Of Three In One
Interactive story quest for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ◦ 8 weeks ◦ 2014
Mystical Themes and Lighting
Of Three In One deals with some heavy themes in an unconventional context. In order to sell the experience of a psychic vision and earn the weighty topics it covers, the environments had to be immersive, strongly related to the story, and effectively convey the nature of the quest. The layout and visuals of the various interiors connect strongly to the narrative structure of the quest, enhancing the dramatic tension where needed.
This was my first opportunity to design a level for a game, and after a huge moment of inspiration, my initial level design document (PDF) ended up very ambitious for a 6-week project. My instructor told me that it was three times what was reasonable, but given my personality, that drove me to try my best to create as much of what I had planned as I could.
The level ended up with a majority of what I had planned for, with fewer interiors than in the initial planning map. Unfortunately, I ended up cutting all of the combat encounters I had planned for, as ultimately story and believable environments came first for this project.
The central courtyard is circled by three doors that hint at the interiors of the three chapters
Each phase of the quest features a new environment that blends interior artificial locations (houses, fortresses) with more natural or organic locations such as a forest, a cave, or battlegrounds. This creates the sense of “dream logic” that holds the quest together, communicates multiple visual themes simultaneously (assisting in storytelling), and leads to some visually compelling moments for the player.
Each chapter of the quest features a new dream-like environment reflecting the themes of the story
The lighting is often dramatic, featuring a rainbow of colors that match the tone of each location and offer an otherworldly feel. The light system in Creation Kit is particularly limited, since the engine does not use baked lighting, which leads to a scenario in which a few lights must work to accomplish a lot in each scene.
The quest features a rainbow of interior lighting setups with dramatically different colors