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  • Writer's pictureJayden Zhang

Underneath Shadow - Fallout 4

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

Download Link:


Video Walkthrough:

Without Commentary:

With Commentary:


Quick Summary

“Underneath Shadow” is a 10 - 20 minutes long quest line for a level 15 player about a tragedy and discuss humanity under the big picture of Fallout 4’s post-war setting.

The play style of this quest is a kill target quest, with an active investigation by the player themselves. (however, quests won’t be uncomplete-able if player don’t want to explore)

The story is about a family (owner of the pub) who wants to get rid of a weird and creepy noise from their neighbor, which eventually turned out to be a doctor (Dr. Naphtali) trying to save his daughter who was infected and became a ghoul. A player can choose to kill one side of them or none of them, either choice will proceed with the questline forward.

In-Game Screenshots:

Work Example:

Main Hall

When design this part of the level, I used light and shapes to guide the player’s line of sight, from the screenshot, there is a high contrast light variation between the player’s current position and the space at a distance, and when player proceed forward, there is a warm light on their left side, after player was attracted to that position, they can find some letters on the ground. Although the letter is not a mandatory quest item that the player needs to pick up. But it was helpful for the player to get extra information and have a better understanding of the story.


When the player proceeds to this level in the main questline, the time was already midnight, so it doesn’t make sense someone sleeps with all their lights on, however, if there are no lights on, then the level won’t look nice. The decision I made was to avoid artificial light as much as possible. In this bedroom part. I left 1 oil lamp on, and the overall color theme was a warm color to make the apartment look cozy and comfortable. Another detail is the trash bin and paintings on the wall, those tiny things really helped make the whole level believable and immersive.

Bedroom Secret room

This room is hidden behind the bedroom door, the player can lockpick into the door, or steal the key from the NPC who lives in this apartment. To align with the design purpose, I put some boxes with papers and some empty/broken shelves to make this room looks like was originally a storage room. Then I put an oil lantern on the table to guide the player’s line of sight. The table color is either brown or orange, but the parchment on it was relatively white. The contrast of the variation will attract the player’s interest and guide them to find this hidden clue of the main quest.

B3 Living Room

When designing the questline in this level, I intended to let the player find clues on their own, and here is how it works: Player will only be guided by the marker to get the key quest item to trigger next quest stage, however, there is still plenty of evidence hidden in this level. So, I designed the item placement with the help of lights and contrasts. From the very beginning when a player enters the level, there are already no artificial lights, and near all oil lanterns, there will have at least one item that players can pick up or interact with. Meanwhile, because the overall color theme is relatively dark, that small warm light really stands out and makes the apartment cozy and feels comfortable. Once the player gets used to the pattern. They will be able to find plenty of clues about the main story. Nevertheless, if they choose not to find them and directly returning. They will miss the true ending of the quest, but it doesn’t prevent the player from proceeding forward.

Post Mortem:

What Went Well

  • The LDD plays a vital rule at the beginning of the project, it clearly guides me through the pre-production phase and keeps me from lost after weeks

  • Schedule and scope estimation of the project was quite well, I didn’t crunch a lot compared to my previous project and have plenty of time to polish aesthetics

  • Notice that side quest doesn’t work and cut the quest line before going too far

What Went Wrong

  • Design of side quest doesn’t fit into the main questline and doesn’t really make sense

  • Feedback and grading were got a little bit late, usually, I got my grade just 1 or 2 days before the due date, thus I don’t have enough time to change if there is a lot that needs to be changed

  • Dialogue doesn’t make sense; the NPC dialogue doesn’t make sense and vert vague to convey what they were trying to say. I eventually overhauled most of the dialogues

  • Lack of playtesting, I didn’t perform many times of playtest sessions, so there is not enough feedback from peers and players given to me as I progress forward

  • Lack of understanding of the base game, I only played Fallout series a few hours before, the art style and the game itself is just hardly able to raise any of my interests, so I only have a very basic idea of what the game is, which definitely put me into an inferior position when design gameplay and levels for the game

What I Learned

  • Playtest is the key, get feedback as early as possible, before it was too late

  • If something doesn’t make sense, don’t stick to it

  • It doesn’t have to take the complex way to convey a simple idea, this applies not only to dialogues but also level design

  • Try my best to experience a game which I’m designing for even though I don’t like it

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