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An Early Look at Upcoming Changes to Rivals Mode

It’s been a little while since we’ve drawn the curtain back to give you an idea of what we’re working on behind the scenes. We’ve got a bunch of fun stuff to talk about for the next update, and we’re kicking it off by revealing some major improvements to something that many of you are enjoying every week.

Rivals Mode has been a great way to play with old friends (and make new ones) in Rock Band. Today, more songs are played in Rivals mode than any other and each week the level of competition kicks up a notch as crews compete to climb the ranks and reach Bloodstone. Today, we’re psyched to introduce you to Rivals Seasons – recurring collections of challenges with unique rewards and a handful of major changes to the way the Rivals system works.

Each season, your Crew will compete to get as far as you can over the course of an 8-week season. At the end of that season, rewards will be doled out based on what tier you end on, as well as where you stack up in that tier (being at the top of Bloodstone will offer better rewards than just being in the tier!). Every season will start with every crew in Bronze, for a level playing field. With Rivals Seasons, we want to switch focus to the thrill of promotion, rather than the fear of demotion. So, no more demotion. We’re also changing the percentages for promotion each tier to balance the lack of demotion.

This is a major change, and we’re bringing this to you early partly so we can gather feedback to potentially tweak some mechanics. After all, the goal is to make Rivals Mode as much fun as it can be for as many players as possible.

For the transition between current Rivals Mode and seasons, we’re considering every challenge from the launch of Rivals in October through this update as part of “Season 0.” To reward you for your hard work in Season 0, we’re going to introduce some sweet gear for your characters to wear based on which tier your Crew finishes in. If you’ve been on the cusp of getting into Diamond or Bloodstone, there’s no time like the present to rally your crew together and make a final push before the first Season begins and these rewards disappear forever! (Shameless plug: have you tried the Rock Band Companion App yet? It’s a great way to chat with your Crew and keep them motivated.)

With these changes it’s pretty important that we keep a level playing field, so let’s talk exploits. The next update is going to be addressing the following exploits that previously allowed people to achieve higher-than-should-be-possible scores:

  • Calibration settings affecting sustains
  • Calibration settings affecting drum fill timing
  • Pause rollback extending vocal overdrive

We’re also adjusting how pausing over notes works so it will no longer remove notes on guitar/bass (Behavior will go back to how it was before the patch that changed this behavior). This will continue to remove notes on drums, although it will now break your combo if you pause directly on top of a note (Not if you pause during a break between notes).

With these exploits fixed, some leaderboard scores will be unattainable and thus impossible to beat. We’ve got a few options and are really looking for feedback on how to approach this leaderboard integrity issue (knowing full well that everyone will feel differently about this):

1) We don’t touch the leaderboard. The current leaderboards remain as they are, and all new scores will be posted without exploits, knowing that some songs will have unbeatable scores.

2) We target only the very top entries on each song’s leaderboard and, rather than wipe them out, we lower those scores to a “safe” non-exploited value. This ensures that all leaderboard scores can be beaten without exploits after the patch, and the full combo laurels, percentage, and stars for these records will remain. This approach will only affect a small number of players, and all scores other than the very highest will be unchanged. The number of records targeted may vary per song, based on our projections of the exploited scores for that song.

3) We do a full wipe, and the leaderboards are cleared for everyone.

We’re genuinely interested in your thoughts on each of the above, as well as any options we might have been missing. Unfortunately, “just wipe the exploited scores” isn’t really an option as there’s no way to identify if a now-higher-than-possible score was attained maliciously or not.

Phew, that’s a big info dump. Take some time, mull it over, and let us know what you think! We’re committed to keeping Rock Band fun and exciting, but also fair and rewarding without cheaters gumming up the works for all the people playing legitimately.

We’ll be back with more info on upcoming content soon. In the meantime, let us know what you think!