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A Troubled Launch

Q&A With Magicka Developer, Arrowhead Game Studios

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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