Rock Band 3 Will Have Harmonies

Rock Band PAX PanelIn case you missed it on my Twitter feed, yesterday Harmonix confirmed that Rock Band 3 will have vocal harmonies, like those found in The Beatles and Green Day Rock Bands.

Only they didn’t mean to confirm it.

The scene was the Rock Band panel at PAX East, titled “An Awkward Hour With Rock Band Designers.” Scant minutes after emphatically insisting at the they couldn’t talk about Rock Band 3 at all, the panel found themselves faced with the following question from the audience:

Q: I know it was announced that the songs would be exportable, but I also know that on the Green Day game there are going to be harmonies, and I don’t think that’s available in Rock Band 2. So, is there any way you’re going to reconcile that?

And here’s the response:

Chris Foster, project lead for Green Day: Rock Band (far left): So, we’re doing a couple things. We’re importing the six Green Day songs that are out already into Green Day: Rock Band and adding harmonies to those. And the 47 songs in Green Day have harmonies; they’ll import to Rock Band 2. And I think we’ve said — we’ve already said that Rock Band 3 has harmonies, it’s one of the few things we’ve actually said about it; thank you, Mr. DeGooyer.*

Dan Teasdale, lead designer for Rock Band 3 (far right): No, we haven’t announced anything. Thanks for leaking that, Chris. [much laughter from the audience and the panel] I’m just glad that wasn’t me.

CF: I totally Teasdaled that, I’m sorry.

Casey Malone, designer (second from right): I’m really expecting [communications manager] John Drake to crash through the ceiling right now like a Sentinel and just pick us up. [much laughter] Yeah, this crowd gets that joke! [much laughter and applause]

CF: I wasn’t originally on the panel, as you might have noticed. So I’m going to stop talking there, but you might want to put the rest of that together. It’s been nice working for Harmonix.

Shortly thereafter, the threat became real: John Drake stormed into the theater, chasing Foster off the stage and attempting to tackle him, to loud cheers and laughter from the panel and audience. He then grabbed a chair and planted it directly in front of the panelists’ table, where he sat, arms crossed, and glowered at the panel for the rest of the hour.

I’ll have more about the Rock Band panel soon, but wanted to share this entertaining exchange first, as it was the main bit of real news to come out of the panel. It certainly doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given that the two Rock Band games that will be preceding it also have harmonies, but it’s a nice confirmation nonetheless.

UPDATE: RockBandAide now has video of the scandalous event!

*It’s pretty clear that Foster was referring to this interview with MTV Games Senior VP Paul DeGooyer, where DeGooyer is talking about Green Day: Rock Band. Since both it and Rock Band 3 are arriving later this year, I think it’s pretty easy to understand how someone would mix the two up. But I suspect John Drake may see things differently.


  1. Game!Ov3r says:

    pretty funny stuff… but harmonies were a no brainer for RB3, but what does that mean for the already downloaded DLC songs? Most likely have to re-download them.

  2. Game!Ov3r says:

    one other thing, i am not in the video game business or anything so why do companies withhold information? If they are including something why not come out and say it??? Is it the Hype monster or is it something Legal wise?

  3. Joe Rybicki says:

    I think most of the time it’s a combination of any or all of the following things: not wanting to promise something that might not make it into the final game; not wanting to divulge features to the competition; not having licensing deals finalized; wanting to save “reveals” for special events like E3 or big cover stories…I’m sure there are more reasons I’m not thinking of right now, but basically it’s a combination of legal, the hype monster, and lots of other factors.

  4. Owen says:

    In software development (particularly game development) you are always facing the schedule. It can cost a lot of money to delay a product, and you don’t want to miss important release seasons or let a competitor get their game out first.

    Every feature requires time to implement. Some features are really hard and can take a lot of effort to get right, so you leave them until you’ve finished the important stuff. If you don’t promise a list of features, then right up until the deadline you have the ability to say internally, “If we drop x and y we can release on time.” It’s a manager’s job to decide if dropping x and y is worse than missing the schedule.

    Particularly in the gaming industry, when developers announce a feature it BETTER be in the release. Now that it’s been announced, if the game is released *without* harmonies there will be lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth in the game community. Will it affect sales? Who knows? But it will affect publicity, and that can hurt your chances at pitching a sequel. Now if harmonies turn out to be the thing they can’t quite finish on time, it’s a lot more likely they’ll have to delay the game.

    I guess there’s also the chance that if you announce features too early, you tip off competitors that they need to focus on similar features as well. Much better to have a feature your competitor doesn’t have.

    TL;DR: if you don’t promise a feature you don’t have to do it, and people generally don’t get upset if you don’t. If your competition doesn’t know you’re working on something, they might not have a counter.

  5. Joe Rybicki says:

    Excellent insight and explanation, Owen. Never really thought of it in terms of how announcing something can actually delay a release.

  6. Game!Ov3r says:

    Owen, thanks for the breakdown. Very interesting. Kind of reminds me of the article i was reading about the New Super Mario Bros Wii, They were going to do a Princess Peach instead of a second toad playable character, but due to time restraints of the character design and movements they dumped it and went with the second toad. If they said Peach was going to possibly be a playable character and then dumped her, then i could see why people would throw a fit.