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Fallout 4: Toxic Neighborhood

Game Summary

“Toxic Neighborhood” is a level within Fallout 4 of my creation that takes place at West End, a fictional settlement near The Glowing Sea. There is one main quest with a branching narrative choice, one side quest, an exterior and interior section, and multiple NPCs. This level showcases radiation as a persistent theme with Super Mutant enemies, a radiation storm, and explosive radiation barrels.
Creation Kit
Development Time:
12 weeks
Team Size:

Design Goals

Clear Conveyance of Primary Objective

I wanted players to recognize Doctor Fukuda and her Abandoned Laboratory as their primary goal for the main quest.

Teach and Reinforce a new Mechanic

I scripted a new explosive radiation barrel that I introduce and reinforce as the gameplay advances.

Meaningful Choice with In-Game Consequences

I constructed the quest's narrative to have a clear choice the player must make. The player's choice will have a visible impact on the NPCs within the town.

Clear Conveyance of Primary Objective


Leading Lines

I used leading lines extensively throughout the most important moments of my level. Roads are more obvious, but I also have more subtle lines leading to major objectives such as the tent near Doctor Fukuda or the walkway attatched to the abandoned laboratory.


Lying within the center of my level is a major landmark in the form of a radio tower. This tower can be seen from any point within my exterior. Players can use this as a point to orient themselves and track their progress through the level.

Conveyance Lighting

A feature I added to the level during development was a persistent radiation storm in the exterior. This storm gave me the opportunity create strong color contrast to draw specific attention to my primary objectives using bright white lighting. The most important locations can easily be found in the storm due to these lights and act as an additional conveyance technique.

Teach and Reinforce a New Mechanic



To teach the player my main mechanic I first introduce it within a safe environment. Mud Breath, the level’s nemesis character, will hint at the barrel’s properties when the player first meets him.


Next, I introduce the barrels in a neutral state. One zone of radiation appears before another set of intact barrels. The player must destroy these barrels to proceed. Reinforcing this mechanic.


Finally I build on this mechanic by moving enemies past these barrels to create a timing challenge for the player.

Meaningful Choice with In-Game Consequences


Branching Choice

A major focus for the main quest's narrative was to contain a morally grey choice that is left to the player to decide.


Either choice the player picks will have a vast outcome for the NPCs the player has met. I put a lot of time into this to ensure that the player felt their decisions had weight and led to different outcomes.

Initial Concept

During the planning phases I originally envisioned the radio tower being located at the northmost portion of the level. While constructing the level, however, I found that this not only made it difficult to see but also resulted in a poor player flow between my major areas. I moved the landmark to be toward the western portion of the town (the center of the level) and this really improved my flow.
Initial Blockout


What Went Well

  • I created a lot of different memorable characters important to the level
  • My quest fits naturally within the larger Fallout 4 universe
  • The flow of the level and its different sections was effective
  • The branching choice has a strong impact which is driven by the player

What Went Wrong

  • During development I over-labeled minor tasks as "critical" or "must fix"
  • My level's scope was very large from the beginning
  • Finding a radiation-themed mechanic that was fun to play took much more time than anticipated

What I Learned

  • Approach problems I don't know how to do or think are risky first
  • The narrative of the quest needs to be flexible to accomodate design changes
  • Listening to playtesting feedback is crucial and was a major factor in the quality I ended with


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