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Dance Central character sketchbook: MacCoy and Taye photo
Dance Central character sketchbook: MacCoy and Taye
by Nick Chester

[Recently, Dance Central developer Harmonix Music Systems was cool enough to give us a sneak peek behind the curtain of its artist’s workshop.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be getting a closer look at the game’s colorful cast, revealing a bit about the fiction that drives their in-game personalities, as well as the design choices that brought them to life.]

“In the end, MacCoy is actually far less creepy than I’d envisioned him,” jokes lead character artist Matt Perlot when talking the Dance Central character.

Ultimately, that’s not exactly how the rest of the team saw him. Despite being raised outside of hip hop and B-Boy culture, Perlot says “We see him as having this encyclopedic knowledge” of that world. “He’s the one willing to go all the way there.” It’s reflected in his final look, a mash-up of sporting gear and sportswear -- he’s not only serious about his skills, but he pays homage to the old school that he loves so much.

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Alex Rigopulos talks Harmonix's past, present, and future photo
Alex Rigopulos talks Harmonix's past, present, and future
by Nick Chester

To say the least, the past few months have been a tumultuous time in the history of Boston-based Harmonix Music Systems.

Despite releasing two critically acclaimed games, Rock Band 3 and Dance Central, its owner, Viacom, announced last November it was in talks with potential buyers for the studio. A little over a month later, the deal was done -- Harmonix had been sold to Harmonix-SBE Holdings, under the investment firm Columbus Nova, essentially making the studio independent.

2011 has been just as interesting for Harmonix. In February, company restructuring was announced, with as much as 15% of its 200-plus staff reportedly laid off in the process. And when Activision soon after declared it would be disbanding its Guitar Hero business unit, it signaled to many that the death of band games may be at hand.

But after speaking with Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos in a phone interview last week, it's clear that internal, industry, and marketplace changes won't be slowing the studio down. Instead, it seems Rigopulos is seeing opportunity for studio evolution at every turn.

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Dance Central character sketchbook: Angel and Aubrey photo
Dance Central character sketchbook: Angel and Aubrey
by Nick Chester

[Recently, Dance Central developer Harmonix Music Systems was cool enough to give us a sneak peek behind the curtain of its artist’s workshop.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be getting a closer look at the game’s colorful cast, revealing a bit about the fiction that drives their in-game personalities, as well as the design choices that brought them to life.]

Dance Central's Miss Aubrey wasn't always the fiery redheaded know-it-all fans have come to know. In fact, she started as an "avant-garde, haute-couture influenced ballerina," a far stretch from the snooty-but-talented rich girl we know today. Oh, and she was a blonde.

"We struggled with her initially," says Dance Central senior writer Helen McWilliams. "There were ideas about her being this sort of pop princess or kind of like a Clueless-style valley girl, but the more we looked at her the more we wanted her to really be a much deeper character with a deeper personality."

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2:20 PM on 02.14.2011

Rick James 'Super Freak' in my Dance Central? Of course!

Valentine's Day is a great day to catch the attention of that special someone or fall in love all over again. Ruin all of today's hard, romantic work by throwing it all awhile while you dance along to Rick James' "Super Freak...

Nick Chester

3:00 PM on 02.09.2011

Survey suggests what Dance Central 2 could be like

Many of us will agree, Dance Central was a good first effort for an emerging device. A sequel -- one presumably not so pressed for time -- could really take the Kinect dance series to new heights. Kotaku got a hold of a Micro...

Jordan Devore



Dance Central character sketchbook: Mo and Emilia photo
Dance Central character sketchbook: Mo and Emilia
by Nick Chester

[Recently, Dance Central developer Harmonix Music Systems was cool enough to give us a sneak peek behind the curtain of its artist’s workshop.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be getting a closer look at the game’s colorful cast, revealing a bit about the fiction that drives their in-game personalities, as well as the design choices that brought them to life.]

On their surface, it’s obvious that Dance Central's characters are colored by a wide range of dance genres and street styles. What might be less evident is that it’s just as likely that the characters have their roots in Street Fighter II as much as, say, the seminal dance film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

“A big influence on early character development and, to a degree, the venue design, was inspired by versus-style fighting games,” says Dance Central lead character artist Matt Perlot, who started his work at Harmonix designing rockers for Guitar Hero II five years ago. “Our ‘fighters’ are the dancers, but instead of cracking skulls, the 'Dance Central' crew are busy cut’n rugs.”

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11:00 AM on 12.25.2010

Dance Central 'I Gotta Feeling' DLC is 80 MS Points today

Today's Xbox LIVE "Countdown to 2011" deal is Dance Central DLC "I Gotta Feeling" by the four guys from Black Eyed Peas. At 80 Microsoft points, down from 240, it's pretty reasonable if you didn't get sick of this song yet. I...

Maurice Tan



Review: Dance Central photo
Review: Dance Central
by Nick Chester

Dance Central’s premise of getting people off of their asses and dancing to the beat isn’t a new one in the world of videogames. Konami’s had years of success with its Dance Dance Revolution series, but that only gets you moving your feet, and arguably not actual dancing at all. More recently, Ubisoft knocked it out of the park with the extraordinarily successful Just Dance for the Wii, but that only uses Nintendo’s console’s controllers to track arm movements. 

By using Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, Harmonix is taking the genre to the next level, tracking arm and leg movements for a full body experience.  It’s a game that has players performing movements that more closely resemble actual dancing than its predecessors. 

Shake off that bundle of nerves and the idea that you might somehow look silly playing it, because Dance Central is a ton of fun. Despite its relative on-the-surface simplicity (there’s actually some pretty sophisticated software behind the scenes here), it also happens to be one of Kinect’s most attractive launch titles. 

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