Interview with Arrowhead Studios on Magicka

We recently published a preview on Magicka, an action-adventure game set in a rich fantasy world based on Norse mythology. You will probably remember the rather amusing manner in which Arrowhead Studios announced the delay Magicka suffers at the present. While we eagerly await its release we took the opportunity to speak to Johan Pilestedt, CEO of Arrowhead Studios, to find out more about Magicka  and the game studio that develops it!

For readers who are unaware, could you tell us a little about Arrowhead Studios? Who are you and what other games have you developed in the past?

Magicka Interview with Arrowhead StudiosWe met in college and created Magicka as an entry to the Swedish Game Awards. We won that year and also got the attention of Paradox Interactive who suggested we cooperate and turn this game project into an actual game.  Magicka is our first game and, even though it sounds pretty bad, we’ve all dropped out of college to pursue our dream (don’t try this at home, kids!).

We love the trailer! Can we expect this sort of quirky humour throughout the game?

Yes, the game runs on action and comedy, what you see in the trailers mirrors what’s in the game and also the team’s sense of humor.

The game is obviously aiming for a multiplayer experience. How is this handled on the PC platform? What methods will be at our disposal to connect to our gaming comrades?

Magicka supports hot seat co-op as well as internet and LAN. Friends not included!

How does the single-player option differ from the co-op modes?

There is no specific single player mode, you can play both the campaign and the challenge mode in single player. The game really shines in co-op, so we suggest getting a few friends together for the blast-fest. On the other hand, without friends there’s no friendly fire, and since that is a serious/hilarious threat in Magicka… some will probably do better in single player!

You’ve spoken about unlocking challenges, items and powerful Magicks. Could you elaborate on this? What sort of loot and unlockables can players expect to find in Magicka?

Better equipment – swords, staffs and such – can be found in the game, as well as more powerful “Magicks”; specific combinations of elements that unleash awesome effects like Time Warp and Conflagration. Reviving your friends from the dead is  such a “Magick”, one of the first you unlock.

You’ve mentioned that players lose their equipment when they die and that magic is really the greatest asset each player has at their disposal. How big a bonus does a player get from decent equipment? Is it worth surviving as long as possible and do you notice once you’ve lost something truly special?

Good equipment is a great boon, but not essential. The repertoire of spells and “Magicks” makes any wizard a force to be reckoned with. Certain items (like the teleport staff) gives you access to new and cool tactics, but that’s not to say you can’t overcome the same challenges with a different tactic.

We are quite intrigued by the dynamic spell casting system. You claim there are over a million possible combinations. Could you explain how this system works, and how players can customise their spells?

Magicka Interview with Arrowhead StudiosYou have access to eight elements, and each spell can contain up to five elements at a time. This can be 5 x Cold for a frost jet that damages and slows foes, or a combination of elements like Fire and Rock for a fireball that explodes and harms enemies in a radius. Casting Water before you cast Lightning increases damage etc. You can also shape the magic to form shields and spheres for protection. Last but not least, certain specific combinations of elements unlock more powerful “Magicks”, spells of awesome power like Nullify, Charm and Blizzard…

What inspired you to make Magicka? Are there any games which influenced the direction you’ve taken Magicka in?

Moonstone, Streetfighter and Zelda for sure. And Diablo of course! And the fact that we grew up on a rich diet of Star Wars and Nordic mythology.

You’ve made it quite clear that the story is not the game’s main selling point. Magicka doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, which is a nice angle as far as we are concerned. What would you say the game’s main selling point is?

Casual co-op multiplayer! Blast your foes and/or your friends with a multitude of spells.

We’d like to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions on Magicka. We wish you the best of luck during the development of the game and look forward to its release!

Oh thanks, that’s awfully nice of you!

Johan Pilestedt, CEO Arrowhead Studios

About Arrowhead Game Studios

Based out of Skellefteå, Sweden, Arrowhead Game Studios is an award winning game development company focusing on making games that are intuitive and innovative for creative gamers. The company philosophy is based on these simple guiding principles – entertainment, innovation and quality. Magicka, the action/adventure game developed by the company has won the title “Game of the Year” at the Swedish Game Awards 2008, Swedens largest game development competition.

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the author

Managing Editor of ManaPool, Peter lives in York, UK and is a great fan and master of turn-based strategy games. If he isn't playing one of those, you'll probably find him in a role-playing game instead. He's definitely not afraid to provide a straight up opinion on any game and has a strong like for indie developers. We all start small, after all.

  • deoren

    I for one am really looking forward to it’s release. What DRM is being used? DRM-Free? :)

  • Evil Tactician

    Good question – we’ll try and find out!

  • Evil Tactician

    @deoren We have contacted the publisher (Paradox Interactive) and they do in fact confirm that Magicka will be DRM-free. Hope that helps!