Game Studio Spotlight: Dark Tonic

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Hey, this is Eric from Dark Tonic here to tell you about Legends of the Brawl and our featured legend, Teddy Roosevelt.

First, a little background on our studio; we released our first game Attack of the Wall Street Titan in 2012 on iOS & Android, and then Treasure Tombs: Ra Deal in 2014 on iOS.

We really wanted to bring Treasure Tombs to console, but felt that the mobile experience didn’t have quite enough meat on its bones for a console game. So, we decided to start brainstorming ways to leverage the assets, characters and world we’d been developing for a compelling high value game for console.

We experimented and prototyped a bunch of different ideas, and kept honing in on this concept of a co-op multiplayer action game with some puzzle elements and 90s platformer feel, which you can see in action in this video below:

Legends of the Brawl finally began taking shape and it quickly became apparent we wouldn’t be using the Treasure Tombs assets at all, and we were on track with a vastly more ambitious game.

At the time we didn’t have any sort of budget to support the work, which would have killed a normal studio, but we’re fully remote and profit-share only with most of the team putting in part time hours while working a day job (not unlike a mod team), so while things may take us a lot longer than a typical studio, we have the flexibility to pursue big ideas.

When we started character development for Legends of the Brawl, our Art Director was Jamus Thayne, lead character artist on Torchlight 1 & 2, and he did a great job of kicking off our visual aesthetic along with our Environment Lead Joe Bird who is now working on some very cool stuff at Panic Button.

Our Teddy Roosevelt character actually started life as a generic mercenary before we decided to go down the road of historical legends. The initial concept art was done by Rory Yates, and you can see here how the design was selected and evolved:

Once we nailed down the 2D concept we liked, Jamus modeled the character in Maya and textured it in 3D Coat. The rigging was done by Seth Salts, and the first batch of animations was done in Maya by Aaron Juntunen.

As you can see above, the game was originally titled Super Dungeon Brawlers, but shortly after putting together the logo, we discovered a new co-op game called Super Dungeon Bros, so we needed a new name, and one to fit with the concept of real historical figures, and Legends of the Brawl was born.

In order to turn this generic mercenary into Teddy Roosevelt, we had Rory do a new concept and had an art intern, Stephen Souza, tweak the model and textures to fit. I did a bit of Photoshop polishing on the textures, did the idle animation, and put together the vignette here:

This was just after Sketchfab added the animation system, which I thought was a super cool feature.

The props and platform were created in 3DS Max by Ralph Thompson, who was a senior artist on Elder Scrolls Online. The logo is my design, and built in Maya by Dave Farisi, our Lead Environment Artist.

I set the initial view in an odd location & angle, as I wanted the Legends of the Brawl logo to be gigantic, but set in the background. I played around with the lighting setup to make the scene a little warmer and more saturated than the base textures give, and thought it came out nicely in the end.

Typically the vignettes I see on Sketchfab are the work of a single artist, sometimes working from someone else’s concept. In this case, it’s the result of contributions from at least 7 artists!

We have a few other models from Legends of the Brawl in a collection here, and will be adding to it over time, as there are a lot of other things to add:

Legends of the Brawl by Dark Tonic Games on Sketchfab

With regards to the game itself, we’ve been polishing the character controller and getting a lot of the foundational framework in place. We plan to have a single player demo later this year, which will also function as the intro to the game itself, to prepare you for the fast paced multiplayer action.

Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear from you on social. In addition to Sketchfab, you can catch us on Discord, Facebook, and Twitter.

About the author


An artist in the pursuit of dopeness.

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