Hyacinth Marsh is a mod for Fallout 4, built using Bethesda's Creation Kit. It contains a standalone quest available to players of every level, and which requires no special gear or abilities to complete. The main action of the quest takes place in Hyacinth Marsh, a settlement built in a massive cave located beneath Diamond City. The quest's story focuses around members of a cult who has moved into the cave to worship the lake at its base.
Engine: Bethesda's Creation Kit (GECK)
Base Game: Fallout 4
Development Time: 60 hours
Hyacinth Marsh is a story-driven quest that provides players with the opportunity to make choices and shape their own experience by interacting with a variety of characters. The Hyacinth Girl, the main quest, features a branching story line with multiple endings. The quest centers around a woman named Jillian Parker, who has left her home in Diamond City to live in Hyacinth Marsh, a small town built around an underground lake, which is home to a cult of Wasteland citizens called the "Hollow Men", who worship the poet T. S. Eliot and revere his masterwork The Waste Land as a holy book.
The player is hired by Jillian's sister Amelia to go down to Hyacinth Marsh and bring Jillian home. Once underground they meet Maddon Kent, the charismatic and manipulative leader of the Hollow Men. He introduces them to Hyacinth Marsh and its citizens and offers them a place among the cultists in return for not taking Jillian away from Hyacinth Marsh.
The player must choose whether to follow Maddon's instructions or Amelia's, and whether to take Jillian back to the surface or not. Along the way they have the opportunity to interact with all of Hyacinth Marsh's citizens and hear their stories, and also have the chance to explore the small city.
Maps & Layouts
Hyacinth Marsh is made up of three cells made using Bethesda's Creation Kit. Details of each cell are listed below, along with maps and images that showcase important features.
Please note that the images in the compilations are the property of their original creators and are not my work.
This small house is owned by Jillian, the NPC the player is sent to Hyacinth Marsh to rescue. The house has only one room, so when I was designing it a lot of effort went into considering the functionality of the space. I wanted to create a homey, lived-in atmosphere, and achieved this look by balancing clutter and cleanliness and using warming golden light throughout the house.
Paper map for this cell.
This house belongs to Maddon Kent, the leader of the Hollow Men who inhabit Hyacinth Marsh. Unlike Jillian’s house, Maddon’s is large and eerie. The main floor of his house has a living room, an office, a kitchen, and an otherworldly altar hidden in a closet. I wanted Maddon’s house to reflect his obsessive, somewhat menacing personality. This effect was achieved by lighting and decorating the space meticulously.
Paper map for this cell.
The main room, kitchen/dining room, and altar in their final forms.
Hyacinth Marsh is a small settlement, but it bustles with life. The main street runs lengthwise along a subterranean lake with Maddon's house perched on an island facing it. I did some research on boardwalk towns and fishing villages to help the construction of this cobbled-together and water-bound settlement feel realistic.
Paper map for this cell.
Hyacinth Marsh from various angles.
What Went Well
I was able to light a very difficult environment successfully and create a distinct atmosphere.
My dialogue told a compelling story and I achieved my goal of creating emotional engagement in the player.
I delivered a final product with minimal bugs in an engine I learned in just eight weeks.
What Went Wrong
I could have paid more attention to my AI behavior and prioritized Navmesh construction over other aesthetic elements. My AI was sometimes sloppy and behaved strangely.
In the beginning of the quest creation process I cut corners when trying to put my logic together. This meant I had a lot of work to make up later during gameplay and aesthetics milestones.
I tried to create something that didn’t necessarily fit into the Fallout universe. This meant that I had to do a lot of work to convince the player they were still engaged in the world of the base game.
What I Learned
Quality beats quantity! It’s better to focus on scripting 3 or 4 elements and interactions and perfecting them than to try and make something complex that doesn’t get finished and polished.
Overestimate how long building quest logic will take. Papyrus and Creation Kit are both very time consuming to work with. I learned that when assuming how long things will take, overestimation beats underestimation every time.
Playtesting early and often is important. I did a lot of playtesting at late stages of development, but I think I would have benefitted from earlier playtesting and more iteration to my gameplay.