Interview – Arrowhead Studios (Creators of Magicka)

Patrik Lasota, the PR Wizard and community manager at Arrowhead Studios, was kind enough to answer a series of questions I sent to to them.  Topics range from the founding of the studio to how Magicka characters sound like the Sims Swedish cousins.  Hope you enjoy reading!

Anjel Syndicate: Can you introduce yourself and your company for those that may not be familiar with Arrowhead Studios?

Patrik Lasota: Arrowhead Game Studios is a small game developer studio located in northern Sweden. We are currently 11 employees and we recently released our first game Magicka.

AS: How did the company come to be and what experience do the founders of Arrowhead Studios have in the video game industry?

PL: It all started with our CEO and lead artist deciding that they wanted to make a game and compete in the Swedish Game Awards 2008. They recruited a few students and started working on Magicka. Back then Magicka was very different, for one it was in 2D, but it was also a more complicated game. Magicka won the title Game of the Year at SGA and we got recommendations from people in the game development business that we should continue working on Magicka and release it as a full game.

Most of us hadn’t finished school yet when we started the company but we made the best of it and today we have considerably more experience then when we started out.

 AS: How does it feel to be a small company that has been getting such world wide exposure for their first game?

PL: It feels great, but at the same time a little scary. Magicka was not without its troubles at launch but despite the initial instability we have received a good response from our fans and from the industry itself. Magicka got the exposure it has because it was pure fun to play, this is something that we hope we can provide in future games as well.

AS: When I first sat down to play Magicka, I figured it would be another Diablo clone, yet the battle system is truly unique. What were the thoughts behind implementing such a varied magic combat system? It’s very fun and I love that system.

PL: The original idea of Magicka was to simulate the hand gestures of a “real” Wizard to cast spells. That and giving the player a feel of what immense power he or she wields, and what can go wrong when you don’t pay attention. Since then it has been streamlined somewhat and made more intuitive and what we ended up with is the spell system in Magicka. We are very happy with how it turned out.

AS: One of my favorite parts about Magicka is the humor. Finding video games that balance game-play and humor well is pretty rare, in my experience. What process did you go through when working this out and where did you look to for inspiration?

PL: The humor itself is something that existed naturally in the studio. We are all nerds, we all like Star Wars, and we all think it’s funny with references. The selective process was pretty much, if we thought it fun, we added it.

AS: Are there any Sims players in this company? The dialogue sounded like The Sims’ Swedish or Norse cousins to me. Did ‘Simlish’ have an influence?

PL: While I’m sure many of us have played Sims once upon a time, I don’t think anyone is a hardcore Sims player. We can’t deny that the simlish had some influence over our gibberish but we built it on our own and we hid some goodies in there for those that listen carefully. We even like to call it Swemlish.

AS: Why did the designers not include an inventory screen? It’s rather rare for a top down Action RPG not to have one.

PL: We wouldn’t like to call Magicka an RPG, it is more of an action adventure. It was decided pretty early on that the game didn’t need any levels, mana bars, or fat bags of loot. The focus of the game is on you, the player, and on your ability to wield powerful spells. There are still items that help you out a bit, but they are insignificant in comparison to your arcane powers.

AS: It seems that this game is aimed at the “hard core” player, especially with the way the game saves. Are there any plans to implement more save points or a save anywhere function? To be honest how the game handles save points is my least favorite part of the game. It isn’t bad in MP but in single player it can be brutal.

PL: The saving is something we have gotten a lot of complaints over, especially since the game had stability issues at release. We have looked some at the save system and talked about how we could change it, but at the moment there is nothing planned.

AS: I noticed that there are fashion trends (IE: Bathrobes) based on the wizard outfits for sale. How do you like seeing odd, yet cool Magicka influenced items like that out on the marketplace?

PL: It brings fandom to a whole new level, and honestly, who wouldn’t want to prance around in a bathrobe all day :) It’s cool to see how dedicated our fans are to the game, and how Magicka is growing to be more then just a game. For those interested, we recently released a guide on how to make your own robes. http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?547815-How-to-Make-Your-Own-Magicka-Robe-Manual-Released!

AS: Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and ask one more. I do know that Arrowhead Studios has been supporting Magicka with small and larger DLC packs. However I am curious to know what is next? A Magicka Sequel? A new type of game? More cool DLC like Magicka Vietnam? Magicka themed party favors?Inquiring minds want to know.

PL: Next is what is next! We will continue to support Magicka for as long as possible, we still think we have a lot to give the game and the fans. As with any game studio you always have some ideas of what you want to do next, but nothing that is ready to be revealed yet. Lets just say that we have high hopes for the future :)

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