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Rock Band 2 Dev Talks Track Selection, Exclusivity Deals

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the give-me-a-buddy-rich-track dept.

Music 48

IGN spoke with Eric Brosious, audio director for Harmonix, about selecting songs for the upcoming Rock Band 2 release. He talks about balancing difficulty between instruments, bringing a wider range of genres to the game, and his view on the competition for songs and artists between Harmonix and Activision. "We prefer not to sign exclusive deals with artists because while it seems like the competitive 'business' thing to do, in the long run, it's really not good for anyone. We think we should be working to get more music out to more people."

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48 comments

In the grand scheme... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24627185)

exclusivity deals wouldn't help either game. Props to harmonix.

Re:In the grand scheme... (3, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24628243)

And shame on Activision.

I hate to support EA under any circumstances, but they've proven they know when to leave the hell alone - not like Activision, who get their hands on a franchise and pretty much universally ruin it [penny-arcade.com].

Look at Guitar Hero. Harmonix's first two were awesome; 3 was passable. Then we were hit with "Rocks the 80s", and even worse, "Aerosmith edition" - I mean, what is this shit? Halfway through the 31 songs and I've barely played 5 actual Aerosmith songs? They taunt me with "The band covered X song on Y early tour date" info and that song's not even on the menu?

"Exclusivity" agreements explain why Rock Band's only Aerosmith song was the piece of junk "Train Kept a-Rollin" instead of a good one. They probably also explain why the "Best of the Who" download set included the crappiest cover I've ever heard of Amazing Journey, and left Sensation and Pinball Wizard completely out.

The less exclusives we see, the better. Unfortunately for Harmonix, you know for a fact Activision isn't going to play fair on this. They're desperate to get anything to get people to buy the next Guitar Hero after being 2 and a half times burned (one for 80s, one for Aerosmith, 1/2 for GH3 for the crappy boss battle setup).

Re:In the grand scheme... (2, Interesting)

morari (1080535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24628965)

Um... Harmonix made Rock the 80s.

These little expansion packs and band specific titles do need to stop however. Guitar Hero: World Tour should be a fairly definitive release, and then rely on simply adding to the game via DLC after that.

Rock Band had the right idea, but the fact that a sequel is being pushed out not too long afterward shows that they're still only concerned about money. Rhythm games don't change enough from title to title to justify a full blown sequel. At least Guitar Hero: World Tour is adding tons of stuff to make it on par with (and largely surpass in many areas) Rock Band.

Re:In the grand scheme... (2, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#24629321)

Largely about money? With RB2 you'll be getting a TON of new tracks for MUCH less than it would cost to buy them individually (or even in a pack). They've also vastly improved the interface and how quickly you can actually get in there an play. They also added free play for drums as well as coaxing Microsoft into adding the ability to allow you to transfer RB1 DLC to RB2... The instruments have been improved too (3 optional cymbals for drums, etc). but yeah, you're right, they're totally just squeezing this one out for the money... ugh.

Re:In the grand scheme... (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24630475)

Being able to transfer the first game's tracks over is a nice touch. At least then you won't have to swap discs in and out to play certain songs. You buy the sequel and sell the first one once you've ripped everything off of it.

That said, there really isn't enough in their to justify a sequel. Their download scheme works fine for keeping the game fresh, and ensures that only major changes warrant a sequel. Guitar Hero: World Tour is adding new instruments, a character creator, a song creator, etc. It is a justified sequel. Rock Band 2 is simply streamlining the interface. Wow. That completely warrants a whole new, full price game.

If you look at it in terms of a well-priced (comparatively speaking) song pack with a bunch of extras thrown in, then sure, it's a good move. However, as a game sequel, it just simply isn't justified. Thankfully, because you can transfer the first game's songs over from the disc, you won't be loosing anything by making such a meager upgrade.

Re:In the grand scheme... (2, Insightful)

quantumplacet (1195335) | more than 5 years ago | (#24631677)

You're missing the point. Sixty bucks for what will end up being over 100 songs after the 20 free song download is considerably cheaper than if they just released all those songs as DLC. By making it a sequel it gives them the chance to clean up things from the original and make it a bit better, meanwhile the fans get a crapload of new songs for a good price. And if you don't want to pay that price, you can keep playing RB1 and all future DLC will still work with it. Only an idiot could actually bitch about this

Re:In the grand scheme... (1)

desenz (687520) | more than 5 years ago | (#24631705)

If you only count the 84 songs that are on the disk, that would cost around $160 to buy at the $2-per-song DLC price. Granted, you probably wouldn't buy all of them if it was DLC, but its nice to have a big spread of music for a party game. I'm not disappointed about this as a full price release.

FZ (1)

jpatters (883) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627221)

How about some Frank Zappa?

Re:FZ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24627607)

Nice idea, but so much Zappa is either awkward lyrically or musically. They'd probably pick something like Valley Girl which wouldn't really please anybody. Still...we can hope.

Re:FZ (1)

chubs730 (1095151) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627681)

It might be depressing to listen to a bunch of 12 year olds playing Peaches en Regalia. Mainly because I can't and wouldn't spend all the money required for rock band/game system. But I really just wanted to say that Peaches en Regalia is a fantastic song.

Re:FZ (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627777)

If the Zappa Family Trust cannot be bothered to put tracks on iTunes, even as an iTunes+ track, the thought of people wanking a plastic guitar to... say Call Any Vegetable would be unbearable. The Black Page on a cheesy drum kit... not even an option.

It sucks.

Netlabels? (3, Interesting)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627271)

I kind of wonder if the Rock Band guys would ever consider using any creative commons or netlabel music?

Netlabel music doesn't usually evoke the same kind of live-fast die young superstar feeling that these games usually seem aim to evoke. And they'd probably prefer to stick to songs that people have actually heard of. Still it's probably a cool idea.

Re:Netlabels? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#24629341)

I think the "heard of" part is the crucial part. I don't know how much time it takes to prep a song for the game but it obviously requires some effort... and that costs money. Fresh bands are fun but I have a feeling they're trying to avoid losing money making tracks people won't be that interested in. Although, I must say, I've downloaded a number of RB songs from bands I'd never heard of before after seeing the song on YouTube and liking it.

awesome (1)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627337)

Great informative and honest interview. I sure hope we get DLC (downloadable content) for the Wii... I'm gonna skip Rock Band 1 and wait for the 2nd. If we get DLC for the Wii, I'm getting it. If not, I'm selling the Wii and buying a 360.

Wii's tiny hard drive (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24630069)

I sure hope we get DLC (downloadable content) for the Wii

Under what kind of compression? The Wii console's internal drive is half a gig (4096 "blocks"), and the Wii system software takes half of that. No, SD cards don't count because the Wii doesn't read SD cards bigger than 2 GB.

Re:Wii's tiny hard drive (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#24635055)

No, SD cards don't count because the Wii doesn't read SD cards bigger than 2 GB.

Really? My non-SDHC 4GB card works fine.

And the Wii has wifi and USB built in, so there's no reason Nintendo couldn't add a mass storage driver or a SMB client if storage space becomes an issue on their console.

Re:Wii's tiny hard drive (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24639059)

My non-SDHC 4GB card works fine.

Non-SDHC 4 GB cards don't conform to the SD or SDHC spec.

And the Wii has wifi and USB built in, so there's no reason Nintendo couldn't add a mass storage driver or a SMB client if storage space becomes an issue on their console.

Then it becomes more difficult to lock purchases to a console rather than having one person buy a copy, crack it, and make it available at no extra charge.

Phish, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24627587)

Really, I'm surprised there hasn't been any Phish tunes on any of the Rock Band or Guitar Hero titles.

Re:Phish, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24631857)

Dead would be cool too. I can see it now. A 30 minute Dark Star on Rock Band. "It tests your endurance." ;)

Dylan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24627667)

Anyone else think it's totally awesome they included "Tangled up in Blue" in the track list?

Rock Band should be free! (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627749)

Why? Because half the tracks that come with Guitar Hero/Rock Band/Rock Band 2 et al, I have no interest in. In fact, I'd say there's only maybe one in five I consider really good tracks. And I suspect a lot of folks feel the same. What I'd like to see, in addition to the standard Rock Band disc, would be a Rock Band track-less disc. You could put it in your console, but it wouldn't come with any tracks. Instead, you'd pay to download the individual tracks you wanted from Rock Band's store.

Re:Rock Band shomyself byuld be free! (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627813)

That's actually a great idea, but makes the 360 accomplishments for finishing on various levels difficult to implement. The bonus would be that I don't _ever_ have to suffer through another Rage Against the Machine or Beastie Boys song.

Actually, screw free, I'd actually pay extra for that.

Re:Rock Band should be free! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24627871)

Sure, and CD's should only be a dollar because there's only one song you want on it.

Re:Rock Band should be free! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24627927)

This would be a brilliant idea, if they could get the pricing right, whatever game that did it first (GH or RB) would probably dominate.

Track lists would be so much more focused as well, and you could cherry pick the awesome songs from the previous back catalog which you'd love to see in the full band setup

Re:Rock Band should be free! (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627947)

I read your title, and I've got to admit, I thought it was just an asinine kiddie post at first. But I think you've got a point. I don't know if free would necessarily cover it, but deeply discounted with a bare minimum amount of tracks, and being geared toward selling the tracks online.

That way, you get the "aw, what the hell" drunken purchases at 2A. It's a continuous income stream, as opposed to a one shot purchase, which is the Holy Grail for software manufacturers

Brilliant.

Re:Rock Band should be free! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24630455)

http://www.unsigned-game.com/ [unsigned-game.com]

This is the Rock Band we've all been waiting for. Or at least, it could be at some point in the future. It doesn't seem very portable, though...

I'd Care (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627807)

I'd care but can't since Rock Band still isn't availiable in the UK on the PS3 due to exclusivity deals. Because of this crap treatment by Harmonix I won't be purchasing Rock Band I'll wait for Guitar Hero 4, which will probably make it to the PS3 before Rock Band does.

Harmonix are only doing this because when Guitar Hero does get a series of exclusives they can complain about the uncompetitive practices, while at the same time arranging for (rock band 2) anouther xbox360 exclusive pushing the UK PS3 release somewhere in the region of 2010.

Bitter me?

Re:I'd Care (0, Troll)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 5 years ago | (#24628179)

GH4 will kick the crap out of RB2 anyway. you're better off.

Re:I'd Care (2, Interesting)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24628279)

That pretty much depends on whether or not they have decent DLC availability. GH3's DLC was pretty damn lackluster, and if GH4 continues that trend, it has no chance at being a better game.

Re:I'd Care (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 5 years ago | (#24630299)

Not particularly. As long as Harmonix/EA/MTV are treating the UK market with the utter contempt they've shown with Rock Band so far, I'd rather give my money to Activision even if the DLC isn't up to scratch. And if Activision don't go with the ridiculous pricing EA have, then I most certainly won't be alone.

And it's not like the UK gets it worst. It's even worse if you're in Australia or some other parts of Europe.

Re:I'd Care (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24630365)

Note that I said "no chance at being a better game". That doesn't mean you'll want to do business with Harmonix more, just that they'll have the better product.

Re:I'd Care (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 5 years ago | (#24630403)

So DLC maketh the game? not sure I'd agree with that. Some things that GHWT is likely to have (superior hardware, for a start) also weigh in quite heavily.

Re:I'd Care (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#24630477)

Well, DLC doesn't make the game 100%... but it's VERY heavily weighted for me, since it means I don't have to wait until a new release of the game to get more music to jam to. The wait between GH1 and GH2, for example, was practically an eternity, and I was bored silly of GH1's songs by the time GH2 came out. DLC solves that problem.

The other big factor is the songs on the disc, and while we don't know GH4's whole list, their list looks pretty mediocre so far (as does RB2's list). Neither of those is very compelling to me. Hardware... the Strat is guitar enough for me, so that doesn't matter, and the drums look to be about the same (also, I don't really play drums in Rock Band). A mic is a mic, so that doesn't matter. In any case, once the hardware reaches a certain level, it doesn't weigh very heavily any more, in my opinion. Both games have pretty good hardware, and that's all that matters. GH4 will probably have better graphics (GH3 did, so I foresee no change there), but once you get down to graphics, you're talking about pretty minor factors.

The one GH4 feature everyone is excited about, the song creator, doesn't excite me in the least. I'm not about to wade through the astounding amounts of shit that people will produce just to find good songs, though. User-created content, 99% of the time, fails really hard, so this feature is basically just fluff to me.

Re:I'd Care (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 4 years ago | (#24650807)

So DLC maketh the game? not sure I'd agree with that. Some things that GHWT is likely to have (superior hardware, for a start) also weigh in quite heavily.

For RockBand, yeah. No DLC is a deal breaker for me, and I've convinced my parents to NOT buy Rock Band Wii for that reason. If they put RB2 out with feature parity with the 360 version then I may recommend it, as it stands they are looking forward to GH:WT simply because it has all the features Harmonix RIPPED OUT of RB when porting to the Wii.

After a while you will get tired of the same set lists and want more variety. If the Wii version didn't have online play I wouldn't care, but DLC (to the flash memory, or SD card) is a must and they even ripped out the character creator and World tour modes... How dumb is that?

Do they think anyone bought Guitar Hero 1 or 2 for the graphics?

Re:I'd Care (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 5 years ago | (#24628917)

Harmonix are only doing this because when Guitar Hero does get a series of exclusives they can complain about the uncompetitive practices, while at the same time arranging for (rock band 2) anouther xbox360 exclusive pushing the UK PS3 release somewhere in the region of 2010.

Exactly. I also like how they continually preach about "open standards" for their guitar controllers, but can't be bothered to follow through on the Wii. Instead of using the Wii remote, as Activision and Nyko have, they throw out some lame USB controller.

Then again, there wasn't even the slightest hint of effort put toward the Wii. Guitar Hero will continue to dominate on that front if nothing else, especially with confirmed DLC coming with World Tour. That is, of course, after Harmonix claimed it was technically impossible... y'know, just like including the character creator was technologically impossible (something else World Tour will have).

Re:I'd Care (1)

renleve (1074957) | more than 5 years ago | (#24629077)

Then again, there wasn't even the slightest hint of effort put toward the Wii. Guitar Hero will continue to dominate on that front if nothing else, especially with confirmed DLC coming with World Tour. That is, of course, after Harmonix claimed it was technically impossible... y'know, just like including the character creator was technologically impossible (something else World Tour will have).

Harmonix has already announced that RB2 for the Wii will have DLC and online play [wired.com]. There's no word yet on whether the character creator will make it to RB2 Wii yet but it definitely won't be as gimped as RB1 in terms of features.

Re:I'd Care (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 4 years ago | (#24650913)

Harmonix has already announced that RB2 for the Wii will have DLC and online play [wired.com]...

As much as I'd like to get my hopes up for a version of Rock Band on the Wii that's worth buying, I clicked that link, and the sub link in that article and as much as I got was:

"While we didn't get into nitty-gritty details, I was assured by representatives of Harmonix at E3 this year that the Wii version of Rock Band 2 will be a much more competitive product.

A "much more competitive product" could mean "It comes with 90 tracks!", or "you can play the Mushroom Kingdom theme in this version!" or "You can use your Mii's!" Nowhere in either article did they confirm feature parity with the other console versions, or specifically say there would be DLC or online play. If you can site a source where they actually say the Wii Version of Rock Band2, will specifically have, a Character creator, a World tour mode, DLC, online play, or GH guitar support, I would love to see it.

Thanks.

what would help is oss (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 5 years ago | (#24627891)

if you could convert midi files to run on rock band, I would bet tons of aspiring artists would put out music. There'd be plenty of "bootleg" pop music which would encourage the musicians to publish, too. I read how the bands on GH3 had a slight surge of popularity, so it could hardly be seen as a bad thing.

(posting from iPhone before flying into a trop storm .. Sorry for typos)

Eric... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24628715)

Eric Brosious! Husband of SHODAN!!!! :O

Frets on Fire... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24629239)

Is where it's at, VAST VAST user edited tracks (including some kids that were converting whole albums at a time) and to top it all off for any self respecting geek, it uses your keyboard's F-keys as your "notes" and plays just like Guitar Hero or Rock Band (and it's an open source project to boot)

Other things that really aren't good for anyone... (2, Interesting)

iapetus (24050) | more than 5 years ago | (#24630159)

Charging twice the price for the game in Europe (roughly double the normal markup for games/hardware of this nature) and lying about it in multiple interviews.

That's really not good for anyone, is it, Eric?

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24631359)

"Brosious: Hmm... not familiar with them. Are they any good? Didn't one of them do that song "S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y Night"?"
IIRC, that's an Elton John song, not a Beatles or Zeppelin song. Who chose to interview this guy about music?

..."balancing difficulty between instruments" (1)

9Nails (634052) | more than 5 years ago | (#24631919)

How about balancing difficulty between songs?!

Not that balancing difficulty between instruments wouldn't be nice. (Actually, it would be wonderful if the drummer gets to dump the kick drum on a easy difficulty setting.) But the difficulty between songs can be silly. In some songs I get 100% on a hard difficulty setting and other songs I cannot pass on medium difficulty. This makes the longer song sets frustrating to the point where I want to turn off the game and play some Halo instead.

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