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Former Harmonix developer shoots down PS3 tech in rant


A former developer at Harmonix, the team behind the hotly anticipated Rock Band, had some choice words against Sony's PS3 in his personal blog. His outrage comes as the most recent in many public outcries against Sony's next generation machine. He tackles so-called "misconceptions" that PS3 fans seem to have. Firstly, he says that the graphics capabilities of the machine have been misconstrued. "Fill rate is one of the primary ways to measure graphics performance - in essence, it's a number describing how many pixel operations you can perform. The fill rate on the PS3 is significantly slower than on the 360, meaning that games either have to run at lower resolution or use simpler shader effects to achieve the same performance ... And I'm not talking about small differences here, we're talking roughly half the pixel pushing power."

In regards to Blu-ray, the developer criticized the lower read speeds of the medium. "Great for watching movies, but not so great for games. Getting data off the Blu-ray drive takes about twice as long as it does to get the same data off the 360's DVD drive. That translates into longer load times."

The challenges that developers face when coding for the PS3 have inevitably led to "sloppier" ports, where the PS3 versions of games on Xbox 360 run more sluggishly. Jason Booth postulates that "Getting equivalent performance out of the PS3 requires a lot of work unique to the platform, and in many cases, even with all these tricks, you still won't see equivalent performance. Thus, many PS3 games have simplified shaders and run at lower native resolutions than the 360 versions. On top of this, there is shrinking incentive to do this work; the PS3 isn't selling."

[Via NeoGAF]
[Update: Added "former" to description of employee.]

Wireless Rock Band guitar crashes through FCC's gates

FCC employees must have had a lot of fun testing out this one. Though the hipsters might call it Exhibit VFR822151, to the layman it's the Bluetooth-enabled wireless Rock Band guitar for the PlayStation 3. Shown on the site are some test reports, pictures of the guitar's innards (ew!) and snippets of the manual.

Somewhat perplexing is the picture of a USB dongle (pictured after the break). Because of the Bluetooth technology, the guitar shouldn't need an intermediary device to connect to the PlayStation 3; however, the user manual included with the FCC exhibit clearly show the dongle as part of the setup process. Perhaps it'll become clearer closer to Rock Band's holiday launch.

[Via Engadget]

Continue reading Wireless Rock Band guitar crashes through FCC's gates

First glimpse at ten-button Rock Band guitar controller


Harmonix was just getting us warmed up, it seems. Instead of the five fret buttons we've grown accustomed to on the past Guitar Hero series, the Rock Band official Stratocaster-based guitar controller displays ten fret buttons. On the second pic embedded below, you'll notice the five new buttons down at the base of the neck. We can only imagine what kind of sick guitar solo action Harmonix has in store for us with these.

The pics arrive courtesy of a Gamestop newsletter, which also details the new features embedded into the guitar controller. As we reported earlier, guitar effects will play a large role, allowing the player to flange, wah, reverb and delay their way into guitar gaming bliss. No official pricing was included at this time, though we wouldn't be surprised to see something closer to $79.99 or thereabouts for the controller alone. Price be damned, we're still going to have to give this bad boy a spin. Anyone else?

Continue reading First glimpse at ten-button Rock Band guitar controller

A deluge of Rock Band details courtesy of Game Informer



For a game which we've known very little about since it was announced, having so many Rock Band details elucidated so suddenly is like Christmas come early. Except, if that were the case, we'd have the game by now. There's too much for us to discuss fully, so we'll focus on the points we find most interesting.

Emphasis is on the online play, with a strong community based system (read: Myspace clone) for finding other bandmates, the ability to create a band logo and to customise your avatar. There is no clarification of whether PS3 and 360 users will be able to play together. We strongly hope they will. Due to Microsoft requiring special circuit boards for their peripherals, the controllers will be console specific.

The guitars will have ten frets. The normal five near the top of the neck and an extra five near the bottom, used exclusively for solos. There is also a five-way effects switch, with purchasable effects such as Flange and Wah. We've always wanted to fit those words into a post. USB microphones will be supported, giving us another reason to pick up Singstar when it's released. The drum controller promises to be a "TV dinner tray stand, only cooler," which could go either way, really. We hope it'll be a decent sized piece of equipment. It will come with wooden drum sticks and have four pads to hit with them.

Check out the rest of the details at NeoGAF and, if you want to see the accompanying images, pick up the latest issue of Game Informer. We certainly will.

[Via CVG]

Excited about Rock Band? You will be after reading this interview



In an interview with IGN, Alex Rigopulos (CEO of Harmonix) revealed some details about the development process of Rock Band. Despite remaining tight lipped regarding actual specifics of controller set-ups, pricing, songs or gamplay he still managed to say enough of the right things to get us sufficiently excited for the game. Again. Sounds impossible, right? Read on.

When asked whether Rock Band would feature strong single player gameplay for each instrument Rigopulos responded, saying "I can't speak to what Activision has planned for future versions of Guitar Hero, but what I can say is that Rock Band's guitar game alone will be more substantial than any of the prior Guitar Hero releases." He then goes on to remind us that there will be a singing section, a drum section and a co-operative band section on top of the guitar portion of the game. If each of these four game modes are as big as he is indicating then Rock Band is going to be truly immense. I can already hear RedOctane quaking in their boots.

As for those potentially bank-breaking controllers, Rigopulos says that making a game like Rock Band requires good quality peripherals to enhance the gameplay experience. As a development team full of musicians, Harmonix is determined to make the controllers for Rock Band feel more authentic than any instrument peripheral we've seen before. As a drummer himself, Rigopulos has seen to it that the new drum controller is "a real piece of hardware."

Read the rest of the interview for more info. Also, don't forget to suggest which songs you'd like to see in the game on the official website. Our excitement for Rock Band is peaked (until Harmonix throws some gameplay info our way, at least), how about you?

Tell Harmonix how to Rock with your Rock Band song suggestions

Those of you who are keeping an eye on the official Rock Band website will notice something new today. Harmonix is requesting that their fans, fervent and obsessive as we are about our virtual music playing tastes, send them song suggestions for their upcoming title.

We hope Harmonix is ready for what will no doubt be an unyileding barrage of track names crammed into their inbox. This is a great opportunity for us who found the Guitar Hero II tracklist lacking to make the songs available for Rock Band really stand out. So do your part and submit some classic tunes for us to rock out to when the game is released at Christmas. Once you've done that, post a comment and let us know what it was you suggested. We're curious.

If you feel like suggesting some songs by Jimmy Eat World, Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Snow Patrol or Something Corporate then go for it. Transparent? Maybe. An opportunity we'd be silly to pass up? Definitely.

[Via Joystiq]

Guitar Hero 3 videos unleashed upon the world



We love videos as much as the next person, so when we stumbled upon these Guitar Hero 3 videos (and by stumbled we mean directed towards by a helpful tip), we thought it would be great to share them with you guys. First up is for the song My Name Is Jonas -- it's cool. After the jump, you can check out the video for Slow Ride. We just don't want to overload you unless you really want to see both. Rumors are these are from the Xbox 360 build, but it's kind of moot since we're sure the game will be about the same for every system. Enjoy and get ready to rock. That will be the most over-used line ever regarding these games. Guaranteed.

[via Arrogantics]

Continue reading Guitar Hero 3 videos unleashed upon the world

New Rock Band details - Fender Strat controller coming

Harmonix have signed an exclusive deal with Fender, guitar maker extraordinaire, to design the upcoming Rock Band controller around their ultra-popular Stratocaster model. There's a bit more teaser information on the game itself to follow.

When asked about whether the new controllers will be compatible with Guitar Hero III onwards, or vice-versa, Harmonix responded saying that they would love for that to be the case. Guitar Hero I and II controllers will be compatible with Rock Band (cutting the price slightly for those wanting the Ultimate Rock Band experience), but that the new controllers would have a couple of new features over the old ones. Whether the new Fender Strat controllers will be compatible with Guitar Hero III, however, is up to Activision but is something the guys at Harmonix would be very interested in making happen.

Responding to worries of a lack of single player mode, due to the apparent focus on online-play, Harmonix made sure to reassure everyone that there will be a "deep, complete solo experience" for each of the different instruments. So that Guitar Hero, Donkey Konga, Singstar combination idea you thought up down the pub last year is even closer than you think. As for fears that the online play might be ruined by lag, we're told not to worry. It's a problem "for which we have a unique solution...and it's a heck of a lot of fun in action."

Harmonix introduces "Rock Band" to the world

Harmonix, the legendary minds behind the legendary Guitar Hero titles, have introduced to us the latest idea from their rockin' minds: Rock Band. Along with MTV, Harmonix and Electronic Arts are all gathering their creative forces to create a four-person rock experience, complete with guitar, bass, drums and a microphone for a lead singer. Of course, if you're feeling especially talented, you could be a three-piece band if you can sing and strum simultaneously.

Coming to both the PS3 and 360 this coming holiday season (right around Christmas, we'd imagine), there is going to be a wealth of online features to make this game worth the price, even if you've no friends willing to play with you (ahem). Teaming up with musicians across the country and downloading songs... sounds amazing, doesn't it?

There's so much coming for this game and hopes are running very, very high. Having been dreamt of for years by gamers and developers alike, the advent of online distribution for games, music, and online features... we can only imagine the badassery this game will provide us. Go ahead and check out the huge preview over at IGN and let us know what you think of this fantastic idea. Not that we're leading you on by calling it a "fantastic" idea or anything...

Guitar Hero rocks out online

Face it, you secretly wish you were a rock star. The girls, glamor and glitz are too much to pass up for strummin' on some chords. That's why Harmonix's Guitar Hero is so addictive. Sure, you're playing with a mass-produced plastic replica of a guitar not unlike a toy axe, but it's fun!

Wouldn't it be even better online? Publisher RedOctane's boss Kai Huang says that next-gen installments will include online stuff like "downloading new music or characters or skins or online play features." The last part sounds the best: rocking it out online against your best friend would be priceless. Of course we can only infer what else "online play features" would entail.

The allure of being able to download additional content like music begs the question: Would they charge for it? Micro-transactions could be a huge haul for a next-gen music-oriented title. We'll have to wait and see how that gets answered, but in the meantime try and imagine other "Hero" themed music titles for your imitation fix (Bagpipe Hero anyone?). More instrument peripheral games is the next logical step according to the publisher.

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