Asked what IO Interactive set out to achieve with Hitman: Absolution, lead producer Hakan Abrak highlighted improved AI.
“We’ve been developing this game for a long time, and it’s very much linked to the technology, especially creating more complex, more believable artificial intelligence,” Abrak told the US PS Blog.
“Early on, we knew we couldn’t achieve our ambitions with the older Glacier 1 engine, so we decided to create Glacier 2. It’s a huge challenge to create new game technology, but it brought a lot of benefits.”
Another of IO’s oft-stated goals with Hitman: Absolution has been to make action an enjoyable alternate approach to stealth, but while that path is viable, the developer clearly favours the more traditional ghost strategies.
“Voyeurism has always been a key storytelling focus in Hitman, and we still have a lot of these small stories peppered throughout the game. It’s where a lot of the replayability comes in, actually,” the producer noted.
“If you go into the game guns blazing, you’ll get a unique experience…but if you’re stealthy and explore more thoroughly, you’ll learn a lot more about the world and characters by overhearing conversations and the like.”
On the stealth gameplay side, as well as Agent 47’s new Instinct abilities and his expanded disguise skills, IO has implemented a system for messaging to the player when they’re about to be rumbled.
“When you’re making a stealth game, it’s important to find new ways to build tension. We built a lot of prototypes for Hitman: Absolution, and we learned that creating a ‘Giger counter’ effect was a very effective way to communicate that the player is about to get spotted — you’d better move,” Abrak said.
“In earlier games, it could be frustrating because you didn’t know when an enemy was about to spot you. And that ‘Giger counter’ effect has the bonus effect of making you squirm when you play, it builds more tension. I find myself saying ‘ooh! ooh! ooh!’ when I’m sneaking around.”
Hitman: Absolution is expected on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 some time in 2012.