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HITMAN

Level Design

MISSION BRIEFING

Good evening 47,

Your destination is the New England maximum security State Prison located on the region's main island. Your target is the prison warden S. Norton, head of this correctional facility and a dangerously corrupt individual. He is in fact exploiting prison labor for public works, profiting by undercutting skilled labor costs and receiving bribes. Prisoners are being exploited to manage all his money laundering books, causing disastrous deflation within the State’s public economy budget.

Our client, MI6, needs us to put an end to this economic loophole.

You will be infiltrating at night, which means that the facility will be swarming with security, and the target will be the focus of everyone’s attention.

Mission Status: ACTIVE.

Good luck, 47.

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For the best experience it is recommended to play the background OST by the title banner while reading the document. Enjoy!

© IO Interactive - Hitman 3 Original Soundtrack

MAP BRIEF: PRISON

OVERVIEW

THEME LOCATION: U.S.A. (New England), Fictional Island

FANTASY

  • Infiltrate a high security hostile environment - a fictional island home to a well guarded prison.

  • Office location of a corrupt prison warden that needs to be infiltrated in order to reach and eliminate him.

  • Public confined space with military / oppressive layout.

PURPOSE

  • Highly replayable level.

  • Competitive map that can be be featured in Online Contracts and Player-Created Levels.

  • Also serves as a gameplay and technical showcase of the game.

Medium use of the major gameplay ingredients (covers, hiding spots, windows, pipes, ledges, stairs, items etc).

  • Top selection of materials and VFX with a long distance vista.

  • Blends old out-of-fashion architecture with modern influences.

  • Appeals to a broad audience and hints to where the game will go next.

MAP CHARACTERISTICS

INTENTIONS: Detention layout, old building usually associated with the government security, federal law, oppression and decadence.

  • Map used for both competitive play and environmental storytelling.

  • This translates into the map having to live on its own without breaking or sacrificing its overall layout balance. 

  • Uses regular, mostly rectangular, spaces as rooms that vary in type and theme (armory, holding cells, atrium, kitchen, bathroom, warden office etc.).

  • Overall it is a heavily militarized place.

  • Main layout is separated from the smaller one of the chapel. Both layouts are connected by the surrounding terrain surface of the island.

  • Layout must feature every tactical option unlocked so far in the game's campaign.

INTERIOR SIZE: Medium

ROOMS COUNT: 49 (Across all floors)

INTERIOR / EXTERIOR RATIO: 80% Interior

VERTICALITY USE: Medium

PLAYER SKILL: Beginner / Average

KEY GAMEPLAY FEATURES

  • Players are challenged to go through any floor using mainly corridors (high risk of being spotted).

  • Large rooms and volumes mostly lead to medium-sized areas and long line of sight corridors.

  • Larger rooms are balanced with cover possibilities or hiding spots.

  • Some rooms become safer when wearing the appropriate disguise.

  • Each floor features two staircases and the equivalent of a central atrium area.

  • One of the map's strengths derives from its easy-to-read building structure, obtained through the combination of modular and simple geometric shapes.

  • Non lethal pure stealth approach is allowed by windows, items and outskirts area.

  • Investigation and infiltration should be possible from the majority of angles around the entire main building.

OBJECTIVE SPREAD: Medium

MOODBOARD

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PITCH SUMMARY

LAYOUT:

  • PRISON is a medium-sized map.

  • Set on an island with a military twist.

  • Integrated with the Hitman campaign and franchise lore.

  • 3-stories building connected by stairs, corridors and island outskirts.

  • Large line of sight range granted by room size.

  • Unique floors feature specific rooms that make the architectural structure of the entire map believable, creating memorable gameplay moments.

ART:

  • Grey, cold, eerie fog, stale air, static water, dirt and dust are among the keywords for the environmental art bible.

  • Features open areas both indoors and outdoors and snowing vfx.

RISKS:

  • TECHNICAL - Given the high amount of snow and atmospheric vfx, some results may not be reachable.

  • THEME - Needs to focus on the oppressive, suffocating thick concrete walls to convey a claustrophobic feeling.

The layout has been created using a grid that allowed to work with modular shapes and sizes.

This approach helps to think better in terms of scale while also resulting in a tidier final presentation of the work.

The navigation flow is structured mainly across the horizontal axis for the -1 and 0 floors and vertically for floor 1. This change is aimed at challenging the mental mapping and flexibility skills while being diegetically consistent, emphasizing an increased level of security and control on the holding cells floor.

The ground floor features a large central open area that's also meant to provide a spectacle effect. On the upper floor, the equivalent surface acts as the main corridor. This proves the layout's design versatility besides its in-game architectural accuracy and coherence. These factors aren't necessarily realistic, but nonetheless they contribute to the level's believability, which is paramount in reaching player immersion.

MAP LAYOUT

ROOMS ON FLOOR 1: 30

ROOMS ON FLOOR 0: 15

ROOMS ON FLOOR -1 [BASEMENT]: 4

OPPORTUNITIES: 5

NUMBER OF EXITS: 2

  • The layout relies on corridors to create an intrinsic traversal challenge by limiting the game space and movement as if on rails.

  • This is decision is balanced out by the cover density and contrast that are set in a way that doesn't make it hard to decide which cover to choose.

  • The cover placement also aims at creating sub-spaces within each individual area of the map and its floors.

  • The different objectives for each opportunity are spread across the map's three floors as traversing them while remaining unnoticed involves a certain degree of challenge.

  • The upper floor diegetically implies a higher level of security and thus features thicker walls. Likewise, having gameplay elements like windows on the basement floor didn't make much sense. In the next paragraph you will notice as well that this floor is also characterized by longer patrol routes of hostile NPCs.

  • The darker small islands that surround the playable part of the map act as landscape assets with a decorative purpose and cannot be reached.

  • The ground floor features a fence that surrounds both the prison main building and the chapel. It acts as an additional layer of challenge while also further organizing the playable space. Besides the main access, it has a hole through which it possible to sneak in or out from the back.

  • Windows act as entrances/exits.

RLD CHART

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This rational level design chart is a simulator for the level's pacing based on its input difficulty values. It outputs the level difficulty curve, and thus:

  • Defines the foundations of the mission

  • Acts as an overview of the distribution of game elements

  • Controls the pacing design and difficulty progression

Here you can download the simulator file and observe the proposed balancing setup for the PRISON mission.

OPPORTUNITIES

OPPORTUNITY 1: Disguise as a guard and open all the prison cells

INTEL 1: File, can be found in the archive room

AREAS ACCESSIBLE BY DISGUISE: Cells Control Room

A file explaining how to operate the holding cells console at the Cells Control Room. It can be found in the basement. This will cause a massive riot that will attract the majority of guards to the holding cells, leaving the warden unprotected.

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OPPORTUNITY 2: Disguise as an inmate to access the warden’s office

INTEL 2: Conversation, can be overheard on the prison outskirts

AREAS ACCESSIBLE BY DISGUISE: Holding Cells, Warden Office

An inmate can be overheard saying that he is about to go shower since the warden has requested his presence in the office. The perfect opportunity to get near the target.

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OPPORTUNITY 3: Disguise as janitor

INTEL 3: Execution Chamber Key Card, can be found at the archive

AREAS ACCESSIBLE BY DISGUISE: Execution Chamber

The janitor is preparing the electrical chair for an execution that the warden will be performing personally. Thus the electrical chair can be tempered with to have it electrocute the warden while he’s activating it. Making it look like an accident.

OPPORTUNITY 4: Disguise as chef

INTEL 4: Key to garbage deposit, can be found in the gym area

AREAS ACCESSIBLE BY DISGUISE: Kitchen

A key to the garbage deposit unlocks the opportunity to get rat poison. When wearing the chef disguise, that poison can be used to eliminate the warden when he stops at the canteen for his meal. This disguise allows the exploration of the kitchen premises undisturbed.

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OPPORTUNITY 5: Disguise as priest

INTEL 5: Reception logbook, can be found at the main hall's reception desk

AREAS ACCESSIBLE BY DISGUISE: Chapel

A logbook detailing the wardens plans to visit the prison chapel at a specific hour can be found at the main hall. Dressed as a priest, players can wait for the warden to arrive only to drop the chapel’s massive bell as he passes below it, crushing him. This disguise allows traversal within the chapel without getting spotted.

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OPPORTUNITY

ID

DISGUISE & ITS LOCATION

ELIMINATION LOCATION

1

Prison Guard,

Armory

File,

Basement

Warden's Office

START

LOCATION

Cells Control Room

INTEL & ITS

LOCATION

3

Execution Chamber

Janitor,

Restroom

Key Card,

Archive

Execution Chamber

4

Garbage Deposit

Chef,

Kitchen

Key,

Gym

Canteen

2

Showers

Inmate,

Showers

Conversation,

Outskirts

Warden's Office

5

Chapel

Priest,

Execution Chamber

Logbook,

Main Hall

Chapel

OPPORTUNITIES RECAP

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Objectives: Eliminate target, Exit Level

Optional: Find intel to trigger and engage with optional opportunities.

Completion Time: 20 mins aprox.

Following the purpose and scope of this project, these three level layouts are based on the balancing proposed in the attached RLD chart.

In order for the sandbox to work, first and foremost the level doesn’t have to feel empty. The opportunities that populate it should make sense within the narrative of the set piece. They should help at least get close to the target or kill him indirectly. Each actor has a loop and logic that drives their decision making. As an example, guards stay in place for a few seconds before restarting their patrol loop. A suit-only path (no disguises) is also feasible and requires a pure stealth approach which relies mainly on traversal and timing.

From a level design standpoint, the purpose of this sandbox is to have players set their own goals. This is why the layout aims to allow for thoughtful experimentation and replayability. For instance, the front yard which acts as the starting place for the mission lets the players take their time to plan their approach. Player guidance and affordance could be diegetically driven by signs that would normally be inside the building (e.g. an illuminated sign pointing towards an exit, or the restroom).

An initial level description cutscene is aimed at providing an overview of the set piece.

GENERAL LEVEL FLOW

Level Start

Opening Cinematic
Level Overview

Safe area planning phase

Main 'assassination puzzle' phase

Target Eliminated

Escape phase

Exit Reached

Closing Cinematic
Level Recap

OPPORTUNITY FLOW

Here follow two example opportunity flows, respectively Opportunity 1 and Opportunity 2.

  1. [Floor 0] Traverse outskirts and pass through the hole in the fence

  2. [Floor 1] Use pipe to reach le ledge on Floor 1, then traverse along the ledge to infiltrate building through window. Once in, obtain the Guard Disguise

  3. [Floor -1] Reach the basement to obtain the intel that triggers the opportunity

  4. [Floor 1] Reach the Control Room to complete the opportunity

  5. [Floor 1] Reach the Office and eliminate target

  6. [Floor 0] Reach Exit and escape.

  1. [Floor 0] Traverse outskirts and find intel that trigger the opportunity

  2. [Floor 1] Reach the Showers room. Once in, obtain the Inmate Disguise

  3. [Floor 1] While disguised, reach the Office and eliminate the target

  4. [Floor 0] Reach Exit and escape.

YOU DEFINED THE ART, AND IT DEFINES YOU.

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