Sections

Thank you for the music: The Rock Band Story

Friday, 19 July 2013 08:00 GMT By Dave Cook

Rock Band has brought gamers together in the name of music since 2007. VG247′s Dave Cook spoke with Harmonix devs Greg LoPiccolo and Daniel Sussman about the origin, evolution and future of the franchise.

Rock Band

Developed by Guitar Hero creators Harmonix, Rock Band released in North America on November 20, 2007. It then spawned two core instalments and spin-offs, including The Beatles: Rock Band.

The series’ DLC run ended on April 9 this year, and at the time the Rock Band Store housed some 1,500 downloadable songs.

Although the core series has stopped for now, the XBLA title Rock Band Blitz is a superb hark back to earlier Harmonix title Amplitude.

Harmonix is also known for the Dance Central series of Kinect games, and is rumoured to be working on a game called Chroma. Nothing is known about the project at present.

Harmonix published its last Rock Band song DLC on April 2 this year. It was Don McLean’s classic ‘American Pie’.

The studio made clear it was the Rock Band store’s swansong, but a huge question mark now hangs over the franchise. Will it return on next-gen formats, and if so what form will it take?

As a long-time fan of Harmonix – from the days of Frequency and Amplitude, right through Guitar Hero and the Rock Band trilogy – I wanted to know more.

I recently spoke with the studio’s chief creative officer Greg LoPiccolo, and project director Daniel Sussman to discuss the birth of the series, the true extent of its cultural impact, and to get a clearer idea of what could happen next.

After all, the Rock Band franchise isn’t just a series of games; it was a cultural phenomenon that took centre stage at parties and family gatherings, bringing many of us together in front of one console in an age currently obsessed with the idea of isolated online play.

It gave those without the talent, time or budget to form a real band an avenue to express themselves to songs that perhaps held a personal meaning, and it offered a colossal library of tracks that spoke to everyone’s personal taste in different ways.

Rock Band was an open invitation party that asked very little of the player, but it gave so much in return. Players could rekindle friendships over the closing crescendo of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, or get fired up before a boozy night out to Tom Morello’s riffage on Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Testify’. It was fun, pure and simple.

Guitar Hero and the MTV sale

LoPiccolo explained that the Rock Band concept was borne from humble beginnings. Contracted by now-defunct electronics company Red Octane, Harmonix was commissioned to develop a guitar simulator concept, and created a note track mechanic that bore similarities to the UI of its previous game Amplitude. The team eventually dubbed its project ‘Guitar Hero’.

“We started with a couple of test songs that Eric Brosius [Guitar Hero audio lead, now Audio Director] worked up,” LoPiccolo recalled, “and we had a very simple UI where 2D line segments representing notes dropped to intersect with a line across the bottom. We knew we wanted 5 buttons pretty early on, so that we’d cover all four fingers with fret positions, and we could force a hand position shift for expert players. 

“All the second order stuff; chords, sustain and so on fell pretty naturally out of that initial crude interface.  For the guitar controller, we had list of requests that we made to Red Octane, and they ran with it, and pretty much gave us everything we needed. We were very focused on the button and strum bar feel, so we had to iterate on those features, but it came together pretty smoothly.”

Sussman added, “The fact that we were doing all of that while we were working with in-progress guitar designs made it all the more difficult. The hardware design was a whole different saga. At the time, Red Octane was our publisher and they were primarily known as developer of premium video game controllers.

“They were very open to ideas we had about the overall form, and function, of the controller. I believe our art director Ryan Lesser suggested the classic SG shape. We also suggested that the guitar have a whammy bar well before we knew what we’d do with it.”

Guitar Hero launched on PS2 in November 2005 and currently holds a Metacritic rating of 91, compiling 47 tracks onto one disc that spanned generations of rock. It was a big hit that delivered a fresh control method and served as a fun way to play together with friends.

Work began on Guitar Hero 2 under new publisher Activision, which had acquired Red Octane in June 2006, while Harmonix itself was purchased by MTV Networks in September that year. Just as the studio left the booming franchise it had spawned, the game launched across North America on November 7, 2006 and went on to sell over 3 million copies in its life-span.

Although Harmonix had to walk away from Guitar Hero just as it was enjoying an incredible degree of success, its strong sales validated the appeal of the music peripheral format, and so the studio soldiered on and started to conceptualise something new and potentially revolutionary.

Get ready to rock and/or roll

“Once Activision purchased Red Octane, they owned the Guitar Hero brand,” Sussman explained. “We were never able to work out a deal with Activision to continue to develop Guitar Hero and in fact, we wanted to push the boundaries of Guitar Hero way beyond guitar. So the Rock Band franchise was born.”

The Guitar Hero concept was expanded to include drums, bass and vocal tracks that all played out in unison, allowing four people to work together simultaneously. Over time the Rock Band formula started to take shape, and it bore a more realistic visual style, sophisticated UI and robust, technically complicated peripherals that were both accurate and fun to use.

Sussman added that creating the controllers was hardly a walk in the park. “Some day I’ll write a book about my experiences developing hardware for Rock Band,” he said. ”It was an extraordinary experience across the board.

“Each controller has hundreds of parts, the assemblies are delicate and complicated, the testing process was its own feat of creative engineering – there was so much that could go wrong. I still get chills when I see hardware in stores, or people’s homes, and think about the journey that those little guitars and drums made.”

But when it came to crafting the game’s actual songs, Harmonix had the process down to something of a fine art, and Sussman was more than happy to explain the steps from start to finish. “The process behind Rock Band song authoring has evolved quite a bit over the lifespan of the franchise. At this point, it’s pretty sophisticated, and there are quite a few factors that go into choosing each track.”

Identifying what songs the team wanted to include on disc and as part of the game’s weekly DLC updates boiled down to several factors. The first factor was personal taste, meaning that any songs the developers themselves wanted to play in Rock Band were up for consideration. There had to be a good mix of tracks released each week, so changing up genres between packs was a key factor.

Finally, the studio’s constant dialogue with record labels helped Harmonix pick out songs from bands that were perhaps on tour, what artists they wanted to highlight, or songs that tied in to recent album releases.

Sussman continued, “Once we settle on a song, it generally takes a couple of weeks to get the multi-track masters mixed, bounced out and sent to us. That’s when we start the authoring process. The bulk of authoring is done by the note authoring team, though there is also lip sync for vocals, and also camera and lights scripting that needs to be done by an artist.  

“It is really quite a collaborative effort. We’re also constantly testing to make sure that the authoring team is getting early feedback, not just on bugs, but on the quality of the feedback. The final part of the process is a final rigorous testing routine where each track is combed over at each difficulty.”  

It’s a creative process that began before Rock Band launched in November of 2007, and ended when the DLC store came to a close on April 9, 2013. At the time of its closure the Rock Band store featured over 1,500 tracks that had been collectively downloaded over 100 million times, and that’s not including the hundreds of songs submitted independently on Rock Band Network.

The day the music died.

Rock Band Network is particularly interesting, as it gave artists the opportunity to create their own note tracks and submit songs independently to the swelling Harmonix DLC store. It gave rise to a more diverse range of artists, encompassing bands from heavier genres such as iwrestledabearonce, Norma Jean and Emmure.

“I candidly can’t quite remember how it got traction,” LoPiccolo explained. “Certainly we were getting inundated with requests from a lot of indie bands and their fans to include music that we were never going to get to, and we found the whole idea of crowd-sourcing content to be in line with our values and priorities as a developer. It ended up being a very complex and difficult system to develop, but it worked.

“We had no idea what kind of uptake we would get, and the response has been super gratifying. We now have more Rock Band Network songs in the library than we do Harmonix-authored songs. It is not particularly easy to make songs as you really have to learn a whole new skill, and there are tons of details that need to be attended to, which makes it all the more impressive how many people learned the tools and created songs.”

Sussman added, “It was a very ambitious project on both the game integration front, in that we had to figure out all kinds of back end server solutions, legal issues as well as making sure we weren’t crossing any policy concerns of the various first party companies – Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

“This also applied on the authoring tools front, as we were basically putting together a music editing suite that players could use to author the note charts, the lighting cues, and other song metadata. We also had to create and nurture a community of people to get behind the idea, as it would only be successful if people used it.”

Rock Band Network can certainly be considered a success, but at the time of writing Harmonix has stopped accepted submissions from artists, and together with the closure of the Rock Band DLC store, it shrouds the future of the franchise in uncertainty,

I asked LoPiccolo why Harmonix decided to call time on Rock Band DLC, and if he or anyone at the studio had any plans for its eventual return. “We have every intention to return to Rock Band,” he replied, “and we expect that the next-gen consoles that are being unveiled will give us all sorts of new creative possibilities to pursue. But we are currently super busy with lots of other creative initiatives, some of which you’ll be hearing about soon.

“I don’t know that we have any special insight about why those games got so huge so fast, or why they declined when they did. We just make them. But we do believe that Rock Band play remains one of the premier multiplayer game experiences on the planet, and we expect it to appeal to future generations of gamers as they discover it.”

“There is a lot more we would like to do with the franchise, and we look forward to getting back into development when the time is right.”

Time of your life

If there’s one thing to take away from Rock Band’s legacy then – again – it must surely be its cultural impact. From South Park’s hilarious parody of Eric Cartman singing Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’, to spawning the idea of the ‘Rock Band party’, you’d be hard-pressed to find many gamers who haven’t yet had a brush with the plastic delights of the franchise.

One topic that was often debated at the peak of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band craze was the impact it was having on the musical arts. Some bands and artists slammed both franchises for merely simulating instrumental talent, and suggested that they were stopping youngsters from picking up a real guitar. I asked LoPiccolo and Sussman for their thoughts on the matter.

“We have heard many stories about kids who started with Guitar Hero or Rock Band and were inspired to go on to develop actual instrumental skills,” LoPiccolo replied, “so it clearly had that effect on a lot of players. The drums in particular can teach you some drumming skills that are then transferrable to an actual kit. But we also learned that not everyone wants to become a musician; some folks just want to get together with their friends and have some musical fun, and that is also OK.”

Sussman added, “I love video games and think that they can play positive roles in peoples’ lives. In particular, I think that games that focus on cultural or artistic elements can often expose people to new things. One of my favorite Guitar Hero stories had to do with a friend of mine’s daughter hearing The Ramones for the first time.  

“We always understood that we were making a game, even when we were designing the Rock Band Pro feature for Rock Band 3. The idea that some percentage of people would then extend the experience to something genuinely musical was always a kind of bonus for us. I find it inspirational when we hear stories of Rock Band players who traded their plastic instruments for real ones.”

It’s been a wild, inspirational ride for Harmonix as well, a ride that has seen them meet their musical idols, tinker with instruments and songs they grew up listening to, only to then see the series explode worldwide. LoPiccolo offered me a personal anecdote to close our discussion, and to sum up what he felt was his proudest moment working on the franchise.

“Somewhere in the middle of development of The Beatles: Rock Band, Yoko Ono came to visit us in Cambridge to review our progress. She had a lot to say.  John wasn’t yet in his final form in terms of modelling or animation, and she wasn’t shy about describing the standard that she wanted us to hit. All her feedback was spot on, so we worked very hard to meet her expectations, and we did. She then let us know that we had, and that was really meaningful and rewarding.
 
When we got the final animation work back from Passion Pictures – they did the intro and outro cinematics for The Beatles: Rock Band – we got to see how the game would end, with giant flowers blooming over London. It was very emotional to see their whole career arc end so gracefully in the context of the game that we worked so hard on”.

He then read out the some lines of Beatle’s classic ‘The End’, as featured in the game’s superbly-animated outro, ‘And in the end, the love you take Is equal to the love you make’, and added, “Which is ultimately how we have always felt about Rock Band as well. Seriously.”

Are you a fan of Rock Band? Are you sad to see the DLC store come to a close? How would you like to see the franchise return moving forward? Feel free to share your fond memories of the series with us below.

Latest

  • Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a pause for tactics isometric RPG coming in 2016

    Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a 2.5D isometric RPG, built in the vein of Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age in the works at Withing Hour Studios. The game allows the player to pause combat to plan party tactics. “Set in the Venetian-inspired fantasy city of Ombre where rare masks are the key to casting magic, […]

  • Underworld Ascendant surpasses Kickstarter goal

    Underworld Ascendant which was launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, has met its  $600,000 funding goal. With six days left 10,786 backers pledged $610,541 In light of being funded, the team has also switched up the stretch goals as bit, as you can see in the image below. The studio, OtherSide Entertainment, is fronted by Paul Neurath, […]

  • Latest Evolve patch fixes progress and save game data loss on Xbox One

    A patch for Evolve has been released on Xbox One which fixes lost progress and save game data users had reported. The patch also fixes an issue with shadows and flashlight, makes incremental improvements to matchmaking, invites, and rejoining, and there were progressions balance changes. “The issue with lost progress and saved games was mostly […]

  • Online servers for Ridge Racer Unbounded shut down in Europe

    Online functionality for Ridge Racer Unbounded is no longer available, Namco Bandai Europe has announced. Solo mode and the track editor are still playable, minus the sharing options. Ridge Racer Unbounded was released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March 2013. Thanks, MCV.

  • OlliOlli will be a cross-buy title on 3DS and Wii U

    Curve Digital has announced OlliOlli will be a cross-buy title when it releases on 3DS and Wii U. The Roll7 title will be the first third-party title to offer the functionality on the systems. OllliOlli will be released on the eShop March 5 The game launches on Nintendo’s eShop on March 5th, followed by Xbox […]

  • Darkbeast electrifies latest Bloodborne video

    The latest Bloodborne video shows off another monster in the game. This one is Darkbeast and he’s full of electricity. The video is the last of IGN’s month-long coverage of the title.

  • Future Assassin’s Creed games will have greater focus on modern timeline

    Ubisoft plans to focus more on modern timelines in future Assassin’s Creed games, the company suggested during its latest community livestream. During the Twitch stream, one of the lead writers for the Assassin’s Creed series, Darby McDevitt, said the modern timeline for Brotherhood’s town of Monteriggioni could inspire future development. “That only came about because […]

  • Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is coming to Xbox One next month

    Halfbrick has announced Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 for Xbox One will release next month. The mobile title made its way onto Xbox 360 garnering 1 million downloads as of March 2012. It has a new multiplayer mode for up to four players with Battle and Party modes along with a new progression system. An announcement […]

  • New GTA 5 PC screens – shit the bed!

    Rockstar has pumped out 15 new screens for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5. Don’t touch them, because they’re electric. And if you touch them, you’ll get shocked. The PC version of GTA 5 has been delayed until April 14, which both sucks and blows. BUT! There’s a new trailer coming between now […]

  • Sony Japan accidentally erases 20th Anniversary PS4 contest entries

    Sony Japan has accidentally erased all information obtained from PlayStation owners who entered to win a 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4. Those who purchased PlayStation 3, PS4, Vita or Vita TV between December 4 – January 15 were handed a calendar with a code which entered them into the contest. Somehow, all data collected from the […]

  • Hearthstone datamine suggests Blackrock Mountain expansion on the way

    Hearthstone’s next update may be based on World of Warcraft’s Molten Core raid, if datamined information posted on Hearthpwn is spot-on. According to files mined from the latest patch, three new cosmetic card backs are on the way, one of which is called Molten Core. The data suggests that pre-ordering the Blackrock Mountain expansion will […]

  • Using Battlefield Hardline single-player gadgets increases your metagame rewards

    Gadgets contained in Battlefield Hardline’s campaign mode have been detailed, and each provides the player with various ways in which to solve crimes. According to design director Scott Warner, one way to “diffuse” a conflict when confronted with criminal activity is to flash your badge and ordering the criminal to freeze. Putting your gun on […]

  • Mortal Kombat X video is all about story mode, new characters

    After promising a new Mortal Kombat X reveal “soon”, NetherRealm Studios has made good on said promise by releasing the story trailer. The video shows parts of the story mode featuring Mileena, which takes place 25 years after the events of 2011′s Mortal Kombat. Outworld has become a larger threat and new fighters joining the […]

  • Destiny’s shotgun and pulse rifle buffs mean it’s time to rethink your load-out

    Destiny’s most-ignored weapons got major boosts this week. It’s time to start thinking about how to work them into your set-up. Even if you’re used to using scout rifles and sniper rifles as a general loud-out (neither class was touched by 1.1.1), the buffs to pulse rifles and shotguns should make you rethink your contextual […]

  • Battlefield Bad Company 2: five years later, what did it do so right?

    It’s been five years since the release of Battlefield Bad Company 2. What did the much-loved entry in the franchise do for the Battlefield series? Westie’s played Battlefield Bad Company 2 for over 1,260 hours on PS3 and PC. That’s dedication. In his latest video he discusses the stand out moments from a FPS classic, […]

  • War is hell in this Zombie Army Trilogy gameplay trailer

    Here’s five minutes of headshots, shambling zombies and an undead Hitler from Rebellion’s upcoming Zombie Army Trilogy. The Sniper Elite spin-off arrives on PS4, PC and Xbox One March 6 and includes three games (obviously) and a new Horde mode.

  • Titan Souls releases on PS4, Vita, PC on April 14

    Ace indie giant-slayer Titan Souls will be released on PS4, Vita and PC on April 14. Publisher Devolver confirmed the date to Eurogamer. Those of us in Europe will have to wait until a day later for release. Titan Souls is a tough-as-nails indie game where you have one life to slay a giant enemy. […]

  • Destiny weekly update: the lowdown on Inferno Crucible and Vault Transfer improvements

    Destiny’s weekly update has made some pretty significant changes – let Arekkz Gaming take you through them. Bungie has revealed the first release date for the new Inferno Crucible mode, and made it a lot easier to access your vault. You should subscribe to Arekkz Gaming. It will improve your life.

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory Feb 27, 28

    It’s Xursday again – what treats does he have for you this week? He’s in the North Tower, to the right of the Stranger’s room. Let’s take a look at the latest weapons and gear from your favourite Destiny trader. No Backup Plans [Titan Gauntlets] – 13SC ATS/8 Arachnid [Hunter Helmet] – 13SC Heart of […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will be stable on PC at launch, Visceral assures

    PC format is “by far the best gaming platform around,” says Hardline producer. “We’re doing what we can to take advantage of people’s different system with the graphics, framerate, controls, etc. We’re not just porting it over.” Battlefield Hardline developer Visceral is reassuring players that there will not be a repeat of the disastrous Battlefield […]

  • Win Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One

    We have 10 download codes for new indie puzzler Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One to give away. The be in with a chance of winning a code, just enter your details below and we’ll pull the winners from the hat on Monday March 2nd, after 2pm GMT. Pneuma: Breath of Life is a […]

  • Life is Strange Episode 2 delayed

    Life is Strange Episode 2 won’t make its expected release date. The first Life is Strange episode released on January 30, and we had expected the second to follow on March 13. Square Enix has since confirmed to Destructoid that the next chapter won’t make its release date. There’s been no word of the new […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: which character will be revealed tomorrow?

    Mortal Kombat X director Ed Boon is teasing a new character reveal. During today’s Mortal Kombat X livestream, NetherRealm said that a new character would be revealed “very soon”. Boon followed up with this teasing tweet suggesting the reveal will occur tomorrow: Very soon? As in tomorrow? :/ — Ed Boon (@noobde) February 26, 2015 […]

  • Halo played by Twitch is an exercise in great patience

    TwitchPlaysHalo is ridiculous. Halo: Combat Evolved is the latest game to be sucked into the “TwitchPlays” phenomenon, and the results are somewhat painful to spectate. If you’re not familiar with the setup, which debuted with TwitchPlaysPokemon, the game accepts commands from the channels’ chat stream. Although it doesn’t have the strategic RPG elements of Pokemon, […]

  • Gold Amiibo sold out, selling at five times RRP on auction sites

    Gold Mario Amiibo are expected to sell for pretty astounding profits on eBay and other auction sites. The Walmart-exclusive Gold Mario Amiibo is already completely sold out. Plenty of people managed to snaffle them to resell, though. There are now dozens of listings on eBay and other auction sites. One of the average asking prices […]

  • Canadian new game prices jump to $75

    Canadian gamers are in for an unpleasant price hike. As spotted by HardcoreGamer, the local Canadian branches of Amazon and EB Games have raised the prices of upcoming games to CAD$75. The CAD$5 increasing comes within a year of prices hitting the CAD$70 point. CAD$75 (£38/€53) currently exchanges for $60, the standard US pricing. The […]

  • New Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows weather, day-night cycle

    The latest Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows off a gloriously beautiful world. Xenoblade Chronicles X is Monolith Soft’s first solo Wii U game, and the developer is clearly enjoying being able to build a big open world with all the features we’ve come to expect. Missed the whole Xenoblade thing? Chronicles X is a sort […]

  • Dead Rising: Watchtower teaser talks up the benefits of Zombrex

    Live-action Dead Rising movie Watchtower is almost upon us. Dead Rising: Watchtower will release on Crackle on March 27, and via other digital distributors thereafter. Enjoy the short teaser below, courtesy of IGN.

  • We Happy Few debut hits you upside the face with a frying pan

    Contrast developer Compulsion Games has revealed its next project – the delightfully creepy-looking We Happy Few. We Happy Few is set in “a drug-fuelled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England” where “a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial”. Players are tasked with blending in with […]

  • Slender: The Arrival creeping onto PS4, Xbox One in March

    Slender: The Arrival sold like hotcakes on PC and last-gen consoles, so why not terrify yourself on PS4 and Xbox One, too? Slender: The Arrival will release on PS4 on March 24 and on Xbox One on March 25, developer Blue Isle Studios has announced, for $10. No word on that Wii U version, though. […]

6 Comments

  1. Ignatius_Cheese

    Fantastic article. Harmonix are one of my favourite developers by far.

    The number of hours I’ve spent rocking out to Guitar Hero and then Rock Band shows that they really nailed the mechanics from day one.

    My only regret is that they didn’t release any more Beatles DLC. I would have loved for every album to be released in Rock Band form.

    Still, the achievements of this company cannot be underestimated – no matter what you think about Dance Central. The talent and passion of the creative staff oozes from every title and I look forward to what they have to offer in the future.

    So I say thank you for the music for giving it to me.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Alex Donaldson

    Harmonix has built one of the most amazing communities and game brands of the generation, even if it has fallen from the interest of the mainstream in recent years. They deserve massive props – and as someone who has spent hundreds on Rock Band DLC, I’m thankful for everything they did.

    Amazing article, too. Sad it’s all over..!

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @1 & 2 thanks guys, means a lot :)

    This article really was a little pet project to be honest, I’ve had many amazing parties and hang-outs with friends over Rock Band. It’s been the centrepiece to so many gatherings and it really is great fun. I just felt I had to get in touch with Harmonix and do a send-off of sorts.

    Wonder if it’ll return on next-gen?

    #3 2 years ago
  4. sh4dow

    “Rock Band has brought gamers together”

    I don’t know. My experience with random people online was horrible (but then again – the same thing was true for Bioshock… there apparently just are too many idiots on XBL) and when I played with a friend… well… just two people doesn’t really do much. Because either you try to highscore alone or as a full band – anything in between seems pointless.

    And the horribly overpriced DLC… that’s something that absolutely has to change in ALL music games. It is not only very frustrating for gamers but is probably also counterproductive for the companies. Because I don’t wanna know how many people went “They want WHAT for one damn song!? Fuck that, I’m just gonna download that shit!”

    But that’s not to say the basic game (even though I would appreciate a successor to Frequency/Amplitude even more) wasn’t still great. It was a lot of fun trying to get gold stars on expert drums and trying to crack the last few songs.

    And come to think of it… actually… enjoying the game (and also Guitar Freaks and of course Guitar Hero) and seeing the DLC prices might have been what made me buy a cheap guitar instead. And that was a very good thing. Best damn 30-40€ I ever spent.
    So maybe they should even increase the DLC prices ;)

    Anyway… overall… keep up the good work, Harmonix! :)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. sh4dow

    This just reminds me that I recently found a signed Freezepop album limited to 300 pieces or so while digging through old stuff (I was sure I had lost it and was incredibly sad about that). And if I remember correctly, they were/are tied to Harmonix somehow?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. ashers2ashers

    @3 I’ve also spent hundred’s on DLC – it’s a big factor for why I’ll never sell my seldom played 360 these days. Will be great to keep around for nostalgia like the SNES and Mega Drive 2 I sadly traded in when I was young and desperate for new PS2 games :(

    @4 I think the DLC price was no more than £1.69 a song, and for an iTunes download being £0.79, 90 pence more for a fully interactive and playable music format compared to one which can only be heard in one way is easily worth that price!

    @5 Indeed they are! Honest Bob and the factory-to-dealer Incentives are also and both of those bands I love as a result of discovering them in Rock Band 1 (and Less Talk More Rokk from Guitar Hero 2). I think most if not all of the 9 or so “bonus” tracks in Rock Band had ties to members of Harmonix or Boston (the state not the band :P ) being in the bands and such. Pretty sure Bang Camaro were another one of those?

    Rock Band basically taught me how to play the drums, the instrument I’d wanted to play the most since around 8 years of age, but had to settle for a guitar as drums were too big, expensive, and loud. :)
    Even playing Guitar Hero made my under-used little finger stronger when playing the real guitar, I don’t think the people who slammed it for merely being a simulation either played it or witnessed other people play it properly. The lessons of practicing any instrument (real or fake) such as patience and discipline are great and won’t necesarily be as physically and mentally stimulating with other video games.

    Reading that last bit about The Beatles is making me wanna play that game again with my new uni housemates. I learnt a lot of their catalogue from the game; including learning a bunch of songs I never realised were by them until I played them in the game!

    tl;dl Rock Band/Harmonix are great and will never die!

    #6 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

  • Destiny: Inferno playlists debut next week

    Destiny PvP will shake things up next week with a new way to slaughter your mates in the Crucible. Destiny is already a skilled PvP game, but the new Inferno playlists will turn things up a notch with a focus on “basic gunplay”. The first of these, Inferno Control, kicks off on March 3 and […]

  • First-person camera coming to Guild Wars 2 next month

    ArenNet has announced its adding nonrestrictive first-person view to Guild Wars 2. Here’s what top expect come March 10: First-person Camera: Zooming in all the way will allow players to experience a first-person view. First-person mode is available while standing in place, walking, running, jumping, playing PvP and just about anything else. There aren’t any […]

  • Shadowrun Online signs on with Nordic

    Shadowrun Online has been given a nice little boost thanks to a distribution deal with Nordic Games. Shadowrun Online is a new team tactical RPG from Cliffhanger Productions. Although it’s already available through Steam Early Access, Nordic has agreed to distribute the finished version, which is due on Linux, Mac and PC in the second […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 is 60% finished, game world ten times the size of demo

    Final Fantasy 15 is 60% finished, according to director Hajime Tabata. Speaking with IGN, Tabata said development will kick into high gear once the Episode Duscae demo is released. “It’s about 60% now. People may look at that and say ‘well, you’ve only done five more percent!’ [since 55% in September] but it’s actually a […]

  • Destiny: you don’t need to visit the tower to access your vault

    Destiny players, you asked for it and Bungie has delivered it: you can now swap items in and out of the vault using the companion app. “Destiny needs more vault space” you cry – and yes, this is true. But while we all struggle with the limitations imposed on us by Bungie, we face all […]

  • Mortal Kombat X will contain over 100 Brutalities

    During the Mortal Kombat X stream today, NetherRealm Studios revealed Brutalities are back for the game, and stated there will be over 100 to pull off. You won’t gain any extra experience for being overly cruel with your painful moves, but you will at least get to laugh at some and “cringe” at others, according […]

  • Numenera: Strand is a film based on the game up on Kickstarter

    Numenera, the 2012 Kickstarter success and foundation for Torment: Tides of Numenera, could become a film if the Kickstarter for the movie is successful. With five days left, Monte Cook Games and Swedish film company Valdes/Eriksdotter needs £22,542 to reach its goal. Titled Numenera: Strand, it tells the tale of a drifter who “roams a […]

  • Gran Turismo 6 update adds MINI Clubman Vision, more

    A Mini Cooper has invaded Gran Turismo 6 via a new update. The Mid-Field Raceway track has also been added, and its a new and improved version of the original track from previous Gran Turismos. The new B-Spec Mode feature has also been added which allows the AI driver to race on your behalf. Additional […]

  • Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and some playable titles to PAX East

    Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and Splatoon with it to PAX East next month. The E3 2014 build of the game lets eight players transform into squids in a race for “splattered-paint dominance.” Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. will also be playable and featured in stage presentations at the Nintendo booth. Upcoming or newly released Nintendo […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium information seems to have slipped out early

    Battlefield Hardline Premium perks have apparently leaked a bit early, according to a post on Reddit. Over on the Hardline subreddit is an image which was take at a GameStop location, noting two week early access to content additional Battlepacks and more. Here’s the rundown: Four expansions Two weeks early access 12 additional Battlepacks Exclusive […]

  • Final Fantasy: Record Keeper arrives in the US this spring

    Final Fantasy: Record Keeper will be released in the US on iOS and Android this spring, DeNA and Square Enix today. The mobile titles allows players to “relive favorite moments” across all Final Fantasy installments and build a team of classic characters from across the entire franchise. If you sign up for email updates, you […]

  • Battlefield Hardline now available for pre-order, pre-download on Xbox One

    Battlefield Hardline is now available for pre-order and pre-download on Xbox One. You can pre-order it now from the Xbox Store and once you have paid for it, you can start your pre-download. Battlefield Hardline releases on March 17, and will be made available to pre-downloaders come 12.01am EDT. Check pricing and availability for your […]

  • Dying Light interactive video allows you switch between day and night

    A new video for Dying Light has been released, which allows you to hit the Z key to change between day and night. Titles Life and Death in the Quarantine Zone, the interactive story video showcases how the game changes between day and night. Daytime and nighttime are shown side-by-side but the z key allows […]

  • Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare out on PS3, PS4; PC delayed

    The Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is now available for PlayStation 3 and PS4. Havoc contains the four multiplayer maps Core, Drift, Sideshow, and Urban along with the AE4 directed energy assault rifle, its custom variant, and the Exo Zombies cooperative mode. You can purchase the DLC separately or pick up the […]

  • Here’s a teaser for Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2

    A teaser video for the second episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 is available, so if you’ve yet to play the first episode, you may want to skip this. Resident Evil Revelations 2′s first episode is out now. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • North American eShop update is full of Donkey Kong games

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Titan Attacks, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Country and more. eShop on 3DS Ironfall Invasion Titan Attacks! Donkey Kong Land – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 2 – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 3 – Virtual Console Luv Me Buddies Wonderland Around the World […]

  • Venture into the Valley of the Yetis next week in Far Cry 4

    The next batch of Far Cry 4 DLC, Valley of the Yetis, releases in March and Ajay Ghale will be tasked with surviving violent cultists and the mythical Yeti. Apparently the cult is looking for a secret hidden in the valley, and Ajay has discovered their motives. The DLC features co-op with a friend taking […]

  • The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack out for Payday 2, has dino masks

    The 19th DLC pack for Payday 2 title The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack is available on Steam from today. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: 11 new weapon modifications for the AK rifles in the game 11 new weapon modifications for the CAR rifles in the game Four new masks together with their […]

  • Battle Chasers slated for PC, consoles; comic picks up where 2001 storyline left off

    Darksiders creator Joe Madureira and Vigil co-founder Ryan Stefanelli have confirmed a Battle Chasers game and a new comic are in the works at their new studio Airship Syndicate. Speaking to Polygon, Madureira and Stefanelli wouldn’t provide details on the the game, but did divulge it will be an adventure RPG with player-controlled Battle Chasers […]

  • Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami 2 discounted for Sony’s annual Spring Fever Sale

    Sony is hosting its annual Spring Fever Sale which runs for eight weeks and features a new title each week. The sale starts next week on March 3 with the launch of Helldivers. Here’s just a few items included in the sale: HELLDIVERS (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March 3 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March […]

  • The gold Super Mario amiibo is a Walmart exclusive

    The Super Mario Gold amiibo which surfaced via a CPSIA certificate earlier this month will be a Walmart-exclusive, Nintendo has announced. The gold-colored Mario amiibo will be released the same day as the Mario Party 10 game for Wii U and will run you $12,96 at 3,000 participating Walmart stores in the US. Along with […]

  • Here’s an overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

    As new gameplay overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, culled from the Active Time Report, stream has been sent over by Square Enix. The video provides a look at the history and environments of the Kingdom of Orience; the 14 memebers of Class Zero; the battle system with customizable magic spells; and the ability […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 video gives you a look at the game’s wildlife

    A new video shown by Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata during the latest Active Time Report, contains a look at the game’s wildlife and ecology. You can watch the full stream two hour stream through here, or a smaller clip courtesy of GamesHQMedia below.

  • Lionhead ventures into the free-to-play space with Fable Legends

    Fable Legends will be free-to-play when it launches on PC and Xbox One. According to Lionhead, the one versus four cross-platform title borrows from MOBA games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends as it will contain free, rotating heroes which will be added to a roster for a two week period. Once the […]

  • Win! 5 pairs of tickets to the Call of Duty European Championships

    We have five pairs of tickets to giveaway for the Call of Duty European Championships, taking place in London this weekend. The event takes place this Saturday February 28 and Sunday March 1 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Winners can watch teams will go head to head for a $10,000 prize pot […]

  • Republique Remastered has released on Mac and PC

    Republique Remastered, which was announced earlier this month, is now available for Mac and PC. The game is 20% off through Steam, GOG and the Humble Store for $19.99 until March 4. Thereafter, it will run you $24.99. The Remastered edition contains all five episodes of the game, with 1-3 available now and the remaining […]

  • LA Cops coming to Xbox One in March

    Isometric shooter LA Cops is coming to Xbox One on March 13. Already on Steam Early Access, the game looks like it’s been heavily inspired by Hotline Miami. Walk into a room, open fire, leave bloody puddles in your wake. It’s being published by Team 17. Check out the video below for some 70s cop […]

  • We have $500 of Steam Wallet funds to giveaway!

    We’re giving away 10 Steam Wallet prizes worth $50 each to VG247 readers, courtesy of Bundle Stars. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning $50 Steam credit is to enter your details below. Join the Bundle Stars Steam group for entry in the sweepstake, and gain extra entries for […]

  • Lapsed Final Fantasy 14 players tempted back with 10 day freebie

    Square is offering lapsed FF 14: A Realm Reborn players a chance to come back to the game for 10 days worth of free adventuring. Provided you’ve already bought and registered an account you’ll be able to play free of charge from Feb 27 to March 9. Square wants you to sample the new content […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Sledgehammer looking at “opportunities” to recreate classic Call of Duty maps

    Sledgehammer Games has told VG247 it’s looking at opportunities to recreate classic Call of Duty maps in Advanced Warfare. According to co-founder Michael Condrey, players of the latest Havoc DLC are asking how Exo abilities and verticality can be added to classic franchise maps. “We’re taking a look at some opportunities to really highlight the […]

  • GTA Online reader playlist week 7: and the winner is…

    Stuff was shot. But only one player emerged victorious. GTA Online player e031271 won last night’s VG247 reader playlist, beating myself, Matt and regulars solidorwot and Revolting. Congratulations, Mr e031271. A deserved victory. We play a GTA Online playlist in an open session every Wednesday on PS4, because it’s both funny and fun. Anyone’s welcome […]

  • Leaked screens reveal The Reef as Destiny’s new “social space”

    A handful of leaked Destiny screens seem to confirm that The Reef location will be the new social space in Destiny. The new addition is likely to be revealed as part of the upcoming House of Wolves expansion. Reddit user Megamanexe4 dropped the screens on the site earlier this morning, along with grabs that reveal […]

  • Darksiders creator teases Battle Chasers game

    Joe Madureira, creator of Darksiders, has released art that strongly suggests a Battle Chasers game is in the works. Battle Chasers was a comic book from the late 1990s that suffered notorious production problems between issues and was never finished. Madureira formed Airship Syndicate after the collapse of THQ, where he co-created Darksiders. His latest […]

  • Infamous video nasty Axe recreated in GTA 5

    The trailer for notorious horror movie Axe has been recreated in GTA 5. The shot for shot remake is the work of gigerbrick who has previously recreated exploitation flicks like Machete and Hostel using Lego. The original Axe movie was banned in 1984 in the UK but passed with cuts in the late 1990s. Movie […]

  • Payday 2 for PS4 and Xbox One includes “a year’s worth of paid DLC” for free

    Payday 2: Crimewave Edition will include a year’s worth of paid DLC from the PC version of the game for free. The new-gen version of the game will be available June 2015, and includes almost all of the paid and free DLC released so far for Overkill’s popular first-person shooter. That DLC includes The Big […]

  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]

  • Toejam and Earl are back with a new Kickstarter

    The early 90′s are alive and well in a new bid to bring back Toejam and Earl. Toejam and Earl released for Mega Drive (Genesis, Americans) in 1991, and the eponymous characters went on to count among Sega’s best-known characters. They appeared in a platformer, a light gun shooter and finally a 2002 Xbox game […]

  • New Wander trailer shows off Azertash form

    Wander is a collaborative, non-combat MMO in which you can take on a number of unique forms. Wander players begin as an ambulant tree called an Oren and can progress through several different bodies as they explore the environment, learning its secrets. One of these, which we’d not seen before this trailer, is the amphibious […]

  • SOMA approaching beta phase on PC and PS4

    SOMA, the new horror game from the Amnesia: The Dark Descent crew, is getting close to playable. Frictional Games has apologised for its recent silence over the project, but said it’s focused on reaching beta. Sorry all for the silence! We're closing in on Beta and everyone's working hard to get there. Once that's done, […]

  • Square Enix does not condone Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest HD Remaster

    Square Enix has said it’s not involved with a fan remake of Final Fantasy spin-off Mystic Quest. 1992 SNES game Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is being remade by Dark Design as Mystic Quest HD Remaster. The developer is even taking pre-orders for the project. Unfortunately, it looks like it is in no position to be […]

  • New Hunger teaser released by LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers

    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]