Famitsu interviews Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade lead producer — a look at the series’s past & future
At Sega’s Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade 3rd anniversary, Famitsu caught up with Sega’s Makoto Osaki, producer of the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade series, and got the man to spill the beans on the PDA series’s humble beginnings (Miku had Sarah Bryant’s hair and a pretty scary face at one point), as well as what’s in store for the future – the types of songs they’d like to put into the arcade version.
Osaki also talked briefly about Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2, which his team (in charge of making arcade games) is helping with, and hints at some of the new 3DS rhythm game’s surprising features: the “My Room” mode has grown so much that it may not even be apt to call it a “room” any more.
—Please tell us your thoughts on Project Diva Arcade reaching its third anniversary!
Makoto Osaki: Er well, really, to be able to get this far… we never imagined things would go this well. It’s really all thanks to the passionate support we received from all the users, great guys and gals from all spectrums of life, that we were able to get this far.
—I remember back when it was the game’s first anniversary; you also held an event to celebrate it back then.
Osaki: That’s right, we did hold an event back when it was our first annivesary. As to why we didn’t do one for our second anniversary, well… (laughs).
When we did our first anniversary event, we thought “if we could hold an event like this again, that would be great”, so to be honest I’m just really glad that we could finally hold another celebration event.
As now we’ve also got Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade Future Tone coming, I’d really like to hold another anniversary event for next year.
—For this event you’ve got 14 Project Diva Arcade cabinets here. That’s quite the spectacle.
Osaki: Yeah we got the machines from Ikebukuro GiGO [arcade], as well as a number of nearby establishments that carried the game.
—Please tell us your thoughts on the event now that it’s concluded.
Osaki: Frankly I was pleasantly surprised. “This many people were willing to come and attend it!” I thought.
What happens with video games in general is that people are really quite excited and hyped up for a new title at the point of its release, and that usually ends up being the peak for a game’s momentum.
So to see this many people come out here to celebrate Project Diva Arcade’s third anniversary, and with some coming in from quite far away, we’re truly humbled, and we want to thank all of our fans for the support.
—At this point, Miku-san is no longer just popular in Japan, but she’s also a phenomenon all over the world. What do you think about that, Osaki-san? Why do you think Miku-san has gotten this popular?
Osaki: The way you can create songs with Miku, dance her songs, sing her songs (with no restrictions or without worrying that you are infringing on the artiste’s intellectual property rights), I think that it was easy for that part about the phenomenon to be communicated to general users, even overseas ones, and that really had a great effect on everything, that’s what I personally think.
So here in Japan, Hatsune Miku got extremely popular as a form of CGM (Consumer Generated Media), and I think that similarly for overseas audiences it was easy for them to see this and go “Hey, I want to try doing this, and create this type of content too”. They were able to assimilate into the phenomenon easily.
And also I’d like to think that, the hard work our staff put into doing all the [Hatsune Miku] live concerts also contributed to getting the phenomenon accepted overseas, if I may so unabashedly say (laughs).
—When you came up with the concept and plans for Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade, did you ever imagine that the game was going to grow on so many different levels?
Osaki: Nope, not at all. If I were to talk about the project’s beginnings, let’s see… it all started after the first Hatsune Miku: Project Diva came out on the PSP. At the time we looked at what users did with Edit mode(which lets you make your own music videos and playable stages in Project Diva), what sort of videos they made and posted on the Web, and we were just blown away. We thought: “Wow, that’s… [amazing]!”
Creating illustrations and songs can be quite a difficult undertaking, but with the Edit mode as long as you are determined to make something, you could do it.
Seeing those user-created Edit mode videos made us think: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do contests where users would submit their songs and their Edit mode PV creations to us, and then we we could feature them somehow? Like maybe in an arcade version of the game.” And that was how the plans to produce a Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade plans started.
From there, we thought that if the R&D2 team (the development team that Osaki currently leads; formerly known as AM2) were to do this, then it’d be pretty boring if we merely ported over the consumer game version into the arcades – so we really wanted to do something special with it.
Initially, Miku’s face turned out to be extremely scary – it was as if we lit up a female TV announcer’s face with an extremely bright light (a technique known as “Jyoyuu Light” that TV stations use, that explains why you’d need to have a flawless complexion to be a female TV announcer).
As for Miku’s hair, that was actually Sarah Bryant’s hair (from the Virtua Fighter series) dyed in green/blue. As for the costume, we put the character model in a long-sleeved kimono in green/blue and went on from there.
Then we came up with this obtuse sales pitch for the game – it’s basically CGM culture meets R&D2’s technology… or that was what our excuse was for spending time to work on this. To be perfectly honest, this was just something we personally really wanted to work on (laughs).
After all, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva on the PSP had just came out (July 2009), and then we ended up coming out with the location test for Project Diva Arcade in January 2010. If you think about it, that sort of schedule meant there were a lot of things we couldn’t possibly do (laughs).
However, the programmers and the rest of the staff working on this were really into it. Also I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the Virtua Fighter team had actually made a (Project Diva Edit) video and uploaded it to the Web before. “Although we were supposedly pros at this, the view count for the video(s) we uploaded ourselves without anybody knowing it’s us, were quite low (laughs),” I remember the Virtua Fighter team having a conversation like that. So once we (R&D2/AM2) got to work on Miku (translator’s note: the Project Diva PSP team is different from the Virtua Fighter/Project Diva Arcade team AKA R&D2 or AM2), everybody was pumped. We were able to do so much only because or the vigour and passion everybody had.
—Could you also tell us a little about what’s in store for the future of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade?
Osaki: At the talk session today we already covered this, but basically we want to “put in songs that we absolutely should put in”, “put in tracks that are great songs but that which did not do very well in terms of view counts as a video uploaded onto the Web”, and to “put in Project Mirai tracks”. We want to do all of that at a very regular pace, without skipping a beat.
Also, we’re also making Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Arcade Future Tone.
Our ultimate goal is to really establish something like a “Vocaloid MTV” (translator’s note: I think the “MTV” here refers to the MTV channel, as music videos in Japanese are more commonly referred to as PVs). Let users play great songs accompanied by great PV. And of course, we’re planning to have the way players play evolve as well.
What we’re doing here is creating a “(Vocaloid) songs archive”, which would have been quite difficult to do if not for the fact that we’re a game company, I think.
As to specifics on which songs we’d like to add into the game in the near future, I can’t really talk about that now, but since the song Rosary Pale is coming to Project Diva Arcade, I think there are quite a lot of Vocaloid fans who would be able to tell what other songs are coming next just from that fact alone.
Rosary Pale was a song that we wanted to add into the game since 2010! Everyone told us that they’d love to see it in the game, and I want to let them know that their voice has most certainly reached us – so rest assured that we’ve heard you loud and clear.
(Let us know in the comments below if you know what song Sega’s Osaki is hinting at!)
—Osaki-san, your team is also concurrently helping with development on Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2 (3DS), right? Tell us about that.
Osaki: Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2 (working title) will be showcased at The Strongest V Jump Festa 2013. You’ll be able to play 1/6 -out of the gravity- and other unannounced track(s) at the event. We think our fans will understand the appeal of Mirai 2 very much with this new demo – at the moment, all the info that’s been revealed about Mirai 2 is only but a small slice of the pie.
In fact we’ve loaded Mirai 2 with so much awesome new stuff that we think people will be surprised and go “Are you seriously putting that in!?” (laughs).
In the previous game, we got a lot of feedback like “ah, I see you’ve chosen tracks that evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling for this game”. For Mirai 2, we’re not betraying those expectations for the series, but we’re also putting in a lot of unexpected songs that also evoke lots of ngood vibes. Gameplay-wise there are lots of new elements too. This new game feels completely different compared to its prequel. For instance, in My Room… well, it’s no longer a “room” anymore. Please look forward to that.
—We look forward to developments in both the arcade and consumer versions.
Osaki: Please continue to give us your support.