It’s been a little over a year since we first learned about the existence of Supergiant Game’s second project: Transistor. A Sci-Fi Noir set in a futuristic city and starring a mysterious red-head accompanied by a hyper-intelligent sword, Transistor instantly gained heaps of attention, no doubt building off of the success that Supergiant had with their hit Bastion.
I’m using Transistor as the first game which we’ll be Playing Catch Up with. A re-occurring column, Playing Catch Up is an idea that was inspired by those late night binges we game fanatics go through from time to time. I’ve gotten to the party late on a fair number of indie games: Nekro, The Stomping Land, and Guns of Icarus to name a few. Every time a friend has sent me a link to some mind-blowing gameplay video, or I’ve stumbled across a Reddit thread about a game that really catches my attention, I’ve spent hours of that evening scouring the internet to make sure I am up to date. Now, We’ll do that for you, or at the very least put all the high points in one place so you don’t have spend quite as long searching!
As was mentioned above, it’s been about a year since Transistor was officially announced as a project by Supergiant Games. On March 19th of 2013, the following trailer was release along with a post on the Supergiant website giving us the barest of details about this new game:
Transistor invites players to wield an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin as they explore a stunning futuristic city. We’re designing our next game to seamlessly integrate thoughtful strategic planning into a fast-paced action experience, complete with our studio’s signature melding of responsive gameplay and rich atmospheric storytelling. All of us from the Bastion development team are working together again on this new project, with the aid of a handful of talented new people who’ve joined us since Bastion’s launch.
In Transistor, players assume the role of a young woman who gains control of a powerful weapon after a mysterious group of assailants nearly kills her with it. Now she must fight from street to street against forces that will stop at nothing to recover the weapon. During the course of the adventure, players will piece together the Transistor’s mysteries as they pursue its former owners.
We expect Transistor to be released in early 2014. We have not yet decided on which platform or platforms the game will be available for.
Transistor made it’s first real appearance at PAXEast 2013, where a playable demo was available. The staff of RaidWarning, which was the predecessor to IndieHangover and I was part of, was able to try the game there, and it more that holds up to the very high bar set by Bastion. The game has the same characteristic style that Bastion did; gorgeous art, a particular focus on music, and silent protagonist backed up by a gruff voiced narrator. However, it is an entirely different genre, trading the western-vibes of Bastion for a cool techno-noir. Combat also has an entirely different feel to it. Bastion was all about quickly switching between two weapons, and was quite fast paced. Transistor on the other hand rewards planning in a very cool way: you’re able to pause the action and plan out movements and attacks before unleashing them in a flurry, in addition to being able to hack and slash.
I had the chance to talk with Greg Kasavin at PaxEast 2013 and asked him about the game, the change of stylistic direction, and more:
After the initial wave of information from the reveal of Transistor and PAXEast, we didn’t really hear any more news until early June, when we found out that Transistor would be coming out for the PC and the PS4:
One of the most common questions we get about our next game is, which platforms is it coming to? Today we’re excited to have a specific answer for you at last: When Transistor is released sometime early next year, it will be available day one for PlayStation 4, and for PC on Steam. We plan to bring the game to Linux and Mac afterwards, and haven’t ruled anything out beyond that…
…Even before we announced Transistor earlier this year, we’d been giving a lot of thought to which platform or platforms would make the best home for the game. It’s a big decision that can influence aspects of the game’s design and can ultimately have a lot to do with its overall success. By focusing on the PlayStation 4 and PC as our launch platforms, we think we’ll be able to reach many of our existing fans right from the start, while letting us focus on delivering the best game possible at launch.
This news release went on to say that Bastion started on just a single console, and later spread to other distribution methods, and the team at Supergiant is likely to do the same thing again.
A new version of Transistor then appeared at PAXPrime in August of 2013, which was “quite a bit farther along than what [Supergiant had] shown at PAX East and E3.”
We got an update at the end of the year from Supergiant Games talking about the state of Transistor, and their plan in the coming year:
Right now Transistor is in an alpha state where just about all of the content, systems, and features we have in mind are implemented in some fashion, and the game is playable from beginning to end. It’s where we wanted to be as we head into 2014.
In the coming weeks, we plan to keep testing, tuning, and iterating on every aspect of the game until we think it’s ready to put out there for you to play.
The most recent official news came earlier this March, and was actually quite exciting:
At the end of last year, we got Transistor to an alpha stage of development, which meant the game was essentially feature-complete and fully playable start to finish. Since then, we’ve been working to get every aspect of that game to a better place. Despite the broad-sounding goal, it’s a pretty meticulous process. We figured we’d give you a brief update on how it’s going!
In development speak, after alpha, our next big internal milestone is a fun-sounding term called ‘content lock’. Here’s how those are different:
Alpha means the game content is all there and no significant new features are being added. You’re done creating environments, characters, major features, and game systems. The game should be fully playable and expressive of what the full experience is ultimately going to be. In other words, it should be interesting to play and worth playing. If there are major gaps in the design, or the story, or any other aspect, it’s not really alpha.
Content lock means the game is near shipping quality. Like alpha, this can be a moving target. Placeholder assets are gone, and every aspect of the game from the tuning to the timing of the voiceover to runtime performance are getting locked down. The caveats are removed. There’s a big emphasis on testing and refining. After content lock, it’s down to critical fixes or key surgical improvements.
These days we’re zeroing in on that content lock stage. It’s a key point in development that boils down to sweating the details.
The current estimated release date of Transistor remains TBA in 2014. As more information becomes available, We will update you. However, you can consider yourself caught up.