Hitman level design sounds pretty complex

2 min read


You can’t have a good game without good level design. Look at games like Batman: Arkham Asylum, where the sheer thrill of being the dark knight was balanced by tight corridors and expansive rooms within which to blatter heavily-armed thugs. That gives a game balance, but it’s also a design aspect which is even more crucial in Hitman.

It’s always been about taking out your contracted kill, but doing so in a manner which makes maximum use of your environment. Sure, the option to walk up to a target and introduce him to a 9mm slug has always been there, but where’s the fun in that? Hitman games where you can use your environment to make a death look like a complete accident, have always shown the series off at its finest.

And creating those levels, have always been a big challenge for IO Interactive. “The building of levels is a process that typically starts on paper, where we have an early sketch phase about what locations do we build in this level,” Principal level designer Jacob Mikkelsen said in a developer diary video.

What are the purposes of the rooms, what are the stories, how does the target use the rooms, who do we meet in the level? How many weird ways can we come up with so you can kill this person? How many accidents can we do, what kind of accidents would be special to this location?

The first version is also about the size of it. How big is this room, how big is this level, how much space do we need to actually sneak around?

“You start putting simple stuff like just the character and how it plays around in all the spaces and you kind of design the purpose of each space and what it has to be and it has to be meaningful,” level designer Marta Le Mendola explained of the prototype process.

And then when you’re satisfied after going through a lot of iterations, then you add another level of detail.

Makes sense. It must be a monumental task, creating a Hitman level. Not only do you need to figure out a space for Agent 47 that his skill can work through, around and within, but you also have to take other variables into account. All that, and Agent 47 still needs a decent amount of danger to apply his stealthy trade at. Challenging. Hitman is out next month on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Last Updated: February 17, 2016

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