Spirit Lords

In May 2015, Kabam launched the mobile game Spirit Lords. The game was an action RPG in the vein of Diablo 2 only designed to be extremely easy to play on tablet. (Project Lead Phil Shenk and I had earlier worked together on Diablo II and produced much of the character art for that game.) I was the Senior Art Director for the project, having worked on it from an initial concept strike team of 5 people to the final project released two years later (where it was awarded Apples ‘Editor’s Choice.’) I hired up the team (or found artists internally,) and directed the overall look and feel plus the specific look of all character, spirits, UI, marketing artwork and more. Dmitri Ellingson was the team’s Art Director overseeing all of the environments. I am extremely pleased with the final game and am honored to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented team.

In the game, you could choose between playing a Barbarian or a Sorcerer, and we provided a large number of customizable assets, including skin, hair, armor and weapons. We designed the armors and weapons in-house and all 3D assets were built by outsourcing studios.

Another major aspect of Spirit Lords was the collection mechanic:.
As you wandered the world and fought battles, you would collect spirits, both of creatures and of fallen warriors of various races. The game launched with several hundred spirits which could be evolved to more powerful versions. The spirits were all concepted internally, and I managed all final illustration outsourcing at two different external art houses.

Throughout Spirit Lords, players traveled through and battled in a variety of interesting environments. I defined the initial approach for the look of the world and the environment team was led by Dmitri Ellingson.

You can see the game’s cinematic trailer – directed by Danny Keller, Art Directed by myself, and produced by Goldtooth Creative – on YouTube. (link)


Here are some excerpts of reviews of the game:

You can play as male or female, and customize a good variety of attributes for them. You can even change your hair and armor colors after the fact. With headgear, you can choose whether that shows up or not, while still getting the effects of it. Have no worries, your pink-haired sorcerer can still rock the dungeons while looking good. And the armor color means you never have to sacrifice style for better stats.

Carter Dotson, TouchArcade


Spirit Lords‘ graphics are teeming with life and personality, which helps set it apart from the myriad Diablo clones on the digital marketplace. Your heroes are rounded, colorful, and weirdly-proportioned, as are the enemies and NPCs you meet.

Nadia Oxford, Gamezebo


What makes Spirit Lords stand out from the competition are its production values, as the team has tried to make the game’s art and story as important as the actual gameplay experience.

Francesco, TouchTapPlay 


Where things really shine are in the visual department. Spirit Lords is a good-looking game. There’s an impressive amount of detail that has been dragged out of the iPad with some clever textures and some wonderful world design. Spirit Lords is an aesthetic treat. Colours pop, combat animations excite and the world looks like a colorful, I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Torchlight treat.

Adam Tingle, MMORPG.com


Spirit Lords looks stunning on mobile devices and clearly a lot of time was put into the sprites that run around and the animations. After playing the game for large chunks one starts to forget you are in fact stuck behind a small screen. Each environment you are thrown into looks different and gives a feel of submergence in the habitat and interactions with the creatures that stalk the corner.

Constant Hughes-Treherne, Anteria

 

 

Spirit Lords was a large Kabam mobile title released in May of 2015 (where it was awarded Editor's Choice in the Apple app store.) The lettering for most of the logo was created by Daniel Reeve, an extrordinary designer whose calligraphy and map woks have appeared in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. I did all of the 3D work and rendering, along with redesigning the letter-work from its original game title, 'Spirit Storm.'
Spirit Lords logo, designed by Daniel Reeve, Directed and rendered by me

 

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The game’s app icon, which I created (with help from lead character artist Den Yang.)

 

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Spirit Lords character customization

 

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Early exploration for character proportions but Johannes Helgeson (left) and Den Yang (center and right.)

 

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Final male model sheet by Den Yang

 

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Armor designs by Den Yang

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Sorceress armor designs designs by Den Yang

 

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Sorceress model sheet designs by Den Yang

 

 

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Barbarian armor designs by Cullen Brown

 

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In-game models done by various outsourcing studios

 

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In-game models done by various outsourcing studios

 

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Some of the creatures and enemies from the game

 

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The gnolliaths (concepted by me)

 

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The bushlings (concepted by Den Yang)

 

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The bushlings’ Fake Scary Monster (which was really 3 bushlings on each others’ shoulders. (concepted by Den Yang)

 

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The stone golem (concepted by me)

 

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The geckles (concepted by Cullen Brown)

 

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The fire and ice elemental (designed by Cullen Brown, model and texture by Gabe Jackson)

 

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The lightning elemental (designed by Cullen Brown, 3D by Jay Doherty) and an Ogre shield-bearer (design by Den Yang, 3D by outsourcing)

 

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Left axes by Den Yang, right ones by me

 

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Axes by David McNeal

 

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Hammers by Cullen Brown

 

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Scimitars and blades by me

 

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3D models by Danny Pierce

 

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Some of the collectible spirits in the game. These were Grubbins, designed by Cullen Brown

 

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Felis archer by Cullen Brown

 

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Lord Wampafu concept by Den Yang

 

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Void Walker, concept by Den Yang, rendering by Atomhawk Design

 

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Succubus, concept by Den Yang, rendering by Atomhawk Design

 

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Spirit concepts by Den Yang, rendering by Atomhawk Design

 

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The starting town of Windholme. Concepts by David McNeal & Jordan Louie

 

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Windholme concepts by David McNeal
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Windholme 3D by Dmitri Ellingson & Danny Pierce

 

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Gnoll forest huts, concept by David McNeal

 

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Gnoll forest 3D by Dmitri Ellingson & Danny Pierce

 

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Gnoll forest 3D by Dmitri Ellingson & Danny Pierce

 

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Crypts concept by David McNeal
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Crypts, concept by David McNeal, 3D by Paul Nelson

 

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The alpine fortress, which does not appear in the final game. Concept by Cullen Brown
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The alpine fortress, 3D by Pete Hanshaw

 

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Fire caves
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The Badlands, concepts by Cullen Brown
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The World Map, concept by Jordan Louie, 3D by Dmitri Ellingson, Danny Pierce, and Paul Nelson
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The was composed of blended hex tiles like this
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The tiles all corresponded to 2d art so that you could also see a zoomed-out world map, artwork by Jordan Louie