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Bastion Interview

Scott chats to Greg Kasavin, the Creative Director at Supergiant Games, about their upcoming game Bastion.

TJP: Without spoiling too much, what is Bastion about for those that haven’t heard of Bastion before?

GK: In Bastion your character wakes up to discover a surreal catastrophe has torn his world to pieces. As the world begins reconstituting itself beneath his feet, he makes his way for the one place his people were supposed to go in case anything ever went wrong. But the only person he finds there is an old man, who intends to set everything right again in spite of the circumstances. The two of them join forces, as the younger character sets out into the dangerous disaster-stricken environment to seek the materials needed to realize the plan. All of this unfolds through our reactive narration technique, as a narrator will be there to tell the story of your actions every step of the way. We use narration pervasively throughout the experience to give context, reveal backstory, and ultimately to connect with the player.

This is our first title as a studio. We’re called Supergiant Games, but really we’re seven people based out of a house in San Jose. We used to work for big publishers like EA and Activision and left in order to make games our own way. With Bastion we aimed to create something that players could immediately pick up and start playing, which felt very responsive and rewarding to play, and offered an emotionally complex experience beyond the moment-to-moment excitement.

TJP: Looking at the images of Bastion. It’s very colourful, bright and very pleasing to the eye, but I do have this distinctive post-apocalyptic vibe to the game. Was that the direction you wanted Bastion to go towards?

GK: Your read on the art direction is spot on. The sense of contrast in the visual design is central to the themes of the game. We wanted to create a beautiful and fantastic world that was immediately captivating, but to instill in it a sense of depth and history. The experience of the game is intended to be highly atmospheric, almost like you’re exploring a storybook – but we wanted to capture a broader emotional range with it as well, not just your typical heroic story of good triumphing over evil, but something more contemplative and personal, and whimsical too. Jen Zee our art director joined at a time when the game’s look was still undefined but we had a sense of the tone and the fiction. With those details in mind, she came up with a look for the game that felt just right to us. We wanted Bastion to be the sort of game that would be captivating right from the start but that concealed a great deal of gameplay and narrative depth, and I think the art style really holds up its end of that deal.

TJP: Melee, close range and long range weapons in the game. How adaptive will the AI be? If I was to use a long range weapon in a big area, will the enemy pick up on this, and try different manoeuvre’s to put the heat of battle on me?

GK: Our primary goal around enemy design in Bastion was to ensure each of the different foes in the game had its own clear, discrete, and interesting behavior that tested the player’s skill in a specific way. It should be easy to explain what each foe is all about. In this sense I think we followed in the classic tradition of action game design, where it’s not about trying to create the most realistic and varied artificial intelligence for its own sake but rather about creating distinct types of foes that can be used in different combinations to craft unique encounters. In games ranging from Super Mario Bros. to Doom to Bayonetta, each enemy has its own specific attack style, yet by mixing them in different combinations and placing them in different level layouts those games offer many hours of challenging play. Likewise, in Bastion, we want players to quickly learn what’s different about each type of foe, so that we can then mix up the encounters in a variety of different ways.

For example, the very first type of foe you encounter in the game, the Gasfella, is very hard-hitting but has limited range and telegraphs his attack pretty slowly. From encountering this foe, the player to keep moving, and that Bastion is not a typical action RPG in which you can stand there and soak up damage.

About the author

Scott Widdowson

News-hound for TheJoyPads. Been gaming over 10 years + (don't want sound like I'm getting old) and it all began with SEGA's, Megadrive.

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