Interview with Lathe and Roguard’s Lead Writer
Hello! We hope everyone’s new year is off to a fantastic start! For this month’s update, we’ve conducted an interview with Lathe and Roguard and the Forgotten Curse’s lead writer, Chris Porter. For the very first time, Chris shares his insight and peels back the curtain just a bit, to give all of you a new glimpse at the game. You’ll also find a sneak peek at a few of the game’s cinematics below:
Q: We know the game itself was inspired by Zelda, Secret of Mana, Don’t Starve and Tim Burton films. Were there any direct creative influences for the characters of Lathe and Roguard?
A: When I was brought on to write for the game, the characters had already been created, so I wasn’t involved in their inception. But I know there was a lot of inspiration from 80s adventures movies like The Goonies, E.T., Iron Giant, and Flight of the Navigator. As far as writing dialogue for them, I couldn’t help but think of Roguard’s voice and personality as a mixture of Treebeard from The Lord of the Rings and the Rock Biter from The Neverending Story. That was the kind of voice I heard in my head when writing him, so those two characters definitely inspired how I approached Roguard’s lines. As for Lathe, it was more the character’s own backstory and appearance that helped me write unique dialogue for him. I can’t say there were any outside influences in particular for Lathe.
Q: Besides the obvious, how are Lathe and Roguard similar and how are they different?
A: Lathe is a young Woodling from the tiny village in Knottington called Leafton. He has spent his whole life there and all that he knows outside of that small bubble is what he’s learned from his friend and mentor Keeper Radley (Lathe is Keeper’s apprentice). Lathe cares deeply about his mother and fellow Woodlings. He values friendships and relationships and is afraid of losing people he loves. You will see early on that he has a hero’s spirit and a strong will to save Knottington. Roguard is an ancient stone golem from a realm outside of Knottington. When you first meet him in the game, you learn that he has severe memory loss. There is a lot about Roguard’s past that is left shrouded in mystery, but it’s clear that he has a kind heart and a love of smashing things. That last bit will be very useful.
Q: Is Lathe still an avid inventor in the updated version of the game? If so, how does this come into play?
A: Yes, Lathe has a very creative mind and has tinkered with various contraptions throughout his life. I don’t want to give too much away, but his crafting skills will definitely benefit you when it comes to defending yourself against the Deadwood hordes.
Q: When Lathe and Roguard first cross paths, why is Roguard so compelled to befriend a stranger and help Lathe fend off the Deadwood?
A: Even though Roguard has lost his memory, the core of who he is remains. Roguard is kind-hearted and extremely strong. He acted on instinct. He saw Lathe was in trouble and came to his rescue. He also has a natural aversion to Deadwood…as would most anyone who crossed paths with them.
Q: Why was the first curse forgotten?
A: The first curse happened many generations ago. After so much time had passed without further incident, the only Woodlings who truly believed that it actually happened – and could happen again! – were the Keepers of Deadwood Pass. They spend their lives studying about the curse and Deadwood Forest, and they pass that knowledge down from Keeper to Keeper. Almost everyone else in Knottington believes it’s not much more than a fairytale. They won’t believe that for long though.
Q: Do gamers encounter/interact with any of the townspeople of Knottington? What role do they play in the adventure?
A: Lathe and Roguard will meet a variety of characters over the course of the game. Some of them will need rescuing, others will assist you on your journey in some way. You may even encounter someone who will tag along with you for part of your adventure!
Q: What is your favorite quality about Lathe and favorite about Roguard?
A: My favorite quality about Lathe is that when he was put in an extraordinarily dangerous situation, he rose to the challenge immediately. Despite his young age and inexperience, he understood that, as Keeper’s Apprentice, the safety of Knottington was in his hands and he took on that responsibility without hesitation. My favorite quality about Roguard is that he’s this mixture of an enormous, loveable puppy-like companion, but also a devastatingly powerful fighter who unabashedly loves to smash Deadwood to pieces.
Q: Who do you identify more with – Lathe or Roguard – and why?
A: Lathe. I’d like to think that I would, if put in similar circumstances, somehow find the courage to do what’s needed to be done to save the world.
Q: The Kickstarter campaign introduced the enemies of Sprout and Splinter. Can you revisit these creatures and describe them in detail?
A: The Deadwood known as Sprouts are the reanimated remains of the everyday Woodlings of age past – the mailman, the butcher, your great-great grandpa. Of all the Deadwood infesting Knottington, Sprouts are the most common and the ones Lathe and Roguard will encounter most frequently. When the spell over Deadwood Forest was broken, the bodies of Woodlings that were unfortunate enough to have been buried amid a healthy reserve of blooming amber were resurrected as the Deadwood known as Splinter. They are an intelligent variety of Deadwood who target their opponents with ranged attacks, breaking off pieces of amber from their backs and lobbing them at Lathe and Roguard.
Q: Can you share insight about any other enemies that dwell around the world of Knottington?
A: I don’t want to spoil anything, but in addition to encountering even more types of Deadwood, you’ll get to experience several crazy boss fights against some huge enemies.
Q: What is the game’s story theme and how is it made prevalent throughout the gameplay?
A: The theme of the game is the power of friendship. Through their friendship, Lathe and Roguard are able to overcome what would otherwise be insurmountable obstacles. Only together are they able to fight off the Deadwood and save Knottington.
Q: Can you share insight and expand upon your creative writing process?
A: I tend to go through lots of iterations before I’m happy with anything I write. My first pass is usually to just get the information down on the page. It’s not pretty, but it usually has most of the information that’s necessary, plus extra. The next pass is when I trim it down to only what’s essential. I tend to get pretty wordy, which is good for drafts since you get down a lot of information that can be useful for you later on, even if it doesn’t stay in the script. But it’s important to know when it’s too much information for the reader. The final pass is when I finesse the language and make it sound good. If it’s a lore entry, that means writing it in a way that flows well and fits the tone of the game’s world. If it’s dialogue, it means making sure the lines are written in a way that particular character would say them. If the lines are to be voice acted, it also means ensuring they will sound natural when spoken.
Q: What did you enjoy the most about writing for Lathe and Roguard and the Forgotten Curse?
A: This project was fun for me because I was brought on to write within a world that had already been created before I joined. So early on, my main job was to familiarize myself with all of the characters and history. Once I had a good sense of the world, I was able to really dive into the backstories and personalities of the individual characters, and the lore of both Knottington and the Woodlings. When the team decided to rescale the game late in development, it was a big challenge to rewrite the entire script to fit within that new scope, but all the time I had spent immersed in the game’s world made it possible and I hope gamers will enjoy this adventure of Lathe and Roguard.
Q: What do you hope gamers take away from playing the game?
A: I just hope they have a good time playing it. Some people may become really invested in the characters and the story, others may want to treat it more like an arcade game and ignore the plot. Honestly, as long as they have fun, then we as the developers did our job.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring and up-and-coming video game writers?
A: I don’t think I’m an authority on the subject, but I will say that it takes a lot of practice to get better at your craft – not just writing, but anything creative. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. So write!
Thank you all for joining us for this insightful interview with Lathe and Roguard and the Forgotten Curse’s lead writer, Chris Porter. We hope you’ve enjoyed this brand-new perspective and deeper glimpse at our game releasing later this year. We can’t wait to share another update with you next month on February 21st!