How Battlefield 2's designer discovered accelerometer fun on iPhone

The result is Dark Nebula

How Battlefield 2's designer discovered accelerometer fun on iPhone
| Dark Nebula

Considering he was the designer of DICE's shooter Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, we were keen to check out Anders Hejdenberg's Dark Nebula, when it was announced.

The action puzzler has you guiding a sphere through various obstacle-riddled levels using the iPhone and iPod touch's accelerometer controls to bounce, slide, spin and swerve your way to the finishing line.

What's also interesting about the title is it will be released episodically.

So to find about more about this and the game, we rolled some questions over to Anders.

Pocket Gamer: What was the inspiration for Dark Nebula?

Anders Hejdenberg: I wanted to create a game where your skills in controlling your character were the core of the experience.

We spent the first weeks trying out different control methods to find something that felt nice and intuitive. When we finally came to the conclusion using the accelerometer was the best approach, we then designed the game around that.

When we knew what was fun to do control-wise, we could come up with various obstacles and simple puzzles that would require those kind of movement from the player. So in a way I guess you could say the inspiration came from the controls.

Why did you decide to make it episodic?

This was not our initial plan, but as the game took shape we realised there were so many cool things you can do with this concept, and we felt it would be a shame just to make one game.

How will the different episodes vary?

The idea is to make something that feels fresh and unique for each new episode so it's not just more of the same. However, we will make sure not to make the game more complex. It's great that anyone can pick it up and instantly understand what to do, and we don't want to lose sight of that.

We will also be sure to listen to the new ideas the players themselves bring to the table.

It looks like a very fast game.

The game isn't as difficult to play as it may seem from watching the trailer. The clips you see are us playing, and since we are pretty good at it we tend to storm through the levels at high speed.

To be honest, even my mother can play it and she can't even complete the first level in Super Mario Bros. However, I have some doubts she would be able to complete the last level because it's pretty tough.

Is the replayability based on the time through the level?

At the end of each level you get a ranking based on how well you performed - gold, silver or bronze star. The ranking is based on your completion time, number of life orbs collected, and whether or not you've lost any lives.

For people who really want to put their skills to the test and get the most out of the game, they can try to get gold star results on all the levels. It may seem easy at first, but towards the end it is difficult even for us developers.

Will you be using online leaderboard and buddy challenges, etc?

We didn't have time to put that into the first episode, but it will definitely be in the next ones. We just love that stuff!

Finally, why do you think it will appeal to iPhone gamers?

The main reason is it's a lot of fun. I could point to specific features, but what it comes down to is whether or not people will enjoy it, and based on the reactions we have got from people we've tested it on, I sincerely believe they will.

Thanks to Anders for his time Dark Nebula will start to be released sometime in September. Each episode will cost 99c, €0.79 or 59p.