Creating Arcana: The Quest for Video Game Magic

At Dakota State University, students and professors have been working together to create video games as a part of a year long study in game design. Four separate teams have been working around the clock to create indie games for Game Design 333 and 334 taught by Dr. Steve Graham. One of those groups has been developing a simulator that aims to revolutionize the way people think about magic and video games. This magic simulator, fittingly named Arcana, is the brainchild of Dr. Jeff Howard, Landon Anker, Travis Till, Pat Gilmore, and Daryl Bunker.

Creating Arcana: From Imagination to Realization

Arcana’s goal is to change the way magic systems are being portrayed in video games. Moving away from the traditional style of simply pushing buttons to cast spells employed by games like World of Warcraft, Arcana employs a more sophisticated and integrated approach. Inspired by games like Eternal Darkness Sanity‚Äôs Requiem, Arcana looks to make you invest time into actually learning the complex rituals behind actual magic systems. By combining complex sacred geometrical patterns, tarot cards, and specific ritual instructions, Arcana is attempting to put some actual magical knowledge into video game magic systems.

The game focuses on the story of Eliza Knossos and her search for answers to the question of what happened to her brother. On her quest to find her brother, Eliza ends up getting trapped in a ritual temple. She must learn how to commune with the same spirits that her brother had been summoning before his disappearance. The game mechanics will force players to put on their thinking caps in order to figure out each ritual. Players must make use of grimoires, guidebooks to magic, that serve as tutorials for how to complete each ritual. In order to find out what happens to her brother, players must help Eliza become the magician she was always meant to be.

The Arcana design team has been working diligently to perfect their project and bring it to the masses. Each team member has been focusing on their own piece of this complex puzzle. Inspiring the project and guiding its creation, Dr. Jeff Howard has been a major resource in developing Arcana. Daryl Bunker, an artist turned programmer, undertook the daunting task of writing the code for this project. While 3D designers Landon Anker and Pat Gilmore were charged with the task of creating the virtual world that the players will experience in Arcana. That left the task of quality assurance to fall on the shoulders of Travis Till. Together this dedicated group of guys is working hard to creating a completely new video game experience.

Those interested in video games, magic, or both can check out Arcana. In the future, Arcana looks to become a game that can be expanded on to incorporate different types of magic systems like Voodoo. For now though, Arcana’s beta has just released and the developers are looking get some feedback from the public. Those interested in helping to make Arcana the better can download the beta at and leave some feedback.

All Creating Arcana story elements were created by Publishing for New Media 375 students Drew Zirbel, Emily Hansen, BryAnna Hoffer, Andrew Koerner, and Dillon Dwyer.

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