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.