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The Rock Band Database...Online!

RBDB is now the official song list for!

Wow! As someone who started off with Guitar Hero 2 a decade ago and has owned almost every version of Rock Band released, I can't tell you how strange it feels just to write that sentence! It's hard to believe that what started off as my own little side project has ended up as the official song list!!!!! [HMX Note: Five exclamation points in a row — Can you tell he’s excited?]

The fine folks at Harmonix asked me to write a guest blog entry highlighting the Rock Band Database for the announcement, so I’ll kick it off by talking just a bit about how this all got started in the first place.

I love playing Rock Band. I love having people over to play Rock Band. But if you've ever been to a Rock Band party, you know that there are two major frustrations that are almost inevitable:

  1. People can't search for music while others are playing.
  2. People have a hard time finding a song they want to play — especially if they are unfamiliar with the game, or perhaps counter-intuitively, if there are a ton of songs in the library.

It's no one's fault; song selection is an inherently not-fun process — doubly so for non-gamers. The goal then: make song selection available while other people are playing, and make finding songs quick and easy.

I'm sure most people would solve the Rock Band Party Problem by doing exactly what I started to do: print out a list of your tracks on paper to hand to people when they come over—or the modern equivalent: create a Google Docs spreadsheet and email people the link.

This is the point in my story where I state the following facts:

  1. I am a web developer.
  2. I enjoy making stuff.
  3. What the hell — Why not!?

I think it took about 30 seconds to go from "print a list" to “Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology.” Little did I know what I was getting myself into… Fast forward past a couple of months of data entry (and a frustrated wife who couldn't use the TV while I scrubbed through the in-game store... sorry, honey!), and in August launched with a post on Reddit.

Visit the Rock Band Database!

RBDB is not just a place where you can look through Rock Band song data, but where you can also create an account and add your own data into the mix; track the songs you own, the songs you want, your song ratings, and flag songs for...well, whatever you want to flag them for. Combine custom user data with some rich search and filter features and you have a great place to manage your existing library and find new music when you are outside of the at 3:00PM on a Friday ("Get back to work!" - Your Boss).

While it doesn't tie into your in-game library (...yet! ...are you listening Harmonix?) [HMX Note: We can’t hear you, la la la la la.], it sure beats the old pen-and-paper/spreadsheet approach. Here are some of my favorite features of RBDB:

  • Song Purchase Links - for Xbox/PlayStation as well as for buying the MP3 on Amazon, iTunes, or Groove (Note: I'm still going through the tedious process of entering links into the database). Full disclosure: buying stuff through the links helps pay for my hosting.
  • Comprehensive Filters - "show me only DLC songs that I marked as "wanted" and that are available for purchase"
  • Advanced Searching - search for all Pop-Rock songs from the '80s with a guitar difficulty higher than 4 (there are 3), or all the Metal songs from the '90s with a bass difficulty higher than guitar (also 3 songs).
  • One-button Spotlight and Challenge Filter - show the Rivals challenge songs for the week. ...then filter to just the songs you own. ...then flag the ones you've already played. ...then hide the flagged songs to show only the ones you haven't played.
  • One-button "Last Call" and "Coming Soon" Filter - quickly show songs that are scheduled to be delisted in the store as well as songs that have been announced for release; don't miss out on purchasing tracks before they become unavailable!
  • Auto Setlist Maker - generate a random setlist from your current search results.
    • Idea 1: use it to help pick songs at a party: whatever the setlist maker picks you have to play!
    • Idea 2: have the money to buy a couple of tracks but not sure what to get? Once you have marked all the songs you want in RBDB, filter to "wanted" then let the Auto Setlist Maker pick for you! Combine wanted songs with song ratings to help you narrow it down more.

What’s next?

  • API v2.2 is Live! - RBDB has already grown way beyond what started out as a simple list of my tracks, and is quickly evolving into a full-fledged platform. With a full RBDB API up and running others can now build their own applications and interfaces leveraging on the work I've already done—not just for song data, but for user data as well. Case-in-point, Reddit user /u/KingLuscious has already launched an iPhone app (RunDLC) built on the RBDB API. If you're a dev and want to use the API, let me know!
  • Website Overhaul - The site itself has grown so quickly with a ton of the features having been tacked on after launching in August. What started out to be a simple site built with Google Material is now a terrible mish-mash of Material design and custom elements thrown together in a somewhat fugly Frankenstein's monster. So if you think the site could be better—I agree, and I'll be making changes soon!
  • Rivals!!! - I can think of several features that would be helpful for a Rock Band Rivals Crew. Near-term I would like to add dedicated flags for Rivals Challenge song plays per-instrument. After that I would like to introduce Crews into RBDB so you can see all the challenge songs that your Crew has played per instrument and even what songs each Crew member owns. Eventually I would like to add some Crew matchmaking that will match people based on instrument and song ownership (the more songs your Crew has access to, the better).
  • Party Mode - The very first problem I set out to solve, ironically, hasn't been implemented yet. I hope to build a separate party/host mode that will allow people to pick and vote on songs to play while others are playing. If you automate song selection as much as possible then more time will be spent playing music instead of selecting it. It would be a-ma-zing if RBDB could automatically queue those songs up in-game so you would have no music downtime in selection (Harmonix, seriously... hint hint!).


In conclusion, I just want to say a HUGE thank you again to all the people at Harmonix. Thanks for making such an amazingly fun game, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this crazy ride with RBDB.