The Stars are Left adds several sinister new campaign missions to Magicka, complete with tentacled Lovecraftian bosses, new enemies and new outfits. The pack also comes with a couple of challenge maps and there's a new trailer, which may be the first H. P. Lovecraft/film noir comedy crossover film ever made. Hopefully it's not the last. The Stars are Left is available now for £3.99 / $5.99 on Steam and Gamersate.
‘Tis a grand weekend for indie gaming on Steam. In addition to the Super Meat Boy Pack, bonkers co-op RPG Magicka is free until 9pm on Sunday, and, yes, developers Arrowhead Game Studios have fixed most of the bugs. There’s also a wizard’s sleeve worth of offers on Steam, including Magicka itself for £1.99, a four-pack for you and three chums for £5.99, and the Magicka Collection - including all DLC - for £4.24. Magic!
Rock Paper Shotgun have spotted a trailer for Magikca's new expansion, The Stars Are Left. It promises, in typical Magicka style, the chance to 'kick Lovecraftian butt' in a new campaign. Time to get those ARSE mines ready, they are the only thing cosmic horrors truly fear.
Along with the paid expansion, there'll also be a massive free patch that addresses a number of issues with the game, improves the visuals and makes the whole thing far more user friendly. Full patch notes inside.
Fairy familiar added, revives characters after death occurs in solo campaign Checkpoints now save progress even if game is quit Chapter select added to replay previously played chapters Several improvements to the server browser Physics and collision detection improved - less falling through the floor Frame rate stuttering - should be less noticeable for some users Extended particle system with particle lights Improved light performance Several minor bug fixes, game balance, and tweaks
Will you be picking up Magicka again for the new expansion?
Ah Magicka, with your completely bonkers expansions. Joining this year’s Vietnam is The Stars are Left, a ‘spandey based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, spotted over on RPS. Scheduled to launch this winter, it includes a new adventure campaign, which is one of the most requested features for the co-op spell ‘em up.
Like Vietnam, only the host player needs the expansion for others to join in - an act described by developer Arrowhead Studios’ colleagues as, “More insane than a black goat with a thousand young.” We don’t believe for one minute that anyone actually said that.
It also makes fun of Minecraft. Magicka is rapidly becoming the Naked Gun series of computer games.
Here are some bullet points, if you’re into that kind of thing:
An all-new adventure, several levels long, allowing players to get lost in space and time 2 new challenge maps 2 new robes 2 new bosses 5 new achievements 7 new enemies Considerably more than 2 new items and Magicks Also, we make fun of Minecraft this time
Wizarding adventure Magicka might have gone on to sell 600,000 copies, but the game had a rocky start. When the game first launched, players experienced bugs that made it basically unplayable in both singleplayer and multiplayer, and it was weeks before it was stable.
At E3 last month, I spoke to Emil Englund, one of the founders of developers Arrowhead Game Studios, and asked him how the buggy launch happened.
PC Gamer: When the first game out it had quite a few bugs, how did that happen?
Emil Englund: Oh, I mean, you have to start from the beginning. First of all, we were students, we were a very small team. We didn't have any experience. We started working with Microsoft XNA initially, and we were looking at the XBox, and then halfway through we changed to the PC. So, I mean, already there you have a foundation for a lot of bugs. Combined with not having a lot of resources to try the game on different platforms, you know. I read an article in Game Developer Magazine about the Civilization 5 development, and they said, 'Oh, and we had engineers from Nvidia and AMD at our office who constantly helped us try the game on the different graphics cards.' We didn't have that. So it's kind of hard for us to do everything right from the get go.
Also, some other things. We didn't know the game was being released, the time that it did. It's kind of stupid, but we thought it was released the day after or something. And all of a sudden someone says, "It's live!" And we were working on the Day One patch already. We're like, "What!?" We had like three hours where the game pretty much didn't work because we hadn't got out there with the release patch. There were a few bugs that snuck through at the end. We had them fixed, but it wasn't distributed to Steam. It was a nightmare.
And then, of course, there were a lot of other bugs as well. Many of the bugs were simply things we hadn't noticed. We had beta testing, but nobody reported it, so we didn't find it. So the only thing we could do was promise everybody we were going to patch this a lot. Which we did. We pretty much lived at the office the first two weeks and just kept pushing out patches each day, to fix as much as possible just to show our good will. And it seemed to work out. People appreciated it, and we kept patching, only we had to put more and more space in between the patches. Right now, we have a lot better quality assurance about patches as well, to make sure that the new patches don't break the game further.
But yeah, working with XNA wasn't really helping us. And right now we have a lot more resources. I mean, Paradox is helping out a lot as well. If we need somebody that knows more about something, they'll help to get a contact for us to talk to, and that has increased quality for DLC and patches.
Magicka is now polished, and last month Arrowhead pushed out an enormous free update adding PvP. I asked Emil what had changed for them since the game's success.
PC Gamer: The game has sold 600k copies so far. How has that changed your lives?
Emil Englund:Oh, we actually have a salary now, which we didn't before. We had a really low one towards the end so we could actually pay our rent, and buy food without loaning from parents. Right now we have salaries so we can live regular lives. We managed to employ some more people. We've grown from 7 to 11 since release, which is always fun, to bring some fresh blood aboard. And I don't know, it's kinda strange, sometimes I just don't get how much we've sold, how successful the release has been. And though there were a lot of issues, we have more plans for the future, there's a lot more stability in the company now. I mean, there was no money in it at all at the start. Right now, we at least feel we might be able to get somewhere. I guess that's the main thing, that we have a salary, so we can live ordinary lives.
The recent Steam Summer Camp Sale has brought new achievements and in-game rewards, along with a bumper selection of cheap games. Today is "Encore Day!" Unless Valve go for a stadium-satisfying multi-encore finish, it's your final chance to download a bargain. All the games are picked from the week's top sellers.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 for £4.99/$7.50, Terraria for £2.99/$4.99 and Magicka for £2.71/$3.39? Yes please. Click through for more details of today's deals.
You've got just over six hours to grab these bargains:
Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition - £7.50/$7.50
Just Cause 2 - £3.49/$4.99
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - £5.00/$7:50
Sanctum - £2.49/$3.75
Portal 2 - £14.99/$24.99
Dawn of War: Retribution - £14.99/$14.99
Total War: Shogun 2 - £17.99/$29.99
The Witcher 2 - £23.44/$33.49
Terraria - £2.99/$4.99
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood - £14.99/$19.99
Fallout New Vegas - £8.99/$14.99
Two Worlds 2 - £8.50/$17.00
Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City - £6.24/$9.99
Magicka - £2.71/$3.39
What's the best bargain you've ever picked up in a Steam sale? Back in 2008, £6.99 was a great price for Team Fortress 2. How naive.
Free games! Everyone loves free games right? Well we've giving some away! We've got a big stack of Steam codes for Paradox Interactive games sitting here, and we thought we'd share them with you.
Details on how to enter are inside.
There's three different games on offer, choose from:
Magicka - Hilarious isometric game of infinite spells - check out our review Sword of the Stars: Complete Collection - a massive space based strategy game with an emphasis on fleet combat King Arthur: The Role Playing Wargame - Total War style strategy mixed with RPG elements and a fantastic setting
To enter, comment below and tell us this:
If you were one of King Arthur's knights, what would you quest for?
European entrants only. Competition ends in one week. If you win you will be notified by private message and your name will appear in this week’s winners. Good luck!
Recently, at E3, we got the chance to catch up with the CEO of Paradox Interactive, Fredrik Wester to discuss the company's recent success with Magicka, Mount and Blade and King Arthur. Wester revealed that 90% of Paradox' revenue is now made through digital distribution sales. He describes the company's lack of reliance on retail as "a release," saying that store chains have "not been good for the creative part of the industry."
Wester told us that "this year we’re close to ninety percent of our revenue being digital. Retail sales are like a bonus for us now. We don’t really need retailers any more and that is a release because retailers have not been good for the industry. They’ve not been good for the creative part of the industry, for finding new cool games."
"People complain to publishers that there are only sequels on the market, but that’s because retailers want to see sequels, because they can do their chart diagrams for how things sell and things like that. So one of the things preventing more creative gaming has been the retail challenge."
"I can only say this now because we’re not depending on them, so it’s really relieving to be able to say that."
Wester told us that Steam is Paradox' main partner, followed by Gamersgate. Paradox has recently had big success with Magicka, which as sold more than 600,000 copies since release, and is set to hit a million sales before the end of the year. The entire Paradox catalogue is currently enjoying a 90% as part of the Steam summer sale. You can grab the lot for $74.99 / £55.
If you read Arrowhead Game's Magicka dev diary right here on PCGamer.com yesterday, you'll know that the free PvP is out now. However, you might have have missed the Tarantino inspired trailer. It shows just one way in which wizards can fall out. The other is just to play Magicka's story mode, where friendly fire kills almost as many wizards as the hordes of enemies you're trying to obliterate.
The PvP mode comes with free two arenas, the Training Ground and the Havindir Arena. Each can host scraps with three different rule-sets. Classic deathmatch is a fiery free-for-all mode in which the last wizard standing wins. Brawl mode lets you form teams, but limits each player to a set number of lives. Krietor mode unlocks more powerful spells as the round progresses, and is named after the modder who invented it.
Three other maps can also be bought on Steam. The Frozen Lake (guess where that's set) combines unsure footing with a high probability of drowning to create a recipe for Magicka comedy, while The Watchtower map stages a battle at the top of a huge tower. To quote the Steam blurb, "The absense of a railing on a mountaintop ruin provides new environmental hazzard." These maps cost £1.50 / $1.99 each.
The third map is called Final Frontier, and has an extremely familiar sci-fi setting. It comes with an extra wizard robe, a "deadly duel staff" and boasts "fantastic quality props" for "Increased nerd factor." For maximum nerd factor, play this in the background while you fight. The Final Frontier is a little more substantial, thanks to the additional items, so that's priced at £1.99 / $2.99.
There's also a new Party Robes pack that adds three new wizard outfits, designed to improve your wizards' survival rate in co-op. The tank robe turns your wizard into an armoured powerhouse, the rogue robe can cloak on the battlefield and the support robe buffs the spellcasting power of those around the wearer - surely not a good robe to wear to a PvP fight.
As with all Magicka DLC, it's possible to jump into the hosts paid-for maps even if you don't own them yourself. The DLC is also available to buy on Direct2Drive, Impulse, Green Man Gaming and more, you can get the full list here. If you want to get an edge in PvP, check out our pick of Magicka's best spells.
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!