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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 3 of 4 Next

When you were deciding what factors you wanted to try -- when you were sitting down initially to design the game, and thinking about what factors you wanted to track in terms of the performance, and how you wanted to design the game in terms of players not being able to fail it -- how did that process work for you? Because it's sort of different than designing levels or something like that. Did you sit down and just start writing documents, or did you start sort of prototyping it out?

KY: We really take a kind of multi‑tiered approach when we design games. I knew from the get‑go that I wanted to make a game that you wouldn't fail. And I knew that I'm very familiar with a lot of music technologies, so I knew that we could use this to perhaps extrapolate this from the vocals, and then we just started building those technologies, testing them out in the game.

As we moved forward in the prototyping phases, you realize more things. "Oh, what if I combine this and this. That would be awesome. And we can score them again on that, and give them bonuses, or whatnot."

It was, at first, a vision of, "We want to pick up all the nuances of the vocals and try to make sure that a breadth of players, from drunk to awesome, could basically add a little bit of spice into it, and get a score." That was the whole point. Because, traditionally, in music games, it's all been about, "I followed exactly what you told me to do," and that was it.

But, we're allowing you to do extra things of a broader detection level. It's a bonus. You don't have to do it. But, if you do it, it adds more points.

That's something I've been curious about. Very few music games have had any capacity to deal with improvisation, or going off of the primary rhythm. There have been some examples of that, but it's something that's very important to musicians, obviously. Is there a drive to see something like that come to music games?

KY: Oh, yeah. We're in a day right now where it's about how the user can express himself through this game, right? So, with our game, we already provide a couple of things. We provide the ability to use your own music. We provide all this picking up of vocal nuances. There are just a whole bunch of things that we provide already.

When you combine those things, it starts to become really personal. It's just a really personal reflection. I'm a student of jazz. What is jazz all about? It's about improvisation, right? And how much you can make the music cooler.

As we move forward -- and we're kind of evolving this genre -- I think we're going to see a lot more of that happening and awesome ways to figure out that we can do that as an added bonus.

I think there's just a great thing about not punishing people, giving people bonus points. And then, you go online and you're competing for, "I know this song better than you." Or "I can spice up this song better than you."

With music games, we're just trying to create a very positive experience. We want to try to stay positive for it. That's really important, and I think we will see more of that as we move forward.

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