Wolcen Team interview: Atropos, Game Writer
Hello everyone !
Atropos joined the Wolcen team in December 2017 and worked since then on the lore and storyline for Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. Today, I would like to introduce him and his work so you can know a little more about him and have a little preview of what's coming for the storyline of the game.
Hello Atropos! What can you tell us about yourself ?
My name is Eric, 30, and I’m the Game Writer for Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. I previously worked on video games, and I’ve also tried book writing and cinema which allowed me to learn the specificity of each media. The video game media is my favourite, especially in a small structure where you can truly find creative freedom: big enough to be ambitious, and small enough to be free from the shackles of big structures. The fact that we are a human-sized studio also allows me to exploit my game and level design skills to coordinate with the different developers.
Also, I love cheese. Very very much. Except in my stories 😊
Why “Atropos” ?
Atropos is one of the three Moirai, in charge of cutting the thread of life. Since I have to choose the characters fates, it seemed to fit well!
How did you come to work for Wolcen Studio ?
I worked in Lille for a cool 2D MMO called Dead Maze, but I needed to explore new horizons, start a new adventure, so I applied at Wolcen Studio. I passed a test and voilà ! Here I am. I’m glad I was able to join this project to shape a very promising new Intellectual Property.
What is a classic day for you at Wolcen Studio ?
“Hello” to everyone of course! Then I alternate between my stationary and my mobile work. My stationary work starts with choosing the emotional/epic/movie music that will stimulate my imagination. Then I check what lore aspects I have to provide to each department, I work on the staging, the dialogues, and the quest design. My mobile work consists on ensuring the global understanding of the narrative content by other production aspects throughout the company.
What are the tasks you’re focused on for Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem ?
Presently I’m working on the lore to provide material for the Concept department including the environments, characters, factions. I’m also working on the dialogues’ tone.
What has been determined on the storyline so far ?
All 5 acts are defined, all environments, the story, the creatures, the characters and the cutscenes. All we have to do now is bring all these elements to life and fill the boxes.
Aiming low wasn’t part of the instructions I was given. And boy, what a ride it’s going to be. It’s action packed, unforgiving, brutal and in its own special way : heartwarming. It’s both familiar to what you may have experienced in other hack’n’slash, and way more character-centric than what this game-genre have explored so far. The story is carried by and for the characters and they will not be soulless quest givers waiting for you to do the job. You will succeed together or fail together : but you will rely on them as much as they rely on you. No messiah syndrome in Wolcen.
What was the most challenging or unforeseen difficulty you had to face during your time at Wolcen Studio?
Actually, it’s more of a global problematic whenever you’re working on lore and scenarios. The challenge is always the same: establish rules and “no-noes” then convince artistic minds to follow them and conceptualize inside that perimeter rather than in free space. When a cool idea is shared, I have to ensure that it fits in the Wolcen universe, if not, I try to find a way to make this possible and “lore friendly”.
Do you have a special pride on something you’ve worked on for Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem ?
The emotional climax around the story of Wolcen. I’m really eager to see the feedback of the community about this.
Can you give some advice to people who would want to follow your path ?
Be curious about everything, anything can be a source of inspiration. Don’t be afraid of criticism, write dialogs and make them read by other people. If you face your own shortcomings and learn from them, you will do better and better until one day, you can tell yourself “I know how to write dialogues”. Same applies for every skill : Game design ? You will make boring games and learn why. Narrative design ? You will make a story structure without flow and pacing, and learn as well. Always get back on the battlefield until you win the war for your skills!
Also be prepared to explain and share your vision with other people around a project. This requires quite a good knowledge of the human nature and training in public-speaking and presentation.
Oh and portfolio guys. Your first breakthrough in the industry will almost entirely rely on that. Make it short, to the point, and professional looking.
Do you play any games ?
I do! I play on a Neverwinter Nights RP server called “Arelith”. It’s an English server so I can practice the language, it’s a very immersive community and… it’s cool! I also play Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Witcher 3, Fallout, Dead Maze, and many more.
In a game I’m globally looking for challenge, I like the rewarding feeling when you overcome a difficulty.
Finally, can you give our community some preview on what’s to come in the scenario ?
I can share some of my intentions.
One thing I regret is that some recent licenses and movies define heroism as having a big sword, be ‘the boss’ from the get go, and slash big creatures easy-peasy. To me, it doesn’t work that way. Heroism is earned, not given. Felt, not told. I see heroism as continuing the right fight despite suffering, despair or defeat.
I also regret when major adversaries and creatures seem trivial and I want to ensure a certain respect for them. Take demons for instance. Slaying huge packs of demons reduces their individual value and weakens the idea that a demon should be a scary foe. To avoid this, even in a hack’n’slash, steps can be taken to make sure the player respects the greater foes thrown at him.
Finally, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem will provide an experience allowing the player to live a unique adventure with his companions, with quality interactions between the characters.
To resume, there will be inspirations from Lord of the Rings exotic journey feeling, Constantine's characters and overall treatment/themes, Madmax:fury road's chase, action and epicness, The Witcher 3 character depths and relations (or at least trying), and Dunkirk's tension and harassment.
And that's all folks :) Thank you for reading this interview. I know you all wait for the next update as well so I'll give you some ETA: we're finalizing it and it will be applied in the second half of the month.
As always, thank you all for your support !
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