Little Inferno is a strange little game. It’s only natural that the game would have unorthodox roots. The story-driven Yule Log simulator is the premier offering from Tomorrow Corporation, a three man developer made out of former EA employees that took up the challenge to create their own game with no office, no budget, and no boundaries.
Tomorrow Corporation consists of chief technology officer Allan Blomquist, chief creative officer Kyle Garbler (of World of Goo fame), and chief operating officer Kyle Gray (creator of Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling adventure). GamerTell recently got to speak to all three about Little Inferno and we can’t wait to share what we’ve learned!
GamerTell: What inspired you to create Little Inferno?
Kyle Gabler: You may have heard of the Yule Log TV program – the burning log you find on TV around the winter months or in hotel rooms. It started in 1967 by a TV station in New York, originally as a 17 second loop of flaming log. And we thought “Man that’s like a super boring game that some awful company will totally make for the Wii or smartphones.” And then “Wait, WE could be that awful company! But I wonder if we can start with an exceptionally underwhelming premise, but then actually make the game really really surprisingly good?” And Little Inferno is the result. We hope we’ve succeeded!
GT: From what I′ve seen from various comments and forum posts, there′s been a very mixed reaction amongst players, ranging from deep emotional responses, to boredom, to complete confusion. When you released Little Inferno, were you expecting these sort of reactions? What kind of response were you hoping to coax out of the player?
Gabler: Little Inferno invites you to come sit by the fire and warm your heart! You can go as far as you want! But you have to be open to something that’s not like any other game. It’s entirely possible to miss the biggest part of it all.
Little Inferno is a quiet, shy, art “experience” masquerading as a loud crappy game. It’s very much about the subtext and wondering about why we’re doing what we’re doing, and less about fragging your friend in the face – a distinction that can be somewhat confusing to seasoned gamers, understandably. Gamers haven’t yet been given much reason to look beyond the surface of their games to find a satire or a twisted philosophy or intangible feelings encoded in metaphor – but we hope that’s changing, with the way forward paved by small indie games.
GT: What was it like working on software for the Wii U? What would be some advice you would give developers looking to develop games and software on it?
Allan Blomquist: Speaking personally as a card carrying Nintendo super fan, working on a Wii U launch title was amazing simply for the chance to see what the new system was all about just a little sooner than everybody else!
GT: There′s a lot of people saying that Little Inferno isn′t worth $15. What would you like to tell them?
Dandy Wheeler, PR Rep: They’re right! Little Inferno is worth $150 … or more! Feel free to deposit the remainder into the slot on our website.
GT: One of the interesting things about this game is that it was developed with no office, no publisher and no funding. What were the perks and challenges of working like this?
Gray: It was incredibly liberating to burn down all of that structure, and walk away from a traditional game company. Terrifying too though!
Since we live in two different time zones over 3 States, communicating was often a challenge. Fortunately tools like google docs and Skype have popped up in the last 5 years – it doesn’t quite match the ability to gesture and talk to another person in the flesh, but it gets the job done.
It did allow us to make arguably the strangest game to release this year, however. I can’t really see a big company making something like Little Inferno – there are no bullets, body counts, or scantily clad ladies – just a quiet game with a truckload of subtext.
GT: What′s your favorite object to burn in the game?
Allan:Lots and lots of Corn on the Cob.
Gabler: Kitty Poo Poo has the voice of my cat DeeDee. I believe I would get mauled if I didn’t pick her.
Gray Marshmallows. Much more amusing than in real life!
GT: Are there any Easter eggs or secret combinations that Little Inferno players haven’t discovered yet? If so, can you give us any hints about discovering them?
Gabler: There are a bunch of little details that I’m not sure many players have discovered yet. One fun and easy one, though, is that each of the four special objects do something special to the face in the back of the fireplace.
GT: Recently, the Museum of Modern Art put a variety of classic video games in their collection, bringing up the age-old argument about whether or not video games are art. What are your opinions on this debate, and would you say that Little Inferno would be an example of video games as art?
Gabler: Games need to have more confidence about their position as art! It’s like putting on a nice dress and texting photos of yourself to your besties asking “do I look so pretty? I’m ugly right? Tell me I’m soooo prettty how about if i sssuck in my face like thisf ok how abouftt nowh?” Just own it.
GT: All three of you jumped ship from EA. What was it like working for them, and what pushed you to leave?
Allan: Working at EA was awesome. I wouldn’t say that anything really pushed me to leave so much as I was pulled out by hopes and dreams and Kyle’s crazy books.
Gabler: EA was perfectly lovely, and I learned a lot. But I recall forcing Allan and Kyle to read a bunch of How To Quit Your Job and Do Something You Love self help books back in like 2006. Some part of that may have been trying to convince myself too.
Gray: EA was a ton of fun, and I’m forever grateful that they gave me the opportunity to make Hatsworth – it was an amazing learning experience! Being in control of my own game was great, but it felt like I could do more with a company of my own – plus Kyle kept harassing me with entrepreneurial propaganda!
GT: If money and time weren′t a problem, what would be your dream game concept?
Gabler: Money is not something stopping us from building what we want. Little Inferno is exactly what we needed to make, at exactly this time. With unlimited cash, we’d still make the same games, although, perhaps on a boat floating around the world with satellite internet and a crew of muscular Olympian rowers.
GT: What should we expect from Tomorrow Corp next?
Dandy Wheeler, PR Rep: Heeeeey!!! Tomorrow Corporation is in talks to acquire tiny game developer Electronic Arts. Once we consume their facilities and indoctrinate it’s workers, we plan to infuse their entertainment portfolio with indie sensibilities with games such as “Madden 2014: Fields of Feelings”
Little Inferno is immediately available for the Wii U and PC for $14.99, in case you want to see it for yourself. If you act before January 5, 2013, you can get it in sale from Steam for $9.99!
Site [Little Inferno]