Saturday, April 17, 2010
Why Ultimate Rock Band is Possible, and Will Never Happen
Rock Band. I like Rock Band. Rock Band is a very fun party game. In case you've been living under a rock (although I think the rhythm game genre has reached the undersides of rocks by now), Rock Band, and Guitar Hero, and ____ Hero, and ____ ____ (The generic knockoffs.), are games where you pretend to play instruments. You hold a big plastic guitar, and press buttons at the right time to make music play. It's fun! I like it.
But there's one thing I don't like about it; You can only play preset songs. Each game has a setlist, and you need to DLC other songs off of the internet, or buy a new game altogether to get other songs. Why can't I play mp3s? Why can't I plug in a thumb drive into my PS3 and upload a bunch of, say, Five Iron Frenzy music, and play that?
You're probably thinking right now: "That would never work! Programmers have to plug in where each note you hit goes in each song the put into the game! They can't do that for EVERY song!"
Admittedly, that sounds like a very good reason. Of course they can't be expected to plug a set of notes into every song ever made! That would be impossible! But, I would like to point out something to you. Audiosurf. Audiosurf is a game with both racing, and Tetris elements, for the PC, but the unique thing about it is the fact that you can put any MP3 into it, and it will base the track you are racing down and the blocks you have to pick up based on that song.
For example, when you get to a slow part of the song, your ship will go uphill, move more slowly, and there will be less notes to pick up. When you get to a fast part of the song, your ship moves more quickly, picking up a lot of notes. It's a really good game, I recommend picking it up at some point. The point is, though, it works with ANY mp3.
That's not the only game like that either. A game I picked up just yesterday, Beat Hazard, does something similar. It's an asteroids/geometry wars style game, but instead of shooting random lasers, you shoot visualized music, like the stuff you see in Windows Media Player. If the song reaches a slow point, you shoot out less visualized music, and thus are less powerful. Enemies also spawn based on how intense the moment of the song is, and dance across the screen with the beat of the music. It's quite impressive actually.
So, I pose the question again, where is my ultimate rhythm game? My Ultimate Rock Band that lets me plug in a flash drive, and play any music I want? Surely if some indie studios could figure out the algorithm to create a racing game where the track is based off of your music, or a geometry wars game where you shoot colorful beams of visualized music across the screen, two of the biggest studios in the world, Neversoft (Guitar Hero), and Harmonix (Rock Band), can figure it out? For crying out loud, Activision makes 2/3rds of it's profit each year off of the Call of Duty franchise, World of Warcraft, and Guitar Hero! So surely, SURELY, they can figure it out?
Ah, but why would they want to? Once the release Ultimate Rock Band, they can't release Ultimate Rock Band 2. Because there's nothing more to add. Some new instruments? Ok, sure. But what then? They keep pumping out Rock Band 2, Lego, Beatles, Green Day, Mobile, Unplugged, and soon, 3. Not to mention Track Packs, and all that overpriced DLC!
And notice everything I just linked is from the Rock Band franchise. The one known for releasing LESS unnecessary sequels than it's competitor, or generic spinoffs. Plus there's DDR, and that's another multi-million dollar industry right there! Rhythm games have a big market right now. Ultimate Rock Band would kill the market for them. I mean, the market supposedly died down last year, and we're still seeing new ones released every other week!
So, sadly, I doubt we'll ever see Ultimate Rock Band. It's just not going to happen. The closest thing we'll ever get might be a cheap PC knockoff that let's you use the keyboard to play, and that's just not the same.
But hey, I can hope, right?