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Q&A With Magicka Developer, Arrowhead Game Studios

Q&A With Magicka Developer, Arrowhead Game Studios
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Tom's Hardware talks with Arrowhead Game Studios' Patrik Lasota and Anton Stenmark about its new PC game Magicka and the recently-released Vietnam-based DLC, DirectX, Intel's place in the GPU market, and the studio's use of deferred shading.

At the end of January, Paradox Interactive released Magicka, an action-adventure game for the PC that combines bits of strategy, Norse mythology, and fifteen levels of console-like action with a large dose of humor. It's only available via digital distributors like Steam, GamersGate, and Direct2Drive, and it's priced modestly at $9.99. But that hasn't stopped it from becoming a virtually overnight success. Now, just three months out and with numerous bugs trampled under its feet, the Magicka team is now looking back at the release of its Vietnam-based DLC last month.

Depending on who you ask at Arrowhead Game Studios, development took two or three years. Using a 2D isometric viewpoint, the concept was originally submitted to the Swedish Game Awards back in January 2008 by eight students at Luleå University of Technology in Skellefteå. Those students (who now go by the name of Arrowhead Game Studios) tried to turn the concept into a commercialized game later that year. But the team quickly discovered that the code and assets were becoming unmanageable. The original game in its then-present form was thus abandoned.

Then, in 2009, the team decided to build a new version of the game, moving from 2D isometric to 3D isometric, using the same core concepts, but with a new engine and better asset pipeline. Magicka finally went retail at the beginning of the year, and as of mid-February, the team saw over 200 000 copies of the finished product sold in just a matter of weeks.

Personally, I didn't know much about the game until after its release. Twitter seemingly came alive with posts about the just-released game and how its mixture of various elements can cause catastrophic effects when creating spells. The game itself centers around a group of four mages out to take down an evil villain who wants to take over the world: the typical protagonist/antagonist plot used in the fantasy genre. All the talk about the game's humor and setting intrigued me enough to see what was going on.

I was hooked immediately.

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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...
  • 0 Hide
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    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...
  • 0 Hide
    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.