2016 IGF Interviews: Armello

 

Finalist | Excellence in Visual Art

Ty Carey is a co-creator of Armello

Each year at GDC, MFA students from the NYU Game Center interview the Independent Games Festival nominees, asking them three questions about their development process. In addition to this interview, you can read all the insightful interviews from 2016 here. These conversations, and much more, will happen when the Game Center returns to GDC in 2017. Learn more about the Game Center at GDC 2017.

Ben: I am here with Ty Carey director and co-founder of League of Geeks. Thank you taking the time to do this interview.

Ty: You’re welcome.

Ben: What was the original spark that grew into Armello?

Ty: You’re forcing me to think back a long, long way. So the directors, we worked at a company together. The directors being Trent Kusters, Blake Mizzi and myself. So we worked together and we like the same things and get on together. When we decided to leave the company and start our own thing we got together and had a long think about the type of game we like to play. That ended up being us sitting around with our iPads playing some kind of geeky strategy game board game together. At the time there was very limited board games on iPad, this is about four or five years ago. They were all trash basically. So we felt that we, being in the industry for ten years, could sort of own that space. So that is where it came from.

Blake Mizzi loved Redwall. I had not read it or anything, but when he suggested doing anthropomorphic characters it struck me as something that could separate us out from the pack, there being a whole heap of fantasy board games and all.

Ben: Yeah, I do think the style of the game speaks for itself. During most lengthy development processes developers can enter what some may call the “Valley of Despair” Did you experience this, and if so how did you push through?

Ty: Yeah, there definitely were a lot of valleys to get through. We knew that it could be done, but circumstances can change rapidly beneath you. There are a lot of people who will help you as much as they can. There are times where for instance, the processes you are using to make a game are just not working for you. You might be relying on the wrong people and they might not come through for you. I know Trent always talks about putting his head down on his desk and crying on top of a gigantic application for grants from the government. Generally, the whole process has been very positive and everyone has always been very fired up. We got the stone down very early so when people saw it they would buy into it very quickly so it was not hard to convince people to come along and help. But yeah, there are always dark times in development. In crunch things can feel pressurized, trying to meet deadlines that can shift underneath you. We make a lot of mistakes because we are still learning.

Ben: How does the original vision of Armello differ from the end product?

Ty: This is not me blowing our trumpet, but it is actually very similar. We prototyped it as a pen and paper tabletop board game, and we spent about a year doing that. During that year we got a solid idea of what we wanted to make. Visually it is actually better than I had imagined because fortuitously I met Adam Duncan and he is just an amazingly talented artist. So combining our powers just seemed to come together really well. Little coincidences that make the differences I think.

Ben: Ty thanks so much for answering these questions. Armello looks great and congratulations on the nomination.

 

Ben Poland is a second year Game Design MFA student who loves game nights, learning new things, deep conversation, and discovering new music.  “At the end of the day my desire is to create things of value.”