Greg Kasavin talks about the debut of Supergiant’s breakout hit on PS4.
You may not have heard of Supergiant Games and you’ve probably only seen Transistor in passing but you’ve doubtless heard of Bastion. Supergiant’s breakout indie title combined aspects of action RPGs, world building, platforming and much more into a colourful yet gritty fantasy adventure into the Wild Unknown. It’s no secret that Bastion was a massive success, releasing first through Xbox Live Arcade in July 2011 before eventually moving to the PC, Mac OS X, Google Chrome, iOS and Linux. Now the fantasy adventure is available on the PlayStation 4 and Vita, and we couldn’t be more excited.
It’s an interesting direction though considering Supergiant already delivered a brand new experience on the Vita and PS4 with Transistor. How will Bastion fare on the newer platforms, especially on the PS4? GamingBolt spoke to writer Greg Kasavin on the same, including the various improvements and changes one can expect.
"Folks have been asking us to bring Bastion to the PlayStation ever since we announced it. Given that, as well as Transistor's success on the PS4, not to mention the health of the platform overall, we wanted to bring Bastion over to this new audience."
Rashid K. Sayed: Bastion has been an unmitigated success for Supergiant Games. How does it feel to return to it especially following the release of Transistor?
Greg Kasavin: We’re very happy that Bastion has had such staying power, to where there’s still interest in it after all these years. We couldn’t have expected that when we first released the game in 2011. We’re excited to be bringing our first game to PS4, and to a PlayStation platform for the first time, following the success of Transistor. For many players, Transistor was their first exposure to our studio, so Bastion will be a whole new game for them. Despite their differences, we think the games share similar values, seeing as we made them both, so we think those who enjoyed Transistor are quite likely to enjoy Bastion as well.
Rashid K. Sayed: What motivated the decision to bring Bastion to the PS4? Was there any decision to focus on a new project as opposed to revisiting an old one?
Greg Kasavin: Folks have been asking us to bring Bastion to the PlayStation ever since we announced it. Given that, as well as Transistor’s success on the PS4, not to mention the health of the platform overall, we wanted to bring Bastion over to this new audience. We’ve brought Bastion to a number of different platforms in the past and each time we end up hearing from a lot of folks who never saw or heard of it before but end up really liking it.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will Bastion see any significant graphical improvements in the PS4 version?
Greg Kasavin: Bastion for PS4 is meant to be an exacting translation of the original version of the game. Part of the reason we’re releasing this new version of the game is because we think the presentation has held up well. I think 2D games with hand-painted artwork have a tendency to age a little more gracefully than most.
Rashid K. Sayed: It’s interesting that Bastion is on the PS4 since Transistor was also exclusive to the console (along with the Vita). How much has Sony’s indie approach prompted you to stay on PlayStation?
Greg Kasavin: Transistor launched on PlayStation 4 as well as PC, so we never saw it as being exclusive to any platform. Certainly we’ve enjoyed working with Sony and appreciate all the support they’ve given to our small team and to our games. The folks over there genuinely seem to like our games, and that means a lot. As a game player I respect Sony’s approach to bringing lots of independent games to their platform, and think it’s very smart. Unlike the previous console generation, there are many fewer big studios making games these days, due to all the ways the business of making games has changed. But a console still needs software, so the Sony team has looked to many smaller developers to help round out its catalogue.
"While we have no other versions of Bastion or Transistor planned at this time, we haven't ruled anything out for the future. Certainly if you had asked me a year or two ago if Bastion would ever come to the next-generation PlayStation, I would have been very doubtful, but here we are!"
Rashid K. Sayed: Will we ever see Bastion or even Transistor arrive on the Xbox One? If no, is there a specific reason behind the same?
Greg Kasavin: While we have no other versions of Bastion or Transistor planned at this time, we haven’t ruled anything out for the future. Certainly if you had asked me a year or two ago if Bastion would ever come to the next-generation PlayStation, I would have been very doubtful, but here we are! That’s why I always put it this way, because circumstances change and I don’t know what the future holds. One of the nice things about being small is we can make decisions tactically and keep our options open.
Rashid K. Sayed: What will the PS4 version of Bastion add to the core game? Given its original release was almost four years ago, can we expect any new content?
Greg Kasavin: Bastion for PS4 is intended to be an exacting translation of the original game, so those who’ve played the game before should only get this version if they want to play it again on PS4. We didn’t want anyone who’s already played Bastion to feel pressured to get this version because of some added scrap of content that wasn’t intended for the original game. That being said, this version of Bastion does contain the free DLC content we released later in the game’s first year, which added alternate modes of play and a challenging new sequence to the New Game Plus second play-through.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will Bastion support cross-play or cross-buy on the PS4/Vita? Similarly, is Remote Play looking like an option at this point?
Greg Kasavin: Bastion for PS4 and Vita will support cross-buy, so if you purchase one, you will have access to both, once the Vita version becomes available. Bastion is a single-player-only game so cross-play wasn’t a factor in our consideration. As we still don’t have a release date announced for the Vita version, hopefully Remote Play will hold folks over in the mean time!
Rashid K. Sayed: How difficult has it been to translate Bastion to the PlayStation 4, especially considering the game’s age? Has it been harder or easier than developing Transistor from scratch with the PS4 in mind?
Greg Kasavin: The PS4 is a powerful console that’s very capable of handling a 2D game like Bastion, so from a technical standpoint bringing over our first game hasn’t taken us as long as building a new game from scratch. We’re working with a team called BlitWorks, based in Barcelona, on the translation effort. We thought they did a great job on the PS4 versions of games like FEZ and Don’t Starve, so they’ve shouldered the heavy lifting when it comes to making Bastion work well on PS4.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will Bastion support features like the PS4’s Touchpad or Share button in unique ways?
Greg Kasavin: We didn’t contrive any new features into this version of the game, though the Share button will work in the way it works with most PS4 titles. We use the Touchpad as a button for accessing the player’s inventory, and we ended up making some use of the light bar to reflect the player’s current health, and made some light use of the controller speaker as well for certain sound effects. It’s small stuff though we really like the DualShock 4 and wanted to take advantage of its unique aspects in ways we thought made sense for the game.
"Being small, we don't tend to plan too far ahead. We would like to stay small with this same team we've assembled and keep making games in the same spirit and with the same kinds of values as how we've been doing things so far."
Rashid K. Sayed: So, Microsoft’s ID@Xbox Policy parity clause has been a subject of much controversy. Microsoft seems to have been relaxing it for some cases but the clause is still there. As an indie developer what is your take on the parity clause and why do you think it only applies to indies and not AAA games?
Greg Kasavin: I understand how from Microsoft’s perspective it may not be desirable to have a library of “hand-me-downs” from other platforms. It’s far less of an issue for AAA games because AAA games have the budgets and team sizes to ship their games simultaneously on many platforms, whereas for smaller developers, it can be almost impossible to go to every platform at the same time. Certainly that’s been true of us at Supergiant. At the same time, as a game player all I want is for my consoles of choice to have good, diverse lineups of games. I don’t care if they’re also available on other platforms as long as they’re great games for the console.
Rashid K. Sayed: I guess the game will run at 1080p and 60 fps, right?
Greg Kasavin: That’s correct!
Rashid K. Sayed: What is your take on the ongoing resolutiongate and frame rate debate? Do you think it will settle down anytime soon?
Greg Kasavin: I don’t have a take on it. I am in general against the act of diminishing or dismissing people’s feelings about things that are important to them. In the case of this particular debate, I think it’s reasonable for game players to expect great things from the current generation of consoles, especially given the long gap between console generations and the relative power and ease-of-use of modern-day gaming PCs.
Rashid K. Sayed: What’s next for Supergiant Games in 2015 and beyond?
Greg Kasavin: I’ll be at least as curious as you to find that out! Being small, we don’t tend to plan too far ahead. We would like to stay small with this same team we’ve assembled and keep making games in the same spirit and with the same kinds of values as how we’ve been doing things so far. What comes out of that process, I guess time will tell!
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Greg Kasavin: Thanks for taking the time to check in with me! We’re excited to be bringing Bastion to a new audience come April 7, and really appreciate that PlayStation fans never relented in asking us for the game since it first came out. We appreciate everyone’s patience, and hope you enjoy it!