Greg Kasavin – Supergiant Games

After ten years at Gamespot Greg Kasavin left his editor-in-chief position to begin working in game development. He spent a few years in the AAA space before joining a small San Jose indie studio founded by his former colleagues at EA. Their first title, Bastion, was a tremendous success, and allowed Supergiant Games to continue creating unique downloadable titles. Their second game, Transistor, enjoyed similar success when it was released last year. In this interview Greg and I discuss his time in the games press, at large studios, and the sacrifices necessary to make it as an independent developer.


  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 1:35 – Making the switch from a journalist to a developer. Being critical of games while still being respectful.
  • 5:48 – Receiving criticism as a developer after having delivered it as a reviewer in the press.
  • 9:07 – Supergiant’s reaction to the critical reception of Transistor. The pressure of delivering on high expectations.
  • 11:34 – How the pressure of game development feels different, but the quantity remains constant.
  • 15:13 – The Double-edged nature of owning control over features on a small team. Why even working on a small indie team is often less stressful than AAA development.
  • 19:31 – Designing out of choice vs. necessity. How to impose creative restrictions yourself when you have less financial constraints.
  • 25:51 – Supergiant’s creative identity.
  • 30:20 – Greg’s thoughts on systemic vs. narrative design. How mechanics-led design can give rise to narrative.
  • 35:46 – Why narrative in games is so important to Greg and to Supergiant. Greg channels the spirit of Chris Avellone.
  • 38:47 – The experience of creating Bastion. How Supergiant started as a group of people building a game in the living room of a house in San Jose.
  • 44:32 – Greg discusses the sacrifices he’s made in his personal life to achieve his professional goals.
  • 51:28 – Greg reflects on the development of Bastion, and whether he would do anything differently if it were starting over again.
  • 52:46 – Releasing a game like Bastion in 2011 vs. today. How quickly the indie scene has shifted in four years.
  • 57:08 – Why Supergiant chose to fund Bastion themselves.
  • 59:10 – Postpartum depression after shipping a game. Why artists sometimes have a hard time letting go of their work.
  • 1:03:35 – The terrifying fact that games can go years in development and come out a mess. How developers sometimes tie their self-worth to their work.
  • 1:09:41 – Why tropes and clichés are useful tools for shaping a player’s experience. Chris Avellone’s spirit returns.
  • 1:17:40 – Thank you, goodbye, and outro.

Rob is a software engineer and amateur game developer. He lives in Bellevue, Washington.

Leave a Reply


Next ArticleBrendon Chung - Blendo Games