IOI Insider with Clemens Koch and Toke Krainert.
-Who is Clemens Koch ?
He is the community content manager. You know him.
-Who is Toke Krainert ?
He arrived at IOI seven years ago as an intern, he is now a level designer. He was level designer in Death in the Family (Dartmoor) and he is now lead designer of Hitman 3 Live and so works on the seven deadly sins DLC. He was involved in the Dartmoor Garden Show but it was a team effort, with ideas from everywhere.
This IOI Insider focuses on the Lust and Gluttony escalations.
-What was the inception of the seven deadly sins DLC and how did it evolve ?
The Hitman Live team wants to make content that stands out and to do something new.
At first it was mostly applying what was known from hitman 2016 and hitman 2’s escalation and adding more complex systems on top of it. Greed as such has a (coin) carryover system.
After the initial feedback the focus shifted towards systems that would inform the whole escalation’s gameplay and experience. To give open ended puzzles with distinct rules and atmospheres. It strayed away from the classic narrative of traditional escalations but resonated more. Level changes were also made, as it can change the feel of the whole level.
They want each level to have one new thing that was never done before. Pride’s were the surprising and organic new prompts (“and now you have to hide the bodies”).
They don’t have to be grounded, they can be more dream-like and playful.
The seven deadly sins escalations are now more akin to a separate game mode.
-What are the particularities of the Lust escalation
An escalation that doesn’t escalate, only one level, and randomness. It is based around one big (and replayable) game loop.
-Why Berlin ?
Level lends itself well to the gameplay. Berlin also has some nice contrasts between the central area (the light show and here a luxury and refined area) and the rest of the level.
-Why the detective gameplay ?
It was an early idea, “what if you delivered a love letter, make a match ?”. It then evolved towards multiple pretenders, followed by the clues. The concept seemed to “have written itself”.
-How long did it take to change the central area ?
More of an art department question. Sorry.
-What was your favorite aspect of the lust escalation ?
How the whole loop concludes and is a whole. How you start among the pretenders and then come back to identify them. It is cathartic. Achieving this loop in one escalation is “really cool”.
-How do you capture the feeling of a sin ?
Elusive Targets are about character and the world, the 7DS are about 47 and the level, and how they exhibit the sin.
For Lust it was a challenge, as it is very remote from 47 ways and character. Also a lewd game is not really a possibility. Hence the team finding the idea of match making. It was a “yeah, this is it” moment.
-The Gluttony escalation
First time the player can choose his targets. The level with the most freedom to date in a Hitman game. A large number of iterations are possible and are at the player’s choosing. It’s a good way to have a replayable level.
Clemens really likes the commentary from the sin narrator and how involved he is with the puzzle solving. He tried a wrong solution and got mocked as “he was an idiot” (I quote).
-Why a pig ?
It’s the traditional animal for the sin of gluttony. The idea of “feeding the pig” was also really liked. A big golden pig in the middle of a restaurant is another “yeah, this is it” moment.
-The atmosphere of the escalation
The escalation captures the aspect of “maybe just a bit more” from the traditional gameplay (“just one more hammer”, Clemens have apparently regularly a ridiculous inventory, and so do we all) and makes it central with the optional objectives.
-What’s to learn for the team from the escalation ?
How easy it is to miss the intel menu. And that’s where the puzzle instructions are. (Personal note : so that’s why communication at release insisted on reading the intel)
-The making of the escalation
They had more macabre ideas, but the idea they went for was the “right degree of gross”, with still a degree of classy. Same as lust.
Since lust, the escalations are now at the point where they are playful with the theme. The rest is left to the player.
-What is your favourite part of the escalation ?
How elegant the mapping, the weapon requirements, the dishes needed and all the moving parts come together in a neat way.
-What was the most challenging part of this escalation’s making ?
The final item toss. The team really wanted to avoid a simple prompt as it would have been too anticlimactic. Making it register every time was pretty hard and QA kept finding new bugs there.
-What is your favourite game, what made you appreciate video games ?
Banjo-Kazooie. It was the first game that made a young Toke Krainert see how a game can have worldness and togetherness, how levels can be interconnected and use gameplay in creative ways.
He also recommends the indie game “A Hat in Time”.
-How do you decide the locations for the escalations ?
They want to use all of them. Some locations were a natural fit, like gold plated Dubai for greed or Berlin for Lust. Some decisions are born from the level designer idea or desire to do something particular (like having a golden pig in the restaurant). Some arrive from a desire to use an underused area, like sloth with Dartmoor original garden. The gardens also gave the possibility to spread around the targets.
The first fit might not be obvious, but it is built around. And in the end the level and the escalation elevate each other, like with the contrast between the mansion and piles of trash in Sloth.
-Miscellaneous informations about Hitman 3 design :
-Other names mentioned : Olivia, level designer for the Lust escalation. Victor, level designer for the Gluttony escalation.
-The Light Show in Berlin is a wow moment, hence why it’s at the bottom of the stairs and of the level.
-The central character defining trait of 47 seems to be “classy”
And none of you are going to make me forget my initial misspelling of Clemens name, isn’t it ? That’s fair. (sorry Clemens)