Summary of responsibilities

I was design lead on Dance Central. It was built for Microsoft's new "Natal" technology and was a launch title for the Xbox 360 Kinect. The team consisted of around 20-25 developers working under a strict deadline. Production lasted a very short time: under a year. My design team was very non-traditional. It consisted mainly of the professional choreographers who created dance routines for the game.

My responsibilities included:

  • Defining design philosophy and goals for the project and communicating them clearly to the team.
  • Designing and tuning major systems such as core gameplay modes and the metagame.
  • Identifying and solving new types of usability issues for a new and in-development input device.
  • Evaluating new choreography for general fun-factor and suitability to be split between difficulty levels.
  • Developing a suite of choreography design tenants to ensure that moves played to Kinect's strengths and worked well with the tracking tech.
  • Running multi-discipline Strike Teams (scrum) for major features such as practice mode (Break it Down) and the UI.
  • Attending and running playtest sessions with Harmonix employees and external testers.
  • Acting as design liaison between Harmonix and our support team at Microsoft.
  • Being involved in marketing and promotion. I ran demos at E3, San Diego Comic Con, and a press event in Toronto. There's footage of me dancing on a Canadian afternoon news hour. I'm not telling you how to find it.
  • Learning to dance. I and most of the team took dance lessons multiple times a week in order to immerse ourselves in the artform.
  • Attending a Justin Bieber concert. It was amazing. Zero sarcasm here.

Proof that I am now a Belieber:

GDC Talk Design postMortem

I gave a GDC talk that covers the development and design process for the project:

Break it Down! How Harmonix Taught the World to Dance: The Design Process and Philosophy of Dance Central

This presentation covers the design process for Dance Central in quite a bit of depth and is the best place to hear the start-to-finish story of how Dance Central was made. I gave this talk multiple times; at GDC in the US and Europe, and at other events such as Boston Postmortem.

Want more detail on the development process?

Head over here if you want more information on my approach to design and leadership on Dance Central (password protected).