It has only been a short three months since Dance Central made its debut on the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift platforms, but this game has taken off as one of the best pure dancing inside of VR. The game was released with a 32-song soundtrack that is full of hits from each decade. Since then, there have been DLC packs released with John Legend, Ellie Goulding, and even more stars making their debut on the game. This game is growing, and today it is taking another massive leap forward.
On Dance Central, you will now be able to have a fitness tracker and NPC challenges. You are going to be able to track the calories you are burning inside of the game, and you can monitor it on your phone, the game, or even your home screen. You can turn this feature off as well. To make it more accurate, you are going to be putting your weight, height, and age into the games system as well.
As for the NPC challenges, you will be competing against those and your friends challenges as well. You can accept or decline challenges, but will end with you not receiving as much respect in the game.
Oculus sat down and interviewed the Creative Lead of Dance Central, Arthur “M-Cue” Inasi to learn more about the game and where they intend to go with it. We will include parts of that interview below.
Why did you decide to incorporate a fitness app? What went into the design process?
Arthur Inasi: As we worked on Dance Central, we started to realize that this game is perfect for fitness gaming enthusiasts. People who would playtest for us would always comment, “Whew! That’s actually a pretty good workout!” or, “Wow, I got more of a workout than I thought I would!” At the same time, there was more and more interest from the VR community for games that would provide light to moderate workouts. We’ve had fitness modes in our other DC games, so we had the tools and experience to make fitness a part of the Quest and Rift Platform version of Dance Central.
When designing the feature, we wanted the app to feel a lot like a fitness app that we all have on our phones, complete with tracked stats over time, gains/losses, and the ability to turn it off completely for players who felt that they didn’t want a constant reminder of how many calories they’re burning. One of our team’s coders, Jake Burga, figured out the math on how to judge calorie/joule burn, and we spent the time testing it to make sure our burn numbers weren’t wildly inaccurate. I think he pretty much nailed it the first time, so we didn’t need to iterate all that much on his calculations.
Is the fitness app on or off by default?
AI: It’s off by default, but it’s very easy to turn on from the in-game phone’s home screen.
Does a player’s adjustment of their height / weight in the fitness app have any impact on their in-game avatar à la Wii Fit? Does the app or game deliver any kind of visual feedback over time in addition to tracked data?
AI: Well, we calculate (or attempt to anyway) what your height is from your calibration at the start of the game. Using how high off the ground the headset is, we can get a pretty good idea of how tall you are and we adjust the character’s height accordingly. Plus, we need to know height so we can score you accurately. Weight is impossible to know, so we give players a default number that’s kind of in the middle of people’s average weights, and we ask the player to make the adjustment if that number isn’t correct. We don’t change the avatar’s appearance based on weight.
In terms of visual feedback, we show you the fitness tracker in-world on the in-game screens, so that you can keep track at a quick glance. We also let you know through sound and VO when you crush yesterday’s calorie burn—just a little motivation to keep grinding!
How did the team come up with the idea for NPC challenges?
AI: We made asynchronous challenges between players, but we quickly came to the realization that not everyone has a billion friends who own VR headsets, so you may not be getting a ton of challenges unless you’re taking on strangers as well as friends. That means that most people may not be exposed to this feature, which is a bummer. We figured, why not have NPCs challenge you? It’s a great way to up your respect levels and drive the story and progression forward, and it also served as a great way to push novice players into Pro difficulty when they start hitting the upper range of Standard difficulty scores.
Which of the NPCs is your favorite to battle against?
AI: I don’t really have a favorite, but it always cracks me up when Oblio challenges me because he never hangs out at the club unless I invite him. I feel like my skills bring him out of his hidey hole in the Studio.