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The Indie Scene | Tomorrow Corporation Discusses Little Inferno (Nintendo Wii U eShop)

What happens when creative talent is pooled together? The answer is something special like Tomorrow Corporation. With an illustrious background in the gaming world, a trio of University friends recently came up with the fantastic - if somewhat disturbingly dark - Little Inferno, which graced the Nintendo Wii U eShop from launch day. Cubed3 caught up with the team to talk about all things weird and wonderful.
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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!

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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

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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.

Image for The Indie Scene | Tomorrow Corporation Discusses Little Inferno (Nintendo Wii U eShop)


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!

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Box art for Little Inferno
Developer

Tomorrow Corporation

Publisher

Tomorrow Corporation

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

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Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Little Inferno was definitely one of the most surprising games of the eShop launch titles and I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

I do wonder how much hassle it would be to bring a HD version of World of Goo to eShop, though. Would happily double-dip for that classic!!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Ouch, you didn't know the OST was already out there for free? Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Canyarion said:
Ouch, you didn't know the OST was already out there for free?
Can't remember when the questions were originally asked, but could well have been just before it was released. Anyway, nit-picking aside Smilie I actually forgot to ask about their involvement in Monster Tale. Isn't DreamRift somehow linked with these guys? Did read up on this once, but it's slipped my mind.

I also hope EA revives Henry Hatsworth - lots of potential there!!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Staff Member

Canyarion said:
Ouch, you didn't know the OST was already out there for free? Smilie
I asked these questions about a month or so before the free OST was released, hence why that question is still in there. Smilie

Aaah ok, good to hear. Nice interview either way!

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Since we're sticking on the subject of the soundtrack, what are some of your favourites from the free soundtrack released?

I love the tiny 8-bit chiptunes and would love to hear extended versions! Up Up Up the Chimney is also amazing - so haunting...as is Breaking Weather Report. Very atmospheric all round, I'd say.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Gate Operator, Open The Gates! <3

Staff Member

Adam Riley said:
Since we're sticking on the subject of the soundtrack, what are some of your favourites from the free soundtrack released?

I love the tiny 8-bit chiptunes and would love to hear extended versions! Up Up Up the Chimney is also amazing - so haunting...as is Breaking Weather Report. Very atmospheric all round, I'd say.

Very hard choice... I love all of it. Don't think I have a favourite track. Smilie

Absolutely loved Hatsworth & World of Goo.
They really do need a demo for this though, as nothing really has explained the "game" of it very well at all.

Please give our little random review show a try;
http://randomreviewshow.com/index.html
We have special effects and umm...stuff...

I wonder what kind of new user-made content could be coming...

I was mostly thinking of more items and more combos, but they make it sound like totally new game concepts might be on its way.

Little Inferno is a fantastic game (seriously, go download it!)

Little Inferno and World of Goo are both awesome games. I can't wait to see what they develop next!

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