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Game: The Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim

Genre: Action, RPG

Mode: Single Player

Team Size: 1 Developer

Engine: Creation Kit

Development Time: 2 Months

  • Concept and Documentation

  • Environment Design

  • World Building

  • Lighting

  • Scripting (AI, Boss Fight, Puzzles)

  • Quest Design and Implementation

  • Gameplay Flow

  • Scene Composition

GAME INSTALLER

Click to Navigate Through Sections
OVERVIEW
LEVEL DESIGN
POSTMORTEM
Map Overview

Shenara Island (Exterior)

I began looking for references of a cove layout. The reason why is because I liked how the layout is structured and how you get to experience a beautiful scene given the assets available in skyrim. With such a design I could also take advantage of how the space is blocked out with huge cliffs/mountains in the surrounding that creates bound for the player to not cross, thus not breaking the level. Once I blocked out the island I began layering the terrain in such that it elevates inward just like a natural terrain formation. Once my base was ready I set my gameplay space and populated the scene. I also used weenies that rise above the players horizon sightline that will help them re-orient themselves should they fell lost.

During this phase I took into consideration, what the player will see first and how am I going to lead them to their objective even with a quest set up.

Shenara Island (Exterior)

 

Shenara Island (Exterior) Map Overview

Level Walk-through

[1] Player starts at the Shenara cove dock.

[2] Player is directed towards the arch-mage at the tower landmark ahead of them. They will accept the quest and proceed towards the last spirit prison on the island.

[2a] This is where the player meets an alchemist mage who is trying to heal the wounded but needs help to gather resources to make healing potions. If the player accepts, they will have to fetch herbs that grow by the ocean rocks and the water fall.

The player will be rewarded with a weapon the siphons the health of foes and returns it to the player upon wielding it.

[3] Player approaches the entrance of the spirit prison

[4] Player enters the spirit prison

[5] Inside the prison at the entrance, the player will receive a custom made frost blade that they can use to dispel spirits that are trying to escape the spirit realm

[6] Encounter of the first pillar puzzle. The clue to the solution lies on the walls in the surrounding. After they solve the puzzle and open the first gate, they enter a space between the mortal and spirit world.

 [7]  This is the first encounter of the restless spirits trying to escape the spirit prison.

[8] The second puzzle key that opens the second spirit prison gate, followed by a larger encounter of restless spirit enemies.

 [9]  Before opening the second gate, the player encounters more spirits.

[10] The player finds an exit to the exterior where the boss is, trying to unleash dragon spirits from the last gate.

[11] Confront the boss Kelzur and defeat him. After defeating Kelzur, the player can return back to the arch mage and turn in the quest. [2]

Shenara Prison (Interior)

 

Shenara Island (Interior) Map Overview

Scripting

Enemy AI Spawn (Ghost Spirits)

I began by first creating a custom AI package within the creation kit and added specefic traits and visuals for the enemies to look like spirits.

Once I was happy with the way the enemy AI looked, I added a faction to the enemy package to keep them hostile towards the player. After the package was set, I put together VFX elements to add a cool juice effect while spawning the enemies. I put together a glowing rune effect on the floor and a spiral animating effect that gives the player an early warning and time to prepare for combat. once both effects played the enemies would spawn in those points and come at the player.

To activate these AI spawns, I placed triggers that would call the functions I scripted using the papyrus language and activate once the player entered it.

Two Phase Enemy Boss Fight

After the player exits the prison within the island and gets on the cliff, they encounter Kelzur, a dark lord boss aiming to bring destruction into skyrim by unleashing the three restless dragon spirits.

I first began the same process as I did when creating the ghost spirit enemies by creating the custom AI package and giving it specefic weapons, outfit and step up the health and damage of the AI. Just to give a feel of intimidation, i set the boss to be scaled up a bit.

Once the boss was ready, I scripted the boss to have two phases.

 

On the first phase the boss will do his regular melee damage attacks and occasionally call fort a rain of fire balls. During the fireball attack the player should take cover using the near by structure. When the boss is brought to zero health, it will enter a bleed-out stage. During this stage, I scripted the boss to spawn a ranged enemy ai to attack the player, while the boss attempts to recover from the recent encounter. 

Dungeon Puzzles

The player has to go through two spirit prison gates to get to the boss. For each gateway I setup a dungeon puzzle that the player will have to solve to get through. The puzzle acted as a breather for the player, changing the pacing of the game when the player is not in combat.

 

The first pillar puzzle had to be solved by turning the pillars to the symbol the player finds on the wall

The second is a puzzle door that the player has to unlock by finding a claw which not only serves as a collectible but also as a key to opening the puzzle door. The player has to mimic the same symbol structure on the door as seen on the key.

Conveyance and Design Guidelines

Landmarks

As soon as the player reaches the island, I have the player facing a large tower landmark that attracts the player and guides them to their objective. The landmark is also used to help players re-orient themselves should they feel lost in the huge open space. Similarly, I have set up local environmental landmarks that are memorable to the player and helps them remember areas in the world, which again acts as a guide and a reference of where they are in the space.

Lighting

Another element I used to guide the player to their goal is lighting. Lighting helped me gain the players attention from the huge chaos that was going on the island. As fire became more common, to make the lighting stand out I used the blue fire that would get the players attention from the scene.

Once it was established that the blue fire would light the way for the player, I maintained this throughout the game from the exterior to the interior dungeon

Motion

To subconsciously reinforce where the player should go, I added various juice elements that had motion to give the player a subtle guidance to their objective.

The direction of the wind, smoke, moving banners, fire and even critters in the environment would draw the player towards where they should be going

Linear Flow

Even though Skyrim is an open world game, most of the quests in the game have a linear approach. I maintained this design flow as I want the player to experience the quest and the engaging combat that I set up rather than having too much choice and letting the player deviate from their critical path.

Main Quest

To support my gameplay and to keep the player going in the direction i want them to go, I designed a simple kill the boss quest with multiple stages to give the player a sense of progression. These stages give players goals they need to progress and keeps them moving ahead to experience the gameplay and exploration. The main quest focuses on getting the player to the levels main objective, to kill Kelzur, the dark lord boss trying to unleash three dragon spirits from the spirit world

Side Quest

The side quest takes the player on an adventure to fetch specefic herbs that will help an alchemist make potions to heal the wounded frost mages. This quest ensures the player explores the island. As a reward, the player is given a custom weapon that siphons the health of the enemies and transfers it to the player.

Level Playthrough

Shenara Island - The Last Spirit Prison

The players is asked to help the frost mages in defeating a dark lord who has set chaos on Shenara Island, home to the frost mages. The Dark lord Kelzur, aims to unleash three dragon spirits imprisoned in the last spirit prison of Shenara into skyrim.

The players objective is to enter the spirit prison and acquire a frost blade that can do heavy frost damage as well as dispel any spirits. With the frost blade, the player has to stop Kelzur and defeat him.

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OVERVIEW
LEVEL DESIGN
POSTMORTEM
 

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