Before working on Dark Alliance – the action RPG set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons – I was director of game cinematics at a few major video game studios. My time before Tuque taught me not to worry only about the appearance of a world.
The “vibe” and characterization of a world is what brings it to life. That’s what I’m here to talk about today with Dark Alliance. Moreover, I want to share a lot conceptual art by our artists Vincent, Stanimir, Victor, Dimitri, Fred, Jorge and Even.
Find the artistic core of Dark Alliance
The concept of Dark Alliance is simple. It’s you and your friends against this alliance between legions of monsters. The monsters really started to come to life as we developed the game. In a way, they are the stars of the show. This is what you will remember when you talk about Dark Alliance with your friends.
I was interested in exploring the different cultures of these monsters. For me, the best way to showcase a culture is through its music and dance.
That’s what drove the style, music, and tone of the game. But it also has to feel fresh in the high fantasy genre. So one day I was asked to sum up the art style of the game in two words.
We are heavy metal.
Heavy metal inspiration
When I say heavy metal, think of the art style, not the music. The music in the game is fully orchestral. Think about the look of heavy metal, or Mad Max, or Apocalypto album covers. Or even one of the original masters of metal – Mozart.
We obviously take a lot of inspiration from the art of dungeons and dragons that came before us. The cool thing about D&D is that there have been so many unique interpretations of its art over the decades. There is no single style. But it all still looks high fantasy at the end of the day.
Dark Alliance is that too. When you put it all together, we always look like the D&D fantasy. The team has taken pains to bring D&D to life in a way that fans will be excited about. Our journey there started with heavy metal inspirations, to create our own unique flavor.
The companions of the room
The next challenge was to bring four of the most iconic characters in the D&D lore to life. We wanted to stay true to RA Salvatore’s descriptions of Drizzt, Bruenor, Catti-brie and Wulfgar in his books. Here is their first concept art.
From there, changes were made throughout the development process to make each character more readable in the game. Here is the final art of the Dark Alliance companions.
Where we need to have fun is with the different equipment that each companion can collect and equip. Here’s Drizzt wearing an in-game outfit you won’t see in the novels anytime soon.
Create the monsters
There are over 30 different types of enemies in Dark Alliance. Each main faction of monsters has their own mission structure that explores their architecture, culture, and even a bit of their daily practices. By centering each three-act mission around a faction, it helps us create a cohesive visual design that brings our world to life and makes our enemies more memorable.
I want to talk about two of my favorite monster designs today.
The duergar in Dark Alliance best represents our metal theme. The Duergar are cousins of the dwarves, generally living deeper in the Other. In our game, they are dressed in leather, fur, armor, spikes, mohawks, skulls and bones. They look like a bunch of magical bikers.
These giants are probably my favorite character in the game. D&D verbeeg are a smaller, more cunning sub-race of giants. The verbeeg in our game are a faction of sadistic hillbillies. They like to wear the skin of their victims on their faces as trophies and have a particular taste for dwarf flesh. But they also like to gather around the campfire and sing their meals.
We’ll have more to share on Dark Alliance between now and our PlayStation 4 and 5 launch on June 22.