Interviews: Tomorrow Corporation
Posted by Jon Wahlgren
Massive new "indie game" studio talks about its plans for domination
Some call the surge of indie gaming developers over the past few years unique and refreshing. Others, like the newly self-aware "indie game" studio Tomorrow Corporation, call them dastardly and nefarious, hogging all of the limelight from Big Gaming. That, quite simply, is something Tomorrow won't stand for anymore.
We boarded the Tomorrow Corp. blimp to speak with cronies Allan Blomquist and Kyle Gabler, who both worked on the excellent World of Goo, as well as Kyle Gray of Henry Hatsworth in The Puzzling Adventure fame about their new corporate
overlords home, business tactics and the ever-important lessons learned from Demolition Man.
Nintendo Life: So let’s face facts here: Starbucks changed their WiFi policy and now you’ve suddenly gone ahead and joined a massive gaming corporation. We’d chalk this up to coincidence, but our tinfoil hats say otherwise. What’s the story behind the new company?
Gabler: Tomorrow Corporation barrels forward, like a boulder rolling down a hill, crushing everything in its path. Lately, the company has steered its giant mass towards "indie games", since "that's what all the kids are into these days". That's where it rolled up the three of us. I don't know though. One of our executives just signed up for the MySpace.
Blomquist: Before Tomorrow Corporation, we all met in grad school. I got to work with Kyle Gray on an-ill fated zombie themed project back then. The Kyles worked together on a virtual reality project called Hello World. Later, I worked with Kyle Gabler on bringing World of Goo to WiiWare. We were all friends but had never worked on anything as a trio.
Tomorrow Corp.’s message to those dastardly indie developers is that their “reign of terror ends…Tomorrow!” What’s your battle plan, then?
Gray: I stumbled across our business department's three-part strategy the other day. Here's the executive summary:
1) Infiltration & Corporate Espionage: We slip one of our numerous worker-drones into a small indie company. With any luck they won’t notice the 50% to 100% increase in their workforce, giving him the opportunity to bring it down from the inside.
2) Public Smear Campaign: An all-out blitz against these fly-by-night coffee-shop game making junkies. With the right voice dubbing, flashy graphics, and scary music we can convince them that making games on the cheap is a surefire path to failure. Everyone knows you need a dot com style office with fancy Aeron chairs to succeed!
3) PR Makeover: Once the dust has settled from steps 1 & 2, our PR department steps in to give our own company a much needed face-lift. We get a newer, nicer, greener logo and a people-friendly slogan and suddenly everyone forgets how evil we were in the past. "It worked for Walmart."
What can you tell us about what you’re working on right now?
Gabler: They won't let us talk about it yet, and I pretty much just do what they tell me. It smells like something's burning down there in R&D though.
Gabler, you’re one of the dimensions of 2DBOY, but now you’ve gone ahead and joined the Tomorrow family. What does this mean for 2DBOY?
Gabler: 2DBOY still has both dimensions. It turns out that both the X and Y axis extend pretty far, and intersect with many other projects. One of them is Tomorrow Corporation. Another one is Indie Fund, which is the other 2DBOY Ron's baby that I am happy to be helping with.
Originally, the Experimental Gameplay Project was a place for you to showcase your prototypes and some other shenanigans. Are there any prototypes there that you’re particularly proud of?
Gray: It still remains a place to showcase shenanigans! Guys like Petri Purho, Adam Saltsman, and Paolo Pedercini continue to bang out great games and put my crappy prototypes to shame. Our community surprises me on a monthly basis – we’ve seen some really amazing games this past year, and it’s heartening that others also recognize us as a group of “free-wheeling dandies.” I would not have imagined anything like this five years ago when we started the site.
Gray, we see that you did a prototype for a game called Frobot on EGP, and we couldn't help but notice the obvious similarities to an upcoming WiiWare game of the same name. Is this something you've had a finger in?
Gray: I’m not involved in that game at all, but it’s nice to know that others have a penchant for disco robots. I made Frobot for our “Unexperimental Shooter” theme because I wanted a game that combined shooting violence with dancing. After it was released into the wild, a friend pointed me to the Wiiware Frobot announcement, and then shortly afterward I saw a five-second bit on Robot Chicken with an Afrobot.
That’s the cool thing about the internet – at any moment you’re only a few keystrokes away from finding out how unoriginal you really are.
Will you be taking on indie developers on their own download turf or will you instead knock them silly with a retail package?
Gray: We haven’t yet figured out the best approach to take, but our business department assures us there are boatloads of cash in both. They also suggest opening a chain of coffee stores aimed at indie game developers, since everyone is going indie these days.
World of Goo was a roaring success on WiiWare (and PC, we suppose) and Henry Hatsworth was a critical darling for DS. Would it be safe to expect whatever you’re cooking up for Tomorrow to hit a Nintendo platform?
Gabler: Those business guys are still doing business lunches or whatever business people do to figure things out. All I know is the game has to go on a platform that has some sort of cursor or motion control. I guess that means all of them now...
Blomquist: Expect the unexpected!
What’s the recipe for that “special human touch” you plan on turkey basting in to your games at the last second?
Gray: The only information we’ve been privy to suggests that it's a vile mixture of chemicals injected directly into the upper thorax.
Blomquist: Triglycerides, wax monoesters, and spent cell bodies?
Gabler: Speaking of, we went to Disney World last week! The gates to the park are secured with fingerprint scanners. Fun fact! They are so good, they actually reject your finger if it's not attached to a human, according to a friend working there. That's pretty important, as we know from Demolition Man.
Thanks for your time. Is there anything you’d like to share in closing?
Blomquist: It's been a pleasure.
Gabler: I watch videos of kittens all day.
Gray: Our PR team has asked me to remind you to that we are your friends. Unless you are Team Meat, in which case they’ve asked me to say, “we hear you’re delicious!”