Hitman: Absolution

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  • Pre-alpha
     
    Up until three months before Alpha, I was the sole UI designer on Hitman: Absolution.

    Decided upon and implemented main structure, workflow and methods for using Scaleform with the Glacier 2 engine in coordination with UI programmer.

    Developed workflow for exporting Flash SWF files to Scaleform GFX with integration into the Glacier 2 engine.

    Created scripts to automate packing of resources based on platform along with integration into Perforce source control.

    Prototyped first iterations of all in-game UI elements using ActionScript in coordination with UI programmer.

    Created video prototypes of proposed UI animation.

    Created first iteration of final in-game UI design based upon Art Direction.

    Created prototypes of main menu functionality and many iterations of menu layouts, transition videos and general animation feel.

    Created a company intro video - this later shipped (uncredited) with Hitman: HD Trilogy on Xbox 360 and PS3.
  • I did the visuals of the Square Enix / IO Interactive Intro Movie
  • Alpha - Beta
     
    Relinquished all work on menus as new UI Designers were hired to focus solely on Main menu / Contracts game mode.

    Coordinated in finalizing methods for UI handling of localization and TRC/TCR requirements.

    Many iterations of button prompts was done in this period including experimentation with 3D prompts.

    Researched and developed new methods for better texture handling in Scaleform with optimization in mind.

    Preliminary memory and performance optimization of near-finished features.

    Started creation of all Firearm, Disguise/Outfit and Close Combat Prop UI graphical assets. (250+)

    Unpolished in-game user interface was used for Hitman: Sniper Challenge in this period.

    Created visuals for "weapon unlocked" intro video for Hitman: Sniper Challenge.
  • Some of the assets that were used for the minimap
  • Beta - Submission/Launch
     
    Finalized design of in-game UI by implementing art changes from Art Directors and Concept Artists.

    Finalized button prompts handling in coordination with programmers and game designers.
     
    Finalized in-game UI features while polishing animations and art style.

    Spearheaded optimization of Scaleform content (both in-game and menus).

    Coordinated with programmers in reducing runtime memory by replacing ActionScript with Scaleform Direct API calls from C++.

    Increased performance by converting ActionScript code to a mix of Flash timeline animation and usage of Scaleform Direct API. In essence, "baking" the animations.

    Reduced texture memory by utilizing handmade image atlases, reducing tile size where possible and reusing texture elements. Texture memory went from from using 12 megabytes to 3 megabytes.

    Unified all graphical assets (500+) used in the UI. Optimized size to get full use of DDS compression. Proper naming and structure was introduced and I methotically standardized references throughout game logic and level design. These assets included Disguises/Outfits, Firearms, Close Combat Props, Level images, Character Portraits, Challenges, etc.

    Assisted Nixxes Software BV by preparing assets for the PC version of Hitman: Absolution.

    Created scripts to assist level designers in confirming all references was in place for the various UI assets.
     
    Created visuals in After Effects for level transition movies (e.g. level title presentation) and launch screens (e.g. legal screens).
  • Examples of image atlases
  • General tasks
     
    Upheld the direction set by the Art Director throughout in-game UI and menus.

    Worked closely with gameplay designers and programmers in implementing features needed in the UI.

    Upheld TCR/TRC requirements. There were few UI bugs during the submission phase as these requirements had been thought through.

    Taught the other UI designers how to best optimize and prepare their Flash content for Scaleform.

    Shared Scaleform experiences and best practices to other Square Enix teams.
  • Recommendations recieved
     
    I had the pleasure to work with Jacob directly for a few months and always experienced him as a very dedicated designer with deep technical understanding. It is rare to find someone who combines a feeling for layout and design with the technical understanding of memory budgets and performance optimizations. And Jacob is such a rare talent. 
    - Hannes Seifert, Studio Head at IO Interactive
     
    As a programmer, it is a joy to work with a UI designer like Jacob. I have rarely seen such a marvelous combination of artistic and technical skills combined in one person. Besides the vital skill of designing game UI, Jacob understands memory, performance, and how the requirements for a prototype differs from those of a complete feature. He is pragmatic, and on one occasion he would even write C++ game code just to get things done!
    Simon Veith Reinholt, Lead Gameplay Programmer on Hitman: Absolution