The Art of Not Implying Paths (that don't exist)

In a way, this is yet another thread where I ramble about the non-flexible nature of some Mission Stories, as I did in my “The Lack of Mission Story Fallbacks” -thread.

But instead of talking about all of the ways you can make Mission Stories more flexible, I want to talk about the tendency of some of the H2 levels to imply possibilities that don’t exist.

I want to give a couple of exampes:

Example #1: The Ark Society and the Funeral of Janus.

In The Ark Society, one of the major set pieces is the funeral of Janus, and the accompanying Mission Story lacks fallbacks/flexibility. But the problem I want to discuss here is this: It implies it could be done another way.

In this piece of dialog, a custodian can be seen being given the orders to fetch the dagger for the funeral. The funeral can’t start without it, but if it is delivered to the tower basement, it can start.

To illustrate, I decided to follow this custodian. He walks away and talks to a collegue, ending in the conclusion that he can’t weasel himself out of getting the dagger, then he continues to the building with the crate that has the dagger, but when he reaches his end location he just stands around doing nothing.
I approach him to try and hand him the dagger I’ve found:

No reaction. I also tried placing the dagger where he’d see it. Same result.

I decide to try the same with the mortician.


Needless to say, the result is the same.

Now, I respect the fact that adding a sequence where Janus’s body is moved out would be hard (though I’d probably solve it with just a cutscene if that was the case), but if this is the case, then why does the game seem to imply a path that doesn’t exist? This line of dialog you can encounter is too explicit in where the knife should go, and as a result a player might think they could deliver it there (or get it delivered there).

I think this is a question of (frankly) poorly thought out exposition. The funeral Mission Story needs to be set up correctly, and part of this is the dagger, but why is there a line of dialog telling an NPC to fetch and leave the dagger at a specific place?
In a game so centered around taking the part of NPCs, this is a major misstep in my opinion. One possible instinct for a Hitman-player here is to take the part of the custodian.

Unfortunately, the game is packed with this kind of exposition. Clearly thought to set up the main Mission Story, but unintentionally implying alternate paths that don’t exist.

In this case, I would not have this particular NPC interaction at all. Alternate dialog to be overheard could be civilians saying Janus is supposed to hold the dagger during the funeral and leaving it there.

Example #2: Chasing a Ghost, and the Elusive Tailor

Chasing a Ghost is generally a very good mission when it comes to flexibility in Mission Stories, but this example sticks out to me as yet another point where the game seems to imply as possible something that’s not possible.

This conversation can be listened in to outside of the tailor’s place.

tailor%201

To me, this implies a clear course of action.

…But alas, this doesn’t work. Again, this is an example of exposition that is meant to set up the main Mission Story where you become the tailor, but at the same time it implies this alternate approach that isn’t possible.

In this case, I would just drop the line about the royal guard and the Queen sending someone else.


In short, I want to express that I do understand that time and budget might make it impossible to make all of the Mission Stories in a mission as flexible as the ones surrounding the Kashmirian, but in those cases, I really would like to see some though put into not unintentionally implying courses of action that aren’t possible.

Maybe a part of the reason for this problem is devs planning for paths that are later scrapped, but then they need to make sure to get alternate takes of dialog like this, it really seems like a small thing to ask for.

There are other examples I could expound on like, for instance, the submarine mechanic in Three-Headed Serpent, who is supposed to be fetched by a guard, but if you approach him as a guard nothing happens… but I don’t want to make this novel length, so two examples are enough.

So, you guys agree? Have any thoughts on the subject?

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I see what you mean, I myself noticed these dialogues but forgot about them in the giant pile of impressions to receive from each map.

I assume all these ideas were on the table. And for long enough so some began influencing dialogues and such things. But then later they got to the phase to clean up ideas that delay the plans too much. The obvious parts of them, sequences, prompts and such stuff, were cut. But in millions of lines of dialogues, you easily forget something and even when reading them you don’t connect it to former ideas.

What I cannot imagine is that they intentionally did that.

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Oh agreed. It would be straight up weird if they did, and that’s why I want to shine a light on the problem.

I do think it should be a pretty simple thing to implement a system where you map what things tie in to what possibilities. So “Possibility X” has a list of stuff that ties into it, including lines of dialog. When “Possibility X” is later scrapped, just refer to the list to get rid of the necessary parts.

I just wanted to stop by and say that this was a very enjoyable and informative read. It’s something that I too have noticed before, but assumed some ends were left open just to make sure you have the opportunity. Thanks for the read mate.

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It’s even worse with the dagger. If you show up disguised as custodian and pull out the dagger, the funeral organizer loses her shit and people immediately start shooting at you.

The whole Janus funeral is really weird as a whole. I suspect that initially it was supposed to play out differently but was drastically reworked at the last second because it didn’t test well. The dagger itself is the oddest part since it is entirely optional for the whole sequence, yet in game guide treates it as mandatory.

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there is also that one Dragon Flame cocktail in Sgail that seems to be scrapped. would probably be similar to the bare knuckle boxer in Paris

I think that’s just an Outside Xbox reference.

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The dagger is required for the kill tho isn’t it?

no, you can snap their neck if you dont have the dagger

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That’s interesting. I’ll have to check that out

Here’s the question, though. How do you rewrite these parts to avoid telegraphing non-existent solutions to players? I honestly don’t know. In case of Janus I can see two possible changes to the sequence itself that would be easier to implement than rewriting dialogue.

Yeah this type of dialog is a bit confusing if you have mission story prompts disabled.

The worst offender for this is definitely the bank robbers for the New York mission, I spent ages trying to figure out how to start the bank robbery. I wonder if it was cut content because it would have been really cool, at least the bunny bank robber outfit is fun.