Published on August 27th, 2015 | by Genevieve Mc Bride0
We Talk Rock Band 4 With PR & Communications Lead Nick Chester At Harmonix
As anyone who knows us will tell you, Gareth and I were regular players of the music games and logged many hours of gameplay. With the pending Release of Rock Band 4, and our subsequent pending Hands on at PAX Prime this weekend, I got to speak to PR & Communications Lead Nick Chester about the game and what fans can expect.
How did the music selection process for RB4 differ from previous versions?
In many ways it was the same – find great music that’s fun to play. Those things aren’t always one in the same. There are some pretty amazing songs that we’ve gotten in the game that are just not fun to play. I’m not pointing any fingers, though, so don’t ask!
We also had a mission to find great music that we wanted people to be exposed to, stuff that we thought people should be hearing and listening to. There’s always the balance of finding stuff that people know, because you have audience expectations and at the end of the day, having a recognizable song or artist could sell your game. But finding gems that people may not have heard and getting it out there was absolutely one of our goals.
With players able to request songs for consideration, how much easier is it to approach a band or singer to request permission to use their work?
It’s no easier, it’s no harder. It’s the same process, really. We use the request tool to help surface music that may be off our radar, as well as get a sense for what people want. A lot of the times it’s stuff we’re already going after; there’s a lot of “no duh” stuff that shows up on the request list. But the tool has been really useful for us so far, and we’re listening. Avenged Sevenfold’s “Hail to the King” was one of the top requested songs and it’s in the game. A ton of people requested music from The Protomen and their music is in the game.
Your website states previously purchased DLCs will be available for re-download and use in Rock Band 4, but only after the DLC is released on next-generation consoles. How soon will those re-downloadable DLCs be released?
You’ll know when we know! The real answer is, we’re working through that now, and we’ll have more to share soon.
How often will new DLCs be released and what can players expect content-wise? When will pricing structures be available?
You’re likely to see a similar cadence and similar pricing structure to what we did last generation. That seemed to work for our fans and we had a healthy DLC business long after the release of Rock Band 3. Of course, we’ll keep our eye on things to see how that’s working and there’s always room for us to adjust.
While the career mode looks like a fun challenge, the real challenge can be in gathering players in one spot. When can players expect an online multiplayer option?
If you’re talking about synchronous multiplayer, we don’t plan to support that at launch. I know this is bumming some folks out and it was a hard decision we had to make in order to focus on things like making sure instruments were compatible, making sure we could get all of the old DLC onto new consoles, making sure our engine was running on new platforms…. little things like that. The fact actually is that a very small percentage of the player base used online functionality, so we had to make the call to not focus on it for launch. Rock Band 4 is a platform that we plan on updating frequently with features, so it’s growing, and we could add functionality down the line if it made sense for us to do it. So we’re definitely listening to players on this.
Could an online battle of the bands be coming down the pipeline?
That’s a cool idea!
What has been the biggest challenge of re-launching this franchise after suspending it for nearly 3 years ago?
Everything has been a challenge – getting a completely new engine working on new platforms, coming up with fresh concepts to build on the core gameplay, getting old instruments working with new hardware, getting 1500 pieces of music on new consoles… it’s tough! But the team has been killing it, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to watch it all come together.
What was the impetus for reintroducing Rock Band to the masses?
We think that Rock Band as an experience is actually really important, and it’s not one you can currently do on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. So there was this hole there and something was missing. On top of that, the time off we took from the franchise to work on other projects really creatively energized the company, and they’ve been able to channel that into Rock Band 4.
What is your instrument control of choice and why? Any favorite songs on the new playlist?
I go through phases, right now I’m totally into the vocals – the new Freestyle Vocals really let me free up how I sing, and it makes the experience way more dynamic and interesting for me. As far as favorite songs on the new playlist, I really like some of the unannounced ones! Yeah, I’m being a tease.
Your dream rock band members?
I’d probably get Kimbra on vocals, Dave Lombardo from Slayer on drums, Thundercat on bass, and we’ll throw Agata from Melt Banana and Ben Weinman from Dillinger Escape Plan on guitar. I don’t know what that would sound like, but I’d love to find out.