About: Undead Illusion is a single player quest set in the Skyrim universe for any level of character. A small castle village, Ehzerland, suffered an irregular event. All of the Draugrs souls switched into with the high Elves bodies and the Elves souls switched to the Draugr bodies. After the switch, the cursed Elves, the Draugrs who switched into the Elf bodies, killed all of good Draugrs, previously the Elves of Ehzerland. The player must find out how to get everything back to the way it was by going around village resurrecting the good Draugrs. The good Draugrs help the player break the curse on Ehzerland to restore the village back to the way it was.
My Position: Level Designer
Development Length: 8 weeks
Team Size: Individual work
Total Hours Invested: 110 hours
Engine: Skyrim Creation Kit | PC
The player’s overall objective for the Undead Illusion quest is to transform the cursed Elves back into Draugrs and the good Dragurs back into Elves, setting things back to normal. I scripted the final ending sequence to break the curse on Ehzerland and transform everyone back to their original race. When Draugrs begin to transform, a white light transform effect plays on the actor. When Elves begin to transform, a red light transform effect plays on the actor signifying the evil is transforming.
This created the most challenges due the limitation of Skyrim engine. When I tried to transform everyone back at once, many things “bugged out”. Many faces were not rendered, some bodies looked dead, lying on the ground, but were alive and moving. Sometimes actors just completely disappeared. To perform the race switch Skyrim requires the actor be living, so that required me to resurrect the actor, switch their race, and then kill them, which was all to heavy for the engine. To solve this problem, I put activation delays and programmatic delays on functions I ran on the actors.
I created my own custom “Restoration Staff” that resurrected good Draugrs in Ehzerland, location of Undead Illusion Quest. I programmatically applied shader effects to the things the player could resurrect. When the player shoots the staff at the good Draugr, an effect plays on the body for about 3 seconds and then the Draugr resurrects. However, since they are allies they do not attack the player and the player can actually talk to the Draugr to get quest objectives.
For the Undead Illusion quest, I had to create a new race of Draugrs the player could actually talk to. The player can resurrect good Draugrs with the “Restoration Staff” and then the player may be able speak to the resurrected Draugr. Resurrecting the good Draugrs allows them to fight alongside the player to take back Ehzerland by defeating Seregruth and the cursed elves. A major challenge was enabling a Draugr to speak to the player.
To guide the player around the village of Ehzerland, I used a combination of enemies, lighting, and blocking objects. In Figure 4, I used purple torch pots and a few other columns with purple torches to attract the player’s attention. Guarding the castle entrance are two archers who shoot at the player on sight. This causes the player to have to deal with them by going to kill them and thus leading them towards the objective. The two market stands in the figure above direct the player towards the archway leading to the objective marker.
Ehzerland is a place where high elves practice and create magical spells and items. I used an object palette that helped to create this theme inside the castle. Objects such as alchemy tables, purple torches and fire, magical effects, a throne, and other objects create a magic castle type environment.
I wanted to make the player feel as if they had entered a war torn village. To do this, I created a destroyed type environment with fires burning and smoke everywhere. To make the magic effects, fire, and smoke pop, I forced night through scripting. One of the challenge I ran across while trying to do this was the screen flickering when the script kept forcing night. To get around this, I force night only when the player enters Ehzerland and when the player comes out from any interior within Ehzerland.
In one of the quest objectives in Undead Illusion, the player must plant seeds and then grow the plant by shooting the planted area with the “Restoration Staff”. I scripted all of the mechanics to get the sequence to work. Making the player use the staff reinforces the core idea on why the player is there, which is to restore Ehzerland. It adds an interesting dynamic to the gameplay.