Development Spotlight: Leo October 1, 2015 09:07

Hi folks, and welcome back to the spotlight!  This week we’ll be focusing on the ultimate iconic beast of the arena – Leo

Leo is one of our favorite Arena Rex models, and he almost never happened.  With such a great line of gladiator models already underway, we knew that any beast would have to matchup to them.  The non-magical beasts on the market often look a little plain compared to the heroes and villains they face off against.  They don’t really have any gear or equipment to really embellish with detail, and the anatomy can be tricky for sculptors to really capture quite right, especially in a good dynamic pose.

Because of these concerns, we nearly avoided beasts altogether. We realized that one of the keys to getting a lion to really “pop” and fit with the rest of the characters of Arena Rex was making it a character in its own right.  That focus on the beasts as individual specimens rather than generic placeholders felt right as soon as we stumbled upon it.  It fit with the design aesthetic of the whole line -- after all, we weren’t making generic myrmillos or dimacherii (or even noxii, despite Nick’s deep desire for a field littered with them); we were making characters.

This realization allowed us to really open up on the design for both Leo and the rest of our beasts.  Even the name “Leo” which we had been using from the start came to mean something new as the character really took root.  No longer was he “a lion,” who didn’t really need a name, but instead he was “The Lion” – the character that redefined his very species.  Historically beasts were underfed and goaded to make them fight, but what if we created a lion that was born to the arena, hunted handlers if he wasn’t fed enough, and needed no excuse to pick a fight?  Leo was no longer just one of the many kings of the jungle, but the one undisputed king of the arena. 

Even once we had turned this corner in our thinking of Leo, however, and even once we had the fantastic color art back from Yasmine Putri, we struggled with the decision to green-light Leo.  Would people be interested in a lion when the game was really about gladiators?  Would we see the same struggle in creating a lion that other companies had met with, and wind up with a model that looked generic despite our realizations?  It was only once we got the model design sketches for Otho back from MIKH that we decided we could make a lion that would really be “Leo.”  His artistry and care for detail made us confident that the end result would be a unique piece that we would be proud to have brought to life.

In the end, a concept that we were unsure would even work out became iconic for Arena Rex.  The addition of Living Hazard rules was another great leap forward for both the game and our conception of beasts in the arena.  Thanks again for joining us in the spotlight, and as always, I hope you enjoyed reading.  Join us again next week for another spotlight piece!