Heart of Fog
Heart of Fog is a single player level in the game Fallout 4. The player is asked by Amelia Fenwick to find her husband, the poet Oscar Fenwick, who has run into the irradiated fissure known as the Faultline. The player will explore the depths of this irradiated zone as they slowly learn about the Children of Atom sect that resides within as they try to track down Oscar Fenwick.
Engine: Creation Kit
Role: Sole Designer
Team Size: Solo Project
Platform: PC, Steam
- Create an Alien Planet
My major goal for this project was to create a rich atmosphere for the player to experience. For both New Hapcaster and the Faultline, I wanted to experiment with lighting, scale, and weather to create a cohesive world for the player to inhabit.
- Instill a sense of unease
One thing I wanted to focus on was creating a sense of unease when the player's journeying in the Faultline. I achieved this through a combination of small scale encounters, atmosphere, and notes left behind by those who've traveled here before.
- Adapt a Novel
I believe there's a lot to be gained from taking inspiration from other art forms and adapting them for video games. For Heart of Fog, I looked to Heart of Darkness for inspiration. I took the core idea from it, journeying into the unknown and experiencing the uncanny, and adapted it into a quest.
Map Designs in Heart of Fog
Light in Heart of Fog
When in The Faultline, there is a large, oppressive green fog that coats the whole area. In order to assist the player, I used lighting heavily in these areas to show them paths they could take, helpful loot, objectives, and when their actions had effect on the world.
Viewpoints in Heart of Fog
When designing these areas, I wanted to be mindful of where the player is looking at a given instant and to be able to communicate as much as I could with that. So with this in mind, I positioned players to always see the results of their actions, objectives, upcoming challenges, and helpful loot so that the player would not be lost in the green fog.
Leading Lines in Heart of Fog
Another tool I used to communicate to players was leading lines. I mainly used this to communicate what terminals controlled to players.
What went well?
Atmosphere of unease: I started this process with a very clear image of what I wanted the Faultline to both look and feel like. Having such a clear image early on allowed me to achieve my desired atmosphere very quickly, allowing me to refine the details to sculpt a rich world.
Got ahead quickly: My most valuable asset to the success of this project was the fact that I got very ahead very quickly. With my functionality, general layout, and dialogue done within roughly 3 days, I was able to spend the rest of production time testing, refining , and adding polish to my quest.
What went wrong?
Too large of areas: While I was able to complete everything very early, I had wish that I made it even more achievable by sizing down the Faultline area. The area is a tad too large in my opinion, and I think I could have shaved off about 15% of the dead space within it to make the experience tighter.
What did I learn?
Get ahead early: I learned that getting the base functionality and layout done early changes the entire trajectory of the project. Even if it's just having the dialogue saying "Critical Path," that alone can do wonders in terms of stress and problem solving.