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Mission & Narrative

Designer

 

KARIN CEDERSKOOG
Mission Designer/Scripter (Mod)
Fallout: New Vegas

Engine: Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.)

Languages: Scripting

Team Size: 1

Platforms: PC (Steam)

Year: 2018-2019

I modded Fallout: New Vegas, including level design, mission design, narrative design and scripting over a one month period.

Mission Design - Outline

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 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

An NPC hints at a community that possesses the secret to eternal life.

  • If enough Speech, player learns about a traveling trader who may know about how to access the community.

On Novac Reputation positive:

  • Trader, “You seem like a trustworthy person. I know a group of people who can get you about anything you’d want…If you’re willing to help ‘em, that is.”

  • Trader, “Many of ‘em suffer long term effects of radiation damage...but then again, many weren’t right in the head to begin with.”

    • If enough caps, Barter or Speech, player convinces trader they’re the right person for the job. Quest starts.​

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

On Quest Start - "Secret Meeting"

  • Quest Objective: Meet botanist in cave.

  • Botanist asks for (supplies). If enough Speech, botanist, “The only way an outsider can enter our community is to help us with our water pump.”

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 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

On Quest Complete - "Water Pump Woes":

  • Faction reputation increase with Eidos (cave community).

  • Entrance granted to cave community.

  • Player can get supplies for people in the community (i.e. pre-war books) in exchange for weapon modifications and other supplies.

(The below quests outline how this quest line could be expanded for future content.)

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 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

On High Faction Reputation:

  • Overseer gives player a key to the Vault (on the condition they’ll keep it secret from others in the community).

On Quest Start - "Vault 253 Investigation"

  • Quest Objective: Investigate Vault 253.

  • Quest Objective: Report back to the Overseer.

On Quest Complete - "Vault 253 Investigation"

  • Faction reputation increase.

  • XP increase.

  • Player can tell the Overseer they saw on the consoles that he possesses the key to eternal life.

    • The player can unlock a new Perk: “Zombie - Regain 10% HP when HP is under 20.” However, this Perk comes at a cost - players do 25% less damage while in Sneak and crippled limbs are doubled.

World Building: Backstory

Backstory - Vault 253 & Community

Vault 253 was home to a group of unethical and highly educated people, where there were no consequences for the unethical. It was unusual from other Vaults, in that no specific experiment was designated from the beginning but evolved over time. Academics (teachers, researchers) were specifically chosen for this Vault because of their questionable ethics and extremity of their methods.

 

The experiments in this Vault were largely guided by the residents. As they exhibited hostile behavior toward others, the Overseer pushed these behaviors via experiments. For example, a scarcity of certain resources prompted protective and suspicious behaviors, as well as rampant stealing, which heightened tensions between residents. This led the Overseer to experiment with the following, which escalated from one to the next over time:

  1. Withholding specific resources

  2. Rewarding extreme behaviors to attain resources

    • ​​For example, winning a specific resource by surviving without food longer than anyone else.

  3. Exhibiting a dictator persona (god-like)

    • The Overseer wanted to determine how far he could push the highly educated in complying with a dictatorship when faced with resource rewards and extreme punishment (such as public executions).​​​​​

The community survived the last 200+ years, maintaining the physical appearance a decade beyond the age of when they entered the Vault. While in the Vault, the chemist discovered how to prolong human lives. However, the community spends their life in pain, as side effects include insomnia, limb spasms and excruciating pains throughout the body.

Backstory - Leaving the Vault

The community was forced to leave the Vault after 13 years, in 2090, when the scientist’s mind control experiments went awry, creating creatures that picked people off. The scientist was forced to remain in the Vault, while the rest fled (see “Characters: Scientist”).

 

Since the community was conditioned to focus on resource scarcity, residents became overly paranoid and were terrified of venturing very far from the Vault. They had seen firsthand what happens when resources grow scarce and determined it was safer to stay away from the rest of the population. Thus, the community remained in the cave surrounding the Vault, spreading out as much as possible.

Design Thought Process

The Vault

I was fascinated by the idea of creating a scenario involving strange experiments in a Vault, as I found the variety of Vault experiments especially interesting.

 

For those unfamiliar with Vault experiments, these included: Vault 11, where residents were told they needed to sacrifice one resident each year, or everyone would die. Vault 106, where psychoactive drugs were released into the air supply, making everyone go crazy and kill each other. Vault 92, where world class musicians were exposed to white noise. This eventually filled them with an intense rage, to the point where there was a mass slaughter.


Since many Vaults involved Overseers (Vault leader) actively inflicting experiments on unwilling participants without their knowledge, I wanted to change this formula to consider what would happen if a group of unethical, highly educated people lived in an environment where there were no consequences for the unethical.

The Community

Another reason I chose to feature a group of the highly educated in this mission design, is because I was interested in thinking deeply about the psychological and professional implications of such a community and its experiments (view “World Building: Backstory” for more info).

 

In my free time, I read literature and philosophy extensively (primarily existentialist philosophy - Kant, Kierkegaard, Sartre). I wanted to explore how a philosopher’s perspective (for example) might change as a result of living in an extreme environment.

Quest Design & Pacing

Pacing was a primary concern, as I wanted players to have an opportunity to learn about a secret community through dialogue but also include events with higher tension (combat).

 

I allowed for different playstyles and ways of completing the main quest (i.e. helping or slaughtering guards at the water pump), in addition to open up opportunities for more side quests.

 
 
 
 
Mission & Narrative Designer (Mod)
Fallout: New Vegas

Engine: Bethesda Games Studio (BGS) Creation Kit/Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.)

Languages: G.E.C.K. scripting

Team Size: 1

Platforms: PC (Steam)

Year: 2018-2019

I modded Fallout: New Vegas, including level design (using modular kit pieces), mission design, narrative design and scripting over a one month period.

My level design for the philosopher and literary critic area:

Karin-Cederskoog-Fallout-New-Vegas-Bethe

Mission Design: Outline

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

An NPC hints at a community that possesses the secret to eternal life.

  • If enough Speech, player learns about a traveling trader who may know about how to access the community.

On Novac Reputation positive:

  • Trader, “You seem like a trustworthy person. I know a group of people who can get you about anything you’d want…If you’re willing to help ‘em, that is.”

  • Trader, “Many of ‘em suffer long term effects of isolation...maybe radiation...but then again, many weren’t right in the head to begin with.”

    • If enough caps, Barter or Speech, player convinces trader they’re the right person for the job. Quest starts.​

Quest Design & Implementation - "You Got Me a Lifetime"​

​I created a NEW NPC and added dialogue to a PRE-EXISTING NPC (eccentric Novac doctor Ada Straus).

Ada's character is strange enough where she won't feel she's violating doctor-patient confidentiality by repeating what she overheard on a sick bed. (For example, in her pre-existing dialogue, she says, "Darn it! That money was going to help pay to get me some medical training.")

Additional implementation included:

  • NPC dialogue scripting (i.e. display once, display only at a specific Quest Stage)

  • Condition checks: Faction Reputation, Player Attributes & Speech Threshold

  • Merchant store

  • Quest log scripting

Scripting - Dialogue Condition Checks

  • CONDITIONS under which the player can learn more about the Secret Society. (Reputation: Liked)

  • ATTRIBUTE THRESHOLDS for using Charisma, etc.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

On Quest Start - "Secret Meeting"

  • Quest Objective: Meet botanist in cave.

  • Botanist, “The only way an outsider can enter our community is to help us with our water pump."

My level design for the secret meeting in the cave:

Karin Cederskoog - Fallout New Vegas Mod

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

On Quest Complete - "Water Pump Woes":

  • Faction reputation increase with Eidos (cave community).

  • Entrance granted to cave community.

  • Player can get supplies for people in the community (i.e. pre-war books) in exchange for weapon modifications and other supplies.

Quest Design & Implementation - "Water Pump Woes"

  • Level design

  • Enemy placement/AI behaviors

  • Dialogue scripting

  • Quest log scripting

NPC Dialogue Barks - Combat

Karin-Cederskoog-Fallout-New-Vegas-Bethe

CreationKit Scripting

Scripting - Item Descriptions & Conditions

The following slides show the CONDITIONS under which the player can repair the water pump and ITEM DESCRIPTION for each selection made within the trigger box.

Scripted Dialogue Tree & Quest Line - Philosopher

(The below quests outline how this quest line could be expanded for future content.)

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Novac  Small Cave (meet botanist) Water Pump Large Cave (meet community)Vault 253 

On High Faction Reputation:

  • Overseer gives player a key to the Vault (on the condition they’ll keep it secret from others in the community).

On Quest Start - "Vault 253 Investigation"

  • Quest Objective: Investigate Vault 253.

  • Quest Objective: Report back to the Overseer.

On Quest Complete - "Vault 253 Investigation"

  • Faction reputation increase.

  • XP increase.

  • Player can tell the Overseer they saw on the consoles that he possesses the key to eternal life.

    • The player can unlock a new Perk: “Zombie - Regain 10% HP when HP is under 20.” However, this Perk comes at a cost - players do 25% less damage while in Sneak and crippled limbs are doubled.

World Building: Backstory

Backstory - Vault 253 & Community

Vault 253 was home to a group of unethical and highly educated people, where there were no consequences for the unethical. It was unusual from other Vaults, in that no specific experiment was designated from the beginning but evolved over time. Academics (teachers, researchers) were specifically chosen for this Vault because of their questionable ethics and extremity of their methods.

 

The experiments in this Vault were largely guided by the residents. As they exhibited hostile behavior toward others, the Overseer pushed these behaviors via experiments. For example, a scarcity of certain resources prompted protective and suspicious behaviors, as well as rampant stealing, which heightened tensions between residents. This led the Overseer to experiment with the following, which escalated from one to the next over time:

  1. Withholding specific resources

  2. Rewarding extreme behaviors to attain resources

    • ​​For example, winning a specific resource by surviving without food longer than anyone else.

  3. Exhibiting a dictator persona (god-like)

    • The Overseer wanted to determine how far he could push the highly educated in complying with a dictatorship when faced with resource rewards and extreme punishment (such as public executions).​​​​​

The community survived the last 200+ years, maintaining the physical appearance a decade beyond the age of when they entered the Vault. While in the Vault, the chemist discovered how to prolong human lives. However, the community spends their life in pain, as side effects include insomnia, limb spasms and excruciating pains throughout the body.

Backstory - Leaving the Vault

The community was forced to leave the Vault after 13 years, in 2090, when the scientist’s mind control experiments went awry, creating creatures that picked people off. The scientist was forced to remain in the Vault, while the rest fled (see “Characters: Scientist”).

 

Since the community was conditioned to focus on resource scarcity, residents became overly paranoid and were terrified of venturing very far from the Vault. They had seen firsthand what happens when resources grow scarce and determined it was safer to stay away from the rest of the population. Thus, the community remained in the cave surrounding the Vault, spreading out as much as possible.

Design Thought Process

The Vault

I was fascinated by the idea of creating a scenario involving strange experiments in a Vault, as I found the variety of Vault experiments especially interesting.

 

For those unfamiliar with Vault experiments, these included: Vault 11, where residents were told they needed to sacrifice one resident each year, or everyone would die. Vault 106, where psychoactive drugs were released into the air supply, making everyone go crazy and kill each other. Vault 92, where world class musicians were exposed to white noise. This eventually filled them with an intense rage, to the point where there was a mass slaughter.


Since many Vaults involved Overseers (Vault leader) actively inflicting experiments on unwilling participants without their knowledge, I wanted to change this formula to consider what would happen if a group of unethical, highly educated people lived in an environment where there were no consequences for the unethical.

The Community

Another reason I chose to feature a group of the highly educated in this mission design, is because I was interested in thinking deeply about the psychological and professional implications of such a community and its experiments (view “World Building: Backstory” for more info).

 

In my free time, I read literature and philosophy extensively (primarily existentialist philosophy - Kant, Kierkegaard, Sartre). I wanted to explore how a philosopher’s perspective (for example) might change as a result of living in an extreme environment.

Quest Design & Pacing

Pacing was a primary concern, as I wanted players to have an opportunity to learn about a secret community through dialogue but also include events with higher tension (combat).

 

I allowed for different playstyles and ways of completing the main quest (i.e. helping or slaughtering guards at the water pump), in addition to open up opportunities for more side quests.

Narrative Design: Characters

The Overseer - (White, Male, Late-50's Appearance)

  • He is obsessed with immortality and handpicked the chemist who was making strides in prolonging human life, as well as other controversial academics.

Botanist - (Chinese, Female, Late-30’s Appearance)

  • Current: One of the only people in the community who chose to live near the cave’s surface. She has a roof deck with plants to determine the impact of real sunlight vs. artificial. The community was unhappy with the botanist during the recent water shortage because she uses the most water. She fears for her life - The community has killed others for much less.

  • Experiments: While her experiments were considered standard and straightforward, her claims during her academic career. Her peers weren’t sure if she was crazy or a perpetual liar. She published uncited papers, making outlandish claims, including that some plants originating on other planets.

Literary Critic - (Black, Male, Mid-50’s Appearance)

  • Experiments: He was well-known in pre-Vault days for buying an island (with a bank loan he never paid off) and convincing parents to send their young children away for camp. He recreated a Lord of the Flies scenario on the island with 30 children, ranging in age from 6-12 while watching the situation unfold via hunting cameras from a tower on the island. Many of the children died, and he spent 20 years in jail, until the Overseer cut a deal to free him for admittance into the Vault.

Historian - (White, Male, Early-40’s Appearance)

  • Experiments: Before the Vault, he pushed the bounds of recreating a Nazi environment in his classrooms, to the point where students were tortured by other students and killed. He was thrilled when the Overseer transitioned into the 3rd phase of experimentation, where he built up a Hitler-esque persona. The historian was pivotal in carrying out the Overseer’s initiatives and helping them take root.

Philosopher - Dr. Lixue Xu (Chinese, Female, Mid-30’s Appearance)

  • Experiments: Before the Vault, Dr. Lixue Xu was well-known in academia for her controversial experiments on students, involving work with a fellow psychologist to push people to their emotional limits and draw philosophical conclusions from people’s reactions.

Scientist - (Female, Late-40’s Appearance) - Last Inhabitant of the Vault

  • Current: She remains trapped in one room of the Vault and lives off the infected plants growing in the cracks. When the community left the Vault, she was given a choice - immediate death, or life in the Vault. The community was afraid she would cross a line and experiment on them due to her history…

  • Experiments: She worked heavily on mind control experiments, based off of Dr. José Delgado’s research (a real life physiology professor at Yale who performed mind control experiments). She bargained with the Overseer during the public execution phase of his experiments to use those people for her experiments. The creatures that now infest the Vault are the result of her failed mind control experiments.

Assistant Scientist - (Male) - Deceased (in Vault)

  • Experiments: He assisted the scientist in her mind control experiments and was killed in a public execution by the Overseer.

Chemist - (Male) - Deceased (in Cave)

  • Experiments: He was the only person in the Vault who arguably didn’t perform overtly disturbing experiments. He was selected because of the Overseer’s obsession with a prolonged life and his progress in extending the lives of lab rats. Years after life in the Vault, the Overseer granted permission for him to experiment on a human. The architect volunteered but died after a year because the chemist hadn’t accounted for balancing out the life prolonging injection with other chemicals. Future human test subjects survived, although side effects make life more difficult for the community, including insomnia, limb spasms and excruciating pains throughout the body. He was unable to tolerate the psychological and physical impact of potentially eternal life and committed suicide.

Artist - (Male) - Deceased (in Cave)

  • Experiments: He used human remains in art (skeletons, excrement). The community saw him as a liability because he ventured out into the world (in the name of “his art”) and decided to eliminate him.

Architect - Deceased (in Vault)

  • Experiments: She experimented with unconventional materials in the design of her buildings, including living matter. (Decomposition created stronger mortar.) She volunteered for the chemist’s first attempt to prolong human life, under the condition that if she died, the artist would use her skeleton in his art and decomposing body to construct her large-scale model of a building. She was depressed that she may never be able see her buildings be built in the world and decided that either outcome would be better than her current life - In death, she would become a part of her artistic vision, and in eternal life, she might someday see her building created.

Narrative Design: Timeline

Fallout-New-Vegas-Karin-Cederskoog-Missi

 

Check back February 2019 for more videos and gifs!
Playable content coming soon.

World Building: Level Design

The Cave

Due to resource scarcity, stealing, and extreme behaviors in the Vault, residents became exceedingly paranoid of other people. They were afraid of the outside world, so when they left the Vault, they didn’t venture far, instead spreading out as much as possible in the surrounding cave (see “Backstory - Leaving the Vault”).

 

In the level design, I alluded to the hoarding behavior that developed from supply scarcity, with piles of supplies carefully guarded in inhabitants’ homes.

 

Homes were constructed from a hodgepodge of the materials their trader was able to attain for them. The Overseer’s home is the nicest, implying he had the top pick of all materials that entered the community, as well as construction assistance from the rest of the community.

Level Map

Vault Entrance

The entrance to the Vault is sealed because the community was afraid its final inhabitant (a scientist who performed mind control experiments) would experiment on them (see “Characters: Scientist”).