Continuing the discussion from Mission Idea: Amish in the City:
Making a new topic for this because I don't want to clutter up other topics with the same argument that comes up from time to time - the theory that Hitman needs targets who are "innocent" or at least "not the worst person ever".
The thing that makes Tom Goldberg and Joseph "Swing King" Clarence evoke a response from the player is not their "innocence" but rather that they're targets which:
- Are humanized to us: They have every day problems and things we can relate to - whether it's the money problems, relationship problems, fear of death, etc.
- Their respective killers confront them so they get a moment to deal with their impending death in a way we can relate to.
Neither of these has much to do with innocence.
1. Character Design
There's nothing to stop one of our targets being an international arms dealer who supplied death squads with chemical weapons, but also is separated from his demanding wife, has a teenage daughter who is going through a punk/goth phase and is currently in a lot of financial problems due to some business accidents.
This could even be used in level design (47 could pose as a prospective client and get past security due to his desperate to get more business, or steal the daughter's phone to lure him out of his secure office, etc) however it does mean that this becomes a design priority to include all kinds of character building information and consistency in it.
Currently the level of characterization tends to be "cardboard cutout" so if they were to do characters like this they'd have to be consistent so that they don't make one character look boring compared to another. Personally I'd be in favour of this - but I'm in favour of this in all games.
The whole target spilling their guts about how afraid they are and now that they're about to get shot in the face they regret their decisions etc part requires a scripted sequence - which can only occur under set circumstances and well... was not well implemented in the last instance of Hitman. Special sequences ranged from annoying as shit (Wade, Skurky, Travis) to pointless shit (Layla, Dexter) and so were not terribly fulfilling. It also starts to fall in Assassin's Creed territory very easily.
Overall the real question would have to be "what circumstances" and "what targets" - since if it was for every target it'd quickly get old and would imply that each target had a "correct" way to be killed, thus diminishing all the other methods by default.
Personally I got no ideas except "Don't do any of the ideas from Absolution"
Part of the reason that 47's targets are so often criminals or super criminals is it allows a lot of creativity to make them interesting - none of us know a super criminal and real criminals are pretty much nothing like their video game counterparts. That and they have good justifications behind why they have armed guards, super security etc.
Consider the "innocent" options most commonly put forward:
Scientists: Has to have a really shifty reason to spend money on security instead of science stuff. Ruining the world via destroying great stuff isn't going to be exciting for a fan base and won't really match with characterization or any kind of depth.
Politicians: Boring as fuck people because they need to be "safe" to get elected. One smiling asshole in a grey suit looks more or less the same as another smiling asshole in a grey suit. Killing a rare honest politician again offers nothing of any real substance and their security is... going to be boring.
Military leaders: By the book military people are so boring it's amazing. Everything about their business life is regimented and they basically excel at following orders. Plus their security is... boring.
Honest business men: Can be exciting but generally have no reason to need the kind of security that warrants hiring the ICA - particularly since usually they represent huge interests rather than individual power.
Celebrities: Very hard to make us give a fuck about fictional celebrities and again, very difficult for them to warrant 47 out to kill them without getting their hands really dirty. I mean if Mark Ruffalo can campaign against Fracking and everything else without getting whacked why are we supposed to believe some video game guy warrants 47?
The amount of trouble and sacrifice to be involved to say "we made a character you're not going to enjoy killing to show you the gritty reality of hitman with barcodes on the back of their head" really just doesn't stack up - it'd get in the way of making the game fun.
Um... the first game in the series his targets were literally all super criminals. Then he was sent by one super criminal to eliminate all his criminal business partners, then he went up against the Franchise and saved the President of the USA and then he took down the corrupted elements of the ICA and a ruthless arms manufacturer.
It's a bit late to try to portray him as "absolutely neutral". His job sends him to kill bad people.
47 is the best of the best, he is the assassin who does jobs that are supposed to be impossible and does it with such regularity he is considered too awesome to be true by many in the know - how is a guy who makes recyclable energy going to require this level of expertise?
Targets being bad people is basically part of the branding now and makes everything run smoothly - changing that wouldn't make the game special or unique, it'd just make it... boring.