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The solo developer of Manor Lords, Steam’s latest smash hit, named his studio after a Witcher 3 meme

Manor Lords is out today and it’s going gangbusters, having now surpassed 150,000 concurrent players on Steam. It’s also sitting atop a “very positive” user rating, with 90% of the more than 1,600 user reviews posted so far. That’s a pretty good first day, and at this point I’m left with just one burning question: Why the hell is the developer called “Slavic Magic?”

In all honesty it’s not really something I’ve been pondering for any length of time, but it did come up in a recent interview with Unreal. Manor Lords is actually being made by a solo developer, Greg Styczeń (with some outsourced work enabled by his Patreon and an Epic MegaGrant), but a cool studio name looks good in press releases.

And in this case it’s not just a good (if somewhat odd) name, but there’s a good story behind it, too.

“The inspiration was the meme you might have seen about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt labeled the result of ‘Vodka and Slavic Magic’,” Styczeń said. “It really resonated with me as an indie dev from Poland with a small budget but huge passion.”

The meme in question is a brutal zinger aimed at Mass Effect: Andromeda, comparing the game’s famously not-great facial animations with the flawless, rugged visage of Geralt of Rivia:

GamesRadar tracked the meme as far back as a 2017 post on 9Gag, and while I don’t know if that’s the actual origin, it’s at least temporally close to the mark, having gone up roughly five months after Andromeda’s March 2017 launch. People have noted in the intervening years that it’s not really an accurate representation of the situation: The Witcher 3 reportedly cost $81 million to make, and remember that was almost 10 years ago. CD Projekt itself was certainly no scrappy upstart at the time either—it was in fact one of the biggest companies in Poland.

Still, it’s a meme, not a history (or economics) lesson, and the spirit holds true. CD Projekt was at one point a scrappy upstart (ironically, under the circumstances, its debut game was built using BioWare’s Aurora engine) that hit the big-time by doing its own unique, and uniquely Polish, thing.

It’s still early days (literally day one) but Styczeń may be set to chart a similar course. After climbing to the top of Steam’s wishlist chart ahead of its release, it now sits in the number-one spot on Steam’s top sellers chart, while the concurrent player count slowly but steadily continues to rise. Given that we’re on the cusp of a weekend, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that number shoot a whole lot higher very soon.

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