Early in 2013, the public at PAX East got its first look at Transistor, the next game from Bastion developer Supergiant Games. Now, almost a year later, Transistor is looking more and more like a full game, said Greg Kasavin, writer and designer for Supergiant.
“In terms of actual development, we’re about at an alpha stage, where the game is playable and the content is there, and now we just have to make it all as good as possible,” Kasavin told OnlySP. “That’s really where we wanted to be by the end of this year, and that’s pretty much where we’re at.”
In terms of actual gameplay, Transistor’s last outing was at PAX Prime in the fall, where Supergiant showed off an initial build of the first several minutes of the game. Since then, Supergiant has been keeping pretty quiet, focusing on finishing up the rest of the game.
The gameplay we’ve seen so far is reminiscent at times of Bastion’s unique game experience. The camera is positioned in a familiar place, and the role of the narrator as a core character in the story makes its return. But the small similarities aren’t surprising. The compact Supergiant team already has plenty of experience working with one another, and they’re bound to fill their games with elements that they think work best for them, Kasavin said. But at the end of the day, Supergiant is trying to make something new.
“Ultimately, I don’t think we’ll think we succeeded with this game unless it has a distinct identity of its own,” Kasavin said. “I hope that once the game comes out that it’ll stand on its own.”
With the game virtually playable from start to finish and only tweaking and polishing left to go, Kasavin said Transistor is well on its way to making the “early 2014” release date the game has been shooting for. The game’s scale is also becoming a little clearer as it’s being finished. As Bastion did, Transistor includes side content that players can choose to explore, and this optional content can make pinning down a game length tricky. Kasavin did estimate, though, that Transistor’s scale was in the ballpark of what players got out of Bastion.
When Transistor drops sometime this year, players have a lot they can look forward to from the gameplay. Quite unlike Bastion, where weapon switching was a core element of the game, Transistor’s gameplay revolves largely around the titular weapon, leading to a different game experience and more storytelling options.
“The game is very much about the Transistor, about the kind of mysteries of it and its various abilities. Without giving anything away, I would say don’t go in expecting Army Carbines and whatnot,” Kasavin said. “I like the idea of a game in which you sort of start off with the ultimate weapon right from the very beginning. Instead of getting it at the last level of the fight, the last bad guy, you get it right at the start.”
Players can also look forward a killer soundtrack if the announcement trailer is anything to go by. Darren Korb, Supergiant’s audio director and the man behind Bastion’s memorable soundtrack, is back again to give Transistor its own epic feel.
“[Korb] is there from day one,” Kasavin said. “It’s not like we just commission a bunch of music six months before the end of the project. It’s very core to how we build up the world of this game.”
Transistor is set to launch on PC and PlayStation 4 in early 2014. Supergiant is taking advantage of Sony’s long-advertised developer resources, and the team is making Transistor a self-funded and self-published effort. Supergiant previously teamed up with Warner Bros. to bring Bastion to Xbox Live, but this time around, Kasavin said the PS4 seemed like “a really good fit.” According to Kasavin, Supergiant’s relationship with Sony throughout the development process has not been unlike their previous partnership with Warner Bros. Both companies, he said, offered support when the developer needed it, but otherwise kept a hands-off approach, letting the team make the game the way they wanted to make it.
For now, though, Supergiant is focused on making this game as good as they can possibly make it, Kasavin said. The team at Supergiant made a noticeable splash with their first game, and it looks like they’re eager to take on the challenge of following up strong with their second.
“I’ve worked on some games where the public didn’t want them,” Kasavin said. “That can be a total bummer. So it’s nice to be working on something that people are excited about, and it’s nice to feel like we have big shoes to fill off of the heels of our first game.”