Or a story for that matter.
Harmonix, the company that brought the world Rock Band (which has a somewhat legitimate ”storyline”) and the big Kinect seller Dance Central, has been talking about what to expect from their third game in the series. Namely, time travel. Of course! What does every dance game need? Time travel.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts based company recently attempted to justify why time travel exists in Dance Central 3 with Game Informer, and I honestly did get a good answer out of it. Apparently you’re a member of Dance Central Intelligence, a group responsible for monitoring and fighting dance related crimes, and you’ve discovered that these are now related to time crimes. You then travel into the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and today to stop these dance/time crimes…by dancing. The game brings back the dance crews from previous games but injected into different points in history.
Hold up. Let’s just back up a second. Why? Harmonix never really justifies why time travel is added, or why a story is added at all, they just explain that they created it. I can tell you now that almost no one was probably complaining about the lack of story in Dance Central 1 or 2. Or for that matter, has ever complained about a lack of story from any rhythm or dance game. It’s not something you need. Maybe, maybe if this was meant to be some sort of musical I could see a story intertwined in there, but that’s not the case (and I don’t think anyone would want to make a musical out of this).
Time travel should not be used as a cheesy plot device to get people to buy your game. It never works when used in that regard, it only works when used properly and respected. People are going to buy Dance Central 3 because they want more songs to dance to, not because there is suddenly a story that makes absolutely no sense. Hell, I’m sure they barely care about the on screen graphics, they just want to dance and have a good time. You can still include the different eras and scenery, just don’t mention time travel.
So please, Harmonix, and all the other developers out there thinking about putting time travel into their games, or even just thinking about putting a story into your game, think before you do it. “Does my game need a story?” If yes then “Does my story need time travel?” If no, then don’t do it. It’s that simple. If yes, then you better think damn hard about why it wasn’t in there in the first place.
I miss the good old days where time travel was fun and a bit dangerous.