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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The Video Game Connoisseur

Rock BandSystem: Xbox 360, PS3Publisher: HarmonixPrice: $169.99Rateding: T(Teen)

This may be a rhetorical question, but: ARE YOU READY TO ROCK? Because the time has finally arrived to put down the air guitar, pick up the controller and become a rock star. Rock Band allows you and three of your friends (or enemies, whatever works for you) to form your own band with avatars of your own creation and take off on tour around the country to become famous. But remember, it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.

While Harmonix’s earlier creation Guitar Hero focused solely on the six string, rock band gives you guitar, base, drums, and vocals. It was really only a matter of time before a game like this was created. After Guitar Hero came out I noticed that there was now a guitar game, a singing game (Karaoke Revolution) a drums based game (Donkey Konga) and even a game based on the maracas (Samba De Amigo). I had dreams that involved somehow combining these games into one (well maybe not including Samba De Amigo, but you know what I was thinking).

Low and behold, dreams do come true. The game came together relatively easy on the production end, Harmonix owned the Guitar Hero engine already, they just had to license the Karaoke Revolution engine and integrate the two. Just to forewarn you if you’ve never played the drums before or have poor rhythm. Playing the drums is hard as hell. In fact the company has said that if you can play the drums in expert, then you can pretty much play the drums.

I actually had a chance to pay a visit to Harmonix’s headquarters in Central Square and to play a prerelease version of the game that’s touring the country. First of all, the guy from Harmonix I played the game with (PR Coordinator John Drake) is much better at the game then I will ever be. I swear he wasn’t even watching the screen. Secondly, the new guitar controllers are bigger than the previous Guitar Hero controllers (these new ones are based off Fender Guitars) and in my opinion more realistic. And thirdly, the controls are much tighter than Guitar Hero, requiring much more precise timing.

Rockaway Beach – Ramones

In the game’s story mode you start at the bottom and work your way up to better venues and more difficult songs, however it’s nonlinear. You can choose to play a smaller venue and make less money, or you can play a larger venue and make more money and more fans, but you also stand to lose more if you don’t play as well. You can also decide whether to sell out and take a recording contract, which will give you more money but lose some fans, or you can play benefit concerts where you gain no money but gather more fans. Money you earn in-game can be used to buy things to change your avatar’s appearance.

Rock Band also contains a mode where all 60 songs included in the game are played in a continuous sequence with only a few seconds break between each one. The purpose of this, I was told, was to recreate the concert experience. Rock Band will also feature downloadable content. A lot of downloadable content. At the game’s launch these include the entire Who Album “Who’s Next” along with (at the time this article was written) an unnamed Metalica Album and a slew of Greatful Dead songs. Harmonix has stated that a number of additional full albums will be added as time goes on.

What else is in the future for Rock Band? More instruments perhaps? Maybe online play where a band can hook up over the net? Who knows, but what is already coming with the game’s release is nothing less than awesome. Rock Band ships with the game, one guitar controller, one mic controller, and one drum controller. Guitar Hero controllers supposedly should work with the game but they are not positive yet. Rock Band goes on sale Nov. 20th (in opposition to game industry standards it’s actually being released 3 days early rather than 6 months late) and its coming out a month before Christmas, or Hanukah, or Kwanza, or whatever commercialized holiday you celebrate.

Either way I predict that it will be one of the biggest sellers this holiday season. So go preorder it already, or buy it, or steal it (from someone who’s already bought it, don’t take away from a local game company’s profits) just get it already.

I had a chance to visit Harmonix’s offices in Central Square and check out Rock Band’s national tour stop at MIT with one of their PR guys and hang out with the tour crew for a while. While at Harmonix I sat down to talk with one of their senior designers, Dan Teasdale.

Mass Media: So how long ago did you start working on Rock Band?

Dan Teasdale: We started at the start of last year, so we’ve been working on it for a while.

MM: Was it something that kind of grew out of Guitar Hero, or was it something you wanted to make first but were unable to at the time?

Dan: This game is really something we were destined to make since we (Harmonix) started out, we’ve been making music games, we’ve made singing games, we’ve made guitar games, but this is sort of the first time we’ve been able to get the whole experience of being able to play in a band so we’re pretty proud of it.

MM: Do a lot of the people here play in bands themselves?

Dan: a lot of people who play in bands, we’ve got like thirty or forty bands,…we’re pretty much musicians first and game developers second.MM: And how long have you been working here?

Dan: Since 2006, I came on to work on Rock Band

MM: Were there any songs or bands you wanted to include in the game but were unable to

Dan: There’s a lot of bands we wanted that we couldn’t get, it’s a total mess to get the licensing approved and have everyone on board to give us multi-track masters, even just getting multi-track masters kind of unheard of but we managed to get the majority (of what we wanted), I’d love to get AC/DC because I’m Australian, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, we’d love to have those it’s just a matter of securing the right licensing

MM: Will there be a Rock Band for the Wii?

Dan: I hope so, we’d love to make a Wii title, we haven’t announced anything yet, but a lot of us here are into that and would love to make a Wii title

MM: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Dan: Just that Rock Band is the first real band experience you can play online or offline and it comes out Nov. 20th on Xbox 360 and PS3 and Dec. 8th for PS2