Games

Map subtle social cues throughout Hitman’s level design

Hidden gameplay Hitman A series means that every time you create one of the game’s vast sandboxes, designers at that level face their own challenges. How do you design a reliable daily life?

This is a topic that IO Interactive’s Mette Podenphant Andersen took a long time to explore at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, benefiting from several concepts and languages ​​that began in social anthropology.

Two recent games Hitman The franchise was a light gameplay restart of the series, aimed at capturing the free-form sandbox gameplay that underpinned the 2006 release. Hitman: Blood Money..While taking that approach, players gained more freedom than the 2012 semi-linear Hitman: Forgiveness, That free-spirited, asked the IO Interactive level design team to adopt different design approaches.

“It starts and ends with level design,” Andersen offers as a motto picked up from the producer.

Due to the nature of the game, Andersen states: HitmanLevel designers are involved in many other aspects of development. “We touch everything at some point,” she says. This ensures that she and other designers are working closely on everything from environmental art to the final “janitor” and that everything is going according to plan.

“Apart from mocking up all one of the most important things we do in the game Hitman We make life and make the drama situation, as we call it, “she says. “We owe a little from the theater world.”

It’s a task that was almost perfect in the episode Hitman (2016)Sapienza’s level is so high that the highly acclaimed level of review spent a lot of time talking about the city’s characters, landscapes, and small background moments, rather than the actual assassination mission itself, she said. I will.

“Everything they seemed to be talking about when I looked at the reviews had nothing to do with the mission. They all just explained how it felt to be there. Was, “she says. “So my question wasn’t how to create a great level, but something else, such as how to design everyday life, how to design it, and so on. Believable Everyday life. “

This is where light social anthropology comes into play. Andersen specifically points to the teachings of two sociologists, Pierre Bourdieu and Erving Goffman. Bourdieu explained that she created the idea of ​​a social space and social marketplace that would act as capital for various actions to be exchanged.in the case of Hitman, Protagonist Agent 47 can wear incompetent NPC uniforms, costumes, and costumes, take on that role, and access new areas based on the role taken.

Goffman, on the other hand, offers social front-stage and back-stage ideas, where different behaviors and different social conditions and performances are applied depending on the setting, she says.

Andersen himself was an intern at the time Hitman (2016) Announced and used these technologies, HitmanThe large social space is easier to read and assigns new and useful languages ​​to techniques already established by the team.

At the highest level Hitman It provides public and private spaces. Public spaces are those that players can explore from the beginning of the level without disguising or sneaking in, and private spaces are bound by strict rules of action and access. She uses some of her social anthropology know-how to further categorize each into three categories. All of these categories are used by level designers to subtly teach players acceptable behaviors and general things about the world.

Basic “public” spaces, such as the town square of Sapienza, have few social rules, no “social executors” that players must be wary of, and players breathe to build land. We provide a suitable place for you. Even in “public purpose” spaces such as alleys, there are no social enforcers and few rules of conduct, but they subtly encourage certain actions or gameplay actions. They are spaces with a delicate purpose, but there is no inherent danger.

The “Public Rules” space comes with implicit social rules, just by using common social settings that players already know from their lives. The Church of Sapienza is an example of what she provides, implying a strong sense of social rules and exists for social enforcers to “discontinue” the behavior of those boundaries. However, she points out that they provide a safe environment for communicating trespassing rules and elements of social stealth to players.

A basic “private” space is a trespassing space, like a private alley, but one that promotes stealth and doesn’t hit dangerous players. They also act as a “breather space” for players between stronger private areas. A “private professional” space, such as a kitchen, is a rigorously purposeful area, and it is clearly communicated through the space itself that it blends in as a staff member to comply with those social rules.

“Private personal” space Hitman.. “We don’t have a lot of these, so we shouldn’t, but where are these? […] It tells you who your target is through the levels, “Andersen explains. “Don’t overdo these. You’ll feel special.”

With these in mind, she shares a mapped overview of Sapienza created to emphasize how these spaces are represented throughout the level.She does the same at the other 5 levels Hitman (2016), But points out that “someone did all this without formalizing all these social spaces,” but she “is inaccessible to me as a new designer” without the label currently applied to each zone. was”.

“It just made us talk,” she says. “We started looking back at what we were actually doing. I think it was really valuable.”

The language and type knowledge created by classifying these spaces into different categories Hitman 2, A game with a larger level and diverse social spaces than the previous game.Map Hitman 2Miami, the first level of the game, emphasizes both the size of the level itself and the large public area where players are more or less free to explore. “What we learned was that we could maintain player involvement without introducing trespassing,” she explains.

This time, using established methods and languages, teams are now designing a level that focuses on facilitating exploration through clues subtly provided by free and reliable social spaces. ..

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