Beyond Bastion: Supergiant Feels It Can Do ‘Anything’

By Nathan Grayson on February 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 am.

When I say “Supergiant,” what do you think of? No, no, after an image of a particularly muscular giant wearing a cape. OK, no, but before the word loses all meaning and deconstructs into “Superg Iant,” which… what? Yes, correct, you think of Bastion. And that’s perfectly fair. After all, it is, so far, the only game that’s found the magically materializing path out of the little colossus that could’s lair. So naturally, SG’s “the Bastion company” in the eyes of most. It does twangy Western-flavored tales and narrators with voices made of gravel-bedazzled silk. But, while there are certainly far worse ways to be pigeonholed, co-founder Amir Rao isn’t interested in confining his company to a nigh-inescapable box.

“I think anything is possible out of us,” he told RPS during a recent interview. “Like, Gavin Simon, our co-founder, used to be a competitive Red Alert 2 player. He used to be on a team that was ranked in the top-100 ladders. He’s amazing at RTS games. And I’ve played hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of DOTA 2. Greg [Kasavin] is really into fighting games. So for us, there’s certainly a lot of pleasure in competitive games, and it’s possible we might do something like that someday.”

“From our perspective, it’s more about making games that fit with the preoccupations of the people on the team than [staying in a specific wheelhouse].”

Interestingly, Supergiant’s intentionally small team size is one of the major reasons for that. Rao explained that every individual member plays a very large role in deciding what sorts of games the studio creates. Case in point: Bastion.

“With Bastion, it was ‘What if we had an action-RPG where you build the whole world yourself?’ It was a really mechanical idea. But a lot of the tonal ideas came from Greg wanting to do something a little like Cormac-McCarthy-does-fantasy. And Jen brought in the lush 2D art she’s able to make. And Darren had musical ideas. It’s all of that mixed together that created what was special about Bastion. It’s hard to pin down any one thing.”

That said, staying (paradoxically) tiny and maneuverable can have its drawbacks. Project scope’s often the first thing to be sacrificed at the altar of creativity. That said, Rao doesn’t think that’ll ever end up being an issue for Supergiant – especially in light of the way the gaming industry’s evolving.

“We certainly don’t feel limited by the talent on the team,” he said. “I think you see things like Antichamber, which is totally 3D and it’s all just one guy. He made really smart stylistic choices that allowed him to do that. Things like The Witness, which Jon Blow’s working on, are also pretty small-scale. So, from that perspective, I don’t really think we’re limited.”

Which brought us to the natural next question: what’s, er, next? Unfortunately, Supergiant’s process is too amorphous to declare anything set in stone just yet. Basically, Rao and co won’t make a peep until they’re good and ready. But, conjuring up all the cunning my sleep-deprived journobrain could muster, I found a secret passageway into a treasure trove of details.

RPS: Can you at least say if Bastion narrator Logan Cunningham be involved? 

Amir Rao: [laughs] It’s still too early to say for sure what kind of talent we’ll have involved.

RPS: It’s going to be a Logan Cunningham simulator, isn’t it? Admit it: I’ve got you cornered. 

Amir Rao: I would play a Logan Cunningham simulator for sure.

So that’s obviously confirmed, then.

« »

, .

29 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Kid tries to ask an incisive question, gets no answer.

    Kid just rages for a while.

    • Toberoth_Syn says:

      <3

    • skyturnedred says:

      I kinda got bored with Bastion after a while, but I still go back to it from time to time just for the narration.

      • Jams O'Donnell says:

        Kid kinda got bored with the Bastion after a while, but you still see him around from time to time, listening.

        • Premium User Badge

          Skeletor68 says:

          ‘Kid tries…’ is just as powerful as ‘Good news everyone!’ at this stage.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        It’s definitely worth burning through the story, even if you ignore the trial levels.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Bastion is the best game about conflict I’ve played in a long time.

    • Premium User Badge

      DeVadder says:

      At the end i literally had to step away from the screen and go outside, just because i was unable to decide which was the moral decision and fully knowing that it would hardly change much but the outro. But i just had to think this through properly.

      • Zungado says:

        Love this games story. That moment when you make a decision regarding that guy ( spoiler free?), I just can’t help but choose the same thing each time.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          To be honest, the first time I got to that bit I thought I was swapping him with the previous pick-up, and would start using him as a flail.

        • povu says:

          The pickup option is so much better than the other. It’s the only way you’ll get to hear Zulf’s theme music ingame, and it’s a much more emotional scene overall as you walk to the exit.

          • Zorn says:

            I even liked the trial levels. Switching loadouts and tactics, returning to the dreams.
            Them is usually not things I hold in the highest regard in games.

      • Phantoon says:

        It’s not much of a moral choice. It’s genocide or save a life.

        Infamous 2 had a harder moral choice.

  3. Createx says:

    Hmm, the Cormac McCarthy comment makes me want to go back and play the game, though I’m not sure how he fits in there :D
    Ok, laconic narration, but the closest thing to Bastion is probably The Road, and the atmosphere is completely different, so not very close :)
    Still, cool to see that one of my favourite games is made by people who read one of my favourite authors.

    • Inigo says:

      I want to see a videogame adaptation of Blood Meridian, if only to see how long it takes for it to get banned.

      • GameCat says:

        1) Squad based action RTS with open world where you can burn villages and cut scalps from villagers and sell it in next town for gold.

        2) Realistic MMO (without RPG-ish stats and levels etc.) with permadeath (something like DayZ) and huge fights. Do you want to build a fort/village with friends, join horde of coldblooded warriors who are killing everything in sight or become a lonely hunter who stay away from conflict?

        Good God, someone should make these RIGHT NOW.

        BTW I just love McCarthy’s books. I think he may be even the gratest writer ever lived.

        • Inigo says:

          PRESS “E” TO ESCAPE FROM JUDGE HOLDEN
          LOL JUST KIDDING I MEANT “K” ALL ALONG
          ENJOY YOUR BAD ENDING
          “GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY” INDEED

  4. Kollega says:

    Kid reads into the words written in the article. He realizes that he now wants Supergiant to make a true successor to Red Alert, an RTS that’d make clever use of Evil Communists and rush tactics. Unfortunately, this ain’t likely to happen.

    • Hatsworth says:

      Yes. A mindblowingly fast, simple 2D RTS that isn’t F2P.

      I don’t really think being in a top 100 clan in RA2 is much to brag about when it comes to competitive chops though. Hell, you could win the entire solo ladder in RA2 — I did, multiple times — and still be a small fry in WC3\BW. It was great fun however.

  5. Tuco says:

    Dear Supergiant, go for a Zelda-like and enjoy all my money.

    • Xzi says:

      Replace “Zeldalike” with “roguelike” and ditto.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      or an FPS

      “The harden merc reloads his gun”
      “bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang”

      okay, maybe not.

      • Tacroy says:

        In my head Logan Cunningham was saying “Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang….”

        I would totally play that game, though I imagine it would end up sounding kinda like this.

  6. Bobka says:

    I am really curious to see what they do next. Kind of disappointed they spent so much time just porting the game to new platforms, but then again, it’s a great game and it’s nice for gamers to have more options – and since PC was one of those ports, I’m happy, of course, that the game didn’t just stay on XBLA.

    Bastion was also the game that finally got me onto Steam.

  7. DickSocrates says:

    An hour of Bastion was enough for me.

  8. TsunamiWombat says:

    S..so does this mean we’re not getting another Bastion?

  9. The Random One says:

    If you keep breaking it down you arrive at Superg Ian T, my favorite rapper.

  10. fish99 says:

    Loved Bastion, I’d place it up there with Braid, Minecraft and Hotline Miami as the pinnacle of indie games. Honourable mentions for Super Meat Boy, Trine etc.

  11. Daniel Klein says:

    This Nathan kid. Also, I can now confirm he’s an actual person since I am talking to him. This very second.