Magicka Dev Diary: A multitude of modes
Last time we checked in with the Magicka devs, they were debunking the ancient technique of "water bombing" and the frustrations of losing character control. Come take a seat at the Arrowhead campfire and listen to tales of PvP glory and fights to the death.
Another week, another Dev Diary! This time, we're going to talk about the various PvP modes—the different ways you can blast your friends to oblivion. Game modes have been a hot topic of discussion, both on the forums and here in the office. Without further ado, let's get into this.
When pondering what game modes we should have in Magicka, we took a good, long look at other games and the solutions they adopted; we also listened closely to the solutions posed by the Magicka community. Certain things about PvP seem fairly obvious: for example, we always knew we would need a classic Deathmatch mode. You know, the standard kill-people-until-they-all-die game mode. Creating the mode was a relatively simple matter of establishing a time limit and a kill counter. Throughout development, we reserved the word “Deathmatch” for this normal everyday meaning: it’s a very well known expression, and it means a very specific type of game mode which all players easily recognize.
But there’s more than one way to blast your friends to giblets. Considering a slightly different flavor of PvP, but something still quite familiar, we turned to the Brawl game mode. Brawl is largely inspired by Super Smash Bros., which doesn’t count how many kills you’ve scored, but instead gives each player a set number of lives. There was some question early on if this was really different enough from Deathmatch for it to be included, but after much heated discussion, we decided to implement it. Once we started playtesting, we found that it made for very different gameplay experience compared to Deathmatch, especially when playing four-player Free-For-All. It was definitely unique enough to warrant its own game mode, but familiar enough that players would immediately feel at home with it.
The final game mode we’re offering is a tribute to our awesome community—and the individual who created the very first Magicka PvP tournament. We call it Krietor’s Tourney mode. For those unfamiliar with his history, a forum member by the name of Krietor made a mod for Magicka shortly after it was released, implementing the rudimentary PvP functionality that was left in the game (which, for reasons of time, we had to cut before the main release). Instead of just publishing the mod and calling it finished, Keritor followed through and kept improving the mod for a very long time. He introduced an interesting tournament style which included a time limit, and set up timed rounds. Whenever someone scored a kill, the playing field was reset, with everyone healed up to full strength, and stripped of any spells or other effects. This introduced structure and fairness to an otherwise chaotic PvP environment. He also implemented a system whereby Magicks were unlocked based on how far the tournament had progressed. As you got further into a match, more powerful Magicks were unlocked. This made for very interesting tournaments—and we thought it a brilliant idea to implement these ideas in our official Magicka PvP release.
The official version of Krietor’s Tourney mode will feature the same basic functionality as Krietor's original home-made version, polished and refined a bit so it fits perfectly into Magicka PvP. Each round has a certain time limit, and whenever only one person or one team remains (yep, every game mode supports team play), time stops, and everyone is replaced at their spawning positions to begin the next round, with all remaining spells and effects removed for a clean start. This means that no matter who won the last round, nobody will have an edge from one round to the next. Magicks will be unlocked after certain time intervals, and the order and time at which they unlock is unique to each PvP map. The goal of Krietor’s Tourney mode is to make matches as fair as possible, while at the same time keeping things very interesting. (By contrast, randomization is basically fair, but when it comes to competitive multiplayer, randomization rarely generates interest.)
These three new game modes come with lots of new settings, and the lobby we have in the current version of Magicka has no way to represent the various options. So we've reworked the lobby to include PvP. When designing the new lobby, we tried to make it as flexible as possible, so we can easily add more features and options in the future.
It's our hope that these three game modes will satisfy the community’s PvP cravings. We all really enjoy them ourselves, and feel that each game mode contributes its own little piece of fun. We hope that this introduction of PvP will bring an exciting new facet of Magicka to light!