I know you want to make a shooting game -- are you worried that if you do, your company will get bigger?
RY: Well, if the company gets bigger in a weird way -- I wasn't able to do it previously, but this time I will speak up against it. The studio needs to remain a studio. The needs of the creators have to occupy 80 or 90 percent of the decision-making process here.
Is this an iPhone project?
RY: We're thinking it'd be good to have on the Xbox [Live Arcade] or PSN. The iPhone is great, but I'd like to match the user interface as best I can when I make something for it. I don't think the iPhone is the best for shooters, but I think the Space Invaders [Infinity Gene] they made for it has the right idea.
You need to keep it in 2D the way they did. I want to make something that's somewhere in between 2D and 3D. 2.5D or something, a sort of virtual 2D. So I don't know if it's well suited for the iPhone yet or not.
When you look at games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the object there is to play the songs exactly like they were composed. The theme here is more improvisation, which is something I've always wanted to see in games.
RN: To put it one way, with Rock Band you take something that's a 100 and keep it at 100, but here you can make it 200 or 300. In Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you are playing the same music as what's up there, and the game ends if you mess it up. And that's exactly what Beatmania was doing 10 years ago.
RY: I guess you could say we're sort of responding to that. The idea here is that the whole game changes as the player changes his way of doing things.
RN: The user is composing music here, even if he doesn't realize it.
RY: I do like Guitar Hero a lot. The music itself is the game. Rock Band is geared a bit more towards people who can play instruments, and if you can do that, then great. All of my musician friends who've tried both like Rock Band better; meanwhile, all the gamers I know who don't play instruments like Guitar Hero more.
I think with Guitar Hero, it's set up such that the finger movements are more fun to pull off. When a kid is tapping a beat to whatever music he's listening to, he'll do a lot of the same things with his fingers, like this. It feels good. Rock Band, meanwhile, is a lot closer to the instruments it's imitating, and that makes it tougher.
One thing I don't like about Rock Band is that I like singing, but if I sing it perfectly, I don't get counted that way because it wants all the notes to be flat, as opposed to adding tremolo or something.
RY: People at my company play Rock Band with the volume way down, and all you hear are them tapping buttons, and it looks so silly. It's like you aren't playing for the music so much as playing in order to follow instructions and get praised for it. I think a lot of people look for that from the game, as opposed playing for the joy of music.
With the Matrix Music Pad, you said you were interested in bringing it to Natal?
RY: Yeah, I think it'd be great on there.
Do you have the SDK for that?
RY: Well, I don't have any work going on that yet, but once it happens, I think that'll be the best.
RN: The one we really put all our power into.
RY: Yeah. I'm really satisfied with this, but I think the Natal version is gonna surprise a lot of people.
It'd be nice if three or four people could play, or maybe attach a mic that lets you change effects with your hand.
RY: Have you gone to see Natal yet?
RY: You absolutely ought to. That's really just... great.
Nakazato from Feelplus told me the same thing -- just seeing it in video form isn't that interesting, but getting the demo from MS is really cooler.
RY: Not that I knew this for sure or anything, but I'd bet most companies are going to use it to make action games. I'd like to leave that work to them while we do our media-art thing. There's a ton we can do.
Phil Harrison, that's a guy I really respect, and I think Natal was something like what he wanted to do for a while. Also, I'm sure it'll change, but I don't like the design of the camera too much. They should ask someplace from Germany that makes really cool cameras and get them to work for them. That'd be great.
RN: The thing about Natal is that it's hard to communicate what's so good about it in words.
RY: Yeah, but just try it out once and you immediately understand why it's so amazing. It was such a surprise. Nagumo was the same way, but whenever you first try it out, you tend to make all these really exaggerated movements. Myself, meanwhile, I was trying to be as subtle as possible, and it still picked up everything I was doing.
I don't like playing games with my body much, though.
RY: (laughs) But there are games that it's meant for. I mean, I like playing [sitting down], but the media art we're making is based around music, and one thing you do with music is dance to it. It's not DDR, of course, but it's an interactive piece of media art that also happens to let you move your body.
There are lots of things that feel good when you're moving, or don't feel good at all -- an MMORPG would be no fun at all if you had to do a physical action 8000 times to level up. But remember Dynamite Cop? Doing things like that with your body would be pretty neat.