Interview: Hyun-il Jang of Netmarble Monster discusses developing Magic: ManaStrike and what the future might hold for the MOBA

Magic: ManaStrike released earlier this year, adding to Netmarbles ever-growing roster of games. It looks to blend Magic: The Gathering inspired mechanics with the Clash Royale style of MOBA. We recently had a chance to chat with Hyun-il Jang, Development Director at Netmarble Monster who discussed challenges making the game, its future and more.

Could you please do a little introduction for our readers?

Hi, I am Hyun-il Jang, Development Director at Netmarble Monster. I lead the development for Magic: ManaStrike. This means I set the direction and details of the game, constantly checking to make sure things stay on track, and solving challenges that come up during development.

Magic: ManaStrike has only recently been released into the world but how is it performing so far?

So far, it’s going really well, and we are proud of what we’ve achieved. Magic: ManaStrike is a real-time PvP strategy game, so the focus isn’t on short-term achievement; we are looking at it with a long-term view. Currently, there is stable matching based on the number of players, and it is being played as intended by the development team.

Do you have a set roadmap going forward to keep the game fresh with new content?

Netmarble has a proven history of creating games that remain successful for many years. The development team knows Magic: ManaStrike can remain a game worth playing for years to come as well. In order to achieve this, there are a number of indicators we look at, and game balance is checked and adjusted using AI technology.

Based on a stable competitive environment, we plan to release new cards and events based on Magic: The Gathering’s new line-up, as well as new Planeswalkers. There is also a Team Competition mode in the works which will be a totally different and fun gameplay style.

As this game is based on Magic: The Gathering, which elements did you think it was vital to keep when moving the game into a different genre so that the ‘feel’ or ‘essence’ of MTG was still part of the game?

Magic: ManaStrike is a completely different genre than Magic: The Gathering. We wanted to provide different gameplay for those who already knew the original. We wanted to convey the essence of MTG while maintaining the completeness of a real-time strategy game. We not only show players high-quality 3D visuals but also allow players to naturally feel MTG mechanics in this genre.

The development team focused on MTG card mechanisms and adjusted accordingly for Magic: ManaStrike. Two examples include the ‘Undying’ ability, which resurrects units stronger after being destroyed, and the ‘Transform’ ability, where units transform when set conditions are met.

What would you say distinguishes Magic: ManaStrike from the rest of this particular genre?

There are a few things that make Magic: ManaStrike a standout in its genre. First, it has Planeswalkers and five strategic colours that are controllable and presented in high-quality, 3D graphics. Second, a match only lasts about three minutes per round, so it’s quick and easy to play.

Additionally, it has elements based on five unique colours of Planeswalkers – white, blue, black, red and green. Those key features are just a few of the unique features distinguishing Magic: ManaStrike from other real-time PvP games.

What were the greatest challenges you faced when developing Magic: ManaStrike? And has any of this changed the way you’ll approach any future updates to the game?

For a number of MTG cards, it was very difficult to implement the cards and abilities in a way that worked in Magic: ManaStrike and still maintain the characteristics of Magic: The Gathering. To use well-known cards, we have to go through a complete reproduction to meet the fans’ expectations. That was especially difficult since Magic: ManaStrike is a different genre.

After much thought, we decided to emphasize the most important features of the original cards as much as possible but to use the factors while also making adjustments to be better suited for the game. For example, ‘Daybreak Ranger’ and ‘Bloodline Keeper’ have different attack skills and summon costs from the original, but they retain the characteristics of transforming into werewolves and vampires, which I think makes the game more interesting.

If you’re yet to play Magic: ManaStrike it’s available now over on the App Store and Google Play. It’s a free-to-play game with in-app purchases.

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