It's no secret that we here at RPGamer are more than a little excited about the recently announced science fiction action RPG title, Transistor. Its developer, Supergiant Games, had already made waves with the highly acclaimed Bastion — a title which we even named our "RPG of the Year" for 2011. As you might imagine, we were thankful for the opportunity to catch up with Supergiant Games' Audio Director and Composer, Darren Korb, at PAX East 2013 about this highly anticipated indie cyberpunk title. Naturally, they were tight-lipped on a number of topics, but consider our appetite whetted.
Trent Seely (RPGamer): Firstly, thank you for taking the time out to chat with us about Transistor.
For those unfamiliar with this upcoming title, could you give us a quick rundown of what kind of game it is?
Darren Korb (Audio Director & Composer): Sure — Transistor is an action RPG from the same people who brought you Bastion. It's a science fiction title with a greater amount of tactical combat, so we're taking a new approach this time around.
TS: We can see in the teaser trailer that there's a distinctly cyberpunk/hand painted art style to the game. Why did you choose that aesthetic?
DK: We were interested in doing something that fascinated us [artistically]. The aesthetic is based on our team's individual creative preoccupations (Blade Runner, art nouveau, vintage, etc.).
TS: This is being billed as "the story of Red." Can you expand on her character and the universe she exists in?
DK: She's a singer who is targeted by five assassins. They make an attempt on her life, but fail as the weapon they use to try and kill her slips free and teleports her to a different location. This is the Transistor. She then uses it as they spread out in pursuit of her.
TS: One of the cooler aspects of this game is that it features a female protagonist. There has been a number of controversies in the media as of late around the idea of female main characters. Why did you choose a female protagonist, and did you feel like there was a stigma around it?
DK: We don't really understand that method of thinking. Our goal was to introduce an interesting character to reflect the world we're building and the story we're telling. To us, that character is Red. It doesn't matter that she's female.
TS: You've mentioned that there is a strategic element to Transistor's combat. Can you comment on that a bit?
DK: We have a tactical turn mode where you can pause the combat to plan out your next moves. When you unpause this mode you'll execute all the actions and go back to real-time. You can also attack in real-time, but often it makes more sense to use your position and surroundings to your advantage.
TS: Like Bastion, Transistor is completely self-funded. Why did you choose to go that route?
DK: There's definitely a lot of freedom, as you don't have anyone to answer to. You don't have anyone to tell you that you can't have a female protagonist in your game, for example. That's a big reason why Supergiant Games was founded in the first place — we wanted to make games that we were interested in.
TS: Bastion has become an overwhelming success. It started out on one platform and has since expanded to essentially every single platform. What changes has Supergiant Games seen since the success of Bastion?
DK: We used to work out of Amir [Rao]'s house, but have since moved to a new office in San Francisco, CA. We've also added a few more people to our team — an office manager, a 3D modeler/animator, and another programer. So, we're pretty much fully staffed up for the time being. It's been a set of great changes.
TS: Do you feel like it was important that your second title wasn't a sequel?
DK: We saw an opportunity, because we are self-funded, to make a great game that we are all excited about. After you work on a game for two years, you don't necessarily want to work on the same game for another two years. We haven't ruled out the possibility of coming back to the world of Bastion in the future, but we want to do something fresh to cleanse our palates.
TS: As mentioned previously, Bastion is currently available on essentially every platform. You haven't indicated which platforms Transistor will be available on, and I'm not expecting you to, but why have you chosen to have a vague "???" as a platform right now?
DK: We really just want to focus on developing the game. We don't know what will make the most sense for us a year from now. The video game landscape is changing constantly. We want to keep our options open and see what will make the most sense for us.
TS: Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
DK: Stay tuned. We're really pleased with the fan response and are excited for you to see more of Transistor in the future.
RPGamer would like to thank Darren Korb for participating in this interview. Transistor is shaping up to be a contender for RPGamer's 2014 RPG of the Year. Check out Supergiant Games' official website for further details and media.