Hawke’s Bay pitch meeting

Content of the article: "Hawke’s Bay pitch meeting"

Boss: "I've planned out an opening level for the new game."

Designer: "Wait, I thought that was my job."

Boss: "Usually, sure. But you're already doing all those other levels, and I had an idea to add on something different to lead into them. A level that's smaller, and more cinematic."

Designer: "Oh no."

Boss: "You start out landing by boat on this rough New Zealand beach. It's night, and your destination is an isolated house."

Designer: "That doesn't sound so bad. So, let's say I walk along the beach."

Boss: "I said you're supposed to go to the house."

Designer: "Right, but players strike out in random directions to explore levels. So, let's say, I keep walking along the beach to see what's there."

Boss: "Uh … a warning message pops up, saying 'LEAVING MISSION AREA,' and you stop walking."

Designer: "That's not how we do things. We mark off the borders of the playable area using level design. For example, we could—"

Boss: "So, you reach the house. And you receive new instructions: You're supposed to shoot out all the cameras. We're tutorializing how cameras work, see."

Designer: "But that's not how cameras work. No one ever has to shoot out all cameras, unless they're trying for some challenge. You just stay out of cameras mostly, and if you get caught, you erase the evidence."

Boss: "Well, we're telling players to be aware of cameras anyway."

Designer: "Actually, we have a whole new system for cameras. In this game, do something illegal in front of a camera, and so long as there are still enough guards on the map, some will come chase you down. Maybe we can tutorialize that?"

Boss: "No, we can't because there are no guards on this map."

Designer: "Just unarmed NPCs then?"

Boss: "No NPCs at all. Not at first anyway."

Designer: "But then how are you supposed to get a disguise to infiltrate this house?"

Boss: "No disguise needed. You screw with the fuse box and pop open the garage door. And in there, you see something shocking. Two bodies."

Designer: "Bodies?"

Boss: "Dead bodies. A man and a woman, just dead. It'll be truly chilling."

Designer: "Okay, but you do quite a bit of killing as 47. In slapstick ways, a lot of the time, in this game in particular. I'm not sure if a couple of bodies will be chilling."

Boss: "Oh, you're going to make it chilling. And these bodies are in front of a van's headlights. So I'm picturing their shadows cast grotesquely against the garage door, all stark and dramatic."


Designer: "But didn't the player just open the garage door? So, there's not going to be anything for those shadows to appear on, right?"

Boss: "Make it happen anyway. Then you venture into the house. And then you see what appears to be a woman sitting down, watching TV. You creep closer. It must be Alma Reynard, the owner of this place. Maybe you sneak up in hopes of knocking her out, or maybe you even aim a bullet where her head is supposed to be. But then you get a better look, and it turns out you're alone. It was just a hat placed on the back of the seat."

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Designer: "Okay."

Boss: "'Okay', that's all? I was pretty proud of that."

Designer: "Yeah, but we can't really surprise players with NPCs, or with the absence of NPCs. A lot of players flash into instinct whenever they enter an area for the first time, which pretty much gives the game away in terms of enemy placement."

Boss: "Well that's no way to explore a level for the first time!"

Designer: "Still, players do that. Never mind though. What happens next?"

Boss: "You find a secret room, stocked with weapons. This hints that you're probably going to get a chance to use all these, so don't get too comfortable! There's even a new type of weapon, the concussive grenade!"

Designer: "Do you think players are really going to be using concussive grenades a lot in this game?"

Boss: "They better, I've already commissioned a trailer calling it one of the big gameplay upgrades over Hitman 2016. So, 47 is in this safe room. You disable the security system, and—"

Designer: "The security system whose cameras we already all shot out?"

Boss: "­—get into Alma's computer, and this is how you launch the main part of the mission. Suddenly, a convoy of cars arrive, and armed guards swarm the map! And into the home comes your target, Alma Reynard. It turns out she's connected to a memorable man from the previous game."

Designer: "Ooh, is it Jordan Cross? Is it Viktor? Is it Sylvio?"

Boss: "It's Sean Rose!"

Designer: "Oh."

Boss: "She enters the home, and she immediately signs into the security system."

Designer: "The … security system I just disabled?"

Boss: "No, a different one. This one talks. It addresses occupants by name, if it can identify them."

Designer: "Wow, that's going to be a project for me to program."

Boss: "Oh, no need. 47 never interacts with that panel. Even if you break open the front door and walk in that way instead of the garage, it never detects you."

Designer: "Then why is it there?"

Boss: "Because it leads to this funny conversation between Alma and her beau, Orson. And then Alma has this whole scripted story—I won't really go into detail for now; it's not really a design concern—and she goes upstairs and gets ready for bed. You might be hiding in her room at the time, and she's getting undressed. Really creepy, makes you feel like a serious interloper here."

Designer: "I'm not sure this exactly meshes with the tone of the larger game."

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Boss: "I want this to get sexy. I'm thinking a shower scene, maybe a little late-night workout while wearing only a thong … "

Designer: "You know what? I'll put that in there, no problem. Give the player an eyeful of bare ass."

Boss: "Nice. Players are going to get real turned on hanging around this room."


Boss: "Alma goes to bed. You can kill her, she's yours!"

Designer: "And if you don't, she wakes up and starts cycling through her route again?"

Boss: "No. That wouldn't make any sense."

Designer: "Maybe not, but that's how targets generally work."

Boss: "No need! You've got her where you want her. You can smother her to death, or take her out with one bullet."

Designer: "But there are so many other ways we could kill a target in a house. Let's say when you're exploring the place, the phone rings. It's a repair service, talking about how there's something wrong with the ventilation system. So if you stumble on some poison … "

Boss: "Do you think this'll ever get old? Disguising yourself and then tinkering with some device that has a clear fatal flaw so it blows up in the target's face?"

Designer: "Someday, maybe. But not yet."

Boss: "You're overthinking it. Killing her is just the start. Next, you have to manage to return to your boat undetected and escape."

Designer: "If you've been stealthy in a Hitman mission, after the kill, you can generally just casually stroll to the exit, since no one suspects you."

Boss: "Not this time. Because the guards are patrolling the beach with flashlights, searching every nook and cranny!"

Designer: "Why are they searching, if 47 hasn't been spotted?"

Boss: "Oh, I'm sure you'll think of something."

Designer: "Maybe they're looking for a missing dog?"

Boss: "Perfect!"

Designer: "No one uses flashlights during the rest of the game, so I don't know if I'm looking forward to making those work just for this one level … "

Boss: "Make it work. Anyway, 47 crosses the beach. And at the last minute, there's another obstacle. Guards have found his boat!"

Designer: "Wow, that's huge. I guess that means your cover is blown, silent assassin lost?"

Boss: "No, nothing like that."

Designer: "I mean, there's no need for that dog excuse after all then, they've found your boat. They know there's an intruder about. They should have told Alma and sent her into lockdown."

Boss: "No, none of that. Instead, the obstacle is: You have to draw the guards away from the boat so you can board it."

Designer: "So is there where we teach how to throw coins? A little late in the level maybe, but it's an important skill to learn."

Boss: "No, I was thinking you shoot at the back of this truck, near where they're now burying those bodies. It's got a gas can and a fireworks."

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Designer: "Why fireworks?"

Boss: "So you can set off a huge explosion, attracting the guards away from the boat!"

Designer: "Does that count as silent assassin?"

Boss: "It can, sure, why not? And so you get in your boat and sail away. Mission complete!"

Designer: "I've got to say, I was skeptical, but it might be nice, playing something very different as a one-off."

Boss: "I thought so, yeah."

Designer: "Let's be sure though we do nothing that might make new players think that that is what the game is generally like."

Boss: "Right. We'll have to avoid doing anything like that."


(And in case you missed them, here are a couple more pitch meetings: Sapienza, Santa Fortuna, Paris, Whittleton Creek, Bangkok)

Source: reddit.com

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