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MTV Coast to Coast! Or, The Beatles: Rock Band Tour 2009

It’s always nice to keep our loving, big brother (MTV Games) in the loop about what we’ve been up to here in the Harmonix floating sky fortress of doom and awesomeness. So in one week, two separate HMX crews set off to show our baby (The Beatles: Rock Band) to our MTV colleagues on both coasts. I was lucky enough to participate in both events– one out in Santa Monica, CA during E3, and one right at heart of everything on Broadway in New York City.

Showing off The Beatles: Rock Band to our “best coast” partners was like connecting with a hip older cousin about their favorite band while our New York demo felt similar to the high five your parents give you when you ace your driver’s test. Though the reactions were different at each event, the overwhelming support and enthusiasm for our project and the work we do was pretty surreal and amazing.

At both MTV locations, employees had the opportunity to sign up for some late afternoon R&R involving an exclusive Beatles demo and hands on as well as complimentary snacks and imbibables. Each event also had three RB2 setups for folks to check out before and after our Beatles stage demo.

Our first event was at the MTV Santa Monica offices. On the last day of E3, the ragtag trio of HMXPardo, HMXVeng, and I hopped into HMXAlex’s pimped out SUV (after first getting lost at the convention center for 20 minutes after a security guard locked us out of the garage). We sped down the LA freeway, yelling at our GPS and sending frantic messages to Pete and Marc our partners from MTV Games. Luckily the traffic gods smiled on us and we got there with time to spare. Since Pete and Marc are amazing they already had our gear set up and all we needed to do was some minor calibration and a few practice run throughs of our TB:RB set. Due to our crazy hectic E3 schedule (and my lack of eating that morning) I was feeling pretty run down and low energy when we first arrived – that quickly changed as people started filtering in to check out the setup.

The Santa Monica event was pretty cool for one big reason: a lot of our colleagues out there hadn’t really played our games before.  The HMX crew, along with Marc and Pete helped folks get acclimated to the game, pick difficulties, and fill in on bands. (This was great practice for hanging out with the little dudes from Starlight a few hours later). Everyone was having so much fun, it was easy to forget we were in one of our “offices” and not at a regular RB night (a la Sardo’s). The best part was meeting some of the mega-Beatles fans from that office.  After a brief presentation about the game and some background info about its development our five-piece hopped onstage to do a three song demo.

We rocked out to “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “Taxman,” and “Back in the USSR” – excellent choices as our lively crowd was moving and shaking quite a bit. HMXPardo took lead vocals and guitar and warmed up the crowd during load time between songs. I got a bit of a glimpse of 60s era Beatlemania watching the ladies in the house go totally gaga over the handsome gents from MTV Games and HMX – there was a lot of ear piercing screams and shrieking. (I should also point out that one pretty lass approached our faux frontman after the demo and offered up her digits – who says that Rock Band can’t get you a date?).

When our mini-performance ended, we went back to manning the RB2 setups while the MTV crew mingled, hung out, and tested out their harmonizing skills on our Beatles set up. Overall the afternoon was a caucophonous delight – and a much needed energy boost as we wound down our E3 festivities.

The following Tuesday, HMXKat, HMXSean, and myself boarded an early morning commuter flight to New York City. We met up with HMXJohnD and our buddies Pete and Marc to give the NYC bigshots their first hands on of the game as well. The setup was similar in flow to the Santa Monica event but more hands off for us. Our NYC colleagues are no RB noobs and were able to rock out sans assistance. We hung out in the “skullery” (really the kitchen/café of MTV’s dining area, known as “The Lodge”) and stole cookies from the waitstaff while awaiting our demo turn. Despite some brief technical difficulties during the opening presentation about our game (apparently the AV staff plugged every single TV, monitor, console, electronic device into the same outlet), our demo went off without a hitch. When cued by Tony Calandra, VP of MTV Games, we emerged from behind a totally mod beaded curtain and took our places. HMXSean took over lead guitar/vox/heartthrob duties and we sang our hearts out to an even larger crowd.

The New York crowd was a little bit more subdued than their West Coast Beatlemaniac counterparts, but still really enthusiastic about our game – we heard lots of “oohs,” “aaahs,” and “oh wows,” as folks watched the gameplay trailer and fielded some questions about gameplay and hardware after we’d finished playing. After some pats on the back, “good jobs,” and general feelings of warm fuzzies, HMXKat, HMXSean, and I zipped back to the airport to await our much delayed flight back to Boston.

My favorite part about E3 was watching peoples’ reactions as they got their first look at our game. Not to sound all cheesy and gooey, but demoing this game for our parent-company was a pretty incredible experience – these folks put a lot of faith in our little studio and it was awesome to let them see, first hand, just what it is that we can do.

For more info you can check out the MTV Multiplayer blog bits about each visit here for Santa Monica and here for New York. Photo courtesy of MTV Multiplayer Blog