Martial Arts Tycoon: Brazil is an upcoming simulation game where players will need to manage jiu-jitsu gyms in South America. The title comes from Good Dog Studios, an independent developer founded by several industry veterans, including Chance Glasco. Glasco previously co-founded Infinity Ward and created the original Call of Duty, afterward continuing to contribute to several follow-up entries in the massively popular franchise.


Martial Arts Tycoon: Brazil begins with players taking over their uncle’s jiu-jitsu gym in a Brazilian favela, a Portuguese term for working-class neighborhoods. With a little help from their pet capybara Raphael, they’ll need to manage their equipment, schedule classes, tackle climate issues, and care for their clientele’s health as they grow in scope and expand into new areas. The game is inspired by other tycoon titles like Two Point Hospital, but with a martial arts twist, where players can also train their clients, enter them in tournaments, and challenge other gyms.

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Screen Rant sat down with Creative Director Chance Glasco to discuss the simulation genre, his industry history, and translating his love for jiu-jitsu into Martial Arts Tycoon: Brazil.

Screen Rant: You have a long history with simulation games, not necessarily in releasing them but I know that when you were younger you played them a lot.

Chance Glasco: Yeah, I think my dad got me into SimCity when I was a preteen, probably. I’ve always been interested in games with procedural generation; anytime when you have the computer creating experiences that weren’t scripted, that’s super interesting to me. The most obvious case would be Dwarf Fortress. But I got into RimWorld first, I didn’t get fully into Dwarf Fortress until they released the game on Steam. Now it’s like, “Oh, graphics!” They’re still outdated by 40 years, but they’re graphics. [Laughs]

I’ve always been interested in how these different various systems of code play with each other and then give you some kind of new outcome that a lot of players maybe haven’t seen before. So even though I wouldn’t say RimWorld and Dwarf Fortress are the biggest influences on the game, there’s definitely a little bit of that procedural outcome and seeing how things play out.

And you haven’t always worked on shooters, I know you used to code your own text based adventures.

Chance Glasco: Wow, yeah, I made The Dentist Who Took Over Compton, that was a 90s gangster rap adventure game. It was just a joke, me and my friends growing up in the 90s, listening to 90s rap, and we made all these parody characters. And that guy that I did that with, we still game on a regular basis, like, two, three times a week sometimes.

But besides that sort of early code dabbling, this is a pretty big pivot from what you’ve worked on in the past. I’m curious what led you to land on focusing on a game in this genre, and why jiu-jitsu specifically?

Chance Glasco: So around, I want to say it would have been sometime around 2009 or 2010, I started watching Dream, which was a Japanese MMA group. And I got into Japanese MMA with some friends from work. One of them was a blue belt in jiu-jitsu who wasn’t training actively, and the other one was a purple belt at the time, he was actively training – that was Geoff [Smith]. He’s probably known, one of his claims to fame would be doing the Favela level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I’d go to his house, we’d watch Japanese MMA, and I was really impressed. The grappling was so crazy, I’d be like, “That guy’s a pretzel, and now he stopped fighting, what happened?” [Laughs] And I was really intrigued by these little dudes that could whoop up on these big, strong, buff guys and beat them.

I played baseball growing up, but I wasn’t much of an athlete in any way. I was not genetically made for that. I was the awkward tall kid that didn’t have a girlfriend until his 20s; overall kind of what you expect from a game developer [Laughs] – no offense game developers. So I got into watching that and then Romulo Barral and Alberto Crane opened up a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym like five blocks away from our studio. I was always at the computer, and I needed something to balance that desk life.

Jiu-jitsu is the ultimate balance to sitting at a desk because someone’s trying to kill you. [Laughs] Not really kill you, but trying to choke you or to attack your arm or your feet or your legs. It just kind of shocked my system, so I went to that as my rest. Because if you’re at a desk job for 10-plus hours a day, you don’t want to rest by doing nothing; your rest should be active, if that makes sense. So I would go there, I would train, get my a** kicked, come back from lunch, scarf down lunch at my desk – but I’d feel good, I’d feel relaxed. Even though I wasn’t getting good at it fast, I still enjoyed the social aspect and the fitness aspect.

Fast forward a little bit, I got really too busy with Modern Warfare 2 and 3 and was barely training, like five years of barely training. And then the whole Respawn Infinity Ward Activision drama went down, where Activision tried to withhold our royalties that they owed us for their most successful game ever, because they were afraid we were all gonna leave, and if we left, then they wouldn’t have a team. So a big lawsuit occurred, teams split up, I was already burned out. I wanted to take a sabbatical and just go live in some other country and recover from, at that point, it would have been 13 years of AAA games. Mostly working on Call of Duty, before that Medal of Honor, which was almost a Call of Duty.

So I did that and moved to Brazil. I’d gone there as a guest speaker in about 2012 and then kept going back for Brasil Game Show, because most of the devs were afraid of going to Brazil. In addition, I spoke basic Portuguese at the time, so they’d say, “Send Chance, he’s the best option.” [Laughs] I moved to Brazil and just focused on enjoying life for a little bit- going to the beach, doing a little consulting on the side. I started a VR startup that lasted maybe a couple of years, but it was after the VR craze and before the Metaverse craze. It was basically a VR Metaverse with utility; which even today, like 99% of the the Metaverses are crap, there’s no reason to use them. We just picked a bad time.

So I had to make money, I was focused on game consulting and ended up having this client and he wanted to start a studio. I had a game idea I wanted made and I was like, “If you raise the money, I will do everything else, I will be the creative director and drive the game side.” And that’s how Good Dog Studios started, it was just an opportunity with a client. I had 10 years of game ideas for a tycoon martial arts game, specifically jiu-jitsu, and decided this was going to be what I’m gonna do now and see what happens.

I have to ask, because I love the idea so much – why a capybara?

Chance Glasco: Why not? [Laughs] Give me one situation where a capybara does not make things better.

That’s so true.

Chance Glasco: I’ve had this weird obsession with capybaras actually before Brazil, it just happened that they live there. I’ve always actually wanted to have one, if it was the right situation – obviously I’m not gonna take one out of the wild. Part of it is that I was thinking about the market and I realized that a lot of people when they think MMA jiu-jitsu, their first thought might go to UFC, maybe to Joe Rogan, it’ll go to a demographic that a lot of tycoon gamers aren’t. Because ultimately this game is made for people that are into tycoon sim games.

I understand that I love jiu-jitsu, but I understand that the amount of people that train in jiu-jitsu that play this are going to be well under 5%, maybe closer to 1%. So I wanted something that was kind of an offset to the culture that they might expect, which is going to be bro culture, Affliction, Tap Out. If you go to jiu-jitsu gyms, that’s not the culture, the people that train are typically not that. That’s more the fans, that’s what UFC markets for. We’re gonna get those people anyways; if you’re into jiu-jitsu and you’re an MMA fan, you’re going to play this game, even though we have a cute capybara. And there’s people that are gonna see the capybara and think, “Okay, maybe this isn’t what I thought.” But it’s mostly because I love capybaras..

Martial Arts Tycoon rooftop gym overlooking the favela.

Can you talk a little bit about the role that the capybara plays? I know they kind of help you along your journey.

Chance Glasco: So the idea is, you have your uncle – it’s always an uncle in tycoon games, right? And he just happens to have to leave the country for some reason, you don’t know why. You’ll see more in the teaser trailer, which I can stream to you.

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I’d love to see.

Chance Glasco: The cool thing about tycoon games is you can pick any industry and make a fun game. It doesn’t matter if it’s lemonade stands. When I talk to investors, I’m like, “Here’s a game, Two Point Hospital, that sold I think consoles and PC over three million copies.” Go up to 10 people and ask them if they’re into hospitals – probably zero yeses. [Laughs] Go up to 10 people and say, “Do you watch MMA, UFC?” Someone’s gonna say yes. If you can make an exciting game about hospitals, why not make something about jiu-jitsu gyms and people that have to compete?

[At this point, Chance shared a cinematic trailer for the game that will premiere later this year]

The art style is much more realistic than I expected.

Chance Glasco: Yeah, obviously it’s a cinematic trailer, but it was all real time; it was all just fancy shots in our game with scripted animations. Because if you think about a theme park, it’s big and sprawling, it might be a whole square kilometer. If you think of a hospital, that’s pretty big. A gym – it’s not going to be that big, so there’s no reason to have these incredibly small people that you’re zoomed way out from. So we’re going to be zoomed in more so you can see the high quality characters and assets, customize your characters.

There’s a little less emphasis on building as far as the structures go and more emphasis on character building. These characters come in and they have a set of variables. One would be attributes, so your strength, dexterity, wisdom, et cetera – or in this case, willpower. And then you have your life path, which is kind of like a character’s backstory, so they have their childhood life path, their teenager life path, and their adult life path. These are basically just backgrounds that we create that are randomly applied to these characters that have an influence over their character traits.

Like one trait is a bully, if you’re a bully you have a higher percentage chance of injuring another character when you’re training with him. When you train jiu-jitsu, there’s always that one guy who’s uncoordinated, all strength, all effort, and those people hurt people more. So as a gym owner, you decide, “Okay, do I want this person in my gym because they’re extremely athletic? Or do I kick them out because they’re probably going to hurt someone that’s not going to have a fight now?”

Then you’re doing typical tycoon game things like getting your bills paid, making sure electricity is paid, paying your rent. Hiring a janitor; if you don’t clean your mats, Staph infections can occur. If it rains and you’re outside and there’s standing puddles of water, you’ve got to worry about mosquitoes, there’s Zika, Dengue fever.

I’m not sure if in your background research you saw how the climate aspects are strong. I’m a Senior Fellow with Atlantic Council, I work with their Climate Resilience Division. So their goal is to keep a billion people safe from climate just through knowledge. Obviously, the best way to reach people when there’s three and a half million gamers is through games. And it’s not making games educational, it’s just putting some kind of information in the game that could make someone more knowledgeable so they could potentially react or respond in any negative climate scenario.

So in this case, one of the best examples would be: you’re probably familiar with the hurricane system, they get a name and they get a category. And if like, Category Four Bertha is coming to you you’re like, “Oh f***, Bertha is coming. Let’s get out.” Bertha is gonna get you. With heat waves, it’s just like, “Hey, it’s hot outside.” “Oh, how hot is it?” “I don’t know, I reckon it’s dang hot man.” [Laughs] It’s not exactly a science, it’s just pretty damn hot. Probably drink a little water. So heat waves, even though they kill way more people than hurricanes, they don’t have the same respect and reputation. Because when someone dies from a heatwave, they don’t die from a heatwave, they die from a stroke, so when you’re looking at the statistics of people who’ve died from heat waves, you’re not getting the full numbers, because you’re not including people that died from heat exhaustion. It’s not like these people are cooking, there’s other things that are occurring because of the heat.

So they created this system with a zero, one, two and three category with a name, and it’s being piloted. In Seville, Spain, and Athens, Greece, California has already adopted it as their official heat wave ranking system; it’s probably going to be a whole worldwide system based on the reputation of this organization. Zero is like, “Okay, it’s a little hot outside, you’re probably gonna be fine. Just drink some extra water.” Three is like, “Don’t go outside, you might have a heatstroke.” Heat affects people differently, whether they’re healthy, or if they’re older, or they have health conditions, and so in our game we have a heat system; that heat system is based on the average daily temperature of Rio.

Obviously, this applies more when your characters are fighting outside, if you’re inside you’re dealing with paying the electrical bill because you’ve an AC unit. But if they’re outside, which is a lot of the first part of the game, you’ll say, “Okay, Category One heat wave.” And I’ll give you a little bit of information, like what the Category One means, who’s at risk. So your NPCs that have health issues, they’re at medium risk, your regular NPCs are at low risk. But as it goes up, it gets worse. And the idea is that people that play our game, when this heat wave system comes to their city or their state or the country, they’ll be like, “Oh, I remember what a Category Two means.”

That’s very interesting, I’m originally from California, and it would get up to like, 115 degrees, so that system seems really useful.

Chance Glasco: Yeah, people don’t know what the hell they’re doing, they’re just like, “It’s hot.” [Laughs] And it’s more important when it comes to say, day laborers. We even get into, for instance, the safety of people that are working on rooftops, installing a roof during the day. Those people face a lot of issues. Even our cinematic animator that put together that trailer, he comes from a Mexican family that migrated to Miami. His dad owns a roofing company and he passed out on a roof once.

And it’s not just heat, it’s sea level rise, like Miami is flooding on days where it hasn’t rained in a week, the water just seeps through the limestone and streets flood just because the sea level is coming up. So it’s just all about keeping people safe from the climate. And so we’ll have this, some of the health concerns, a lot of jiu-jitsu and MMA is going to be about making weight for tournaments and probably have some kind of diet involved there, weight cutting in the future, stuff like that – things that are going to affect fighters.

One thing that I really want to touch on is from living – I literally lived like two blocks from the favela that you saw in the trailer. And when you watch movies like City of God or Elite Troop – I really recommend it, they’re really great films – when they talk about favelas it’s only police and drug dealers; that’s all you see. It’s just like the US where there are really bad neighborhoods, but the majority of people are not drug dealers. Even Modern Warfare 2, we have favelas, you’re battling in favelas. And I just wanted to show a side of it, especially after living there, that there’s a lot of good people that are in these favelas, it’s not just all bad people.

One of my best friends in Rio is from this favela, and I learned most of my Portuguese from him. Which is funny, because I realized, because I learned next to a favela, when I talk to people – it’d be like, imagine if you came from France, and you moved to the hood and that’s where you learned your English. [Laughs] It’s a little bit of that, I’m probably not quite that street, but it catches people off guard, because some of the slang that I’m using makes it more of a rare dialect than what you’d learn if you went to Brazilian Portuguese school.

Martial Arts Tycoon concept art for a female fighter.

Can you talk a little bit about what the general sort of game loop is in this?

Chance Glasco: So you first inherit your jiu-jitsu gym, you sign up your first people. The people that sign up initially, they’re paying a monthly or weekly fee, they’re paying a fee to train there. But then as it advances, you get opportunities to make money from their fights. So at the beginning, you might have someone who’s like, “I’m getting bullied at school, I want to learn some self defense.” And your goal with that character is to have them have a nice final outcome to their story, which is: they were bullied, and they kick the a** of their bully, and now they’re happy people.

That’s how it starts out, but that same person that was like a two-stripe white belt when they encountered the bully, now they may be a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, and there’s a tournament coming up and you want to put them in that tournament and see how they do. And as they rank up, there might be some money opportunities, there’s gonna be opportunities to make money that aren’t necessarily making some ethical decisions about opportunities that might arise if you’re living in the favela.

For instance, if you run out of money and can’t pay your electrical bill, there’s ways to steal electricity, which is very common in Brazil, like taking some of these authentic things that you might see in Brazil and making that part of the game. So you’re building your gym, you’re getting more money, you’re building reputation for your gym, and that reputation is more or less what unlocks the next levels. You start off in a poor community with clientele that has fairly low expectations, at least from the facility aspects. But then as you go to like Copacabana, Ipanema, you have these wealthier Brazilians that come in and they’re like, “Well, you don’t have a sauna, you don’t have nice things on the wall.” They expect a little more than just raw jiu-jitsu, they expect to be well taken care of and feel like they’re special.

So you have different clientele, and every clientele has their own schedule. You’re making your schedules, you’re deciding what’s the needs of each class. Let’s say you only have enough instructors to teach, say, two classes a day. You’re like, “Well, most people can make it at lunch and at 7pm.” So you put it at lunch and 7pm, and then more people come in like, “I can’t train then, I need to train in the morning.” So not only do you choose the time, you’re also building out your classes, like, “Okay, for the first part, do I add a warm up? Do I add stretching?”

These little blocks of learning that you add, they have certain modifiers – if you add in a warm up, that’s going to reduce injury chance, but there’s always other factors that could increase it. Like, “Well, I’ve got a warm up, but I’m training on cardboard mats, and this big beefcake Bruno is over here smashing people.” [Laughs] It’s not just going to be that you had a warm up, there’s going to be other factors that factor into injury. And then you’re like, “Do I do advanced, intermediate, or beginner fundamental classes?” Because if you have a bunch of people that have higher belts, they’re not going to want to only have fundamental classes, they want to learn the fancier things.

It’s a lot about pleasing those clientele in different ways. Also, as they level up and you get black belts, how do you keep the black belts at your gym, make them not leave and start a new gym? As you progress to the game, you can be handing off your gym to another black belt that was at your school; he’s now giving you some passive income as you run this other gym fancier and nicer.

So it’s similar to a game like Two Point Hospital where there’s different locations that serve as levels?

Chance Glasco: Yeah, there’s different locations, you can choose where you want to open up next. Each gym has its own different clientele, different kinds of people you want to make happy. Obviously, the richer areas you can charge more, the poorer areas you’ve got to be more creative. If you’ve ever played Frostpunk, you have these random events that occur, and we’re gonna have something similar to that where you have these random events where you have to make a decision.

They’re like storylines with like, one, two and three acts. It’s a little bit of your choices with a little bit of RNG to see how things play out. For instance, you might dojo storm another gym, which is when you go and you challenge the other gym to a fight. And that’s a risk – if you win, maybe some of those people at that gym will come train at your gym, but if you lose, maybe you’ll lose some of your people. So it’s grounded in authentic Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but you always have to take exceptions for fun, you know. For instance, if there’s something that’s a little more Karate Kid, you can add a little bit of that in there, but there’s definitely a fundamental authenticity in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

And so I’m really excited that we’re announcing at BIG Festival, because it’s kind of full circle. I’m living there, and then training in jiu-jitsu there, and now coming back to announce the game in Brazil, in what’s definitely the most excited gamer base on the planet as far as the passion behind games. I would put Brazil at number one unless there’s some random-a** country like Estonia that I haven’t heard yet. The whole passion you see for soccer, it carries over into games, and they’re also the fifth-biggest market.

So I talked to Gustavo [Steinberg] when I was at GDC like, “Hey, I’ve got a perfect game for your festival, we’re looking for a lead place to make an announcement.” It’s just very good chemistry. Brazil has had a lot of gamers that I’d say are the biggest underlooked market. They do spend less per capita, but 80% of them play games, and they have a passion and excitement that builds communities stronger and faster than you’d have in a lot of different other countries.

What are you most excited to see players react to once they get their hands on the game?

Chance Glasco: I’m really more near-sighted in this, I’m first looking forward to the reaction of our teaser trailer. After that, I would say I think I’m interested – like for me, I don’t know if you’ve ever played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but that got me back into skating. I got back into skating since I was nine years old because I played this game, and it’s rare for a game to actually motivate you to do something in real life.

To me, as someone who’s already worked on arguably the biggest franchise of the 2000s, I’m not just looking for the game that’s gonna sell the most or be the most famous, I want to make sure that I’m also working on something that can have some kind of impact outside of just having fun. And I think games already do that, like multiplayer and the community around that, but that’s just going to come naturally for multiplayer games; we’re more single player focused.

So if I can make a game that has some sort of positive motivation for someone that might be afraid of training jiu-jitsu because they think,”Oh, I’m not in shape,” or “I’m not a tough guy.” If I can motivate those people to get out, even if it’s not jiu-jitsu, just getting active and being healthier, that’s a positive impact outside of just a paycheck that comes along with selling a bunch of video games. That’s something I always look for with anything that I’m involved in, and that’s how a lot of this climate stuff worked in.

How does the work on this game differ from what your day to day was like working on Call of Duty?

Chance Glasco: I would say it’s that our team right now, we’re only four developers full time not including myself. So I wear a lot of hats, they wear a lot of hats, just a big hat wearing party. [Laughs] The feeling of like, I’m having not just impact but very obvious impact; if I dropped the ball in the game, if any one person at this point drops the ball then the game fails. When your team is that small, everyone has to be on full cylinders. So I think it’s going from starting Infinity Ward when we were 22 people to leaving when it was like 300, going back to that small team and feeling that tight-knit community within your team.

Martial Arts Tycoon aerial view of the city.

Is there anything else that you want players to know about this game?

Chance Glasco: I could talk a little bit about some key people in our team. We’ve got Grant Shonkwiler who’s our executive producer and he worked at id [Software], worked at Epic on Fortnite and DOOM over at id, producer, engineer, designer. Now he’s more on the production side. We’re also both Full Sail Hall of Fame, so that’s how we knew each other, through Full Sail University, and he’s also a Senior Fellow with Atlantic Council, so I talk to him multiple times a week.

James Horgan is our principal designer, he was at Hi-Rez, and he worked on Real Royale and Rogue Company. And then Madison Mosley was at Wizards of the Coast working on Magic the Gathering. One of the more interesting people is one of my jiu-jitsu training partners, Matt Heafy, who’s the lead singer and guitarist of a metal band called Trivium. Really good, like, check them out on Spotify. It’s normal for them to play in front of like, 40,000 people, and he’s a bonafide rock star, but also the most disciplined, humble human being you’re ever going to meet. Kind of the antonym of a rock star.

He just got his black belt in jiu-jitsu, so he’s really qualified there as well. We train together usually at lunch class, he rips off my ankles and my legs. [Laughs] Good guy. He’s – I think – the most streamed or one of the most streamed musicians on Twitch; he has a regular schedule there, so he’s streaming on Twitch at least five days a week. He definitely has a balanced family life as well. He’ll be on the road in like, Stockholm and be streaming from his hotel in Stockholm and then go on stage. Because he joined the band when he was 13 years old, and now he’s mid-to-late 30s, so I think he got the rock star stuff out of his system and he realizes this is a job. And as a result, he and his band have been very successful because they approach metal not just like a hobby where your band’s popular, but like an actual business.

So there’s some highlights on our team. Let me see – capybaras. Love capybaras. I’ve got a burner Twitter account that’s a capybara that has more engagement than my actual previously-checkmarked account. Even though we have a first initial focus in Brazil, it’s obviously a very international game; there’s over 600 million MMA fans out there. Out of the top 10 gaming countries, some of them have pretty well known martial arts associated with them. You have South Korea and Taekwondo, Japan with Judo and Karate, you’ve got Russia and Sambo, you’ve got the Dutch and kickboxing, America wrestling and boxing, Mexico and boxing, all of them have their preferred martial arts.

The long term plan is to make this a very sustainable franchise; to nail jiu-jitsu, nail the mechanics and everything, and then hopefully expand into other martial arts. which I think the end game would all rotate back to MMA eventually, because you need those martial arts to develop your MMA character. But that’s pretty far down the line, right now, we’re super focused on just making this a good jiu-jitsu-focused tycoon game.

Source: Martial Arts Tycoon/Twitter

Martial Arts Tycoon: Brazil is planned for release some time in 2024.

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