Hitman: Absolution director: “20% of players will see the last level”

Hitman Absolution E3 screens

Hitman: Absolution director Tore Blystad has told OPM that, “20 per cent of the players will see the last level of the game. It’s horrible to know. It makes the people working on it really really sad.”

The surprising number was revealed while discussing the use of metrics to record player behaviour. “We are using metrics a lot more now than we did, for good and for bad,” explains Blystad. “The general player will probably never even finish the game, which is very sad. Or they might only play through it once, but the game is built for the people who want to go back through every single level and get all the stuff out of it. It’s built to last, rather than be a one-off experience.”

When I asked him about what makes a good or a bad metric, he replied: “Knowing that 20% of the players will see the last level of the game. It’s horrible to know. It makes the people working on it really really sad.” Why does he think the completion rate is so low? “I guess people can’t commit to taking all those hours to finish one product, they get tired of it. It’s not just for this game, it’s for any game.”

Hitman Absolution preview screens PS3And, while the temptation might be there to shift levels around get all the best stuff up front, it’s not that easy explains Blystad. “It’s very difficult when something is constructed to fit into a larger story to move things too much around. I think in some of the previous Hitman games that that might have been the case – that some levels were moved earlier, because they were more catchy or interesting. For us it hasn’t really been that easy, because the story is really tying all the levels together, so they’re still coming in the same order, more or less, that they were designed.”

The challenge, then, is making the player want to stick around. “A battle we have is that we want to put all this stuff in, but we also know that because the game is up to the player there’s a lot of people that will never ever see it. The only thing we can do is incentivise replayability in different ways”. The good news is that whatever IO are doing with Absolution is playing off. “In the user tests we have they actually tell us that the replayability factor in itself, it’s the situation or the humour that’s the reason people actually go back through the levels, they want to see more, they want to find these things, which makes us very happy, because it takes a lot of time and effort to get these things in.”

You can read the full interview and find out more about our hands on feature in the latest issue of Official PlayStation Magazine UK. As well as the paper edition it’s also on the Apple Newsstand where you can now pick up a digital copy of Official PlayStation Magazine UK for £3.99. You can also get Official PlayStation Magazine UK on Zinio.