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COVER FEATURE | TETSUYA MIZUGUCHI

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etsuya Mizuguchi has a unique perspective on the role of music in video games. Many of his titles, like Lumines and Child of Eden, have a strong emphasis on interactive soundscapes, with players affecting the music through their actions. Mizuguchi strives to create a deeper level of synchronicity between the player and the soundtrack with his games. Experiences that are a step removed from the more traditional rhythm-based titles you find in the music genre. “The majority of music games fall into the category of ‘rhythm based’ or ‘time based’,” Mizuguchi says. “That’s not where my interest is. Rather, it’s more about how the layering of music with visuals changes the world that you’re in. And that becomes an experience in and of itself.” The industry has come a long way in terms of the ability for games to deliver music to the player. It’s not rare for triple-A experiences to have a full orchestral soundtrack, or include contemporary popular music. Mere decades after sound design in games was considerably more lo-fi. “In the early days we were talking JUNE 2017

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about beeps and bleeps,” Mizuguchi says. “That was the extent of what we could do with sound and music in games. But as the years went by, we were gifted new ways to advance that from a technological standpoint. The expression that music brought to the game experience was heightened in a way that you were able to produce sound and music that were more organic and really heightened the emotional element.”

For me, it’s about using games to really maximise the power that music holds It’s this emotional connection that Mizuguchi is chasing when he makes his games. “Music has this power,” he says. “We talk about the power of music and how it affects us emotionally and how it moves us and influences us. So for me, it’s about using games to really maximise the power that music holds. That’s the role that music plays in my creations.”

INTERACTIVE AUDIO The interactive nature of games gives them a unique ability to create that connection with the player, especially when they have a hand in creating the audio they are hearing. This differs greatly from other media, such as film. “You’re either experiencing music in a third-person or first-person perspective,” Mizuguchi says. “What I mean by that is that in non-game experiences you’re basically being fed the music that is coming at you, so you’re receiving it in a third-person manner. But when you’re playing a game, the interaction with music is that you’re part of it. Not only are you a part of it, but you may be affecting or creating part of the musicality. And that’s a huge difference, between hearing music versus being a part of it. So for me, I’m constantly thinking ‘what is this bridge that could make it possible to go back and forth between those two experiences?’ “Maybe there’s a new type of experience that can be designed where we blend the two. Maybe there’s a chemical reaction where something magical happens and you’re able to blend those two perspectives.” This experience of playing with

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music is not something that necessarily suits a realistic game scenario, however. The effect is more akin to a trippy dream. “Music helps the player experience something that feels like your imagination is being played out,” Mizuguchi says. “It’s more of a dreamy world scenario that is happening as you play the game. So for game ideas that I have, the role of music is to be used in that manner and to not be just played as your typical rhythm-based game. “It’s something that is a newer level of fantastical experience. I feel like the industry that we’re in, the interactive entertainment industry, brings new possibilities for the role of music. When I think about that, it excites me to think ‘what is that scenario’ or ‘how do I illustrate that possibility’ or ‘what is it that’s going to really help me get to that point of creating or designing a new experience?’.” For Mizuguchi’s latest game, Rez Infinite, his team created a new level for Rez while modernising the entire experience. This new level, Area X, is the closest he feels he has come to his goal of reaching this new level of emotional synaesthetic fantasy. “Area X is a brand new level which DEVELOP-ONLINE.NET

5/30/17 14:20

Develop 183 June 2017  

Sound Shapes: In this special on audio, we have an interview with legendary developer Tetsuya Mizuguchi on the importance of music, the shor...

Develop 183 June 2017  

Sound Shapes: In this special on audio, we have an interview with legendary developer Tetsuya Mizuguchi on the importance of music, the shor...