Exclusive interview answers your burning Rock Band questions

Harmonix

Rock Band launches in a matter of hours, and there are still some burning questions that everyone wants answered. Apathy and I had a unique opportunity to sit down with John Drake from Harmonix and ask a few of these. You’ll need to hit the jump for the full transcript.

GF: Will all band members need to purchase DLC in order to play tracks together online?
HMX: Each console will need to purchase a copy of the song to play it online. If you’re all playing on the same console, only one person needs to buy the song.

GF: Is there any plan to take Band World Tour online in the future?
HMX: We are really pumped about Band World Tour and we would have liked to see online play at launch. However, BWT is such a huge feature that we wanted to make sure that we did it right, which did mean sacrificing online play at launch. We wanted to make sure we got Rock Band finished as a complete game and programming BTW Online is almost like programming an MMO. It’s something we’re definitely psyched about for a future game and we’re as pumped to play this as you are, so stay tuned.

GF: Speaking of Band World Tour, how long will it take the average band to complete this mode of play?
HMX: BWT is a unique mode of play in that you can essentially play as long as you like. Think of it as a real band. You’re not just going to climb to the top then call it quits, you’ll want to keep playing to get more fans and amass more money. With the addition of DLC, this mode will continue to grow and evolve bringing a new experience every time you play it.

GF: Since the game demos have been showing up at Best Buy stores across the country people have becoming increasingly concerned about the durability of the Fender guitars. What is being done to resolve these issues?
HMX: Controllers in demo stations are often mishandled or mistreated. Additionally, these demo units were preproduction units shipped out some time ago and do not contain the newer controllers that are shipping out with the retail bundle. We have experienced little or no issues with the new batch of retail Fenders.

GF: In the event that there are issues with the controllers shipped with the bundle, do you have a plan of action to have them replaced?
HMX: All of the controllers are covered under our warranty. If you do receive a faulty controller, we will be happy to replace it.

GF: Regarding the PS2 version of the game, will there be any changes aside from the lack of online play?
HMX: Yes, there will be some changes to the the storyline mode.

GF: Will players have access to the Hyperspeed cheat, or something similar?
HMX: No, we will not be including Hyperspeed. We are trying to stay as true to the feeling of playing real music, and thus do not feel the need to include this option.

GF: There were considerable changes to the window of time you could hit the notes in the first and second Guitar Hero games, how do you feel Rock Band compares to the two?
HMX: We are trying for an authentic experience with each of the instruments, so we have narrowed the window to stay as true to the experience as possible. This means that you’ll be challenged to hit each note precisely, rather than widening the window of accuracy in order to allow you to play more difficult songs sloppily.

GF: This brings me to my next question, many people are concerned that the guitar parts won’t be nearly as challenging as your previous titles. Do you think this is a valid concern?
HMX: Again, we are making the songs more difficult by requiring you to play accurately. It’s all part of our effort to make this game feel less like you’re playing a game and more like you’re really making music.

GF: Many people remember G.H.O.U.L. from your Guitar Hero days. Is there any plan to create something like this for Rock Band?
HMX: Stay tuned to RockBand.com for more info. We’re very appreciative to our fans, and we’re looking into various ways to give back to them with special events and promotions.

GF: Finally, what was your favorite feature that couldn’t make it into the game for launch?
HMX: Definitely online BWT. We thought long and hard about this one, and in the end we’re more concerned about releasing a product that is well-polished and without bugs. We knew what we wanted to do, and how to do it, however, there just wasn’t enough time to make sure we could do it right in time for launch.

Yes folks, you heard it here first. There is currently no plan to take Band World Tour online in the current iteration of Rock Band. The possibility is there for “a future game,” but don’t look for a patch for the current game. Personally, I’m disappointed to hear this. However, I’ve played Guitar Hero 3 online and it’s just not the same as rocking out with all of your friends in the same room, so it’s far from a deal-breaker for me.

I could really care less about the loss of Hyperspeed, as I rarely used it. I only found it useful on songs with insanely difficult charts where the notes seemed squished together. From what I’ve seen of Rock Band, the notes are all clearly visible, so it’s not really a necessity.

Most of these questions came from users on the Rock Band forums which I frequent (yes, that’s me). We didn’t get to all of the questions, but we may have the opportunity for another Q&A with Harmonix again. If there is something else you’d like us to ask, just leave a comment and we’ll see what we can do.

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