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Q&A With Magicka Developer, Arrowhead Game Studios

A Troubled Launch

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."

  • vexun11
    This is a fun game, worth the $ for sure
    Reply
  • belltollsforthee
    Great game, love the comedy and elemental spells
    Reply
  • Ragnar-Kon
    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).
    Reply
  • jrnyfan
    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...
    Reply
  • cknobman
    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?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • teaser
    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........
    Reply
  • sirmorluk
    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.
    Reply
  • Camikazi
    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 :)
    Reply
  • Gman450
    Magicka is a great game. Really nice.
    Reply