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E3 Round-Up

Last week, a troupe of Harmonix staff descended on the LA Convention Center to show everyone Rock Band 2. Frankly, we were blown away by the response - we were nominated for a swath of "Best of Show" awards, which is insane considering the strength of titles that I'll be lining up for on Day 1 like Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead.

Derek Enos, Hardware Engineer, shows off our nominee badges from IGN

Unfortunately, you couldn't make it. That's okay though, I'll summarise the half-hour presentation that we gave to press during E3!

  • We showed off the new Quickplay interface that I detailed out last week.
  • We also detailed out the hardware options. While we've covered a lot of the big features in the instruments (autocalibration in the new guitars, expandability in the new drums), there were some specifics that came up during our demos:
    • You can plug in three additional cymbals and an additional pedal to give you the same amount of inputs as a real drum kit.
    • For those of you who've moved kits around, the kick pedal no longer falls off when you move the kit!
    • There are also guidelines engraved onto the drum legs to help you perfectly balance your kit.
    • The ION kit uses standard 1/4in jacks to plug into the Rock Band brains that come with the kit. This means that you can plug these surfaces into any other real drum gear, like the Alesis DM5 that we had on stage at E3.

  • Battle of the Bands is our flagship feature in Rock Band 2. This isn't just 4v4 - in the words of PR Coordinator John Drake, "four versus four is what I like to call a band sissyfight in the parking lot after a gig." Instead, this is your band battling against your entire friends list, then once you're the #1 friend, the entire world!

    • We're going to be adding new content to Battle of the Bands daily.
    • Battles are only up for a certain amount of time - from a few hours up to multiple weeks.
    • We have different ways to judge battles, like "longest streak" or "highest star count"
    • We have full control of special rules like "No Overdrive" or "No Saviors"
    • When you're playing, we show a meter kind of like the Tug of War meter that shows who's winning at any moment in time.
    • If a friend's band beats you while you're offline, will send you an email letting you know that you've been beaten and that you need to reclaim your position!
    • I'm going to write a blog post about this later on. Stay tuned!

The members of "Friendly Sword Masters" prepare to battle against our evil nemesis "Spaaaaaace Hooker!"

  • We talked about Tour Challenges but, again, I'm saving a lot of the details for another blog post.
  • World Tour has a bunch of changes for Rock Band 2
    • You can now hire staff to help your band! For example, you can hire an accountant to get more money or pay a street team to get you more fans!
    • We've added a new feature called "Opportunity Gigs." Did you see the footage of "Everlong" with the trippy colors going off in the background? This was an Opportunity Gig where a music video director came up to the band and asked to record a music video with the band for more fans!
    • You can now play it with 1-4 players, where any of those players is local or online
    • You can choose the lineup of your band members that aren't playing. Want to make the ultimate nerd-metal band? Just make three characters and assign them to your band, and they'll show up even when you're the only one playing!
    • Again, there's a bunch of big tweaky stuff that I'll save for another blog post, but the one I'll sneak out now to keep everyone happy - we've reworked how the fan system operates. There are no more times where you'll be blocked from getting fans, for example!

  • We touched on the Drum Trainer and Jukebox Mode, but, yet again, bigger blog material.
  • We have a new screen called "Game Modifiers." This screen has a bunch of options that allow you to change your game experience! The ones that were revealed at E3 were:

    • "No Fail Mode" - This disables failing out of a game, in case you want to play with people who aren't skilled enough to beat Easy yet. Since we don't want it to be an exploit online, we also disable saving and achievements.
    • "Breakneck Speed" - By popular demand, we've added an option that increases the scroll speed of all tracks. Since we consider this a personal taste issue and not a game-changing exploit, we don't disable anything.

It was a pretty gruelling three days of interviews and parties, but the sheer amount of excitement from everyone who checked out the game was overwhelming. Now, we just need to finish the game!

Kasson Crooker, Project Lead on Rock Band 2, takes one for the team to do an interview for Fuel TV

And the one more thing: I played the Endless Setlist 2 last week. It took us 10 hours to beat all 84 songs on Expert.