Saturday, July 7

Rock Band: Additive Gameplay

Correction: I'll admit, I'm confused. Guitar Hero was published by, apparently, two companies: Activision and RedOctane. Which is the real publisher, or either, or both, or something, I'm not sure. I changed the information below to say RedOctane is the publisher.

Guitar Hero
came out in winter of 2005. Guitar Hero II was then released in winter of 2006. Both were developed by Harmonix and published by RedOctane. Seeing their success, RedOctane purchased the Guitar Hero license. But someone else saw the success of Guitar Hero as well, and that was MTV. They went one step further than Activision and purchased Harmonix outright. Now, RedOctane has sicked Guitar Hero III development on Tony Hawk team Neversoft, while MTV and EA are co-publishing Harmonix's next game: Rock Band. Rock Band is alot like Guitar Hero, times a million. Well, more like times four, which in effect makes the game a million times more awesome. Rock Band allows four players to rock out together in a style ripped straight from Guitar Hero, scrolling frets and all (keep in mind the developer of both Guitar Hero and Rock Band are one and the same). Players assume their personally created band members, and can play guitar, bass, drums, or vocals. Guitarists and bassists use the same peripheral, which is like an upgraded Guitar Hero guitar. Drummers play on a 3/4 size drum set including four pads and a kick pedal. The vocalist sings on a microphone peripheral.
The three vertically scrolling bars work like Guitar Hero. The middle is drums, the left bass, and the right guitar. The top horizontal bar is for vocalists.

In Guitar Hero, you are the guitarist. If you don't play the notes then the game isn't going play them either and no guitar strings will emanate from the speakers. The same applies for Rock Band, except to everything. In Rock Band, you are the band. What you play is what you get. Therefore, what you don't play doesn't create sound. As notes scroll across the screen, players must hit them correctly to create notes or short sound clips within the game. Otherwise, no music for you. If the whole band stops playing, then the whole band stops playing. You are the band. This concept is something I call additive gameplay. In first-person-shooters, you add bullets and subtract enemies. No enemies will be subtracted if the bullets aren't added. But the canvas of Rock Band is more like white space. There is nothing to subtract, just add. Not playing will only leave more white space, or silence. Whereas, playing correctly will add music, in addition to on screen effects. Thats really what made Guitar Hero so much fun, if you miss a note then the note is going to be played. It was that drive to get it right that pushed people to play again and again. Rock Band will be like that, but amped up to 11.

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