I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Patrik Lasota of Arrowhead Game Studios, creators of Magicka. Click the link to read some interesting behind the scenes info about our new favorite spell casting, hack-and-slash adventure!
(Jeff): I’d like a background of both the game, and the company.
(Patrik): Well, the game was started as a student project to compete in the Swedish Game Awards 2008. It is basically a competition for Swedish indie games. They did manage to take the Game of the year award there and then decided to continue the development of Magicka and start a company. So Arrowhead Game Studios was born. Immediately after the win in SGA, the team decided to rewrite the game into a 3D engine instead of the old 2D one.
(J): When did you decide that the game was going to be a parody of the genre?
(P): It was clear pretty early on that the Norse fantasy genera has been used to its limit, but it was still a good fit for the game. We simply decided that the game shouldn’t take itself too seriously.
(J- Jokingly): Why did you make American audiences wait 2 years for this game???
(P): Well, you didn’t wait any longer than the Europeans 😛
(J): The casting system is unlike anything I’ve ever seen- Tell me about the design decisions that led to it. The interface is so simple, but allows for such a variation of spells.
(P): The spellcasting system was how the game came to be actually. It was the idea to create a game where spellcasting would feel more like you would expect a wizard to cast spells, weaving the elements together and then unleashing the arcane energies, with potentially disastrous results. Originally it required you to make a special gesture with the control stick, but the more we played we realized that it was a pretty messy, and it brought pretty slow gameplay.
(J): What made you choose to not have mana, resource gathering, or casting recharge time?
(P): Well, mana would not really have added anything to the game. Having mana would only serve to limit you in a way that we didn’t think would be very beneficial for gameplay. This way, you get the feeling that you really are truly powerful.
(J): How did you get in contact with Paradox?
(P): We were actually recommended to contact them via a friend of ours that started working there. They liked what we were doing and decided to support the project.
(J): When did you decide to try for a Steam release for the game?
(P): It was clear pretty early on that we wanted to go mainly for digital distribution. Steam is a great platform for digital distribution and was a given choice when releasing the game.
(J): Tell me about the life of an independent developer.
(P): The entire first year we (paid) for development out of our own pocket and at times it was looking pretty grim. At times you wonder if you will ever get so far as to release the game. After approximately a year we got a deal with Paradox and we finally found some stability.
(J): What games influenced you in making “Magicka?”
(P): Well, we are all games, so in a sense, all of them. If I were to mention a few games then it would probably be the graphical top down style of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and the combo system from Tekken.
(J): Tell me something about the game that no one knows.
(P): I don’t know if there is anything in there that no one knows. The fans have been pretty rigorous in finding all the little secrets, and all the references we found in the game. I could perhaps mention that the moose in Vlad’s castle, is actually a whole moose just stuck inside the wall.
(J): What games are you playing right now?
(P): Right now we don’t really have time to play games. Some of us are playing a bit of Dawn of War 2: Retribution and League of Legends is pretty popular in the office as well.
(J): Do you feel in your design choices that you may have made it difficult to port “Magicka” to consoles? Was that even ever a concern?
(P): Not really. Magicka was designed with console in mind from the beginning, the controls for gamepad and the choice to use XNA. We are still trying to implement it for consoles, but we can’t promise anything as of yet.
(J): What’s next for the team?
(P): We have lots of DLC coming for Magicka, and we are also continuously working on stability and bug fixing for Magicka. Its pretty much all Magicka right now, but we have some other ideas as well.
– Magicka is currently available for purchase for the PC on the Steam platform, and as we said in our review, it’s WELL worth it! We here at the “office” can’t wait for the DLC and for the recently announced Magicka: Vietnam.