And now! Allow me some more theorizing on how a (and let's call it) "HITMEN" gameplay concept could in work in theory.
>> It's a bit rough around the edges. It's also quite some time ago since I have dived into Hitman gameplay mechanics. So bear with me. <<
**Any similarity with any current or future IOI project is purely coincidental.**
This particular concept is pretty complex in nature and more focused on stealth and diversion as opposed to a more run of the mill shooter focused concept. And probably has a more narrow target group as such. But it captures the spirit more of a multiplayer Hitman-like experience.
Also I think it's a really interesting design challenge! So it would be super fun to pen down my thoughts around a design solution.
It wouldn't be a trivial implementation or production. A lot of the tools and tech of the Glacier 2 engine would probably fit in quite well. And if anyone could pull it off. It would be IOI. But overall it would be a rather tall order and take some years in the cooker.
Obviously it would have to be prototyped, play tested and iterated extensively. Before you know if it would work in real life or not.
I have focused on the core gameplay experience. Plenty of systems should be built around it. Like in game communication.. voice chat, text chat, phrase dialog system??. And go into more detail about equipment systems, camera, combat, vehicles etc. etc. But I will try to make it fairly short and hopefully clear.
:: HITMEN Gameplay Concept ::
Overall the Hitmen concept is a team based game. Where 2 sides, Security or Hitmen is tasked with the assassination or the protection a VIP.
An attachment of bodyguards are closely guarding the VIP. The VIP is visiting various locations in the levels and performing things like talks, performances for a audience, meetings etc. all mapped out in advance.
The Hitmen team has to perform their mission before the VIP leaves the area.
Players takes control of their team's characters (AI-Avatars), already placed in the level.
Players can choose from 5 Hitmen vs. 20 Security people, Their numbers could vary depending on the level.
Each side has a range of classes to choose from. And can change class at any time. The AI-avatars of the level will have a high degree of autonomy when not controlled by a player. Technically the game could work with 1-2 players on a server. More players would be better.
A round plays out in 3 phases. The current phase goals are clearly communicated to the players.
As many as possible gameplay elements should have to be procedurally placed to give levels a high level of replayability.
Play session time 20-30 minutes per round?
Core gameplay feel keywords are:
Team work, stealth, diversion, unknown factors, discovery, tension building, timed assassination, investigation, control, authority, arrest, detention, responding, pursuit, narrow escape.
-- Hitmen Phases --
Phase #1 - Infiltration. Trying to disable security, smuggle weapons or pieces of weapons (Like a snipe rifle in multiple parts) into the inner layer of security without detection. While preparing for the eventual assassination and escape. A hacker role would have the ability to remotely control/disable various security features as doors and cameras. By bringing a laptop to a specific network room. Also Hitmen will likely try to subdue security guards and obtain their uniforms and access rights. The get access to even deeper levels of security.
During the infiltration phase, Hitmen controlled avatars might get detained and would have to spend precious time attempting to free their partners in crime. Or choose to leave them behind.
All Hitmen has a Suspect Rating. The more illegal and suspect activity they are involved in, the higher the rating.
(Possibly the Security Team should also have some sort of rating system. Or an inherent motivation to not go completely crazy shooting left and right and causing a ruckus)
- Green: Not a suspect. Can be searched.
- Yellow: Tagged for suspicious activity. Can be searched. Can be detained temporarily.
- Orange: Tagged for illegal activity. Shows up on the map. Can be searched. Can be detained permanently
- Red: Tagged for highly illegal activity. Shows up on the map/HUD. Can be searched. Lethal force is now authorized. Can be detained permanently.
Phase #2 - Assassination. When the conditions are met for the assassination. Like lethal weapons has been smuggled and assembled inside the high security zone. An assassination attempt is executed. It could in itself be a feigned attempt to lure the VIP team into a trap along the evacuation route set up earlier by the Hitmen team. More possible if the Hitmen team is able obtain evacuation plans through hacking.
Phase #3 - Exfiltration. When an assassination attempt has been successfully executed. The Hitmen team would have to escape the scene of the crime. As they will be shown as visible in the Security Teams HUD and game map and be hunted down by the Security Team.
-- Security Phases --
Phase #1 - Perimeter Security. Low level security guards armed with short range melee weapons like batons/tasers. Are manning checkpoints with metal detectors and patrolling the level. Marking and reporting suspicious activity they find. Eg. disabled cameras. And trying to spot Hitmen in the crowd. Security can pat down and disarm suspects. And have the ability to physically detain them in a detention facility or van. Or just tail suspects for further investigation. And watch for suspicious activity on the security cameras.
Phase #2 - Full Alert - Assassination attempt. When an assassination attempt on the VIP has happened, the Security team is put on full alert. And the Security Rating of the Hitmen team will increase.
If a successful attempt is carried out by the Hitmen team and the VIP is eliminated. The Security team would have to kill/detain the Hitmen team depending on their Security Rating.
Also on Full Alert. Weapon lockers will be unlocked and the rest of the Security team can equip firearms.
If the Hitmen team is unsuccessful in the assassination attempt. The VIP bodyguards of the Security team would have to evacuate the VIP to a secure location. And the rest of the Security team would have to detain/kill the Hitmen team.
Phase #3 - Apprehension/Evacuation - The rest of the game is spent evacuating the VIP and/or hunting down and preventing the Hitmen team from escaping. Likely vehicles would be available for the Security team to catch up with the Hitmen team.
At the end of the round a winning team is announced. Each team's score-bonus is counted from completed tasks in the game. Like correct apprehensions, disabled cameras, breached check points, stealth.. etc.
Security wins MASSIVELY if the VIP is able to complete his/her string of tasks unharmed.
Security wins NICE if the VIP is successfully evacuated after a failed attempt.
Security wins OK if the VIP is assassinated but has all Hitmen either detained and/or killed.
Hitmen wins MASSIVELY if the VIP is neutralized and all Hitmen is able to escape.
Hitmen wins NICE if the VIP is neutralized and at least half of the Hitmen is able to escape.
Hitmen wins OK if the VIP is neutralized and maximum of 1 Hitmen is able to escape.
:: THE LEVELS ::
The game plays out on a fairly large and comfortable size level. Probably pretty close to what traditional Hitman size maps are. Possibly large enough to afford vehicle gameplay in some cases.
The level is usually laid out in an sort of onion ring like conceptual fashion, where each layer has an increased layer of security for the Hitmen team to penetrate.
The level is dotted with randomly placed security cameras. Has multiple security check points, Security Team's weapon lockers, keycard/remote operated locked doors, exfiltration vehicle, evacuation vehicle, body disposal options, Hitmen weapon pick up points... etc.
Not sure how much the >Hitman< environment kills should be a thing in this game. As it would be likely to break the weapon smuggling gameplay. It should probably be toned down significantly or completely removed?!
Also a lot of the improvised weapons or powerful automatic weapons from the Hitman games will have to be toned down or removed as well. Clearly they shouldn't break the intended gameplay. In phase 3 of the game it would be more ok for the game to turn it into a shooter experience to some degree. But it's a balance.
:: THE MAP ::
The in-game map overview works a bit different depending on the team viewing it.
Players choose their character Avatar on the map. The non-controlled playable characters are doing their own business in the level. Until they are being controlled by a player.
- Security Team can see all locations of security cameras.
- Security Team can also see the direct feed of any camera of choosing.
- Security Team will all get alerts when a check point like eg. a metal detector goes off. With in-view overlays indicating the position of the alert.
- Security Team can also see all check points and their status.
- Security Team can always see the location of the VIP.
- Security Team can see keycard locked doors and their status.
- Security Team can see Hitmen with an orange or red Security Rating
- Hitmen Team can't see the security cameras on the map. Unless they discover the camera by navigating the level.
- Hitmen Team can't see the camera feeds. (unless a hacker hacks the camera system)
- Hitman Team can see weapon pick up locations.
- Hitmen Team can see exactly what other Hitman is carrying as a weapon or a weapon part. What other the other Hitmen are carrying is also clearly shown in the game view.
Players can place indicators on the map. Go to, scout, guard area and the like. The indicators will also show in the teams in-game HUD.
:: NPCs ::
There are generally a lot of neutral NPCs going about their own business on the level. Like staff or audience.
Visually they look like the Hitmen team. So the Security team has no way of knowing who to arrest beforehand. Unleass they move in suspicious ways and areas. Or a directly flaunting a weapon.
It is very much part of the gameplay to have the Hitmen side blend into the crowd to avoid suspicion.
The NPCs can equally be detained and searched by the Security team. Some of them are carrying normal "suspicious" items like a laptop. Which can be used for hacking by the hacker class. Bags or briefcases could also hold suspicious items as well.
:: THE VIP ::
The VIP(s) is visiting various locations on the levels and performing things like talks, performances for a audience, meetings etc. all mapped out in advance. So for the bodyguard team. It's mostly an escort mission. Hench you can assume many other classes when need be.
Not completely sure if the player should be able to take control of the VIP. It might really engaging for a small segment. Might actually be a fun gimmick to play. But could also provide the production and design with needless challenges to tackle.
:: CLASSES ::
Each team has a set of classes available for the players to choose from. With different sets of perks and abilities.
- Class Switching! One KEY aspect of the game design, that would solve a whole lot of design and player issues.
Is to allow for class switching at any time.
It would solve a whole lot of issues. Like players in key roles dropping out of the game. And just having too few players in a play session. And players just being bored from doing the close VIP bodyguard duty.
-- Security Team Classes --
- Bodyguard - Close bodyguards of the VIP, armed with handguns. Access to all areas. Body armor. Possible access to automatic weapons in Full Alert. Can arrest and detain Hitmen.
- Low level security - Perimeter guards, melee, taser, no body armor. Low level access. Patrols and metal detector personnel. Can arrest and detain Hitmen. Handguns possible in Full Alert.
- High level security - Guards in high secure areas, handguns, body armor, melee, ranged taser, high level access. Possible to equip automatic firearms in Full Alert.
** More undefined/unworked roles.. could probably make the game a little too complex?!**
- Surveillance/IT crew/technican - CCTV surveillance, anti hacker focus, repair electronics.
- Chief of Security - Similar to High level security. But more with a commanding role.
- VIP. Not sure if the VIP should be playable or not.
-- Hitmen Team Classes --
- Hacker - Not well versed in shooting or hand to hand combat. But can take control of CCTV systems. Electrical security doors etc. If the hacker is able to access physical Network rooms. The hacker would have to get some help from other classes to get in a useful position. Also expert in disabling electronics through more manual means. Eg. turning off the power of various sections to disable the metal detectors, darkening out rooms to create confusion etc.
- Hitman - Melee combat, can subdue enemy, can steal clothes/access rights, disguise, firearms expert, explosives, disable electronics.
- Insider/mole - Has a job/skills relevant to the insider job. Staff, low level Security guard etc. Excellent for stealing access rights, manipulating the situation and helping Hitmen and hackers enter security zones. Could potentially be a too powerful class. Depends on a lot of factors.
The Hitmen team is starting out unarmed. It is a sub goal to obtain weapons from specific pick up points in the level.
And smuggle them beyond security borders to take out the VIP target.
:: DIVERSIONS ::
The Hitmen team will be able to create diversions to attract the attention of the Security team. Could be starting a fight, falsely triggering a metal detector, turning off the light, starting a fire, dressing up a silly clown or what ever it takes to slip by security unnoticed in the slipstream of chaos.
The diversions will affect the NPCs and Security differently depending on the type and scale of diversion.
**Edit update. One idea to have recognizeable player characters in the game, is to "cheat". By showing the fanzy character for the player only. Eg it shows superman. But for the Security team it shows a generic character they can't easily identify.
And death is permanent in the game session. There are no respawns. Only the pool of AI-avatars to control.
So this concludes the HITMEN concept for now. In my head it could be a pretty awesome game. One thing is theory. Another is execution and the real world. But hope you have enjoyed my little imagination ride in Hitmen land.