Liam Cook, General Writer at Cubed3: First of all, who is Tomorrow Corporation, and what games were you involved in during the Yesterday Industries years? (i.e. please introduce yourself!)
Kyle Gray: Kyle (Gabler), Allan (Blomquist), and I met at grad school at Carnegie Mellon University almost 10 years ago, and collaborated on a few projects together. Back in those days, starting a game company right out of school was virtually unheard of. This was back when indie meant grungy non-showering musicians, steam was scalding hot water vapour, and digital distribution meant sending chain emails full of cat photos.
Instead, we all got jobs at Electronic Arts. After a few years, however, we wanted to make our own mark on the industry. Kyle left to form 2D Boy and create World of Goo with the talented Ron Carmel, while I pitched Hatsworth internally at EA. After both games finished, the three of us got back in touch and started Tomorrow Corporation.
Cubed3: Both World of Goo and Henry Hatsworth were completely different games, so how did you come to team up with each other?
Gray: We spent a few months talking and meeting over what we should make. Having come off the back of a platformer, and a physics-puzzler, the only thing we knew for sure was we wanted to make something unique, something experimental, something that was different from everything else out there and couldn't possibly be compared to our previous games. Little Inferno was the perfect fit - something no other company would be dumb enough to make!
Cubed3: What were some of the key hurdles in setting up the team initially? Is it a breath of fresh air not being shackled by traditional publisher constraints?
Gray: The biggest challenge was communication. We don't have an office, and we don't even live in the same States or time zones. The last time the three of us were in a room together was over two years ago. Fortunately, the magic of the Internet allows us to meet up every day on Skype, share ideas with Google Docs, and collaborate on SVN.
While it's been nice to be free of publisher demands, constraints often get a bad rep. Having no constraints can be even worse, since total freedom can lead to indecision and inaction. On our sister site (and former student project), the experimentalgameplay.com we've found just a few constraints can result in an explosion of new ideas!
Cubed3: For all those World of Goo fans out there, does the formation of Tomorrow Corporation signal the end of 2D Boy?
Kyle Gabler: Indie developers are a loose and fluid community, and it's not unusual to work with many different teams. We've written in detail about the Tomorrow Corporation relationship with 2DBOY here: http://tomorrowcorporation.com/posts/who-are-you-tomorrow
Cubed3: Burning objects is a very unique gameplay mechanic! Go on, admit it - who is the closet pyromaniac?! How did you decide to develop a product based around this concept?
Gabler: You may have heard of the Yule Log TV programme - 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. We thought, "Man, that's like a super boring game that some awful company will totally make for the Wii or smartphones." Then it was followed by, "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!
Cubed3: Did you ever experiment with other ideas whilst designing Little Inferno and will we see them in any of your future projects?
Gray: After we formed Tomorrow Corporation we started working on "Robot and the Cities that Built Him," based on the prototype of same name that Kyle made a few years ago. Unfortunately, the game didn't quite work out - for one, we determined we didn't want our first title to be anything that had hit points or lasers! Clampy Bot (the original robot), actually has a cameo in our First-Person Shopper catalogue.
Cubed3: Due to its uniqueness, many people may overlook the game in case they are let down by it not appealing to them. Do you plan on releasing a demo in the future, in addition to the special short-term sale price?
Gray: We're looking at different ways to get the word out. Fortunately, Little Inferno is something gamers seem to want to talk about. We've seen tons of reactions from "IZ THIS A GMAE?!" to people talking about how it made them cry or re-examine the choices they've made in their life. It's more than a little nuts and not something we were expecting when we first talked about making Little Inferno.
Cubed3: You mentioned in a previous interview that user-created content could be coming to Little Inferno. Can you tell us anything more regarding this?
Gabler: The user-created content is entirely in the hands of the community over at InfernoFans (http://infernofans.com/). Reading through the forum, it's exciting watching these really smart and curious modders begin to rip open the game and discover how to modify its internals. The possibilities are endless, and I'm sure they'll come up with things we never even considered.
Cubed3: We have heard a lot of praise from other indie developers, regarding working with Nintendo. How were your personal experiences working with them and do you see a bright future for the eShop?
Gray: Working with Nintendo was a pleasure! Dan Adelman and Shannon are both huge fans of indie games, and were a great help in the push to release in time for the Wii U launch. The eShop looks really promising - if Nintendo continues doing what it's doing I expect the Wii U will be another haven for indie developers building strange games like us.
Cubed3: What made you actually choose to work on Wii U? Did Nintendo approach you to seal the deal?
Gray: We always let the game dictate the platform and not the other way around. As soon as we heard about the Wii U, we knew we wanted to be part of the launch. Having a portable fire you can bring to any room in your house is a really fun idea, plus the Wii Remotes make great fire pokers!
Cubed3: Were there any surprises, be they good or bad, surrounding development on the Wii U and getting onto the eShop service?
Allan Blomquist: One of the big surprises for me on the tech side was how well the Wii U GamePad actually does what it does. The quality of the video and the near instantaneous response time far exceeded my initial expectations. If you've ever played around with gaming on wireless displays in the past you know the Wii U must be doing something special.
Cubed3: After getting a taste of Wii U's eShop service, could we possibly see a 3DS eShop version of Little Inferno as well at some point?
Gray: Possibly. We haven't ruled out any platforms at this point, but any ports we make will take away from the time we spend working on something new and strange. It's going to be pretty difficult to top the weirdness of Little Inferno, but we're excited to try it!
Cubed3: The soundtrack found in Little Inferno is equally as awesome as the one found in World of Goo. Will you be releasing an official version of the soundtrack? I will pay good Tomorrow Bucks for it…and I won't burn it…possibly…it is Winter, after all…
Gabler: You can keep your Tomorrow Bucks for a cold day! We've released the soundtrack for free here: http://tomorrowcorporation.com/little-inferno-soundtrack
Cubed3: Can we expect to see any future games from Tomorrow Corporation or was this just a one-off collaboration?
Gabler: Just like after we finished World of Goo and Hatsworth, we'll probably return to our roots for a while and build strange new prototypes and post them on experimentalgameplay.com. There's an unlimited pile of brand new inventions extending into the horizon in every direction just waiting to be built.
Cubed3: And, finally, the future is… Tomorrow! Thanks for warmly accepting our toasty questions!
Dandy Wheeler, PR Rep: Thank you everyone! And remember, the future... is Tomorrow!