Interviews// Codemaster's Dance Factory - SPOnG's exclusive interview with game director

Posted 20 Dec 2005 17:34 by
Games: Dance Factory
The forthcoming Dance Factory from Britsoft legends Codemasters is such a simple concept its genius. It?s a dance mat game that works with any music CD! Its one of those ideas that as soon as you hear it, you immediately think one of two things: ?Why the hell didn?t I think of that?? or ?Why has nobody done this already??. Well, we didn?t think of it, and nobody else has either until now.

We?ll have to wait till next April to see the finished product in our lounges and under our shuffling feet. In the meantime, to satiate our thirst for knowledge of all things Dance Factory, SPOnG collared Development Manager on the project, David Brickley, and quizzed him about a title that promises to have us busting some serious moves come next Easter.

SPOnG: Hi David, firstly, who came up with the idea for Dance Factory? And at what point did Codemasters/Broadsword Interactive realise it was technically feasible to make it?

David Brickley: Well the idea came from our game designers, but it was our audio engineer Simon Goodwin who did all the ground work in terms of proving that it was possible on the PS2. Since then he and Broadsword have worked very hard on tuning the technology to make it work well with the broadest possible range of music.

SPOnG: Which leads on nicely into our second question, just how is it technically feasible? Are you saying we can put any music CD in and we will be able to dance along to it in the game?

DB: Yes, that?s correct. Our approach has been to assume that the player will want to try anything and everything, although it really goes without saying some songs will produce a better dance than others. However if they don?t like what the code produces, the player always has the choice to ?record? their own dance for anything they like, simply by placing their own steps and then playing it back.

SPOnG: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your own background and games industry experience?

DB: I?ve worked as a designer, scripter, scriptwriter & producer, and joined Codemasters about two years ago.

SPOnG: There is much talk about taking games mainstream and targeting casual gamers and even non-gamers within the games industry. Especially around Christmas time of year, when the hardcore gamers moan more than ever about the general state of play - i.e. how consumers are being duped by publishers pumping more money than ever into sequels, movie tie-ins and generally spending more money and effort on marketing and PR, as opposed to developing genuinely new and enjoyable games. Do you think developing games such as Dance Factory helps to grow the market for games in a different, perhaps more innovative way?

DB: Not really, as long as people keep buying the poorer licensed & franchised products on the market, some companies will keep making them. On the other hand in order to be able to innovate it does help to have money coming in from other games that you can rely on to sell. So I?ll just be diplomatic and say as long as there?s a balance, everybody should be happy.

SPOnG: Leading on from that, how can you see dancing and singing and other music based games (we?re thinking of the forthcoming Guitar Hero, for example) developing? Can you see a time when gamers are able to put together full bands online - i.e. singer, guitarist, drummer and keyboard player all making music through an online game? We think it would be fun to have Pop Idol style contests, but in online game worlds.

DB: Why bother? The drummer will still be rubbish and the bass player will still find an excuse not to turn up on time. Let?s just say we?re aware of the possibilities our technology opens up for future titles and we?re actively looking at what we do next.

SPOnG: Hmmm, cagey, sounds to us like Codies have some special music game magic up their sleeves. Moving on, some of the young Japanese fellas who play Dance Dance Revolution down at SPOnG?s local arcade have thoroughly shamed SPOnG in the past with their incredible moves and agility. We blame our lack of co-ordination and vigour on poor northern diets and years of lager abuse. If only we?d had dance games to keep us fit as fiddles in our youth! Anyways, we digress, but this leads to our next question which is, as dance mat games seem to encourage a healthy competitiveness amongst players, do Codies have any plans in your marketing strategy the game to organise any kind of real-life dancing competitions?

DB: Yes, I believe that is one of the ideas that?s being looked into.
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Games: Dance Factory

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