There's a really fun interview up at Gamasutra with Keiichi Yano, chief creative officer of iNiS (the Ouendan series and Elite Beat Agents). The subject is ostensibly Lips, the recently released 360 karaoke title, but a lot of ground is covered in terms of game design and future potential. My favorite part of the discussion is when Yano gets into the decision not to include a fail condition, and instead allow (possibly drunk) warblers to mangle music to their hearts' content:
If I really know the song, I can score literally millions of points. I score three or four million points on some of these songs, and that's great for the person that is very confident in his vocal capabilities. But, for the person who might not be, or if you're just drunk, it's just like you don't even care. But you just want to jam to the song, and you're [warbles incoherently], and it's all this crazy stuff. But, you're still getting a score, right? And that's really important, because at the end of the song, you're drunk and you're still saying, "Ha! I scored better than you!" or whatever, right? And that is really enough to carry the experience. People don't even question it. [They don't say], "Oh, yeah! It's not ending prematurely." I would even say that a lot of people that don't normally play games even think about that. If anything, it's the reverse. "Why did the song end prematurely? I want to enjoy the song." That's what we're giving them.
I'm glad to know that the needs of drunken karaoke singers enters into design decisions. Nice interview on an interesting subject, from the perspective of a company that has worked exclusively on music titles since their founding. More Than Just Lips: Keiichi Yano On Music Game Innovation [Gamasutra]