Hey Reddit! It’s been five years (https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/lwljh/iama_dev_team_of_bastion_the_action_rpg_where_an/) since last we did such a thing, and we figured, we’re still alive, we’re still in business, we’ve learned a lot, and we’ve got a third game coming out real soon, so why not invite you to AMA once again?!

A bit about Supergiant: We were founded in the living room of a house in San Jose, CA in 2009. Bastion was our first game, launched in 2011. Transistor was our second game, launched in 2014. Pyre is our third game, launching... Tuesday! On Steam and PS4.

We’ve grown a little since Bastion and have 12 people at the studio. Just about all of us are in here:

Proof (https://twitter.com/SupergiantGames/status/887724037643751424)

EDIT -- Aaand, that's a wrap! Thanks everybody for all the great questions! We're @SupergiantGames on Twitter if any other burning questions arise in the coming days. Thank you for your support!

Comments: 540 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

kamenjojo81 karma

Any chance for a Supergiant artbook? the design work in all your games is so good I'd love it in artbook form.

SG_Greg59 karma

Hey, thank you for the interest! It's something we've thought about though don't have any plans for straightaway. The good news is, the longer we wait, the more art there's gonna be to work with if and when we get around to pursuing this as an idea...!

tigerLRG24541 karma

Just wanted to say supergiantgames is my favorite videogame company ever, I love how unique the gameplay is in every one of your games and the music and artstyle are just so amazing.
I really love the artwork on pyre, you guys really outdid yourself.

My question is how do you come up with such unique and yet different themes for each one of your games? what's the process of creating a new world from scratch?
Also, did you come up with the idea for pyre and transistor a while before they were created? Or do you have a brainstorm to discuss what to do next each time?

SG_Greg30 karma

Hey, thank you very much for the kind words. Really hope you find Pyre more than lives up to our previous work!

The process of creating our worlds and themes happens pretty gradually over time. We tend to latch onto a few specific tonal ideas early on, that aren't necessarily too well-formed but that are intriguing to us in some ways.

Then we just start building. Darren starts making music, Jen starts painting, I start writing, Amir and Gavin start prototyping, and so on. And then we look at it and see if anything about it sticks.

Gameplay comes first for us, though with an eye toward theme and with some sense of where the narrative could go. From a story standpoint I spend a lot of time outlining early on and looking for opportunities to build up the world based on the ideas we're implementing. Slowly, it all takes shape.

We don't have complete ideas for games before we start building them.

dannyzam27 karma

Hi guys! can't wait to play Pyre. I met you with bastion but i fell in love with transistor, it's one of my favorite games.

I need to do this question. How are the chances to have the 3 games on Nintendo Switch?

SG_Greg25 karma

Hey, thanks for your interest in seeing our games on the Switch. Bringing our games to new platforms tends to be a big undertaking for us so it's not something we approach lightly, and we tend to have to focus on just one or two versions of our games at a time. We have no plans for any other versions of our games right now for these reasons, though we appreciate your interest and haven't ruled anything out for the future.

Jim10519 karma

Why are the endings from Bastion and Transistor deep but very depressing?

SG_Greg47 karma

We want for the endings of our games to feel personal and thought-provoking, and to feel emotionally honest and fulfilling. We want them to feel true-to-life in the sense that, at the end of a long road, feelings tend to be mixed. I don't think either Bastion or Transistor are coming from a place of cynicism about the world. So, with all that said, I am sorry to hear that the prevailing sense they left for you was that of depression.

I'm the writer of our games and I think my colleagues could attest I am not the most happy-go-lucky guy in person... my views on things do not always take the most optimistic slant. Writing the worlds and characters of our games is deeply therapeutic for me. I get to write about themes of solidarity and friendship and truth and self-discovery and overcoming regret, all things that are so difficult to achieve in life, and are so important to experience in any form.

KnuxTenma16 karma

How many details did you guys iron out regarding Red's bodyguard? Did he have a name, or just an alias? I remember seeing things referring to him as Blue or Boxer, but I don't remember if either of those were from data-mined files. I loved the world Transistor was set in, and I've always wanted to know more about the person that you spend the entire game with.

SG_Greg25 karma

We know an awful lot about him. There were times when he was going to be the game's principal character. Things evolve a lot in the early stages of prototyping and ideation.

He had a variety of names we considered. Names go through a lot of iterations, sometimes, too. What ended up most compelling to us was this idea of an 'Unselected' character, someone who was a bit of an underachiever in the context of this world... and, as a result of him not opting into some of the privileges provided by Cloudbank, we consequently know very little about him (as players of Transistor), other than the information he volunteers along the way and what can be gleaned from that, and his relationship with Red.

KnuxTenma9 karma

A follow-up question, then: any chance of us having the opportunity to learn more about him in the future, such as a sequel, prequel, or another form of media?

SG_Greg11 karma

We don't have any plans for stuff like this right now, though I appreciate your interest. All our focus has been on Pyre lately. As to what the future holds, your guess is as good as mine...!

mrmankey5616 karma

How do you guys come up with your game ideas?

SG_Greg64 karma

There's this massive, metal pit beneath a trapdoor in our office floor.

Once every three years, we send in members of our team, two at a time, in there, to fight, barefisted. Sometimes, other members of the team throw in things like 2x4s or small pointed objects. We wait until one person can no longer fight, then send in the next. It's ordered by drawing lots. Whoever is the last one standing, whatever game they want to make, we make it.

Serious answer: We start by talking through all of our various preoccupations, which can be anything -- a gameplay idea, some bit of tech we'd like to pursue, a narrative theme, an idea for a setting. We start looking for common ground, and more importantly we just start building. And we start to see what sticks, and how we could make more of the ideas stick together.

It's an organic process. It can be slow. There's no design document and we mostly just talk through everything, one small idea at a time. That's how Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre all came about.

Nobbersly15 karma

Letting you guys know that I love your games, Transistor is a large reason why I now consider games art. My question is: is it hard creating games with such a small team? Is there a desire to increase the size of the company? What are the pros/cons of working with so few people?

SG_Greg19 karma

Hey, thank you for the kind words.

Speaking personally... it's very hard. I honestly thought it would get easier over time, since we've worked together as a team for a long time now, and experienced multiple successes and learned from many other moments along the way. But, the landscape of games keeps changing just as quickly, and we keep making games that push us creatively, so my personal sense is that it's never getting any easier. Transistor was harder for me than Bastion, and Pyre was harder for me than Transistor. This is just me speaking personally and my colleagues may feel different.

Being a small studio is core to everything we do. We've always felt it was important to stay small. If we grew more, it would require us to work very very differently I think, and that in turn could threaten whatever 'magic' there is in what we do and the outcome of the work.

The pros of being small is we can be super tactical, and don't have to spend too much time seeking approval, spreading communication around a big organization, and stuff like that. Each individual also contributes a large percentage to each project -- we can feel a significant sense of ownership over what we do.

The only real con is that there's a limitless supply of work to go around! Learning to say no, to be realistic about what can be achieved at any point in time, and maintaining a healthy balance between work and life all can be a challenge.

dmiknevich15 karma

Supergiant has one of the best group of personalities at a game company and Building the Bastion is my favorite behind the scenes look at game making. Any chance that we will get to see more of your process in the future?

SG_Greg19 karma

As a former game critic, I think there aren't enough stories out there about what goes into the making of games (although these days it feels like there's a lot more good stuff like this than there used to be, e.g. Danny O'Dwyer's NoClip series or 2 Player's work with Double Fine and so on). Hopefully we will have chances in the future to show more of how we work, too.

I think it's really important for prospective game developers to see just how messy the process is. When you play a finished game you like, it's really intimidating and difficult to imagine how that came together. When you see a terrible prototype, you think... 'wait... I could do that!'

ohmybabe13 karma

So on the face value, Pyre sure doesn't look like a combat-centric game compare to your previous titles since it plays like a "sports" game but I beg the differ. I think it is still very combat-heavy game because getting your hands on the "ball" require player's finesse and characters' abilities, the goal is just an add-on. So my question is which way would you prefer the majority of your audiences perceive the game? Would you like them to perceive it as a sports game, or lean towards thinking it is a tactic heavy fighting game with a little sport twist in it? I know the wonder of this game is in-between those 2 lines. Aaaaand congratulations on the launch, I can't wait for Pyre.

SG_Greg22 karma

We prefer for Pyre to be regarded as a party-based RPG.

It happens that the game's battle system can be seen as having some common ground with some sports, but really, sports can be seen as a simulation of pitched battle. The main difference is that in sports, you don't just straight-up die if you fail (in most cases...), and the nonlethal nature of the competitions in Pyre was very important to us. We wanted the characters in this game to have to live through failure and deal with it, both personally and together as a group. You'll find this is core to the themes of the game -- this group of characters, having to strive together through thick and thin, unable to succeed on their own.

Really hope you enjoy the game!

Flemtality13 karma

Are you guys against the idea of sequels?

I can't help but notice that you guys have jumped from one "franchise" if you care to call them that, to another. Virtually every other studio out there would have seen the smash hit that was Bastion and slapped a number two on the end of that and made a clone of what they already did with the first game, but you guys didn't. Why is that?

SG_Greg34 karma

It's more that we're in favor of creating original worlds.

We're in a unique position as a studio, having made two (and hopefully soon three) original worlds for our games and succeeded at it. It's a struggle to make a successful game, much less in an original setting. And, if you do succeed, it can be the case that you get bound by that success -- some of the biggest studios out there are 'stuck' having to make sequels to their huge IPs indefinitely because it would be fiscally irresponsible (i.e. too risky) for them to do anything else!

We operate on a smaller scale and our games don't need to sell 10 million copies for us to stay afloat and be able to make something new. After Bastion, we were pretty sure that a Bastion 2 would have been a safer bet than anything else we had in mind, but we were more excited by the idea of making Transistor, and decided to pursue that instead.

We love the worlds and characters of our games and don't build our games thinking we would never under any circumstances come back to those worlds. But we also build each game to feel complete in its own right, so that if we never made another game in that setting, it'd be OK, because there's still this fully faceted glimpse of it in the game we did make.

Nele0s12 karma

If you could cosplay one of your characters which one would you pick?

SG_Greg12 karma

My pick would be a yet-unrevealed character from Pyre.... I'm envious of his hair, among other things.

Dercomai12 karma

I've seen a lot of theories about Cloudbank, and nobody agrees on whether it's a real place or a virtual reality "matrix" of some sort, for example. Have you established a canon answer for this? (Not asking you to reveal it, just curious whether you have an answer or not.)

SG_Greg21 karma

We have very long-winded documents all about Cloudbank, and where and when it came about. What's revealed in the game is just the tip of the iceberg, since most of the information you get in the game is from the point of view of the characters, who have their own perspective but still have gaps in their own knowledge and understanding.

Dercomai8 karma

Do you plan to release any more of that information at some point, whether or not it's canon?

SG_Greg12 karma

No plans for something like this right now though I appreciate the interest. We've been heads-down working on Pyre for a long time!

kerrernol11 karma

I really enjoyed how you implemented difficulty settings (not with a traditional choice but more organically) in Transistor by letting the player fine tune the challenge using limiters from normal scenarios to cranking up the fights to be a living hell, so will Pyre perhaps feature something similar?

SG_Greg8 karma

Hey, thank you! Pyre has a global difficulty setting (a first for our games) that you can change at any time if you want, in addition to something like what you describe. We really like the system we came up with for Pyre and hope you enjoy it too if you get a chance to play!

Nobbersly9 karma

When are you planning on dropping Pyre? Since I may take off work if it's early enough.

SG_Greg12 karma

Hey, Pyre should be released at around 9:00am Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday, July 25, both on Steam and PlayStation 4. We'll post any updates via our @SupergiantGames Twitter that day. Thank you for your interest!

Wtf54979 karma

Have y'all ever thought about releasing PS4 physical copies of your games through Sony or an independent group such as Likited Run Games? It would be a day one purchase for me and many collectors.

SG_Greg13 karma

Hey, yeah, as a studio whose games exist exclusively as data on people's hard disks, we see a lot of appeal in creating physical versions of our games or aspects of them. That's why we've invested so much in our online store, with soundtrack CDs and figurines and stuff like that. We've never put our games in a box, though! It's something we've thought about for sure, it's just never really come together for us thus far. Maybe someday! Thank you for your interest.

ccxvi8 karma

Any chance of returning to Caelondia or Cloudbank in the future?

SG_Greg12 karma

We don't know what the future holds for us! We design the worlds of our games both on the premise that 'maybe this will be the last game we ever make, so let's make the best game possible and make sure it feels self-contained and complete' -- but that also means creating worlds that feel rich enough to potentially support any number of different stories. We have never approached one of our games as, like, the first in a trilogy or something like that, but we love the worlds of Bastion, Transistor, and now Pyre, and are not inherently opposed to ever coming back to them. Though, we love creating new worlds from scratch a lot, too!

jack_of_knaves8 karma

Hypothetical: Bastion and Transistor are being developed into different properties (Comic, Series, Feature film, whatever) How would you do it? The worlds of Caelondia and Cloudband seem so historical how would you flesh them out?

What's your dream scenario? Who stars/animates/illustrates/voices/directs?

Personally I'd like to see Studio Bones tackle Transistor.

SG_Greg6 karma

Dang, I dunno. It's tough.

Games are often compared to movies but I think by far the closest analogy is comics. I've never written a comic and wouldn't mind taking a shot at that sometime.

Maybe a limited-run TV series like one of those Netflix dealies would be cool. It lets you pack in more story than is possible in a two-hour movie, and it lets you drive toward a satisfying end unlike with a show that runs indefinitely.

Casaham6 karma

The setting of Transistor leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The story brings up a lot of questions that are never truly answered. (For example, what does it really mean to leave for the Country?) Do you have a canonical explanation for these things in mind, or did you write Transistor with the intention of everything being so ambiguous. I love your games and I'm super excited for Pyre!!!

SG_Greg18 karma

Hey, thank you for the kind words.

We do have an explanation for everything in the game in mind, but the canon is the game itself. Aspects of the game left open to interpretation are left open that way on purpose.

I feel one of the mainstays of cyberpunk fiction themes is a sense of uneasy ambiguity around the self and one's environment. Aspects of Transistor's fiction that are left open to interpretation are there in part to express this, but also because games, being an interactive medium, I think invite players to have a personal experience. Lastly, I think narrative can and sometimes should be a source of challenge in games, to the extent that challenge is pleasurable and interesting. Narrative needn't be relegated to serving as a reward between action sequences.

OmnipotentDuck5 karma

Can we expect the soundtrack to be released in the near future? If it's even half as good as the last two I can't wait to hear it!

SG_Greg11 karma

Yes, the Pyre Original Soudntrack will be there on Tuesday alongside the game's launch! It will be available on Steam and also from our web site. We will shortly announce details of the physical CD edition. It's our biggest soundtrack ever, weighing in at close to two hours of music by Darren. I'm sure Darren will have plenty more to say about the music in the game in this AMA!

crowbar115 karma

  1. How much is Ashley Barret involved with Pyre? Less than Transistor I suppose? Spoiler territory maybe?
  2. Is that the voice of Logan Cunningham in the Pyre trailers? It sounds very different to Rucks and the Transistor :)
  3. Is there a specific reason why your games are always "2D"? Budget related? (I know they aren't always technically 2D)
  4. Will you guys never make a Sequel? :)
  5. Mandatory Question: What is everyone's favorite game ever? :)

I love Supergiant <3, one of my favorite game developers in the world!

SG_Greg4 karma

  1. We don't know what the future holds!
  2. Ultima V and Street Fighter II (an exact tie)

_paperboat5 karma

As far as I know, teams that worked in Bastion, Transistor and Pyre are all similar in terms of who worked in them. How much did the team develop/improve/change throughout these 6+ years? How many people came in along the way? How many went their separate ways? Also, any Brazilians in the team?

SG_Greg8 karma

Hey, all seven people who worked on Bastion worked together on Transistor and worked together again on Pyre in the same roles!

We grew from 7 to 12 since we started. Our art team grew from just Jen to Jen + Camilo + Josh. Michael joined us to help with almost every aspect of what we do so we could make games without utterly collapsing as a place of work. Morgan joined us to bring essential QA and production experience to the team, which we were sorely lacking.

We had one engineer, Chris Jurney, who was on board all through Transistor and moved on after to do cool VR stuff. We've since been joined by John-Paul, who helps run our online shop among other things. And that's everyone. The part where it's been basically the same team over many years now is something I think we're quite proud of at this point.

We hail from many different parts of the world though no one's from Brazil...!

fearpioneer5 karma

Y'all are my favorite game studio out there and I must say I think you truly understand what makes games great.

One of my favorite things about your games is you always strike an incredible balance between great, fun gameplay and wonderful, immersive atmosphere/narrative, similar to games like Bioshock. Do you personally feel like you try and hit this balance, you lean in one direction or another, or it's just a side effect of having very talented team members involved in gameplay and narrative?

SG_Greg4 karma

Hey, thank you very much, first of all. If you get a chance to play Pyre, I hope your high opinion of us remains well intact...!

We definitely, consciously try to hit the balance you describe. I think it's hard to do, but if you make it an area of focus, you're much more likely to achieve it. One of the wonderful things about games is that they're such a melting pot of different media, ON TOP OF being interactive and player-driven. So, all the different aesthetic components are ultimately contributing toward a sum-total experience.

We do use narrative as a sort of glue to pull together otherwise disparate elements. One of my favorite parts of my job is trying to use the narrative to make sense of different design ideas in the context of the gameworld we've created. I love games where it feels like nothing was taken for granted and that everything, including basic genre conventions (like say reloading checkpoints after dying), feels justified in the world.

momori665 karma

what do you do when you feel uninspired to do work at work? or this never happened? or how do you make youself inspired and motivated? any downtime?

SG_Greg7 karma

I'm sure we each have different strategies to deal with lack of motivation, and I'm sure we each experience it from time to time.

My strategy as a writer is to push through it. Just. Write. Just write. It can be trash but write something. Write about why you're not writing.

The other thing I discovered in recent years, and it's something that's very common as a piece of advice, is that physical exercise is really really really important. I go for a run. I work out my frustrations that way, and I change my scenery. It may not break me out of it right away but it can help.

Taking breaks is really important too.

ninnyjams4 karma

Would you guys ever consider 4K updates/rereleases for Transistor or Bastion? I remember hearing that the art assets were created specifically for 1080p, but they're such beautiful games I'd love to see them in 4K if possible.

And to Greg -- once you get done with the whole "putting out a video game" thing, get back on Giant Bomb more!

SG_Greg5 karma

It would be difficult to back-solve 4K onto Bastion or Transistor because the hand-painted assets were not generated with those resolutions in mind. 4K just was not a thing back in 2010 when Bastion was in production! Though, who knows, nothing is impossible I guess. Just not something we're actively considering right now.

I'm happy to be on Giant Bomb as often as those guys will let me! They know where to find me. I love that that crew is still together after all these years and the Bombcast keeps my Tuesday commutes sane.

theotheredmund4 karma

Any chance of seeing some Supergiant Games in VR?

SG_Greg7 karma

We have no idea what the future holds, and have no firm plans after Pyre's launch, so, who knows?

Given our focus on creating 2D games with painterly artwork, it's not necessarily an obvious fit for us, though we're always thinking about new things we could do.

Mattarias4 karma

Soooo.... How much fire does Pyre have/feature...? e3e

SG_Greg10 karma

In the parlance of certain regions of California: hella.

UnsolvedParadox4 karma

Hey Supergiant team,

Love the games you create, everything from the gameplay and world to the atmosphere and music are breathtaking.

My question is, do you have a long term plan to expand into another medium? A Transistor film, Bastion TV series etc with the wonderful storytelling in your games would be amazing.

SG_Greg7 karma

Thank you for the kind words!

I think the 'Games' part of Supergiant Games is important to us as a point of focus. We've branched out a little bit at least in terms of making stuff like soundtrack CDs though as a small studio, I think it's really important that we remain focused and specialized around something in particular, and games are the thing that units us as a team. All the same, we don't know what the future holds and are always open to new possibilities. It's important to be willing to adapt and change over time if you want to stick around for the long haul as a small studio like ours!

FanThePan3 karma

Hey everybody! Thank you for making my two favorite games. Everybody on the team is incredibly skilled!

Have you ever thought about making a horror game or a game with horror-like elements?

SG_Greg4 karma

I like horror games a lot. Amnesia: The Dark Descent, SOMA, Resident Evil series (especially RE4), Condemned, and P.T. are some of my favorites.

I think it's one of those things, though, where you need buy-in from everyone having to do the work, and not all of us are into that sort of thing. I think we like that our games have been fairly accessible from a content standpoint. For example both my kids (ages 6 and 11) played a bunch of Pyre while it was in development. If I was working on something like Condemned, I doubt I could have ever shown it to them.

I'm glad to see lots of interesting horror-themed games still being made these days. I still need to play Resident Evil 7!

kerrernol3 karma

Will the PC version have 4k support? I saw the tweets mentioning PS4 pro having it but what about steam?

SG_Greg4 karma

Yes, indeed! The PC version of Pyre has support for 4K resolution with compatible displays.

fargofallout3 karma

Once you finish a game and move on to the next, how much time do you spend coming up with the idea for the next game? Do you have any expectation as to when you'll be in full production on your next game?

SG_Greg8 karma

It's varied a lot after each new game. We didn't start Transistor for like... well over a year after we were done with Bastion. We kept doing Bastion stuff, bringing it to new platforms and whatnot!

After Transistor, we were eager to get started on a new game ASAP, and got to work on Pyre about three months later.

No idea what the future holds this time. It really depends on how things go with Pyre.