During his on the second day of the 2007 D.I.C.E. Summit , iNiS co- founder Keiichi Yano (GitarooMan, Elite Beat Agents
) offered as part of a presentation titled “Yeah! The Mathematics of Music and the Emotion of Game Design” his unique insight into the concepts of both harmony and dissonance, and how these relate to no only music, but game design as well.
“If dissonance is followed by constant harmony, this is a good thing,” he opened, noting that he tries to incorporate this idea into his own game designs where possible. “Dissonance creates tension. If you follow that by release, this is a great thing. Tension-release, tension-release. It’s stress, and the relieving of that stress, and these are the building blocks of music.”
He likened this overarching concept to a genre outside of music-based games, the action shooter, with which he explained that a player experiences stress and release. “I’ll use a shooting game as an example, you’ll notice that when an enemy approaches you, there’s stress. You want to release that stress. So what do you do? You take a gun and you shoot him...s o your tension has been released.”
The iNiS exec further drew parallels between music and stories, noting that these too take advantage of the same tension and release model: “You create tension in the story, then you release it, for example you give clues to some kind of mystery, and in the end mystery has been solved.”
“Any game that we’re building,” he added, “there’s that same kind of thing, where you’re iterating against tension and release constantly to build some kind of experience for the player...If we can sync all these elements up, that sounds like a great game to me, and that’s what I’ve bene trying to pursue and do with our games.”
Looking to his cult Koei-published PS2 and PSP rhythm game favorite Gitaroo Man
, Yano commented that his goal was “to create a music game that didn’t just focus on the rhythm,” a concept that up until that time he felt was relatively uncommon. “I wanted to focus on something that might be closer to player’s hearts,” he added. This concept, as it turned out , was 'melody', to which he commented, “I wanted to use that as the main mechanic in Gitaroo Man
, to relate to the music better.”
Yano also took time to discuss his thoughts on his recent Nintendo-published DS release Elite Beat Agents
, a game that he openly admitted presented a couple of problems to he and his team when it came to its localization for markets outside of Japan.
“First of all,” he noted, “male cheerleaders would just not fly, so we needed to create a different set of characters. We knew from the get-go, if we had any intention of selling this product in other markets other than Japan, we’d just need to completely change. And we knew we’d need to change the songs. I designed the game originally to work because people would know the song.”
He continued: “So it was a really big-assed conversion project, one of the biggest that I’m familiar with. So in the end most people would call this a sequel. In the end we’re proud of what we did, we were fairly successful in translating this concept into something that people could relate to.”
Yano happily ended on his belief that music and gaming are a natural fit: “If we can tie that in from a musical standpoint and a gaming standpoint, this can create something compelling, and something that players can get into from a musical standpoint, and not just a gaming standpoint.”