Today we're joined by Tony Lee and Jerry Chang from Rayark, the developers behind the popular iOS/Android/PlayStation Vita rhythm game Cytus.
Fresh off receiving an Asian Entrepreneurship Award, Tony and Jerry, visiting from native Taiwan, stopped by to discuss with TABROID what goes into making a globally popular game.
■It only took two weeks to make Cytus?!
TABROID: First off, congratulations on your award!
Jerry & Tony: Thank you.
TABROID : Would you mind sharing some of what goes into creating a globally successful game like Cytus?
Jerry: That would take a while (laughs). We originally made rhythm games for arcades, but that work unfortunately ended after a bit, so we were looking for the next thing to do.
TABROID : It certainly worked out well for you.
Jerry: Yep, but we got motivation from the sense that we still had unfinished work to do. We wanted to make better games; high-quality games worthy of reaching the global market. So we gave it another shot.
TABROID : May I ask how long it took to finish Cytus?
Tony: For a prototype able to display rings in time with the music, about two weeks. (laughs)
TABROID : Wow, really?
■Dreams > Business
TABROID : But naturally that's not the only work that went into Cytus. How'd you come up with the look for the game? Cytus has a real futuristic, sci-fi vibe to it.
Tony: The look of the game? Producer's preference. (laughs)
TABROID : So, there wasn't any market analysis or business reasoning behind it?
Jerry: Well, to be honest, business-wise we were thinking that it would be fine if Cytus didn't bring in that much money.
TABROID : That's pretty surprising.
Jerry: We wanted to make a game that would be great and worthy of being Rayark's first title. It was less about the money and more about realizing a dream.
TABROID : I see. So how'd you choose the music artists for the game then? There are a lot of Japanese artists, but they may not be the best choice business-wise...
Jerry: To be honest, we chose them because we liked them.
TABROID : That's it? No focus groups or anything?
Jerry: Well, for example, we knew xi (a Japanese artist) from his work in music for computer-based rhythm games. He also collaborates with other artists. A number of songs in Cytus were found through these kinds of connections.
■We believe gamers
TABROID : So you're connected through this idea of gaming.
Jerry: Well, first and foremost, we're gamers. We referred to "Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan" and "DJMAX TECHNIKA" when making Cytus, but our experience as gamers really helped us in focusing on originality.
TABROID: As a gamer, you've gotta be pretty proud to have made a game that's loved the world over.
Jerry: Well I said earlier that Cytus was a dream. This has started to change recently, and I now want to develop Cytus into a music game that everyone knows about.
TABROID : What do you mean by that?
Jerry: You know how if you ask someone about a music-based game, people in Japan will talk about Taiko-no Tatsujin, or in America it will be Guitar Hero. We want Cytus to be at that level.
Tony: Especially for mobile devices.
TABROID : Those are some lofty goals!
Jerry: We believe in gamers. We feel their trust and passion, and they support us. It's a bit vague, but that's our true feeling: we believe in gamers.
■Awesome news: Nobuo Uematsu is involved in Rayark's follow-up title!
TABROID : So I know you guys are continuing to update the music in Cytus. Do you have any other titles in the works?
Tony: Yes we do. But before that, we're porting Cytus to the PS Vita. ed. note: already available
TABROID : That's awesome!
Jerry: It's called Cytus: Lambda. In addition to the 62 songs on the smartphone version, there are 10 extra songs. And once you buy the game, you can play the songs you bought on your smartphone without having to buy them again.
Tony: Going back to our new games, we're planning two rhythm games and one action game.
Jerry: One of the rhythm games, DeeMo, features music from Nobuo Uematsu, the famed musician behind the Final Fantasy music.
TABROID : Really?! He's like a god to me! How'd you guys end up working together?!
Tony: It was just a happy coincidence (laughs). We were looking for people to collaborate with, and we were lucky enough that someone introduced Mr. Uematsu to us.
Jerry: He's in a band, you know. So he asked us if more underground stuff would be OK, and we said sure! We both love indie songs.
TABROID : Did Mr. Uematsu know about Cytus?
TABROID : That's so cool!
(End of interview)
■After the interview: Insider Power!
So, before sitting down with the developers behind the wildly popular rhythm game Cytus, I was planning on asking them the secrets to their success. Turns out, there were no secrets! Just hard work and perseverance!
First off, the entire interview was originally held in English, and both Tony and Jerry were super-fluent. All of their responses were logical and easy to understand. Not to outshine their smarts, but let me tell you these guys are passionate about what they do. There was a lot of idealistic talk about dreams, believing in gamers, connecting artists and the world, etc., (some of which was cut from the interview), all of which was full of passion and motivation.
Both Jerry and Tony mentioned how they were so nervous before the app's release that they couldn't sleep, and how they want to stay nervous to keep them on their toes.
Hearing about all the hard work put into Rayark and Cytus resulting in success on a global level makes for quite the heartwarming success story!
Interview by Kohei Ito
Translation by Jason Morgan