The team behind new indie developer, Tomorrow Corporation, features three massive names in the world of independent gaming: Kyle Gabler, Kyle Gray and Allan Blomquist. The three of them are currently working on a game called Little Inferno which appears very exciting. I had the chance to ask the two Kyle’s a few questions about the forming of the development team, and about Little Inferno itself.
Chris Evans – What brought the three of you together to form Tomorrow Corporation?
Kyle Gabler – The three of us met in grad school at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon, where we built “virtual worlds” together like this one and this one and this one. Later, we all worked on the Experimental Gameplay Project together where we made a bunch of small free games. Our goal has always been the same though: Games seemed way more fun and magical when we were kids, and we want to achieve that same sense of wonder and mystery that games seemed to have 20 years ago.
Chris – The Tomorrow Corporation site was launched two years ago, have you been working on Little Inferno since then, or have you been trying out different projects?
Kyle Gabler – For a while, we were working on a game called Robot and the Cities that Built Him, a sort-of larger version of this 7-day protoype. But we eventually decided against it, for a bunch of reasons – though mostly because it was turning out to be a game with lasers and hitpoints and traditionally gamey stuff. It just wasn’t experimental enough and we felt restless. So we switched to a very different game – Little Inferno – a game that no reasonable studio would or should ever make, that (we hope!) is unexpected and beautiful and dangerous. But we’ll see!
Chris – You’ve recently revealed the teaser trailer for Little Inferno, what can you tell us about how this game will take shape? Are you just feeding stuff into the fire to see what comes out of the chimney?
Kyle Gabler – On the surface, Little Inferno is a game about setting everything on fire and playing with it as it burns. A colorful toybox for pyromaniacs! But if it were that simple, we wouldn’t be making it. Something else is burning…
We’re creating Little Inferno, in part, to say: We need more mystery in games!
Maybe it’s just old age, but lately it seems as soon as you pick up a game and start playing, you have a pretty good idea what the whole rest of the game is going to be like. “Ok, this is a platformer, and there’s this mechanic where I can walk on walls and there will be some fun but not totally different puzzles with that. Ok got it.” or “Ok, it’s a 3D shooter and someone let a bunch of killer aliens out, and now I have to shoot them, and ok I bet it was me who was the villain the whole time. Ok got it.” And so we just don’t play many games anymore.
I want to be taken on a ride, and not know where I’m going. I want game designers to respect me enough to NOT let me know exactly what’s going on. Give me hints. Let me NOT know. Let me figure it out. Totally change the game out from under me.
With Little Inferno, we’re intentionally trying to build a game that is NOT predictable. Half the fun is finding out exactly what kind of game it is, and we hope players appreciate that!
Chris – Without giving too much away about Little Inferno, can you tell us what games have had an influence on the ideas behind Little Inferno?
Kyle Gabler – Indie games tend to be outlets for their designers’ quirks and anxieties and unusual ways of experiencing the world. So, while we also look to games we love, most of Little Inferno is inspired by real life things that we find scary or confusing or totally absurd. Some things that inspired Little Inferno:
-Playing with fire is really fun, but dangerous. Like playing with kittens.
-The simplest things can often be the most terrifying. (Example: Steven Moffat written episodes of Doctor Who)
-New hobby: Ordering lots of things on Amazon and tracking shipments as they arrive!
-It’s easy to stay stuck in a job that’s kindof ok, but maybe not what your childhood self would be proud of or excited by.
-That slight but constant feeling that films and tv and advertisements and government programs treat you like a kid who’s too clueless to handle subtlety, or real explanations, or drama or comedy that’s not entirely broad and ham fisted.
-Bugs and eggs.
-That feeling of wanting to communicate with other people, but being entirely unheard or misunderstood.
Chris – Will the Sign Painter make a return, or someone in his or even her, image?
Kyle Gabler – Little Inferno is a very different game from World of Goo! There is a whole new adorable cast of characters with questionable motivations, and they can’t wait to meet you. We hope the Sign Painter is proud, wherever he or she is!
Chris – The art style is very reminiscent of World of Goo, why have you carried on with this, apart from the obvious answer that it is beautiful?
Kyle Gray – The “art director” for Little Inferno actually happens to be the same “art director” as World of Goo. If you broke both of Kyle’s hands and he could draw only by tracing lines with his pupils, the art style would still look the same.
Chris – You’ve already opened the game up to pre-orders based on the method used by Spy Party, how do you think this is going to go and what made you avoid Kickstarter?
Kyle Gray – It’s amazing that people have shown this much faith in us without even knowing much about the game at this point – we definitely don’t want to let them down! Other than getting people to test our game and help with translations, we’re interested in seeing people’s reactions to Little Inferno. As a game developer, it’s one of the most exciting parts of the process.
Chris – Do you have any early plans for using Steam Greenlight?
Kyle Gray – Not as of yet – we just set Tomorrow Corporation’s Facebook page two weeks ago! We’re slowly integrating into digital society, so given our current rate you could expect us on there by 2030. Unless we’re all killed by robots.
Chris – What are your thoughts on Greenlight in general?
Kyle Gabler – Anything that helps good new experiences bubble into players’ attention is probably worthwhile, but Tomorrow Corporation executives inform me that they do not have any specific opinion on Steam’s Greenlight yet.
You can find out more about Little Inferno and even per-order it on the Tomorrow Corporation site.