Hitman 2

Mumbai pitch meeting

Hitman4 - Mumbai pitch meeting

Boss: "Well, we just planned out Santa Fortuna, where you stalk three targets through a hot hazy locale, alternating between our target's luxurious fortress and hovels and cheap stores patrolled by guards. I imagine we'll want to change gears for the next mission."

Designer: "You bet. Next up is Mumbai!"

Boss: "Hmm. That sounds kind of the same thing."

Designer: "Oh, don't you believe it. Even with those soldiers, Santa Fortuna was a sleepy place—"

Boss: "I did notice several musicians sleeping on the ground, yeah."

Designer: "—but in Mumbai's public areas, you're gonna see the thickest crowds we've ever made, plus guards all over the place who'll suspect you as soon as they see you."

Boss: "So they can see through disguises then?"

Designer: "They'll suspect you even if you aren't wearing a disguise! Even if you've done nothing wrong!"

Boss: "Why do they suspect me then?"

Designer: "You're a bald white man with a barcode on your head walking through the slums of Mumbai in a perfect suit and a dead look in your eyes."

Boss: "Correction: Why doesn't everyone suspect me then?"

Designer: "Maybe because they're so occupied with their own business. The slums are packed with all kinds of stores."

Boss: "Like the Marrakesh marketplace."

Designer: "Kind of. But in Marrakesh, the stores were arranged in a sort of grid, so you'd pretty much just run past them all on the way to where you really want to be. In Mumbai, the roads wind and spiral and send you down dark alleys. Tou'll really get sucked into this place."

Boss: "So, what kind of stores are there here. I guess there'd be a restaurant, a clothes store, and a dry cleaner's … "

Designer: "I was thinking more like an entire food district, and a textile district, and an entire laundry complex, with a huge team of workers and its own offices and multiple buildings."

Boss: "No, that's not really practical from a budget standpoint."

Designer: "Too late, already mapped it out. There'll be a 'slum square,' a metal workers district … "

Boss: "Metalworkers? Like machinists?"

Designer: "Not exactly. It's these workers' job to gather scrap metal and stir the giant vats that melt the stuff down."

Boss: "That doesn't sound like a very good job at all."

Designer: "Ha ha, I know! This map has so much misery."

izy0xaopb0c61 - Mumbai pitch meeting


Boss: "I hope there are some fun characters in the slums as well."

Designer: "Oh, sure. For instance, there's the holy man.

Boss: "Okay, what can you do as the holy man?"

Designer: "Well, there's this big construction site at the top of the map. Workers there have halted progress because they've stumbled on a bunch of old skeletons, so now they need the holy man to come bless the place to save them all from a curse!"

Boss: "Uh, I think you're a little mixed up. That's the story we wrote for Colombia."

Designer: "Oh. Oh, right. Uh, scrap that. I guess you can't really do anything as the holy man then."

Boss: "And could you not think of a more authentic name than 'holy man'? Like, you couldn't have found a single Indian person and asked them what the appropriate term is?"

Designer: "Actually, I asked half a dozen Indian people, and they all said that was a perfectly fine English way of describing the man."

Boss: "I stand corrected. Wait, where did you find half a dozen Indian people?"

Designer: "I invited them into the office, so we can cast voice actors."

Boss: "No, no we can't do that. A ton of dialog is reused between levels. It just doesn't make sense for us to get new voice actors for each location."

Designer: "But a lot of Hitman 2016 players told us hearing the wrong accents ruined the immersion for them."

Boss: "Well, let's just ask our usual voice actors to put on Indian accents for one read-through."

Designer: "Do you really want to see how everyone responds when Kotaku complains about white actors putting on Indian accents?"

Boss: "Honestly? Kind of."

Designer: "Listen, I already called some people in to voice Santa Fortuna too."

Boss: "We're going to put out eight destinations with Hitman 2. There is no way we can afford to hire eight special ethnic troupes of voice actors in addition to the standard crew we have."

Designer: "Okay, how about we just hire two then, the Hispanic troupe and the Indian troupe? And so claim credit for having location-appropriate voice actors for the entire game?

Boss: "Hmm. That could work. So, all the NPCs in this level are Indian then."

Designer: "Mostly, but there are some exceptions. There's a tourist family, who are being led on a tour through the level by a guide. You can follow them if you like, to help you learn the layout."

Boss: "The level's that big?"

Designer: "Bigger. They just walk through the public areas. Now, besides the tourists, there's also Gregory Arthur."

Boss: "Who's he?"

Designer: "He's an actor here to shoot a movie."

Boss: "Oh! I always said it would be fun to do a level in a movie studio."

Designer: "Which was why I made The Icon."

Boss: "Right, but that was an Italian town converted to a movie shoot. Now, we're going to get ourselves a straightforward movie studio."

Designer: "Sort of. It's a movie shoot …"

Boss: "Right, right."

Designer: "… on top of and inside a luxury skyscraper that's still under construction."

Boss: "Listen. You seem to keep making these levels overcomplicated. We could make these much faster if you just streamline them."

Designer: "You mean if I half-ass them and make them in the most obvious and boring way?"

Boss: "I mean … Remember when I suggested we might do a level at a fashion show?"

Designer: "Yeah. I set it in a 17th-century French palace that had been converted to a museum and was now temporarily hosting a fashion show."

Boss: "Right. And I said maybe we could have one at a recording studio."

Designer: "I made the penthouse suite and a separate floor of a Thai luxury hotel temporarily converted into a recording studio."

Boss: "Yeah, and I then I asked for a simple militia base."

Designer: "I made an apricot farm, complete with active orchards and a farmhouse where people used to live, and temporarily repurposed it as a militia-style base."

Boss: "Exactly. So I'm just asking you, going forward, let's make levels simple. It will be so much quicker, and cheaper!"

Designer: "Okay, sure. I've been thinking about that idea we were tossing around for a level set in an art gallery."

Boss: "Good, good."

Designer: "It'll be a gallery of stolen art in an ancient castle on a hidden island run by a secret society devoted to preparing masked members for the end of the world."

Boss: "We'll … we'll have to discuss that some other time. What were we talking about again? A Bollywood movie shoot?"

Designer: "Right, and that's where we meet this level's primary target, a Bollywood producer. Here's a photo of him."

Boss: "Put that nonsense away! We already had a meeting about this: You cannot be distributing sexually explicit photos in the workplace."

Designer: "That … that was just a sketch of the character's face."

Boss: "Exactly! I'm shivering looking at him, my legs have turned to jelly!"

Designer: "That's Dawood Rangan. He's a bad dude. He's torturing and killing someone upstairs. He also kills endangered animals. He coerces actresses into love scenes with him. He fixes matches so the home team loses. Worst of all, he pays artists in exposure."

Boss: "Right, right. And yet, at the same time, I also want to have ten thousand of his babies?"

Designer: "He'd be happy to hear that. He has a very high opinion of himself. His tower is totally decked out in portraits of him."

Boss: "Kind of like the Museum of Rico."

Designer: "A bit, but you know how there were a few exhibits there, each with its own annotations so you'd tour and view them all in turn? Instead, Rangan Tower has every wall covered in these Rangan portraits. Rangan as a fetus, Rangan as a bullet … too many to list. And players will be so stressed when they're around this area that they may never get a chance to browse the whole thing. Years after playing, they'll still not have looked at them all!"

Boss: "There's no way we can justify hiring an artist to do all that."

Designer: "Don't worry, it's okay. I've found someone who's willing to draw Dawood Rangan for free."


Boss: "So what Bollywood stuff is there can we use to kill Dawood Rangan?"

Designer: "If you dress up like Gregory Arthur, you can enter the tower and participate in a promotional photoshoot."

Boss: "Do you kill Dawood during the photoshoot?"

Designer: "No, but you do get to look cool posing."

Boss: "How do you kill him on the set then?"

Designer: "For that, you should get them to resume filming. There's this mission story about an actress who threw her script away, fed up with Dawood's advances, so you can find and retrieve that script and then get the shoot up and running again."

Boss: "And this leads to killing him, I suppose."


Designer: "Yeah. A giant fan points at the set, and if you put on a crew uniform and raise the fan to its ill-advised turbo mode, you can blow Dawood right off the skyscraper!"

Boss: "Do you think this'll ever get old? Disguising yourself and then tinkering with some device that has a clear fatal flaw so it blows up in the target's face?"

Designer: "Someday, maybe. But not yet."

Boss: "And why is that? Why has it still not gotten old?"

Designer: "Because we keep making these set pieces bigger and weirder! Like, you know how we had a crane in Colombia, and it could drop a weight on a target?"

Boss: "Yeah. Pretty standard kill. I don't think we even had a separate challenge for that."

Designer: "Well, that just foreshadowed what we have waiting for players here. We have a crane here too but it's seven stories tall."

Boss: "Impossible!"

Designer: "You can crush targets with this too, but you have to get the load moved into position, which means operating the crane using a special guarded console."

Boss: "All that for just one kill?"

Designer: "That's not even the biggest kill we've got in this map. We also have a train."

Boss: "Push someone in front of a train?"

Designer: "No, it's a little more than that. We have train tracks bordering one edge of the map — try crossing those, and they'll fry you to death. Every so often, a giant train comes barreling down them. And if you manipulate your targets the right way, you can flip the switch and send the train smashing through a wall, into a train station and plowing right through them!"

Boss: "You never mentioned a train station before."

Designer: "Oh, that's the fortress of our second target, Vanya Shah. It was a train station at one point, but now she's converted it into a throne room."

Boss: "Again with the ridiculously elaborate converted locations."

Designer: "But this has to be elaborate. Vanya holds court here because she's the queen of the slums. Everyone in the city comes to beg boons from her. They sell themselves into slavery, and in return, Vanya doesn't switch off water and electricity to their homes."

Boss: "Jesus Christ, and this is the secondary target? What happened to the last game, when I asked you who the secondary target was, and you'd just say, 'I dunno, some lawyer'?"


Boss: "If she's holed up in her fortress, I guess you're not going to think much about this Vanya for most of the level."

Designer: "Oh, but you feel her influence everywhere. That giant laundry I talked about? She runs the place, and everyone's terrified her, including the head guy, who's looking for a missing item and who you can disguise yourself as to kill her. And that textile district I talked about? She runs the place, terrifying the head guy, who's looking for a missing item and who you can disguise yourself as to kill her."

Boss: "Did you just describe the same assassination twice?"

Designer: "No. Only one of those actually involves entering the station, you see, which is otherwise hard because the place is heavily guarded. It's guarded by the Queens Guards and also by the Queens Bodyguards."

Boss: "Again, I feel like you just said the same thing twice, but acted like you were saying two things."

Designer: "No, those are two different types of guards."

Boss: "So two types of guards patrol this map?"

Designer: "Well, there are also the Bollywood Bodyguards."

Boss: "Indian guards, right."

Designer: "No, Bollywood Bodyguards, who actually aren't Indian. For Indian guards, maybe you'd be more interested in Local Security."

Boss: "So, we see four types of guards?"

Designer: "Also, Thugs."

Boss: "Five?"

Designer: "And Elite Thugs."

Boss: "Six?!"

Designer: "See, I'm still feeling guilty about Hawke's Bay having one disguise total, so I went a little overboard here."

Boss: "Who are these thugs and elite thugs?"

Designer: "They protect the slums and the Crows' Hideout, which is where you might run into the third target: The Maelstrom. This guy is tricky, because you don't even know what he looks like going into the mission. You have to find clues to figure it out."

Boss: "Do you think players will get annoyed with having to do that every time, like they do with some other maps?"

Designer: "I think that only happens with bright easy maps. Mumbai will be so tense throughout that it won't even occur to players that finding the Maelstrom is a chore."

Boss: "I guess we're going to have to skimp on the characterization for the Maelstrom, since you don't know anything about him till you find him."

Designer: "Not necessarily. We're going to have a bunch of NPCs talking up the Maelstrom, and we're going to drop audio logs all over the city so you really feel like you know him even before you meet.

Boss: "Audio logs? So, we're just switching genres now."

Designer: "Let's not even get into how money works in this map."

Boss: "Let's not. Tell me how we kill the maelstrom."

Designer: "Well, you can dress up as a barber and cut his throat."

Boss: "I didn't know there was a barbershop you could enter."

Designer: "Nor will the player, until they look really carefully. The surest way to kill him though might be to go murder him on a hill."

Boss: "There's also a hill?"

Designer: "Oh yes, a huge one, lots of buildings on top, and lots of ways to climb up there. Like I said, this map is huge. I didn't even tell you about this whole apartment block, which is where the sniper is perched."

Boss: "Where you snipe from?

Designer: "Maybe, but I meant an NPC who's a sniper. Dawood and Vanya have both contracted him, each to kill the other—"

Boss: "That doesn't make any sense. If he kills both, how is either one going to pay him?"

Designer: "—and it's possible for you to help him complete both jobs. You can arrange it so Dawood poses for a painting or Vanya heads to a flyover over the laundry, and in each case, you can either disguise yourself as the person they're meeting or just facilitate the meeting with you being far away. Then you can track the sniper to find where he's meeting the Maelstrom privately, disguise yourself as the sniper, and then kill the Maelstrom any way you like."

Boss: "That's the most complicated storyline we've ever had.

Designer: "Really, what about the overarching storyline about the shadow client and the Providence and the Partners?"

Boss: "I never really paid attention to that, not gonna lie. So, what are we calling this sniper?"

Designer: "I was thinking just 'the sniper'."

Boss: "How about 'The Kashmirian'?"

Designer: "Kashmirian? As in someone from Kashmir?"

Boss: "Yeah. I think that sounds cool."

Designer: "I was thinking he could be someone from abroad, so not exactly wearing traditional Kashmiri clothing."

Boss: "Even cooler."

Designer: "Do you think it'll be weird? That from now on, Googling the word 'Kashmirian' will bring up a minor character from one level of our video game, instead of anything to do with actual Kashmirians?"

Boss: "Geez, why are you so paranoid about Indian cultural sensitivity again?"

Designer: "It's just that … we've had some history there."


Boss: "I guess you've told me about the whole map now?"

Designer: "Well there are also the sewers."

Boss: "Oh, enclosed sewers. Those are always the most boring type of video game level."

Designer: "No, these are open sewers, so you always feel a part of the city."

Boss: "What happens if you go to the movie shoot right after skulking about in the sewers?"

Designer: "I imagine you'll go smelling like a sewer."

Boss: "Better add some flies hovering around 47 then."

Designer: "There are other locations I was thinking of. Like a garden around the tower. And maybe a huge open area leading to the trainyard."

Boss: "This is all too much."

Designer: "We could add a beach, surely."

Boss: "Stop. Enough."

Designer: "There should be a bunch of tea stalls, which you can operate."

Boss: "We've been talking for like an hour now."

Designer: "And a junk yard."

Boss: "What would even happen in the junk yard?"

Designer: "Nothing."

Boss: "Then why would you add it?"

Designer: "Because I'm mad with power, and no one can't stop me!"

Boss: "Okay, we can all agree that you've planned out a very detailed location."

Designer: "Yeah. I'm hoping that we can keep building on this location as we roll out post-launch content."

Boss: "Oh we'll do that, absolutely."


(And in case you missed them, here are a couple more pitch meetings: Sapienza, Santa Fortuna, Paris, Whittleton Creek, Bangkok, Hawke's Bay)

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