It's about players pushing the game, and it pushing back - "not just kill you instantly." If we try and fail, "then you could improvise" and still succeed. It's "quite difficult" for gamers to 'accept freedom'.
Director Tore Blystad admits it has been hard for the team as they've had to work out where game design and AI begins and ends; "it's like the chicken and the egg in a way."
"Because we want a lot of diversity with the AI, and we also want a lot of responses, but we are not really sure if it's going to work until we actually try it out," explained IO Interactive's Tore Blystad.
"And just trying something that feels believable is extremely expensive -- with all the mo-cap you need, all the voice recordings you need, all the context within the world -- to come to a point where someone can sit down that is not on the team and judge it for themselves."
He continued: "So it's been a lot back and forth between level design, and game design, and technical design, to come up with something that we believe can tackle anything you do in an interesting way, and not just kill you instantly. Because it's very much about the player pushing the game, and the game pushing back, instead of just using a sledgehammer and just killing you instantly, and then restarting."
It's not good enough for today's Hitman to just flat out punish a player if they 'screw up' in their approach. "...we really want, in Absolution, the feeling that you could try and you could fail, and then you could improvise from there and try something else." There is a line that, if crossed, "of course the AI will be pretty upset, and they will start looking for you if you run away, and they will look for a really long time depending on how bad you were."
Just getting caught in an area you're not meant to be means they'll "kindly try to get you to leave the premises, and if you continue to egg them on, they will get continuously more irritated, calling on their friends. And this kind of playfulness within the AI is something that we believe is very important in a game like Hitman, where it's so much about your experience, and you trying to find your own way -- your own kind of way of solving the game," explained Blystad.
"And this is something that is also... it's quite difficult, actually, to educate players that this is what the game is trying to serve you, because people are increasingly used to games where you're told to do one thing, and if you stray from this line, there will be nothing else around."
"It's like, you have this experience, and that's it. So we're telling people, actually, "No, no, no. You choose by yourself."
"If you want to go in here, or here, or if you want to kill them or not, it actually changes the way you play the game -- when you understand that you have the choice." It's hard to deprogram the 'lemming gamer'.
Check out the full interview between Tore Blystad and Gamasutra.
Hitman: Absolution releases on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC November 20th.