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Keystone Game Studio

Game Info
Violin Paradise

WiiWare | Keystone Game Studio | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America) | 700 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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Interview
10th May 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

It's not often that we get to speak with a new studio, let alone one from a place like Taiwan! Keystone Game Studio (KGS) has been in business for a few years now, but it was only last year that we heard of them for the first time. With their debut WiiWare release
Violin Paradise, the development team made a positive showing with their captivating visual effects. We decided to get in touch with them to discuss a bit about their first Nintendo-based release and inquire about their future as an expanding team as well. 


Wiiloveit: Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few of our questions! Would you like to begin by introducing yourself and telling us about the company you work for?

Ace: There is no special introduction about me. I’m just a game-loving person who enjoyed playing games since childhood. I love games so much that I finally joined this industry. The studio I’m now with is “Keystone Game Studio”, located in Taiwan. Almost all foreigners may know Taiwan as an island that has produced many computer games. Console games are also popular in Taiwan, but we have almost no developer of console games here. In the year 2005, the Taiwan government in company with Microsoft had a plan to foster Taiwan’s console game developer, so Keystone was built under this situation. After few months I heard about this special little studio, so I joined the team!

When did the company originally form, and what are the core values you stand for as a team?

Keystone Game Studio was built in January 2005, going from 8 staff members to about 60 people now. In the beginning we developed for Xbox, but now we develop for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP and mobile phone software. Our team’s core value is to let players around the world know original games made by Taiwanese designers. (Most of all studios in Taiwan focus on developing PC online game to supply to Taiwan’s market.)

Towards the end of the year 2010, your team released Violin Paradise. What were some of the exciting highlights that took place over the course of the game’s development?

Ha! I could tell you a long story for this question. When we knew we would obtain the development rights for the Wii, our lead designer and I looked at the Wii Remote on the table and talked about what we could do in the future. He took the Wii Remote and showed the pose of playing a violin with humming a song. I looked at him, and picked up the other one and also hummed with him. And people around us just turned their heads and looked us. When we received the development kit, we spent about two days to build up a prototype as a text frame and found it to be really interesting, so we wanted to develop it into a project! The team’s leaders were also in favour of this decision, and so we decided to launch on WiiWare. Then we immediately met a challenge to make the file size under 40 MB. The graphics in the first version were high-class and next-generation level. But it quickly used over 38 MB with just one scene and three songs.

After we analyzed the situation, we decided to give players an abundant experience in any case. There must be over 50 songs and that’s the final version you see now. Although we had a lot of content, our lead designer thought it was boring that we just listed all the songs there, so we discussed some hidden conditions players could find them by themselves. 

At that time, Street Fighter 4 was just in trend, we were also playing that This game’s important pleasure point was that somebody would suddenly show up and challenge you! We decided to use this element, and when players fulfill some conditions, you would suddenly get a challenge song. If players did well, they would get new songs or items.

About the music: although we used original classical songs, we used the method found in pop songs to edit a new melody so players wouldn't be put to sleep... These songs are all very dynamic. I especially like the new version of Vivaldi. Because of size limitations, we could only use MIDI for our music, and our musician didn't feel satisfied because they were totally different from his original remixed version (laughs). 

What target market were you aiming for in your development of this unique title?

Our target players are families, especially parents who play it with children. That's why we designed it so it could be played with 4 people at the same time. About the part of Conductor, it’s very easy to play for many parents who don't normally play games with their children. We hoped they could join in to play with their children this way, even if some players may think is too easy for them.

Overall, what has this experience taught you guys about the nature of the Western market? And how do you plan to build on your findings in the future? 

Taiwan is an environment where many cultures gather together. Taiwan’s console game players have experienced game from Japan, Euro and US, so we roughly understand the situation of these regions markets. We also had a foreigner from Euro in our team and usually exchanged ideas with the western team too, asking them how to make our game acceptable for western markets. Of course, we can’t develop the game as if it actually came from the west. If we wanted, we could have built a team in North America first. I think there is variety and plurality in Euro and US markets. There must exist an amusement and aesthetic feeling that both Taiwan and Westerners would accept, so we will keep developing to reach this common divisor.

Do you have any comments on claims of some that the controls are broken?

Actually, in this game, players need to show the pose of playing Violin and then they can get the real fun out of it. You know, using the Wii Remote to play was free. We didn’t use a violin controller to place restrictions on players, but when players use other poses to play this game, they may feel bored. In the beginning we designed more skills of playing Violin, but the Wii Remote cannot detect this precisely, so we didn’t include these elements. If we have other plans with Violin Paradise, we may consider using Wii Remote Plus to add these elements in.

So you guys were recently at Taipei Game Show and got to show off Violin Paradise at a dedicated booth. What was it like demonstrating your title to the public and what were some of the responses you received from onlookers?

The players we attracted were parents and children as expected (laughs). Our staff there was demonstrating how to play it, so people who came knew how to play and all of their feedback was good. 

Some elementary school students were awesome because they kept playing for a higher and higher level for a long time. Many parents asked us how to buy it, but it’s so unfortunate that there is no Wii Shop in Taiwan...

Looking to the future, do you see yourselves pursuing WiiWare development again?

Of course, if we have new projects that are fit for WiiWare, we will keep developing on WiiWare.

Out of curiousity, what are your personal opinions on the Nintendo 3DS? How did launch go in your area?

The 3D visual of the 3DS was very surprising to me. Besides, its connection design is successful. Except for playing online game, old players of portable platforms didn’t like to connect to the net, but 3DS has its own online service. It will make people to open the connection of 3DS usually, and it will lead to more opportunities for online games and the online shop. We are all expecting to develop a new 3DS game for players.

Would you like to close us off with a final comment?

It’s so great that you prepared this extended interview for us so we could introduce our studio. We would love to read any suggestions that players give from Wiiloveit. We welcome you all to leave a message on our Facebook page!

And because our Facebook page was just founded recently, we want to invite more people to join Keystone Game Studio’s page. When the number of fans reaches 1000, we will give a copy of Violin Paradise to a randomly-chosen reader from Wiiloveit. So if you see this interview, don’t forget to come and leave a message to say you are from Wiiloveit, and then you will have the opportunity to receive this game!



Many thanks for your informative answers to our questions. We would like to take this opportunity to wish Keystone all the best with their future endeavours, and we look forward to seeing more from them!

Violin Paradise
Review | Screenshot gallery 
| Feature | Media | Preview
 


 
Ace Wu 
was talking to KnucklesSonic8
For more information on this title or the developers, click here.
 
 


 
 
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