Interview: Dangerous

What challenges has the team experienced in the quest to make Dangerous universal out-of-the-box? Has the interface or any other aspect of the game been particularly difficult to get right on the smaller iDevices?

It has definitely been a challenge to get the game running on small devices like the iPhone 3GS, to iPad, all the way to PCs with large monitors. Luckily, we decided early on that the best-of-breed solution was Unity and have made builds for iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and web from day one. Unity makes that easy. If not for Unity, we’d be stuck with one platform, which would make the risk that much greater for us as a self-funded indie shop.

The biggest obstacle here is with the limited screen real estate on small devices like the iPhone 3GS and Google Nexus One. Since some ships can be outfitted with up to 10 modules in three rows, this reduces visibility of the space environment. We’ve made some effort to improve this by showing only “active” modules, but it can still get cluttered on those smaller screens. We have some other ideas for improvement such as grouping similar modules, and will look for feedback from players.

And finally, how did you end up choosing Sean Beeson as the composer for Dangerous’ soundtrack? Were you all fans of his earlier work and contacted him out of the blue?

I contacted him out of the blue after seeing someone praise his work in a forum I read. I had not heard his music before. When I listened to his music on his website, I was struck by the absolute brilliance and command Sean had for orchestration. Big bombastic scores to quiet background ambient music, he does it all. I feel he’s destined to score big gigs in Hollywood or for AAA games — he’s that good! It was one of those rare and lucky occurrences for us, kind of like hitting a hole in one. And Sean has been amazing to work with. It’s a very collaborative and rewarding experience working with someone of his caliber. Not only that, he was very flexible on the payment terms, which was crucial for us as a self-funded studio, and we ended up spending a much bigger part of our budget on the soundtrack than planned.

I’m probably a little biased, but the music he composed is so awesome that I still listen to it in the car even after having lived with it for the better part of a year. I jokingly refer to the game as merely stuff you do in between listening to the amazing score. I met Sean at the GDC in San Francisco and you couldn’t meet a nicer, down-to-earth guy.

Our thanks goes to Linh Ngo for taking the time out to answer our questions while he and partner Andrew Bradford are busy constructing a universe — literally. We’ll let you know when a release date is settled for Dangerous; in the meantime, keep an eye on Binary Helix’s website and lend an ear to their Bandcamp page featuring Sean Beeson’s score for the game!