IO Interactive has had a tough time teaching players that they have choices in how they solve problems in Hitman: Absolution. In an interview with Gamasutra, director Tore Blystad said players have been conditioned to expect a small list of developer-chosen solutions to game scenarios.
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, Blystad told Gamasutra.
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. So in the first couple of levels, we are continuously working [on it]. And still back in Copenhagen we're trying to find out, are we teaching the players everything that they need to understand about the gameplay and the possibilities of the game? Blystad said.
Dishonored developer Arkane Studios told GamesOnNet similar things about player issues in its open-world sneak-fest.
We try not to lead the player by the nose, but at some point we found that if we don't give a little information, people just get lost and don't know what to do. It's just overwhelming. So we tried to add this element that gave just a hint, to help a little, said Arkane executive producer Julien Roby
People would just walk around. They didn't know what to do. They didn't even go upstairs because a guard told them they couldn't. They'd say 'Okay, I can't go upstairs.' They wouldn't do anything.
Hitman: Absolution is scheduled for release in North America and Europe on November 20, 2012.