PAX Q&A Follow-Up with John Drake

A few weeks ago, gamer enthusiast’s mecca, PAX, was held in Seattle. We asked the community for questions that we would try and have answered by Harmonix while we (and by we, I mean Tiffany) were there. On most interviews we see with the folks from Harmonix and MTV Games, it’s the usual stuff designed for consumption by the masses, not the hardcore fans that visit this site. Because of this, a few of the very specific questions stumped John, but he vowed to get back to us with some of the answers. I received John’s follow up answers in an email two nights ago. (Note: John is in the UK right now, and I received the email from him sometime after 2:30 am… his time. Seriously, he doesn’t sleep. He’s like the video game industry’s version of Chuck Norris… sans the beard.)

Below are the questions I sent, followed by his responses based on discussions with Daniel Sussman, Sylvain Dubrofsky, and Brian Chan.

If a male character is used for vocals in a setlist, and a song comes up with a female lead vocalist, does it still show your male character singing, or does it default to some random female pre-fab?

You can pick stand-ins for your band, but they aren’t instrument specific. The only one we lock is you. So, if you have a mix of guy and girl characters as stand-ins, we will set it so that the singer is the correct gender. If you haven’t set stand-ins, we set the prefab so that the singer’s gender is correct. That said, we don’t dynamically switch around for setlists, so it’s often possible to get a singer who’s not the right gender. We do our best…THAT SAID, a lot of dudes sing girls songs and vice versa, so no one should care.

Are we seeing four on-screen characters in game or five? I believe everything I’ve seen thus far has been four. And if it is four, is there a way that you can choose, or the game chooses, which four of the five are selected?

You’re going to see four on-screen characters performing the songs, even in the event of five instruments being played simultaneously in “All Instruments Mode”. If you have a keyboard player added to the band, we’ll feature keyboards over bass and your bass player will be a behind the scenes musician only. (HMX Hates Bass Players Flaming in 3…2…1…)

Will pro-charted DLC be modular in nature? For example, if I buy “Burning Down the House” without pro-guitar for $1.99, and then decide later that I want to play pro-guitar, can I buy a pro-chart “add-on” DLC to supplement my initial purchase, or is there only normal DLC ($1.99) and pro-DLC ($X.99), meaning I’ll have to decide initially which one I want so I don’t waste money?

We’re still working out specifics, but the current plan features the normal instrumentation (now including Keys, Pro Keys, Pro Drums and Harmony Vocals when those parts exist) as the standard package with pro-guitar/bass being a separate add on pack for those interested.

Will RB3 have full band tiering?

We do have band leaderboards, but a band is now representative of your profile.

Will RB3 have bass solos?

Yep, when appropriate we have solos for Bass, Guitar, Drums and Keys!

Is the Squier console-neutral and connected via the MIDI Controller, or is it a different model for each console? (Will the Wii see one?) If it requires the MIDI Controller, does that come included upon purchase?

The Squire is console neutral! You will need to get a MadCatz MIDI Pro Adapter to play Rock Band 3. That adapter can also be used to convert MIDI Drums or MIDI Keyboards for use with the game and it’s being planned as a standalone product at this time.

Thanks, John!

122 Responses to “PAX Q&A Follow-Up with John Drake”

  • Dorkmaster Flek says:

    OMG HMX HATES BASS PLAYERZ!!!111!11112222

    Seriously though, that does seem odd. Why the four character limitation? I’m guessing it’s some kind of engine restriction and very technical. Otherwise, why limit it?

    The other interesting tidbit is needing to get the MIDI adaptor separately for the Squier. This kinda sucks, but I understand why. Fender is actually the ones making the Squier, and they’re selling it through their actual dealers, i.e. actual music stores. Having it be console neutral would be nullified if they packaged the MIDI box for a specific console with it. It sucks that there is an extra step involved for consumers, but this thing was already pretty niche to begin with, so I don’t think it will be a big deal.

    • Whizzer says:

      The MIDI Pro is also by MadCatz. It would be very unlikely to see two products by different manufacturers in one box.

      • ILikeMe1337 says:

        Umm, there is a Keyboard and Game bundle in one box coming out. The Keyboard is manufactured by Mad Catz, the game is manufactured by Electronic Arts – but yeah I know what you mean with Fender and Mad Catz agreeing to put their products in one box, I’m sure EA and Mad Catz agreeing on the Keyboard bundle is totally different since EA ultimately has control over business decisions like that and since Mad Catz and EA is sharing the $10 bundle discount (I’m assuming) it is still profitable for both companies and EA might have made Mad Catz agree to a keyboard bundle as part of their exclusive contract deal too. Also it’s funny how Mad Catz is advertised as the ‘official’ hardware maker, here’s how things have broken down for the OTHER companies that have the Official Rock Band license before Mad Catz made their announcement:

        Official Rock Band Fender product AFAIK:
        Squire Stratocaster RB3 edition (or whatever it’s going to be called)

        Official Rock Band PDP (Performance Designed Products) products AFAIK:
        Stage Kit
        Drum Silencers
        Drum Sticks with rubber ends
        Bass Pedal with battery powered double bass adapter
        (Do they make the USB hub too?)

        So we obviously know that the Squire is new for the RB3 era but are all the RB/RB2 era PDP products I listed above going to be manufactured by Mad Catz now? I know the double bass pedal is but it went up $5, the PDP one I bought was $25 and I’m pretty sure that was full price, the Mad Catz one is $30 and I bet you it won’t come with the double bass adapter (which you need if you still play anything that came out before RB3) so it looks like Mad Catz is going to charge $5 more and only give you one of two items in the box, yeah that’s a good business decision *Sarcasm*. The stage kit I think they just had one manufacturing run of and is now a rarity item. The USB hub isn’t needed anymore by enough people for them to make an RB3 one (Like I said I don’t know if PDP makes the stand alone USB hub, I just thought they did). So maybe the Drum Silencers and Drum Sticks aren’t considered ‘hardware’ and so PDP will be making RB3 editions of those? Or is Mad Catz going to take over manufacturing EVERYTHING besides the Squire (squeezing PDP out completely)?

  • HeXcoda says:

    “You can pick stand-ins for your band, but they aren’t instrument specific. The only one we lock is you.”

    That one’s a bit concerning. Does that mean my drummer may randomly be playing the guitar and my bassist becomes a keyboard player and there’s no way to predict who gets what instrument? Lame. I have pretty specific NPCs I put behind each instrument. I can see the bassist changing roles to keyboardist, okay, but the rest shouldn’t need to be mix and matched…

    • RockBandAide says:

      Really? Is it that big of a deal that your custom bassist plays keyboard instead? I mean, you’re concentrating on the note highway while you’re playing anywya, right?

      • HeXcoda says:

        Only in part. I know I’m in the minority here, but a good part of the fun of Rock Band for me is designing my NPC band and watching ’em rock the hell out on stage while I do vocals. Unlocking special clothing items, planning out my character design, etc. All very awesome. Yeah, a lot of folks just ignore standins and probably will never rename from the default “So-and-so’s Band” but there’s a considerable amount of content in there that suggests HMX doesn’t mind those of us who want to create a full band, either.

        So while something’s gotta give and I can see bass/keys swapping… vocals/drums/guitar swapping around is a bit crazy. How many bands do you know where every time they go on stage everybody’s playing a different instrument and someone new is singing? (“I hope you guys weren’t hoping to hear Hendrix play guitar tonight, because he’s decided he wants to play drums instead for some reason.”)

      • MCA76 says:

        Seriously, who has time to look at the characters on screen. These are the same people who play on medium and have no DLC 😉

        • Bionic92 says:

          I play expert and have DLC and I watch the screen 😛

        • LoopyChew says:

          You got it backward. The crazy expert players with all the DLC see everything that’s coming at them and can use the mental facilities freed up by their hyper-awareness to watch the screen once in a while.

          –600 DLC/RBN, AC/DC, Green Day, Lego, expert player.

        • Keith says:

          I for one will miss the instrument-specific assignments. In my X-Men band, Professor X makes sense on drums, but not on the other instruments. (And btw I totally watch my band when I’m playing).

      • non_zero says:

        When you put it that way, custom characters are completely pointless, lets get rid of all the visuals and have a pitch black background instead.

        I know some of you would prefer that, but most of us wouldn’t.

        • RockBandAide says:

          Wow, way to take it to the opposite extreme. “Why not get rid of the game completely, since we already have real instruments?”

          My POINT is that with all the functionality built in, this pales in comparison to everything that we DO have.

          • Aw says:

            I can understand why people would have issue with it, though. Maybe people like creating look-a-like versions of existing bands? That X-Men thing Keith mentioned was pretty clever, too. It’s a feature that was present in RB2 that they’re stripping out in RB3, and while a lot of people ignored it, some people apparently did really creative things with it.

            While I don’t think it’s such a big deal, people are going to be bothered by it. Just like how people flipped out when RB2 didn’t track star records in the quickplay menu. (Which, for the record, I think is a much bigger deal. Now that RB3 tracks stars AND includes leaderboard standings in the quickplay menu, I don’t need to use Scorehero anymore.)

      • Andre says:

        Dude, this is a big deal. A lot of people, like me, do pay attention to the band while playing. I certainly do, and I manage to in many many songs.

        And I have carefully designed the members of my band. And was seriously looking forward to making them again in RB3. For the drums I had this heavy metal dude, really cool. For the bass, a kinda punk Cyndi Lauper girl. And for the vocals, a redhead girl. I was always on the guitar, but I wouldn’t like to see them switch.

        Also, I was already designing, in my mind, a fat dude for the keyboards. It’s a really lame solution, really. I am a HUGE fan of Harmonix, but they dropped the ball on this detail, in my opinion.

        My point is, and have always been: there are many details “behind the scenes” (the main “game” that is matching the notes) that give Rock Band a LOT of flavor. And one such detail is actually the ROCK BAND you design. It’s a lot of fun to watch their story unfold and use your imagination as well.

        Storytelling is a powerful thing, specially in videogames. So yeah, this is bad news, and I don’t think I’m the only one that feels this way.

    • Explosion2 says:

      yeah most of my stand-ins are based on the instrument they play in real life. for example my current band lineup, John Entwistle on bass, Taylor Hawkins on drums, and Dave Grohl on vocals.

      lots of people have scott pilgrim avatars too! wouldn’t it be weird if kim pine was singing or Scott pilgrim was playing guitar? they’re not that multi-talented! haha

      now while it’s not a huge deal if they end up swapped, it’d be kind of odd.

  • Whizzer says:

    Good to see he kept his word! What exactly does he mean with this:

    ‘but a band is now representative of your profile.’

    Anyone have an idea?

    • decyphersmc says:

      They said that ‘your band’ would be following you around in all the screens in the background etc. so I think you have the band as your profile and presumably you can dig into further stats for how you’ve done on the instruments individually or something of that nature…

      • HeXcoda says:

        Seems so. The default name for a band is “YOURNAME’s Band”. I wouldn’t doubt they dumped the multiple-bands-per-profile feature from Rock Band 2. While it was kinda fun to use all the cash I was earning in World Tour to design up twenty different NPCs and make a buncha bands, it’s not like I ever really played with more than one actual band. I wanted my scores tracked consistently, so I consistently played one band. RB3 just streamlines it so that’s the only option. (Educated guess, note.)

      • Whizzer says:

        Oh, I get that. I just don’t understand what it has to do with ‘band tiering’ for songs.

        But it’s good to hear about this anyway. It probably means band scores (more than 1 player) are now saved under one’s gamertag/PSN name/Wii name.

  • MCA76 says:

    So we get to have stand-ins, great for the people who have a problem with the male characters singing female songs and vice versa. Is it October 26 yet.

  • S F Booker says:

    Main things that stick out:

    4 characters on screen – will take a bit of getting used to but will get used to it. While disappointing not the game killer some people on the forums are making it to be.

    Band being representative of your profile: Does this mean I can’t have a separate band for each of my instruments? Or is he talking about game profiles rather than my xbox profile?

    • RockBandAide says:

      LOL… you’re not used to seeing 4 characters on screen already? (Rock Band 1 and Rock Band 2?)

      But yeah, I agree it is a bit disappointing. I’m guessing it’s a processing capacity issue. I’m sure Harmonix has their reasoning.

      • S F Booker says:

        It’s more about having up to 7 people playing but only 4 on screen.

        Again not a game killer but I can see my regular band members complaining that their characters arn’t ‘playing’ with the band even though they are.

        Currently we even come out to the band screen so they can have their character playing the correct instrument every time we swap round 🙂

        • Toad3000 says:

          It’s funny, it would all work so much better if our avatars were capable of singing and doing something else at the same time. That way, there are four people playing instruments onstage (guitar, bass, keys, and drums), and one or more of them could have mic stands. Problem solved.

          • Finalizer says:

            See, the weird thing is that they already ARE capable of doing this. Play some songs in RB2 that have more than one singer, and you’ll notice the rest of the band doing back up vocals. Clint Eastwood especially highlights this when the drummer does the rapping vocals during the verses while the actual singer sticks to the chorus.

            I’m surprised they didn’t just do this, have the rest of the band act as the singers in all instruments mode. To me, it’d make more sense (You know, “all instruments” and all… Implies that the band members would all be playing an instrument) than to bump out an instrument entirely.

            Anyway, I acknowledge that it’s no big deal, but it’s still a decision that puzzles me.

          • Toad3000 says:

            Yeah, I was being a little bit facetious in my response. Is it possible this is something HMX has up its sleeve? I mean, people have been clamoring for animations for voxtar, etc. since RB1, and obviously they do it on a case-by-case basis in certain songs, and it’s an integral part of the experience of both TB:RB and GD:RB…

  • bwp23 says:

    Nice to see that bass solos are now possible, but I wonder when they will be charted? Have even had any songs in the library (or songs in RB3) that could even qualify for a bass solo?

    • Schlagwerk says:

      The little ditty after the drum solo in Spoonman might qualify.

      • bwp23 says:

        That is part of the problem (and this coming from a fairly regular bass player): there are a lot of bass ‘fills’ (correct terminology?), but there’s nothing that jumps out at me as a definite bass solo. Perhaps they will be exceptionally lenient with what constitutes a bass solo.

    • Heimlich says:

      The opening of Saints of Los Angeles is definitely a bass solo. Can’t think of any others off hand. N.I.B. has a long bass solo intro on the album, but the cover version in Rock Band doesn’t include/chart it.

      • Doodler says:

        That’s not a bass solo in Saints of Los Angeles. That’s just the bassist playing an opening riff. Just because the bassist is the only one playing does not make it a solo.

        • Gokuroro says:

          By definition (that is, the translation from Italian of the word solo, meaning ALONE), yes it does.
          Though I do understand it is not restricted to that. Not all solos are the player playing alone, but everytime a player plays alone, it is a solo.

    • chas says:

      There are definitely some songs in Green Day that should have had it as well as My Generation by the Who. My guess is the intro to Caught in a Mosh might be considered a bass solo.

  • Xzyliac says:

    On the one hand bassist get the boot on-screen but on the other you get bass solos.

    Can we have Maxwell Murder by Rancid now?

  • Schlagwerk says:

    Kind of disappointed to see that the character limit is 4. Also BASS SOLOOOOOOOOO

  • Kirksplosion says:

    Could care less which/how many avatars show up on the stage or whether the singer gender is correct. I’m watching note highways anyway. I know there is a segment of RB players that this is very important to, but I’m not in that segment.

    That DLC structuring makes perfect sense to me as the truly work intensive stuff is the PRO charts for bass and guitar. I’m sure anytime I buy a song I’ll get the PRO-guitar add-on pack, but I love how they’re planning on setting that up.

    • Toad3000 says:

      I’m impressed with the way they’re setting up the DLC/Pro DLC separation, too. It’s much better than upping the price for everybody. This way, only the hardcore players can pony up the extra cash, and they can pick or choose whether they actually care about learning the guitar for any given song before purchasing. The only downside I could see is that fewer people will buy the Pro charts, obviously, as a lot of people won’t make the investment in guitars that are capable of using this feature.
      One very bright, silver lining to this tho…is if they’re releasing “pro upgrades” for new DLC, it means the machinery is in place to upgrade older DLC as well.

      • Croq says:

        Yeah, I think that with likely a small portion of the overall audience purchasing pro-guitar “upgrades”, we’re not gonna see it for a whole lot of the pre-RB3 DLC.

        You mention the “hardcore players” being the ones interested here. I would propose that if they made it more accessible, like at a reasonably low price point, they’ll get a lot of purchases.

        For example, charge 99 cents, get a bunch of sales. Charge 4 bucks, get only the hardcore people, and get only the people that LOVE that song to buy.

        • Toad3000 says:

          Maybe. But given that Pro guitar has a high up-front cost…I’m not sure how much their sales of Pro DLC would go up even if they only charge 99 cents for the add-on.

        • RockBandAide says:

          I think Toad3000 brings up a good point. If people are willing to drop $150 or $300 on Pro guitars up front, I don’t think paying an additional $.99 or $1.99 for a few songs a week is going to bother them much. Incrementally, it’s pretty insignificant.

      • Croq says:

        One other thing I’m curious about with this “pro” separation for guitar. What are they gonna do regarding older songs that they want to add keys to? Like Boston, The Cars, and The Who could definitely benefit from some keys action.

        I wouldn’t think they’d just add keys support for free.

        I wish they would just come out with it and give specifics on the pricing models.

        • RockBandAide says:

          My guess is that you’ll have to pay to download again, sadly. The reason I say that is because I’m not sure if you can “update” DLC via the three consoles. If they offer it for free, than everyone can get it, regardless of who initially bought it. But this is all speculation.

          • Zaphod42 says:

            Actually, I guess it’s possible! I’m not a programmer, so I could be WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off, but couldn’t they offer a free download of “Somebody to Love-Pro-Upgrade” (or other songs), that basically says “IF Original Song IS present THEN download KEYS and HARMONIES” ?

          • Hayden says:

            They could still have “upgrade” DLC that required the original DLC but didn’t use its data whatsoever.

  • Croq says:

    Given that they’re going to charge extra for Pro Guitar/Bass charts is setting up that mode for epic failure in my opinion. I don’t see a ton of people, even those playing pro g/b, that are going to want to pay extra $$$ for pro charts for every song.

    I’m actually a bit disappointed in Hmx for this. Yeah, get the pro guitar and rock out to pro tracks! Oh, you want that for DLC too? Well, that’s gonna cost you buddy! Yeah, I know that we include other pro charts for free in the normal DLC, but you’re on guitar, so you will have to pay us extra for that privilege.

    This is going to result in me being MUCH more choosy in my DLC in the future, and I can’t imagine I’m on my own here.

    • Loozers says:

      I’m looking at it from another perspective. They could have added pro-guitar charting in all DLC and charged $5.99 for each one, OR they could charge $1.99 for each and $4 for the pro-guitar add-on. I’m just making up the prices, but what it boils down to is people that didn’t buy the pro-guitar will not have to pay for the pro-guitar charting. HMX is doing those people a favor. I’m willing to spend the extra money for the guitar and I’ll be selective on the DLC I spend on pro-guitar dlc add-ons.

      • RockBandAide says:

        I agree with this 100%. They’re giving as much value as possible, but keeping the “extra work” of Pro-Guitar/Bass charting as a standalone premium for only those who are interested (like me).

      • Croq says:

        At those made-up prices, I would venture to say I would not buy any pro-guitar DLC, I don’t care what song it was.

        Regarding extra work, it takes extra work for them to chart keys too, and many of us won’t have any interest in that either. I realize it’s probably a different scale, but the same argument could be used. You are dealing with a new peripheral (keys and pro-guitar), extra charting (no pro guitar/bass or keys currently), etc. And yet, ONLY the guitar players are getting stuck with having to pay extra.

        If you’re gonna charge for PRO charting, charge for PRO charting for EVERYONE.

        • RockBandAide says:

          So you’re arguing AGAINST giving greater value to the $1.99 DLC price? I think people would be happy that they get so much bang for their buck. You could argue it’s discriminatory against Pro-Guitarists, but I think it’s more realistic that they’re giving everyone MORE value.

          • Whizzer says:

            It feels a bit like preferential treatment to me too. I understand it’s a lot of work, but Pro Guitar/Bass players also pony up the most money for their instruments, yet they have to pay more for the songs too.

          • Croq says:

            Giving everyone MORE value if you sing and want to do harmonies, which not everyone will. MORE value if you want to play pro drums instead of just hitting the right color, which not everyone will. MORE value if you buy the keyboard and want to play pro keys, and I would argue that some, maybe many will stick with 5-color on keys too.

            Support keys using 5 colors in standard DLC. Still gives you more value. Charge for the pro-upgrade, keys/guitar/bass.

            I realize that for drums, it’s probably a lost cause because they’re already doing it, but you can’t tell me it’s not more work to chart to a specific color and cymbal/pad versus just a color.

            As Whizzer points out, to play pro guitar, you’re gonna have to pay $149 for the Mustang or $XXX for the Squier (no price known yet, but I suspect it’ll be around $299). Then, if you buy the Squier, you’ll not only have to pay for the base DLC track (which has NOTHING except for music/animation instructions that is of use to you) AND then pay another sum of money for the ability to play the instrument you paid all that money for. If you have ANY other instrument, then the base DLC has stuff you can use. I sure hope that Loozers’ price guess of $4 for pro-guitar is WAY off…

            Pro guitar has definitely moved to a “wait and see” thing for me. Pricing is going to be a big factor in how deep I get into pro guitar.

    • Espher says:

      Two things:
      a) not all songs are going to have Pro Guitar/Bass;
      b) they’ve said Pro Guitar/Bass charting is as time consuming as charting everything else that goes into a song, meaning it essentially takes double the effort to add that feature to a song.

      I think it’s entirely reasonable to keep the current DLC pricing scheme and then add an optional additional charge for those songs that feature Pro Guitar/Bass to reflect the additional time needed versus making it mandatory and jumping the price or not charging at all (which would likely lead to even fewer Pro Guitar/Bass charts).

      • RockBandAide says:

        You explained it better than I was going to attempt.

      • Croq says:

        So, are you saying that even after RB3 comes out, not all songs will have pro guitar charting available? If that’s true, then I may skip this whole pro guitar thing all-together.

        I’ve posted other times regarding playing the Squier that if you have some pro songs and other non-pro songs, you can only play the pro songs while your Squier is plugged in. You have to switch guitars to play the others. That is truthfully not a whole lot better than making me switch disks to play certain songs to be honest. I’m still going to have to say, wait, wait, I gotta switch my guitar if you want to play this song (or sit out that song, if that’s an option).

        Sure I could get the Mustang and be able to play everything, but if you’re gonna play real guitar parts, you should use a real guitar, not a controller with over 100 buttons. Slides on the Mustang scare me, could make ground meat from my fingers… 🙂

        • RockBandAide says:

          I haven’t heard specifically that “not all songs are going to have Pro Guitar/Bass.” The only instance where that holds true is if a song is released that doesn’t include the instrument at all.

          • Anonymous Coward says:

            So I’m concerned about the seamlessness of the PRO guitar experience playing with a band (i.e. not solo). Two things in particular: DLC w/optional PRO charts, and PRO guitars incapable of playing non-PRO (i.e. 5 button) parts.

            Croq sort of hit upon this, but what happens when you have a setlist with mixed PRO and non-PRO songs?

            Does it just not let you play PRO? That would likely suck. But if it lets you play PRO for the songs that are PRO and non-PRO for those that aren’t… how will that work? Do you have to switch controllers mid-setlist? Is that even possible? (Right now, for example, switching controller types in RB kicks you out to the main menu.)

            Or is PRO guitar going to turn into mostly a solitary “learning tool”? Thanks for any insight!

          • Croq says:

            This is all speculation on my part, but I would think that if you had the Mustang guitar, it can play both pro mode and normal mode. So, I would assume it would just switch.

            The Squier on the other hand will not support normal mode (at least that’s what is being said so far). So, if you play that, you cannot play the “normal” songs. Whether it would let you switch guitars or if you would just sit out that “normal mode” song is unknown (at least to me).

          • RockBandAide says:

            Croq is correct. The Mustang can play BOTH normal and Pro modes, while the Squier can only play Pro modes.

    • Kirksplosion says:

      It would be unrealistic to think they could charge the same price for Pro-Guitar stuff as they would the rest of it. This isn’t the Rock Band 1 gem placement for a five button guitar – this is finding the accurate six-string guitar tabs for a song then translating to the engine. As has been stated in a recent article, they are even going to the extent of watching live footage of some of the guitarists to make sure they get the tabs right.

      • Croq says:

        Okay, well if they’re gonna charge extra for pro guitar/bass, they should charge extra for pro keys too. And to be honest, for pro drums (though I’ll probably get lynched for suggesting that).

        • Whizzer says:

          Pro Drums was included from the very start. Pretty much everything has Pro Drums already, including RB1 songs. They can’t realistically start charging for it now.

          Pro Keys is probably included because every compatible keyboard is also pro-compatible and it’s not too much work, apparently.

          Vocal Harmonies aren’t a lot of work at all, I think. So that’s included too, in the base package.

          • Kirksplosion says:

            Exactly this. Thanks for saving me some time, Whizzer. 🙂

          • Zaphod42 says:

            To expand:

            Pro Keys: On a keyboard, there is only one way to play one note.
            Pro Guitar: On a guitar, there are multiple positions to play one note, depending, what string you’re on.

            So: On a keyboard, charting is pretty straightforward. On a guitar you really need to give the charting a lot more thought, so the chord sequences make sense.

            Ergo: A small extra fee (I hope, it’ll be not more than $0.99) is definitely justified for Pro Guitar and bass.

            On a sidenote: I’d be very interested to hear more about the process creating different difficulties. How do they decide, what notes to skip and which notes to keep? Would be a great article for some time after the release… 😉

        • AnonymousBroccoli says:

          They’re planning on including keys, pro keys, pro drums (kinda), and harmonies for the same price they’ve been charging since Rock Band 1, and you *want* them to charge more?

          • Croq says:

            No, I want them to be consistent. If they’re charging more for pro guitar/bass because it takes more work, then they should charge more for pro keys too. Go ahead and include the basic keys in the standard DLC, but make the pro keys part of the “upgrade”.

            They’d certainly sell more of the “upgrades” that way.

            Of course, now that they have already stated it the other way, they probably couldn’t go back on it now.

          • Kirksplosion says:


            Well, they did say the pricing was still a work in progress.

            Why does it bother you that the standard DLC (for the same price) is now getting harmonies, keys, Pro-keys, and pro-drums now? I just don’t get why this displeases you.

          • AnonymousBroccoli says:

            I think the key is the amount of work. If they say it takes as long to work on pro guitar and bass as it does to do everything else in a chart, then that’ll have to be compensated in the price.

            I could obviously be wrong, but I don’t know that pro keys would involve a significant jump in workload. Sure, you’re dealing with a 25-key lane rather than 5, and probably some chords involving more than 3 keys at once. But unless there’s some hidden depth in there, it still seems to be just striking keys, extends, and Star Power phrases.

            I suspect many people may get more value out of a pro guitar/bass chart. Between spending more time practicing (unless you’re already really good at realtar), and being able to potentially take that knowledge out of the game (which theoretically works with other pro stuff as well), it may be worth the extra dollar or two (please not 4 D: ) for the upgrade. I imagine if I end up with the Squier, I’ll probably be plenty occupied with the on-disc songs for a fair while, since I’m a guitar newbie.

          • AnonymousBroccoli says:

            Just as a follow-up: With the standard guitar/bass/keys charts, there needs to be a certain degree of creativity put in to fit the full range of a song into 5 lanes. With pro keys, you’d almost think it would be less work in that regard. They just have to match the pitch to the actual song, rather than create charts that fit within the tones, and actually make them fun.

          • Croq says:


            Like I said already, it’s HMX unfairly singling out a given instrument and charging them a higher price. If they did the same thing with keys, including the 5-track in standard DLC and charging extra for pro keys as part of a pro-DLC add-on, that would be much more consistent.

            I’ll agree that coding pro-guitar/bass probably takes a lot more work in some cases. But coding keyboards in pro mode versus 5-track would take more work too (arguably not as much as pro-guitar/bass though). And drums, though the difference is probably relatively negligible, coding for pro drums does take more effort to map something to one of 8 things (3 cymbals, 4 pads, 1 bass) versus 5. Harmonies too, figuring out the harmonies and coding them takes arguably more work than just doing the main vocal track.

            It would be more *fair* to the guitarists out there if all pro-mode “upgrades” were part of the same package. That way, no matter who you were, if you wanted to use the advanced features, you’d pay a higher price. And that price would likely be less that it’s gonna be for having just pro guitar in there.

            I would love it if ALL pro stuff was included in the base DLC, but that would likely drive up the price.

          • RockBandAide says:

            I get that you think it’s discrimination against guitarists, but John Drake said that amount of work required to chart Pro-Guitar is equivalent to charting ALL THE OTHER INSTRUMENTS combined. It’s like wondering why the price of lobster is more on the menu than anything else. It costs more. It’s not decision based instrument preference. It’s a business decision based on the relative cost/price.

            If you want to argue that they should have a “normal DLC” and a “Pro DLC” pack, that’s different, and I could definitely see a separate “Pro DLC” pack that would essentially sit on top of the “normal DLC,” but that’s now a moot point as Pro-Drums are already in the “normal DLC.”

          • Kirksplosion says:


            *nod* I guess I can see where you’re coming from.

          • Anonymous Coward says:

            Croq, I know what you mean about feeling shafted and worse, targeted for said shaftage. But as someone who plays real guitar/bass and piano, sings, learning drums, and have transcribed all of these, and has read the RBN charting spec… I can definitely understand HMX’s thinking here, and assure you they aren’t trying to screw anybody by it.

            Charting PRO drums and keys comes almost for free. The reason? Because you typically generate the real part first before “dumbing it down” to a 5 note chart. So you quite literally do more work to make the non-PRO part.

            OTOH, with guitar/bass this is not true. You may generate the real _pitches_ first, but this does not take into account _how_ or where on the guitar it’s played. You only need know enough to make a good 5 note chart that’s playable and mostly goes up/down when the pitches go up/down. Tabbing out an accurate guitar part is much, much, much more involved.

            Also HMX I think kind of shot themselves in the foot a little here too, because of their (rational, but unfortunate) design choice which precludes string bends. Whereas it’s easy to use or reference existing sheet music for keys/drums/vocals/bass virtually note-for-note to help with PRO charting, it won’t be nearly as helpful for guitar. They will have to construct all-new playable parts that work for bend-less guitar. I.e. yet more work to create PRO guitar charts.

        • Doodler says:

          I don’t know why anyone keeps responding to this comment. He has decided he doesn’t want to like this feature regardless of whatever common sense and reason exist behind their decision making.

          Far easier to be an armchair developer and poo poo others while espousing how it “should” be done.

          And the comment advocating paying extra for keys charts is just flat out trolling.

          • Croq says:

            Thanks for your “thoughtful” trashing of me. I am not a troll, and I totally resent that remark. I have presented what I think are well thought out arguments. Granted, many here do not agree with me and have stated as much, and that’s cool. Some do agree with at least some of what I’ve said. But you really don’t need to come in here and personally attack me and accuse me of being a troll.

            I realize that my opinion may not agree with yours, but I would ask that you respect my right to have a differing opinion than you.

            I *DO* like the feature of adding pro-guitar and pro-bass to DLC (and hopefully to older DLC). I only feel that guitarists shouldn’t have been the only ones to have to pay for pro features when none of the other instruments are getting penalized like that.

            I am curious to see how they handle “upgrade” pricing for older DLC too. Since it would likely involve more than just adding pro-guitar/bass, how are they going to price it?

            Sorry that you don’t agree with me, but you’re entitled to your opinion.

          • RockBandAide says:

            I would also like to defend Croq. There’s a big difference between trolling and being passionate about certain aspects of the game. While I’ve stated that I’m much more focused on the music aspect of the game, Croq and many others here and on the forums have expressed disappointment about some features that may not be included in Rock Band 3.

            I definitely see Croq’s point about how, in retrospect, I would have assumed supplemental Pro DLC would be for all instruments, not just Guitar/Bass, but based on the nature of the beast, it’s something that is just going to happen. There would be a lot of things I’m sure we would all change if we had magical control over Rock Band 3.

            I know I drink the Harmonix Kool-Aid a lot, but I have faith in them making a quality product, based predominantly on past performance, and I wouldn’t let a few small features diminish an otherwise phenomenal experience.

            I’m not pointing fingers, but trashing the product, the people that are passionate about it, or calling for a boycott over the potential lack of a few features is not productive to the community, Harmonix, or the franchise. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. And yes, like they do say, some stink, but lets remember to practice civility in our public discourse.

            /big words

  • Eric says:

    The Band members move around? Sorry, but that is simply wrong.

    My drummer is my drummer only.
    My vocalist is my vocalist only.
    My bassist is my bassist only.
    I usually play guitar.

    While I am still excited for the game, this news makes Rock Band 3’s star shine just a little less brightly.

    • HeXcoda says:

      Seconded. Mostly. I mean, there’s no way around the on-screen swapout to get a keyboardist up there. But there’s no reason to have to change around the power trio (vox/drum/guitar).

    • RockBandAide says:

      Interesting. I guess Rock Band has always been more about the music, and less about “dress up” to me. I spend less time on customizing my character than I do on playing a single song. While I’m probably in the majority with this, I do feel that Harmonix was smart in adding quite a bit more additional character options for those that wanted this. While I’m not against adding the functionality in mentioned here, it’s not something that would consider a “negative” about the game.

      • Eric1101 says:

        It just affects the illusion of being in a rock band. I got invested in my (admittedly fictional) band and the members in it.

        Are you saying that you wouldn’t mind seeing Kieth Richards on drums? How about Kieth Moon on keys?

        Those things would bump a lot of people because they are just not right.

        • RockBandAide says:

          You bring up a good point.

          People are passionate about different things in this game. To me, stuff like that is more of a cherry on top of having an amazing video game / music experience, rather than viewing it like finding a hair in my sundae.

          Hopefully there could be an update that would “fix” this, or “new” feature in Rock Band 4! 🙂

    • AnonymousBroccoli says:

      If they had a jukebox mode where your personal band was “playing” in the background, I might be a little more miffed.

      (I have done somewhat of a jukebox mode before, for what it’s worth. Playing vocals, no-fail, performance mode, crowd noise off; create a setlist, and let ‘er run.)

      • skydog says:

        And i’m guessing you sit and watch your guy’s characters instead of playing the charts?
        Just seems wrong for you people to act as though the game is all about the characters when the games point of view is to PLAY not to STARE.

        • HeXcoda says:

          What’s so bad about PLAY and STARE? I mean, yeah, we hit the gems, we play the game, very fun. No questioning that. But eye candy is important, too. They don’t have a fully featured character editor in the game and renewed emphasis on little cutscenes and background animations for no reason, you know — obviously they want us to enjoy that aspect of the game as well.

          Jukebox mode would just be a fun thing to put on in the background while you’re relaxing or something. It’s also amusing to see your little characters rocking out, kinda like watching The Sims. It’s not like it’s some kind of atrocity to enjoy that.

        • Hayden says:

          Don’t forget that not everyone watching the game is necessarily playing every song. I watch the band a lot more when it’s not my turn.

  • folkeye says:

    I think we’ll need clarification on that non-specific instrument thing. A random roulette wheel of who goes where doesn’t make sense. I for one personally DO spend a lot of time looking at the screen and watching my characters. They are important to me and make up about 60% of my RB playing experience.

    RB1 had characters that WERE instrument specific (though you couldn’t have stand ins and such)so they were stuck to what instrument you created them on.

    RB2 is NOT instrument specific and you can pick and place members where you feel.

    I’m hoping he means it will be like RB2, you can mix and match where you want them since they’re not tied to an instrument.

    Can we get that answered? Also we still get to create and customize the 4 members, right?

  • failboatz says:

    This is sort of unrelated, but I’m from Europe and I really want to get my hands on the Midi Pro-adapter ASAP, but from what I understood it’s release would be in late november.
    However I just stumbled on this website who has the release date at the same time as the RB3 release:

    Now I’m playing on a 360 and even though gameseek says this one is made for the 360, the pic shows the PS3(I think) adapter…

    Anyone got more insight on this? I have no experience with gameseek at all, btw.

  • Kytharc says:

    Keys are simple to transcribe compared to g/b because there is only one way to play each note. On a six-string guitar, there are up to 6 ways to make the exact same sound! Now translate this complexity to chords and you can imagine the difficult task they have set in front of them!

    On the subject of harmonies, the Green Day packs set a precedent for them being included. It was said that we would have access to the harmony parts once imported to RB3. I agree, the work involved with vocal parts (especially harmonies) is trivial anyway =)

  • skydog says:

    I told you there was bass solos! +1 for me! 🙂 haha! 😛

  • Natters says:

    I’m confused about the 4 people on screen. lets say i wanted to play guitar on a keyboard specific song like cold as ice; will there be no keyboardist on screen? they made it sound like a keyboardist is only on screen when you play as a keyboardist which makes sense since we’re all used to seeing bass/guitar/drums/vocals. if this is true then it has me wondering what’ll happen if i’m a bassist and my friends a keyboardist; does the guitarist turn into my bassist, or is my bassist gone? my final question is what happens if someone is a bassist, keyboardist, and guitarist? does the bassist dissapear and the stand-in drummer/vocalist stays in? this is confusing

    • RockBandAide says:

      The way I see it is that the active players show up on screen, with an as yet undefined hierarchy of fillable positions, unless all 5 are taken, in which the lowly bassist disappears into the aether.

      • Folkeye says:

        I wonder if you play bass alongside keys (no guitar present) will both of you still get an avatar or will bass still get the boot and stand-in x is still seen on guitar. Both keys and bass take that left side of the screen so…would the system be smart enough to move strings to the right. Or basically bass and keys can’t coexist together? If not… new house rules coming into play.

        • Folkeye says:

          Okay let me see if I got this straight. Scores and leaderboard goodies are no longer by band name, but by user name. Does this mean we won’t be able to have more than one band? I tend to play with at least 2.

          1: Solo effort band.
          2: Friends/online/gatherings: for randoms and those that don’t play the same level and or just play for fun with no fail on.

          Or will it just record highest score of what was recently played by whoever (meaning we can have the usual more than one band and a plethora of characters to play with).

  • Keith says:

    So the bassist has solos, but you can’t see him/her bust it out on screen if guitar and keyboards are around.

    • Croq says:

      Given that our band will likely consist of guitar, bass, drums, and keys, I’m a bit worried about this too. My wife (who plays bass) is not going to be real thrilled if her avatar never shows up on the screen simply because we have someone playing keys in the band.

      I’ll be curious to see how this all shakes out.

  • Doodler says:

    Personally I think these answers do more harm than good. Without seeing the whole context of the game it is hard to tell if they are good or bad decisions.

    • RockBandAide says:

      I also think we have a tendency to over-analyze, pick apart, misinterpret, and overreact to the smallest piece of information about the game. It was EXTREMELY nice of John to go out of his way to find out these answers from the devs and respond to my email at nearly 3 in the morning.

      There are still many things not yet known about the game, and will only be resolved once everyone sits down and plays with it.

      • Croq says:

        Yeah, I totally agree. I know I’ve been guilty of latching onto certain things. Until the game actually comes out, we won’t know what the impacts are for several of these things John mentioned.

        BTW, I’d like to add thanks to John for his replies too. While they’ve sparked a ton of debate on this site, it was very nice of him to provide the info!!!

  • Zaphod42 says:

    Hey, really cool that John Drake got back to you! 93 comments, and so far nobody mentioned, what I (still) think is coolest, but that’s probably because the answer was confirmed earlier: THE SQUIER IS CONSOLE NEUTRAL! YEAH! That means, the Wii will get it as well! ! ! Halleluya, that makes me happy! 😀

    Another Wii-related question is still open, though: Will Rock Band 1, Lego, … also export? Any idea, when we might get an answer to this? At PAX it was said “within 2 or 3 weeks”. Sooooo???

    • Zaphod42 says:

      Oops! Answering myself here. Just found this on the RockBand Forums:

      We haven’t released any info yet about the specifics surrounding export but we’ll have more information soon. You’ll be happy to know that Rock Band 3 for the Wii will also have import/export capabilities for previous Rock Band titles. Stay tuned to the News section of the Zine in the coming weeks!

      Note the plurals in “title(s)” ! 😀
      When does the next Zine come out?

  • Delibird444 says:

    “You can pick stand-ins for your band, but they aren’t instrument specific. The only one we lock is you. So, if you have a mix of guy and girl characters as stand-ins, we will set it so that the singer is the correct gender. If you haven’t set stand-ins, we set the prefab so that the singer’s gender is correct. That said, we don’t dynamically switch around for setlists, so it’s often possible to get a singer who’s not the right gender.”

    Excuse me, but I don’t think anywhere it that was it said that characters would randomly switch around on their own. I interpret it as this:

    “So let’s say your default singer is a male. If your guitarist is a female, and you decide to play Alanis Morisette, then your guitarist (or whatever) will temporarily switch spots with your male singer for this set list. If your band is a bunch of dudes only, then a random prefab will fill-in for that set list.”

    Just pretend your male singer can also play guitar too, and your female guitarist likes to sing “Ironic”! I don’t think there will be any other switching of bandmates. They will probably still be “locked-in” like in RB2, but the singer may switch to accommodate the occasional opposite-gender set-list.
    Remember that this may be optional too. There may be an option to simply have two different Vocalist stand-ins to switch between, or the option to not switch at all. We could all very well be having a panic attack (why do I feel so numb?) over nothing…

    • cherokeesam says:

      Of all the answers, I like Delibird’s the best.

      Not sure if you’re right or not, but that would not only make me a lot happier that I can still assign whatever NPC I want to to whichever slot instead of having the computer randomly throw my band around wherever it wants….but it would also be very cool to see the game temporarily trade someone to the singer slot when we need a different-gender voice there on the mic.

      Keeping my fingers crossed for that….but I ain’t holding my breath

      • Folkeye says:

        My band is talented enough to play all the instruments ( in fact they do, depending on what I’m playing). I tend to use the same avatar for everything so seeing them in a different place is okay. It is only when I give them permission though 🙂

    • Folkeye says:

      “So let’s say your default singer is a male. If your guitarist is a female, and you decide to play Alanis Morisette, then your guitarist (or whatever) will temporarily switch spots with your male singer for this set list. If your band is a bunch of dudes only, then a random prefab will fill-in for that set list.”

      If you have assigned standins all of the same gender (dudes or chicks), then nothing will happen. The system will NOT throw a random pre-fab if the slot is taken. If you leave it open, then it will.

  • Ty says:

    does anyone know if john drake has a forumspring?

    • RockBandAide says:

      He does not, however there is one for the HMXCommunityPit. You can try asking RB3-specific questions, but I wouldn’t expect any new announcements coming on Formspring.

  • ecIggy says:

    “You can pick stand-ins for your band, but they aren’t instrument specific. The only one we lock is you. So, if you have a mix of guy and girl characters as stand-ins, we will set it so that the singer is the correct gender. If you haven’t set stand-ins, we set the prefab so that the singer’s gender is correct. That said, we don’t dynamically switch around for setlists, so it’s often possible to get a singer who’s not the right gender.”

    At first I thought this was saying everyone else in the band is randomly placed except you, however the more I think about it all that is really said is you are the only lock… which I’m thinking all others have the potential to move (singer gender/bass or keys) but the others can be assigned like RB2, or so I hope.

    Another question I have is regarding this bassist = keys, kudos for being multi-talented but since I primarily play bass will my character play keys on certain songs even if I’m playing bass in a solo career?

    SAVE US JOHN DRAKE… or just release the game already I know it’s done!

    • ecIggy says:

      Disregard that 2nd question:

      “If you have a keyboard player added to the band, we’ll feature keyboards over bass and your bass player will be a behind the scenes musician only. (HMX Hates Bass Players Flaming in 3…2…1…)”

      So I’ll replace it with the already voiced concern over multiple bands to one console profile. I have like 4 bands on RB2 (solo, online, and 2 sets of local friends). Then what about parties? Can we play that party mode without signing into a band so random folks don’t mess with our career(s)?

  • Bob says:

    Hey everyone,
    Just wanted to throw a question out there. Does anyone know if there are changes in the works to the in-game music store? I’ve bought quite a few songs at this point, in addition to buying track packs. The one thing that bugs me is that when I import the songs from the track packs, they aren’t labeled as “Purchased” in the music store. This can sometimes be confusing on whether or not I want to buy a track pack on sale because I don’t remember if some of the songs I’ve already acquired through other means. I know they’ve definitely made some improvements to the in-game song selection screens, so I was hoping some work was done to the store as well.

  • In_Your-Dreams_ says:

    Is the band going to be saved online, like a roaming profile. Lets say I am at a buddy’s house and I want to log on to my band, I just enter my username and password, and go to RB3 and there it is. I am worried that if my PS3 crashes I lose my band and stats. Can someone answer this question? So many people make a band, and lose it because there console crashes….

    Thanks for someone getting back to me.