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Marching To His Own Drummer: Masaya Matsuura's Thoughts
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Marching To His Own Drummer: Masaya Matsuura's Thoughts

March 6, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

In the past you've said you're running up against some difficulty with limitations of the audio capabilities of systems, right? Even with Wii.

MM: That's true.

The iPhone has an accelerometer inside. You could actually do the same thing while you walk.

MM: Yeah, for that kind of reason we just started to investigate by checking out Japanese websites on iPhone development.

It feels like some of the action in Major Minor is somewhat similar to the action in Wii Music.

MM: I feel that that there's a big difference between that game and Guitar Hero, or ours. Because the Wii Remote is not the instrument, not an actual instrument -- of course the Guitar Hero guitar controller is not actually an instrument, but maybe players feel more like it's a musical instrument.

But the Wii remote and the nunchuck is not a musical instrument. I think maybe players feel more of an air guitar feeling. This difference is very big. I'm really interested in how the market will react to that kind of interaction.

DT: Regarding these things like Guitar Hero and also Wii Music, I think those games the goal is to feel like you're playing the music. That's not really the goal in Major Minor. It's more about the game experience; you just happen to be doing marching music at the same time. It's more of an action game, in that sense.

You made one iPod game [Musika, pictured], and now the iPhone is out. Have you thought about that yet?

MM: Ah, yes. Sometimes we're discussing the possibilities to make a game for iPhone. We set up a dev kit for iPhone recently, and Apple started to have Japanese support, which makes it easier for us.

Of course it's very hard to think about the business scheme. Many of the iPhone games are 99 cents, so it looks very hard... [laughs]

I think that some full games are more like $5, but yes, many are cheaper.

DT: It's just very important to follow the trends for the iPhone. Just in a few months, things have changed a lot. If you look at the top 25 now, many of the games are 99 cents or a little more.

MM: I feel a little different I guess, when you say that we don't need any publishers for iPhone. From my experience using the iTunes Store, I really think Apple was the publisher. But there's a new type of relationship with the publisher. So it looks like it's hard to say that Apple's simply a "publisher", but...

After hearing your DICE talk, I wondered if you plan on releasing any of your own music.

MM: Yeah, I'm writing some tracks for our new game and I will keep doing something by writing some music.

Because I was very happy to see you perform. I guess it's been a while...

MM: Yeah, I really feel like doing a performance sometimes, but I don't have so many chances to do that.

A lot of players would like to feel like they're giving a performance, or becoming a rock star. And since you've actually done all of that, it seems like you might really be able to give players that experience sometime. Have you thought about that much?

MM: That's something I think about in my games. It's really an important point in my games, all the time. I always try to make games so that everybody can experience of being a musician, for example.

The music experience is a very important human skill. I really want everybody to have that. But it's up to the customer and the player. I'm trying, and some people really feel like they can be a musician, sometimes, by playing my games. Some people don't feel like that, so it's very hard.

As a musician and a game developer both, how do you approach the conflict that sometimes surfaces between music and rhythm games? Some people might have gotten the impression, for example, that playing Rock Band is a substitute for learning to play a real instrument and experiencing music genuinely --  do you think this is a danger, in a way?

MM: It's very dangerous. It's a very tough mission for the musicians right now. Everybody has a much wider chance to interact with their favorite music -- much more than in the last ten or twenty years, or more.

Professional musicians have to make a much higher effort to listen to the audience. But not so many musicians can be successful with that kind of mission.

I really keep thinking about how the music should be independent from the interactive experience, like playing Guitar Hero. It's a totally opposite way to think about the music-based game. But it looks like a very, very difficult mission for me.

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