Category Archives: video games

Vocaloid 2; Value from Efficiency; User-Generated Content distribution

I’m still impressed with the abilities of the Vocaloid 2 software (found via Boing Boing). Put in a melody and lyrics, and the software generates singing.

It sounds pretty good. Try this sample:

The opera sequence from Final Fantasy 6 — one of the most touching sequences from the best RPG I’ve ever played.

Watching this brought back good memories of the experience playing the game, and that’s partly what makes Vocaloid memorable for me.

The singing isn’t perfect — one comment remarked that the singer sounded like she’d a cold — but this is a technological factor. As coding gets better, so will the voices. But it may not matter — most people are willing to accept less-than-ideal quality media in certain contexts, compression codecs affect sound quality, and when you’re listening to music in a subway train, bus or car you can’t tell anyway.

The value of Vocaloid lies in how it flows with the trend for more user-generated content. It fits in nicely with existing distribution chains for user-generated content. Make a song with Vocaloid, overlay on a video file and upload to YouTube.

(Does it still make sense to call UGC a “trend”? Isn’t it already here and a part of our lived experiences?)

I’m also struck by how YouTube has become a music player although it began as a video-sharing site. This serendipitous use has been driven by the sheer ease of use and easy availability via laptops and widespread broadband.

Compare this with how people rarely used CD-based gaming consoles like the Playstation to play music. Clearly it was silly to turn on the player and a TV set to play music when it was much more efficient to use a CD player. Even a Discman with speakers plugged in was a preferable alternative.

So functionality is nice, but if it’s not efficient relative to current alternatives the functionality won’t add much value to the user.

Although Vocaloid is aimed at otaku, there must be similar groups that would buy such software.

Let’s consider characteristics of the otaku audience — predominantly teenagers, tech-savvy, relatively affluent and of course, a little obsessive.

Hmm… has anyone tried packaging Vocaloid for Christian rock fans?



From cult video game-maker Treasure (the same folks behind Gunstar Heroes, one of my favourite video games) came this unique arcade vertical shooter. I would never play this (‘cos I’m a psycho-motor moron and would doubtless die a terrible death in 34 seconds) but I recall seeing Ikaruga in a Japanese arcade and liked the concept and game design right away.

The simplicity is clever. Unlike other games in its genre, Ikaruga has neither a confusing array of weapons for you to cycle through, nor power-ups for you to grab along the way. Instead, in a simple, elegant twist, you reverse polarities, making your ship flip between black and white colours. While white, you can absorb and store white bullets; while black you can absorb and store black ones. Store enough and you can unleash a wave of homing beams. Get hit by a bullet or enemy of reverse polarity and you blow up. Likewise, hit an enemy with reverse polarity and it takes twice the damage.

I also like the Japanese Buddhism-inspired aesthetic. But see the lyricism of the game for yourself:

Also note that this guy (VTF-INO) is playing 2 player-mode on his own. Amazing!