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Wasteland 3 Fig Update #22: Building the Everest - From Concept to Design

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Wasteland 3 Fig Update #22: Building the Everest - From Concept to Design

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Fri 11 August 2017, 01:26:22

Tags: Colin McComb; InXile Entertainment; Paul Marzagalli; Wasteland 3

In the latest Wasteland 3 Fig update, inXile give us our first look at the design and development of their vertical slice area, the Stanley Hotel, now renamed to the Everest Hotel. The Everest's writer is none other than Colin McComb, and you might find the update an interesting look into his thought processes:

The idea for the hotel was born from the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, inspiration for Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel in “The Shining”. I wanted to make a haunted hotel, a place with a hideous secret that would entrap the unwary. As a secondary goal, I wanted to include several references to The Shining itself as an homage to an author whose early work had an outsize influence on my career (read: gave me nightmares as a kid).

Originally, I was looking at the basement of the hotel as the home to a dimensional rift, and it was voices from the rift that spoke to the caretakers of the hotel, exhorting them to murder/“preserve the spirits of the lost”. The first comment on this plan was, “This is Wasteland, not Torment.”

OK, fine. What if instead of an actual rift, the caretakers just believe there’s a hole to another world there? That’s still cool, but now we need to explain why it is that they’d believe such a thing. The easiest solution to that? Mass hallucination and charismatic cult leaders.

So now I needed to find a way to induce mass hallucination in this crowd, and what easier way to do that than via the fungus the caretakers use for food? Throw some hallucinogens (similar to psilocybin), maybe include something like Cordyceps to rewire their neural pathways, and suddenly having the caretakers believing that they can kill people to save them starts to sound almost reasonable.

This led me to consider a fungus greenhouse, decorative fungus in the hotel, and a bunch of fungus-related content (ironic, since I hate mushrooms), but, as with the idea of the dimensional rift, I realized that it wasn't the right direction to take this level. It took away agency from the Caretakers, and made their actions the fault of an exterior force. Worse, as we plotted out the flow of the fungus quests, it just wasn't fun. Back to the drawing board! We kept some of the ideas that we liked, while reworking others. This is all part and parcel of the review process.

So now the hotel's caretakers are straight-up murderers. But why? Why would the custodians of a pre-war hotel decide that they had to kill their guests? I had to dig still deeper into caretaker psychology to help understand their motivations, and to keep them from becoming simple Bad Guys Who Should be Killed.

Eventually, we settled on an explanation, and I added a section to the Zone Design Document outlining the foundational thoughts of a murder cult:

The Caretakers – once a devoted and active group whose primary mission is to keep alive the grace of the old world – have been slowly dying out, age and accident claiming them faster than they can replenish their ranks. Their generational knowledge is vanishing with them… and as they die, the standards of the hotel itself have been slipping away, and fewer people come every year. The Caretakers are taking matters into their own hands now, luring guests they deem “unhappy” back to the hotel. Why do they persist?
They have, over the years, altered their philosophy. They have built the idea of the Everest into something more than an old building. They believe they must fill its halls with spirits to protect it - and that it, in turn, will protect those spirits from the frozen wastes outside.

They’re offended by the accusations that they’re killing people. They use euphemisms (like funeral directors), and do not want to say the actual words, like “murder”, “desecration”, “corpses”, or “victims.”

Now it’s just a matter of defining the hotel’s interior space, defining the characters and conversations, filling the place with fun and challenging things to do, and figuring out the quest and encounter variables. (ha ha, “just” - see, this is where the real work is!)

I’ll talk about that process later. Right now, the important thing is designing a way to get the players there in the first place. And this is where pointer quests come in handy. A pointer quest is a way to encourage players to go visit a new area. We can combine these with other missions and content that encourage players to go there, explore, and come back.

In this particular area, we run into a character named Donnelly. I’m actively in the process of developing his conversation as I write this, so I’m still sharpening aspects of his character… but he’s a friendly guy, and a wide smile is a welcome sight in the frozen wastes. He’d *really* like you to get up the Everest Hotel. His traveling companion, a Mr. Parker, checked in to the hotel several days ago, and Donnelly’s worried sick about him. And, incidentally, he’d sure like the Rangers to bring back the floppy disk that his partner went in there to find.

Now that we’ve got Donnelly’s background, we need to figure out how to communicate all this to the players. First, Donnelly hails the player and introduces the area. He delivers the crucial information we need - data about his partner, a teaser about the hotel, and just enough sketchiness that we’re going to be suspicious of this character. He’ll also provide some basic information about the rest of the Suicide Forest area - about the mountain lions, for instance, or the rumors of armed partisans in the mountains at his back. The Rangers might want to talk to him again, so we’ll set up conditionals to make sure the players haven’t progressed further in the quest… and then we need to determine what the quest states are after the Rangers return from the hotel. Have they located the disk he sought? Have they killed all the Caretakers? Have they found his partner? And is that partner pissed off?

But that’s probably enough discussion for now. We’ll address quest design in a future update.
I'm not sure that's the best idea one could come up with. Better than the fungus one, though.

There are 86 comments on Wasteland 3 Fig Update #22: Building the Everest - From Concept to Design

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