The Motion Sick: An Interview with Dance Dance Revolution Step Artist Joseph Eder (the fellow who created the steps for “30 Lives”)

As you’ve all heard by now (see our previous posts if you haven’t), our song “30 Lives (Up-Up-Down-Dance Mix)” is included in several versions of the video game Dance Dance Revolution (made by Konami): DDR X (Playstation 2), DDR Universe 3 (XBox 360), and DDR X Arcade (Japan currently, US and EU releases later this year).

For the uninitiated, DDR (which originated in 1998) is a dance video game in which players stand on a special dance pad or platform and hit colored arrows with their feet to match musical and visual cues. Players are judged by how well they time their steps to the patterns whizzing by on the screen.

We were lucky enough to get in touch with Joseph Eder, who is responsible for the creation of the step patterns that go along with “30 Lives” in the game. We love the steps in the game and we thought it would be interesting to learn a bit more about creating steps for DDR. Joseph was gracious enough to answer some questions for us all:

What is your official title?

Again, my name is Joseph Eder. You can find it in the (rapidly scrolling) credits of the game listed under “DDR Step Artists” if I remember correctly. For Universe 3, my official title is DDR Step Data Creator.

What is your elevator-speech description of your job?

“Yea, Hi, my name is Joe. You know DDR? Yea, I’m the guy that places the arrows. Yep, that’s right, I decide where you step.” Which is usually followed up by “Ooooooooh!….Oh My God I hate you! Those steps in *insert song name here* were SO HARD!”

How did you end up working in this position? Is there specific training for it?

I got this position through a combination of luck and coincidence. There was a listing for the position on a popular Bemani website (http://www.bemanistyle.com/) [Editors Note: Bemani is the name of Konami’s music-based video game division], I sent in my resume, a cover letter, called, did the things you’re suppose to do when you apply for any position, came in for an interview, interviewed well, and got the job. There was training when I got here, but to be fair, the bulk of the skill needed to be a DDR Step Artist comes from playing the game for a long time. I’ve played the game since January of 2001. That fact, along with having started a DDR club during college, helped me get the job, and helped as far as skills needed to write steps.

Do you generally choose from a pool or are you assigned songs?

I will say that when the team got 30 lives, I specifically requested the song.

What is the process by which you create the steps? Do you first listen many times? Do you just look for patterns and structure in the song?

I’ve listened to the songs I’ve made steps for maybe a hundred times each, at least. Some songs have patterns and structure built in, and some you need to create structure from scratch. It all depends on the song given really.

Have you ever created steps for songs with a non-4/4 time signature?

I’ve not done anything that wasn’t in common time. However, I was responsible for the charts for Parade (Witchery Skank) and Man with a Hex (Atomic Fireballs) which are both done in 4/4 “Swing” time. Triplets are fun to work with, and challenging 🙂

Do you ever create steps that are too difficult for you to ace?

See Midnight Blaze (SysF Mix) – Heavy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hsYNb8rx2Q
and Akibarrific – Oni
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsdZoQJ6tkg

What makes a song a good/bad choice for DDR?

The simply answer to this is songs that are easy to dance to are songs that work well for DDR.

Do you have any recommendations for people trying to create songs for DDR?

Give it a good strong dance beat, beyond that, anything unique is good ^^

Anything else you would like to tell everyone?

I hope you all enjoy the charts to 30 lives and all the other songs in the game! It was a lot of fun to work on 🙂

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