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Feeling The Elite Beat: Keiichi Yano On Crossing Over
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Feeling The Elite Beat: Keiichi Yano On Crossing Over

September 14, 2007 Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next
 

Microsoft's Gamefest event, held in August in Seattle, attracted large numbers of developers to come and learn more about Xbox 360 and Games for Windows. The vast majority, of course, were U.S.-based developers -- but a few foreign faces did show up.

One of those was Keiichi Yano, CCO, designer and co-founder of iNiS, creators of the iconic, Nintendo-published music game Elite Beat Agents for the Nintendo DS - and he shared his thoughts on the sudden popularity of the rhythm genre, issues in internationalizing game appeal, and the best places to get advice on development technique, among other topics.

So, the obvious question is, why are you at Gamefest?

Keiichi Yano: That's probably the biggest question I can't answer, but I guess there is an obvious answer, and a not-so-obvious answer. We've always been Xbox developers. A lot of people don't know this, but we've been doing graphics engines and game engines on 360 for awhile now.

You're talking about your rendering engine, nFactor2?

KY: Right, right. And we've been extending that all the time. It's cross-platform right now. It's just really continuing on that vector -- that was really the main reason I was here.

Could you go a little into what nFactor2 is about?

KY: Yeah, it's basically our rendering engine and our game development platform. It encompasses the main rendering engine, and the tools surrounding it. It's really our basis for creating all the games that we build.

You spoke to Gamasutra's Simon Carless before Tokyo Game Show last year. There was an allusion to a 360 project. Is that something that's still in the works and something you're still looking at?

KY: Yeah. We are currently working on a title. I can't really get into it more than, "Yes, we're working on something!"

Elite Beat Agents and its Japan-only predecessor Ouendan have a casual appeal -- they're easy to play. The casual market is a big deal right now. Is that where you guys want to focus, or are you doing a variety of different titles?

KY: Since we're in the music games genre, music games lend themselves to a more casual market. The fact that we're doing that -- yeah, we're primarily already in that market, and a couple of things we're working on right now are definitely geared towards that market. I would say that in a nutshell -- yes.

Reggie Fils-Aime made a comment saying that Elite Beat Agents didn't perform as well as he'd personally hoped. But at the same time, if you look at the success of Guitar Hero, obviously music games have real mainstream potential. What do you think about the growth of the genre in the U.S.?

KY: I think with regards to the U.S. -- as well as Europe, actually -- music games will probably continue to be very big and will probably outgrow their current market status right now. Everybody's really looking forward to titles like Rock Band, and SingStar for PlayStation 3, and there are other titles in the works I'm sure that are probably fairly massive compared to what's been available for music games up until now. So yeah, I definitely think so.

But one of the things I would say to that, is that I'm very concerned about the quality of the music games that are coming out and will come out, because again, I do feel as though it's kind of a special genre that requires specific knowledge of music and what makes music fun. Hopefully, the games that come out that are in that genre can take advantage of all that and do all those things right, and make sure that it's a really fun experience so that the genre itself can stay strong and not have a lot of bad clutter in it.


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