Posts Tagged ‘harmonix’
Well, isn’t this something. Coming straight off of Harmonix alumni @deliciousbees’ Twitter feed is a video from fellow Harmonix alumni Joe Kowalski (@codeloss). While he was working as a User Interface Artist at Harmonix, Joe helped put together a pitch video for Guitar Hero III in 2006 for Harmonix.
The problem here is that the Guitar Hero III Harmonix envisioned never happened, as the IP rights went with Red Octane to Activision before this game got off the ground, and Neversoft ultimately ended up making Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock instead.
This game would have been a radical departure from Guitar Hero II, and a much different tone from the rest of Harmonix’s games.
Next week is notable for not only the launch of Rock Band Blitz, and the 25 new songs (well, 23 new, two returning) it’s bringing to the ever-expanding Rock Band catalog, but also for the annual Penny Arcade Expo going down in Seattle on Labor Day weekend!
As usual, Harmonix will be on the show floor, at booth 132, next to Sony, and EA, showing off the new Rock Band Blitz, likely along with a Dance Central 3 stage. In addition to their booth presence, they have a couple of other fun events going on:
Top Pot Donuts Hangout
2124 5th Ave, Friday, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
From the Rock Band forums:
WE ARE HOSTING A TOP POT DONUT HANG OUT. This is very, very important. If you’ve never been, Top Pot is one of the most delicious things ever. They are also awesome folks and they’ve hosted private events for us before so we couldn’t wait to come back and do another thing with our community. And you’re invited!
If you’re at PAX, or in the Seattle area, and you want to have some delicious donuts and hang out with some Harmonix developers then this is the event for you. Top Pot will be open from 7-9pm PT specifically to friends of Harmonix. Donuts and drinks are on us. Come. Hang out. Break bread with us. It’ll be awesome, guaranteed.
AND as if that wasn’t reason enough to come hang out, we’re also using this Top Pot event as an opportunity to have Harmonix super fans sign up to participate in our Saturday panel (much more on that to follow). If you want to get involved in our Saturday evening Game Show Extravaganza, come sign up at the Top Pot hang out and you’ll get to be a contestant on a deliriously bonkers game show and maybe even win some bad ass swag too.
The Harmonix Game Show Extravaganza
Kraken Theatre: Saturday, 9:00 – 10:00 pm
From the PAX site:
Harmonix is proud to have one of the most well-informed communities in the industry, tapping into the rabid cross section of hardcore gamers and obsessive music fans. But do they know more about music gaming than the actual devs behind the genre-defining Rock Band and Dance Central franchises? COME FIND OUT. Attendees will compete against a panel of Harmonix celebrity guests on matters of music history, game-specific trivia and personal minutiae for a chance to win DLC codes, limited swag and ETERNAL GLORY! From the producers of “Are You Smarter Than A Harmonix Employee?” and “Win John Drake’s Money”, this panel promises healthy competition for fans of music gaming and the dizzying highs of Harmonix hilarity, all wrapped in the trappings of a ‘70’s game show. Come on down!
Aaron Trites [Manager, Community Development / Richard Dawson, Harmonix], John Drake [Director Of Communications & Brand Management / Paul Lynde, Harmonix], Eric Pope [Community Manager / Charles Nelson Reilly, Harmonix], Jessa Brezinski [Community Manager / Brett Somers, Harmonix], Annette Gonzalez [Community Manager / Rip Taylor, Harmonix]
The PAX forums list that all of the panels from the Kraken Theatre will be streaming, so if you’re home on the Saturday night, and near your computer, keep an eye on Twitch.TV to experience all of the fun from home.
In addition, Dance Central 3 is listed for Saturday night as Round Four of the Omegathon, meaning you will likely see some cameos from the HMX crew on the main theatre stage prior to the concerts.
Given this year’s panel format, I don’t expect much in the way of news to come out of it, especially Rock Band related (maybe some DC3 song reveals like last year), but if there is, I’ll be sure to get a post up soon after.
The last time we had heard anything about Viacom’s foot-stomping, fingers-in-ears, breath-holding tantrum about not wanting to pay Harmonix the bonuses they deserved was at the end of last year. Since that time, Viacom has been scheming talking with lawyers to get the $383 million arbitration agreement nullified. While soon after the arbitration’s ruling, Viacom paid the former Harmonix shareholders $84 million, while still disputing the remaining $299 million.
This all changed late last week when Viacom’s latest litigation was dismissed, and was again ordered to make good with the $300 million they owed Harmonix. So does that mean Viacom is finally going to pay the Harmonix shareholders their money? Not necessarily. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Viacom says: “We are disappointed in the court’s decision, and are evaluating our options for the next steps of this process.”
The beat goes on, I guess…
[via Hollywood Reporter]
In a fashion similar to what we have done in the past for PAX East and PAX, we secretly kidnap someone from Harmonix, lock them in a room, and force them to answer your questions. OK, well maybe we’re not as forceful as we used to be, but we do try to forward on the best of your questions to Harmonix for a fan-centric response. We had well over a 100 comments in the original post asking for questions to give Harmonix, so we took all of those questions and distilled them down in to the the entries you see below, followed by the responses we received from @johntdrake, @HMXhenry, and @MrPope from Harmonix.
When are we going to get (more) Muse, Foo Fighters, U2, Supertramp, INXS, Wings, and hip-hop genre?
As always, we don’t like to dish on the specifics of which bands may or may not be in the DLC pipeline, so take your pick of these stock responses for any “When will BAND X come to RB?!”: maybe some day, we’d love to have them too, I don’t know, send your suggestions to rockband.com/request or the RB Dashboard on Facebook, who?, music licensing is hard, etc.”
Will the Wii ever see RB1, LEGO:RB, and AC/DC exports?
We don’t have any Wii export plans on the table at the moment. Considering the age of some of those titles, not to mention the rumblings of the next console cycle, it’s safe to say that we’re currently more focused on future releases.
Any new DLC for The Beatles: RB? Export possibly coming?
Again, we’d love to have more Beatles content, but it’s not entirely up to us. It still comes up from time to time in our regular Music Ops / DLC meetings, so it’s always something on our radar, but it’s not planned at the moment.
Rock Band 3
PS3 RB3 players are still having the random “XMB boot” issue. Is there any progress made on resolving this bug?
This is something that we spent considerable dev time investigating, but even with the help of the online and local community we’ve not been able to consistently reproduce the issue. Barring any new information from the community or first party, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to allocate further resources to testing.
Any plans for non-music DLC? New clothes, venues, etc.? Is this something that would even be possible in RB3 in its current build?
We’ve talked about it at several points in RB’s history, but it’s my understanding that DLC assets like venues or clothing would severely complicate online compatibility. Just as two players need to have “Rain In Blood” to be able to play it together, we wouldn’t want to further complicate things by making sure that they all had the same shirts, pants, boots and hats as well. Additionally, if given the choice between putting dev time into more playable DLC or more asset specific DLC, I think the vast majority of the community would want more playable DLC tracks.
There is an artificial DLC cap of 3,000 in RB3, even though we have about 3,700 total songs available. As people’s libraries continue to grow, is any sort of fix or workaround planned for this?
The DLC cap isn’t artificial. An excess of content results in severe memory leaks and load issues, neither of which are ideal unless you love interminable load screens or having all your game data erased. So while it’s obviously not ideal having a DLC cap with an ever expanding library, there’s also no readily apparent solution given that no one else has ever had to deal with an issue like this on consoles before. Deleting and redownloading content as you hit the limit isn’t the most elegant solution, but it’s the best one available at the moment. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the specific stats, but this is most definitely an edge case where only a fraction of 1% of the RB community is affected.
Can we expect to see three songs/week as the new weekly default DLC quantity?
As we’ve posted earlier this year, 3-4 song weeks are likely the standard for the immediate future. We are most definitely open to exceptions, and certainly won’t rule out larger packs depending on the artist, timing, etc. The release of RB Blitz, for example, will serve as a huge DLC injection of 25 songs at launch. RBN releases remain steady and account for 5-10 new tracks a week as well.
Any album DLC in the works, by chance?
We’re always on the look out for the right album to release as DLC. Albums are especially tricky because we need to have masters for all of the tracks. Collecting masters for a 3 pack is one thing, but once that escalates to a full album, the effort required (from the band / label / license holders as well as us) grows exponentially. That’s how a release like The Clash’s “London Calling” continued to float around on our schedule for almost 2 years as we waited to secure all the necessary masters for every track.
Any “RB3 versions” of DLC in the works?
This is still up in the air. Looking at community feedback (as well as more statistically driven results) I’m still not 100% sure where the RB community stand on RB3 versions. We got a tremendous amount of pushback from the community when RB3 versions were first released, and now that we’ve gained a bit of distance for that point we’re starting to see more requests for updated legacy tracks. I know track selection plays a huge part in this, as does pricing and perceived value for those that purchased the original legacy track. It’s still something that we talk about though, and we’ll continue to pass along all relevant feedback from the community to the development team.
Is there anything the community can do outside of requesting DLC through Rock Band to convince artists to make their songs available in the franchise?
Social media has proven to be an incredibly effective tool in reaching bands, especially when looking at RBN releases. I’m not saying badger bands on Twitter, but a well-organized group of fans making a reasonable request could help convince some artists to give RBN or RB a second thought. Honestly though, a lot of that process takes place behind closed doors between management and lawyers, so the best thing you can do is continue to support DLC to show that there is an interest and to continue to build on the requests through tools like the RB Dashboard.
Will there be new ways to earn credit in the Facebook app to request additional artists?
The RB Dashboard is still in Beta and the Web team is putting a ton of time and effort into making it a kick ass tool to supplement your RB experience. We’ve experimented with a few different models of adding credit and haven’t quite hit that sweet spot yet. We’ve already made a ton of changes in response to fan feedback, so your voice definitely matters. Keep posted to the Facebook page – you’ll likely see some bigger changes closer to the launch of RB Blitz.
How much has the Facebook app impacted DLC decision making?
There have been some real surprises in the Facebook app. There are obviously a ton of no brainers high up on that list that we’ve been in talks with for years, or artists that we knew were hugely popular in the community, but there have also been a few dark horses that have prompted us to take another look at our DLC pipeline. When Three Days Grace hit #11 on the Dashboard, we doubled down on production of tracks that we already had in house so we could release them as quickly as possible. There were some higher charting bands that I had never heard of before that we started looking at for potential DLC releases. Some bands and genres had such strong showings that we even started talking about what we could incorporate into the RB Blitz soundtrack. There are still no guarantees that we’ll be able to license bands based on where they appear on the Dashboard, but it has definitely had an impact on how we approach RB DLC.
Rock Band Blitz
Any plans for Rock Band Blitz on the Playstation Vita, or any plans for a portable/mobile Blitz-like title?
RB Blitz is currently slated for XBLA and PSN this summer. We’re interested in other platforms and we’re not ruling anything out for the future, but those are the only two platforms being developed at this time.
As Rock Band Blitz is not currently announced for the Nintendo Wii, can they expect to see some sort of DLC or track pack with the Blitz setlist available?
We haven’t announced any plans to release the Rock Band Blitz-specific tracks as stand-alone DLC on any of the consoles, including Nintendo, at this time.
Will Pro-Guitar/Bass be included when Rock Band Blitz exports to RB3, or will that be something extra to purchase (assuming Pro-Guitar/Bass charts are made)?
The Rock Band Blitz songs will work immediately in RB3; no “export” process is necessary. Those tracks won’t have pro-guitar/bass upgrades included in the Blitz “package.” If we offer them down the road, they’d be available through the RB3 music store.
Will Rock Band Blitz have its own “location” for sorting in Rock Band 3 (like LEGO, RB2, etc.)?
Rock Band 3 will list Rock Band Blitz songs as Downloadable Content. We’d need to patch RB3 to include a sorting category for RB Blitz, which is prohibitive for many reasons.
One of the screenshots for Rock Band Blitz referenced “Rock Band World” on Facebook, but there hasn’t been anything mentioned anywhere about this? Is there anything you can tell us about this?
Nothing to announce right now, but stay tuned for more information this summer!
Is there an option in Rock Band Blitz to turn off the isolated solo gameplay and instead be able to play any instrument chart during solos?
The solo gameplay that you may have seen on the show floor at PAX East is not likely what you are going to see in the final build of the game. That feature is still being finalized.
Will the stage kit work in Rock Band Blitz?
Believe it or not, we actually spent engineer time researching how much work it would be to get the Stage Kit to work in RB Blitz. The short answer is no, it would have taken a bit too much work to justify!
Any chance the Rock Band Blitz will be compatible with DLC tracks that have disappeared from our libraries (Hier Kommt Alex) or were exported but not playable?
In the world of music licensing, there’s always a chance a track from the past could make its way back into the Rock Band universe. Stay tuned!
Is Harmonix still committed to future Rock Band titles with musical performance simulation?
We’re definitely still committed to the core RB franchise, and between the regular weekly RB DLC and hardware support from Mad Catz, we’re not planning on stepping away from RB any time soon.
Are designers receptive to feedback posted on RBA and on the RB forums about ideas for future titles?
Most definitely. We’ve always made it a priority to have a strong line of communication between the devs and our community. The Community Team passes on monstrous amounts of feedback, especially the thoughtful and constructive suggestions, and we’re always open to communication either on the forums or at events.
Any plans to use real guitars (like Rocksmith) in Rock Band in the future?
Yes, it’s called the Fender Squier and it was released for RB3 almost 18 months ago. We looked into a variety of different hardware options during the development of RB3, but due to a variety of technical issues (most notably the latency), it was determined that manufacturing our own hardware was the best way for us to see the results that we wanted in game.
Has there ever been a time when a proposed gameplay idea/feature has been scrapped due to issues with backwards compatibility for the Rock Band library? Has Rock Band’s big strength (huge content library) ever been a liability in title development?
Hm, only roughly ALL OF THE TIME. Like I mentioned in a few questions above, there’s no precedent for what we’re doing with DLC. There’s no established cases for us to point to where we can say “Oh, that’s how those guys figured this out”. We’re off the edge of the map, and thar be dragons everywhere. The current DLC outage on SCEE is a good example of the challenges presented by 3K+ pieces of content. We’re pushing all of the limits, sometimes in a way that conflicts with how a platform holder handles other games, but in the end I think it’s worth it. The library (3,649 songs and growing) is an integral part of the RB experience, and we’ll do whatever we can to continue to support it.
With PAX East 2012 ending late Sunday, we begrudgingly returned back to “real life.” In between getting caught back up with updating the site with Rock Band news and dodging the ever-present PAX pox, we’ve been pulling together this comprehensive recap of all the Rock Band goodness that transpired.
PAX East officially started on Friday, April 6th, but that’s not good enough for us. We arrived in Boston the day before to get some early hands on time with Rock Band Blitz at Harmonix. If you haven’t seen our thorough preview of the game, you should definitely check it out, as it features some good info and gameplay mechanic explanation not covered in nearly ever other gaming site’s cursory overview of the new title.
The other big Rock Band event on Thursday was the Rock Band Night at the Brattle Theatre. Holding true to previous years, this event is a cavalcade of chaos, featuring only the most passionate and/or insane Rock Band players being judged by the jerks (I use this term lovingly, of course) from Giantbomb. The event started as one where bands playing Rock Band were evaluated by panelists from Giantbomb, and slowly devolved over the course of the night into an instrument smashing, alcohol chugging, and snark delivering mish-mosh of awesomeness.
The night started innocently enough with a song where at least one (maybe more) of the band was in the house. Giantbombers Jeff, Ryan, Alex, and Patrick paid homage to The Main Drag by performing their RBN song Don’t Let Me Down (Slowly). And it was mostly downhill from there. While there were a few stellar performances (More Than a Feeling was particularly impressive) there were more cringe-inducing moments, like people nearly getting killed by microphones to the noggin, or disapproving performances of the now overplayed PAX favorite Still Alive, or Giantbomb’r Brad Shoemaker having all the beers and singing (for the second time that night) I Believe in a Thing Called Love. While also far from a stellar performance, I was lucky to dodge most of the spotlight during my performance with HMXers @nickchester, @juliusblaise, and @seanthebaptiste’s stomach of Police Truck.
The Rock Band night lasted thankfully until about midnight, and those stalwart/brave/drunk enough to stay for the whole time were surprised to be rewarded with Rock Band gig bags out of the back of a truck driven by a Sudafed-laden John Drake. (Many more videos of the night’s performance were captured by MarinoV1 here, as well as pictures from @amgo of the entire debacle.) If you end up going to PAX East, and want to experience the madness first hand, I recommend arriving by early Thursday evening at the latest. You won’t be disappointed.
Friday started alarmingly early after such a crazy time the night before, but the Rock Band Network panel was quite literally the first panel of PAX East, starting even before the keynote address. Populating the panel were RBN authors Owen Douglass (Ozone Entertainment), Rob Witko (Fairwood Studios), Erich Sherman (Mystakin/Rhythm Authors), and Jeff Webster (Single White Infidel), as well as Carolyn VanEseltine from Harmonix. They talked about everything from the role of user generated content in modern gaming to much more granular aspects of authoring in the Rock Band Network. It was a very informative panel, and very valuable for both fans and gamers of the franchise. If you want to check it out, @animecow captured almost the entire panel on video.
From there, we checked out the Harmonix booth, which was packed with two smaller Dance Central stages, one large Rock Band stage, and six kiosks featuring an early beta of Rock Band Blitz. It also was PACKED with people. I had heard from people at Harmonix that the line to play on the Rock Band stage was never shorter than a full hour during all of PAX East. In fact, even the zombies from Plants vs. Zombies got in on some Rock Band action.
And all of this is in addition to the separate Rock Band stage that PAX East sets up, where Joystiq captured several cosplaying Mass Effect characters playing Bon Jovi. The first day of PAX East appeared to be over in the blink of an eye, and after how hectic Thursday was, we noticed that we weren’t the only ones calling Friday an early night.
Saturday started again fairly early with the Harmonix and the Evolution of Beatmatch Gameplay panel. Featuring HMXers Chris Foster, Brian Chan, Matthew Nordhaus, and Jyllian Thibodeau, the panel talked about Rock Band Blitz, and the development roadmap, which included discussions about previous Harmonix beatmatch titles Frequency, Amplitude, and Rock Band: Unplugged. It was pretty interesting to see how much detail is put into making what appear to be small design decisions, but ultimately end up significantly impacting the final product. @MrPope was recording the panel, probably for a future podcast and/or blog feature on RockBand.com, but someone captured a portion of the panel, if you can’t wait for a higher quality version.
Saturday appeared to quickly bleed into Sunday (thanks, vodka), and the next thing we realized, it was time for the Harmonix Podcast panel on Sunday morning. Similar to the bi-weekly Harmonix podcast, the community members from Harmonix talk about things related to Rock Band and the community, often times with special guests, and this podcast had several of them. The panel first talked about how Rock Band Blitz was nearly inadvertently revealed via @JohnVignocchi at GDC in early March due to an errant tweet that went out, but was deleted before virtually anyone saw it. The panel also had @jessabrez read a few “lovely” support emails, filled with excellent grammar (nope), proper punctuation (nuh-uh), and only the nicest of language (not at all). After that, a giant gong was introduced (seriously, they brought in a giant friggin’ gong), and special guests were brought on stage rapid-fire style and gonged (that sounds dirty) after five minutes of discussion each. In attendance were famous industry gaming personalities @dmzilla, @stonechin, @stepto, @greenspeak and @nssteph, @jeffgerstmann, and @justinmcelroy. If you missed the podcast, the entire thing can be listened to over at RockBand.com.
After that, it was nearly time to catch our flight home, and return to real life. Thanks to everyone from Harmonix for being so hospitable to myself and everyone else that attended PAX East! And thanks to everyone that came up and said hi to me this weekend. I would love to call everyone out by name, but I just know that I would probably forget more people than I remembered, and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. And for those that didn’t go, I highly recommend getting out to PAX East or PAX at some point in the future. It’s an amazing time!
Feel free to get a nice taste of the entire weekend through a small photo gallery we put together of our weekend over on Flickr.
NOTE: Because the weekend seemed to fly by, and it was difficult to steal anyone from Harmonix away to get all of your questions answered in a dedicated, solid chunk of time, we’ve sent them the questions to answer directly, and if all goes well, we should be able to post their responses next week.
You know the drill at this point. We tossing this out there to you guys who can’t make it to PAX East, but still have some Rock Band related questions that you would like to have answered. Officially starting in TWO DAYS, we will force feed someone from Harmonix alcohol candy to answer your burning questions (probably mostly dealing with Rock Band Blitz).
Anything is fair game, but chances are good that I’ll combine and edit a bunch to get as much info as I can out of them. Go ahead and add your questions in the comments below!