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A Troubled Launch

Q&A With Magicka Developer, Arrowhead Game Studios
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On a design level, the game has its flaws. I wasn't thrilled with the way the enemy AI would drag the main character to portions of the screen blocked from the gamer's view (like underneath the UI, or off in a corner behind trees or rock). It's almost as if the game knows this and deliberately drags the wizard out of view, reminiscent of old eight-bit console days where the action would take place partially off-screen, leaving the player defenseless. With that said, I asked about some of the larger complaints gamers have voiced in regards to overall design. Will they be addressed in future updates or via a Magicka sequel?

"The save system has been a subject of great debate, and many have suggested that we change it to a more friendly approach for those that can't play a level in one sitting," Lasota said. Gamers have a point there: although each level has various checkpoints, players can't simply exit the game and restart later at those points. Progression is lost, forcing players to start the level again from the beginning. Again, in this particular aspect, Magicka feels like an old-school console title, and doesn't incorporate the save feature used by the majority of PC games on the market today.

"In retrospect, the bugs and crashes made the save system stand out that much more; we are looking at different ways to change it," he added. "Regarding future updates of Magicka, we will always listen to the community. We might not always agree with them, but we will never be negative towards players expressing their desire to make Magicka a better game."

Despite the game's immediate success, it didn't emerge without problems. In fact, Magicka seemed to launch in an unusually buggy state, with Paradox reportedly patching the game every 24 hours. Unlike consoles, where developers can focus on a specific set of hardware, the PC platform is highly fragmented. Thus, programmers face a sea of innumerable configurations. Would the outcome have been different had the game's release been stalled?

"As a developer, you always want to release a game in the best possible state," Lasota said. "We could probably have delayed the game for another two weeks to work on stability issues, but many issues weren't even visible until we saw how it worked on the myriad of computers out there. We were a bit surprised at how buggy it was, but we took on the responsibility to make things right and put a lot of effort into patching after the launch."

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  • 0 Hide
    vexun11 , May 4, 2011 5:59 AM
    This is a fun game, worth the $ for sure
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    belltollsforthee , May 4, 2011 6:16 AM
    Great game, love the comedy and elemental spells
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    Ragnar-Kon , May 4, 2011 8:02 AM
    Great game, that is for sure. Arguably the best $10 I've spent in my life.

    Also a great article, particularly regarding DirectX/OpenGL and APIs. I remember reading an article a while back talking about removing the API and coding on the hardware directly. Having done some DirectX/OpenGL work myself, the first thing that came to mind for me was "wooah, thats gonna take forever." Glad someone else on this planet agrees with me. Just not feasible for smaller studios.

    Although he does seem to be a fan of DirectX, which I am not. Not only do I think OpenGL is easier to code with, using OpenGL could easily open up a whole new market for games, especially with the ever-increasing Mac popularity (not to mention make our Linux friends happy).
  • 0 Hide
    jrnyfan , May 4, 2011 10:08 AM
    This is one of my top 5 games I currently play, it's worth ~$20 but the fact that it is ~$10 makes it amazing. I haven't had this much fun in multiplayer since Goldeneye64...
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    cknobman , May 4, 2011 1:20 PM
    I just picked up Torchlight off of Steam and am currently having a blast. Magicka looks very appealing, especially for $10, but reading reviews it seems as though the game is very very buggy and unpolished. As the game was released 4 months ago can anyone comment on the state of the game now? Have any of the bugs been fixed or is it something you just have to live with?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 4, 2011 2:03 PM
    Bought this game on Steam a couple of weeks ago. It's fun, but be aware that multiplayer may not be on the standard that you're used to. It's very much P2P hosting, which comes with its usual problems of having the right ports open/forwarded. The hosting machine has the save file, so if the person who's been hosting isn't available, the rest of you will have to start anew. Dedicated server software is something that would be pretty desirable here.
  • 0 Hide
    teaser , May 4, 2011 2:20 PM
    cknobmanI just picked up Torchlight off of Steam and am currently having a blast. Magicka looks very appealing, especially for $10, but reading reviews it seems as though the game is very very buggy and unpolished. As the game was released 4 months ago can anyone comment on the state of the game now? Have any of the bugs been fixed or is it something you just have to live with?

    So far ....21 updates since january,the game is in a much better state then it was on release day........
  • 0 Hide
    sirmorluk , May 4, 2011 2:33 PM
    Best $10 I have ever spent. My 6 year old spends hours on it and has completed it a couple of times along with the Nam challenge. Me? Well I suck at it.
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    Camikazi , May 4, 2011 3:20 PM
    sirmorlukBest $10 I have ever spent. My 6 year old spends hours on it and has completed it a couple of times along with the Nam challenge. Me? Well I suck at it.

    QRSAER as weapon enchantment or as AE spell is very helpful :)  and FQFQAAS for a beam :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Gman450 , May 4, 2011 3:24 PM
    Magicka is a great game. Really nice.
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    Trialsking , May 4, 2011 5:57 PM
    Its definitely a fun game. But it is alittle short. But its is only $10
  • 0 Hide
    ikefu , May 4, 2011 7:34 PM
    Hmmm, I think reading this article may have just cost me $10...
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    Niva , May 4, 2011 8:06 PM
    Really enjoyed this game, been meaning to pick up Vietnam. I never got all the spells my first time through the game though.

    I also never played multiplayer... hmmm, weekend project coming up, figure out how to play with my friends on that :) 
  • 0 Hide
    belltollsforthee , May 4, 2011 9:25 PM
    cknobman Have any of the bugs been fixed or is it something you just have to live with?


    @cknobmna
    I can only speak for my system,i52500k cpu, 6950, asus mobo. The game is great and no bugs that i have noticed, i just bought it 2 weeks ago, its great!
  • 0 Hide
    cmartin011 , May 4, 2011 10:07 PM
    this looks very promising to be a good short came this article just cost me 12.99 for the whole pack lol :-)
  • 0 Hide
    philipjacobs , May 4, 2011 11:52 PM
    qfqfsaa
    qrqrqrqr(s)"or"(a)
    qfassss

    Veitnam is awesome!
    Seriously though, I'm sick of zombie games, how about an aliens and predator mode?? Similar to Alien Swarm???
  • 0 Hide
    Camikazi , May 5, 2011 3:00 AM
    ikefuHmmm, I think reading this article may have just cost me $10...

    I lucked out, friend told me about it few weeks ago when the game and all it's expansions (minus the new Marsh one) were on sale for $5 :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Morton , May 8, 2011 12:07 AM
    Arrowhead Game Studios could make a fun remake of Cannon Fodder.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2011 9:22 AM
    I see your angle, but IMHO this article misses the point of the game, which is hardly anything grafix related (1997 much?).
    In some respects this game is truly space age. I don't play it but if you watch the collabs on Ytube you get the social addictiveness shooting through the roof. It's very simple design and concept shine in an environment which is still mainly dominated by old age games, namely single player campaigns.