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.