Designer: "It's the final level. 47 faces off with his nemesis in a remote snowy fortress."
Boss: "Wow, that sounds tense!"
Designer: "It starts with 47 wearing a comfy robe in bed."
Boss: "Uh, that doesn't sound all that tense."
Designer: "A bed in GAMA, a highly secure sci-fi hospital—"
Boss: "Now that sounds tense."
Designer: "—and spa!"
Boss: "Again, not so tense."
Designer: "If you want me to ramp the tension up, I can give you my backup pitch. It's called 'Return to Colorado'."
Boss: "Uh … tell me more about this spa."
Designer: "Well, you go out of your room, and everywhere, you see other patrons dressed in robes— yukatas, that's the actual term, special GAMA yukatas with RFID chips embedded in them."
Boss: "And all these patients have rooms too?"
Designer: "Nono. We tried dozens of guest rooms in Bangkok, and that was a bunch of wasted space, so we've got just four rooms here."
Boss: "So where does everyone else stay?"
Designer: "Oh, we explain that. Most people aren't here for complicated medical treatments, staying overnight. Most people make day trips, visit the hot springs and eat some food, and then they go back."
Boss: "That makes sense. So, where are their pants?"
Boss: "Their pants. They came here wearing pants before changing into the robes, right? So where are they?"
Designer: "Well, the staff have a changing area. And in the hot springs section, people actually wear just towels, so we have a little area where they change from yukatas to towels."
Boss: "Yes, but where are the pants? The robes belong to GAMA, they've got electronic chips in them, so people must come here in their own clothes. Where are all their pants stored?"
Designer: "I don't understand why your mind went there instead of asking about what's with the chips. These RFID chips open the doors in the facility, which don't have respond to keycards or anything like that. You always need the right disguise to get doors to open!"
Boss: "Do you think players will just bring the scrambler they unlocked in the last mission, bypassing all that?"
Designer: "Eventually, but at first, we don't let you bring anything. You have no loadout at all, because GAMA doesn't let patients bring anything with them!"
Boss: "Ah, interesting."
Designer: "So like I said, you start the mission in your room, then you walk past your suitcases and leave—"
Designer: "Yes. You bring three suitcases with you."
Boss: "47 couldn't bring any items in those suitcases?"
Designer: "Well, let's say GAMA scans luggage, so there's no chance of bringing a gun in with you."
Boss: "Okay, but you can't sneak in a feather duster? A measuring tape? A few coins? Whatever's in those suitcases, I guarantee 47 could make it into a weapon."
Designer: "There are scissors in your bathroom, if you must have a weapon right away."
Boss: "That'll do."
Designer: "But this is all just the resort half of the map. Your main target is in the hospital. It's Soders from the ICA!"
Designer: "Soders! The training guy, from that cut scene back at the start of the game? The Final Test was based on a classic assassination he pulled off?"
Boss: "Oh. Yeah, that guy."
Designer: "You do remember him, don't you?"
Boss: "Maybe? It's just … it's been so long since those tutorial missions …"
Designer: "Well, Soders is lying in the operating theater, and the whole hospital really revolves around this room. It's so secure that even the hospital director isn't allowed there."
Boss: "That doesn't make any sense."
Designer: "The director himself said he should be barred from entering! There are observation rooms looking down, and armed guards absolutely everywhere."
Boss: "Why so many guards here?"
Designer: "To prevent unauthorized entry."
Boss: "Yeah, but this whole building is so isolated. Do they really anticipate that someone will fly in here and will then need multiple guards to take them down?"
Designer: "Someone does."
Boss: "Uh, okay. So, is there a ward here, and a bunch of other rooms for patients?"
Designer: "No, this is an exclusive place, doesn't treat many patients at once. Besides the OR, there's an intensive care room, but that's it."
Boss: "So where does Soders go when the operation ends? For recovery? To one of those guest rooms in the resort?"
Designer: "No, not there. Those are all occupied. Guess they roll him right into a helicopter to recover elsewhere?"
Boss: "What other rooms are there in this hospital?"
Designer: "Oh, there's a morgue."
Boss: "Like Sapienza?"
Designer: "Yeah, but think less 'kindly priest praying and staff selling caskets' and more 'hellish red glow and butchers covered in blood.' Because you'll soon realize this isn't a morgue for patients who die. This is a morgue for all the people whose organs GAMA harvests and gives to its patients. You can even see all the organs stored, right next to the bloodstained doctors!"
Boss: "That doesn't sound very hygienic at all."
Designer: "These dead people weren't exactly willing donors, by the way. And the whole business is run by a guy called the curator, who specializes in finding the right victims to carve up and loot."
Boss: "This guy seems terrible. Can I kill him?"
Designer: "You can use a chip in his brain to make him kill himself, and there's no penalty for this."
Boss: "Wow, this level is much darker than it seemed at first."
Designer: "That organ storage is where they're keeping the heart that's going into Soders. You can destroy it to kill him."
Boss: "Elegant solution, designer. With Soders on the operating table and no hope of getting a second right-sided heart in time, you'll have effectively killed him without laying a hand on him. What other ways are there of killing him?"
Designer: "Mostly disguising yourself and then tinkering with some device that has a clear fatal flaw so it blows up in the target's face."
Boss: "Do you think that'll ever get old?"
Boss: "And who's the secondary target on this map?"
Designer: "I dunno, some lawyer."
Boss: "Uh, okay. And how do you kill her?"
Designer: "One way is to trap her in a sauna that cooks her alive."
Boss: "Hey, that calls back to Codename 47! And Contracts!"
Designer: "You can also poison her sushi with fugu."
Boss: "Hey, that calls back to Silent Assassin! Are there any callbacks to Blood Money?"
Designer: "Well, this is an exclusive hospital surrounded by pink trees with patients in robes and a sinister underground, like Flatline."
Boss: "Any call backs to Absolution?"
Designer: "Actually, yes. We have a cowboy named Dexter, probably a relative of Blake Dexter! He's here for a lung transplant. Smoking is strictly forbidden, but he smuggled in a pack of cigarettes."
Boss: "47, master of stealth, was unable to smuggle anything in with him. But this guy managed to smuggle in cigarettes?"
Designer: "He hid it under his cowboy hat."
Boss: "So, is Dexter one of the VIP patients with his own room?"
Designer: "He is. The other is Mister Jason Portman."
Boss: "Wait, this is Japan, so it should actually be pronounced 'Meestah Jason Portman'."
Designer: "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Portman received plastic surgery to look like Helmut Kruger, so that's going to some fun interactions when he sees you, because he thinks you had the same idea."
Boss: "Wow, it's going to be interesting having this NPC who looks exactly like 47!"
Designer: "Well, he's wearing facial bandages, and under those he … doesn't actually look like Helmut or 47."
Boss: "Oh, so that's some sly commentary on how the plastic surgery here isn't that good at all, huh?"
Designer: "Uh … yeah, that's exactly what it is, sure. Totally intentional. You can also dress yourself up as Portman if you like, bandages and all."
Boss: "His surgical bandages?"
Designer: "Yeah. The ones soaked with blood and pus, probably."
Boss: "That doesn't sound very hygienic at all! I'd rather try a different disguise."
Designer: "How about a yoga instructor. The real instructor's out of commission right now, walking with a limp."
Boss: "Still reusing that Colorado Point Man motion capture animation, huh?"
Designer: "It left more room in the budget to do motion capture of 47 doing a bunch of different yoga poses."
Boss: "What other disguises are there?"
Designer: "Well, there's the staff that take care of rooms and do laundry. There are chefs … "
Boss: "Boring, seen it already. What else?"
Designer: "In the hospital, there are doctors. There's the medical director in a lab coat. There are surgeons. Then there's the head surgeon. He's actually got this fascinating story where—"
Boss: "This is sounding like Colorado again, where a bunch of different disguises are too similar to be interesting. We need something flashier. Baseball is big in Japan, right? How about you disguise yourself as a baseball player?"
Designer: "I … I don't see why there'd be a baseball player in full uniform here."
Boss: "Put it in there anyway. Or how about that yellow jumpsuit Bruce Lee wore? That could be a fun reference to Japanese culture."
Designer: "Bruce Lee was Chinese."
Boss: "Or a ninja! Let players do the level as a ninja!"
Designer: "I can't possibly see how that makes sense here."
Boss: "Let's also include a ninja-themed dance game that staff are playing, that'll be fun."
Designer: "And this is right on top of the organ harvesting?"
Boss: "I was thinking maybe under it, actually."
Designer: "Okay, why not? There might be some room to squeeze that in. I think that's all we need to go over, and I think we've got ourselves a tight, well-designed level."
Boss: "It better be, because this is the last time we'll be speaking, you and I."
Designer: "Last time till next season, you mean?"
Boss: "No, last time at all. It turns out this episodic release model hasn't worked out well at all in terms of sales. I don't see Square Enix giving us the green light for a season two."
Designer: "Oh no! What are we all going to do then?
Boss: "Well, when the last Deus Ex game came in below expectations. Square Enix scrapped the sequel and had the team working on a new Avengers video game adaptation."
Designer: "Is that also a stealth game?"
Boss: "No. And anyway, it sounds like the team's mostly just making skins."
Designer: "I guess there's not going to be any more Hitman going forward."
Boss: "True, true. But at least we have this new Avengers project that will make a lot of money."
(And here are all the other pitch meetings, if you missed them: Sapienza, Santa Fortuna, Paris, Whittleton Creek, Bangkok, Hawke's Bay, Mumbai)
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