Hostile Takeover is a single player level in the game Fallout 4. In it, the player explores the renovated offices of Jet Machinery as it is under attack from “Corporate”. The player meets the workers and discovers the mysteries of the underground office that seems trapped in the 1970s.
Engine: Creation Kit
Role: Sole Designer
Team Size: Solo Project
Platform: PC, Steam
- Incorporate the Office Drone into Gameplay
I wanted to successfully capture what it feels like to participate in a highly bureaucratic environment with this level. The line that I had to walk was between committing to the theme of “Office Life” and making the gameplay compelling.
- Interesting Characters
This questline allowed me to practice writing characters and dialogue for a video game setting.
- Underlying Mystery
One of the things I wanted to instill in the player was a sense of mystery/unease. I wanted the player to be chewing on this during the quest, prompting them to explore more of the office to find these answers. It was also important to have logical and rewarding answers for all of the large questions.
- Believable Office that Prompts Exploration
If the player didn’t want to explore the area, they wouldn’t complete the quest. This goal required the critical path to be easily followed while also reminding the player to explore non critical areas.
Map Designs in Hostile Takeover
Framing in Hostile Takeover
Framing was hugely important in guiding the player through a complicated building such as Jet Machinery. One of my goals was to have the player be able to see their objective, route to objective, and enemies whenever they entered into a new area of the building. Additionally, I used it to assist in both puzzle layout and introducing different aspects of the story.
Combat Arenas in Hostile Takeover
For the combat arenas, the goal was to give the player the ability to freely move in, out, and around the zone during a fight in order to maintain a level of combat flow I strove for. Additionally, this allowed the enemies to flow freely around cover as well, turning some fights into "who could out maneuver who". Also, being able to reuse arenas was also important, specifically having the two interior arenas be able to be used 2 ways each so that the space could feel fresh while also being economical with my level design.
Leading Lines in Hostile Takeover
Leading Lines were a great way to subtly direct the player's attention to important aspects of the level. They were typically used for either terminals that could unlock doors, hack turrets, or access lore about Jet Machinery.
Lights in Hostile Takeover
In order to make sure the player didn't get lost or miss information, I used a fairly simple color coding system throughout the level in order for the player to both quickly catch onto it and have them be able to easily understand if something was unlocked, locked, hostile, etc.
What went well?
Building a World: For this project, I tried hard to “Build a world” that the player could explore and discover. With small connections in the terminals tying characters together to the conversations covering the same topics from different angles, I think I nailed the feeling of these people being actual people with thoughts and ideas.
What went wrong?
Slower Pacing in the Middle: There is a time in the middle of the quest where the pacing is a little slower than the rest of it. This is a result of walking the line between making the player feel like they’re working in an office and making the level fun. Overall, I think I succeeded, except for the portion where you must talk to Bess about the pen and then immediately exit the office again. This would be solved with being able to use the intercoms.
What did I learn?
Weekly Planning/Self Placed Milestones: After my White-box, I decided to download an organizing tool and space out tasks for each day of the week. This greatly reduced the stress of a milestone, which in turn made my products more polished.
Dialogue in Games vs Books: Before this project, I had not written extensively for a video game. During this process, I learned that the differences between writing for books and for games. For games, writing needs to be more bare bones and direct. Players are antsy, and don’t want to sit and read pages and pages of flowery prose. It’s something that I need to work on moving forward, as I can be fairly lengthy in my writing.