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Nidhogg unleashed on the masses - but what took so long? Exclusive

 Nidhogg  unleashed on the masses - but what took so long?
January 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose

January 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design, Business/Marketing, Exclusive

It was April 2010 when we first laid eyes on Raging Hadron, soon to be known simply as Nidhogg. The two-player ultra-fencing battler from indie developer Mark Essen has since become the equivalent of a video game fable, cropping up at shows and expos over the years, yet remaining outside the realms of the general public.

Now, nearly four years later, Essen has made the decision to finally release this uproarious multiplayer game from its cage.

Not only does this Steam version of Nidhogg come with online multiplayer for the first time, but it also provides new arenas, new moves, a tournament mode, and gorgeous dynamic music from Daedelus.

But why now, Nidhogg? What's with the public release all these years later? Talking to Gamasutra, Essen explains that he's always planned a proper release for the game, but he didn't feel like it was ready until this point.

"I've been the only programmer, and I've learned a lot over the years," he says, "but it's taken a while to get everything working the way I've imagined it."

It's been a case of life getting in the way too. "I've had to divide my time between Nidhogg development, other games, freelance projects, teaching a couple classes at the University of Southern California, and grad school," he adds.

It was when Kristy Norindr joined Essen's Messhof studio that the ball really started rolling. Norindr's background in games involves project manager at Island Paradise studio Meteor Games, and research manager at the USC's Game Innovation Lab.

As co-founder and director of business development at Messhof, Norindr helped to streamline Essen's development and production workflow, and generally aided the dev in building Messhof into the larger company that he's wanted it to be.

"She was spearheading the mission to find a quality musician this year, and we completely lucked out to be able to work with Daedelus," Essen adds. "I also wanted to find someone to help me with networking, and I was able to work with one of my former students to finish up the Netcode."

Other than that, Essen admits that he took plenty of extra time to make sure that the project came together in exactly the way that he wanted it. "I feel fortunate that I didn't rush it out earlier," he says, "because I feel like it has all the right parts and pieces now."

How much has the game changed since the original demo hat flitted around game shows, then? While content has been added in droves, Essen notes that he was very careful to keep with the original design.

"I've tried a lot of things, but I knew I was on to something with the original design so every addition has been pretty small," he notes. "For every five things I add, I sand down four of them so they're just little game-feel nubby-nubs."

Nidhogg will be available via Steam today (January 13) at 10 a.m. PST.

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