A Mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Team Size: Solo Project
- Production Duration: Eight Weeks
- Work Hours: Roughly 20 hours per week
- Engine: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Creation Engine)
- Platform: PC
“Dreamcatcher” is a single-piece quest within The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a single-player game set within the vast region of Skyrim, a northern country within the continent of Tamriel. I created the level as part of my Level Design II class, using approximately 175 labor hours over eight weeks.
The quest begins at the behest of Willem, an irritable mage from the College of Winterhold, Skyrim’s authority on magical phenomena. Willem sends the player to Nightwind Cairn to root out a cult worshipping the Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares. The player must retrieve the cult's book, Dreamcatcher, and bring it back to Willem.
Inches before the player retrieves the book, they find themselves transported to Quagmire, Vaermina’s plane of Oblivion. She puts the player through a series of combat challenges, culminating with a battle against her worshippers themselves. Satisfied with the Dragonborn’s ability to inflict fear, she returns the player to Nirn to serve as her instrument.
At the end of the quest, players choose to return Dreamcatcher to Willem and receive an enchanted dagger, or to keep the book for themselves and receive a powerful daily fear spell from Vaermina herself.
Level Design Document: I created this LDD at the beginning of the project to plan out everything that I wanted to accomplish. Overall, I remained fairly true to my original design.
Project Download: The final product of the project is available for you to download and play with any copy of Skyrim. The core game is the only requirement. Visit this link for help installing mods to Skyrim.
My Responsibilities (Level Designer)
- Create and maintain Level Design documentation.
- Create level layouts; place items, lighting, and clutter.
- Script custom sequences, including all combat, quest, and dialogue mechanics.
- Recorded and implemented custom dialogue throughout the quest.
- Independently schedule playtesting and respond to feedback.
- Maintain lines of communication with faculty regarding progress and blockers throughout development.
What Went Right
- I created a well-rounded narrative experience that fit into the existing Elder Scrolls lore.
- I sought out ways to challenge my limits, particularly with scripting sequences.
- I stuck to a consistent development schedule, and met all milestones on time.
What Went Wrong
- It took me some time to create sufficient lighting and clutter that complemented gameplay and visual aesthetics.
- It was difficult to work within a framework of preexisting assets while creating something completely new.
- Scaling combat with player level was challenging to balance.
What I Learned
- Levels generally require more detailed lighting and clutter than it seems like they should.
- Balancing gameplay requires a large amount of playtesting, espcially in a game like Skyrim where players can encounter the content at virtually any level.
- There are good times in a project to challenge your skills, but as the deadline draws near, it's a better idea to play to your strengths.