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Interview With CEO Of Stand Still Games, Stanley Stills

Stanley Stills is the Founder, CEO and Technical Director for Stand Still Games in Chicago, IL where they are developing a revolutionary new game, Mannequin Dance.  This game, touted as the World’s first non-dancing motion control dance game, has been in development for three years and has had more than a few setbacks over that time, yet today they are finally announcing a release window for Mannequin Dance. (Press Release)

A few days ago I was able to visit Stand Still Games and speak with Mr. Stills about today’s announcement.

PN: It’s been a long road trying to get Mannequin Dance to market.  What are some of the challenges you have faced over the three year development time?

STILLS: You name it and we have faced it.  Everything from beta test fatalities to struggling with recording labels to get the rights to use their music in our game, but every challenge just causes us to be more innovative, and in the end, it will all make for a better product.

PN: How have you worked around not being able to license music for use in a dance game?

STILLS: Technically we are not making a dance game.  It’s a non-dance game.  Gamers compete with each other by holding perfectly still for as long as possible.  The first player to move loses.  We did some polls and surveys and such and found that most gamers like the idea of motion controls but not the idea of jumping around and looking foolish – so we are trying to provide those gamers with the best of both worlds – a motion control game in which you stand still.  As for music, we have recently added a feature we call “Use Your Own Music” that allows gamers to plug in a USB drive with MP3s on it and use that music in the game.

PN: So even though it has dance in the title, there is no actual dancing in the game?  Don’t you find that to be a little misleading, especially since there will be no music included with the game?

STILLS: No.  No I don’t.

PN: Having a game of this type in development for so long sounds expensive and actually predates the announcement of Kinect (Project Natal).  How did development begin?

STILLS: We didn’t actually start off making the game we have today.  It has been through several complete revisions.  Originally the title was written for the Wii and called Dance Yourself To Death.  We had some issues during beta testing that caused us to scrap the project and rethink the concept completely.  We also renamed the studio; we were originally called Lethal Games.  Those were dark times.  When Project Natal was announced it gave us a new direction and a clear vision of what we needed to do.  That was when we began work on combining the dance genre with a first person shooter, creating the first “Dance-Shooter” game.  That game is on the shelf for legal reasons, but we hope to get back to it after the launch of Mannequin Dance.

PN: So when did development on Mannequin Dance start – as it exists today?

STILLS: About six months ago I believe…  Six or seven months, but we have pulled code and resources from the other projects and incorporated them into Mannequin Dance, so it’s really hard to tell how much time we have in it.  All I know is it’s going to be released this fall for Christmas or it may never get released.  We are confident we will have a working product to market in time to capitalize on the holiday season.

PN: April Fox, your Marketing Director, mentioned to me that there will be downloadable content available for Mannequin Dance on release day.  Do you feel that will put off consumers – making them feel that you held back part of the game to make more money off of gamers?

STILLS: Not at all.  The first DLC will be called “Zombie Dance Pack”, I mean – what isn’t better with zombies in it?  Am I right?  In the expansion gamers will have to avoid detection by the zombie hordes by holding completely still.  If the player moves, the zombies will swarm on them and they lose.  It’s quite a bit different than the main release, which has no zombies in it.  Not everyone likes zombies in their games.  This will give out fans the choice to add zombies if they want to.

PN: Is there anything else you would like to say to the Platform Nation readers before we wrap up?

STILLS: Just to follow us on twitter @StandStillGames and find us on Facebook.  The links are on the MannequinDance.com website.

My thanks go to Stanley Stills for this exclusive interview and to April Fox for arranging the entire thing.  Be sure to check out the exclusive screen shots below granted only to Platform Nation.

Watch for Mannequin Dance this fall.  I believe it will be unlike anything we have ever seen before.

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