You may know Supergiant Games as the team behind the 2011 action role-player Bastion, or the equally ambitious, heartfelt and masterful Transistor three years later. You may also know the Californian outfit as the studio responsible for Pyre—a party-based RPG that promises to deliver its "biggest and most imaginative world yet" when it lands tomorrow, July 25.
Speaking via a Reddit AMA, creative director Greg Kasavin offered a glimpse into the behind the scenes workings of the developer. "There's this massive, metal pit beneath a trapdoor in our office floor," he tells one Reddit user. "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."
Joking aside Kasavin continues, explaining their process starts out very small and expands its ideas from there. It seems nothing is considered too minuscule and that these personalised conversations exist in lieu of formal design documents.
"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," adds Kasavin. "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."
When Tom Marks got to grips with Pyre at PAX East last year, he found its "Oregon Trail mixed with Rocket League" makeup confusing if not interesting. When quizzed about Pyre's sport-leaning style, Kasavin was keen to underscore its role-playing lineage.
"We prefer for Pyre to be regarded as a party-based RPG," says Kasavin when asked how he and his team wish their incoming game to be perceived. "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 non-lethal 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."
I'm not sure I entirely follow that statement, but I'm admittedly a huge fan of both Bastion and Transistor. To this end, I'll go into Pyre with an open mind. If that's you too, you can do so as of tomorrow July 25. In the meantime, check out Wes' review.
Supergiant's Reddit AMA can be read in full over here.