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Tim Converse: 100% Committed to Rock Band

Interview with Tim Converse (Xbox Gamertag/Rock Band forum name "Hitoshura")

Hitoshura has become famous in the Rock Band community for being the first person to achieve every goal in Rock Band 3. This required literally hundreds of hours of gameplay across all the instruments (standard and Pro) as well as the completion of hundreds of songs. It was a feat few thought would be accomplished even within Harmonix itself.

After being alerted to Tim's goal and directed to his step-by-step thread on Scorehero we were able to ask him a few questions about this momentous task.

HMXSean: How did you first get into the Rock Band series?

Tim Converse: I first got into music/rhythm games around the release of Guitar Hero 2. Before that, my experience was limited to some very casual playing of Dance Dance Revolution. At the time, I stumbled across an article about GH2 which described the game concept and detailed the game’s track list. The game sounded amazing, and the first Guitar Hero had received excellent reviews, so I went ahead and purchased a GH2 bundle, along with GH1. I absolutely fell in love with the game and worked my way up from Medium to Expert difficulty in a couple of months. I picked up Rock Band when it was released in 2007 and was again overjoyed with the addition of drums and vocals. While I played all of the instruments, the drums in particular captured my attention (I played various percussion instruments for marching band in high school), so that became my primary focus throughout the early RB days.

HMXSean: What first made you decide to get every goal in RB3?

TC: The myriad new options and improvements that Rock Band 3 offered compared to earlier iterations was staggering, and difficult to fully appreciate at first. I started with RB3 by just sampling all the new stuff, but not delving too deeply into anything except Pro Drums. Drums were pretty much all I played in the months before RB3 was released, and I think I finished out the RB3 career with Pro Drums. At some point I noticed that while my band had reached “Rock Legends” status, that blue bar was slowly but surely still increasing in length towards… something. I also was pleased to see that the method of gaining fans in RB3 was different than in earlier Rock Band titles, namely, that you weren’t going to get to 1 billion fans simply by grinding venues over and over. I’ve always been a fan of achievements/trophies being used intelligently as a way to get more life out of a game that you enjoy, so I was incredibly happy with RB3’s in-game goal system as a way to accumulate fans and gain rank. Having had lots of experience with the legacy instruments by this point, I moved through most of those goals pretty quickly. Playing the Pro instruments for the first time, though, was quite humbling, forcing me back to Easy and Medium difficulty. But I loved the new challenge they offered, so I kept at it, eventually reaching the rank of “Completionist” at 1 billion fans and earning those fancy outfits. This put me pretty high up on the “Fan Count” leaderboard, so I decided to try to reach the top, or at least come as close as I could. This, of course, prompted the others near the top to step up their game, so I played leapfrog with them for a while. Finally, even after claiming the #1 spot, I just decided to take it as far as I could.

HMXSean: This is a pretty intense achievement, when did you officially start?

TC: I hit 1 billion fans in early January 2011, a little over two months after the release of RB3. I guess that would be when my long-term goal changed from “become a Completionist” to “attain the most fans / complete all the goals.”

HMXSean: How many hours do you think this took you all put together?

TC: Oh man, I’m not even sure how I’d estimate that. Maybe around 500 hours? It’s hard to distinguish between when I was actively working toward goals and when I was just playing for fun, but I’ve spent a lot of time doing both. Though if you wanted to, I suppose you could count the “fun” time as well, as you’re improving your proficiency with an instrument in some capacity whenever you play/practice. So it might even be more than that.

HMXSean: What was your favorite goal to hit?

TC: That would probably be “Expert Pro Guitar Master” (5 stars on all songs on Expert Pro Guitar), as that was the first of three goals that I originally believed would be truly impossible for me to ever complete. Finishing that goal was a major climax in the overall journey, as that was when I really began to see that it was possible for me to take it all the way.

HMXSean: What goal took the longest?

TC: Strictly speaking, “True Music Fan” took the longest, as you have to play through 1,000 different DLC/RBN songs. You have to actually play them, too, and get at least two stars for them to count, so no turning on No Fail [mode] and letting the empty air sing you to zero stars. That’s a LOT of songs. Of course, the “Expert Pro [instrument] Master” goals took an incredible amount of time and practice with their respective instruments to gain the level of proficiency to even attempt them.

Relative difficulty depends on individual strengths and weaknesses in technique, but in my opinion, the most difficult chart in the game is not “Roundabout” on Pro Keys (the popular choice), though it probably runs a close second. For me, “Llama” on Pro Bass was the hardest, which by extension would make “Expert Pro Bass Master” the most difficult goal to complete. Honorable mentions go to the individual song trainer goals, particularly the Pro Guitar ones. Some of the sections that you have to combo are just ridiculous, even at 60% speed.

HMXSean: What was your favorite track to play and favorite instrument?

TC: That’s like choosing your favorite movie of all time: it’s hard to pick just one, and it constantly changes as you’re exposed to new things. But I’ll give it a try. Right now, I’m really enjoying playing Pro Guitar, but will move to vocals or Pro Drums depending on the song or what kind of mood I’m in. My favorite tracks would depend on the instrument. For Pro Guitar, “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne is one I really enjoy playing, especially the solo. I haven’t yet come across any, but DLC that emphasizes a fingerpicking style would be most welcome. For Pro Drums, I have to name a few: “Love Spreads” by The Stone Roses (for the fantastic groove), “Constant Motion” by Dream Theater (for the drum solo), and “Ghost of Perdition” by Opeth (awesome all around). If “The Complexity of Light” by Children of Nova had an RB3 version (for Pro Drums), that would probably be at the top. Finally, for vocals, I’ve got to go with “Somebody to Love” by Queen. That song is such a joy to sing.

HMXSean: What have you learned throughout this process?

TC: As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” I’ve learned that the greatest limiter we have is ourselves. You really can achieve so many things that seem “impossible” if you’re willing to try, and keep trying. There are of course physical limits to what the human body is capable of, but I think our own psyche and sense of doubt can really keep us from realizing our potential. You know how once you succeed in doing something once, it seems easier to do a second time? I think that’s largely due to that (conscious or unconscious) self-doubt being lifted.

Rock Band (particularly, Rock Band 3) is really good at partitioning a monumental undertaking into several small goals, toward which progress can be quantitatively measured and tracked. This is something else I’ve learned: one way to deal with huge problems is to set smaller goals on the path to a solution, so that you can more easily track progress and see improvement in the wider view.

HMXSean: Now that you’ve succeeded in getting every last goal completed do you have plans to continue playing Rock Band 3?

TC: Absolutely! One thing I haven’t really talked about here is the social aspect of Rock Band, which is a big reason why I’ll continue to play. Parties, bar nights, exclusive RB gatherings – in my experience, Rock Band is always a hit with crowds, and while I certainly enjoy playing alone, rocking out with a full band in the same room is one of the things that makes Rock Band truly special. Also, I mentioned earlier that I’m currently working a lot with Pro Guitar. Eventually, I’d like to play through all DLC songs with Pro Upgrades, and carry a few of them that I really enjoy playing over to “real” guitar. I’ll keep pushing the envelope, as I find that continual growth and improvement quite satisfying (hence my band name, Epektasis). After all, “Through the Fire and Flames” won’t ever be Gold Starred on Pro Guitar if no one works on it.

HMXSean: Any plans to turn your game band into a real band and play out?

TC: My performance/competition [Rock Band] band, Goat Southeast, has participated in several events, notably Harrah’s Total Rock, Total Rewards Competition and Ümloud. More recently, I was part of a new band, The 1%, created specifically for last year’s Ümloud. Both bands hope to continue playing together, publicly and privately, in the future. Members of both bands have dabbled in their respective “real” instruments, in no small part due to Rock Band, but we haven’t yet pursued any kind of musical collaboration. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, though.

HMXSean: Anything else you’d like to say?

TC: I’d just like to thank all of my friends in the Rock Band community, especially members of Goat Southeast and The 1%, who have supported me throughout this endeavor. Also, thank you, Harmonix, for creating this ingenious method of interacting with and experiencing music, and for helping to foster such an amazing community of fans. I can’t wait to see what you have planned for the future.