The Average Gamer

Indie Rock: DNCE PRTY

I reject the idea that there is such a thing as being good at dancing. My random flailing is just as valid an expression as a highly rehearsed and choreographed routine. Maybe more so. Fuck you. I’ll dance how I want. Who gives a shit. I’m cool.

DNCE PRTY is about rating the quality of dancing while also mocking that such a thing can be meaningfully done. You’re a cool human at the titular dance party and you need to get the most dance points. You’ve a limited time to get the most dance points by being the best dancer. How do you do that? By meeting very specific goals of timing and limb positioning.

Who decides these goals? No one. They arbitrarily appear on the screen and you’ve got to get your dance man over there and if you don’t, guess what, you’re not as good a dancer as if you’d been able to do it. You’ve brought shame on yourself and your noble ancestry.

It plays in a way that’ll be familiar to fans of Bennet Foddy. It emulates his signature limitations of player movement. You control each of your character’s feet and hands with a different key, but you’ll be lucky if that translates into the kind of movement you actually want. While Foddy’s games were really the first to examine the disconnect between player intent and the result of their input, DNCE PRTY might be the first to give the ideas a real world context rather than just using the real world as a framing.

QWOP and CLOP are about starting in one place, trying to get to another, but not having the kind of control scheme to do that easily. DNCE PRTY’s goal is just to be the best dancer and that’s way more interesting because the goal is a lot less quantifiably “good”. The goal in CLOP is what we call “Boolean”, there’s a quantifiable easy metric of success. You win because you got to the end. In DNCE PRTY there’s a “Non-Boolean” win state. There’s no set goal that you pass, you just get the most points so you are the best at dancing, for now, until someone gets more points than you.

DNCE PRTY scoresI love how arbitrary that is, that we can put a score on personal expression, especially one that’s being made without proper control. It questions that months of training to position your feet correctly is any better a performance than what I do when I’m ketted up and I gotta shake it loose. It’s like getting a high score in jazz.

Oh, Also

The excellent Depression Quest is fighting to be released on Steam Greenlight for free. I think it’s a bit good and a bit important, so, maybe vote for it if you’re cool? Even if you aren’t cool you should probably still vote for it because I have decided, by fiat, that anyone who is instrumental in getting Depression Quest on Steam becomes cool by association. It’s like knowing someone in a band, or holding a cigarette but not necessarily smoking it.