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The folks at Gamastura have managed to get ahold of Supergiant Games' Greg Kasavin and Amir Rao for a livestream dedicated to their recently released title, Pyre. With how unique Supergiant's games have been so far, it's quite a treat to hear the developers behind them describe their creative process and share various anecdotes. See for yourself:
And a few snippets from the accompanying article, including some minor spoilers:
Pyre began as an exercise in building a game about multiple characters
According to Kasavin and Rao, while there were a lot of high-water marks for realizing what made Pyre “fun” during development, it all began with a desire to try something different from Supergiant Games’ previous two successes. While Bastion and Transistor were stories of individual characters faced with changing worlds, work on Pyre because its creators wanted to explore the possibilities of making a game with multiple characters.
So while you’re playing, you should definitely pay attention to how Supergiant uses these characters not just in the fantasy arena, but also in the choice-driven gameplay that takes place between the missions.
Players get attached to "dumb details"
In Pyre, there’s a grey-haired young woman who joins your journey shortly after the game begins. Instead of telling you her name though, she asks you to remind her of it, and the game offers a huge litany of names that all end with the “ae” sound (Shae, Bae, etc). And every time she enters battle, the game's snide narrator (voiced by Logan Cunningham) announces her by the name you picked, despite there being a huge variety of different names.
So that means there’s dozens of audio files that players just won’t hear because they only picked one name—no doubt a huge undertaking that must have required a lot of tracking and management. We asked Kasavin and Rao why design decisions like this were worth it, and Kasavin passionately argued they’re sometimes the thing that players will remember most about your game.
Kasavin challenged everyone else on the stream to recall their favorite games from childhood, and pointed out that the moments we probably best recall were finely-tuned details that stuck around in the game because someone on the team was really passionate about them. Rao added that because Supergiant is such a small team, it’s easier for those features to stick around in development, because all it takes is two members (a large percentage of the team) to think they’re worth working on.
“It’s a game that asks you to consider the outcomes of [defeat]”
As mentioned before, we talked to Kasavin about Pyre being a game that deals directly with defeat. But he and Rao were able to share more thoughts on that subject. Most ‘learning’ in games, Kasavin points out, happens in an extra-narrative fashion. But he says Pyre asks you to consider a different viewpoint. “In a zero-sum competition, If I’m against you, I win, and you lose. It’s a game that invites you to consider what that means from multiple points of view.”