• Janitor Dave

The Birth of a Heist

I'm taking this opportunity while on a bit of a nostalgia kick to showcase a very early version of Washington's Malevolence, from early 2014.

I'll do my best to provide context for the screenshots.

Early version of Flackland and its surrounding area.
West of Flackland.

As you can see in screenshot #1, the early version of Maddox Island wasn't that far removed from the version that released in 2018. Obviously, things changed, but the concept was there.

Flackland village proper.

The village of Flackland itself, however, has been massively changed from this version. Flackland was meant to be a fully functional village similar to Merideport, with its own side quests and fully-fleshed out backstory. However, when the concept of the bank heist came around, Flackland was axed and made into the plot-driving device it is today.

But what awaits you on the path leading up to Flackland, you might ask?


North of Flackland. This is where the lake above Flackland sits today.

As the caption says, this is the original version of the lake above Flackland. The area was originally wooded and with more development, could have been turned into something. The area was later razed into the mostly featureless lake that it is today.

And if you turn around, you see...

The original place of Siobhan Goldman's grave.

This is what was directly behind the player in the original screenshot. This is somewhat near where the grave is today. In this build, this is all it was, just a grave stone with two torches nearby.

Let's move a little east, shall we?

The original canyon that housed Vault 98.

This canyon was originally meant to be an artificial enclosure for Vault 98. The vault was meant to be multi-tiered and massive. What exists of Vault 98 is all that was developed at the time. The vault's scope was later greatly reduced in size to be the timelock-housing vault it is today.

And, well, the abomination infested lab that was caved in. But we won't go there.

Let's move a little south of our current location.

They say you can hear someone making a deal with a fiddle player here.

As the caption implies, this is an early version of the area that now houses Linden Tabernacle, and the subsequent boss fight that the area's side quest leads the player into. The area hasn't actually changed all that much from the early builds, except for landscape changes that make the area look better.

Now, on to Merideport.

Wide shot of Merideport.
A closer look at the original Merideport.

Merideport was originally a multi-level cliffside fishing village (originally called Cliffside Village) that functioned similar to how it does today; the tree growing near the common house, the Seaside Tavern, and the docks are all in the same locations in this build as they are in the finished product. That little boat next to the Tavern was left there as a call back to these early builds. Lorenzo's Wares, then just called a general store, is at the top of the cliffside.

The Merideport Docks, and the water processing plant.

Merideport used to have a giant water tower that was to be used in a sidequest to purify the water in the town (because who wants to drink irradiated ocean water, right?) That sidequest never went anywhere and eventually became the Megaton clone it is today.

In early concepts of the story, the player was meant to ride into the docks on the Seabard, just like the intro to Point Lookout. Of course, I'm bad with animations, so that never happened and the intro became the boat crash.

The Seaside Tavern. Mostly unchanged from this build.

The Tavern, as the caption says, is mostly unchanged. In this version, Natalie Moritz was named Natalie Johnson, and Ralph Moritz didn't exist yet. The Moritz name came from an NPC named Elias Moritz who was originally a designated guard of the Clearbank sea wall (which we'll see here soon) along with Diggory Virgo, who was originally a Clearbank sea wall guard but later on became the owner of Virgo Arms in the finished mod. But we'll get to Clearbank in a bit.

Let's move up the hill and see what's going on there.

The upper part of Merideport.

In the original concept, the upper level of Merideport was meant to be an enclave for the town's well-off citizens. This never went past the concept stage, however.

The collapsed building was an element of what was then Project ZDIS that was later scrapped and replaced with the car tunnel that is there now. It'll make more sense as I continue on, promise.

Because let's face it, it didn't make much sense for REPCONN to be on the east coast.

But what is up with that painted house, you ask?

It's Mayor Bailey's house!

The caption says it all. Mayor Bailey's house is, of course, going to be the nicest looking house in Merideport. I mean, of course, right?

Of course, nothing became of this, and it was later removed, and the mayor was moved into the same kind of scrapyard house as the rest of the citizens.

I don't even remember what this was supposed to be.


This is on the west side of Merideport. I think it was another part of the original ZDIS story line but the purpose has been lost to time. And my awful memory.

Let's work our way north now.

Again, I don't even remember what exactly this was.

If I had to take a crappy guess, I'd say this was a place on the island that took a hit from a nuke that ended up blowing out the upper level of Vault 89 (then Vault 81). Of course, if this had stayed the case, then the player would have never met the awesome citizens of Vault 89, so this had to go. This is somewhere near where the Accomack County Waste Disposal and the Apex village are now.

Vaults 89, 63, and 65 did not exist in this build yet. The only vault that was in this build was Vault 98. The entrance to the unfinished Vault 65 is the original entrance to Vault 89.

Now, for the last of the three big Maddox Island locations.

Clearbank Village.

This is the original version of Clearbank. The village was intended to be its own worldspace due to the massive amount of NPCs that were set to live in the village, thus the relatively low-quality nature of the village in this screenshot. This Clearbank was never really fleshed out.

The original north entrance to Clearbank.

The village was meant to be something similar to how the Boomers are in Fallout New Vegas; a civilization existing in a walled garden, isolated from its surroundings. That's basically all I can remember of this version of the village.

Of course, mere months later, this would be razed and completely replaced with the version of Clearbank that exists today.

The original Crossroads Power Station.

The Crossroads Power Station that exists in this version of the mod was meant to be something more, but what exactly that is escapes me now. This is where the player would originally meet a frenzied Brent von Hartman, the aviation expert ghoul that now lives in the Lowlands. At this point in development, he was nothing more than generic hostile ghoul NPC #7372 and served no purpose other than to give the player a fight for some loot.

This is also why Brent von Hartman carried a key on his person up until version 3.0.4 of Malevolence.

Now, for the market.

Early version of Schytt's Market.

Schytt's Market was originally called "Mega Super-Duper Mart" and was a blatant Wal-Mart ripoff. The market had already gotten its final name by this point in development. The exterior of the market remains largely unchanged from its final form.

Part of the interior of Schytt's Market.

The interior of the market pretty much stayed the same throughout development, except that the market was originally split into four interior cells. I really should re-split them for performance reasons, but I'm honestly too lazy to do so. Besides, I need to be working on Alton right now. Instead of posting on the blog.

Eh, maybe later.

Early version of Greenwood.

This is, of course, Greenwood. It was, at this point, called Ravenwood (which is why the music folder for the village is named Ravenwood). The actual village's buildings are almost unchanged from this version. The landscape, however, is completely different. The surrounding lowlands are also completely different, except for the path leading to Greenwood, which is surprisingly enough, almost exactly the same.

But you don't care about some featureless wetland, do you? I bet you're wondering about that giant thing in the background, aren't you?

Well, time to travel down the rabbit hole then.

"North Novia Island" from the roof of Schytt's Market on what was then South Novia Island.

In ye olde times of 2014, Maddox Island was actually the southern island of a dual-island chain known as the Novia Islands. And no, I have no idea where that name came from.

North Novia Island was a massive mountain jutting out of the ocean that would serve as the bulk of the original story line of Project ZDIS.

It housed Vault 63 (before its relocation to the northern tip of Maddox Island), a massive REPCONN base, and was meant to have a jungle at its southwestern end. Of course, North Novia Island was axed, and the leftover island became Maddox Island.

North Novia Island from the east. Note how much higher in elevation the island is from its southern counterpart.

To elaborate further on the island's existence, the island was meant to house a massive REPCONN base in where the player would discover the dirty secret of the island, which would lead to a battle to decide the fate of the islands, and possibly the world. The removal of the REPCONN base and the change of the story to a bank heist made the northern island completely redundant which got it axed. I sometimes think about finishing the island and bringing it back as additional content. Maybe eventually I will. But not now.

The inside of the loading bay of the REPCONN base.
The highest point on the islands, the north mountain's listening post.

Inside the main offices of the REPCONN facility was a massive abomination that was meant to be a Gravemind-like monster. Elaborating past that would make even less sense than it already does, so I'll leave it at that. Just know the original Project ZDIS was a mess.

And that's pretty much all I have right now. If I find more or remember more, I'll share it on the blog.

Although, I will say, I am sure glad Payday 2 is a thing because without it, the bank heist would have never existed and I'd probably still be meandering around with whatever this thing would have been.

If you'd like to check out this build for yourselves, the link to download is below.

Safe travels, wastelanders.

Download Project ZDIS (build 2014.7.1)

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