A Tore Blystad sounds like the sort of internal wound Agent 47 might blankly dole out, but it’s also the name of Hitman: Absolution’s director. He’s been talking to OPM about the future direction of the series, and says now is "the first time you could say Hitman has gone out of the house”.
Hitman is a “big franchise” now, in the CoD sense. That means IO are going to alternate development with other studios; in this case, the newly formed Square Enix Montreal. Says Blystad: “It’s like with Treyarch and Infinity Ward. You have an IP that has been developed. They will feed off each other, as well as some things that stand out.
“I think with these big franchises it takes a long time to develop just one game. If you can, [you] work a little bit in parallel at least and help each other out”.
You might imagine IO garrotted, the series they birthed taken from their cold hands. But that’s not quite it, says Blystad: “Some of the key developers came from IO and have been working on previous games so it’s not like it’s in completely new hands”.
What’s more, IO are aware of some of the issues that typically come with multi-studio annual extravaganzas.
“There’s a lot of these problems you encounter with these sort of productions, some of them are really fundamental problems, or they have a big effect on the game,” mused Blystad. “Like how you do a mechanic for instance. If you change a mechanic too much then the whole gameplay will be modified”.
Nevertheless, the director believes there’s room for a new take on 47: “We’ve been talking about these similarities to some of the big movie franchise like Aliens, where everyone’s doing it their own way.
“Every time someone gets their hands on a franchise they do something different. So rather than doing the same thing again you get another take on the character from a fresh perspective.”
The arrangement frees IO up from becoming The Hitman Studio, which is something they’ve demonstrably worked to avoid in the past - take the six year wait for Absolution, for instance, in which time IO have plopped out two Kane and Lynchs and a Mini Ninjas.
And another thing - IO have never really seemed to completely understand exactly what it was that made Bloody Money the 21st century puzzle-stealth classic it was. Perhaps letting somebody else take the reins will do the series some good. What do you think?