Sitrep | America Rising – A Tale of the Enclave 2.0.0 Introduction

Hello everyone!

Welcome to another update on the development of America Rising – A Tale of the Enclave. It’s been a year since the release of The Oil Rig Update for America Rising, wherein I increased the size of the Enclave’s main base and the player’s quest hub by approximately x4, and greatly increased the stability of the mod.

Since then I’ve been quietly working away at Version 2.0.0 of America Rising – A Tale of the Enclave, and I think it’s finally time I give you a quick look at what’s to come. First, a bit of background.

While America Rising is far more stable now than it was at launch, it is a large and complex quest mod – that means there are still issues that can arise when things are done in orders I simply hadn’t anticipated (That’s on me, not you guys!). I’ve completely rebuilt the codebase, and added far more checks so that in Version 2.0.0, if anything should go wrong (which should be far less likely, might I add!) there are plenty of opportunities for the mod to self-recover itself and allow you to continue playing as if nothing happened.

This means that, yet again, your progress up to now in the live version –  1.1.2, will unfortunately not carry over. I know this is very annoying, but hopefully the following will justify it for you all:

  • Version 2.0.0 is still a ways out, and it’s unlikely to launch this year – plenty of time to enjoy the current version of the mod!
  • Version 2.0.0 is based on an entirely new plugin – In fact, the mod will no longer be a .esp but rather a .esm master file. I’m very excited about this – it means others will be able to make their own addons to America Rising, much like Sim Settlements!
  • This transition has made the mod far more stable on my end, and should do so for you too
  • The big one… Version 2.0.0 will be the definitive, content complete version of America Rising. Quests dealing with the Brotherhood of Steel, the Institute and the Railroad will all be included. Careful scripting has been done to allow America Rising to tie into Fallout 4’s main quest, and my vision is for The Enclave to be a faction you can use to complete Fallout 4 with

Now, with that out of the way, on to the sneak peaks! I certainly won’t be spilling the beans on everything I’ve done till now, but I want to give an indication of what to expect;

Revisited Locations

I’ve identified locations that simply weren’t where I wanted them to be – a prime example being the Vault 111 Government Area. I’ve done an extensive rework of clutter, lighting and environmental effects in it, and various other places. Below are two befores and afters of the Vault interior!

Revisited Quests

I felt some early game quests in America Rising were fine, but had scope to be made far larger and more engaging – so I’ve done just that. My favourite example is the second quest; Calling Home.

In the live version of America Rising, you travel to a small fortified comms station, enable the Radio Tower, fend off a few waves of Raiders, and return to General Ward to turn in the quest. To refresh your memory, below is the comms station as it is currently.

Now though, Calling Home will have you travel to a sprawling SatCom array via a ruined car tunnel, and deal with infiltrating a fortified Raider Camp on the way.

At the SatCom array, you’ll have to complete a small minigame to calibrate the Satellite Dishes, and finally align them. All the while, your temporary companion Sergeant Peterson will be providing contextual hints and dialogue, pushing you in the right direction. Below are a few shots of the SatCom array and surrounding areas – all within its own brand new worldspace!

New Equipment

I’m very excited about this. Version 2.0.0 of America Rising will come with a host of new equipment for The Enclave – new uniforms, weapon paints, robot paints and more. I’m considering releasing this as a side mod shortly, so people don’t have to wait so long to get their hands on the gear!

Fallout 76-style Enclave Officer Uniform

I adored this uniform as soon as I saw it in Fallout 76. I’ve managed to replicate it to a quality I’m pretty happy with thanks to Outfit Studio.

Enclave Combat Armor

In the live version of America Rising, Enclave Troopers not in Power Armor use conventional black-tinted Combat Armor over black fatigues. Thanks to Payton Quinn very generously allowing free use of his Fallout 3-style Enclave Officer uniform, I’ve used it as a base for some custom Enclave Combat Armor. I’m so pleased with how this turned out.

Closing thoughts & Discord Server

Hopefully as you can see, I’ve been hard at work! I’ll be putting together a standalone release of some Enclave equipment shortly, and I also wanted to mention that I’ve launched a Discord server for fans of my mod to better keep up to date with what I’m working on! Invite link here:

You can also catch sneak peaks on my Twitter profile here!

Posted by Thomas in America Rising - A Tale of the Enclave

Sitrep | The Oil Rig Update – Version 1.1.0


Hey, everyone!

It’s been a long time since I updated you guys. I’ve been busy with work, but I have been working on A Tale of the Enclave whenever I had time to spare. If you read my previous Roadmap blog post, you’ll know that these are the features I wanted to implement in this coming update:

  • Adding a side questline about restoring/refurbishing the Oil Rig
  • A total/from scratch rebuild of the exterior and interior. Increasing the scale significantly, as well as adding a civilian population & making the production facility useful to the player
  • Adding a player companion that was cut
  • Retexturing significant parts of the Oil Rig’s interior architecture
  • Creating a large amount of Enclave banners and posters to push that patriotic feel home!
  • Looking at integrating other mods (Such as X02 Power Armour and Enclave Officer Uniform) with the respective authors’ permission

Now, due to my limited time these days, and me wanting to actually release this update in our lifetimes, I’ve had to change the list up, but hopefully it’s still to your satisfaction. In my development file, loaded in the Creation Kit right now as I’m typing this, the following features are DONE:

  • A total script rewrite/refactor of all the quests in A Tale of the Enclave. This doesn’t mean the quests will play differently (Except for one I’ll talk about below), BUT it should mean the vast majority (if not all!) of the bugs you’ve been encountering with the questline should be gone!
  • Retexturing significant parts of the Oil Rig’s architecture, rebuilding the Oil Rig from scratch and increasing its scale. Hopefully it makes the structure feel more Enclave-y for you guys. I’m finally happy with how the Oil Rig looks!
  • The Welcome Party has been significantly reworked to accommodate the new Oil Rig!
  • Creating a large amount of Enclave banners and posters. Placed around the Oil Rig, and also available for you to place in your own settlements if you want!
  • Compatibility with Unoctium & DogtoothCG’s X-02, X-03 and Enclave Officer uniform mods. What this means is that if you are using any of the mods on an individual basis, NPCs in America Rising will equip them. If you don’t use them, then they’ll only use the X-01 armor and my other uniforms. Seamless integration!

Here’s what I’m working on right now:

  • A residential area. My vision is to have this be very much up to the player, and it will in fact act as a unique settlement.
  • The companion

I also mentioned in the roadmap I wanted to add a sidequest about restoring the Oil Rig. Due to the time I have available these days, I’ve decided I’ve had to drop that (at least for now). I could put together something quick and easy, but I wouldn’t be happy with the quality. Instead what I’ll be doing is adding various repeatable/radiant quests that some of you have been requesting! I know it’s not the same, but for now it’s the best I can offer.

I don’t want to give a release date yet because I don’t even know it! I will say that it should be soon(tm) though. Once this is out, I’ll get to work on Version 2.0.0 (barring any bugfixes I need to do) which will add more to the main quest!

That’s all for now. To tide you over, how about a few screenshots? (Typical disclaimer, this isn’t done yet, things will change, etc etc 🙂 )

Posted by Thomas in America Rising - A Tale of the Enclave

The Roadmap


Wow! That’s how I can describe these passed few weeks. A quick introduction for people who don’t know, before we delve into the roadmap and my plans for this mod!
I am a /Was a? Game Design & Production Management student at the University of Abertay Dundee, a four year undergraduate course. For my final year project (Called a Honour’s Project), I was investigating “How Can Computer Game Modding Serve As A Gateway To The Games Industry?”. As part of this project, I developed a mod for Fallout 4: America Rising – A Tale of the Enclave.

On the 24th of April, I submitted my dissertation & project, signalling the end of my studies at Abertay University. (Still waiting for my results – Fingers crossed!) On the 1st of May, I released A Tale of the Enclave on Fallout 4 Nexus and for PC and Xbox One. On the 5th of May, the University had a prizegiving event – One where I won the “Achievement in Game Design & Development” from SEGA which was incredibly humbling. And now, as of writing this on the 6th of May, A Tale of the Enclave has over 22,000 downloads. This is absolutely breathtaking, and I can not thank everyone enough for the support.


Now, for what people came here for!

I’ve gotten a huge amount of feedback from the community, and believe it or not I’ve been reading every comment on all 3 mod pages, so I hope that this list is satisfactory. It’s in no way final, things may get added (Also keeping in mind I begin full time employment on the 15th of May (Woo money!)) so I won’t be able to work on this all day every day!

(Continuous) Bugfixing

I’ve been trying to track down and fix a lot of unexpected behaviour people have been experiencing, which has been quite challenging. I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, but I have three PCs at home, one of which I developed A Tale of the Enclave on, and two which have never touched the mod before. I’ve played the version on Nexus (As of writing, version 1.0.2) all the way through and not encountered any of the bugs people have reported, so they must be caused by some obscure mod conflicts. I’m doing all I can to track them down!

(Version 1.1.0) The Oil Rig Update

The first content update I have already begun working on is what I’m (appropriately) calling The Oil Rig Update. As my mod was done as part of a University Project, there were time constraints I had to work with. As such, I got the Oil Rig to a ‘It fulfills its purpose’ stage, but not to a ‘I’m so proud of this base, it really feels like a great hub location for the player!’ stage. I plan on addressing this entirely, by:

  • Adding a side questline about restoring/refurbishing the Oil Rig
  • A total/from scratch rebuild of the exterior and interior. Increasing the scale significantly, as well as adding a civilian population & making the production facility useful to the player
  • Adding a player companion that was cut
  • Retexturing significant parts of the Oil Rig’s interior architecture
  • Creating a large amount of Enclave banners and posters to push that patriotic feel home!
  • Looking at integrating other mods (Such as X02 Power Armour and Enclave Officer Uniform) with the respective authors’ permission

Little, heavily WIP teaser image:

Revamped Enclave Oil Rig teaser image.

(Version 2.0.0) The Railroad Update

I don’t have much to say about this yet as I am currently working on the Oil Rig Update, but version 2.0.0 will serve as an ‘Act 2′ of the mod, and will revolve around addressing the Railroad’s presence and activity in the Commonwealth.

(Version 3.0.0) The Institute Update

Much like above, this is just in the conceptual stage, but I plan on having Act 3 of the mod involve the Institute, and I hope on having some very interesting dynamics involved.

I hope this is is to everyone’s liking – Feedback as always on any of the mod pages is welcome!

 – Otellino

Posted by Thomas in America Rising - A Tale of the Enclave

Project Reflection

Overall, I am happy with how my research project went. I feel I have very much improved my level creation skills. Admittedly in the past, when it came to designing and creating levels it was a case of “I’ll just put this here, and that there, and that looks good.” This project forced me to think carefully of level layouts, flow and pacing.

Everything in levels are placed in a certain way not because it “looks good” but because it serves a very specific purpose. Considerations have to be made for what the player will be thinking in each area and how you could manipulate that in order to convey emotion, story as well as simply guide the player in an intuitive and fun way.

On top of that, I feel like I have learned a great deal of working with the horror genre. It is definitely one of the most challenging genres to work with due to it’s focus on manipulating player emotions (Which on top of that are different for everyone), very tight and concise level design, strong control over flow and pacing, as well as a strong focus on tension. I also learned a great deal through the surveys I created about player preferences, what elements are very powerful and what should be avoided, as well as a greater understanding and appreciation of how to work with large amounts of data, including inconclusive data.

This has been an enjoyable learning experience, and I am strongly considering taking this further in my fourth/honours year.

Posted by Thomas in Creative Research Blog
The final presentation

The final presentation

The final presentation was submitted to Blackboard on the 11th of April, and I gave it yesterday.

Unfortunately, David said that I was being too general and that I wasn’t presenting what I found, only general information even though I feel like I was talking about my findings. Admittedly I didn’t include stills from my level as I don’t feel I had space for it and the focus of my research was on the level design theory.

Here are the slides, for reference:

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9 Slide10

Posted by Thomas in Creative Research Blog
Self reflection on the level

Self reflection on the level

After having four different people play through the level, I’ve been able to gather feedback and see what worked and what didn’t work. Individual videos were posted in the prior blog, however here is a mashup/multicam of the four different perspectives at once:

The usage of focal points seems to have been effective – All players focused on intentional areas – The skeleton hanging in the first room, the lights individually illuminating the long hallway, the lightbeam shining on the eventual creature, the creature/light switch at the end of the room with water. I was very pleased with hos this turned out, and I think I’ve been able to use them effectively.

In terms of pacing, while players said they could see where or what I was going with however they said everything started happening too quickly – I think this is primarily down to the length of my level and a problem I didn’t anticipate. I was trying to cram a lot of information/elements into a single, short level rather than a more extensive one (Or even an entire game). As such, it had a knock on effect with being a bit dodgy with the tension I was trying to create for the player.

As far as the setting went, I think I was successful in my choice – I was able to start off the level in a deceptively peaceful environment and progressively make things worse, creating scenes that players said were tense, visually engaging and scary.

Overall with the lighting, I feel I did a good enough job with guiding the player to where they had to go, except for when players were presented with the two door switches – When the player triggered one, they didn’t know where the open door was. I’ll need to work on/figure out a way to make that clearer rather than just the text I provided.

As far as the pursuing creature goes, all but one said that it was effective at first, however it quickly got boring once they figured out it simply followed the player and could easily be outsmarted. I did fail here, I should have made the creature more unpredictable and allow it to pop up in unexpected places and behave differently. I should have played on the unknown, and have the player not know what to expect from it.

Posted by Thomas in Creative Research Blog

Player feedback

I’ve managed to get four classmates to play my level, and recorded the gameplay of them doing so. The four different videos are available below.

The reactions I recieved were mostly positive, with the biggest criticism being the creature’s behaviour – Once players figured out that it followed the player endlessly in a simple straight line, they found it easy to avoid and dodge. Thankfully, they agreed that the pacing was good (Considering the level length), the audio use was good and the level was interesting and eyecatching.

Something I noticed myself, however, is I need to work on better informing the player on where to go – The two switches in the specimen storage area sometimes threw players off and I had to tell them that they could go back and use the second switch later on – I feel I was successful in guiding the player in all other areas, however.

I also managed to provoke (scared) reactions out of three of the four players, with the fourth not being affected at all. However, the fourth player informed me he knew what he was getting into before hand and as such wasn’t expecting to be affected anyway. The fourth player did suggest I use the water in the generator room a bit more, such as have the room flood to cause the player to panic and have to leave immediately.

Posted by Thomas in Creative Research Blog

Final level – Layout, lighting, focal points and level walkthrough

I’ve built the level from the earlier paper designs I made (With some minor alterations). For clarity’s sake, here’s a top-down view of the level in its entirety:

Annotated Floor Plan

I’ve marked out the areas with colours corresponding to what I anticipate players’ stress and anticipation levels will be as they play. Green is calm, yellow is anxious, orange is worried, and red is scared. As a remainder, the player has to get from the reception to the level finale area.

Reception area


To attempt to subvert the player’s expectations, I’m keeping the reception fairly neutrally lit, to try to lull the player into a sense of security. The door on the left is jammed, hence it being left in darkness.

Hallway to Office

Hallway to Office

Just passed the reception is the hallway to the office, where things begin to go awry. Note my use of focal points: I’ve added a red glow to the door at the end of the hallway, to draw the player in to that location.


To attempt to foreshadow what comes next, I added a puddle of blood right under the door. Upon opening the door, a skeleton will fall in front of the player.



As it’s still a part of the reception area, I’ve maintained the neutral lighting, except for the red light on the ceiling, drawing attention to the skeleton hanging from it. Once again, I’ve been trying to make effective use of focal points, and hope that the stark difference here will add to it. I’m also aiming for the fact that, with the scene having such normal lighting, even though there’s a disgusting mess, it’ll unsettle the player morseo.

Hallway to the lab

Hallway to labs

Now that the player knows something has happened, I start to use more ominous lighting. On top of that, I’ve made use of a typical trope here – The lights will turn on one by one, illuminating an otherwise pitch-black hallway. The lights are arranged in such a way to hopefully show the player which way to go – forward.

First security room

Security room - unlit

As soon as they clear the hallway, they’ll come across the first scare I’ve planned in the level – As the player passes the doorway, a sound will trigger of machinery in the background, and a light will turn on revealing a skeleton:

Security with lights

Lab hallways

After clearing the security room, the player enters the lab proper. The hallways are dark, cramped and in disrepair, with each light casting a blue, ominous lightshaft, cutting through the mist:


My hope with the very bright lighting between patches of extreme lighting is that the contrast would add to the overall tension of the level, especially when there are extended periods of darkness.

The junction

The junction

Just down the hallway is a 3-way junction. Using what I’ve learned from my previous survey – I want the player to go left to the specimen room. The right, to the generator room, is locked until the player uses a switch in the specimen storage room.

Specimen storage

Here is where I reveal the creature the player will be facing later on – Or rather, multiples of them. As the player steps into the room, a multitude of creatures in stasis tanks are revealed, immobile. I’m hoping that the sudden view of all of them will startle the player and make them hesitant to continue:

Specimen Storage

Once again, I’m trying to make strong use of focal points here. The two switches the player needs to activate are illuminated on the left, while the creature that will then start following the player is illuminated in blue at the back.

In order to progress, the player will have to flip one of the switches (The other will be inoperable) to unlock a room on the right – The generator room.

Generator room

Generator room

Here’s where another scare takes place. As the player opens the door, they’ll be granted to the creature standing at the end of the room. It’ll take a few steps towards the player and then vanish, leaving the control panel the player has to activate illuminated in the back, again using focal points to draw the player to their goal. However, once the player flicks the switch, the creature is then unleashed on them properly, and will begin following them.

The player will then have to return to the specimen room to flick the second switch which now works, and that’s where the player will notice that the creature is out and free – It’ll be missing from the stasis pod it was in earlier. When they flick the switch, they’ll be able to progress up to the surgery area.

Surgery area

The surgery area, highlighed in red in the first image, is made up mostly of hallways with a similar lighting scheme. The main aim of this place is for the player to get lost and make them more anxious – I hope to accomplish this due to the fact that in this area, the lighting doesn’t highlight particular areas. The player is left to their own devices.

However, they will eventually reach this hallway:

Pre escape hallway

Again, taking a cue from my previous survey – For the player to reach the level end, they have to get through a door at the end of this hallway. However, to open the door they need to use a switch, which is behind the door to the right, by the illuminated window. Again by using lighting to create focal points, I’m hoping that it’ll “lure” the player into that hallway and for them to notice the switch.

Once the switch is flicked, the end of the hallway will light up, revealing that the player should then go there:

Second last doorway

Level finale:

Finale forshadow

Before entering the last room, the player will have to go passed this door – highlighted by the red ominous light. The level ending isn’t a happy ending, and hopefully that’ll foreshadow that. After the player passes through there, they’ll be greeted by the sight of daylight through a partially broken door:


The level will then fade out as the player is immobilised, and surrounded by multiple creatures.


Posted by Thomas in Creative Research Blog

Building the level

It’s time to build the playable level in-engine. As I mentioned right at the beginning of the research project, I’ll be building it as a mod for Fallout: New Vegas using the tools and assets made available to me to allow quick prototyping, as this project is focused on the theory rather than assets involved in making a horror level.

The way assembling interior levels works in the New Vegas editor (Known as the Garden of Eden Creation Kit) is that all assets are modular, with the editor giving you meshes for straight hallways, corners, room walls, floors and more. It all works as a kit that you can put together, and due to that, it allows for quick level creation (Compared to other workflows where you must model an entire room before hand and import it in full into a game engine, which is time consuming and prone to lighting issues and more.)

First, I’ll start off by building the reception area of the lab. This area will seem fairly normal, with nothing out the ordinary, in order to play with player expectations.

Screenshot 2016-04-13 00.13.48

Unlit and mostly unfurnished. The very left will be where the player starts the level, with the doors behind them locked. The rubble pieces are there to foreshadow the coming ruined facility, and stop the player from going in unintended directions.

Furnished Reception

Here’s the reception, mostly furnished and done-up. Fallout: New Vegas is set in a post-apocalyptic environment and most of its assets reflect this, so I’ve had to use the least-ruined assets I could find, however I believe I’ve done a good job at it.

Ruined office

The next room over is where the tension is introduced – The player will be presented with a ruined office scene with blood and skeletons plastered around, showing that something horrible has happened here, however the player will know that the only way they can keep going is forward.

Lab Hallway

This is the hallway that leads the player into the lab proper – Built in a similar way to a previous hallway I made several blog posts ago when doing light tests (We’ll come back to lighting in this level in the next blog post)

This is where the main puzzle solving will take place. This area is freeform and serves as the “Calm before the storm” point of the level. The player has to make their way left to eventually escape, but will find a locked door. They will need to activate two switches before they can open the door preventing them from moving on to the next area. On activating the second switch, the creature starts following them.

Surgery Lab Area

By the time the player enters this area, they’ll be being pursued. Due to that, the zone is made up of various hallways that run in circles, to that the player is able to trick and get away from the creature to buy themselves some time. Ultimately, the player wants to get from the very right to the very left (Which is closed off by another locked door they need to find a switch to pass through), and onwards to the ending area.

Final Area

After passing through the locked door, the player will have to progress through this final, linear section, getting to the left. Once they reach the left, the level will fade out as the player is surrounded by multiple creatures.

Posted by Thomas in Creative Research Blog

Paper Level Designs – Level 3

I’ve finished my 3rd level design for my potential final level. This one’s much less complex and sprawling than the second one, however it has two major ways to get from A to B. The entire level is made up of hallways and rooms that double back on themselves to give the player plenty of opportunities to avoid the creature. There are no rooms that serve as “off-shoots”, they will all be passed through by the player (depending on the route they take), and hence the level wouldn’t feel like it has “filler” content. Here’s the design:

Concept 3

I am happy with it, especially since there are less chances of the player getting lost in this level compared to the previous one as it is simpler. However, as a consequence I worry that I may not have many chances to play with pacing (due to the length of the level), as well as introduce a few scripted sequences to scare the player, as I won’t have much space to work with.

After thinking about it, and weighing up the pros and cons, I’ll be taking forward by second level design and be building that up as my final playable level.

Posted by Thomas in Creative Research Blog