The Magic Circle
The creative process is a complex thing. Even if you create in splendid isolation, it is far from always possible to do something exactly as planned, to fully bring your idea to life. And when you are not alone yet … Let’s just say: it is no coincidence that musical groups break up with marvelous regularity. Still, it is almost impossible to pick up people who are always on the same wavelength with you: in any case, opinions and tastes will diverge every now and then. For some time, the presence of a clear leader can save: he says what and how to do, and those around him simply embody his desires. But if you surround yourself with artisans, then their work will not have a “soul”, and if you try to control creative people, then sooner or later they will rebel and desire freedom of expression.
This is all a simplification, of course. But sometimes you can’t go anywhere without simplifications – especially when you want to pass on to others your experience accumulated over the years in a few hours.
The Magic Circle is a game about how difficult it is to create a Game. It is with a capital letter – a masterpiece of creative freedom, the brainchild of a handful of perfectionists, driven by the desire for different, contradictory, but equally unattainable ideals.
Of course, the story in The Magic Circle is brought to the point of absurdity: a fan of walking simulators who hates any manifestation of free-thinking on the part of the player would not appoint as his right hand a fan of multiplayer action games who despises any attempts at storytelling. But believe me, for the sake of the story of The Magic Circle, it is worth making this small assumption (and all other assumptions that will certainly follow). Hypertrophied contrast works, it helps to quickly and clearly outline the central conflict, and then switch to other, no less interesting tasks – for example, revealing characters. And on … although no. On the PC, the game, of course, was released a long time ago, but this is not a reason to hit the spoilers.
Especially since The Magic Circle is surprisingly not limited to storytelling. Yes, at first it seems that you have another walking simulator in front of you – just choosing a rather interesting setting for itself and deciding along the way to deconstruct game development as such. But very soon the skills of hacking the world fall into the hands of the user – and the game is transformed.
Every creature in The Magic Circle can be hacked. And having hacked – to disassemble into “parameters”. Do you want to make friends with a boulder? Hack and register yourself in the “ally” column. Do you want him to follow you like a faithful dog? Take away the movement skills from one of the creatures and give it to your favorite stone. At the same time, you can attach a railgun to it, and fire resistance, and teleport functions … The world of The Magic Circle, for all its incompleteness, is inhabited by a fair amount of creatures with different parameters, and both puzzles and simple exploration of the world are built on their combination.
How long does this entertainment last? Not at all. But as soon as the basic mechanics work out their own, The Magic Circle moves to a new level and explains that the need to constantly throw new ideas to the player, in fact, has been one of the themes of the work all the past time. And after explaining, he offers to pass the exam – not too difficult (if you do not strive for an ideal assessment), at the same time interesting and even informative.
The above characteristics can be attributed to the whole game: it is not too complicated, while it is interesting and informative. Although being a qualitative analogue of The Beginner’s Guide, created by people who understand not only metascenarios, but also game design, The Magic Circle deserves a much deeper and solemn definition. But as The Magic Circle taught us, sometimes it’s important to be able to stop, say “Perfect is the enemy of good” and hit the publish button.