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Interview: Marts 2002
Company: IO Interactive
Subject: Hitman 2
Answers by Thor Frølich, IO Interactive (Artist og Ninja Extraordinaire).
Which programs does IOI use for modeling, animation, textures, etc.?
We use 3d studio max and Photoshop. The animators use character studio. Furthermore, we have a lot of tools as e.g. facial morphing and converting of formats.
How many have worked on modeling, animation, textures, etc. to finish Hitman 2
7 environment artists, 3-4 animators, 4 character-artists. Everyone (except animators) makes their own textures. We do not have anybody who merely do texturing.
Which modeling method do you use (box, patch, etc.)?
Currently, we only use polygon modeling. We do not have any specific procedure - well maybe the character-modelers have, because they have to follow some very specific rules. It is because we work with Playstation2 too, so we work with something called triangle strips. It is an arrangement of polygons and mapping coordinates. We use this method to make it possible to upload a sequence of geometry to the video ram as fast as possible. But basically it is box modeling.
Which procedure do you use to design a level in the game?
The procedure is just like when you model anything else. First you make some drawings. Then the artist starts making a placeholder version of the level so the programmers can start making IA, path finding etc. Then the placeholder graphic is replaced by the real in game graphics. During this procedure graphic adjustments will be made to increase the gameplay.
How many polygons were the characters made of in Hitman 1? And how many polygons are the characters made of in Hitman 2?
The characters in Hitman 1 had 800 polygons on average. The characters in Hitman 2 have about 2000 polygons - it depends on the size of the character, how important the character is and if it is a part of a cut scene.
What is the texture resolutions in Hitman 2?
It varies from platform to platform and the amount of video ram and the size of caches. So between 512x512 and 32x32. Both quadratic and rectangular. We have made a texture converting tool in-house that converts all the textures to pc, playstation2 and X-box.
How did IOI make the textures - is it digital photos or made by hand?
The textures characters are all hand drawn but of course we have used reference pictures. The textures for the environment graphics and weapons are a mixture of a lot of things - usually manipulated photos. All in all it depends of the situation.
What are the visual improvements of the new game engine?
Hitman 1 had about 3-4,000 polygons/frame (environment and characters). Hitman 2 has a limit of 40,000 polygons/frame (environment only) plus characters and particles
What have been the biggest challenges in creating the visuals?
Learn how the game engine works while programmers still are working on it. It is hard because many features change daily. The artists had to learn a lot of new techniques in texturing and geometry pipelines to the Playstation2. A lot of us do not have super technician skills because in school we were making drawings in the schoolbooks instead of reading them. So it has been hard but we have learned a lot. It was hard to work with tools that were not yet finished. But we managed to make the game anyway.
Do you use motion capture techniques to animate the characters?
Yes, we have a huge amount of motion capture data. Most of it was made in the UK. Of course some animations are made by hand because you cannot predict all the animations in the game. When the motion capture data has been modified and used in scenes and compressed most of the original motion capture is gone. So motion capture is like a reference material.
What has been the most challenging to model and why?
I think the characters were the toughest. They have to be animatable and there are often a lot of characters in one scene at a time. You have to have high skills in modeling deformations of legs and arm etc. Furthermore, we cannot allow them to use a lot of memory or polygons. So you have to make compromises.
How many different characters can we expect in Hitman 2?
Hitman 2 has about 70-80 unique characters. The real number of characters will be higher but some of them will just be modifications (i.e. different hair and clothes) of the unique characters. Of course we recycle some items like shoes and other minor things that you most likely will not notice.
Have you used references from real world buildings to model the buildings in the game?
We try to create a realistic environment. So we have been studying a lot of locations in the real world. We have a few architects employed to help us create the buildings. But we change the environment if it will make the gameplay better or because of performance restrictions.
Does IOI sometimes take in trainees?
Yes. We have often trainees from relevant schools like the animation school in Viborg (Danish) and The Danish Design school.