Dance Central Spotlight includes all new dance routines and Harmonix have written a blog about creating them, plus there are videos of some of them starting with the “Pro” routine of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” which you can watch above.
Anybody who has downloaded DLC for previous Dance Central games for the Xbox 360 should be happy to know that not only will they be able to download them for free on Xbox One, as we previously reported, but also that they will be updated with all new dance routines for Dance Central Spotlight!
All were quick to mention various legacy DLC songs that they’ve loved and would be thrilled to get to author Alternate Routines for. Favorites mentioned included “Commander” by Kelly Rowland ft. David Guetta, “Conceited (There’s Something About Remy)” by Remy Ma, “Break Your Heart” by Taio Cruz, and “Sexy And I Know It” by LMFAO. Fans who previously purchased downloadable content for the Dance Central games will get to re-download those songs in Dance Central Spotlight as we make them available – we have to do all that new authoring! Soon you’ll get to dance to completely new routines for your old favorites!
Here are more excerpts from Harmonix’s blog along with 5 more videos, you can click on the source link for the full blog post:
The Inside Scoop on the Routines of Dance Central Spotlight
One of the things we are most excited about with Dance Central Spotlight is the sheer number of routines players will have to dance to for all their favorite songs. In fact, our whole approach to authoring has been updated to enhance the quality and quantity of dance routines, while also enabling us to get routines out more quickly than ever before.
I recently sat down with several members of the Dance Central Spotlight team involved with routine authoring to get the inside scoop on what choreography is like in Dance Central Spotlight. Read on to see what Lead Designer Alli Thresher, Designers Frenchy Hernandez and Marissa Flabouris, and Associate Designer Matthew DiPierro to say about making dances for the game!
Advancements in our technology and improved tools have made it easier and faster than ever before for authors to take routines from brain to game. “We’re able to look at move sets we’ve used before and come up with combinations we’d be using in real life, and take those and put them in the game without having to get motion capture for everything,”
The old method of having to capture every single routine from scratch, even routines that relied heavily on dance moves we’d already motion captured multiple times, meant every routine took several months and a huge team of people to create. Fine-tuning this process means some really awesome things for the franchise: we can now make more routines in less time without having to rush or cut quality to do so, and we’ll be able to release songs as downloadable content while they’re still on the charts!
Building a Movement Vocabulary
“One of the things you want to give new dancers is a move vocabulary,” Alli explained. “It’s like your meat and potatoes of what it takes to build a dance routine. You may give them 5 steps and then there are an infinite number of combinations you can make out of that. You can take that beyond class, or in this case beyond the game, and apply it to real life.”
This concept of a “move vocabulary” was echoed by each author I spoke with. A core component of learning to dance, after all, is learning moves, not simply repeating what is being seen on the screen, and Dance Central Spotlight aims to help players really internalize moves in a way that lets them go out into the world and express themselves even beyond the playspace of the game.
“It’ll be really great, especially for newcomers to the game, because it’ll allow them to build a move vocabulary. It’s a gigantic vocabulary, so they might not get all the moves, but at least in every song there will be a couple of moves they’re comfortable with, so they might be able to jump in a bit quicker and just get dancing,” Matthew explained, adding, “I don’t think I’ve reused a move yet in the 5 or 6 songs that I’ve authored already. There are just so many moves I haven’t even looked at yet. We have a great opportunity to be creative and make new and exciting routines.”
Alli summarized the idea of the move library: “There’s always been a move vocabulary in the Dance Central games. Step Side and Clap, Torch, Hook It, the Blazer, Blazer Arms. We’ve been training people Step Center, they see it and know what it means. A Frezzy looks like this, a Row, or a Douglas, or a Dean. We’ve been building your movement catalogue all along, and now we’re going to extend that. If you’ve been around for a while, we’re really going to challenge that. There are [a ton of] moves at this point. It’s a very large vocabulary.”
Perhaps the biggest shift in authoring these days is the level of collaboration and fine-tuning that goes into each and every routine. “It’s been far more collaborative this time around than it’s ever been,” Alli notes.
New voices and styles now get to impact the choreography for Dance Central Spotlight, and routines are now reviewed and refined by the whole team to maximize the fun of each song. Marissa outlined the process to me: “We finish [authoring a routine] and then we have a review with the other authors. Someone might be like ‘oh, I don’t like that transition, why don’t you try this one?’ We’ll review all the routines, and at that point it goes to QA [Quality Assurance] for their feedback.”
Unlike in the old days where once a move was motion captured it was too late to go back to make any changes, routines can now be refined until they are exactly what we want.
Welcome New Dancers!
The concept of the move vocabulary is certainly not new, especially to any dancers that have spent their time on the lower difficulty levels in previous Dance Central games. On lower difficulty levels, more repetition of moves helps dancers develop recognition for moves and muscle memory which, over time, enables them to progress on to more difficult routines.
“Most people who play our games never move past Easy and that’s fine, that’s great,” Alli told me. “There’s a lot more creative freedom this time around but we have more stringent standards. Creatively we can make routines that are way tougher than we’ve ever done before, but we also have been making these games for so long that we are very aware of the different audiences we serve, and making routines that cater to each of those.”
“When I’m looking at the Pro Routines to pare it down to the lower difficulties, I try to find the most fun moves. A lot of time the simpler moves will also be the most fun moves, so it’s ensuring those are the ones that get carried on, as opposed to only the easiest moves.” He also emphasized the importance of keeping the spirit of the dance intact. “If it’s a more House routine, try to get the easy moves that incorporate House elements.”
And Welcome Back, Old Friends
When I asked what we have in store for fans of the series that have been around since the beginning, all authors had similar responses. As Matthew put it, “I think they’ll be surprised at how challenging stringing moves together in different ways can be. You can create a really challenging routine that still flows together really well.”
“It’s so hard. It’s so hard!” Frenchy told me, laughing as she explained some of the crazy things she had been authoring into routines. “I sometimes have to bring myself down, but our fans love that. They want that and so we have to do it, for those people that have been practicing and dancing it more than I have!”
The clearest way we’re able to provide routines that are challenging for advanced dancers is with the Alternate Pro routines, where accessibility rules are relaxed and authors are allowed to really push the boundaries.
“The Alternate Pros are like okay, you’ve been with this franchise for a while, you got Gold Stars on ‘OMG.’ These are for you. These are crazy banana pants. There are no restrictions on them. These are the types of routines people would be taking to showcases,” Alli explained.
Speaking of Alternate Routines…
While players will still see the familiar four difficulty levels of a core routine they can practice and work their way up through, each song also includes an alternate Easy difficulty routine, an alternate Pro difficulty routine, and two specially authored Fitness routines. That’s a lot of ways to dance every song!
Authoring so many routines includes some interesting challenges that authors face when having to create multiple unique routines for the same song. Typically it means choosing to pursue a style that is completely different from the core routine. In-game, these Alternate Routines all have names to help users anticipate their theme, like “Goofy,” “Masculine,” and so on. Previously released downloadable songs are also getting new Alternate Routines, which is a fun opportunity for current authors to create totally different takes on old songs than the routines we all already know and love.
“I love it. I think it’s fun because there are so many ways to describe a routine,” Marissa explained to me. “If I decide I’m going to make a ‘Diva’ routine, that’s fun to me, to start from that [challenge] and see where it goes.”
Though we’ll get more into Fitness in a few months, authors were quick to explain that Fitness routines are the most challenging to author. “I want Fitness to be accessible to people,” Frenchy told me. “It’s not that hard but when you do the motions with repetition, it’s a workout. I want you to be mad at me!”
Get Ready To Dance
At the end of the day, the Dance Central Spotlight focus remains on the power of dance, and helping players find joy and expression through getting up and moving! With more routines than ever before, we hope to give players the choice to dance how they want, to the songs they want, and hopefully to develop dance skills they can take even beyond the game. We can’t wait to show off more of the awesome routines you’ll get a chance to learn in Dance Central Spotlight throughout the next few months, and to give you more in-depth looks at more new features!
As Frenchy put it, “Dance changes lives. Everybody can dance. We can all dance. It’s just how you dance.” So shine those dancing shoes and stretch, because there’s a lot of dancing to be done starting in September!
Dance Central Spotlight – “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic (Alternate Pro Routine)
Dance Central Spotlight – “Happy” by Pharrell Williams (Serious Routine)
Dance Central Spotlight – “Show Me” by Kid Ink ft. Chris Brown (Monstrous Routine)
Dance Central Spotlight – “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz (Pro Routine)
Dance Central Spotlight – “Wake Me Up” by Avicii (Alternate Pro Routine)
Dance Central Spotlight will be released on Xbox LIVE to download for Kinect 2 for Xbox One on September 2nd.
Source: Harmonix Blog, Music Games BR's YouTube Channel, Dance Central [BR] YouTube Channel