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Armello pre-alpha sneak peek shows a board game brought to life

Armello's pre-alpha polish

League of Geeks' Armello may only be in its pre-alpha stage of development, but the developers have already animated the digital board game to life because they want to prove it can be done, according to studio co-founder Trent Kusters.

Kusters demoed a pre-alpha build of the game to Polygon during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week. During the demo, he gave us a look at the game's recently-implemented combat system and movement, and also showed off the attention to detail the studio has given to such an early build of the game.

"Typically, when you're getting a game off the ground, you're throwing in all the systems, and then you pretty it up when you get a chance to and the art follows gameplay," Kusters told Polygon. "But we prototyped the game for eight months on paper and were playing it for weeks. We know the game fundamentally works — it's not broken. What this whole process is about is setting everything up so we can see if we can do what we set out to achieve."

"When you you look at it — a character or a screenshot — we want people to say, 'Wow, that's Armello.'"

According to Kusters, having a digital board game where the board itself "comes to life" and the characters feel like they're part of a living breathing world lies at the core of Armello. It's not just about having functioning systems and good game design, with art and animations coming later. The studio implemented all the finer details early on to prove what they want to achieve could be achieved.

"We really spent a lot of time working on the details," he said. "It's really important to us to get the fidelity, like the particles on the swamps and the smoke coming out of the chimneys and the lights coming on at night."

The build of the game we were shown had flying birds, an abundance of shadows, a day and night system and the movement of each of the heroes of the four clans was been animated to express their traits and personalities. The cards that are used in combat were also animated.

"The point of this entire experience is to create something that is so superbly polished that when it comes out, we want it to be the best in genre," Kuster said. "We wanted to create something completely unique that it can't be mistaken for anything other than Armello. When you you look at it — a character or a screenshot — we want people to say, 'Wow, that's Armello.'"

Armello is currently in development for tablet devices with a planned release in 2013. The game's debut trailer can be viewed here.

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