Clearwater City

Project Snapshot

Clearwater City is a mod for Fallout 4, built using Bethesda's Creation Kit. It contains a standalone quest available to any player of high enough level to reach Clearwater City, which is located at the heart of the Glowing Sea. The main action of the quest takes place in Clearwater City itself.

Engine: Bethesda's Creation Kit (GECK)

Base Game: Fallout 4

Development Time: 180 hours

Level Overview

Clearwater City's main quest is called "Home Sweet Home". When the player enters Clearwater City from one of the caves in the Glowing Sea, they meet an NPC named Jillian. She tells them she is attempting to settle down in Clearwater City but doesn't know where to begin. She asks if the player will help her find a house and a job, and in return offers them a handful of caps and the hazmat suit she used to get through the Glowing Sea and to Clearwater City. 

During this quest, the player speaks with NPC's all over Clearwater City and gets to know a bit about the mythos of the town. They learn that Clearwater City got its name because of the large amount of fresh water at its base, which is inexplicably located beneath the ground in the Glowing Sea. While helping Jillian find a home they learn about the town's growing problem with insects straying in from holes in the roof of the cave where Clearwater City is located. As they help her find a job they speak with several different NPC's and learn about their relationships with one another.

Clearwater City proper features several vendors including a weapons merchant and a pharmacy. 

Maps & Layouts

Clearwater City is comprised of 3 cells, all of which the player can explore. Maps and reference image compilations, as well as screenshots for each, can be found below. 

Please note that the images in the compilations are the property of their original creators and are not my work.

Abandoned House

This abandoned house is the target of one half of the "Home Sweet Home" quest. The player is told by a police officer at Clearwater Police Station that the house is abandoned and therefore available to be lived in, but that it must first be cleared of insects. When the player enters the house they find it dank and still, illuminated only by fungi and light filtering in from the outside. If they return to the location after they clear it of insects they find Jillian standing outside and the house itself brightened a bit by lanterns and cleared of fungus. 

Original paper map for this cell.

Clearwater Police Station

During their quest, the player enters Clearwater Police Station several times. They can speak to the police officer in charge, Liam Gallagher, for information regarding the abandoned house they need to clear of insects for Jillian. They can also check the corkboard posted in the waiting area for information about jobs in the area. 

The Clearwater Police Station is small and unkempt, mainly due to the town's relative lack of crime. Officer Gallagher keeps a dog in the station with him, which will follow the player as they enter the station. 

Paper map for this cell.

Clearwater City

Clearwater City is large and spacious (about 1/3 larger than Diamond City), with a lively main street and several residential areas occupied by NPC's. When creating Clearwater City, I focused on giving each NPC the player sees or speaks to a space to occupy and a home to live in. Therefore as the player wanders through Clearwater City, it seems logical for its size.

In creating Clearwater City I wanted to focus on landmarking and making each street and area feel unique. The large fountain in the center plaza acts as the player's first landmark, as do large boulders and the lake at the center of town. Streets are lit and cluttered differently to give the player an idea of what is going on in that area. 

Paper map for this cell.

Clearwater City from various angles.

Additional Screenshots
Post Mortem

What Went Well?

  • I scoped the quest appropriately to complete the gameplay logic in a reasonable time.

  • I spent a lot of time giving Clearwater City life and a unique atmosphere, and the result shows in the final product.

  • I constantly asked for and responded to feedback from my supervising professor and made an effort to understand why he was giving the feedback he did.

 

What Went Wrong?

  • A Creation Kit update in the middle of the project caused massive errors in the project. Because I had poorly documented and maintained a build on Perforce, I was forced to restart from scratch.

  • Because the Clearwater City cell is so large, I had to spend most of my time working on gameplay and aesthetics in that cell. As a result the ancillary cells the player visits for a short time during gameplay are lacking in polish.

  • I spent a significant amount of time trying to build a version of Clearwater City using the terrain editor, only to find that that method would be unsuccessful for my project. I should have spent less time on this.

 

What I Learned

  • Creating a lifelike and realistic city is as much about its layout as it is about the contents of the city. The player should never have to look at their map or markers to figure out where they are in a city.

  • Submitting changelists to Perforce and checking files in and out is always worth the time it takes to do it. It can save hours of worktime in the end.

  • Developers should always have a contingency plan in place for what happens if the software they are using creates problems or otherwise prevents them from scripting.

    Copyright 2023 Aspen Clark