News Article

Little Inferno Has Sold A Million But Gamers Didn't Get The Message Behind It, Says Tomorrow Corporation

Posted by Damien McFerran

Wii U launch gave the chaotic project renewed focus

Little Inferno has sold a million units across all platforms since it launched in 2012, but Tomorrow Corporation's Kyle Gray still thinks he and his company could have done a better job. To that end, he has given a talk at this year's GDC about the many mistakes made during the production of the title.

Gray admits that the development was "crazy", and that it was only when the Wii U "became a thing" that the project gained focus. However, He also thinks that he and his coworkers made a game that "no one can talk about", and that it was a mistake to load so much "cool content" towards the latter part of the game.

Finally, Gray stated that many people misunderstood what the game was all about:

If you have a message in your game, the chances are people aren't going to get it. A lot of people thought Little Inferno was about global warming or a critical commentary on freemium games, but it wasn't.

What we were trying to talk about was the team's own neurosis, that we were all hitting 30 years of age and feeling old. We were concerned with time; making the most of it and not wasting it, like getting out of a job you hate or a bad relationship. People in Little Inferno are just doing the same thing and they don't realize there is this whole world out there.

We awarded Little Inferno 8/10 when we reviewed it back in November 2012, saying that "it's surprising both for the simplicity of its concept ("burn things"), and for the fact that such a coherent and lovingly crafted experience has been built around that idea."

[via polygon.com, gamasutra.com]

More Stories

Game Screenshots

User Comments (93)

Gioku

#1

Gioku said:

I kinda understood that part. Mostly, though, I just have fun burning stuff. B-)

mystman12

#2

mystman12 said:

POSSIBLE SPOILERS, SO DON'T READ UNLESS YOU'VE PLAYED THE GAME
Hmm, interesting. When I played through, I thought they were using the fireplace and the things you burn as a metaphor for video games. Like, the Little Inferno represents a console and everything you burn represents you "burning" through video games, and then buying more, and "burning" through them, and just spending too much time playing video games, even though they were made not to matter. It had a big impact on me too, tbh. It's pretty cool how differently people can interpret things like these though.

It's also great to here it's sold a million copies! The game really is a masterpiece.

MikeLove

#3

MikeLove said:

The perfect downloadable game.

Something that costs around $10, you play and enjoy it for 5-8 hours, then completely forget about it.

Sean_Aaron

#4

Sean_Aaron said:

I read it as an ironic commentary on forgetting the outside world via TV and video games - quite clever. Nice timing and a great piece of fun - glad they made back their money!

Dark-Link73

#7

Dark-Link73 said:

@mystman12 I know. Not to be disrespectful to the developers, but it's hard to find their intended underlying message when the product contains a very strong presenting message (global warming) and other underlying messages. To me the burning of many material possessions was a metaphorical representation of the culture of consumerism and waste that has become the norm in western society due to the lack of attachment stemmed from the individualistic nature of our western society (the main character living by himself). Also, the communication with the neighbor via letter, to me, represented the lack of actual social and personal interaction that had become prevalent today due to the advent of the internet and cellular phones.

This is why I failed literature on a regular basis, my interpretation of the events in books were always different from the interpretations, as the faculty claimed, being the intented ones by the author (as if they really know what Shakespeare or Cervantes really meant to express 400 years ago).

Vriess

#8

Vriess said:

Most people that play a game like this really don't look for a message that deep/specific. So why bother creating a game with that kind of a mindset? I played it on Android and got tired of it after about an hour. The mechanics are still kind of fun though.

Beechbone

#10

Beechbone said:

Hah, I certainly didn't get that message. However, I still had a ton of fun with that game during the cold weeks after launch of Wii U.

ShadJV

#12

ShadJV said:

I thought the message is that setting the world on fire just to watch it burn is actually fun!

sinalefa

#13

sinalefa said:

@Dark-Link73

I never thought I would see Cervantes mentioned in this website. You win the internet, kind sir.

Your teachers must be narrow minded, as Don Quixote or Shakespeare's plays allow for many different interpretations due to the richness of the material. For me that is the beauty of classic literature.

What I enjoyed the most of this game were the clever and funny descriptions of the different burnable items.

MegaAdam

#14

MegaAdam said:

I think Kyle Gray is missing the point. Works of art and literature rarely have only one level of meaning. Meaning is found by the audience. If the audience sees commentary on global warming, freemium games, video games as a medium, consumerism, or whatever else they see, they're not "missing the message." They're interpreting the work.

The game really is "about" all of those things. It's also "about" the concept of wasting time that the creators intended; but we shouldn't fall into the trap of only analyzing creator's intent.

BossBattles

#15

BossBattles said:

@Unca_Lz guess you forgot about the whole agenda being exposed as a money grab. Forget about the emails leaked that proved they were lying?

The planet is always in the midst of its climate changing. They changed it from global warming because it is no longer believable.

Dark-Link73

#16

Dark-Link73 said:

@Vriess Exactly! Something the developers failed to see is that a particular interpretation of underlying message is found only by individuals who have a strong internal emotional connection, and even conflict, to that message in particular. Those are the basis to the Rorschach Test (inkblot test).

In order words, expanding on what you said, underlying messages are perceived, not sought.

torotoid64

#17

torotoid64 said:

Eh honestly I never thought there was much of a message in the first place I just burned everything xD haha but I loved the art style and presentation but didn't seem to have much of a story for me to interpret anything kinda like as if there was a hidden message in every Mario game (besides galaxy 1 and rosalinas backstory) who's going to notice? We're busy having fun!

BossBattles

#20

BossBattles said:

@PorllM so sad that you've been tricked by politicians and bribed scientist that need their grants to survive on a global warming scam. In the 70's we were told it would be global cooling. LOL...

Follow the money. But I doubt you actually research anything.

DerpSandwich

#21

DerpSandwich said:

Hey, at least we "got it" enough to buy it, right? XD

I love this game. I find myself picking it up all the time just to burn through it (no pun intended) as fast as I can.

Findonovan95

#22

Findonovan95 said:

I got the message; I just don't care. I know there's a big world out there, but to be honest I'm happy with a smaller more remote world of my own creation right here. I'm completely happy with what I do on a daily basis and maybe someday that'll change but for now I'm just gonna keep on chillin. :)

PorllM

#24

PorllM said:

@BossBattles What politicians and scientists have I been listening to then seeing as you know so much about how I've been brainwashed?

Personally, if I believe humanity's selfish exploits have a negative effect on the planet, including animals, plantlife, and the atmosphere, I'm allowed to do so.
The planet is fragile and we are not doing a good job of looking after it. Anyone who denies that is blind. To say I "probably don't actually research anything" because of that is a low, personal insult and I suggest you don't speak to people like that in person.

BossBattles

#25

BossBattles said:

@ToniK it is. 2013 expenditures top 22 billion towards this scam.

Not all scientists. Lots of smoke and mirrors and fake statistics/ computer models and idiot actors throwing their face behind it.

BossBattles

#26

BossBattles said:

@PorllM you told me something unproven was "undeniable". That means you don't actually research beyond the Hollywood / political side of it.

BossBattles

#27

BossBattles said:

I never said the planet wasn't being harmed. It is being harmed by the same liars that sell you on fake issues like global warming.

C-Olimar

#28

C-Olimar said:

@mystman12 I like how there are so many different interpretations. In my opinion, it justifies the view that video games can be art!

Sean_Aaron

#31

Sean_Aaron said:

Not really. Some fool who doesn't believe what's almost universally agreed spouting off nonsense in a comments section about a video game is pretty boring, actually.

AVahne

#32

AVahne said:

Huh , I thought the game was about growing up, getting out of your shell, and living life to the fullest and/or exploring everything around you. I guess only someone whose been in depression would think that; though, where the hell did people get global warming from?

brandonbwii

#33

brandonbwii said:

I laughed because I always thought it was kinda meta. I thought it was a video game about a fireplace with a story that mocked you for buying a game about a freaking fireplace.

Ryno

#34

Ryno said:

People still believe in "global warming" and that the life living gas known as CO2 is harming our planet?

Peek-a-boo

#37

Peek-a-boo said:

@Ryno

Enough for it to be one of the top most issue(s) during the G8 summits?

... you are utterly and profoundly deluding yourself if you think there has been 'no global warming '.

BossBattles

#39

BossBattles said:

@Peek-a-boo since global warnings inception, there has been a 1 degree increase, but zero in the last 10-15 years.

We were told that there would be no more winter, and yet we had a harsh winter around the world this year.

It is a lie. If it is so "proven", why spend 22 billion last year to pay for research and convince the world? Because it is a money scam, as well as a control mechanism.

It's very obvious.

MegaAdam

#40

MegaAdam said:

@BossBattles There is not a single true statement in that comment. I don't know if I've ever seen a comment so thoroughly riddled with falsehoods. I'm impressed.

Ralizah

#46

Ralizah said:

Amusingly enough, this was actually just published today: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/scientists-sound-alarm-on-climate.html?_r=0

Nice to see the Dunning-Kruger effect is as relevant an idea as ever. Why believe a vast majority of climate researchers who have spent their entire lives studying this stuff when an army of keyboard warriors is ready to inform you differently?

On topic: More meaning can be read into a work than was intended by the authors. This isn't unusual. It also isn't the case that the only legitimate reading of a piece is what the author intended it to mean. I've played the game, and even if they didn't intend to focus on it, there are some pretty blatant stabs at freemium games. Interesting to hear their take on the game's "underlying meaning," though.

yuwarite

#47

yuwarite said:

I stopped playing this game when you get to the 5th catalogue... does something interesting happen after that?

Ryno

#49

Ryno said:

@Miiamoto: What's really embarrassing is that people have made the life giving gas of CO2 out to be an evil pollutant.

Shambo

#52

Shambo said:

Yeah I saw it more as an image of how people spend their lives, in a trance, staring at a (tv), their own little alternate reality. Mindlessly destroying the world and fighting fire with fire, dousing it with gasoline eventually. And only when all is lost, we see the lost beauty of the planet. The possibilities life held all this time. The support we got and could've gotten had we looked back once in a while (the delivery man). So I guess it's somewhere in between personal and environmental, how I saw it.

Nevertheless, amazing game! Still waiting for World of Goo HD or something, on Wii U. Physical with Little Inferno bundled equals instant buy for me, name your price! For a beautiful collector's edition, I'd go pretty high!

MagicEmperor

#53

MagicEmperor said:

Whoa! And all this time I thought this game was about the Vietnam War. Sheesh, I'm bad at this... :P

gatorboi352

#54

gatorboi352 said:

"and that it was a mistake to load so much "cool content" towards the latter part of the game."

That's the part I'm confused about. I wish they would have elaborated more on that.

V8_Ninja

#58

V8_Ninja said:

Interesting. From what I've read and seen, Little Inferno appears to be more naturally fitted towards criticizing/commenting on cheap free-to-play games. Then again, the cheap F2P commentary doesn't go against the original intent.

EDIT: Also, yes, climate change is a thing and the people who deny it are throwing away the thousands of unbiased scientific studies done by hundreds of legitimate, professional environmental researchers.

DarkCoolEdge

#59

DarkCoolEdge said:

@BossBattles Buy? Do you really think that all the extreme weather phenomenons that are happening are just a coincidence?

The worst blindness is that of whom doesn't want to see.

Savino

#61

Savino said:

@Peek-a-boo Global Warming is terrible and misleading name...

Climate Change is what is going on! And people who dont believe on it... my god... go outside sometimes!
The north had one of the worst winter in ages, and here, on the south we got our first summers without rain.

The clime is chaging... dont be stupid and stop covering your eyes!

BossBattles

#62

BossBattles said:

Climate may change, but when the politicians answer is to tax us more and reduce our freedoms I smell a scam.

You that support the global warming idea don't dig deep enough to understand that what you do not know does hurt you.

Look at what we were told for over a decade in the 1970's...global cooling!!!!! I guess you would have believed that lie because magazines and the TV said so.

BossBattles

#63

BossBattles said:

@DarkCoolEdge right. That makes total sense. You could explain anything away with false logic.
People do it all the time.

Go learn about how the world operates. It's all about money and power. Never anything else.

AJWolfTill

#68

AJWolfTill said:

@BossBattles
"Go learn about how the world operates. It's all about money and power."
So hey, if you're going to talk about bribing scientists to fuel an agenda which direction do you think the money is going. I couldn't possibly see how any of the billion dollar fuel companies would have a reason to pay for scientists to produce reports which stop people from taking actions which would severely damage their businesses. In case you had forgotten, your country entered a war due to the oil industry. If you are "following the money" as you say then you going in the wrong direction.
Are you by anychance a climate scientist yourself? I studied a lot of first hand evidence at university and it is painfully obvious that climate change is happening.
"You that support the global warming idea don't dig deep enough to understand that what you do not know does hurt you."
This is so painfully ironic I don't even know where to begin.

At the end of the day there are two types of people in this regard. People who build a case against climate change so that they don't have to feel guilty about the consequences of their actions and people who accept that their actions are destroying the planet but never do anything meaningful about it because they aren't willing to sacrifice their way of life.

On a less aggressive note, did you learn nothing from Pikmin 3? Human's are terrible at accepting 'difficult truths'.

noctowl

#69

noctowl said:

@BossBattles thank you. Finally someone who isn't brainwashed to believe everything they see on tv/politicians tell them. I thought I was alone!

SomeBitTripFan

#71

SomeBitTripFan said:

@BossBattles: I know you strongly believe in your opinion on global warming, but trying to force your opinion down other peoples throats isn't going to make them believe you. You're coming off as a tin-foil hat wearing warrior. Don't believe what one person says just because they are discrediting another. What if your sources are being tipped off by a wealthy oil company so it can make money? Do research for yourself, not on what others say, and come to your own conclusions.

SpindaMaster

#73

SpindaMaster said:

I actually got the message. It's about burning up your time staring at a thing when you could be out doing bigger and better things, like being an astronaut.

Agent721

#74

Agent721 said:

Nothing like climate change debate on NINTENDO LIFE to make the comment section that much more interesting. Except not. We got other sites for that!

MEKsLP

#75

MEKsLP said:

@Ryno they are linked by-products to the same origins. CO2 comes from burning fossil fuel, so does smog. Two birds with one stone, ya know?

jdarrell

#76

jdarrell said:

12/31/12
"'Dream bigger!', okay!" starts building larger fireplace to burn the real Sun

I one-upped them and realised there's an entire galaxy out there, take that hipsters! But didn't get the feeling old message at all.

Linkuini

#77

Linkuini said:

I'm a little surprised to see that they had such a broad interpretation of their game when it had so many touches that seemed specific to casual freemium games. There were the timers on getting new items, the premium currency... Sugar Plumps's relationship with the player even reminded me of the vague, one-sided social interactions common in Facebook games.

@Marioman64
Hahaha, good one! Now if you'll excuse me, I believe I hear my toast screaming.

Dr_Corndog

#78

Dr_Corndog said:

Absolutely loved World of Goo, and I was disappointed when I read the reviews and people's descriptions of what kind of "game" Little Inferno is. I might download it sometime when it goes on sale, though, just to experience it.

ToxieDogg

#79

ToxieDogg said:

I did kinda see the message that the developers wanted to portray, but (and this goes for certain other storyline driven games too) I don't see how they expect the majority of people to 'get' it when it's presented in such an ambiguous manner.

Thought it was a very average and overrated game too. Take away the storyline and what's left is something that is barely more interactive than those rubbish Wiiware fireplace simulators. Certainly not worthy of being purchased for full price.

CaPPa

#80

CaPPa said:

Little Inferno is a wonderful experience and is very thought provoking.

I thought that the meaning was reasonably clear, but only if you played the game in its entirety.

@Dr_Corndog
It's very different from WOG but it feels like its from the same world by the writing and visual style. Definetely worth picking up when its on sale (I got it for a bargin $5).

ToonLink795

#81

ToonLink795 said:

Little Inferno is a great game that I put a decent amount of time into. The game is a good time waster and fun for people who just want to burn things. Also I thought the game was about having burning things when you have nothing to do since it always snowing and your stuck inside till... I did get a better hint of what it was about when I got to the end of the game tho.

StarDust4Ever

#85

StarDust4Ever said:

I thoroughly enjoyed it. The humour was awesome in it. ;)

Burn, burn, burn... I was a pyro back in the day myself. Good thing my parents house didn't have a fireplace. They're sort of niche in the Deep South.

andjahiam

#87

andjahiam said:

@BossBattles cause its winter u dont believe the world is warming... we just got out of A 26000 year ice age..

The ice is melted and the seas ate raising nur u dont believe its tru.

TheAdza

#88

TheAdza said:

No game has made me feel the way that game made me feel. And I don't think it will be any time soon if ever that a game will move me and make me feel the same way again. A totally unique experience, and I'm glad I bought it. Sure it has like zero replayability, but that was the point, or at least that's what I took away from it.

hamae

#89

hamae said:

A question for all climate change believers:
What do you think of other env problem like Fukushima radiation leak or BP oil deep sea drilling leak solution (million tonnes of 'detergent' dumped into sea)? Both issue killed million of sea lives and could kill us ALL much faster than the so called climate change (if there is any change).
Why do you think the politician & media purposefully ignore the impacts of the much deadly env problems and make you believe climate change is our no.1 enemy?

Blueberry

#91

Blueberry said:

@Ryno @BossBattles I'm not going head in to a debate about this on a NintendoLife article, but you have to realize that critical thinking doesn't mean having to disagree with something. If you are going into the money-influence issue there is a lot more money in the oil/gas industry than in the "climate control camp".
Most informed critical thinkers are actually convinced the progressively increased CO2 levels will cause more and more natural disasters. The article you linked about "Global Warming U-turn" is from The Daily Mail, a tabloid publication that post things that will bring them readers, often picking up low-quality scientific articles.

BossBattles

#92

BossBattles said:

@Blueberry you must be a teenager to buy the world paradigm you believe in.

The irony is that someone like you is blind to the chemtrails in the sky, which are also admitted by these same scientist to "combat global warming".

What a joke.

Ryno

#93

Ryno said:

@Blueberry: Have the alarmist already forgot about Climategate? Also, how do you know that "most critical thinkers" are actually convince the progressively increased CO2 levels will cause more and more natural disasters? Despite the increase of the life giving gas known as CO2 that the alarmist want to us to believe is actually evil, the average temperatures have plateaued for the last 15 years. What about those poor polar bears, oh yeah they are doing great. Climate models and predictions are a joke. One last thing, many companies are invested in promoting "green technologies" so their is your money-influence for the whole "climate control camp." That phrase made me laugh just thinking about the arrogance of man trying to control the Earth's climate.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...