Hitman: Blood Money - interview

The well-known asssassin 47 attacked our PCs and console systems more than a year ago in a third part of Hitman series as Hitman: Constracts. The new installment is coming now under a name Hitman: Blood Money. And we bring you an exclusive interview with Adam Lay, the game producer.
Hitman: Blood Money - interview

[?] Before we start, please can you introduce yourself to our readers? Tell us how long have you been working at IO Interactive and what`s your current role in the development of Hitman: Blood Money?

[!] My name is Adam Lay, and I’m the Assistant Producer upon Hitman: Blood Money. I have been at Eidos for 4 years, and worked upon Silent Assassin and Contracts before this.

  

[?] How many employees did IO Interactive have when was first Hitman released and how many employees has now?

[!] When Hitman: Codename 47 was released, there were around 30 employees. Today there are now over 150 people working at IO Interactive.

[?] Well, let`s move to new Hitman: Blood Money. Please, tell us something about main plot and characters.

[!] We don’t want to give too much away right now, but fans of the series won’t be disappointed. Its going to answer some of the questions previously raised in Codename: 47, Silent Assassin and Contracts, and will also introduce some new ones as well.

The story delves deeper into the workings of the ICA (also known as the ‘The Agency’, 47’s employer) and will reveal more of the underlying story that has been suggested and referred to throughout the series.

A lot of what you have previously learnt about 47 is from (in one way or another) the characters he has become involved with. Blood Money will introduce several new key characters into the Hitman world, along with the re-appearance of certain individuals and even organisations, which have been involved in 47’s past for a long time…

[?] Will Mr. 47 have some new abilities?

[!] Objects and actual environments are far more intractable than seen in any of the previous games in the series. It’s now possible for 47 to vault and climb over walls, climb through roof hatches in elevators, scale ledges and traverse various balconies and ledges.

With this improved mobility, the potential possibilities the player has in their overall approach to each mission, and how they actually decide to kill their targets/s is greatly increased.

Additionally, a new in-game camera system has been implemented. The player can now move the camera independently from the on-screen character. The camera is no longer fixed upon 47’s back, allowing the player to pan around the environment whilst they move. This leads to a greater outlook of their surroundings, as they move and explore the environment.

Occasionally whilst attempting a hit, you will invariably find yourself in a situation where you may have to perform unplanned casualties and/or fatalities. We decided to include several close combat techniques to support this, reducing the reliance the player has on firearms, and to help maintain a professional and stealthy approach.

For example imagine you have just taken out your target successfully, a guard then enters the room and sees you and the dead body, he draws his weapon and is aiming directly at you, what do you do? Well now it’s possible to react to this situation as a true professional would. You grab the gun out of the guards hands and use his own weapon to take him down. There are also some non lethal moves included too, like the head butt and the ability to push people around. Imagine if someone was standing too close to the edge of a balcony, wouldn’t it be unfortunate if someone pushed them over the edge, and they fell to there death? Accidents do happen…

  

[?] I`ve played all three Hitman titles and I have to admit, that the last one was more action-oriented than previous. Is it only my feeling or just the bare fact? And what about Hitman: Blood Money - will it be more action or stealthy?

[!] Contracts portrayed a dark event in 47’s life. He had been shot and was close to death, recalling his past missions as he lay drifting in and out of consciousness. As the player approached these missions, they may of noticed the darker gritty theme running throughout. Many of the missions in Contracts were set at night, in the rain, in gruesome locations such as the slaughter house. This in turn led to a more action orientated experience.

Blood Money is more stealth focused than the last, it could be considered more Silent Assassin than Contracts. The introduction of receiving payment per mission,  the inclusion of setting up potential accidents, and with the risk of raising notoriety and being recognised, mean it is in the player best interests to take the professional, more stealthy approach whenever possible.

[?] What new weapons will be available? We also heard someting about upgrade system...

[!] 47’s personal weapons (such as his Dual Silverballers and W2000 sniper rifle) benefit greatly from the new customization feature that has been introduced. They are currently over 50 various types of upgrades that can be applied to 47’s custom built weapons, all of which have been designed to complement the player’s personal preference and style of play. Weapon configuration options are determined by the player and their preferred style of play. For example the player could put together a weight reduced bolt action sniper rifle, with enhanced scope and low velocity ammo, or perhaps an assault rifle equipped with armour piercing ammo and increased clip capacity. The choice is the players; they decide what they think they should take on the job. As in the previous games, 47 will also be able to use any firearms he happens to encounter whilst conducting his business.

Bombs now also feature with 47’s arsenal; these can be used for a number of different techniques. The first and most obvious use being used to directly kill someone with an explosion, bombs can be dropped or thrown and detonated via a remote to explode within split second accuracy. Bombs can also be used to take down certain parts of the environment; they can be attached to lighting rigs and chandeliers for example, leading to rather nasty looking ‘accidents‘. They can also be used for distractions, enemies and civilians will investigate a rigged explosion, giving 47 an opportunity to sneak into a restricted area for example.

  

[?] Hitman: Blood Money will feature so-called "notoriety system". Can you describe it? Does it mean some advantages/disadvantages for player?

[!] As the world best assassin, undoubtedly your identity is your most valuable asset. Walking into the foyer of an Opera house and opening up with an automatic shotgun may guarantee payment for the hit initially, but it will make your profession that bit harder when you attempt to perform your next. A blood bath won’t go unnoticed in the eyes of the law and the media.

Within Hitman: Blood Money, how the player approaches each mission can affect their individual experience throughout the course of the game. Leaving a witness to a murder, leaving evidence at the scene of the crime, being caught upon CCTV can increase 47’s notoriety, making him a recognisable face. How the in-game characters react to 47’s presence throughout later missions will all depend upon this, guards will hold that stare a little longer, follow you further and generally be more suspicious of your activities. Civilians will run and flee to the nearest member of security, when they realise that the man in the expensive Italian suit walking towards them, is in fact the man whose face is plastered across the mainstream media.

Many of the locations and scenarios in Blood Money take place within public areas. If your last mission turned into a blood bath and your face recognised, you can expect performing the next hit to be more of a challenge. The professional Hitman who performs the silent hit is always rewarded, in more ways than one.

[?] What if everybody will know your face? (refer to notoriety system). Can you reveal something more on disguises? Will it be possible to re-establish your reputation?

[!] Good question and one we have taken into account seriously throughout the design and implementation of how notoriety is portrayed in game. Ultimately if the player turns a mission into a blood bath, then they can end of paying the price, quite literally. Post mission, the player has the option to use the money they have accumulated, to make use of the additional services offered by the ICA (AKA The Agency, who supplies 47 with his line of work).  For a fee, the ICA can help ensure that a dead body left at the scene, or a potential witness to a murder, can either be silenced or never found. This helps reduce information regarding 47’s identity reaching the news and media portrayed in game, and in turn helps protect 47’s identity.  Players also have the opportunity to revisit past previously completed levels and try again with a more professional approach.

  

[?] One of the today`s hottest topic is sexual explicit or violent content in the games. It isn`t secret that your games are including big guns, murders, prostitutes and other stuff like that. Someone could say you really like it... What`s your attitude to this problems?

[!] The Hitman series portrays the world of a professional assassin, which as we could all imagine is not about rainbows and fluffy bunnies, it ultimately involves guns, death and money :-)

We want to portray a sense of realism, and by doing so, we do step into the darker and more  grittier aspects of life. There are several taboos we wont touch however. We don‘t feature children in the game at all, and have no female targets (although females can be killed indecently) other than that, content is dictated by the age ratings system at the end of the day.

[?] Hitman: Blood Money will be running on new version of Glacier engine. Could you mention some of its features? If you compare technical aspects of Contracts and Blood Money with previous titles, what will be the major change or improvement?

[!] Graphically, there is a huge leap between Hitman: Blood Money, and the previous Hitman games. Blood Money is the first game to be powered by IO Interactive’s latest implementation of the powerful Glacier engine. This features a completely new render engine supporting up to shader model 3.x, allowing realistic refraction based environment effects. Both the Xbox and PC versions will feature dynamic soft shadows, and a new character rendering system consisting of a highly realistic rendering system, utilising normal mapping, self shadowing and rim lighting.

Most of these techniques are based on the simulation of light, and how it reacts to surfaces and effects the environment that surrounds it. For example if you were to stand in a room above with a light above your head, your eye sockets, ears, arms etc will all fall into natural shadow. How lights interacts with a surface depends on what that surface is, for example a varnished table will actually appear polished and reflect light, whilst an old wooden table will appear dull and grooved.

All these affect produce a much more detailed, believable and realistic environment.

[?] A lot of people like IO Interactive`s games because of smashing music. What can we expect from new Hitman?

[!] Jesper Kyd will once again be providing an excellent soundtrack. Expect a classic Hitman mix of orchestral/electronic music.

  

[?] I know it may be hard to say, but could you estimate the average playing time for medium players?

[!] It would be hard to say, and I don’t really think I could put a finite number of hours upon it. It all depends on the difficulty chosen, weapons used, and ultimately how the player wishes to approach the level. The missions are considerably large in size, more so than in Contracts, and  there are many more possibilities the player can attempt in order to successfully approach a level. I would say the average playing time would be longer than both Contracts and Silent Assassin however.

[?] Do you plan some changes in saving system?

[!] We have now included a new profile system that is used to store the player progress, weapons, money etc, but the actual number of saves provided per difficulty level will remain the same. The harder the difficulty, the less saves you have. We have actually included an additional difficulty setting that does allow unlimited saves however. As in the previous Hitman games, you will still be able to save your progress at any point within mission.

[?] Everybody knows, that IO Interactive is tightly tied to Hitman series, but there`s another successful game - Freedom Fighters. Are there any plans for potential sequel?

[!] At the moment we don’t wish to disclose any details upon any other games that may be in development at IO interactive. However keep your eyes upon www.ioi.dk and www.eidos.com for and announcements regarding future IO titles.

  

[?] Do you look forward to new generation console systems? How do you see your future? In your opinion, is it possible to make competitive games in small teams when you`re facing giants like Sony or Electronic Arts with hundreds of employees?

[!] IO Interactive is a cutting edge studio, who thrives upon working with the latest technology and techniques. The coming of the next generation of consoles such as the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 is a very exciting time for all of us as both gamers and developers. The Hitman series has always valued itself in pushing the boundaries of both the gameplay experience and the technology that powers it and will continue to do so. We are looking forward to expanding the Hitman series still further, taking full advantage of the power and scope offered by the upcoming next generation of machines.

[?] There`s also one other big thing about IO Interactive and Hitman series we shouldn`t miss to mention. I am talking about the forthcoming movie based on Hitman series with Vin Diesel as a main character. Can you give us a brief overview of the movie`s storyline or tell us someting about shooting? Frankly, we`re really big movie fans and we looking forward to it.

[!] Unfortunately, we don’t wish to disclose any details regarding a movie at this time.

[?] Thank you for your time, is there anything else you`d like to add?

[!] Sure, remember to check out www.hitman.com  for all the latest news and features upon Hitman: Blood Money, and head over www.hitmanforum.com  where you can discuss all things Hitman with fellow assassins.

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