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Tibbets Prison design document/2

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Tibbets Prison design document/2
VB design document.png
AuthorChris Avellone
PublisherInterplay (leaked internal document)
Release DateSeptember 9, 2005
Downloadsee main page of document
Tibbets Prison design document
Part 1
Part 3
Gametitle-VB.pngThe following is based on Van Buren and has not been confirmed by canon sources.

This is part 2 of the Tibbets Prison design document for Van Buren, the cancelled Fallout 3 by Black Isle Studios.


1 Main page of document
2 Part 1
3 Part 2
4 Part 3
Document start icon.png The following is the original document or a transcript thereof.


The Locations section of the document will probably be a series of entries, each one describing each location within the area. Designers will determine what format and procedure works best for them. Each location section should probably cover the following information, however:

  • A quick series of bookmarks for each location and sub-location described in the document so the players can just jump to it.
  • The physical aspects of the locations, so artists can get a feel for the area's art requirements.
  • The feel and tone of the area for audio. Include any description you think would help them get a better handle on the area. Emote if necessary. Do interpretative dance. I don't fucking care, but don't omit important details.
  • The area's purpose.
  • The major characters you expect to be found in the location.
  • Any adversaries you expect to be encountered in the location.
  • A brief description of quests likely to be found in the area.

A potential sample from the Raiders caves would be:

Example: Bak Entranze Summary

Back Entrance: This map is pretty small and (hopefully) uncomplicated. This is the secret backdoor entrance to the Raider caves that the player can find if they have a high Outdoorsman skill.

This “secret entrance” is a hole in the ground surrounded by a cluster of abandoned shacks with their walls falling down and huge gaping holes in the roofs. There is no living in these shacks, so don’t worry about having to place critters anywhere around here. The Raiders also do not guard this backdoor entrance to their caves (they don’t believe anyone could really find it).

The only item of interest on this map is the black hole that leads down into the Raider Caves.

Design Note: When designing locations and sub-locations, keep in mind that there may be locations the player returns to frequently, such as stores, flophouses to rest, or the local doctor. Try to make these as convenient to reach as possible.

Cast of Characters

The Cast of Characters section describes the major NPCs found in the location.

  • A quick series of bookmarks for each NPC and companion described in the document so the players can just jump to it.

Generic NPCs

Describe their background, personality, their function, any ties to quests in the area, and if they are voice-acted or not. If voice-acted, include a brief sentence indicating what you think the character would sound like, preferably using a real world actor as an example (it's easier for audio to do voice casting if they have a real world actor to use as a basis for comparison – chances are, they can't get THAT particular actor, but they can get someone who sounds like him or her).


Be sure to include potential companions here, too. Make a note of what they're good at, their stats, and so on, along with any things that would prevent them from joining the party (the player's Karma is too high or too low, his Reputation isn't high enough, the player needs to complete a quest first, and so on).

Design Note: Might want to combine the cast of characters with the Monster Roster, at least in terms of stats. Dave Maldonado had a suggestion for a series of task lists for the producers that combine both the cast of characters, companions, and the critters all in one list. I keep wondering if there should be separate completion lists maintained outside of the templates that track overall progress. Dividing them amongst various location documents seems counterproductive – I'd prefer the Icewind Dale: HOW excel sheet, though there is the problem of regular upkeep.


Scripting covers a number of elements:


There are some general scripting issues...

  • Are there any wacky scripting things you'll need the programmers to be aware of? (For example, can you go to Hoover Dam, aim an artillery cannon at the town of Podunk five miles distant, fire a poison gas shell into the town, then go back to Podunk and all the inhabitants are dead except for the ghouls? Or, if the town is suffering from a disease, does the population die off over time? "Little" things like that.)
  • Are there any cut-scenes in the location? If so, include specific details of how the cut scene plays out, including characters you may need added or subtracted from a map on the fly, camera angles, and so on.
  • Do any creatures in town spawn or respawn? If so, is this respawning tied to any other parameters, such as difficulty level, the player's level, skill use, reputation level, and so on?
  • Are there any changes that occur on the map in terms of spawning, creature difficulty, or otherwise, that vary according to the difficulty level of the game, the level of the player and/or the party, or the fact it's a single-player or a multiplayer game? Do any boss battles become harder? Do any spawned creatures change (behemoth robots instead of rad rats suddenly start popping out of the word work)? Let your programmers know. They like knowing this stuff.


There are some important things to consider for towns...

  • What happens when the player attacks someone in the area? (This is primarily important for towns – most dungeon-crawl locations it won't matter.)
  • What happens when the player breaks into one of the houses in the town?
  • Are any of the town inhabitants listed in the Monster Roster below organized into teams? Do they call for help? Will any of them fight each other if they spot an rival group of townsfolk?


There are some important things to consider for dungeon locations...

  • Are any of the monsters listed in the Monster Roster below organized into teams? Do they call for help? Will any of them fight each other if they spot an enemy critter?

Monster Roster

The Monster Roster section indicates what monsters are found in the location. If you can, list the numbers of critters present, their approximate XP award, and if they are intended to respawn in a location or not.

If any monsters change according to difficulty level, make sure you note these variations here as well.

In addition, write a sentence or two about what kind of random encounters would you expect to see near the town -- and make a note of what ones shouldn't occur near the town. You may need to pass this information off to a designer who is solely responsible for designing random encounters, and the more he or she knows, the better.

Cool Shit

The Cool Shit section is just that -- what's cool about this area? For starters, you should be able to say in one or two sentences why a player would remember this location. If you were a player, what would make you want to play this location? What would make you glad you played this location?

This section should include the following technical details:

  • The weapons, armor, or item progression occurs in the area. This includes cool stuff you can buy from storekeepers -- if possible, try to include items out of the player's price range or just out of reach (dangle the carrot...) so the player is motivated to go accumulate cash to purchase the item from the store.

Item progression should be broken down in a skill basis, and it can be included in the Location Checklist, below. Basically, whenever possible, a location should have some item or weapon that compliments a skill.

  • Can the player get any merit badges in the area? (Merit Badges are essentially worthless Perks or items your character can accumulate – they don't affect gameplay, but they're like collecting brownie points and act as additional carrots. Things like, "Purple Heart Medal," or "Perk: Refuse Extraction Coordinator," or "Perk: Searches Toilets.")
  • What skills are especially useful in this area? (Note: keep this simple – the, uh, painfully detailed skill analysis occurs in the Location Checklist, below.)
  • Can the player either build cool new items or learn how to build cool new items in this location? (For example, a Mechanic may discover a laser sight in one town, and be able to attach it to a rifle using a craft bench – or he may find plans for a combustion engine he could put into a rusted hulk out in the desert, making it able to be driven around.)
  • What would keep the player coming back to this area? Is there a locked elevator that requires a 150% Repair skill to fix and opens into a new location? Is there an ornery old cuss who won't give you a quest until you've gained a few levels? Is there a shopkeeper whose stock keeps changing... and keeps changing for the better the more good or bad acts you do in other locations in the world? Can the player blackmail someone and keep coming back for his monthly payments? There should be at least a few carrots like this in each location to keep the players coming back and getting more mileage out of the area.
  • Is there an interesting gaming technique, quest, or RPG element about the location? As an example, Lonelywood in Heart of Winter had a neat series of events that developed over time, and as you returned to the town throughout the adventure, events would build on events (the werewolf murders, the murderous squad of adventurers coming to attack the owner of the Whistling Gallows, Baldemar's hiring of the assassin – and the assassin eventually turning on him). Is there a puzzle type that hasn't been seen in the game until this point? A mini-game? (Molerat Mambo in Redding in Fallout 2, for example.) Every location needs some spice to turn it up a notch – as much as art needs to continually wow the player, the design needs to shake them up, too.
  • Are there any quest items in the area?


The Quests section should be set up so you can cut and paste the damn thing into a PIPBoy quest log. This section is broken into several parts: The Main Quests in the area that are designed specifically by a designer, the Merchant Quests which are more generic "go to X with caravan Y and get Z reward," and the Floating Quests, which are a series of randomly generated quests for the area.

Note: Make sure to refer to the quest design section in the F3_Style.doc.

Main Quests

Main Quests are quests designed specifically by the designer for the area. Information on these quests should include:

  • The initiator of the quest.
  • The importance and the scope of the quest.

Importance: Critical quests are ones that the player has to do to advance the game, Major quests are ones that could span an area or two and involve a lot of steps, and Minor quests are ones that could be solved on the same map or by walking to an adjacent map, or may involve only one step to solve.

Scope: Small (same map), Medium (a map or two away), and Large (crosses several maps, takes a long time to complete).

  • A quick description of the quest.
  • A quick breakdown on how all four different types of characters could solve the quest. If the quest can only be completed by one type of character (which is fine), indicate it here.
  • Quest flags, if appropriate, and what stage each flag represents.
  • Rewards of the quest, including experience points, items gained, reputation, and especially any quest items gained.
  • The journal entries for bad karma, good karma, normal karma, and dumb characters when appropriate. (I don't know if we're going to have all these categories, but plan for them now.) Not all quests need this much variation, but if you think it would work for the quest, then put them in. Again, these journal entries should be able to cut and pasted from this document into a game text file without a hitch.
  • The quest table will be laid out so it can be imported to a QA database so we can quickly set up the standard quest checklist for the game. Here's a sample template (we still need to work with this):
Area Quest Name Designer DStatus Script SStatus Log Stat Passable QA 100%
Map 1: Tibbets Escape Cell Block 13 Avellone Done Phil Done N/A Yes Yes
Map 1: Tibbets Reprogram Guide Bot Avellone Done Phil Done 75% [3] Yes No [1]
Map 1: Tibbets Bypass Security Door 13 Avellone Done Phil Done Done Yes Yes
Map 1: Tibbets Get Key to Armory Avellone Done Phil Done 75% [3] Yes No [2]
1: When the Computer Programming skill is used on the Guide Bot after you use the Repair Skill, it does not respond correctly when you initiate dialogue with it.

2: The Behemoth Robot does not always drop the security pass when it is destroyed by a character using the modified laser pistol.

3: No low intelligence options have been included in the logs for these quests.

Area: The area of the game and the map in the area where the game takes place.

Quest Name: The name of the quest.

Designer: The designer responsible for the quest so people know who to contact.

Dstatus: The status of the design.

Script: The programmer in charge of programming the location.

Dscript: The status of the coding for the quest.

LogStat: What's the status of the log for these quests? Do you get the unsolved version, do you get the solved version, and do you get a good/bad karma and a stupid one, if appropriate?

Passable: Is the quest passable in some form?

QA 100%: Is the quest completable in ALL forms?

Note that quests should reinforce the "feel" of a location. As an example, Redding in Fallout 2 was set up to be a frontier, rough-and-tumble Western mining town, with a "Gold Rush" kind of ambiance about it. Quests in the town involved becoming the sheriff (a career move that, in classic Western style, no one wants), dealing with drunken brawls in the local saloon, dealing with dirty infighting between the two mining companies, trying to help out the local country doctor, cleaning out an infested mine, dealing with a band of robbers, and so on – the nature of the quests made you feel like you were in a Old West movie.

Also, if there is a companion in town, make sure you indicate how to get him in your party, and set up the conditions as a quest. ("To get Cassidy in your party, you need to find him in his tavern, ask him about his recent rash of troubles, then invite him to come with you. You will gain +500 XP, +1 Reputation, and Cassidy comes with a shotgun, leather armor, several shells, and a lot of whiskey.")

Merchant Quests

For some locations, there will be a merchant caravan that travels to and from the city. Make sure you describe what caravan missions are available in the location, and a note of who the caravan master(s) are for the location and where they can be found. It's usually best if they are located somewhere near the opening map of the location.

Floating Quests

Scott Warner suggested implementing a randomly-generated quest system for TORN, based on the Privateer model; basically, a number of random quests appear on a "job post" (or its equivalent) somewhere in the world, and the player can pick and choose from a number of simple quests that change over time.

These randomly generated missions make no pretensions about being cut-and-dry FedEx or Murder Quests: "Go collect bounty on five ghouls," "retrieve five chunks of gold ore," "deliver three sub-machine guns to the caravan master," and so on. Make a quick list of different kinds of quick and dirty random missions that would be appropriate for the location – several of the missions (but not necessarily all) should be tied to the random encounters that occur near the town.

Task Lists

The Tasks section is a list of all the work that needs to be done for the area. It is a good summary for the producer, other designers, artists, and programmers as to what has been done in the area, who to check with if you have questions about certain tasks, and so on.

This section is only useful if it is used. If we're several months into the project and no one has been using it, then it will no longer be used or updated. There's no sense in wasting time doing additional bookkeeping if it's serving no purpose.

Sound Requirements

The Sound Requirements section is intended to cover every conceivable audio question you've had to answer for an RPG in the past. You know the drill. Some aspects to consider:


The music breakdowns depend on the game. In Fallout 3, we will most likely be going with music themes tied to areas, which is in keeping with the previous games. Be sure to include your preferences for these themes in the document so Adam Levenson has something to work off of... even if it's just a starting point for a debate.

Basic SFX

An area's going to need sound to make it come alive. Some basics:

Environmental Sounds: Wind, weather, settling rocks.

Item-Specific Sounds: Glance through your area, see if there's any items that might need sounds to complement their presence: the humming of generators, crackling of fires, buzzing of neon signs, and so on.

Wildlife Sounds: Wolves howling, birds chirping, crickets, hissing of rattlesnakes. Do not include human voices in this category (that's covered in "Walla," below).

Business Sounds: Any SFX tied to businesses or merchants in the area (sound of a tractor in the distance, a trash compactor crushing metal, gunshots from the rifle range, roaring of a plane from an airport).

Living Sounds: Any SFX tied to everyday life in the area (tolling of a church bell, sound of a basketball on asphalt, car engine coming to life, chopping of wood).

For every sound effect you want, be sure to include:

Distance: The distance you expect the sound effect to be played at.

Time-Dependent: Is the SFX tied to a time cycle? Does a factory stop crushing metal cans at night? Is a neon sign turned off during the day? If so, audio needs to know.

Any Walla? Is there any walla that needs to be done for the locations? This is much different from sound effects, because a voice actor must be employed to do the lines. See "Walla" SFX, below.

"Walla" SFX

Walla is a term used to describe any voices you hear in the area. The catcalls of prostitutes, people groaning in pain in a dungeon, ghostly whispers in a haunted house are all examples of this. Walla SFX questions break down into the same categories as basic SFX:

Distance: The distance you expect the walla sound effect to be played at.

Time-Dependent: Is the walla tied to a time cycle? Does a street empty out at night? Do the merchant stalls close up shop and the merchants go home? Does a bar become more lively when twilight falls?

How many people and what's the gender and racial mix? Be sure to include roughly how many people are in the location, their races, and their genders. For example, a rough and tumble bar might have "12 patrons: 5 human male bandits, 3 human female bandits, 2 super mutant males, 1 ghoul female, and a whirring servant robot that occasionally asks if a customer wants drinks.")

What's the mood of the place where the walla is occurring? And how should the voices sound? In the example above, you might describe it as "a rough and tumble bar in a bad section of town where disreputable raiders gather to smoke, drink, and occasionally get into a fight or two; all conversations should either be loud, raucous, drunken stories about successful raids, attacks on caravans, or other crimes, or else be mumbled planned conversations with a group planning their next raid. A few insults may be being thrown around at other patrons or directed toward the robot servant. The area should feel alive and threatening (like a WWF match), but not sinister."

Does the walla sound have any other SFX? In the example above, the servant robot's speech may need to have a slight whirring or clicking sound associated with it as the robot speaks and rolls around the bar.

Does this walla sound need any DIRECT SFX attached to it? If the walla sound effect is "people screaming as they're being whipped," then not only do you need a whip SFX, but you need to make sure that the whip SFX plays before the screaming or at least complements the screaming.

The basic chart for SFX would be as follows:

Area Sound requirements
Describe the music in the location.
The basic sound effects in the area.
The basic walla sound effects in the area.
Describe the music in the location.
The basic sound effects in the area.
The basic walla sound effects in the area.

Map and Map Key

The Map and Map Key section has a JPG of the area, with each important location numbered. Again, this is useful for QA, other designers, game editors, and strategy guide authors. Here's an example of what I mean (see next page...):

Example: Virgin Street Map

VB DD01 map Virgin Street.png

Example: Virgin Street Map Key

1. Empty Lot: This is where the Corvega is parked when the player comes to New Reno. At some point while the player is in New Reno, the car will be stolen, so there will need to be a “scripting hex” somewhere in the lot that activates when the player comes within 10 hexes of it (basically, whenever the player hits that hex radius, he’ll say “Where the hell is my car?”).

2. Miss Kitty’s Scratching Post: This building has tons of graffiti covering its surface and ten cap whores line the sidewalks outside, calling out to the character.

3. Miss Kitty’s Parlor: This is where clients can check in with the madam and arrange to get their snake drained.

4. “Bedrooms”: This is where Miss Kitty’s prostitutes take care of the customers.

5. Shitty Building: A number of junkies fill this building. It is run down and crappy, more so than any building on the street (no one lives here). Junkies lie on the floor or stagger around the edge of the building, high on Jet.

6: Shitty Building, 2: Some random building. Feel free to play around with it or cut it out to save space on the map.

7: Mordino Casino: The entrance to the Mordino Casino. Clicking on one of the doors takes the player to the Mordino Casino, First Floor Map (below).

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