Hitman: Absolution PS3 interview with director Tore Blystad

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Hitman: Absolution director Tore Blystad talks about evolving the series while staying true to it’s roots; IO adapting to be a multigame studio and how they’re taking hints on making “complex games” from Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix Montreal. It’s a really interesting interview with loads on both the creative process and the new gameplay mechanics. A must read for any Hitman fan. 

Official PlayStation Magazine UK Is Victoria Diana’s sister or relation at all?

Tore Blystad No.

OPM Why is Hitman’s barcode damaged?

TB It’s part of the personal contract story that Hitmans’s taking on. During that, he goes through some changes.

OPM There’s an actress playing Diana who’s been tweeting about mo-capping, presumably she plays a fairly substantial part then?

TB That’s well deducted. She’s not dead before the game starts. There is actually… er, yeah.

OPM Are we going to see anything like the old games with her speaking to Hitman when he’s on a job?

TB Who knows.

OPM What we’ve seen so far has mainly been linear. Are we going to see the old big open areas return?

TB We started showing of Absolution last year at E3 and we had a precious 15 minutes and we really focused on bringing back Agent 47 and focusing on the basic mechanics of stealth and the disguises, and a little bit of action in there. This time around in the code we are showing now, it’s focusing on the different abilities you have as player and how it will affect even very small sections of the game.

We know there are a lot of fans out there who are concerned about the game too linear or more action orientated but it’s always a choice to go for action of the more professional play styles. For us we have a lot to show off, it’s a very large and complex game. We have to take one step at a time, just getting one piece of code to this level of polish takes a lot of time.

At later stages there will be more shown off that shows of bigger parts of the game where we will see more civilian locations and a civilian setting you can blend into. It’s all coming in due time.

OPM After years as a single game studio you’re now a multi-game developer with several projects on the go. How’s are you finding that?

TB Absolution is a very complex game and we have more games going on at the same time in the studio. It’s hard for us to find a lot of staff in Copenhagen, it’s kind of like the outskirts of the world. It’s hard to get a lot people to move to Copenhagen just for a job because there is not a much security, and if this goes wrong then what is next? There are few other studios around.

We’ve gotten a lot from education in Scandinavia, where people can get a game developer education so we hire a lot from there and build up by ourselves. A game like Absolution really requires a lot of skill when it comes to level design because they are so diverse and you have to cater for so many play styles at once. It’s an extremely complicated set up and it requires a very extremely high level of competence from the level designers.

When you pair that up with the more dramatic approach; that we want everything to feel more directed without feeling imposed on the player. We don’t script sequences, as a linear game would do. The only way we can do it is set up the situations so it appears to be directed up towards the player, but if he interacts with it in ways we could not imagine then we have to cater for that as well. So it is a very difficult process.

We’re learning from the other studios in the Square group. Getting confidence how to build these more complex games, like Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics. That’s helping us a lot.

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