Harmonix: Games Help People Understand Music; Rock Band 2 – No User Created Music

Recently, GamesIndustry.biz had a nice chat with Chris Foster, the senior designer for Harmonix. During the interview, Chris talked about how he feels that the interactivity in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games immerses players more in the music than just by listening to them via the radio or other forms of media. Being a musician himself, Chris is right on the money with that sentiment in my opinion.

What I found interesting as a musician is that when you play the songs, from the simple art of the note patterns following the music and when you hear the occasion notes drop out, you’re actually sort of understanding the music from the inside.

It’s not talked about a lot in terms of the games, but you’re experiencing the music like you can’t in any other way – you’re given these breadcrumbs into the composition itself, into the skill of the individual artist, that I just think is a wonderful opportunity.

And I suspect some musicians actually see it that way – it’s not just putting the package out there, you’re actually letting people appreciate their contributions to the song I guess.”

Chris also believes that people learn to appreciate bands that they would normally not listen to had they not been exposed to these games:

“I wonder if it creates a deeper emotional bond. I think it helps people to love the music. You can see it in the forums, people are asking why they’d play this old classic rock song, it’s not their thing. But then you see people with lists of 30 bands that they now listen to thanks to playing Rock Band – you just earn, or learn, an appreciation of these things.”

The statement that drew the most attention from me at least, was regarding his opinion on peripherals and compatibility, which if it should happen, would take up less space in the old media closet:

I think it would be interesting to see with each generation of games – as much as developers allow compatibility across titles, and backwards compatibility – you have a lot of potential for people to be able to take on new experiences with their hardware.

I have limits in my living room of how much plastic I will leave in there, and so I really hope we get to a place where there’s a certain stability in at least the core functionality. We have instruments other people can use and I’d love to see something like an Xbox Live Arcade game that uses a guitar controller, or the drums, for another experience.

And really make it so that it’s less about getting that new shipping crate of peripherals, and more about maybe taking the old guitar out to do this new thing, and play these new songs.”

You can read the full interview with Chris on GI.biz, but before you go – in other Harmonix news, co-founder and CEO Alex Rigopulos confirmed to CNN that Rock Band 2 will not give the gamers the option of creating their own music to share with the globe like Guitar Hero: World Tour is planning.

“We really felt like we wanted to do it right. We’re taking a radically different approach to that problem. It’s something we wanted to take more time to do it right. It’s actually something we’re not focused on in ‘Rock Band 2.’ We’re really focused on other areas related to the music and bringing the community together.”

Gamers will not have to wait long though to find out what is in store for Rock Band 2, because Harmonix plans to announce additional information, including the game’s playlist at E3 later this month.

For more information, hit the links posted above.

Thanks: CNN, GamesIndustry.biz

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1 Comment on Harmonix: Games Help People Understand Music; Rock Band 2 – No User Created Music


On July 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm

TrueDat. I really never payed attention to separate instruments in songs until I played Guitar Hero.