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From 'Coastal Town' to Sapienza: Designing a Hitman level

"We used this feeling that we built a volume filled with connections, and these connections mean that you will never get lost," Hitman creative director Christian Elverdam tells PC Gamer.
"If we tell you you’re infiltrating an Italian coastal town, it’s much harder to guess where the level starts and stops, which makes the organic exploration of the level so satisfying, in my mind...We built a volume filled with connections, and these connections mean that you will never get lost."

- Christian Elverdam, creative director on IO Interactive's 2016 game Hitman, speaking to PC Gamer.

One of the more intriguing game design stories that unfolded last year was about IO Interactive's attempt to take its Hitman game franchise episodic.

The sixth game in the series launched last March and spooled out to encompass six different maps, each of which plays host to both story-centric missions, side challenges and time-limited "Elusive Target" challenges. Devs may find the story of how those maps were built intriguing, since each one was made to be traversed in a myriad of ways as players work out their way of accomplishing various missions. 

Conveniently, PC Gamer has today published a feature on the making of Hitman's Sapienza level -- originally titled simply "Coastal Town" -- that includes some interesting comments from both Hitman lead level designer Torbjørn Christensen and creative director Christian Elverdam.

"The level was created by an environment artist and myself,” Christensen told PC Gamer, noting that the pair of them put together an early draft of the Sapienza level during a studio holiday. “During those weeks the good weather was definitely an inspiration, and we could work undisturbed because everyone else was on vacation...We especially wanted to explore the verticality in coastal towns, and how streets and corridors connect everything.” 

The full feature is well worth a read over on PC Gamer's website; it's not a deep dive into Sapienza's design, but it does afford an interesting overview of the process (including a literal visual overview of the map's design and routing, excerpted below) and what IO learned from the level's subsequent popularity with players.

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