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Yuji Naka On New Beginnings At His Studio, Prope
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Yuji Naka On New Beginnings At His Studio, Prope

December 29, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Where did the idea for Let's Tap come from?

Yuji Naka: It was something I came up with while we were working on another action game. I had noticed around that time that the Wii controller was a remarkably precise device, capable of detecting even very small, faint vibrations.

We did a bit of a test where we placed the controller on a desk and started tapping on the desktop around it.

Not only did the Wiimote detect that, but it also detected when we tapped on a desk placed adjacent to the one it was lying on.

Looking at that, I thought that it was pretty neat, that maybe we could do something with this.

From there, I thought about how up to now, rhythm games have been largely digital in nature -- made up of 0s and 1s representing "off" and "on" -- but this controller could measure more gradual levels of input in between those two extremes.

So it was a process of discovery that ultimately led to the idea, the idea to take a digital game and make it analog and able to accept a wider range of input.

Was it difficult to find the "fun" of such a simple interaction as this?

YN: Well, think about it -- sometimes, do you find yourself just idly tapping on something during the day? I know I do it pretty much all the time, and I think everybody else does too. So I thought about making that into a game somehow. That's what makes this game fun, I think -- the fact that it's something everybody does now and again.

Now, of course, there are other music and rhythm games, titles where you're matching some kind of rhythm onscreen. But even in the case of Guitar Hero, it's still a matter of "on" or "off," 0 or 1. There isn't any measure of strength.

Meanwhile, with this there's a whole spectrum of strength to the tapping. It's something that's really pretty innovative even within the field of rhythm games.

With a lot of Wii games, my wrists end up hurting from all the flailing of the controller I'm doing.

YN: Yeah, they sure do.

Is this game different? Any concerns about finger fatigue?

YN: Well, your fingers are going to be tired here either way. It's a music game, after all! It's all a matter of moderation. I'm used to it so my fingers don't bother me at all, but when you begin, you might deal with that a bit. I think it's a pretty easy process.

What made you decide to quit Sega, or at least no longer work under the name Sega?

YN: Well, I could have stayed under Sega itself, but I already had a very high position there.

The game industry has a very short history behind it, and as a result, the more games you make, the further you work your way up the company ladder, until you become one of the heads of the whole outfit. Once that happens, you start running out of time to actually make games.

It's better to keep yourself directly involved with the actual game process, you know? Directors are pretty high up the job ladder in the movie industry, but they're still involved with every aspect of the film they're working on; they're still making movies their entire careers.

The game industry isn't quite like that, and I think that's a lost opportunity for a lot of people.

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