GWJ Conference Call Episode 251

Conference Call

Bastion, From Dust, Dragon Age: Legacy, Special Guest Greg Kasavin Talks Bastion, Bastion Spoiler Section After The Credits, Your Emails and more!

This week Greg Kasavin from Supergiant Games joins Shawn, Julian and Lara to talk about developing Bastion and a whole lot more!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Supergiant Games
Bastion
From Dust
Dragon Age 2: Legacy
The Bride Comes To Yellow Sky

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

You Better Run, Kid - Bastion - http://supergiantgames.com/?page_id=242 - 25:33

Rock in the Sky - Bastion - http://supergiantgames.com/?page_id=242 - 1:04:35

The Singer - Bastion - http://supergiantgames.com/?page_id=242 - 1:19:23

Comments

My thoughts just after reading the summary:

"... oh they talked about Dragon Age : Origins? - Hmm... Lara must be on the show."...

(checked the "This week..." line, and AHA! She's on! )

I know I was torn on the show, but after playing/watching Bastion a second time through, I finally decided how I feel: I f*cking love it. It just needed to grow on me, like anchovies or Anne Hathaway.

Nice get. Not only do you have Mr. Kasavin on, but withing 5 minutes he's talking about Trails in the Sky and Tactics Ogre. Awesome.

KaterinLHC wrote:

It just needed to grow on me, like anchovies or Anne Hathaway.

You seriously need to re-examine your personal hygiene regimen.

Maq wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

It just needed to grow on me, like anchovies or Anne Hathaway.

You seriously need to re-examine your personal hygiene regimen.

If Anne Hathaway is growing on her, who would complain?

Cool, the guest has LA Noire and Vanquish like me.

Oh great, now my W/L ratio in Frozen Synapse will be cursed. I'm pretty sure my wins have been 70% luck 30% tactics.

Great show, sold a copy of bastion

Hurrah for Trails in the Sky and Ogre Tactics love. Trails kept me glued to my PSP for quite awhile, and I'm still working on Ogre. I'm also playing Persona 1 on it right now.

(For reference, LOH: Trails is a 2004 game on PC, and came out on PSP in 2006. It still holds up very well. Nobody picked it up before Xseed because Falcom didn't have a good US publishing partner until Xseed came along in 2010.)

KaterinLHC wrote:

It just needed to grow on me, like anchovies or Anne Hathaway.

Anne is a growth I would not have removed. Me-yow.

Depends which half of her is growing.

Longtime listener first time caller. I registered in order to say that I think the amount of discussion about gender seemed like a real stretch. I found Lara's comments about Bastion's 'masculine' style of prose tiresome and an unfair criticism. It seemed to detract from an otherwise very interesting conversation.

I find myself fast forwarding through these talks about sex identity and gender roles on the podcast increasingly, and I question whether you're giving it a bit too much airtime. I'm sure that Lara has more to contribute than the same conversation over and over.

Dirtyword wrote:

the amount of discussion about gender seemed like a real stretch. I found Lara's comments about Bastion's 'masculine' style of prose tiresome and an unfair criticism.

Saying a story has a "masculine" storytelling style is not a criticism, and nor did I intend it as such. Do you consider "masculine" a perjorative? I sure don't.

I was simply trying to explain why the storytelling didn't resonate with me, even though I thought the game was well-written. It still doesn't speak to me in That Way, but I appreciate (and love) it regardless.

Seems to me the story didn't resonate with you because you have preconceived notions about what kind of stories you already enjoy as you were looking for the grand tropes and ignoring the specifics.

Do you have any sites or literature (I tried looking for some but couldn't find it) that explain the heroines journey? Going from your description some stories I really enjoyed that fits that mold is Joss Whedon's writing. Although I always thought they followed the hero's journey especially some of the Buffy storylines.

Nietzsche wrote:

Do you have any sites or literature (I tried looking for some but couldn't find it) that explain the heroines journey? Going from your description some stories I really enjoyed that fits that mold is Joss Whedon's writing. Although I always thought they followed the hero's journey especially some of the Buffy storylines.

I'm at Gencon right now and cant do a big link dump, but if you Google search for "the heroine's journey", the first link that pops up is Maureen Murdock's "The Heroine's Journey". Eight of the ten links on the first page of results will give you more info.

The Reader's Digest is: The Heroine's Journey is an inner journey compared to an outer one, like the Hero's Journey. It's not about achieving or becoming worthy of great power, but unlocking the great power that was always locked inside you. This happens by successively removing barriers, by taking away the things that don't work or that are holding you back from your true power (as opposed to overcoming external challenges that prove your worth, as in the Hero's Journey).

Other differences include that the "death" stage of the Heroine's Journey comes much earlier than in the Hero's Journey, and the Heroine is not forced to refuse the help of his/her friends in the final battles as the Hero is. Indeed, the companions the Heroine chooses are integral to the Journey, as forming a new community or family is a part of the Journey's resolution.

The two most famous examples are the Inanna myth and The Wizard of Oz, but you can see it in everything from Dragon Age 2 to Buffy to Tangled. And like in the Hero's Journey, the Heroine can be either a man or a woman (though of course it's obviously more common to see women in the role; it didn't get the name for nothing); the distinction here is not gender but the internal v. external nature of the Journey.

I was having fun trying to figure out all the different background sounds on Greg's end. If I had to guess, I would say he started off in the bathroom (although I don't think there was actual "business" happening), then a quick trip to the living room where his kids were playing, then he ended up in the kitchen doing dishes, and then I think he opened up a pudding cup.

"Enemies that sort of Harry Potter their way onto the screen." Wait, they're bad actors?

From Dust makes me want to go to the beach. Is it ok for a 34-year-old man with no kids to build sand castles?

I think going into any situation, not just a video game, with the right notions is important. Expectations should be appropriate for each situation. For example, I don't expect Las Vegas strip clubs to be glamorous like the movies. I expect them to smell like shame.

I chuckled when Shawn suggested that we "go out and get Bastion." We shall indeed all go out… to our living rooms.

I had a post proving links, and also being a bit brash towards Nietzsche, but a server hiccup saved me from being a dick. There are good links on the first page of results on Google, though.

Reading up on it curiously Star Wars is the perfect case for both ideas with A New Hope being a perfect representation of the Hero's journey while the original trilogy taken together is what you would call a Heroine's Journey (including a little quirk in which he actually denies his father).

I don't really see The Heroine's journey being an opposite of the Hero's journey rather just a Hero's Journey with one or two variations that make it more specific. Without changing anything you can still call The Heroine's Journey a Hero's Journey and it would still fit.

Listening to Greg talk about the narrative goals and methods he used in Bastion made me realize how much of it went totally over my head while I was playing it.

After finishing it, the impression I was left with was one of a game with superb mechanics and a narrative structure that was inventive, but ultimately over-reaching, resulting in a fractured narrative that didn't make a whole lotta sense.

With hindsight, I'm more than willing to admit that the failure was mine, rather than the game's. Probably the result of playing it late at night after two too many beers. Or maybe a failure of expectation? I don't expect XBLA games to be quite so experimental in how they deliver story, so I wasn't paying close enough attention to fill in the gaps in the narrative myself.

Jonman wrote:

With hindsight, I'm more than willing to admit that the failure was mine, rather than the game's. Probably the result of playing it late at night after two too many beers. Or maybe a failure of expectation? I don't expect XBLA games to be quite so experimental in how they deliver story, so I wasn't paying close enough attention to fill in the gaps in the narrative myself.

I don't think that you are being fair to yourself. Art shouldn't need an instruction booklet in order to be appreciated.

Jonman, perhaps a second playthrough might allow the game to open up for you a bit more. Everyone on the podcast is a writer, so the writing is something that may stick out to them a bit more than other people.

SallyNasty wrote:
Jonman wrote:

With hindsight, I'm more than willing to admit that the failure was mine, rather than the game's. Probably the result of playing it late at night after two too many beers. Or maybe a failure of expectation? I don't expect XBLA games to be quite so experimental in how they deliver story, so I wasn't paying close enough attention to fill in the gaps in the narrative myself.

I don't think that you are being fair to yourself. Art shouldn't need an instruction booklet in order to be appreciated.

It's something I'm aware of about myself, and it applies equally to other narrative media as much as games. I absorb narrative very passively. I enjoy being told a story, but I don't necessarily think beyond what's presented to me on a surface level. It's why I've walked away from films like Mulholland Drive or Synechdoche, N.Y. utterly baffled, because those films are so allegorical.

garion333 wrote:

Jonman, perhaps a second playthrough might allow the game to open up for you a bit more. Everyone on the podcast is a writer, so the writing is something that may stick out to them a bit more than other people.

Already on it

burntham77 wrote:

From Dust makes me want to go to the beach. Is it ok for a 34-year-old man with no kids to build sand castles?

As long as he's happy doing it just because it's fun, then of course it is.

I made a sand castle today, and then mixed some cement in, and put it in a wall.

A castle in a wall does make more a somewhat more interesting conversation piece than a wall in a castle.

Jonman wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
Jonman wrote:

With hindsight, I'm more than willing to admit that the failure was mine, rather than the game's. Probably the result of playing it late at night after two too many beers. Or maybe a failure of expectation? I don't expect XBLA games to be quite so experimental in how they deliver story, so I wasn't paying close enough attention to fill in the gaps in the narrative myself.

I don't think that you are being fair to yourself. Art shouldn't need an instruction booklet in order to be appreciated.

It's something I'm aware of about myself, and it applies equally to other narrative media as much as games. I absorb narrative very passively. I enjoy being told a story, but I don't necessarily think beyond what's presented to me on a surface level.

A truly great work will reward you no matter what level you approach it at, and will reward greater attention and revisiting.

Greg is such a breath of fresh air, isn't he? It's such a relief to talk to a developer who is not only willing to get into the emotional nuts and bolts of his game, but is also great at articulating the team's goals and inspirations. Terrific discussion.

Jonman, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on Bastion after your second playthrough. I'm nearly finished with my own New Game+, and I find I'm catching so much more of the story beats this time around. I'm also appreciating just how resonant a lot of the narration is, coming into the story again & knowing how it's going to turn out. The comparison to poetry is apt, since the narration packs a lot of ambiguity & meaning into a minimum of words.

kincher skolfax wrote:

Greg is such a breath of fresh air, isn't he? It's such a relief to talk to a developer who is not only willing to get into the emotional nuts and bolts of his game, but is also great at articulating the team's goals and inspirations. Terrific discussion.

Yeah, I thought he was fantastic. He really made for a great discussion among everyone. It became a segment I will play for my wife later on. She likes the really smart stuff, and it was chock full. She's a big Cormac McCarthy fan, too.

But Greg was also really good during emails. I just really enjoyed him as a guest. Very nice get.

Interestingly, l was also on the fence about whether or not I like Bastion, and listening to the podcast helped me come to the conclusion that I DON'T like it. I can appreciate a lot of things about it, but I just don't find myself wanting to play more of it. None of the weapons really felt right to me; I never felt effective or powerful while I was using them, even when I was generally winning. I've always had problems with isometric-view games, and combining that with all kinds of ledges to fall off of left me frustrated.

And while, granted, I didn't progress super far in the story so maybe it gets better, I just plain didn't find the setting or the characters or the story all that compelling. I felt like I was getting both way too much exposition and not enough. The narrator is constantly yakking about Breakers and Reavers and Marshalls and Windbags or whatever, but without any context to put all these names in it's all a lot of noise. I don't know who these people (places? things?) are and I don't know why I should care. My old English teacher would have a few things to say about the old maxim, "Show, don't tell." The art is fine for what it is, very bright and colorful and all that, but it's also sort of generic and reeks of an American artist blandly aping anime, like a mediocre OEL "manga."

I like the idea of the narrator and the structure of entering these different levels with varied weapon and perk loadouts and the shrine system of optional challenges seems really neat, I just wish those elements were in a better-playing game with a better setting and story. I appreciate that the game is very experimental and tries out a lot of new-ish things, I just don't think it succeeds nearly as often as it fails.

Great episode. After listening I so wanted to run home and buy a copy of Bastion.

The best part of the podcast was how it opened my eyes to thinking about how I play games and how different people play them. And game music; normally I just turn the music off because I find it distracting and now I should pay more attention.