Magicka Dev Diary: PvP is here!

After weeks of waiting in anticipation, Magicka PvP has finally arrived. Now you can prove your wicked wizard skills by pummeling your friends and enemies alike with the power of the elements. Following last week's entry , the Arrowhead devs are back to thank the dedicated Magicka fans and explain some retuned spell mechanics. Whether you're about to go try some Magicka PvP or just got out of a match, you should definitely check this out.

The PvP release is upon us! In commemoration, let's talk a bit about how we work with the community—and return to the concept of resistances once more. The community is very important to us, and we're grateful for all the wonderful support we received from players and fans during the wild ride of Magicka's initial release. Hopefully you'll find our thoughts on the game entertaining and informative.

Working with the community is important for us as a studio, and for Paradox as a publisher, and it's a real joy for us. The community is an apt measure of how good your game is—not only in the sense of how stable it is, but also that people who really like your game will tell you so. The community doubles as a great support system for other players, and our community in particular has grown to be very helpful whenever someone presents a bug or problem. This takes a great load off our backs, and it's a blessing to see that whenever we go to comment on a thread, one of our helpful players has already been there, requested specific information, and suggested a couple of fixes. When working with the community, we always take note of those who put a little extra time into making it a great conversation. We would mention a few of them, but we wouldn't know where to stop!

Working closely with the community goes a long way, which became even more apparent when we started working on the PvP patch. Everyone had their suggestions about what would make Magicka PvP the best it could possibly be, and although it's impossible to follow every suggestion, it was great to get instant feedback from the community. Forum-goers conjured up some golden posts, including a post on our beta forums that stated, “Slightly overpowered spells is what we want to achieve.” This comment exemplified the mindset we had when designing Magicka's PvP. There were many, many other brilliant thoughts spread across countless posts and conversations, and they were all incredibly inspiring. We're delighted that our community has grown to be so supportive of us, and that they're not afraid of giving criticism and coming up with new ideas.

A couple of posts ago, we discussed the changes we made to resistances, and how this would affect gameplay. However, after countless hours of play-testing, we realized that we had ultimately created a situation where it would always be more beneficial to use a self shield than a resistance. It was clear that we had to rebalance the game to make sure that resistances were in fact as useful as intended: as a tool to force your opponent to alter his or her strategy. We put a lot of thought into the self-shield, and how its pros and cons weighed against the resistance auras. As it turned out, the self-shield was superior in every way: it was fast to cast, it protected you for a time equal to most auras, and it protected against everything, even physical damage.

With this newfound data, we decided to rebalance the self-shield. Because casting it was so simple, it felt natural to prefer using it in emergency situations—such as avoiding getting instantly killed by that next huge boulder coming your way. We decided to focus the self-shield as a short-term reactionary defense; now, when you cast self-shield, it'll protect you for a short amount of time, and you can increase the time by boosting the shield like any other. The trade-off is that you have to stand still to boost your shield, and that brings its own dangers. This change went a long way towards balancing the self-shield versus the resistance auras, but we decided to increase the duration of the resistance auras as well to achieve just the right balance. They now last for quite some time, and lead to some interesting tactics. For example, a more devious mage could poison the enemy, and then put up a life protection aura. As long as the enemy stays in the aura, they can't heal through the poison's toxic damage.

We've also completely redesigned the earth and ice variants of the protective aura. It used to be that using earth or ice in a self-shield spell would root you to the ground, encasing you in a shell of protective shards. This was the ultimate defense, but oddly enough, it went rather underused. Plus, the self-shield rebalancing called for another effect that would provide better resistance against physical damage. Both the earth and ice self shields were redesigned so that, instead of encasing you, they become like a hefty suit of armor that you can walk around in. This slows you down, of course, but it provides added protection. The ice variant has more armor and fewer hitpoints, while the earth variant provides no additional armor, but adds loads of extra HP.

All in all, we're quite satisfied with how the balancing process turned out. We'll probably have to make some changes after the community gets their hands on it and tries every single possible tactic, but that kind of highly-refined balance can only be achieved with time.

As of this morning, Magicka PvP has been fully released, free of charge ! Get out there, and test your mettle in the arena!