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IO-Interactive Interview
by: Tech21 | December 20, 2000

Hitman HQ recently had the chance to talk with Jens Peter Kurup, the lead animator at IO-Interactive. Here's what he had to say.

HQ: First of all, congratulations on an excellent and truly groundbreaking game. What were the inspirations behind creating a game the puts the player in the role of a hitman? (Oh, and what did you have for breakfast? ;) - After all, budding game designers need to know what sustains such great minds until lunch!)

JP: Thanks for the pretty words. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. The decision to make a game about being a Hitman was taken before I joined the team (a few years ago). I think that the decision was primarily taken because it generated lots of funny/sick ideas in the beginning. The fantasy about being someone that you can't be in real life interests all people.

Being someone bad on top of that interests us, and a broad range of gamers who are tired of behaving well. Let's face it; It's more fun on the dark side. Having said that, Hitman is not entirely bad/evil. The player might be, but I'm not so sure that Hitman as a character is aware how bad they really are.

The primary inspirations are movies like Leon, Nikita, The Professional, and others in that line. Breakfast is a secret, but I'll give you a clue. It's from Colombia...and mixed with water.

HQ: Obviously, a great deal of research is necessary in a realistic game of this type. How did you go about accurately depicting the different locations around the world? Also, how were the available weapons chosen? (Talk to any hitmen?)

JP: The different locations were either constructed with picture referece or by actually visiting the different places to get the atmosphere right. Either way the result is some concept-drawing that we follow. The Hotel in Budapest actually exists (I really, really want to visit it sometime and check in as Mr Tobias, jump the balcony to room 202 and grin at the steamwheel in the sauna), and some of the guys checked it out in details. Then it's modified to fit the gameplay.

The weapons were primarily chosen from their coolness. Then they were divided into gameplay categories - small and silent, big and noisy, etc.

We didn't talk to an actual hitman, but had some very interesting discussions with bodyguards and army instructors. They know quite a lot about how real world hitmen and snipers react and work, and explained a few really really wicked ways to assassinate people. In general, though, it seems that hitmen in the real world play it pretty safe - way to dull and slowpaced for a game.

HQ: While most of the game reviewers and fans love Hitman, many complaints about the control system seem to be popping up:

First, switching inventory can be a bit frustrating with the keyboard, but becomes delightfully simple with a mouse-wheel. Was this system built with the mouse-wheel in mind and the keyboard as an afterthought, or vice versa?

JP: Most of the control complaints we get are from people who have only played the first demo, or who haven't got a manual. But the control system might not feel familiar straight away. The system was built with mouse-wheel in mind, and we're currently discussing how to streamline it for the future.

HQ: Movement in Hitman is quite obviously different to that found in most FPSs (perhaps more akin to Thief). But one major area of question is 'Why did you leave jumping out?' Personally I don't run around the place jumping the whole time, but what was your reason for choosing this style of control?

JP: Mainly because we wanted to avoid any jump puzzles at all. If we had had some scenarios (like escaping across roof tops), it could have had a gameplay element, but we only needed one jump in the game, and we chose to do that jump as a triggered animation. If you don't need it, you better get rid of it.

HQ: Also pertaining to the control system are the camera angles. The default camera angle seems to be the perspective of choice, while the other is rarely used. Is this second angle meant to be used all the time, or perhaps is it more effective in certain situations?

JP: The control of the default camera is good for shooting. It's in third-person, but the control is like a normal first-person shooter. The second camera is mainly used during the adventure parts of the game. It offers a MUCH better cinematic feel and is sometimes used to address the players attention to important objects/situations in the game. It's nice to use when you know no danger is around and you just want to stroll around.

In the patch we threw a goodie in - a key to put the game into slowmotion. Since the mouse pointer moves at full speed, the cinematic camera (where you can run in one direction and shoot in another) will allow you to run into a room and deliver lots of headshots, since you have much more time to aim. It looks and sounds sweet.


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