Xbox 360 PS3

EA recently unleashed Rock Band in Germany, UK and France, while the rest of Europe have to wait a couple of months for it. Here's an interview from XCN with both the producer and senior designer, explaining how they pick songs, if there will be "Folk Band" or "Opera Band" in the future and much much more.

Answered By: Heather Wilson, Producer and Dan Teasdale, Senior Designer

· As I'm a HUGE Metallica fan, will there be any more track packs for them in addition to the one that's already out?
Heather Wilson: We love Metallica too! I can’t tell you exactly what’s coming up but we’re excited to do more with them in the future.

· Will we get to play against/with friends online that are in the USA and other countries this is released in worldwide?
Dan Teasdale: Yes! You'll be able to play in a band or against players anywhere in the world!

· What gave you the inspiration for creating a game with drums and microphones as well as guitars?
Dan T: It's really the culmination of 11 years of work at Harmonix, and the realization of our vision to bring the experience of playing music to the masses. Music games have always been our focus, so to create a band experience seemed like a natural fit for us.

On top of that, almost all of us here are in real life bands, all the way from our VP of Production (who played bass in 90's alt band Tribe) to our receptionist/administrative assistant (who's the frontman for The Konks). Taking that experience that all of us are familiar with as performers on stage and translating it to something our families and friends can experience in their living rooms.

· How do you decide what tracks make it in and what ones don't?
Heather : A lot of the decision depends on which tracks we get in house. We’ve got a huge list of tracks we’d love to have, that we continually update based on the requests we get in-house and from our fans. Our awesome licensing people at MTV and Harmonix go after the whole list for us and happily a lot of the ones we want come in. Eric, our Audio Director, has an amazing ear for what works well and what doesn’t for our gameplay. He makes sure that our discs have a great mix of genres and tracks that play really well and that we have continuing variety in our constantly updated Downloadable Content selection!

· How important is it for you to cater for European audiences when selecting tracks? i.e having tracks in different languages?
Heather: It’s very important to us! We think of “Rock Band” as a platform. We want it to be a place where anyone can come and find music that they can relate to and love.

· Can you let us know which additional songs European gamers can expect, and what are your plans for more European songs in the future?
Heather : We’ve got a great list of songs for the Euro disc: A cover of Blur’s “Beetlebum”, Muse’s “Hysteria”, Oasis’ “Rock N Roll Star”, Tokio Hotel’s “Monsoon”, Die Toten Hosen’s “Hier Kommt Alex”, H-BlockX’s “Countdown to Insanity”, Juli’s “Perfekte Welle”, Les Wampas’ “Manu Chao”, and Pleymo’s “New Wave”. We’d definitely love to do some more European tracks. We hope to have more in the future so stay tuned!

· Are you going to officially release Xbox 360 version of Rock Band in other European countries in the near future?
Dan T: We’re currently looking at our options for other territories in the near future. I'm originally from Australia, so I'm looking forward to the day when I can play in a band with my friends back home.

· Do you have any plans to bring Amplitude/Frequency to Xbox Live Arcade?
Dan T: Unfortunately, Amplitude and Frequency are games that were developed for and published by Sony, so those specific titles probably won't be on the Xbox 360 anytime soon. Having said that, we're all massive fans of Xbox Live Arcade here, and I think we'd jump at the opportunity of making a unique XBLA title if one arose.

· What instrument would you like to add to the Rock Band concept? Could we see any in the near future?
Dan T: I think everyone here has their pet instrument that they'd love to see. We definitely haven't ruled out anything in the future though.

· Are any of the in game characters based on any of the Harmonix's staff or anyone famous?
Dan T: For Rock Band's motion capture sessions, we flew real bands into the studio to record authentic rock moves. Because Harmonix is filled with members of popular bands, we had the luxury of using our staff in these motion capture moves! My favourite set of moves are the ones recorded by (software developer) Bryn Bennett from Bang Camaro.

· Have you considered moving Rock Band beyond rock? Perhaps Country, Classical, Opera, Folk?
Dan T: I think this is one of the great things about releasing new songs every week (through Rock Band’s Downloadable Content) - we can explore areas of music that might be hard to justify putting on the Rock Band disc. It'd be tough to justify putting a song like Jonathon Coulton's nerd-folk ballad "Still Alive" on the disc, but a no-brainer to include this as downloadable content.

· There will be some funny achievements in the game?
Dan T: We've got a great selection of achievements for players to accomplish, ranging from the casual ("Got Wheels (20G) - Unlock the Van in Band World Tour") to the experienced hardcore rhythm game player ("Platinum Artist (25G) - Finish the Endless Setlist in Band World Tour on Expert").

· Have you improved the reliability of the drums in time for the EU release?
Dan T: The drums in the European release are the same drums that you can buy as standalone drums in the US - that is to say rock solid, accurate, and incredibly reliable.

· What were your reasons for the exclusive songs you chose for the European version? And will they ever be available in any other regions?
Heather: All of the tracks we included in the European version will be available (through our music store) in any region where Rock Band is released to allow cross-region online play, which is something we are really excited about!
We reached out to MTV and EA Europe for recommendations since they really know the territories. They sent back a lot of great bands and some awesome songs. We listened to all of them and picked our favorites; the ones we really liked listening to and the ones we thought we would play well.

· You're really pushing the DLC concept, with a lot of songs released so far. Do you see this as the main business model for Rock Band? Instead of releasing new games, you just release songs that add to the game library?
Dan T: We see it more from the perspective of what we want Rock Band to be, rather than a business model. We want Rock Band to be the premier platform for experiencing music. Part of this is making sure we're releasing a wide variety of music every week so that people can pick and choose the songs they want to play, and another part of this is improving the game experience and adding new features.

· The game has been out in the USA for 5 months now. Are you planning some software updates that will add new features?
We see Rock Band as an ever-expanding platform, so we are always looking for ways to improve the experience. Just recently, we released the Rock Band Music Store, which allows players to listen to and buy songs from within Rock Band!

· Will we ever see a song editor that will let us play with our custom soundtracks?
Dan T: Part of Harmonix's vision is to bring the experience of playing and creating music to the masses. Naturally, we really want to bring this functionality to our fans in the most authentic way possible. When we do, we'll be sure to stick by our philosophy and allow people to make complete authentic songs that everyone can play and listen to.

· You released a full album to download, Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance: what are your next plans on this side? Something classical like early Iron Maiden or AC/DC albums would absolutely rock!
Heather: We’ve got some great albums coming up! In the next couple of months you’ll see the The Cars’ self-titled album and the Pixies “Doolittle”. We’ve also got some other exciting albums in the pipe that we can’t talk about yet but they definitely rock! I can tell you that there some really classic metal in there.

Thanks for your time!
Everyone: You’re welcome!

Dan Teasdale

  • Harmonix interview - Dan Teasdale
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