Fair warning: This post will read like the ramblings of an old man. I’m not an old man, or at least not old enough to indulge in this kind of activity, but I feel compelled to do so anyway. I’ll try to put the interesting bit in the beginning, but I will highly likely outstay my welcome and/or your interest. Thank you in advance to those who will choose to bear with me anyway.
I want to talk to you about a place that existed a long time ago. HitmanHQ. We called it HHQ. In a way, it still exists today, or at least its ruins. You can take in the sights here: http://hitmanhq.com/. This is the interesting bit for the more nostalgic fans, which is why I’m putting this in the most nostalgic section of this forum. The front page is a treasure trove of fan made material, ranging from comic books, walkthroughs, movie scripts and funny screenshots, forgotten in the ages. Unfortunately, you will also encounter some 404-errors. It cannot be helped. The news page is not up to date either, I must admit. The first, careful announcement of a new Hitman game that will take 47 stateside is the most recent bit of news you will find, along with a promise that more news, along with a redesigned HHQ messageboard, will follow soon. Halas, it was not to be.
Its old. It’s not very important. But somehow it felt wrong to not even mention this place here. To pretend it never existed. And who knows, maybe there’s a cautionary tale in what follows next.
Fair warning 2: Here is where the rambling starts.
HHQ was my first home on the Internet, maybe a bit like how Hitmanforum now feels for many of you. I registered to their forums, because I couldn’t comprehend why I couldn’t climb the ladders in Kowloon Triads in Gang War even though they were marked on the map, and why I couldn’t hide the Red Dragon negotiator’s body in those big yellow dumpsters (I know, I was ahead of my time) instead of having to drag him to an open sewer. I simply had to have answers. I picked the nickname “Franz”, because that Budapest villain looked quite cool and intense in the manual. I hadn’t reached the level in the game when registering yet, so little did I know about how he would be portrayed in the mission itself. But I stuck to it. The forum, at first, didn’t allow for personally uploaded avatars, but there was a set you could choose from. There were Tzun, Lee Hong, a Red Dragon guard, but no Franz. In the end, I settled for a miniature Dr. Kovacs. I had no idea who that was yet either, but he looked close enough to being a Franz.
What I discovered beyond the answers and avatars was a beautiful community of bright, funny, welcoming people. I joined around 2001, so the forum already existed for a bit and the community already got quite close. The fanbase of the franchise, which back then only consisted of the one game and vague rumours of a second one coming up, already grew into a quite closely knit community. We discussed games, of course, but also movies, culture, life in general. Much of it went over my head back then, I was pretty young, and just trying to keep up with the residents’ wit. There were no heart-buttons under each post, but whenever I got a from one of those brilliant people it felt like I had the world at my feet.
Anyway, the years went on, we mainly discussed off-topic silliness in an ever-growing topic called “Religion - Can there really be a God?”, Silent Assassin came, and with it, a growing interest in the franchise. By that time the moderators had gone, either for personal reasons or just a general lack of time. The community became a bit more elitist. New users were greeted with jokes instead of answers, because the old users, not least myself, were mainly looking for another one of those blue grins. It was fun, but it couldn’t last.
At some point, the announcement on the forum came of a new place in e-town. Hitmanforum. Could have been ampburner himself who posted a message about it, perhaps it was Hitbert or Mindhunter. In any case, the people at HHQ found it laughable that another community of Hitman should come into existence. War was promptly declared.
I registered at Hitmanforum to fight that war. I was Hitmanforum’s 70th member at its first iteration. Hitmanforum followed the same formula as HimanHQ: it had a front page to collect news and to highlight fan made material. I registered, but I had no intention to stay. It was a place full of goody-two-shoes, with rules and stuff. I insulted people , and just spread the good word that HHQ was better. I got banned, once or twice, but slowly I wanted to become more sneaky about it. Befriend the enemy, get in some actual talk about Hitman, and then strike. But I never struck, because there was simply no strike to be had, and because I grew a bit older and a bit more mature, and in the end I just really wanted to discuss Hitman. I just kept hanging around. I stayed active in both HHQ and Hitmanforum, when Hitman Contracts came out. But HHQ was steadily dwindling in activity, in users, while HMF’s was steadily growing. By the time Blood Money came out, HHQ was dead. The HHQ forums still remained active for a while, but activity was restricted to three or four topics, like an old castle where only two rooms are kept warm. Three years ago I posted a message there, thinking it was a cry into the void, but it got two replies. But now the forum is really gone, not even archived.
Anyway, with HHQ having its near-death experience I became more active on Hitmanforum. I never did anything much memorable. I had a cute “signature”, we still had those back in the day, which was basically the picture of a baby mountain goat, with my nickname written next to it. And even back then, when people were creating custom missions for Blood Money, I kept raving on about Hitman Codename 47, creating custom missions for that game instead.
I don’t have all that much recollection of those HMF years, strangely enough. I vaguely remember Jardel, now @wincenworks, sporting an avatar of a longhaired comic book character with a bandana who looked pretty tough. I definitely remember him having a distinct debating style, to which he stays true to this day. There was a guy called himself Id. He posted a lot of selfies on the forum, I think he might have invented the selfie-concept considering the time he was doing it, but it’s fair to say he was a very pretty boy. There was a Black Cerberus. dark made amazing custom contracts and was a wizard in MS paint. He did stuff with that programme that a lot of people couldn’t even pull off in Photoshop. He made me a nice set of Tetris avatar and signature. I want to say a Recluse, too? After a while I stopped coming to the forums, with no clear and definite reason, but quietly enough for very few people to actually remember me going, or actually remeber me ever having been there in the first place.
Oh well, not many people to share this with now. I saw @Krelian recently said hello in the introduction post. Maybe he’ll share memories. I tagged wincenworks but I don’t know him to be the nostalgic one. I’m glad to see @Agent_17 is still registered. Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into an old-boy-club either. Like I said, just ramblings.
In the end, the war between HHQ and HMF was pretty much over before it began. Hitmanforum bloomed, and thanks to @ampburner, wincenworks, a thoughtfully designed set of rules, a motivated group of moderators, the ever growing community, and the continued commitment of IOI to keep creating games in the franchise, this place, bright and shiny and new, looks like it will survive for years to come. Maybe decades. Maybe more. I like to think Hitmanforum is my home on the internet now. But it wouldn’t feel right without at least mentioning the place where it all started for me: Hitman HQ. Where the shots never really were called daily.
I’ll close with a shout-out to some of the HHQ-crew: DTRY, who replied to my very first forum post, NeXuS, who was my rolemodel and sent me “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” in the mail, Wretch, who also came to Hitmanforum and was as witty as he seemed wretched, know your enemy, who was always an enigma to me, Jan0s and Saepe, fellow Belgians, Alia Nexis, first forum girl, Geezer and Disco Cat, wise and gentle men. I forget many, but no matter. I doubt they’ll read it anyway.