel closer to the action, especially when you realise each NPC has a name and their own story.

Weíre working closely with the voice actors in Burbank. Weíre often on the phone to conduct recording sessions, but we have so many lines recorded just for the library scene because the AI has to react to basically anything and everything the player does.


SPOnG: So you do have some cinematics then? Does it interfere with gameplay at all?

Tore Blystad: What we wanted to do with our cinematic experience is to build it into the game mechanic itself. Since it is an open game, you can still do whatever you want. What we noted from our hardcore players, is that if you tell them to do something, they will do the exact opposite. They just donít like being told what to do. So the cinematics donít interfere with how you approach certain situations, like an intro scene or something.

Itís more like when you get into close combat or use improvised weapons, we make a cinematic moment because you know itís going to happen, the player has initiated it. Thatís absolutely fine for cinematics I feel, but we canít go in and take control inside the library - for instance placing the camera in a certain way - because it just doesnít work. The game is not programmed like that. Having said that, there are certain choke points throughout the game where the game knows youíre reaching a certain checkpoint and plays out a sequence, knowing that youíre definitely going to see it.
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