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Hitman: Absolution – IO is ready to be “schooled”

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 13:49 GMT By Brenna Hillier

IO Interactive made Hitman: Absolution. It built a new engine for it. It knows its mechanics inside out. And, as art director Robert Marchesi tells us, it’s ready for you to show how it’s really played.

“We have a couple of people who think they’re good. But I’m pretty sure when the game gets released we are all going to get schooled by the people outside.”

Forget Connor and Corvo – Agent 47 is the best assassin in the business, they say. Watching a developer walkthrough demonstration certainly shows that skilled players can make the most of 47′s skills and tricks, but speaking to art director Roberto Marchesi at a preview event, I learned that the team behind Hitman: Absolution are well aware that their fans will soon know the game better than IO Interactive does.

VG247: Have you built an infrastructure for recording metrics and stuff, to find out how people are playing?

We are using metrics actively. First in Hitman: Sniper Challenge, which we released as a pre-order incentive. We were tracking metrics in that and it was very interesting to see the number of kills, the number of restarts, where the kills took place. It’s a really powerful tool for the level designers to figure out okay, what is working, what is not working. It was surprising, where some people got kills the most.

The metrics would tell us exactly where some people would get shots all the time, and it was very interesting because it was not the places we expected to get shot at. So it is a tool to understanding how players perceive the game and how we can present it to make them get a better experience.

Metrics are also recorded when you play Contracts. The moment when you’re creating a Contract, the game is recording. It takes an account of how you killed the target, what weapons you were using, how long a time it took you to get to the exit. From then on, it’s stored, it’s locked in, and people can access it. I’m pretty sure that people will make Contracts for fun; some people might make them because they want to be the best assassin; others might simply want to recreate the game, played in the most tight possible way.

When you’ve been playing Contracts internally at IO Interactive, do you have a champion?

We have a couple of people who think they’re good. But I’m pretty sure when the game gets released we are all going to get schooled by the people outside.

“When we released Sniper Challenge, we had a maximum score in our head that we thought was pretty much the top. After some ten days they were almost twice as much. And the way they achieved that score was such an ingenious way that – it just tells us pretty clearly that someone will just trump us at this game.”

You told me earlier that you can’t possibly predict all the hundreds of things people will do in the game. Has anybody done anything in a preview or play test which has really surprised you so far?

I think the most surprising thing again goes back to the Sniper’s Challenge. When we released it, we had a maximum score in our head that we thought was pretty much the top that we expected the players to get to. After some ten days they were almost twice as much. And the way they achieved that score was such an ingenious way that – it just tells us pretty clearly that someone will just trump us at this game. We have to do our best to make sure to let them do whatever they want, and have the game respond well to it.

Can you explain what the Sniper Challenge strategy was?

Mostly it is a positioning game and a timing game, and most people went for head shots at the right time, and not getting discovered. But at one point the guy who had the top score was doing something really different. The first nine shots were not shot at anyone at all.

To distract, to pull guards around?

He was positioning shots left and right to have the guards move where he wanted. That was nine shots, so that was a high number. It was very impressive. I thought that just really showcases that we cannot predict what people will do.

You told me earlier that there are things in the game which surprise even you. So surprise me. What’s the strangest place you know of to hide a body?

One I think that most people don’t actually use and it’s kind of interesting, and I am actually happy about that: in the tutorial there are some pretty interesting leaf collectors.

Do you mean a mulcher? Oh, gross, you can put a body in a mulcher. Does that fill up or can you keep putting bodies in? It would be cool if you could just keep mulching bodies.

But you see, you can either leave a body behind, or you just keep killing people.

There’s an achievement for going through the game and not killing anyone but the targets, Silent Assassin. Is there one for killing everyone? Could you even do that, with the huge crowds?

No. That would just be mean. I don’t think they have that achievement.

Hitman: Absolution’s latest cinematic
trailer.

It wouldn’t be fun really. When you’re discovered, speaking of beating a lot of people to death, is there a limited number of enemies that will come for you?

If you enter a firefight, the enemies that are present at the start of the level are there. If the firefight is prolonged and you’re not able to contain the situation, these guys will call for reinforcements and they will get in there. In the King of Chinatown case, in the beginning they are all cops. If you start a firefight with them, after a while they will call in reinforcements, and these are SWATs that come in with bigger guns and automatic weapons, so the challenge will ramp up.

We really want people to be able to play the game the way they want. So if you want to go shooting, you should be able to do it and have fun with it. It’s still a challenge; it takes some time to clear out half the police department. It can be done though, and after a while they will stop spawning because we want you to be able to play through the game if you want just to shoot at stuff but you still want to have fun doing it.

What actions refill your Instinct bar?

Instinct is an economy we introduced to stop players from abusing it, because with Instinct you have gameplay mechanics which can be quite powerful, like the blending, where you have a disguise, and the slow timed shooting. So we needed to have an economy.

You can refill it by for instance hiding bodies; taking out targets; head shots I think refill it too. There are a couple of other things that do refill it. How much they actually do it, they were tinkering with right to the very last minute, because it’s really a question of balancing, it has to go through lots of play testing.

So Instinct lets you see enemies and patrol paths all the time, even when the bar is empty, and then –

On normal difficulty. I don’t think it does on hard. On hard, I think it costs just being in Instinct, and it does turn off some of the features.

What the well-dressed killer is wearing

The first half of this interview was almost entirely about Agent 47′s clothes, including the fact that he doesn’t mind wearing a dress, taking his short, of otherwise getting silly in the pursuit of his craft.

And you can’t complete any challenges on easy, so there is a real incentive to get better and to push up to the more difficult levels.

Well, the incentives are basically the payoffs. Like with Contracts. If you do make a Contract on a harder difficulty it will obviously be, just be being on the harder difficulty, a harder contract. So the payoff will be higher. There are no challenges that are tied into a specific difficulty so once you unlock challenges, they are there. It would be pretty harsh if we made you finish the game and play on hard before you could do challenges.

I played through as far as the door to the hippy commune. All the environments up to that point were connected; they just flowed into each other,maybe with a short cutscene to show you were transitioning. Does that continue through the whole game, long sequences of continuous environments?

Yes. In theory it should feel like one long movie, in your head. Hopefully it takes longer than one long movie to finish – but that I’m pretty sure of.

How long will it take for an average play through, like, if you were j-

That’s a really impossible question to answer. Because the game is so scalable. I dunno how you’re going to approach it. If you just go in guns blazing, which is, in theory, the fastest way to finish – it could take up to seven, eight hours still. If you knew exactly what you were doing – and that takes time to master – it’s much faster anyway. The game is way too scalable. I think most people will have many hours in there, many more than they actually imagined.

Hitman: Absolution is due on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 20.

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3 Comments

  1. Se_7_eN

    That ad in the middle of the fucking article is great… JUST KIDDING.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 dude are you going to do this on every article? I told you, we’re having them removed. It wasn’t our decision to have them on the page. Hang tight.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Sini

    practically unreadable article because of it.

    on topic, eidos chill on the hype, we already preordered and still have to wait 20+ days

    #3 2 years ago

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    Crazy though this may seem, it’s possible that Destiny shipped according to plan. History points to community as a crucial component, far from the contingency that many now suspect. Paul Davies spoke to Bungie for clarity. “The community always engineers the best solutions for bringing players together. While Matchmaking is a great resource for introducing […]

  • Bloodborne works with suspend/resume, but only offline

    PlayStation 4′s newly-added suspend/resume feature works with Bloodborne as you’d expect, but only while offline. PlayStation 4 received the long-awaited suspend/resume feature today as part of firmware 2.50, and people are starting to test it out with various games. Bloodborne does work with the feature, but only if you play offline. Playing online is arguably […]

  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 is now live

    PlayStation 4 firmware update version 2.50 has started rolling out. Reports are coming in saying that Yukimura, PlayStation 4′s firmware 2.50 has been made available to download. The update is clocking in at just 245mb, so get downloading. 2.50 brings with it many new additions, including the suspend/resume feature, backup and restore, accessibility options and […]

  • Harley Quinn DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight is a prequel

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is set before the events of the main game, according to Amazon’s description. Today we learned a few details about the pre-order DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, namely the Harley Quinn one. According to the description on Amazon, the DLC takes place in the lead-up to the events […]

  • Bloodborne Vicar Amelia summon mystery solved

    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]