Geekswagg Interviews Harmonix: Past Present Future
(blazin’ intro music: “Valley Of Doom” by Random, @MegaRan, from TeacherRapperHero Vol. 2: Two Weeks Notice (mixed by DJ DN³), released 14 June 2011 produced by DN3. contains elements of “Valley Of Doom” by Bear McCreary (DarkVoid))
Rock Band has always held a special place in gamers lives since 2007. Manager of Community Development for Harmonix, Aaron Trites, and Community Manager Eric Pope both can attest to the passion that they and other gamers have for a title and genre that, in many ways, is karaoke on steroids! On this day, though, I did my best to squeeze them both of as much info as I could about Rock Band 4 and the reasoning for certain decisions on past Rock Band games.
The strong point of a Rock Band game has always been a point of fans’ rage AND appreciation. Of course, decisions on what songs make the cut, what songs don’t, and what songs legally are even possible is more complex than you would think. The process involves a near algorithm of taking into account genre, decade, artists, technical specifics, and more without even getting into the legal aspects of clearing a song. Once all of that is done, songs require approval from a host a people (sometimes even each individual band member) AND the masters of the song which can be a bit more complex to locate and nail down than you might think. So, yes, my friends. It is more complex than buying and porting the song directly from iTunes and programming a few guitar controller notes!
Not to mention the song itself has to be mixed in order for the player to be able to hear everything. Certain solos and instruments are turned up and down once remixed making the version that you hear in a Rock Band game a bit different from the version you’ll catch on your greatest hits CD. Sometimes, the version cleared is even a B-side! A part of me wishes that, possibly, even songs that have already shown up in a Rock Band playlist might be released again as a live or extended version for certain songs that are clear favorites. One can dream, right?
Interestingly enough, Rock Band 4 is ONLY going to be on next generation systems. As Eric and Aaron both explained, RB4 is built upon a brand new game engine that will blaze trails on the next gen systems. Placing resources on PS3 and Xbox 360 gen systems would end up requiring them to develop the game twice which, as evidenced by Assassin’s Creed Unity, can often times lead to more problems than its worth. Of the course of the past year or so, other developers have made similar announcements with their recent projects recognizing that a poor launch can severely hurt sales. Still, this decision was made so that Rock Band can be more of a platform that can fully utilize the capabilities of the next gen systems. In doing so, Harmonix should be able to respond to the community faster and introduce new features long after the game’s release (which is still only known to be sometime in the last half of 2015).
Eric and Aaron did state that Harmonix will not be making more plastic instruments and promise that the next gen games will be compatible with as many of the older controllers as possible. They are working with Mad Catz to develop new guitar and drum sets (as shown at PAX East) which will apparently have more unique looks and customized parts than previous controllers. I’m guessing that the backwards compatibility will be executed by an adapter of some sort but since it is currently a work in progress, we’ll have to wait until E3 to get more info there.
There was much more talked about including why certain songs and bands were excluded from the Rock Band Network and why they won’t be doing any more band specific games too. Watch the video for more!
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