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Q&A With Magicka Developer, Arrowhead Game Studios

Introduction

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.

  • 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