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Battle Gauntlets and Brawling: Making A New Class

By Cordovan


Battle Gauntlets and Brawling: Making A New Class


Creating the Brawler was exciting for many of us on the LOTRO team as it gave us the first opportunity in quite a few years to bring a new class to the game! Read on to learn about where we began and how we created the Brawler you see in-game today.



The Brawler is a melee class inspired in part by the tale of Helm Hammerhand, who fought bare-handed in one of the greatest sieges of Helm's Deep and was known for his ferocity in battle. Taking that concept and turning it into something to play in-game, though, meant considering how they'd move, what they'd wear, and what they would actually do in battle. Thankfully, our artists and systems designers were up to the task!

Systems designer FriendlyHat describes the process as, “Lots of fun design chats!” with many of the discussions happening virtually we were and are largely working from home during this pandemic. She also wants to make sure both Vastin and Tybur, two other Systems designers who worked on the class, get credit for this work!

“One of my favorite things about the Brawler is the audacity it takes to march into battle without a regular weapon. I picture a dual-wielding Champion looking at a Brawler and saying, 'wanna borrow one of my weapons?' but the Brawler then lays out an Uruk-hai with an uppercut! Helm Hammerhand was a larger than life character and I like to think of the Brawler as embodying that ideal.”

FriendlyHat concludes with, “Can we talk about how the art team did an amazing job with the Brawler?” Yes, yes we can!



Art and animation play a big role in turning the systems of a class into a fully-developed character, and Art Manager and Senior Technical Artist Evan Slaughter says they began with the concepts provided to them from the design team. “Initially, design wanted us to create a theme for the Brawler as a heavy armour user. We wanted to differentiate the Brawler from other heavy armor classes visually while also showing that they were mobile while still able to hit hard and tank.”

Evan continues, “As an art team we did a round of concept brainstorming where everyone submitted 2D concepts. From there we determined which parts were most ready, and which parts needed additional visualization and concepting. LOTRO is not an 'exaggerated stylized game' with its gear design like some MMOs, but we did want to go slightly bigger with the silhouette of Battle Gauntlets to distinguish them from regular set bracers. 3D Artist Jen Melnick had the idea of looking at Mixed Martial Arts and modern Boxing gear for inspiration, both for the gauntlets and the armour pieces they would wear. We then determined the torso of the character to allow for more freedom of movement visually while still allowing the torso to be supported by a heavier lower girdle.”



Production Artist Daniel Newman helped make sure the Battle Gauntlets looked right on the player character, and explains, “I explored all of the ways one could pummel someone with their fists. I experimented with different shapes and types of metals. A few have elf or dwarf themes woven in. I think most of these concepts ended up in the game.”



“We wanted one arm to act like a lighter punching arm, while the other arm would have a heavier should pad set with a heavier bracer to support blocking.” - Jen Melnick, 3D Artist

3D Artist Jen Melnick says she looked inside of the game world for inspiration when it came to hand to hand combat. “Brawler as a class is partially inspired by Helm Hammerhand, a Rohirric fighter known for his prowess in hand-to-hand combat. We already have a tapestry inside of the game featuring his likeness, and I wanted to pull from that thematically. I took the armour in the tapestry and went into our concept art archives to see what we did for Riders of Rohan. I wanted to tie the Rohirric Brawler armour set directly back to those other Rohirric themed armour sets, so I did what is called a 'paint over' on one of Wes Burt's original Rohan concepts.”



“I wanted to preserve the gold and green sensibility of the original Rohan sets while making them mobile. I then used that as a foundation for a more generic human starter set that was based on modern boxing gear breakdowns. After concept approval I brought the design into Zbrush to flesh it out more.” Melnick states.

“We used a different concept for the Brawler starter set in the end, but stuck with this set for our Rohan-themed gear.” Melnick explains.



We hope you have been enjoying playing your Brawlers and also enjoyed reading a bit more about how they came to be in the game!



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