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More Than Just Lips: Keiichi Yano On Music Game Innovation
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More Than Just Lips: Keiichi Yano On Music Game Innovation

November 21, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

A lot of music games being are made by a lot of different studios, but your studio has concentrated on music games. So, what do you think that you guys are aware of, in terms of music? You have a background in music as well as games, correct?

KY: I, as well as four of our founders, all have music backgrounds. We were all professional musicians at one point or another, and we've been schooled in music. I think that gives us a sense and a depth and breadth of how the music should be visualized how interacting with it is fun.

We've done concerts before, and any musician will tell you, it might be better than sex to do you a live concert, a live performance. To be able to capture what that is, and quantify that into a game experience, that's where the game design expertise comes in.

That chemistry there, to me, is just so powerful. It tells stories. It's a rediscovery of your music, literally. You notice things, nuances in the music, because the game is scoring you. It's telling you these are nuances that are good nuances, and we want you to sing them.

And you're discovering that as you go. That's a powerful connection to your music that you can't really get, and you get really strongly, because it's vocals. Vocals are the most natural thing you can do. Instruments are a secondary thing -- most musicians would say, "Well, I couldn't sing, so I'm playing guitar."

Vocals have all these nuances in there that really allow you to fully capture what any given song is really trying to express. Io be able to play with that, it's just an awesome experience. I think all the companies that do music games [and] that are doing it great, all understand this. We're all able to kind of fuse that experience and compact it into something that everybody can digest.

Something I thought was also interesting was that there's no failure condition in the game. The game will continue. It's more like you accrue more points the better you do. Can you talk about sort of the philosophy behind that?

KY: When you're trying to enjoy the music and you're trying to kind of figure out your connection, your relationship to the song, you don't want it to stop prematurely. One of the things that's great about having original tracks and original videos is you want to see it. You just want to experience it just for that.

Traditionally our games have been really hard. We like to make really hard rhythm games, and a lot of people know this. But, with this game, it's been all about the accessibility. Being able to bring in all kinds of people into this who love their music, right? We want to make sure that we don't want to break that.

That lead me to thinking that, if we're not going to do that, we need something to engage people. Usually, that technique is [to make] them die, or fail, or whatever. But if we can have all these technologies that pick up all these vocal nuances, and create technology that can do that, then we've got multiple dimensions that we could potentially score you.

In addition to the motion sensitivity in the mics, that gives us another dimension that we can give you some more bonuses on. [With] all of that put together, I don't even consider it additive. It becomes this matrix thing. All of a sudden, it's this multidimensional scoring mechanism that we have, which is plenty.

If I really know the song, I can score literally millions of points. I score three or four million points on some of these songs, and that's great for the person that is very confident in his vocal capabilities. But, for the person who might not be, or if you're just drunk, it's just like you don't even care.

But you just want to jam to the song, and you're [warbles incoherently], and it's all this crazy stuff. But, you're still getting a score, right? And that's really important, because at the end of the song, you're drunk and you're still saying, "Ha! I scored better than you!" or whatever, right?

And that is really enough to carry the experience. People don't even question it. [They don't say], "Oh, yeah! It's not ending prematurely." I would even say that a lot of people that don't normally play games even think about that. If anything, it's the reverse. "Why did the song end prematurely? I want to enjoy the song." That's what we're giving them.

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