Once upon a time at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an idea sprouted in a teacher’s mind. This is the story of how it took root and came to fruition with the launch of Typing Pal’s latest game. Discover the creative, strategic and educational features that make Magical Duel an engaging and entertaining game for those learning to type.
The Origin Story
Our tale begins in the home of Frédéric Thériault, Web Developer and Computer Studies Teacher: “I was struck by how much time my children—then aged 9 and 12—were spending in the virtual world. I figured they needed more practice typing, and I was looking for a project to keep us busy. I remembered learning with Typing Pal as a kid, so I wanted to make a game in the same genre.”
He designed the game to suit his and his children’s preferences, incorporating character development for his daughter, strategic elements for his son and a world steeped in fantasy for himself. And so was born a spellcaster’s showdown, in which players would type out incantations made up of nonsense words.
The game quickly won fans among family and friends, and one of the children’s teachers even used it in class activities. But with the return to in-person learning and a regular pace of life, the project was almost consigned to oblivion. “I thought that would be a shame, so I called on the wizards at Druide!” explains the game’s original developer. “By collaborating with their team, I watched my pet project grow beyond my expectations. I was thrilled it would become an actual Typing Pal game.”
Magical Duel was developed with well-defined goals for education and entertainment. Real words and phrases replaced the nonsense words in spell incantations, the story and characters were fleshed out, and specialists in graphic design, animation, programming and game strategy set to work.
Worldbuilding and Gameplay
Magical Duel was designed with game mechanics and visuals that appeal to the widest possible audience, all while adhering to Typing Pal’s proven training program and to requirements for use in schools.
A Tale for Typing
The game takes place in a fantasy realm. A terrible curse has befallen the subjects, and those afflicted are betrayed by their red eyes.
Through their character, players must free the subjects by taking them on in a series of magical duels. To win, one need only choose a spell, type the incantation correctly to cast it and keep their character’s health points above zero. In this engaging adventure, players need to think strategically and type accurately to reach the final round and save the realm.
The Visual Universe
Druide’s graphic designer, Aude Robert-Gingras, oversaw the game’s artistic direction. “There’s so much creative freedom in designing a fantasy world with its own unique characters, scenery and spells,” she says.
Although Magical Duel uses fighting game mechanics, the matches aren’t violent. “We’ve always been mindful that Typing Pal is aimed at a broad audience that includes children. So our villains aren’t too scary, and when they’re defeated, they bow out graciously,” Aude explains.
An Educational Foundation
Magical Duel is played using the same techniques taught in Typing Pal’s training program. The game’s eight spells are each associated with one of the keys in the home row. This encourages players to always bring their fingers back into the basic position. Attack spells are cast with the left hand, and defense spells with the right—players start off with two spells, Fireball and Force Field, cast using the and keys, respectively.
Progressive Difficulty Levels
The further players get in the game, the tougher the opponents become. Match difficulty is based on the recommended speed and accuracy targets for the player’s chosen age group. The first round corresponds to that group’s beginner level, and the challenge increases progressively to reach the expert level in the final round.
Incantations get harder to type as spells are made more potent, as well. Each spell has ten power levels defined by phrase length. “We took care to assess the difficulty range so players stay motivated by the challenge. We didn’t want everyone to be able to ace it on the first try, nor did we want to make the game unwinnable,” explains Head of Typing Pal Development Sébastien Christin.
Every victory earns the player the option to either unlock a new spell, boost an existing spell’s power or increase their character’s total health points. “There’s no one way to win Magical Duel; you have to use different strategies,” adds Sébastien. “I could power up a spell like Force Field, then type out a bunch of attack spells before my opponent could cause me much damage. Or I could put everything into my health points. It would take longer to beat me, but my spells wouldn’t be as powerful, so I would need to cast more of them to win the round.” These elements are a great way to build engagement because players can exchange tactics, and soon they’ll be eager to get back to practicing their keystrokes!
The Creators’ Highlights
Sébastien Christin, Head of Typing Pal Development: “I’ve never seen another typing game where you can play over multiple sessions. Usually, when you quit a game, you start over from the beginning. But in Magical Duel, the game is saved. Being able to pick up where you left off makes it so much more motivating.”
Aude Robert-Gingras, Druide’s Graphic Designer and the game’s art director: “I love all the different characters… but I’ll admit to having a soft spot for the Master of the Enchanted Valley—the odd, yet endearing humanoid mushroom. His style is one of a kind.”
Frédéric Thériault, Teacher and the game’s original developer: “I was delighted to discover all the surprises the game has in store as it progresses, like a change of scenery or a new villain. I’m positive kids will want to get a look at everything, which will also motivate them to keep up their training.”
What will be the highlight of the game for you? Magical Duel is also included in the Personal and Home editions of Typing Pal, for those without access through an educational institution.