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Dance Central Sketchbook 4: Meet Dare & Oblio

Well, well, well, we’re nearly there - it’s time for the second-to-last installment of our new sketchbook series dedicated to Dance Central. As you know by now, this series is all about introducing you to the process behind crafting, and voicing, your favorite Dance Central characters. HMXcj and Thrasher sat down with “Perly” (Matt Perlot) the lead character artist for the game as well as our Senior Writer, HMXHellion, to learn more about Dare, Dance Central’s resident party girl, and the mysterious fan favorite, Oblio.

Dare & Oblio Character Profiles

Dare: Party Central

Name: Dare Hobbies: Throwing after parties, recovering from after parties. Interests: DIY fashion, decent hair dye, doner kebabs at half-past two. Favorite Movie: DJ Purr’s Daydream Candy Warehouse Compilation Biggest Dream: To make serious money from being fabulous without ever having a desk job or wearing a suit. Blood Type: B+… a good way to live your life, right?

One of the most important facets of building the Dance Central characters was that every single one of them be somehow relatable to any fan playing the game. “Basically, we wanted everyone to be a little bit ambiguous so we could represent a variety of musical and dance styles, as well as cultural backgrounds with the characters,” Hellion told us. Originally, Dare was named Kyoko, after one of Perly’s childhood pen-pals. As the character’s clothing underwent revisions however, a decision was made to give the character what Hellion describes as “a very cool, hacker-style, clubbing name.” The art lead for Dance Central, Dare Matheson, actually became the character’s namesake. “He missed the meeting where we were brainstorming new names for her,” Hellion told us. Perly added, laughing, “He had no idea actually, we waited until he came back from a business trip to clue him in.”

In the first concepts for Dare she was originally conceived as being much younger. She wore very baggy oversized sweaters with sleeves that were too long for her, as if she was wearing a hand-me-down that she hadn’t quite grown into yet. Perly explained that as the character became a more mature, stylish, individual, the team retained the long sleeves as part of Dare’s look. (You can see this in her unlockable outfit). While none of the characters explicitly call out a particular genre of music or dance with their clothing, there are nods to different influences. Dare, in particular, calls out late 1990s rave culture, as well as the do-it-yourself aesthetic of underground music and fashion. “I actually thought a lot about my time living in London when I was writing her,” Hellion said. “She has this great shamelessness about partying. When I thought of my time living there in the ‘90s, for some reason I thought of the character as having a voice like Lady Sovereign. Once I mentioned it we all started to kind of think of her as British, so that’s how we voiced her.” Perly added, “I actually originally thought of her as some of the girls I knew in art school – in terms of both her aesthetic and her personality. Kind of like she’s that girl that almost disarms you with her attractiveness, but once you talk to her you realize she’s very relatable but still intriguing.”

Oblio: Enter the Void

Name: Oblio Hobbies: Art, poetry, sport bikes, solitude. Interests: Meditatively refocusing energy so as to rewire the body-spirit connection in ways which are beneficial to the soul. Favorite Movie: “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” – Orson Welles Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Blazin’ Blue Raspberry Blood Type: “All truth is simple… is that not doubly a lie?” – Fredrich Nietzche

After much speculation in the fan community (and quite a few bits of fan fiction too), we’re happy to finally give you the full scoop on Oblio. Here it is, straight from Hellion and Perly:

“There really are no words that can describe Oblio.”

Hellion gave us some additional insight. “To help us shape the characters internally we created these little biography forms that I filled out as each of them. They were pretty straight forward until I got to Oblio. After some deliberation I drew a giant black circle on the page, obscuring all of the biography questions. Then I doodled a Rilke quote around the black circle. That’s what we handed to everyone on the team as Oblio’s reference.”

Oblio is really just super mysterious. He’s set apart from the other dancers in the cast. His dialogue indicates that he’s dancing for more noble reasons than the rest of the crew. “He’s really got something to lose or to prove,” Perly says, “He wants you to learn and enrich your life through dancing.” When concepting Oblio it was important for Perly that the character should be a bit androgynous and really showcase an unusual style that is not allusive towards any specific dance genre or subculture. “He was a very divisive character at first – some people kind of got him and others didn’t at all,” Perly added. Since the game’s release, Perly has found that “regular dance fans are kind of like, ‘what’s his deal?’ while gamers and comic fans generally love him.”

In terms of Oblio’s in-game costumes, the idea was that he should look a bit like a superhero, but also as if he’s always ready to leave. Hellion commented, “He’s into poetry and street bikes, we know that much about him. He wears this mixture of clothing that’s part bike culture, part superhero.” Perly noted that Oblio did not change too much from initial concept to in-game realization. “We did shorten his hair. I still think of him as kind of an effeminate badass though. He’s the lone wolf.”

About Perly Matt “Perly” Perlot graduated from Massachusetts College of Art & Design in 2004 with a BFA in illustration/animation. He just celebrated five years working at Harmonix, having started as a concept artist designing characters for Guitar Hero II. He says his best ideas come to him while on the subway. About HMXHellion HMXHellion is the Senior Writer at Harmonix. Before entering the game industry, HMXHellion worked as a dog walker and telephone actress. When not playing with her band Tijuana Sweetheart, HMXHellion enjoys uncomfortable footwear, clam juice-infused cocktails, and yelling at strangers.