written by Ian Hertzberg
So, do you own a copy of Fallout 4? Chances are that you do; it sold pretty well. If so, you can use it to practice a little bit of game design and chances are you already have. Fallout 4’s settlement mode is a great tool for practicing a little bit of world design. The mode allows you to place various objects and create various structures within a set area as well as populate these area’s making them a place to live. If you’ve been using the settlement system you’ve been practicing world design without even knowing it. Neat, right!?
But how can you learn even more from Fallout 4’s settlement mode? By using it knowingly. When you’re building settlements incorporate design philosophy into your builds. A good place to start is by analyzing how Bethesda has created a lot of other areas in Fallout 4. Pay attention to the aesthetics of the design. Most of the buildings look fairly ramshackle and poorly built. This is a post-apocalyptic setting after all and the people living in the wasteland don’t have access to proper tools or equipment and have to make do with what they have. So, maybe you could try and mimic that kind of design philosophy yourself throughout your various settlement builds. For instance, if you’re building in a settlement that’s near a train yard maybe you could use train boxcars as part of your design, maybe you could turn those boxcars into shops and home for various settlers. Near a location that contains a lot of demolished cars? Then maybe try building structures out of old tires and scrap metal.
With a design philosophy pertaining to realism, you would want to think about what objects make up the structures in your settlement, how your settlers got those items, and how practical their use would be. I, for instance, tend to build walls around my settlements using elements of resources prevelant in the surronding areas. For example, at the Red Rocket Gas Station settlement, I used buses and truck trailers to make up portions of the wall surrounding my settlement I then made the inside of these settlements double as a home as I could see my settlers using them as such. But, that’s just using a design philosophy built around realism in terms of the world you’re building in. I could think of a couple other philosophies you could use when building a settlement, such as one based around making outlandish and unique structures, or another design philosophy based solely on how much utility and function structures provide your settlers.
I tend to like the idea of designing with realism in mind because of the limitations and challenges it puts on building things and I think it is a great exercise in world design. If you’ve played a lot of previous Bethesda Softworks styles you’ll notice that they have a ton of really believable areas in their world because they do think about the overall environment and the world their building in, but that is an article for a future date.
P.S. One more tip for Fallout 4’s settlement mode before I go. Try not to overuse a particular asset if you can. Too much of one asset repeated over and over tends to break the overall vibe of realism and doesn’t have nearly as much aesthetic appeal as something that uses variety. If you’re looking for tips on building Fallout 4 settlements in general, I highly recommend checking out the youtube channel: No Respawns. He does a great job at creating some believable and innovative settlements.
So go out and give building a settlement using a design philosophy a try also if you like the kind of content I’m putting out feel free to leave a comment below.