What do you think of the Korg DS-10? I'm not a musician, so it seemed pretty complex to me.
RY: Oh, yeah! Well, I think it's something meant for people like us. I like music. I made that sequencer that was in Gunpey DS, right? That was actually the first touchscreen sequencer released to the consumer market. I made that because I really wanted to see it happen, but I don't think I could've made anything more complex than that. I made a lot of presets and such for that sequencer.
With the Korg DS-10, though, you really have to be a musician. In our presentation, we had some vocoder software that he made, the SV-5. It's a software synthesizer where you sing into your iPhone and then mess around with that. And it's really cool...
Like an auto-tuner.
RY: Sort of, yeah. But to me, to be frank, the DS-10 is too difficult to use. I have a friend who works for [top Japanese record label] Avex; he was the one who invited me to Sega, and he has a ton of synthesizers. He tried it out, and his response was "I can't make head or tail of this without an instruction manual." I don't think that makes for a good game or toy.
With this current project, though, we've got all the technology he came up with for the SV-5, but the shell around it is such that a child can use it. I passed it to my two-year-old niece, and she was able to play with it.
With your Matrix Music Pad, I understood it just by touching it.
RY: Yeah. The theme of the whole thing is to make something that you can touch and get moved by. That and... what else did we write in the App Store description? "Touch it, and you understand it. Experience it, and be moved by it." What else? Basically, something really interactive that you don't need a manual to use.
I do think the DS-10 is a wonderful piece of software, but when I saw that even my friend couldn't work it, I gave up on it. So if you're asking me whether I want something exhaustive and hard to use, or simple and more limited, I think the media-art series we have here is all about being both easy and capable of a lot. It's not a game, it's not an instrument; it's a piece of media. And I'd like to see it work on Natal, too.
Matrix Music Pad
I like the simple interface. If this were a Q Entertainment product, the background would probably be all...
This question is probably for Nagumo, but is it hard to run a small company like this in Japan?
RN: [begins speaking through the iPhone vocoder, for the next 10 minutes] Some parts of it are; other parts of it are easier than being in a big outfit. The business aspects of it are tough -- we all need to keep our heads above water, after all. It's very nice to have control over your own destiny, though. If I give the okay to something, then that's entirely my deal.
RY: I think that's leadership in action there.
If you get larger, though, do you think you'd wind up doing nothing but managerial work again?
RN: Well, the other benefit of being an outfit like this is that you aren't obligated to do everything, especially if we grow larger. If we need someone to do managerial stuff, we can get someone to specialize in that. Same deal with marketing.
Yuji Naka left Sega because his job was getting less and less creative. If he was a famous movie director, he'd still be making movies anyway, right? But not in the game industry.
RN: I think the main reason for that is that movie directors are still, basically, freelancers. When it comes to creators in the game industry, they're seen as businessmen and expected to act as such. I think that's the biggest problem.
So you're trying to avoid that.
That's good to hear.
RN: I don't think I could become that, and I really couldn't, anyway.
That's good, though, that you know that.
RN: Yeah. At the same time, Yudo wouldn't be around without me, probably, so it all worked out regardless.
RY: There are several types of presidents, you know? The type who basically takes the leader role and becomes sort of a general for his troops, and the type that's focused entirely on the business instead.
In the game industry, in particular, you've got the idea of president-as-celebrity, the guy who does the interviews and stuff. Nagumo's gonna be doing some of that stuff next month, too. But he has business sense, and outside of that he's got creative talent, too, not to mention being able to do the whole PR thing. Just having two of those talents really makes you something, much less three of 'em.