New dancers to the DANCE QUEENS Group often ask, "Which Dance HUD should I buy?" and older members sometimes wonder if there are better Dance HUDs available.
SL has a lot of Dance HUDs. A November 2011 review of existing Dance HUDs for sale inworld and in SL Marketplace showed that there were at least 81 Dance HUDs available in SL. To simplify the analysis four categories (1 through 4) of increasing capability were defined. The four categories are:
Category 1 (BASIC) - Lets the owner dance alone using dances placed in the HUD
Category 2 (LEAD) - Does the Category 1 capability and lets the owner add other people to dance in sync with the owner
A set of criteria for analyzing Dance HUDs was also developed with opportunities for input from DANCE QUEENS members.
In January 2012 I asked for volunteers to help with the analysis and had a process for analyzing the HUDs and a timeline of a few weeks to complete the work. A total of seven DANCE QUEENS members volunteered to help. We started on the analysis with enthusiasm, but quickly realized that this would be a much more challenging task to complete than the few weeks I had estimated. We focused our attention on the Category 4 HUDs because those are the ones of most interest to DANCE QUEENS members. Category 4 HUDs have the broadest capabilities for individual dancing, leading dances and participating in dance shows. The HUDs analyzed are:
- Animazoo Dance HUD Quadro (Full Version)
- Barre Dance HUD
- DanceMaster Mobi
- Fleursoft DanceHUD v1.0
- Henmations Dance Control HUD V3
- Huddles EZ Animator Deluxe
- MLDU4 and MLDU5
- TIS Fusion Pro
- VISTA ANIMATIONS- DANCE HUD v1.5
Now we have completed all the work that I think is reasonable to do.
The results of the analyses are in this Spreadsheet. The Spreadsheet presents the criteria on the left and each Category 4 Dance HUD as analyzed by the different Raters. The results in each category are listed as +2 (substantially better than Huddles), +1 (better), 0 (about the same as Huddles), -1 (worse), and -2 (substantially worse). Color coding was added to make it easier to visualize with green as positive and red as negative compared to the Huddles.
The first thing to say about this analysis is that it is not statistically valid. For you mathematicians and statisticians out there, we just did not have enough resources and time to analyze it in a valid way. So a huge disclaimer is needed.
Given the above, it is still the best (only) analysis that we have.
The first thing you will see is that some HUDs have a lot of red. As we went through the analysis we recognized that some of the most advanced HUDs (e.g. MLDU4/5 and DanceMaster Mobi) are designed for special purposes such as couples dancing or positioning/movement of dancers. These are very effective HUDs for the specific purpose, but not good for the range of requirements that we defined for a Category 4 HUD. Perhaps, another category for Special Purpose HUDs is needed for these. We eliminated the special purpose HUDs from the analysis.
All of the remaining HUDs had some degree of red and green. There are some really different approaches to the remaining dance HUDS and let me describe a couple of them to you:
- Two HUDs (TIS Fusion Pro and Henmations Dance Control HUD V3.1) use a database external to SL to manage the HUDs. Although the dances are stored in your HUD, the data for managing the HUD is on servers not controlled by Linden Lab or by your computer. This has some advantages in terms of ease of set-up, possibly in speed of response (lag) and making HUD improvements, but has disadvantages in terms of having another party in control (and possibly failing) as well as privacy issues.
- Some HUDs (for example the Animazoo Dance HUD Quadro, the Vista HUD 1.5 and the Henmations Dance Control HUD) have the capabilities that make them Category 4, but are really designed for people newer to dancing to use easily. This trade-off in ease of use versus functionality make them less useful for advanced dancers. These three HUDs differ in capabilities. Some of them have the advanced features but limited capabilities in terms of things like number of sequences handled. Some are easier to use and more attractive for a broader spectrum of dancers.
As I have thought about this comparison, a comment made by Iliandra Allen on one of the blog posts, kept coming back to me ... "Preferences and familiarity are serious considerations to dancers." For people who have grown up with one HUD or another, there is a huge hurdle in terms of confidence and time in switching Dance HUDs. We live and breathe dancing and to risk our SL love by doing a "heart" transplant, just is too much. If you use and have confidence in any of the Category 4 HUDs, why change.
If you are just starting in dancing and think you will really become serious, probably either the Barre or Huddles should be your choice. The Barre seems to be the highest ranked but lacks a large user group. The Huddles is older but has a large and dedicated user group. In other words you can get help easily.
As far as my own decision. I am going to switch to the Barre. I have over 5000 animations in my Huddles and maybe another 2000 in my inventory. For me this is not an easy decision, but Rachael Young, the creator of the Barre, continues to develop and improve the Barre, while Keiki Lemieux, the Huddles maker, seems to have stopped. I want to be on the leading edge. Switching will take time for me, but I think it will best meet my needs in the future.
- If you are using any one of the eight Category 4 Dance HUDs and you like what you have, continue using it.
- If you are looking for a Dance HUD, choose either the Huddles Deluxe or the Barre.
- If you want to be on the leading edge (sometimes called the bleeding edge), choose the Barre.
The DANCE QUEENS members who worked on the analysis deserve your thanks. I won't tell you who they are, so they can avoid all the negativity that goes with picking a winner and loser, but they worked hard. The analyses are theirs. The conclusions and recommendations are mine.