Dennaton doesn't want to make Hotline Miami 3, so how about you do it instead?
It's a hell of a sign off to the series, giving fans the tools to make new levels forever. Yesterday I met Dennaton's Dennis Wedin in a caravan next to Hooters at E3 and he talked me through it. The level editor is comprehensive and clearly designed with the aesthetic of Hotline Miami in mind, allowing players to create a decent level for the game in under ten minutes.
Wedin illustrates this for me by doing just that, dropping some basic floor tiling in, picking objects to decorate each room then placing enemies around, too, choosing between the different types and selecting individually what weapons they carry. Lastly, Wedin drops the enter/exit vehicle in there, selects play then expertly slays everyone in sight. That was very cool, and fans are undoubtedly going to get a lot out of a toolset that's been kept so accessible.
"It's built from scratch by Jonathan, our programmer," Wedin tells me. "We feel that it's super simple. We can't make it any simpler than this, which feels nice, because we want people to pick it up right away. If you want to make hard levels for your friends, it's going to be super easy to do that, then we're going to add a lot of tweaking to it when people dig deeper. All they need to do is follow five steps and the level is done."
Players will be able to make collections of levels, and the plan is to offer storytelling potential, too. "We hope to have it so you can basically recreate Hotline Miami, that is the plan. We'll see how much will be there upon release, we might add stuff later on, see how people treat it. We want to add it so you can make intros, outros, and stuff like that." I ask Wedin if any of his developer friends have thrown up any interesting levels, and he says people are creating cool patterns along the floor. As for me, I sit wondering if I can create a dog shelter level where the prisoners have taken over the asylum. It looks perfectly possible.
All of this will bring some closure for Dennaton, who will end Hotline Miami as a series with Wrong Number. "We feel like it's a good way for us to complete it, because Hotline Miami 2 will be the game we make in the Hotline Miami universe, So it feels nice: 'we're done. Here. just keep on going if you want to. You can make Hotline Miami 3 if you want to. Just do it.'" I think this will ensure the fiction of Hotline Miami lives long after the second one comes out later this year.
Every one of the 500-600 assets are indexed in the editor, and easy to find by keyword. "If I want to build a kitchen, I type in kitchen and you get everything that has kitchen in the title." You can also select any music you like from the game's soundtrack, which I'm convinced will be a popular choice. "We wanted the editor to feel Hotline Miami-ish, so it doesn't look Windows grey or anything like that." Look at the screens for evidence of that—it's a pretty level editor. "I erase walls by holding the right button. All the commands are listed [here on the screen], so you don't have to go to a manual, so here's what you can do at a certain stage."
I ask about Steam Workshop support, and that's one thing that hasn't been figured out yet. "How we share the levels is still a thing for the future, but of course the point is to be able to share your levels with friends. But how it's going to be made, if it's in the game? We'll see."
I ask Wedin if players can import their own sprites. "That's something I'd love to see and if we could work it out. I would love to give them a sprite sheets of all the enemies and their animations, and they can just paint over it. So a good animator could just screw your animation. But it's one thing I can't say will be in there."
I love what I saw of the editor, and I seriously want to try my hand at creating a Hotline Miami level that's of a professional standard, as it were. While Dennaton isn't looking to talk about the story of the main game, it feels like this is the component of Hotline Miami 2 that we'll be talking about for years to come.