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Supergiant Games

Bastion PS4 photo
Bastion PS4

Bastion on PS4 is still great, but not worth a double dip


A Mass Shun
Apr 06
// Mike Cosimano
If you pinned me to the ground, demanding a list of the Xbox 360’s best games, I can promise you Bastion would fall out of my terrified lips. I would also be very confused throughout the whole exchange, but as lo...
Transistor photo
Transistor

Transistor sells over 600K copies in nine months


Holla holla, get a dolla?
Jan 08
// Mike Cosimano
Supergiant Games' sophomore release, Transistor, has sold over 600,000 copies between PlayStation Network and Steam, according to Supergiant's Greg Kasavin. "We were very happy to see Transistor selling even faster relative t...

GOTY 2014: Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum

Dec 19 // Steven Hansen
Honorable mentions Alien: Isolation: Tall. Dark. Handsome. I know what you're thinking: Are we talking about the xenomorph in Alien: Isolation or Jeff Goldblum? Well, what makes you think those two are mutually exclusive? While it can be argued that the xenomorph is more inspired by H. R. Giger's design in the original Ridley Scott film, who's to say that precludes Giger from having been inspired by Goldblum? Have you looked at pictures of the original suit lately? It's Goldblum's physique etched in marble, down to the explanatory jazz hands. The great sculptors of yore all had their muses. Clearly Giger and Creative Assembly did, too.  Ether One: I imagine a lot of folks on this webpage know Goldblum for his roles in things like Independence Day and Jurassic Park--only '90s kids will remember these ones!--more than Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Earth Girls Are Easy. And that's fine. Those are as important to his oeuvre as Brundlefly. Ether One is a smartly designed story based around head-scratcher puzzle mechanics that give way to the same drunken lows and eureka highs Goldblum's Independence Day scientist felt. And then you blow up all the aliens at the end, it's so sick.  The Long Dark: It's not a retread of the "long, dark, and handsome" aesthetic. It's not because when faced with frigid, desperate conditions I just want to crawl into Goldblum's chest hair nest like Luke into a tauntaun. What we need is some representation of the lastest part of the Goldblum mythos, his "hipster" turn. He's billed on Portlandia despite being in something like 10% of episodes over five seasons. He's a Wes Anderson favorite. Campo Santo's Firewatch (with me) isn't out yet, Gone Home was last year. It's a real down year for "hipster" games, so Long Dark comes in batting clean up in garbage time. Just look at it, with its stylish aesthetic, fresh mechanics, and interesting title. Fucking try-hard. 
GotY 2014: Goldblum photo
Life finds a way
Someone once told me I talk like Jeff Goldblum. This is not true. I also don't look like Charlie Day, Peter Frampton, Bret McKenzie, Michael Sheen, or Dikembe Mutombo. But at least I appreciated the former (tip: don...


Deals photo
Deals

Transistor gets a Steam sale and extended soundtrack


Listen for free via stream
Jul 31
// Jordan Devore
Supergiant is hosting a weekend sale for Transistor on Steam. At 33 percent off, you can grab the action-RPG for $13.39 and its soundtrack for $6.69 until August 4. There's also a special something for those of us who already...
Transistor photo
Transistor

Check out a homemade version of the sword from Transistor


From Super Punch
May 26
// Chris Carter
After a long, long wait Transistor is finally here on the PC and PS4 platforms, and more than a few people have started to celebrate the launch. One such fan is oyasumuidesu, who is seen showing off the blade wielde...

The old world European electronic noir of Transistor

May 23 // Steven Hansen
[embed]275304:54005:0[/embed] "I would say it has a darker vibe overall," Korb said. "It has a little noir influence, at least for me. Where Bastion was sort of earthly and warm and frontier-sy, I wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted to keep it as eclectic as I could, but I tried to center it around electronic elements with some old world European influences. I wanted it to have a bit of a vintage feel, but to combine those things in a way that was compelling and with a little bit of post-rock and other things peppered in there." Transistor writer Greg Kasavin chimed in, "I think we like playing with anachronistic feelings in different ways. In Bastion, it's primarily frontier-sy, this old world feeling, but sometimes it's like, 'wait a minute, that seems newer.' It's inverted on this game. Here it's modern by default, but here's the old world feelings where you're like, 'wait, is this the future?'" The juxtaposition is meant, "to put the player in a unique space," Korb said. "It's less about new, more about specific," Kasavin said. "We knew as a starting point we were more interested in the cyberpunk aesthetic as opposed to the glossy, future, laser guns and spaceships type sci-fi. We didn't want to do straight ahead cyber punk either, mostly out of respect because it's been done so well so many times already. What are we contributing to this if it's going to be flowing trench coats and giant magnums and sunglasses and pouring rain and stuff?" [embed]275304:54008:0[/embed] Kasavin and artist Jen Zee have already talked about casting cyberpunk aside. "We have to find some reason for our version of this stuff to exist and that means trying to find another angle on it, Kasavin said. "Jen discovered stuff from an art standpoint pretty early on and Darren's dabbling with music and various story tests and all that eventually led to the thing that we showed. But that all just took a while." All aspects of design inform one another. We've heard about the art or about relatively Supergiants' lax planning. "The nature of game development is you have a bunch of people working separately on all these different disciplines and they can't come together before a certain time in the project, Korb said. "At that point, then you can see what you have." "I've been smiling because I think of Heart of Darkness," Kasavin chuckles. "No one goes native, having been left unchecked for too long. No one has a different understanding of the game as everyone else because you develop a shared intuition around it. So we try to have that balance where people get to do their individual work in the way that they think is best, like Jen making artwork or Darren making music, and then there's the part where we're constantly trying to make sure that it all fits together and feels right, which is an intuitive, ongoing process. We don't necessarily know until we try it." And come together it did, with a droning, crooning coolness that challenges Bastion's warmth and just about everything that makes it up. Talking with Amir Rao, Greg Kasavin, Jen Zee and Darren Korb is instructive for their insight. It doesn't clear up Transistor's aloofness, but this winding, exciting series has hopefully shown off the verbosity and hammered out ideas bubbling underneath it.  Part I | Part II | Part III
Under a red sky Part IV photo
Darren Korb talks Transistor's eclectic, memorable soundtrack
As much as Jen Zee's mood paintings and art catalyzed what would become Transistor early on, so too did Darren Korb's music. The soundtrack is an important part of Transistor and while I'd like to be able to yell at you to go...

Transistor's sword was a briefcase at one point

May 22 // Steven Hansen
Art majors in the audience may be excitedly raising your hands if you see the art history thread sewn between those influences that shine through in Transistor a lot more than the idea for a cyberpunk aesthetic that acted as an initial starting point. "We brought in the cyberpunk and then we decided that we didn’t want any of it," Zee said. "We rejected all the cyberpunk things. We were like, 'no trench coats, no rain.'" "A lot of cyberpunk stuff actually does tip its hat to Art Deco movements. Blade Runner definitely has that. I love Art Nouveau personally and I know a lot of other artists do too so I'm surprised it doesn't show up in a lot more videogames. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to integrate it into the cyberpunk and make something that feels a little different, not so dreary and dystopian as other things that may be considered in the same genre." While Transistor's lead, Red, quickly became iconic, the tone of the game came first. "We're pretty sloppy with our pre-production," Zee said. "I love characters, but I think the thing that felt most natural was to just start with mood paintings, which were just really quick color sketches of something that's trying to capture the atmosphere of what we want the game to feel like, or what I think fits into the game we’ve already created. "I think the issue with starting with a character is that it's too specific when everyone else is also looking at the game very abstractly and when you get too specific and do things like characters or even a specific asset for the game, it can start feeling like, 'oh here's the box that I put you all in now' and it just doesn’t foster creativity, I think." Red did materialize, but not without some struggle. "There's a much longer story there and I don't think we're actually going to get into because it's one of those things," Transistor's writer, Greg Kasavin, trailed off.  "But I mean, the shorter version is after iterating on character stuff for a while, there was this specific image that [Zee] made of [Red] that people on the team saw and were like, 'that's awesome, let's do that,' and it still evolved, like the look of the Transistor evolved..."   "But she didn't evolve a lot," Zee noted. Early concept image for Red and the Transistor "We struggled for a long period," Zee said. "There was nothing the whole theme was glomming onto, including myself. Then we made a decision and some new art was made and within the span of a day or two we found her and she was born and kept forever." "It combined a bunch of older ideas that had been kicking around for a while," Kasavin said. "You've heard us kind of alluding to how we circle in on things and sometimes we go back out and sometimes we come back around to ideas that we realized had stuck with us. When an idea can survive around here for a long period of time, we start to gain confidence in it as something that, at the very least, we like." "It's one of those things where it's not quite there, nothing's working, you scrap it all, and the thing you make next really quickly is just the right thing," Zee said. We hadn't seen that concept image yet, so we asked if the Transistor's design came about in a similar manner. "She was designed with the sword," Zee explained. "It was basically linked -- sorry, not to speak for you -- to the story," Kasavin said. "A big part of it was making a high-level decision on what the story was going to be about. Centrally, not moment by moment. ... It was an idea real early on, this story about a character whose voice has been taken from her partnered with a character who had been reduced to only a voice. ... None of us knew how Jen was going to spin it. ... There was an understanding at that point that she would not be speaking and that the sword would be. That was part of the idea behind those characters." But it could have been anything, not just a sword. "It could have been any kind of possessed, inanimate object," Zee said. "Pretty sure I went for the sword because Castlevania is amazing and the flying sword that follows you around is familiar."  As for alternatives to the sword? "I think without context it just wouldn't make sense," Kasavin laughed. A pause. "We could say at one point it was going to be a briefcase," Zee said. "We liked the idea," Kasavin explained. "It's a pairing of characters. Those characters took different forms."  Am I the only one who wants to see briefcase concept art, if there even is any? We've still got a music-focused discussion with Darren Korb and more on the way. Stay tuned.
Under a red sky Part III photo
Under a red sky Part III: Talking with Transistor's artist Jen Zee
Parts I and II of this series have touched on various elements of Transistor's design, but not one of its most striking facets, the artistry that immediately arrested many of us when Transistor was announced. We also sat down...

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Listen to the incredible Transistor soundtrack right here


Or just go buy it!
May 20
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Transistor is out today for the PC and PlayStation 4! The game is pretty great, and I've been enjoying my time with it so far. I'm especially loving the music, from the soundtrack itself to the fact that there's a dedicated ...

Under a red sky Part II: Transistor's strategy for doing strategy

May 20 // Steven Hansen
With its isometric view and sumptuous art, Transistor may not feel like the most radical departure from Bastion, but its free mix of real-time combat and time-frozen strategy complicates design. "A lot of what Bastion had to teach you is this simple stuff: what button should I be pressing, what should I be thinking about when I'm playing. On top of that for this game we have the strategic layer and the hardest thing to do for me as a game developer -- and I think it's hard for every developer -- is to simulate the lack of knowledge of a first-time player," Rao said. The shared gaming literacy of Bastion's action-oriented combat let you make certain assumptions. "In Bastion, everyone rolls. Everyone knows like roll out of the way of damage. That's innate to you and how you play and how you think," Rao said. "Whereas in a tactical game, players have a wider set of potential options or things that they're thinking about at the time. That's a more challenging space. "In a game that has some strategic or tactical pleasures, that gap in knowledge is part of the pleasure. Figuring out the tactics and strategies that start to work for you and appeal to you. It's a constant combination of trying to encourage certain player behaviors. For example, in what we showed at PAX, attacking enemies from behind does more damage. We want to teach you that without forcing you to use that as a tactic. "Just because you force a player to mime something doesn't mean they learn anything. They've just gone through the thing you forced them to do. In a game with more tactical pleasures, you have to be open to the idea that the player may not learn something the first time and it's okay as long as they can get through it. They may learn it a second or third or fourth or fifth time they have an opportunity to engage with the systems." "The joke I have is that we don’t ship with the game. So if we have to stand there and explain how to play...if we have to explain it now, when are we going to make it explain itself later?" Kasavin said. "You have to be introspective when you're watching people play," Rao said. "And all those moments when you want to grab the controller from the player are actually a failure on your part to design something that encourages the kind of behavior that you're looking for. So at PAX, it's a lot of what we observe [that serves as useful feedback]. Sometimes more than what people say about the game." "We really like it when we can just observe and we don't have to intervene. We see intervention as a failure," Kasavin said. "We don't intervene," Rao said. "You need to see if it will resolve itself otherwise you ruin your experiment." "We have these moments where we’re like cringing, 'oh god, this person...' We blame ourselves. But, oh god, this guy, you know, this person just is not seeing this thing that we thought was noticeable but it's not. They don't know where they're going. Then they have their epiphany and it's like, oh thank goodness," Kasavin said. "If we can see this many people get through it and learn the system successfully, then we can go back home with the confidence that we can move forward from that foundation." "We often talked about how if we were just making a straight-up turn-based game...like if we made things more difficult for ourselves by trying to do both, but we felt, for us, it was really key to do both," Kasavin said. "So much of it is letting players discover these options for themselves instead of 'you have to use this' in certain situations.  "That means making the real-time mode very viable and even better in certain situations. For us, that's exciting during development, even in high-level play, stuff that we haven't talked about. New game plus, like super late game there are situations where resolving a fight can be preferable in real time with certain power combinations. ... Then you have people who are much more straight ahead in a strategy game. Every time they can go into planning mode, they use it. Every time the cool down is up. They play it more like turn-based game. "Everyone can enjoy strategic thought even if they don't consider themselves into strategy games. When they're watching a baseball game, everyone's the armchair coach. They know exactly what everyone should be doing. People have an intuitive sense of strategy. And also just the drama, the anticipation, of 'okay, here's what's going to happen when I hit go,' and then watching the resolution of that. And nine out of ten times it goes how you want and one out of ten times it kind of blows up in your face and you have to deal with it. "Having to deal with the consequences of your decision making on the fly seems fun as an idea. It's fun to look back, those are the kinds of things we were talking about when we had no idea what this game was going to be. It's interesting to look back and see that stuff in there after all this time." The strategy element seems to make sense. Supergiant's founders did come from EA, from Command and Conquer, but Kasavin said, "it didn't even come from that directly, or at least not consciously. I think a lot of us just really have a lot of fond memories of playing games with some sort of strategic or tactical component. Like we talked a lot about the 2D, isometric Fallout and stuff like Shining Force, Final Fantasy: Tactics. We knew we didn’t want to make a straight up turn-based game because we like the immediacy of action RPGs...but we wanted to see if we could take some of those pleasures, to use a word Amir used, and just kind of combine some of how we felt about those games with the immediacy of an action RPG." The result, in my early hours with Transistor, is a game that can wreck you quickly, wherein you need a time-stopping reprieve, though once you get confident and skilled enough, you can real time your way through certain situations. It reminded me of Final Fantasy XII, which I played as a typical, turn-based RPG, except when walking past weak enemies and letting the AI thwack them a few times. "Yeah, when the guys were weak, it was the equivalent of, in the older Final Fantasy games, holding down the button so everyone attacks and wipes out whoever you're fighting. Yeah that game got super crazy strategic for some of the fights," Kasavin said. I take someone not wincing at my mention of XII as my series favorite as a win. But Transistor wasn't developed in a game-less vacuum, and it's developed by people who love playing games. "I think it's not even, 'oh, we need to stay in touch,'" Rao said. "We play games for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with making them." "I'd be playing Transistor over and over and over again all week," Korb said. "And for half a day I'd be like, I'm going to relax and play some other videogame. Play South Park, whatever." "I've been playing tons of [Dota 2]," Rao said. "I was a DOTA 1 fiend and I transitioned to Dota 2 as soon as I could. And so I've been playing Dota 2 basically nonstop throughout the development of Transistor." "I was roommates with Amir for a time when we were working in LA," Kasavin said. "I'd watch Amir playing Warcraft-era DOTA, but I never played it. So when it came time to do this game," with the strategic focus, "Dota 2 became one of the many references. I started dabbling with it as well and just I got crazy..." "Sucked in," Amir said. "Yeah," Kasavin laughed. "That is by far the game I've played the most [through Transistor's development]." "Greg and I are in deep," Rao said. "We went to the Intentional to watch professional Dota for several days together just for fun in the summer. It was amazing." "It seems like people skew one way or the other but I've always really liked competitive games and RPGs and stuff like that in parallel," Kasavin said. "I thought I was past the point where I could get really into a competitive game and then I got really into Dota." On the narrative side, Telltale's games got some love (Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us). "I'm just now cutting through my backlog," Kasavin said, "starting with Dark Souls II and the stuff Blizzard has released." Diablo and its recent expansion, along with Hearthstone. "Diablo II is one of my favorite games of all time," Rao said. "Anything Diablo, I will just do for hundreds of hours without worrying, so that's good." "I play a lot of portable games," Kasavin said. "The Vita and 3DS just have a lot of these really cool, interesting niches of games, like Phoenix Wright and Bravely Default. I play all that kind of stuff. For me, that stuff is closer to the nineties Super Nintendo golden era of games that, on big consoles, you don't see that stuff. But it lives on. I love me some Fire Emblem. Like, a lot." XCOM "cut across everyone," the one title early in development that spanned tastes, from the Dota fiends to the Papers, Please admirers. "I bought a PS3 so I could play The Last of Us," Korb added. "Kind of late to that party. And GTA V. Just the scope of that game blew my mind. I could tell a story about playing that game for 15 minutes that was crazy. I climbed to the top of a mountain and went in a helicopter and went sky diving and landed on a mountain bike and rode down and shot a guy and went scuba diving, and that's five minutes of the game." Grand Theft Auto V sits in a weird spot in gaming consciousness. With its success, you know millions of regular people are playing it, but even a few months later you hear less and less about it -- especially in the industry -- as attention turns to new consoles and new games. "You have people who devote time and money to one game and you have the other people who are just trying to keep up with everything." "Yeah, keeping up is hard," Rao said, "It's an incredible time to be someone who plays lots of things. It's a very hard time to be someone who plays deeply a few things [because of how many good things pass you by]. That's mostly how I like to play games. I like to spend the maximum amount of time with something. I think that's how most people played games when they could only get a couple of games a year. You have to draw all the juice from it." "Stuff like Dota or Diablo becomes like a comfort food," Kasavin said. "Its reputation is that it's this extremely harsh, almost bitter game. People are just going to tear you apart if you're not on point 100 percent of the time. You still get to the point where there's something really comfortable and familiar around playing it even when people are calling you horrible, horrible, things. Even that part of the experience is strangely familiar." "It's good to leave an environment where you love everyone you work with and respect them and go to Dota," Rao said. "It's a nice contrast." Indeed. Still a few more parts to look forward to in this series, including a discussion on naming the game, Korb talking tunes, and Jen Zee on her lovely art (plus some early concept art) and how both Red and the Transistor came to be.
Transistor interview II photo
Supergiant talks letting players take the wheel, strategy design, and some of their favorite games
Make sure to read Part I in this series. It deals with development crunch time, getting a game ready to launch, and the genesis of Transistor post Bastion. Now we're continuing the abrupt, jerky carnival ride through time and...

Review: Transistor

May 20 // Alasdair Duncan
Transistor (PS4, PC [reviewed])Developer: Supergiant GamesPublisher: Supergiant GamesRelease: May 20, 2014MRSP: $19.99 / £14.99 Transistor tells the story of Red, a popular singer from the gleaming future city of Cloudbank who is mysteriously attacked. Stumbling away from the encounter that has robbed her of her voice, she comes across a huge bladed weapon, the Transistor, embedded in a lifeless corpse. The Transistor hosts the personalities of various individuals, all of whom give Red different abilities during combat, which she'll need to fight off the waves of robotic enemies she'll encounter. Cloudbank is undergoing a huge change. Almost all of the population has either vanished or fled for the countryside; the robots are changing the city but into what, and where did they come from? [embed]274855:53935:0[/embed] Transistor most differs from its predecessor with its combat mechanics. Where Bastion was a straightforward action game, Transistor adopts a more strategic system. Pressing the right trigger or right mouse button allows Red to pause time and set up a sequence of actions, like attacks or movements, which are then played out really quickly. Initially it feels like a slow experience but once you become accustomed to the powers of the Transistor and the strengths and weaknesses of enemies, you'll be able to rapidly formulate a plan of attack.  Red can only set up a limited number of actions, so if there are still enemies present, she'll need to use nearby cover and the Jaunt ability to avoid attacks. Taking too much damage will give Red an emergency turn but if that's not enough to dispatch the stragglers, one of her powers will become overloaded and it'll be unavailable until Red finds at least two access points later on in the world. These points are where Red can adjust her loadout and swap functions between passive and active slots. There's a great deal of variety as to how you can spec Red out since each function can be set as either an active function, an upgrade, or a passive function. For instance, the Clash function works as a short-range melee attack; if you set it as an upgrade, it'll add a stun ability to whatever attack it's paired with. Set it as a passive ability and Red will have a shield to protect herself from damage. What's really neat is that equipping functions in various slots will unlock information about the person they came from. It turns out all were major figures in Cloudbank life but all mysteriously vanished after coming into contact with a group called the Camarata. Another thing that is interesting is that robots will drops cells that will allow the enemy to come back to life, or spawn a new enemy type, if they're not picked up quickly enough.  It's a flexible system but it does have its drawbacks; since Red can only alter her loadout at an access point, you won't be able to plan ahead and make changes for the enemy types you'll encounter further on. You'll just have to hope that whatever functions Red has equipped will be enough to do the job against whatever selection of enemies you come across next. This is made even harder as during protracted battles, the Transistor can be stripped of its functions as they're overloaded; this should be something that changes your tactics but it's very rare to be at death's door. Red will recover after every battle and really, it just makes these encounters last longer than they should, especially if you're left with a single attacking option. Despite enemies gaining new abilities as the game progresses, the battle sequences stick to the same formula: Red plans, then carries out the attacks, then dodges enemies as best she can whilst the Transistor recharges. It would have been nice to see some more options to take enemies on without using the planning phase; Red can use all of her abilities in real time but it makes much more sense to take advantage of the planning phase to execute attacks as Red can do extra damage by attacking robots from behind.  While Transistor initially feels like a whole new game, structurally it sticks closely to Bastion. Both games feature a beautiful but abandoned city that has undergone huge tragedy. In Bastion it was called the Calamity; in Transistor, it's dubbed The Process. Both feature areas where the player can rest and take stock; Red finds special doors which take her to a deserted island where challenge rooms are located (much like the Proving Grounds in Bastion). If the game isn't sufficiently challenging, Limiters can be installed that will make things harder for Red but at the benefit of gaining extra XP or other bonuses. These can be installed like Functions, swapped in and out at access points, but work the same way as the Idols in Bastion.  It feels unfair to claim that Transistor is just Bastion with a fresh coat of paint as there's a whole new story, setting, characters, and the combat mechanics are very different. Jen Zee's artwork is stunning as always, Darren Korb provides another set of great songs, and Logan Cunningham's voice is center stage again, as the Transistor. It's a different performance this time compared to the gravelly wisdom of Bastion's Rucks -- the Transistor starts off unsure of what it really is or how it came into existence. There are a number of touching scenes later on in the game and plenty of small things that flesh out the world and show a good eye for detail. The combat screen offers helpful tips at the top left and various dialogue boxes fill in small details of what Cloudbank was like before the Process.  Supergiant Games hasn't delivered a wholly new experience with Transistor but it's still an enjoyable game that's well made and has wonderful art and sound. The new tactical combat is welcome and there's some real enjoyment to be had in tinkering around with all of the available Functions. However, if parts of Bastion left you cold, then you may find the similar structure of Transistor and its themes will have a hard time winning you over. Still, it's worth trying; the world of Cloudbank is a wonder to behold and the mystery of the Camarata, the Process, and the Transistor itself is something that is really worth exploring. 
Transistor review photo
More of the same but that's not a bad thing
Does the "second album" syndrome exist in videogames? If you're not familiar with that phrase, it's the idea that a band's second album is much harder to make than the first. Should a band break away from the style it forged ...

Under a red sky: How Transistor came to be Part I

May 19 // Steven Hansen
[from left to right: Greg Kasavin, Darren Korb, Amir Rao] There was something of a calm in the air walking into the modern, open floor plan office, past the kitchen and fuzzy knoll of Bastion plushies that topped a long counter top. Visiting a studio that makes videogames, you always sort of expect to crawl into some hidey-hole of digital wizardry (and with the indies, you breathe a sigh of relief they haven't burnt the place down and have properly filled out the papers on their commercial lease), but it's people at knickknack decorated desks with enough monitors to watch the entirety of True Detective simultaneously.  On our way upstairs, passing the fridge, I noticed word magnets arranged to read, "how is this memory not broken and hairy." "Not that it's calm right now," Kasavin, Transistor's writer, explained, "but it definitely sort of feels like we're in the eye of the storm and things are about to get crazy for us one way or another." The team is focusing on "rubber stamping," doing all the small things that need to be done leading up to release, including three regions of certification on the Sony side and getting review codes out. "It's plenty of work but it's sort of finite and there are often dependencies on people outside of this studio so you can't necessarily work all night." "You could," Korb, Transistor's composer and sound designer, interjects. "I guess Amir has had some late nights talking to Sony people in Europe," Kasavin said. "Waking up at 3am so he can talk to Europe," Korb said. Of course, getting to this point of relative calm was a long time coming after years of development and the explosive sprint to the finish. "Crunch time," as it has become known with increasingly negative connotation. "I think people have different understandings of what crunch is," Kasavin said. "Some people define it as a mandated work schedule. Like, when there's a decree from the executive producer, 'Our new work hours are 10am to 9pm, seven days a week.' Where I first met Amir and Gavin, we were at EA and we were on the 'EA Spouse' team, which was one of the extreme cases of crunch. "But there is never a mandated crunch on this project, which was very important to us going in because we pushed ourselves really hard at the end of Bastion and we really want to do this for the long haul and that means not burning the candle at both ends and taking the time you need. At the same time...we don't release games very often so I think we all feel individually very motivated to push at the end because we can rest after it comes out. For the last few months, the game is at a point where every waking moment, you can do something to potentially make it better. "But we've all been through it multiple times and been through it once together as a team so we have a pretty good sense of what our own limits are and when we get to the point of diminishing returns of like, 'dude, you're terrible to work with and making tons of mistakes, chill out.' I don't think we’ve ever had someone reach that kind of point on this project. "Some would argue it's still like crunch. [That] if you're working weekends and you're working past five, you're mismanaging your project. I don't see it that way." Kasavin addressed another feared development term: feature creep. "For us it's really important to put in the small little things that we care about and we don't know that other people will notice or care about. I do think if you put in enough stuff like that, chances are that players are gonna run into something and be like, ‘Oh, that's cool!' "We take each others' feedback on the team and constantly create a lot of work for each other by giving feedback. Some would call it feature creep or whatever, but we see it as giving feedback and improving and iterating on what's there...I think we all really don't want to disappoint each other as it were. So when little things come up we make time for them and that sometimes means working long hours...How this game does is going to affect my life for a long time one way or another so I see it as being in my best interest to do whatever I can to make this game as good as I can as an individual. Fortunately, my wife is forgiving of that." "I feel the same way," Korb said. "If we were to not do everything we could at this point, I'd be letting myself down. Ultimately one of the things I think we want to do is to make stuff that we enjoy and think is cool, right?" Just having the opportunity to try is something Kasavin notes SuperGiant is "in a very privileged position to do" following Bastion's success. "We came from...environments where you’re basically never going to get a shot at making your own original IP. That’s the game designer's dream scenario. Everyone's got an idea of what they would make. We were able to actually do that. Very few studios, big or small, have a chance to do that sort of thing so it's just like, you wanna keep that going." And forward momentum seems to be the way to do that without getting bogged down in concerns of marketability. Build something cool that you like and you can find an audience. "I was personally very bullish on it as a strategy," Kasavin said. "Put it in an environment where people can just play it and then see what happens. My own take on it is that if the game is not ready to be played, then it is not ready to be announced." It's about getting a representative sample and letting players have at it, rather than announcements and first hands-ons 18 months later. "I used to work in the gaming press and it was really frustrating to me. I don't know if it's real. Is it just smoke and mirrors? I want to know if it's a real videogame." That's why Transistor popped up out of the ether one day, when it was ready. "We actually didn't really know what the scope of [Bastion's] success would be or where we would end up or how much time we would have to make the second project until much later," Kasavin said.  "Yeah it took a while for us to really comprehend the scope of what Bastion had become for a lot of people. For us, our concerns were much more material," Rao, Transistor's director, said. "More like, 'we're living in my dad's house, it would be good to live not here and work not in this place.' And so we were really interested in, okay can we get an office space and learning about whatever a commercial lease is, moving the company out of San Jose and into San Francisco. That all took months. "There was the PC version of the game on Steam and Mac and Linux and there was just a lot of Bastion stuff still happening. The iPad version took a long time for us. We understood more of what Bastion was when we were working on the iPad version. I think that realization was a slow dawn upon us and it came with heavy expectations of what we would have to do next. It was actually kind of interesting that this project was more born from a tail end or during the tail end of that time where we still didn't really really know what Bastion was." "We came to a point where it's like, ‘what do we want to do from here? We don't want to just bring Bastion to new platforms for the rest of our lives,'" Kasavin said. "Though we did do that for a while," Rao noted. "People are sometimes surprised to hear...we don't plan the next thing at the tail end of whatever we're doing. We like to take some time and space," Rao said. "It's almost taboo," Kasavin said. "Your mind goes there naturally. At this point, we're hardly working on the game itself anymore so your mind starts to go there: 'what do you want to...?' No, no, no. Don't let your mind go there because we need to launch this game. Whatever you think you want to do right now, you may be totally, totally wrong." Especially as you distance yourself from what you've been working on. "I have children, I can say you love the stuff almost like you love your kids, but you kind of, by the end, you want to be done," Kasavin said. "You want to send your kid off to boarding school," Korb added. "Yes, go to the military," Kasavin said. "Enjoy your time in the armed forces and do your country proud, thank you. You don’t want to plan the next thing from that mindset. People are like, 'so, are you going to do a sequel?' And we can't help but laugh." "It's really nice, too, because you don't have to keep secrets," Rao said. "Because we literally have no idea." Transistor did squirm its way out of this primordial, rested and distanced brain meld eventually, and with part II of this series we'll get a more detailed look on Transistor development decisions, games that influenced Transistor and the SuperGiant team (start guessing in the comments), and San Jose's sleepy car jacking.
Get amped for Transistor photo
Supergiant talks 'crunch,' Bastion success, and starting its second project
Turning down a one-way alley towards SuperGiant's downtown San Francisco office space, I noticed the fenced parking lots on either corner decorated with two sorts of barbed wire. Three classical, no nonsense parallel strands ...

Transistor photo
Transistor

Transistor's launch trailer is pleasant


Launching on Steam and PS4 this Tuesday
May 16
// Jordan Devore
Just yesterday I was commenting on how little of Transistor developer Supergiant Games has shown in these final days before release -- and how refreshing that is. But if you'd rather not go in completely blind (fans of Basti...
Transistor photo
Transistor

Transistor doesn't stop once you beat the story


Recursion mode
May 15
// Jordan Devore
Supergiant Games has purposefully shown little of Transistor. Enough that its release next Tuesday on PC and PlayStation 4 is anticipated, sure, but playing through the game now, it's refreshing how much of the experience is ...
Transistor photo
Transistor

Supergiant's Transistor hits PS4 and PC next month


I have a good feeling about this one
Apr 10
// Jordan Devore
The next title from Bastion maker Supergiant Games, Transistor, is one many of us at Destructoid have had nothing but good things to say about and it's releasing relatively soon. The studio announced a May 20, 2014 launch acr...
Transistor is the best photo
Transistor is the best

Transistor coming 2014, team explains the jump to PS4


Bastion not coming to Android
Feb 18
// Steven Hansen
If you need an example of how the Xbox One's initial lack of self-publishing hurt it, look no further than Transistor. In general, look no further than Transistor. Why would you want to look at anything else? It's so damn pre...
Transistor photo
Transistor

Transistor to use DualShock 4's lesser known features


Supergiant Games' next title will use the light bar
Oct 03
// Alasdair Duncan
I've yet to get my hands on either of the controllers for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One but I was lucky enough to get my hands-on time with Transistor at PAX East this year. In a blog post, Supergiant Games head Greg Kasavin ...
Transistor impressions photo
Transistor impressions

Transistor had us all sorts of excited at PAX Prime


'That game is super cool!'
Sep 03
// Brett Makedonski
Conrad Zimmerman and Jordan Devore took a short break from checking out games at PAX Prime 2013 to talk about checking out games at PAX Prime 2013, and they both kind of fell in love with Transistor. Supergiant's second...
Supergiant photo
Supergiant

Not down with Transistor yet? Watch this demonstration


Can't get enough of that narration
Jun 19
// Jordan Devore
There was a lot of good buzz surrounding Transistor during PAX East. However, it wasn't until right now, while watching this extensive demonstration from developer Supergiant Games, that the sci-fi action-RPG had me looking ...
Supergiant Games photo
Supergiant Games

Transistor making console debut on PlayStation 4


Sony E3 press conference
Jun 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Action role-playing game Transistor is the follow-up to Supergiant Games' Bastion and thus far it's looking excellent. Today at Sony's E3 press conference, the title's creators took the stage to announce Transistor will be making its console debut on PlayStation 4 in early 2014.
Transistor photo
Transistor

No deathmatch: Supergiant talks multiplayer in Transistor


Studio is looking at a more passive approach to multiplayer
Apr 01
// Jordan Devore
Supergiant Games' next project, Transistor, will have multiplayer -- but it's not what you might think. "The combat maybe could work in multiplayer, but I don't see this game having deathmatch arenas or whatever. I think I ca...
Transistor! photo
Jonathan Holmes cuts quick and deep
One of the biggest reveals to come out of PAX East this year is Transistor from Supergiant Games, developers of Bastion. Holmes pinned down Supergiant co-founder Amir Rao to get you the skinny on this new action-strategy title. Check out more of Holmes' Talk Fast interview series!

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PAX: Transistor: A two-hour wait for an indie game?


Totes worth it
Mar 23
// Dale North
Supergiant Games told me it has been like this all day. Yesterday too. Their next game after Bastion, titled Transistor, is easily worth the wait. Our preview from yesterday spells it out, but I'm here to tell you that if you haven't tried this beautiful game out and are here at PAX East, get in line now. I'm already head over heels from a ten-minute demo.

PAX: Transistor is a worthy follow-up to Bastion

Mar 22 // Alasdair Duncan
Transistor stars Red, a popular singer who is being targeted by a group of assassins for unknown reasons. At the start of the demo, she nervously walks over to a large blue sword protruding from a dead body. This is the Transistor, and he calls out to Red to take him with her. You'll recognize the voice straight away as Logan Cunningham, who voiced the narrator Rucks in Bastion. Red, just like the Kid, is mute and the Transistor makes a cryptic mention of her attackers "taking your voice." As Red makes her way through the beautiful cityscape, she's attacked by spherical robots with glowing red eyes, and this is where the Transistor shows it's use. A press of the right trigger shifts the game to a tactical view: the background fades away and a reactive grid is overlaid on-screen. The grid is there to help in targeting, and Red can move to different points along it but is not bound to them. At the start of the demo, the Transistor only has two abilities: a simple slash ability and the Burst. The latter is the more useful, as it will send out a bust of energy that will pass through enemies; get two or three in a row and you can take groups of enemies really quickly. Eventually, a melee attack and a jaunt attack fill out the Transistor's arsenal, which help when the Transistor recharges itself: during this time Red can enter the tactical view and fend off enemies.  Red can queue up commands that you'll see on a bar at the top of the screen, but you can cancel any action with the left trigger. As combat begins, blocks will rise from the ground, filling out the tactical grid and making cover. The cover is fairly fragile, but it allows some tactical depth: you can destroy cover to attack enemies, although this will leave Red vulnerable.  As Red and the Transistor make their way through the world, they encounter more victims of the robots. "Hundreds" of people have been going missing in the city "in a few months," and Red was due to be next. Instead of fleeing from her synthetic attackers, the demo concludes with Red seeking them out in their home world, called The Process. Transistor has been in various stages of production for the last year, but Supergiant took breaks to work on the iOS and Google Chrome versions of Bastion, according to audio lead Darren Korb and art director Jen Zee. Korb admitted that there's pressure to follow up on Bastion's success, but the team "want to make a game we're happy with." There is no publisher attached to Transistor yet but the Supergiant guys aren't necessarily looking to publish the game themselves, so we'll need to wait and see if someone will pick Transistor up. As we've come to expect at this stage of the console cycle, there are no platforms confirmed for Transistor but since Bastion appeared on a consoles, PC and iOS it wouldn't be a surprise to see the same happening with Transistor. For those not at PAX East 2013, you'll have to wait for 2014 when Transistor will hopefully be arriving.
Transistor photo
Supergiant Games' next title will be arriving in 2014
Only a few days ago, we heard that Transistor would be Supergiant Games' follow-up to Bastion and that it would be playable at PAX East 2013. Lucky convention-goers can play an early build of the game, on course for...

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Elder Scrolls Online, Riccitiello Resigns & Transistor!


The Destructoid Show makes fun of a giant corporation
Mar 19
// Max Scoville
Hey guys! Here's today's Destructoid Show.  Big news, in terms of business stuff -- EA's John Riccitiello has resigned from his role as CEO. EA is offering a generous choice of one of eight free games for customers ...
Bastion sale photo
Bastion sale

Name your price for Bastion on Windows, Mac, and Linux


Bastion for a buck
Mar 19
// Jordan Devore
The folks at Humble Bundle have gotten themselves into weekly sales, it seems. Currently, you can grab a copy of Supergiant Games' well-liked Bastion for as low as $1 on Windows/Mac/Linux with an optional Steam key thrown in....
Supergiant Games photo
Supergiant Games

Transistor is the next game from the Bastion developers


Playable at PAX East!
Mar 19
// Patrick Hancock
Supergiant Games, developers of the lovely action-adventure game Bastion, has just announced on Facebook and Twitter that their next game is titled Transistor, and will be playable at PAX East this weekend. Transistor i...
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Bastion for iPad becomes a Universal App


Playable on iPhone 4S and up
Nov 15
// Jordan Devore
Supergiant Games did a great job of getting Bastion on iPad in a way that fit well with the platform. This version has received a free update which includes iCloud support and makes the game compatible with iPhone 4S, 5, and ...
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PAX: Bastion for iPad feels surprisingly intuitive


Shows how ports to touch devices should be done
Sep 02
// Jordan Devore
Earlier this week, Bastion was released for iPad (2 and newer). While it's easy to be skeptical about how well a game of this nature would transfer to a touch-screen device, the end result is wonderful. Supergiant Games broug...
 photo

Dustforce and Bastion are your mid-week PC bargains


May 01
// Alasdair Duncan
As if keeping myself on a tight budget wasn't hard enough, I've developed this compulsion to check Steam everyday at 6 p.m. GMT to see what the new deals are. Thankfully, I already own one of the games featured in Steam's mid...
 photo

A 4-week-old Bastion looked ugly but played beautifully


Apr 13
// Samit Sarkar
Videogame development is an iterative process, and games undergo countless changes along the way. In many cases, the final product bears little resemblance to earlier versions, as developers refine their vision and excise fea...

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