November 28, 2011

Rock Band’s Fourth Birthday

The original Rock Band was released four years ago on November 20th, 2007. Do you remember this 2007 demo video of a super early beta version of Rock Band, with the HMX team playing “Welcome to the Jungle”? That was the exact moment I realized OMIGOD I HAVE TO HAVE THIS.

(by the way if anyone from Harmonix is listening, we’re still waiting for that song to appear as DLC..)

How time flies when you’re rocking, eh? In commemoration of Rock Band’s fourth birthday, Harmonix put together a ton of behind the scenes retrospectives and commentary. Hear the untold story of the original Rock Band, as told by the people behind the game!

Hear how the guitar, drum, and keyboard hardware almost never made it!

The companion blog post is Rock Band instrument prototypes and insider stories, where we learn what could have been:

We had this AMAZING folding drum kit that would fit under a couch. It had removable heads, integrated cymbal options and custom inserts that allowed to to change the quality of the strike sound so each pad sounded a bit different. It supported 3 pedals, a completely adjustable kick location. This thing was boss (and also would have cost over 200 dollars at retail).

There were SOOOO MANY strum bar prototypes. Clicky strums, spinny strums, smushy strums, stringy strums, clacky strums, invisi strums. We tried everything.

Another crazy idea we has was to attempt to modularize the wireless equipment for each console into a small box that could be plugged into any RB3 instrument. We wanted a way to reduce the total number of models in production, but at the volumes predicted for the RB3 launch and with all the legacy hardware already in the market, we couldn’t justify the additional cost of the Wireless Module. A lot of the tech/design made its way into the MIDI box, though.

It’s also a little scary to think what the Rock Band logo could have looked like:

Harmonix employees reflect on their first Rock Band experience in Rock Band Fourth Anniversary Harmonix Stories, Part One and Part Two. And Harmonix podcast episode 56 focuses entirely on sharing their first Rock Band experience.

I distinctly remember waiting outside Best Buy at midnight to get my Rock Band 1 full game kit — and how deliriously fun it was to play as a full band for the first time.

What was your first Rock Band experience?

The same afternoon I purchased Rock Band, it went right into my (vertical) 360. Partway into selecting my first song, an accidental cable pull jostled the system and scratched the disc in a bad way. The game no longer made it past the title screen. It’s hard to remember how disappointed I was, but it was SUPER DISAPPOINTED.

Big thanks to Harmonix / EA for replacing the disc under warranty and enabling me to play 4 years of Rock Band through 3 drum kits, 6 guitars, 4 mics, and 300+ DLC. Huge leap in my gaming enjoyment.

(I’ve never, ever oriented my 360 vertically since. Don’t tempt fate.)

Matthew Glidden
November 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Wow, Matthew, that stinks. I got the box from Amazon a day or two after launch, just in time to not be able to play it for about a week due to work commitments, which meant the first time I really sat down with it was at the holiday party we’d invited to so they could play Rock Band.

Had a much better Beatles Rock Band experience: one of my friends had a review copy and he needed to try out the full band mode. Only time I’ve appeared in Pitchfork.

Tom Clancy
November 30, 2011 at 10:14 am

There are rumors about which bands Rock Band will do an exclusive game for next…
Here is one comedian’s options:

December 31, 2011 at 5:52 pm

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