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Described as a "natively-digital multiplayer card and board game", Armello isn't your typical debut title. But that's just part of the charm of Aussie studio League of Geeks, a team of 15 developers who have just revealed the game's first-look trailer.
The King of Armello has gone insane, leaving four animal clans duking it out in a race to claim the crown to the fairy-tale kingdom.
Armello is still a little while off (LoG is aiming for a 2013 release on various tablets), but the game is moving forward in leaps and bounds. Discard any thoughts you may have about "digital board games", this one is different: Fully 3D, detailed animations, an expansive meta-game and, of course, bucketloads of innovative content. Armello will be free-to-play, using a similar economy model to games like League of Legends.
Not only is League of Geeks creating an unusual game, it's creating it in an unusual way. The 15 studio developers consider themselves a collective, with each member working on the game in their spare time for a percentage of final profits, rather than any upfront payment. And they're not naive, green devs either, many are coming from years of development for console or PC.
League of Geeks’ Director, Blake Mizzi explains the collaborative effort is only possible thanks to a strong leadership team, and - importantly - a robust legal framework.
It sounds crazy but we actually spent the first six months building the right legal and organisational structure. We wanted to do something really ambitious without taking on conventional investment and restricting our freedom. It was critical to get the setup watertight so developers would have confidence in it and it wouldn’t all fall apart if there were any disputes or someone left.
Trent Kusters, another Director, adds:
Since then, we’ve been able to attract an amazingly talented group of people who have been inspired by the vision for both the game and what we’re hoping will be a new model for enabling indie developers to tackle more ambitious projects. We want to be very open along the way and plan on providing our model to any other indie developers out there that want to follow our approach.
It's been eighteen months since the League of Geeks was formed and twelve months since development on Armello started. So far, work has been partially funded by government bodies Screen Australia and Film Victoria, the added cash helping to "expand the scope" of the project, as well as covering non-development costs.
Intending to "shake up" the way traditional indie games are developed, early versions of Armello have already caught the eye of Australian animation's leading lights, as well as world-renowned composers and performers. It might be a little unusual, a little bit different, but Armello is already proving to be one to watch.
I like video games, fishing, Depeche Mode, long walks on the beach, writing discussion papers and cups of tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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