Magicka Dev Diary: Water bombing and crowd control

Arrowhead Game Studios at

In the last Magicka Dev Diary, we got insight into the fine art of balancing PvP for a game that gives you so much freedom when it comes to spellcasting. Now, the dev team from Arrowhead tells us what their beef is with crowd control abilities, and why fights in the Magicka arena are never over 'til they're over.

Welcome to another Dev Diary! This time around, we’ll be talking about our thoughts on water bombing, and the efforts we made to balance the game. In our opinion, water bombing (see the above video) is a valid tool for the Magicka player to use when fighting in PvP, and as previously mentioned, it’s no small task to strike a balance between elements that are used for their effects, against elements which are used for their damage. Many a coffee cup was upturned—and many Bothans died to bring you this information!

Purple Lightning: the logical progression of Purple Rain.

Looking at the second tournament held by Kreitor, we saw water bombing as a very potent tactic. Water bombing was basically casting one earth together with four water, creating a powerful projectile blast that knocks down other players, then locking them down with a water beam. We all know that being knocked down pretty much sucks, since you completely lose any ability to defend yourself.

When experimenting with water bombing, we noticed a few things. First of all, the push from the water came from the direction of the player casting, not from where the water bomb landed. This might have been good for balance—making sure that you can’t just knock people out from behind their shields—but on the basic level it didn't make sense, because really you should be knocked away from the explosion of water.

We also noticed that you might fly a long way, sometimes even suffering a fatal landing. We changed the way water bombs affect wizards, so that even when you are knocked back by water, you are always standing. You can still be knocked out from behind your shield, or knocked into mines, but you're not completely defenseless. You can always just put up another shield.

When you're already burning to death, you might as well jump off a cliff to make it more dramatic.

This change brought with it another change, this time to the water beams. It is now very, very hard to use a controlled beam of water on someone, without them sliding to the side and out of the beam. By no means does this make the water beam useless! But it's no longer so easy to pin someone against the wall, or squirt them off a cliff.

Many of us have played generic MMOs, and we all know how irritating it can be to lose character control. It’s simply no fun. Playing a game should never mean standing around, waiting for your enemy to finish you off. We designed the game to always offer a way out, no matter the situation. (For example, if you're frozen, you can always just thaw yourself.)

So it's our goal with Magicka PvP that it should never be completely impossible for you to recover from your situation. This means that until you finally die, there is no reason to give up: there is no "I’m gonna lose" moment, where you just release all control and wait passively while you're finished off.

This has created a lot of interesting situations, such as where the attacker expected their attack to be deadly, but the attack didn't quite kill their opponent. This can result in a turnaround, where the heavily injured player grabs initiative. As you can see, Magicka PvP is a lot of fun, and you'll all be enjoying it very soon!

Waterbombing, IRL.