Getting Some Play: Behind the dance floor

 
 

Welcome to Getting Some Play — the spiritual successor to Sarah Warn’s excellent Good Game column — where we’ll take a look at the latest releases, news and developments in the world of video games.

Happy Halloween, gamers! If you’re anything like me, you’ll be spending the day with candy, horror movies, and costume fine-tuning. You may also be hopelessly addicted to Dance Central 2 (and who could blame you), Harmonix’ latest dance game sensation, which arrived only a few short days ago to wide acclaim.

To commemorate the launch of the new game, Ars Technica recently posted a feature on dancer and choreographer Frenchy Hernandez, one of the uber-talented choreographers who designs the moves for the game.

It’s a fascinating process.

“The choreographer’s job varies depending on what stage the game is in. Early on in the project she works with the animators and designers to come up with ideas for the various in-game characters, ensuring that they’re authentic. “Just kind of telling them what we wear, how important sneakers [are] to our fashion,” Hernandez told Ars. “You know, helping them find references for the characters that they already had an idea for.”

I was heartened to learn that dancing in front of a mirror — every flashy geek’s secret pastime — is integral to the making of the game.

As she dances in front of the mirror, Hernandez begins to pick out specific moves she likes, and where exactly they fit in the song. Part of the actual choreography process is ensuring those moves come in at just the right beat or lyric. Once that’s all set, the fully choreographed dance is filmed and Hernandez and her producer refine it — starting with the expert-level dance before moving on to medium and beginner — and set to naming the individual moves, and determining which ones fit with which difficulty level.

Then it’s on to the motion capture suits. It’s a long and involved process, though — aside from a few technical limitations — the actual choreography isn’t that different from what Hernandez would be doing if she were working with an artist or teaching a class.

“It’s really true to form,” she told Ars. “This is the stuff that I would come up with if I was teaching dance or something like that.”

Dance Central 2 is out now for the Kinect platform — and it’s fantastic. If you like getting your groove on, it’s far and away the best dance game on the market.

Incoming:

One of the most hotly anticipated titles of the year lands on November 1: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. The third in Naughty Dog’s cinematic adventure series, this is definitely the premiere PS3-exclusive release of the season. On the same day, Sonic Generations, the latest platformer featuring the blue hedgehog in stages from all generations of Sonic games, lands on Xbox 360 and PS3.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Also on the first for PS3/360 is Goldeneye 007: Reloaded, an up-rezed and super-charged HD version of last year’s fantastic Wii title (itself a re-imagining of the N64 classic FPS that launched many a young gamer’s shooter career).

Speaking of shooters, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is out on the eighth on Wii, DS, PS3 and 360, offering the same ultra-selling mix of cinematic single player and explosive multi-player action that players have come to expect from the series.

Another of the season’s most hotly anticipated games, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, launches on PS3, 360 and PC on the 11th. An epic RPG in every sense of the word, this title promises an insane amount of gameplay, like Morrowind and Oblivion before it.

Nintendo fans have a couple of very good reasons to own a 3DS, with a 3D version of indie platformer Cave Story arriving on the eighth, and the latest Mario title, Super Mario 3D Land, launching on the 13th. Both are looking solid, with Mario’s outing being a truly intriguing mix of old school (with nods to a true classic, Super Mario 3), and Mario Galaxy-style gameplay.

What have you been playing?

 
 

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