Lessons From The Heavenly Rise Of Little Inferno

Burn, baby, burn.

Burn, baby, burn.

This story first appeared in Cult of Mac Magazine.

Your game may be great, but languish in a cobwebbed corner of the iTunes store. That was almost the fate of Little Inferno, an original downloadable game launched in 2012 by indie outfit Tomorrow Corporation. They made some mistakes — big and small — that all devs hope to avoid.

One of the many cool things at the Game Developers Conference each year is the post-mortem talk, a look at what a game did well, or not so well, by the developers who made the game. This year, we were lucky to hear a talk about Little Inferno and the mistakes the team made along the way.

Little Inferno is a great little indie game for iOS, Mac, and other consoles that has you burning toys in a fire to earn coins. It’s a biting commentary on how we spend a lot of our time doing repetitive tasks for no reason, and a fun game to boot.

Kyle Gray, one of the three masterminds behind the company, shared with GDC goers how the game overcame a number of mistakes to sell over a million copies. (Especially noteworthy since the game sells for $10.)

Here are the three main mistakes they made, according to Gray:
They put the coolest content in the last 10 percent of the game.
They over thought everything; it took two years to finish.
The game was too unique to easily talk about with consumers or the press – you always need an elevator pitch.

For such a simple game, said Gray, there’s a ton of innovative tech involved, which didn’t make development super easy.

What saved Little Inferno from an obscure death in the iTunes store?

Word-of-mouth buzz, Gray told the GDC crowd.

Learning how these great games are made can be a fascinating way to understand the games we all love to play.

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About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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