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Rock Band's Kay Joins AiLive For New Game Project

Guitar Hero and Rock Band lead designer Rob Kay has announced that he's joining Bay Area-based Wii MotionPlus co-designer and tools developer AiLive to work on an internal game project -- Gamasutra talks to him about his plans.
Rob Kay, lead designer of Harmonix Music Systems' Guitar Hero and Rock Band, has joined Bay Area-based Wii MotionPlus co-designer and tools provider AiLive to develop a new video game title. Kay will be taking the role of creative director for AiLive, which is best known for its collaboration with Nintendo on the upcoming Wii MotionPlus accessory as well as for its Wii Remote development utilities. The relatively low-profile company already sports licensees including Activision, EA, Midway, Namco, Nintendo, and Ubisoft for its previous Wii-centric products, which include the LiveMove and LiveMove 2 motion detection/interpretation tools, and behavior capture application LiveCombat. The designer told Gamasutra exclusively in advance of today's announcement that his role "entails leading AiLive into content creation, which in the short term means straight up game design, and in the longer term will mean helping to build a game team." Even years before Kay joined AiLive, he praised Nintendo for its Wii control interface, but gave no indication that his game (now in the "concept phase") is targeting the Wii platform. He did say of the upcoming Wii controller tech, "I've been lucky enough to play with the Wii MotionPlus tech demos in the offices here, and I'm very impressed." The designer has long been a proponent of representative input devices for games -- as evidenced by the instrument controllers Harmonix employs -- and is pleased to see the widespread adoption of such devices. "As an industry, we're in the midst of an experimentation phase with representative controllers which go beyond light guns and steering wheels and into activities that appeal to everyone," he says. "Dance mats, guitars, drums, microphones, quiz show buzzers, bongos, and cameras all leap to mind, and I'm sure there are even more examples out there." Adds Kay, "Now that bathroom scales, of all things, have been successfully used as a game controller in Wii Fit, I really couldn't guess where it's going to go next." Kay's joining is in relation to in-development middleware software LiveAI -- formerly the LiveCombat tool -- which Kay says is "pioneering AI technology that models player behavior in real-time as a game is played." His own title will make heavy use of the tool, partly to help provide a flagship game using the technology. "It's breathtakingly fast, and opens the door to new types of experiences where the player's behavior is central," the designer explains. "This is a brand new capability in game design terms, and becomes a powerful new tool that game designers can use to craft better games."

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