Fair warning: we had these questions answered by Harmonix producer Daniel Sussman before theRock Band announcement. That means that he alludes to a big announcement we already have. Outside of that, there are some solid answers about the franchise here.
Guitar HeroII for the 360 hits retail tomorrow, and many places already have it for sale. Expect our thoughts once our copy comes in.
Opposable Thumbs: Guitar Hero took off in a huge way. I know many people who bought a PS2 simply to play the game after they tried it at a party, and I know even more people who are now willing to sell their PS2 now that the game is coming to the 360. Of course, that success brings attention, and both you and Red Octane have since been acquired by MTV and Activision, respectively. So what does that mean for Harmonix and Guitar Hero? Are you still involved in Guitar Hero, or is it a case of building a boat and then letting other people sail it forward?
Daniel Sussman: We are still involved with the Guitar Hero franchise, though as it grows, we're more than happy to hand the reins to other developers so that we can pursue our own dream projects. The really exciting thing for me is that the music game, as a genre, has a full head of steam. Guitar Hero really broke the door down and now we're very excited to see what other developers bring to the table. No bullshit.
Q: There is a sense among many gamers I've talked to that while the game play updates in Guitar HeroII were all great, the song list wasn't quite as varied and interesting as the first game. Now that the game is coming to the 360 is there any chance of getting the Guitar HeroI tracks using the multiplayer modes and game updates from Guitar Hero II?
A: First off, I love the Guitar Hero II song list and think that, with the extra 10 songs, there is actually more variety than in the first title.We’ve gotten some feedback that maybe we skewed too metal on the sequel, but it has to be said that the GH2 song list runs the gamut from The Police to Lamb of God. That’s a really wide spread.With respect to song downloads, I will say that you are not the only person to have the idea of releasing GH1 songs for download.A lot of people are watching with intense curiosity as to how the first songs are received.It is really a brand new opportunity for record companies, bands, and developers–it's very exciting.
Q: I was playing Amplitude with some friends on the PS3 a few days ago, and they are all big Guitar Hero fans, but have never seen the earlier work Harmonix has done. Any plans to bring Frequency or Amplitude to the Live Arcade or as PS3 download? The games could find an entire new audience through that channel.
A: It makes me sad that those early titles are hard to find. Sony owns the Frequency/Amplitude brand and would have to revive them.I think we'd be willing to play a role.I wonder how Sony would feel about releasing one of their titles on Live Arcade …
Q: The upcoming Every Extra Extend Extreme apparently uses the custom soundtrack feature of the 360 in conjunction with the game play, altering how the game runs based on whatever song you play. Did you ever considertrying to incorporate custom soundtracks into Guitar Hero for 360? Perhaps using some kind of synthesizer-mapping programming to dynamically create a chord set for a custom song?
A: Yes, we did consider this. The fact is, a lot of effort goes into crafting each song, making it playable, and making it feel guitar-y and musical.I'm very proud of the job our audio team did and find it difficult to believe that we could have found a way to do that programatically.I think that all of the organic micro-decisions that our audio team made on a daily basis played a huge rule in what made Guitar Hero fun in the first place.
Q: What do you see as the best platform for rhythm games at the moment? When can we expect to see a Harmonix title on the Wii?
A: Rhythm games really transcend the console details as they don't necessarily need tons of CPU mojo to run. The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward, most of the time. Each platform brings something unique to the table, whether its physica gaming for the Wii, a great online infrastructure with the XBOX 360 or awesome programming power and graphics capabilities with the PS3.
Q: Do you ever bump into anyone from Konami and have an awkward moment? They have to be a little bitter about the success of Guitar Hero.
A: I still have tons of friends over there. No hard feelings …
Q: What's the next big thing we can expect from Harmonix?
A: We're working on the game we're dying to make. We've got big partners in MTV and EA. Stay tuned for more info …
Q: Lastly, what would your dream project be?
A: Like I said in the earlier question, I’m working on my dream game now. I’ll also say that I consider myself really lucky to have had an opportunity to have worked on some really fun games, from Frequency to Guitar Hero.
Whatever could it be? We'd like to thank Daniel Sussman for his time, and we can't wait to see what the franchise is like on the 360.