Plummet Free Fall, the debut iOS title from Broken Back Games, is rather unusual even for an indie game in that it’s the direct result of real life events. Broken Back Games was founded by Mark Majors, a New Zealander who experienced… well, a plummet, which resulted in a broken back.
“Seven years ago,” Majors explains, “things went very wrong for me when I fell nine meters down a hole in Beijing, resulting in a broken back.” Majors was in China for a construction project at the time, and as he told the New Zealand Herald, all he was trying to do was buy some water. “My last memory is of walking up the steps of the 7-11,” he says. The hole was covered only by some perforated plastic, which had been badly corroded by acid rain. Once on the bottom, he spent roughly an hour calling out for help before attracting the attention of a passerby, who alerted a fireman to his predicament. The actual hole is pictured below.
It could have been much worse, as he notes; what likely saved his life was the fact that there was a plank near the bottom of the hole, and crashing through the plank slowed the fall enough that it didn’t kill him. Still, a broken back is no picnic.
Not long ago, things took another wrong turn for Majors when restructuring led to the loss of his job. Having time to spare, he decided to take some inspiration from Neil Gaiman, whose commencement speech at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia advised students to take their negative experiences and “make good art” from them. “I decided… to do something I enjoy, which is gaming,” says Majors. “Deciding that a free mobile game would be the perfect platform, I modeled the gameplay style of Flappy Bird, Temple Run, and Circle.” By this, he explains, he means that Plummet Free Fall is an endless game which can be played quickly at any time, and allows the player to strive for high scores.
The actual gameplay mechanics are relatively simple. Players tilt their phones left and right to navigate the character down the construction shaft. The farther they fall, the higher their score. Randomly generated turns in the hole ensure that the game is different each time it’s played. A leaderboard then tracks the top scores.
“It has awesome cartoon graphics that are based on the real hole and myself, although my hair is not so ginger,” Majors adds. Once completed, the free app became an instant hit; since its launch, it has been downloaded more than 300,000 times. It ranks as the #1 overall app in Russia and Belarus, and the #1 game in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine.
Plummet Free Fall is free to play on devices with iOS 6.0 or later. It’s compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and is optimized for iPhone 5. You can also become a fan of the game on its Facebook page, and watch for future developments from Broken Back Games via the Twitter feed.