The Lesser of Two Evils
Role: Level Designer
Engine: Fallout 4 Creation Kit
Genre: RPG, FPS
Development Time: 120 hours
Create an interesting quest with plot twist;
Make the player sympathize with people living in the Fallout world;
Create engaging combat encounters for the player.
Draft the plot that requires the player to make a meaningful choice at the end of the quest
Create a level design document including the level overview, detailed map, and description, the aftermath of the quest, references pictures, etc.
Write 500 plus dialogue lines
Add aesthetic details and lighting with the skills of environmental storytelling;
Playtest and iterate
The player encounters a couple of Diamond Residents talking about recently a plague called the Disease has taken many lives, foreshadowing that the player would encounter a patient or so.
Then a girl, Lisa, asked the player to help find her missing mom and sister. However, Lisa's father was very resistant to the player offering help. An investigation revealed that the father might have sold his wife and daughter to RedZero to buy drinks.
Most kids in Diamond City runs around happily. Making Lisa sitting on the ground is one way to let the player notice her.
To put the shack of Lisa's house there, a bunch of bushes was removed.
Go Through The Tunnel
After confronting Steven, he would reveal to the player that his wife and daughter were abducted by a group, RadZero. Then the player entered the RadZero building basement
from an abandoned sewer near Greene Genetics.
The Basement of Rad Zero
The basement of Rad Zero is infested with mole rats. On the way to the second floor, the player would have several combat encounters with mole rats.
The First Floor of Rad Zero
On the first floor, the player encounters several gunners. having finished them, the player used the elevator to go to the top floor.
The Top Floor of Rad Zero
On the top floor, the player rescued Lisa's sister, Sarah. However, the head of RadZero, Dr. Tom Masse told the player that they were developing a cure to the Disease, and Lisa's sister is key to it.
If the player insisted rescuing Sarah, then Dr. Masse would turn hostile, forcing the player to kill him. Afterward, the player would find Sarah at home with Steven. However, Lisa was already dead from the Disease.
If the player left Sarah at RadZero, then the player would find Steven had killed himself at home after Lisa passing away due to the Disease.
Memorable Quest Design
In an open world game like Fallout 4, there are many side quests. A way to prevent all quests falling into fetch quest is to give player freedom to approach a quest, i.e. let the player make a meaningful choice. In The Lesser of Two Evils, the player is facing a classical trolley dilemma: save one or more? However, it requires the following elements to make a choice meaningful.
Firstly, the results should be revealed to the player before making the choice. In The Lesser of Two Evils, player knew that the family of the kidnapped miss them greatly. Player was also aware that if no cure was found, more lives are lost.
Secondly, the results should matter to the player.
Making Results Matter
If a reward for a meaningful choice is an item, this item should be unique: the player can only obtain this item through this quest. However, in many cases of meaningful choices, the result would only impact NPCs. Therefore, it is vital to building attachment between the player and NPCs. There are following methods to achieve this object:
NPCs need the player to do something he cannot perform himself: such need provides player accomplishment and fulfillment.
NPCs are useful to the player: combating with the player, pick locks or hack terminals, or reveal important information to the player.
The situation NPCs are in can be related to in real life so the player can stand in the shoes. In this level, Lisa is missing her mother and sister. As most players have a family, they can easily relate to Lisa's need to find her family.
What Went Well
It is observed that during the playtesting session, players hesitated when making the decision of leaving Sarah behind or not. It demonstrated that the results mattered to the player to a certain extent.
At the beginning of level construction, there were issues with how Rad Zero organization layout be and enemy placement, such as when the player entered battle with an enemy nearby, the enemy far away is also alerted. It resulted in the player heavily challenged in a small area. Having gone through levels in Creation Kit, I learned to use trigger volume to enable enemy after the player has finished one area.
What I Learned
When adding content to an existed game, it is vital to maintaining the core of gameplay elements. In The Lesser of Two Evils, I kept the Fallout RPG combat design and dialogue choices.