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Rock Band 3 Lead Designer Dan Teasdale Answers Your Questions
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Rock Band 3 Lead Designer Dan Teasdale Answers Your Questions

Dan as seen in his HMX environment

I’m finally getting around to catching up on all the E3 madness, and this is one of the things I wanted to pull together most for you guys. After going to both PAX East and E3, I learned that they are two completely different animals. PAX East is put on for fans of the games, who usually know what to expect from their favorite franchises. E3 on the other hand, has its hardcore fans in attendance, but also has to cater to business people that may not be familiar with storied franchises and video game companies, so they have to go much farther to leave an impression on people. Throughout all the madness and press that was going on, I considered myself EXTREMELY lucky to both get hands-on time with the new Rock Band 3 peripherals (details coming!) and to have a chance to sit down with Rock Band 3 Lead Designer Dan Teasdale (@delicousbees) and ask him the questions you asked.

And yes, for future reference, I will be getting an audio recorder so I can transcribe future conversations with Harmonix staff for the site, but to be honest, with all the surrounding noise at E3, I doubt it would have captured much of our conversation. I’ve didn’t ask him questions that have already been confirmed elsewhere (I’ll have post summarizing all the new Rock Band 3 features soon), as well as removed the questions that he can’t comment about (Jukebox mode, Pearl Jam, easy/medium charting changes).

So check out the Q&A I had with Dan, and let me know if there are any other questions you may have about the game. I’ll see what I can do to get them answered in the future!

Will there be support for the Stage Kit in Rock Band 3?


Will the ION Drum Rocker be compatible with Pro mode in Rock Band 3, and will Lefty Flip be possible?

Yes and yes.

Any options for real guitar interfacing through the MIDI controller?

As it currently exists, the only available options for Pro Guitar/Bass are using the Mustang and Squier controllers, however we are looking to seeing if this is feasible.

Will there be a strum limit in Rock Band 3?

There will be no strum limit. Rock Band 3 will feature smarter strum detection due to an increased familiarity with and a deeper understanding of consistency issues with both new and existing hardware.

Will the “shaky arrow vocals glitch” be fixed?


Will there be a vocals practice trainer?

Yes, it will be similar to the vocal trainer / practice mode in the Beatles game.

Will multiple vocal players be available over Xbox Live or PSN?

No. Latency issues makes this impossible, unfortunately.

Are there harmonies in the DLC we’ve gotten so far?

With the exception of Green Day, currently existing DLC does not have included harmonies due to the rights reserved during the licensing process.

Will the keyboard work with the tracks that have piano in Green Day: Rock Band if you export to Rock Band 3?

Harmonies are included and compatible with Rock Band 3, however the Green Day content technically counts as Rock Band 2 DLC, so there are no keyboards charts.

When will we start seeing Pro Keys compatible DLC?

DLC with Pro Keys charting will come out day and date of Rock Band 3, not before.

Is there a Pro Keys mode that doesn’t scroll?

Easy and Medium do not scroll. Hard and Expert do.

Lefty flip with Pro Keys?

Yes. It works the same as vocal lefty flip. 😉

Will each instrument lane have their own speed based on their difficulty?

By default, all lanes will move at the same speed, as in Rock Band 2, however there will be a modifier that you can enable to have different lanes move at different speeds.

Will there be an Endless Setlist 3?


Will there be a “Bladder of Steel” achievement/trophy?

Not specifically, but there will be a “spiritual successor” to it.

Can we ever expect to see Metallica tracks in Rock Band again?

Artists that have their own titles such as Aerosmith, Metallica, and Van Halen are not exclusive to any franchise. Eventually we may see more DLC from these artists in Rock Band.

“Try again with the Beatles: Will we have DLC? After enough times they’re sure to give in!”

“This is not one of those times.”

Will there ever be a resource to let us know what bands are more than likely never going to be on the Rock Band platform so we can stop requesting them?

There is no “blacklist” for songs coming to the library, so request away!

Will harmonies and keyboards be integrated into the RBN?

I can’t comment on future RBN features, but there will be more announcements concerning an RBN 2.0 later.

Will the RBN be finding it’s way on to the PS3/Wii/unsupported countries?

The limitations of independent developer programs on the other consoles and unsupported countries with Xbox 360 are issues that lie with Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, and very little we can do about.

Will the Wii support SDHC cards in Rock Band 3? Will we be able to export songs on the Wii?

Details soon.

Will Rock Band 2 export require a unique code to do?

Details on Rock Band 2 export have not been announced yet, as the possibility of export is still in process.

Will we be able to import our scores from Rock Band 2 to Rock Band 3?

The scoring system has been rewritten from a programming standpoint, so your scores will not carryover.

68 Responses to “Rock Band 3 Lead Designer Dan Teasdale Answers Your Questions”

  • Kirksplosion says:

    “Will there be a vocals practice trainer?
    Yes, it will be similar to the vocal trainer / practice mode in the Beatles game.”

    I never actually tried the trainer mode in Beatles, so I’m not sure if this is good news or not. Did Beatles allow for one to choose specific sections to work on?

    “Are there harmonies in the DLC we’ve gotten so far?
    With the exception of Green Day, currently existing DLC does not have included harmonies due to the rights reserved during the licensing process.”

    Hmm. A little disheartening, but understandable. I wonder if they’re considering getting the rights on some of those songs for the future…

    “Is there a Pro Keys mode that doesn’t scroll?
    Easy and Medium do not scroll. Hard and Expert do.”

    What do you mean by not scrolling? Like static vocals…?

    • RedIon1992 says:

      The vocals practice was much improved in Beatles – it did allow people to select sections to work on.

      I hope they go back and get harmony rights for some of the older stuff (AiC is the big one for me).

      The keyboard chart on screen won’t move left and right to take in more of the keyboard on Easy/Medium.

      • Kirksplosion says:

        OH! Left-to-right scrolling. That makes much more sense – thanks. I was thinking they wouldn’t be scrolling down the highway or something…

        And I want more Queen harmonies!

    • SebastianSB says:

      The note highway scrolls left and right across the keyboard to cover the full length of the keyboard.

    • DJMattB241 says:

      “What do you mean by not scrolling? Like static vocals…?”

      If you watch a video with the Pro Keys mode on Hard or Expert, the lane only shows the middle section of the keyboard, so whenever notes go above or below, the lane scrolls left or right.

  • JODIsBack says:

    Wonder what he means by “no strum limit”…

    • RockBandAide says:

      Probably that there is no strum limit.

    • non_zero says:

      There’s a theoretical limit to how many strums per second are possible with the hardware/software currently available.

      • RockBandAide says:

        From what Dan told me, it will never be reached based on the capabilities of the current/forthcoming software/hardware combinations.

        • RedIon1992 says:

          The current issue is not to do with any hardcoded limit. It’s due to the way the timing window is set up; if two notes are close together, it will prefer to hit the note early rather than late, and drop the note that had just passed by. That’s how I think it works, anyway.

          However, I think I read somewhere that they’re going to mark distinct tremolo sections in newer DLC, where it stops throwing exact notes at you, and as long as you average out as being fast enough for long enough, it’ll pay it and keep your combo.

  • The Witticus says:

    Saddeneded by no backwards DLC chart compatibility with Keyboard and Harmony, but whatever, at least DLC is backwards compatible at all. I wonder if day 1 Rock Band 3 dlc will include a massive amount like day 1 dlc for Rock Band 1? You know like where we get about 30 songs that have all the new features for download!

  • DJMattB241 says:

    Tell us the price (or at least a rough estimate) for the Squier, so we can start saving money!

  • Franck says:

    Is there any chance than existing DLC will be updated for pro guitar ?

    • RockBandAide says:

      Never say never, but I wouldn’t hold your breath on going back an updating older DLC.

      It opens a whole new can of worms for them. If they go back and update a song by The Who, people will complain “Why didn’t they update THIS song instead?” or “Why can’t they update song X too?”

      Then they have to figure out how much to charge. If it’s free, then people are going to expect that across the rest of the library. If they charge for it, people will complain “I already paid once for this!”

      Harmonix will have a hard time “winning” if they go back and update existing DLC to take advantage of Rock Band 3 features.

      • Kirksplosion says:

        I wondn’t mind paying extra for some tracks I’ve already purchased, especially some of the ones with pretty extensive keyboard parts. I’m just not sure if it would be a profitable enough move for Harmonix to undertake…

      • Franck says:

        That would really suck big time.
        2000+ tracks available by the end of the year, and it means we wouldn’t be able to use the most recent version of their peripheral (the fender guitar with chords) with most of them ?
        I’m actually willing to pay money to upgrade. Even if I think it shouldn’t be too expensive since I’d only be paying for (a little) recharting, not for song rights.

        • RockBandAide says:

          Think of the time it would take to update that many songs with (not counting Keys) 4 Pro charts! Would you rather have them focus on new songs each week, or update the current crop of DLC?

          And the cost you pay isn’t just for licensing, it’s also for the manpower to chart each song, and Pro authoring is A LOT more difficult than normal authoring. I asked if they just drop tabs in a proprietary program they have and let the computer do the rest, but they said it’s a LOT more involved than that (and usually the tabs that people create are crap).

          I think everyone needs to be a little more realistic with their expectations of DLC offerings and stop assuming that the “DLC Fairy” just magically creates the songs each week.

      • Augustus says:

        “Harmonix will have a hard time “winning” if they go back and update existing DLC to take advantage of Rock Band 3 features.”

        True, no matter what they do, they can’t please everyone. But if they do nothing, they please no one.

        • RockBandAide says:

          It’s either they go back and update old DLC, or offer new DLC… there’s no way they have the time/manpower to do both. If people aren’t happy that they won’t go back and upgrade DLC, I think they are holding Harmonix to a completely unfair and unreasonable expectation. They don’t just snap their fingers and have DLC appear.

          With Rock Band 3, the number of “instrument lanes” per one difficulty level of a song increases from 4 to 10. That’s an increase of 150% in the amount of work for each song… and that’s not taking into account the difficulty it takes to author Pro level songs.

        • Augustus says:

          I may be unfairly assuming, but I would think as the RBN grows it could handle most of the heavy lifting of new music. I understand completely if they feel they would be unable to do it, they know way more about it than I ever could. I’m certain it would be a lot of work and I’m certain it’s more unlikely than not (if that makes any sense) but I don’t think it’s impossible.

      • RockBandAide says:

        Seriously, 83 songs on day 1 of Rock Band 3, with weekly DLC offerings of new songs in Pro mode on guitar. You will be VERY busy with these songs for a long time coming. Would it be awesome to have 1,000+ upgraded with Pro charts? Absolutely! But the cost/benefit to do this for each song is not a wise business decision for them, or us.

        • Kirksplosion says:

          I won’t feel cheated by Harmonix if they don’t update old DLC with Pro charts, Keys, Harmonies, and such. As you said, that’s a lot of time and manpower. I’m just a bit worried that some of the older stuff that would be great with the new features (Keys and Harmonies) might not be re-released, or may be released much later. That said, I wholly trust Harmonix. They seem to take all of this into consideration, and act accordingly.

  • Taker says:

    Starting to sound like they won’t be updating old DLC 🙁 At least not for free. I’m kinda upset that they wouldn’t just start adding keyboards to songs as soon as the final code specifications are decided on, and instead they’re waiting until RB3. OR is it impossible to add keyboards to the RB2 DLC and therefore the Rock Band 1 and 2 DLC will start to be separate from RB3 DLC? Still so many questions!

    All in all, it makes me want to stop buying RB DLC until I know that I’m not gonna get screwed over by it later.

    • RockBandAide says:

      You’re not going to get screwed. All the existing DLC will work in Rock Band 3, but it just won’t have the new Pro features added in.

      • redstarneon says:

        It sounds like keyboarders will be screwed since they won’t be able to play keyboards on any Rock Band song released before RB3.

        • SebastianSB says:

          Keys can be used to play guitar/bass songs, so they’ll still have stuff to play. They just can’t play old songs in Pro mode, but then again neither can guitar/bass.

    • Toad3000 says:

      HMX has already commented on the fact that DLC released after RB3 comes out won’t be compatible with RB and RB2, so one would imagine something to do with adding support for keys and pro mode affect the compatibility.

  • Shane says:

    Great info, Tommy. Honestly, this is some of the best info to come out of E3 for the long-time fans of the RB franchise.

    I think Dan’s being a little coy on the RB2 content transfer (like those songs wouldn’t be available in RB3 – I can’t believe Harmonix wouldn’t get that done) and I’m disappointed about The Beatles news (but it’s not really a surprise, is it?) Also, I really thought a lot of the recent DLC would be fully ready for RB3…it’s a big bummer that it isn’t.

    That being said, he was pretty forthcoming about a lot of the stuff we wanted to know. (I still secretly hope VH’s “Jump” makes it into RB3!)

    Thanks for getting this posted!

  • Mike says:

    “Details on Rock Band 2 export have not been announced yet, as the possibility of export is still in process.”

    possibility??!? I’m sure they’ll come through, but the language here makes me a little nervous… There are a bunch of RB2 on disc tracks I would miss.

    • RockBandAide says:

      Mike, I was paraphrasing our discussion as best I could in the noisy environment that the discussion took place.

      To put it clearer, I’ve asked this question of John Drake at HMX and he said basically that with the exception of the Beatles (for obvious licensing reasons), all other games have been exportable. If you read between the lines, it means that it WILL be exportable; they’re just hammering out the licensing details behind the scenes.

      • Zaphod42 says:

        Tommy, thanks so much for asking those questions AND for writing them up! I guess “Details soon” regarding the Wii-exportability is also due to the same reason: They will want to announce all things export at one point in time, further down the road.

  • toymachine says:

    So if Harmonix is saying that Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Metallica aren’t exclusive to Guitar Hero does that mean vice versa?

    The Who, Green Day, Hendrix, AC/DC, etc.


    • SebastianSB says:

      Well the Who and Hendrix are already in both…

    • Alex says:

      The Who, Green Day, Hendrix, and AC/DC are all routinely mentioned in Harmonix press releases as being exclusive bands so it’s not the same case. They are for sure exclusive. The Who and Hendrix may have had their songs in other GH games, but they’ve become exclusive since then.

      • toymachine says:

        I could say the same for The Eagles, Van Halen, Metallica, and Aerosmith though.

        I don’t understand this notion of music game exclusivity.

        Especially Clapton being in PowerGig (hoping he’s also in RB3).

        • non_zero says:

          Well, like you said, that was 2 years ago.

        • Colin says:

          Well, once Power Gig goes down like the Titanic (or Rock Revolution. Same thing), maybe Clapton will see the value of Pro Mode in RB3 and sign up. I’d love to learn some of his parts for real.

  • Shawn says:

    Thank you for Question #1. That was truly my #1 question for RB3 support. Now, I will run out and buy gallons of fog juice for the big RB3 party.

  • Ashley says:

    Will there be new Beatles DLC anytime soon?

    • SebastianSB says:

      This question is answered in the post…

      • Explosion2 says:

        kinda, but not really.
        The statement is that one time they’ll give in and answer the question.
        and that it is not a time that they will give in and answer the question.

        • RockBandAide says:

          It means they’re not answering the question now. Well… “now” as in last Wednesday. I have a feeling they haven’t changed their minds in the last five days…

  • Matt says:

    “Will the RBN be finding it’s way on to the PS3/Wii/unsupported countries?

    The limitations of independent developer programs on the other consoles and unsupported countries with Xbox 360 are issues that lie with Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, and very little we can do about.

    Will the Wii support SDHC cards in Rock Band 3? Will we be able to export songs on the Wii?

    Details soon.”

    Thanks for asking these questions. I’m almost positive that RB3 will support SDHC cards because B:RB and GD:RB both support.

    I truly hope they get export sorted out for the other RB. GH can do it.

    And I don’t understand the hold up on RBN. Once they have the songs charted, what’s the difference with other DLC?

    • RockBandAide says:

      The problem is that the revenue goes to multiple parties (Harmonix and authors/artists) instead of just to Harmonix like regular DLC. On the PS3, each submitter to the RBN has to be set up as a separate vendor, which I’ve heard is a nightmare to do.

  • ILikeMe1337 says:

    OMG! You asked two of my questions!!!!!!!!!

  • Fleat says:

    Did you find out whether there will be a DLC filter for online play? With the ability to score while playing in a band, it’ll be nice to play MP again.

  • goronhead says:

    “Will the Wii support SDHC cards in Rock Band 3? Will we be able to export songs on the Wii?

    Details soon.”

    I’m glad you asked this. This was something I was wondering about since I heard that TB:RB had SDHC support. Hopefully “details soon” means yes to at least one of those questions.

  • Colin says:

    “Will there be support for the Stage Kit in Rock Band 3?


    This literally made me clap with joy. Which admittedly is quite silly. But I love my stage kit. It livens up Rock Band parties in a huge way. I was a little scared that the new game, with all its new formatting and the bandwidth needed to support up to 7 (!) players, would drop support for the under-selling stage kit. Nice to know the light show will continue!

    I’d like to know about the future of two things I see missing from both the Mustang and the Squire: The whammy bar and the effects selector switch. Are those being phased out with the new game?

  • Sservis says:

    I’d prefer selective updating (if not all). Consider that for three years they’ve been releasing great music. They haven’t held back the songs that would be perfect for harmonies, keys, and pro-mode. (Bohemian Rhapsody waited, but there are a lot of other songs that would be very nice with the features)

    It’s just a question of if the work is worth the value (for some songs it clearly is) and how they can present/price it that it seems appropriate. I am on a DLC moratorium until more information is out, which likely won’t be until after release.

    Except for amazing songs, I probably would prefer to spend my DLC dollars on RB3 full featured songs, so I’ll wait. For amazing songs, they will try to find a way to update things, and I’d rather wait in that case too. I’m ok with rebuying my tracks and would do sso on a case by case basis as some of them are perfect for the features. However, if they make people rebuy/relicense, may as well wait and buy once.

    So no more DLC for me until November 🙁

    Licensing issues depends on the revenue split if any. If the Artists/Labels get a portion of sales, then they have an incentive to relicense (sales and revenues for those that don’t will be lower). If Harmonix paid completely upfront with no residual, then it’s a longer shot. It will be 2000 missed opportunities… (The new stuff will still be great)

    • Kirksplosion says:

      I’m actually feeling the same way. I’ve been behind on my Rock Band DLC (had about 50 or so that I was still planning on downloading), but with the prospect of any “older” DLC not getting the full Pro, harmonies, and key treatment, I almost feel like it would be waste of my money…

      • Zaphod42 says:

        Somehow I feel that you two are not the only ones having this reaction. And yet, I can’t help but think that Harmonix might yet have another ace up their sleeves regarding this… Possibly they will announce soon, that all RB2-DLC downloaded from a certain point can be re-downloaded again, after the RB3 release, including all the new features? Wouldn’t really be fair to the bands, whose DLC gets released between now and the RB3-release…

        I do wonder, if the price of DLC might be raised. After all, a lot of more work has to go into each individual track! Let’s count, how many more tracks:

        4 “regular” scores for keys
        4 pro-scores for keys
        4 pro-scores for guitar,
        4 pro-scores for bass
        2 more harmony lines for vocals

        So, that’s 18 new scores! (I haven’t counted drums, as that’s basically just the addition of cymbals, and apparently they have already scored them since very early.)

        Tommy, if you have an article on how Harmonix does the actual authoring, I’d be very interested.

        • Sservis says:

          Sorry about the last reply, I’m willing to pay a fee for some tracks (the bigger the fee, the fewer the tracks).

          Ideally the programmers would build a file format that would be able to be backwards compatible to older games even after newer features are added. Ideally the RB3 format is robust enough that in RB6 they’ll be able to release DLC that’s playable in any version RB3 and later (if they’re really good it’ll work in RB1/2 also [probably requires a one time patch to RB2 so that it understands how to ignore the advanced elements of the file format])

          Ideally the lawyers would negotiate appropriate rights once they were aware of the issues. They may still have unreleased tracks without the additional rights, but a four month backlog? The lawyers should have known before the public, so it’s more than a four month backlog if nothing before RB3 has the features.

          Ideally they’d realize the feature missing issues this causes and release RBN tools before RB3, even if it requires the understanding that songs with new features won’t be usable until RB3 hits.

          Ideally there’d be no regular DLC released between when they’re aware of the issues and RB3 that would be good choices for pro mode (harmonies, keyboard track or iconic guitar/bass tabs). Or they could just announce that they’ll redo those tracks with a patch so you can buy now without issues/additional cost as they have the rights. Uncertainty is likely leading to lower sales for the next four months. The open questions are how much and if the sales are just delayed or truly lost.

          Ideally there’d be no issues relicensing older songs and they could release the export details. It’s 9 months since exportability from RB2 had a use, ie playing lyric appropriate tracks in Lego. There’s a specter of World Tour/Smash Hits exports that they’ve so far avoided.

          None of these apparently happened. I look forward to uncertainty being resolved, but my purchases are in abeyance until then.

          I hold out hope for a solution like GH5’s patch for GH4 DLC. Even if it’s just for a select set of songs. Even if I have to pay for it.

          • RockBandAide says:

            Did you know that you used the word “ideally” SIX times in your reply?

            I know Harmonix always tries to do what’s fair and equitable to all parties involved, but I think you are holding them to an unreasonable expectation. I think you’re dramatically oversimplifying the legal and technical issues involved with releasing DLC. If it was as simple as you said, they would resolve these issues (they’ve been working on this game for 2 years, remember), but they can’t make the game 100% perfect for everyone.

        • RockBandAide says:

          I do not, however that is an excellent idea. I’d love to work with someone from Harmonix and get something like that up in the future!

  • kenshinesca says:

    Good question about addition of keys in the Greenday Rock Band. When I was playing GD:RB I was think wow some of these songs would be great for RB 3.

    Would be nice if they offered pro modes/harmonies updates for the older RB/RB2 dlc I don’t care I would totally pay for it if the price was reasonable. I know it would be quite the undertaking updating all that dlc but they could filter in some updated songs every week, that would be friggin awesome. There are many tracks that deserve this.

  • Sservis says:

    Keyboard Lefty Flip, I didn’t know you could play vocals with a guitar controller, switching the track around would be useful for those playing on a flipped guitar.

    It’s also a shame that when not in a too full band you can’t have the full track shown. It means that there are limits to how complex the keyboard part can be. (quick notes at opposite ends of the keyboard won’t work, chords on one hand and a melody on the other won’t either) Then again this is Rock Band, not Concert Piano.

    This leads me to think that the Keyboard might be the least interesting of the pro instruments, since for those that can play Keyboard, it’s only a one handed score.

  • Flame95 says:

    Although I kinda understand about older DLC not updating, it would be stupid of HMX not to include keys and pro in DLC from here on to launch.

  • Sservis says:

    Rereading my posts, my tone was off. RB3 is a great thing, and your interview turned a lot of uncertainties and unknowns into more reliable information. Until the game comes out each piece of information likely just opens up the field of questions a bit further. Ex how does pro lefty mode on high frets work? Good to know it exists, do I need a hacksaw to get my hand up there?

    Smart file formats are good software design, and fairly simple to implement. You need an infinitely extensible TOC of extants (special value terminated list) and each version selects the most relevant extant to use. The simple implementation uses completely separate resources for different versions, but the more advanced software revision can sometimes use resources out of the “older” version portions. (ie drum track, main vocal track, etc) It’s more a wish that the RB3 format is setup so that RB3 will never be obsoleted in the way that RB2 is. I’ll move forward for the new features in any case, but the new songs should go back too.

    Also, the future of the platform really is RBN. Releasing their tools allows bands to be proactive about doing the extra work. There are some announced RBN tracks that I hope get delayed for the tools. It’d be nice to have them launch day.

    I guess my real issue is with the “RB2 export is still in the works”. They got so much good PR for not being like GH:WT and GH:SH. My guess is that they license “one derivative work in perpetuity”, and pulling the tracks off the disc counts as a second (adding new features could also count as a second). This term is also consistent with DLC rolling forward, nothing in the DLC itself changes.

    I’m ready to pay extra for Pro tracks on old content. Against the chance that they’re only going to do it for a few select tracks, I’ll wait until they reveal which ones. If they don’t then I’ll be choosing between post RB3 pro tracks and older non pro tracks.

    I wonder if there’s anything in the licensing that precludes bands with DLC from releasing their own RBN version…

  • Kiseong says:

    So wait, if you pre-order RB3, do you get like this bonus sort of thing? like example, free DLCs and etc… just wondering!