Brandon Boyer

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Harmonix co-founder Alex Rigopulos has some very smart reflections on the birth and evolution of music gaming in this recent chat with Wired, talking about the work and non-work of music creation software — which the company was founded to create — versus their music performance software as we know it today.

He also expounds on how familiarity with the music helps guide you as a player, and the risks in broadening its catalog from Guitar Hero‘s cherry-picked ‘best of the history of rock’ catalog to Rock Band‘s more all-encompassing selections that attempt to foster music discovery rather than just appreciation, and, implicitly, makes you understand why the company is at the fore of the music gaming genre.

Game|Life Video: The Man Behind Rock Band [Wired]

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  1. Now, I’m not saying that Guitar Hero and Rock band aren’t great – they are, and I’m sure a lot of effort went into development – but the creation probably consisted of.

    1. Go to arcade
    2. Play GuitarFreaks
    3. ???
    4. Profit

  2. If Harmonix hadn’t already earned its reputation for music games with Frequency and Amplitude prior to Guitar Hero, I think you could make that case, and there’s no one who can honestly say that Konami hadn’t broken the ground already.

    But play any of Konami’s Bemani series (with the possible exception of DDR) back to back with a Harmonix game and the difference is striking.

    Bemani games give you lots of opportunities for technical excellence (I’ve seen dual-arcade-controller “performances” of Beatmania that would leave you breathless at their robotic precision) but they aren’t as strongly (or emotionally) connected to the music itself.

  3. Yeah, as an avid player of the Bemani series (including DDR!) I’d agree – I wasn’t trying to take the wind out of anyone’s sails.

    There’s a reason Guitar Freaks didn’t do amazing in the US, and Harmonix found out how to fix the formula – and well, the proof is in the pudding.

    In college I was working at a retail video game store in proximity to Harmonix back in the early days of the franchise, we had a bunch of guys there sign a red SG controller, and set it as the prize in a tournament. I was surprised how much hype the game picked up so quickly. The place was packed! (a few Harmonix guys stopped by too)

    I have to say though, it was a shame employee’s couldn’t compete – the years of Guitar Freaks provided me with freakishly agile fingers that could totally rock faces off. Ah, those were the days.

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