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Hitman dev says the secret to expansive level design is spirals

"They're basically spirals, or a snail house, we call it," IO Interactive's Torbjorn Christensen told Rock, Paper, Shotgun,, explaining the in Hitman levels like Sapienza and Hokkaido.
"They’re basically spirals, or a snail house, we call it."

- IO Interactive's Torbjørn Christensen, speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun about how the studio designs Hitman levels like Sapienza and Hokkaido.

How do you make a level seem as big and expansive as possible?

One way, according to Hitman lead level designer Torbjørn Christensen, might be to think of your level like a big spiral -- a "snail house" your players can walk every inch of without feeling as though they've hit a wall.

Christensen and lead game designer Jesper Hylling recently spoke to Rock, Paper, Shotgun about the design of Hitman's Hokkaido level, and its a good read if you're curious about how the snowy, isolated space got its shape -- or why it might seem to feel larger than it actually is.

"One of the reasons why all these levels feel larger than they maybe are in terms of square meters is that you can keep moving ahead all the time,” Hylling said, referring specifically to the Sapienza and Hokkaido levels in Hitman. “There are no dead ends and you never need to backtrack, although you can.”

Corollary to this is the Hitman development team's reported focus on designing each room so that players can comfortably "flow" through them without say, missing notable stairwells or doorways. You can read Christensen and Hylling's comments on that and many other aspects of Hitman's level design in the full RPS article.

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