When Netmarble started development for Magic: ManaStrike, the team knew what their first priority had to be.
"We had to take the world of Magic: The Gathering—a world that's had amazing fantasy art for over 25 years—and bring it to life in a compelling way," said Joe Lee, Magic: ManaStrike executive producer. "There have been digital versions of Magic: The Gathering before, but never in a real-time strategy PVP game."
In Magic: ManaStrike, players take the role of a legendary Planeswalker, and with a deck comprised of classic Magic: The Gathering creatures and spells, attempt to vanquish their opponent in real-time combat in a 3D arena.
To make Magic: ManaStrike exist in a 3D world required a lot of thought and planning. Birds of Paradise, Grave Titan, Shivan Dragon, and many more have been staples in players' decks for years, and people have expectations about how they should look. But since this was a full 3D game where units engage in combat, there was an additional level of complexity. They would have to look good not only as 3D models, but as moving creatures doing battle.
The biggest challenge, however, was bringing to life those iconic characters who have come to personify the very idea of Magic itself, the Planeswalkers. Magic: ManaStrike is the first game to include animated Planeswalkers as part of the battle. The development team knew what an important part of the game it was.
"These are the characters that players identify with—their virtual selves. We had to make them as amazing as possible," Lee said.
At G-Star last November, the world got its first look at the animated Planeswalkers in Magic: ManaStrike.
Part of bringing these iconic characters to life was making sure that their animations reflected their personalities. In the example above, Liliana's movements are graceful and confident, as expected from someone who is very self-assured and egocentric. She is in direct contrast to someone like Chandra, who, while also confident, is full of fiery energy and a more volatile temper. The character designs and animations capture these personality quirks and make these characters feel alive.
But this animated art extends to how they appear and move on the battlefield as well. Liliana materializes and strides confidently across the board, her undead minions in tow. Chandra's arrival is heralded by an explosion and a large firebird projectile that flies across the battlefield. This reflects their personalities and their mana colors.
These characters and their personalities are an important part of Magic: The Gathering, and making sure that they were faithfully replicated in Magic: ManaStrike gives players a unique play experience with their favorite Planeswalkers.
The Planeswalkers are waiting.