BandFuse: Rock Legends is a music video game where legendary rockers transform players into real-world guitarists, bassists and vocalists, unleashing a full band experience for players of all skill levels. I got the chance to sit down with one of the people who is currently working behind the scenes of what could be one of this Holiday season’s games to own. I got the chance to have a Q&A Session with Marcus Henderson, Game Designer on BandFuse: Rock Legends.
Royal Flush Magazine (RF): So tell me a little background info on BandFuse: Rock Legends
Marcus Henderson: Well, BandFuse: Rock Legends is a game where players strap on a real guitar and play along with the biggest rock songs of all time. It works with any real guitar with a 1/4″ output, whether acoustic or electric, or one made with dental floss. (laughs). All you have to do is use the adapter that is included with your game and plug it directly into your console. (Xbox 360 or PS3)
RF: Can you tell me about the musical lineup?
MH: Sure! Some of the world’s most famous rock legends such as Slash, Bootsy Collins, Zakk Wylde, and many others will guide the player every step of the way with musical tutorials that will provide the foundation for a lifetime of music. Some of the songs that you will play include ones by Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Maroon 5, The Strokes, Blue Oyster Cult, Heart, Billy Idol, etc. We have a very eclectic setlist.
RF: I see…So do you have to progress through the game in order to unlock them?
MH: No. Our entire collection is open from the moment you put the game in. There are still aspects like online leaderboards and challenges for songs, Shred U which where you can slow songs down to hear every nuance or loop your favorite segments, in addition to multiplayer modes where you can form your own band. Also, with that mode you can create original music in real-time with up to 4 players. There is also a tour mode where you progress through a “rock tour” starting out as [essentially] a nobody and becoming a Rock Legend.
RF: So how hard was it to get the rights to songs?
Making any game is difficult. But a music game is even more so. You have factions of people just getting the rights to the songs, and another just working on transcriptions. So we had to do a lot of different things like build our own audio engine, and build all these tools around our game. This is what takes so long, and adds to delays. Everyone may say “Where is it? Where is it?”, but we are an independent game studio that is a small team of musicians and game developers coming together to make this game. As I said earlier, we had to build most of our tools & frameworks, audio engine, and analytic engine which have to be tested and rebuilt constantly. I understand the impatience of a gamer, but the end product is always what we hope to be a huge payoff. For example, look how long it took for Bioshock Infinite to come out. I’m sure Ken Levine and his team were sitting around looking for every possible way they can to make that game that much more incredible. And now they’re staring face first at the possibility of becoming Game of the Year, and you can tell that his people put a lot of heart, love, and soul into their game, just like we did with ours. There’s nooks and crannies everywhere that you can tell it is stylistically so musically centered. Its so exciting because people can tell musicians built this thing with love and dedication and thats all we wanted to do!
RF: Awesome. So tell me what makes your game unique? I mean there are a lot of other guitar games that have come and gone. How do you break from the mold?
MH: Well we use what is called a “Real-World Tablature” which is a unique interface using animated tablature which simplifies music for beginners, shows them where to place their fingers and when to strum the strings. For more experienced guitarists, they will be challenged to master solos and advanced techniques, playing along with songs exactly as recorded by the original artists.
RF: Exactly as recorded? How so ?
MH: Well, we used the actual recorded stems. Basically the audio you hear is the audio from the sound board of that recording session. Whatever they recorded literally came straight from the source to us. No MP3s were used in this game. We don’t use any post audio to re-record stuff. We use the stem: “the bass part”, “the drum part”, “the guitar part”. The studios gave us the individual recorded assets, which was used to isolate tracks in order to break down what the guitar does in different sections. It’s hard to break down and transcribe music when you can’t hear exactly what you need. The lead guitar part was separated from the rhythm guitar parts and we really focused on getting each part accurate so the tabs are 100% accurate.
RF: Is that a preference on your part ?
MH: No. Its part of our brand identity. The other game uses MP3s, and we do things…I don’t really want to say the “right” way…well…its more the thorough way. We made sure to have complete control over our audio assets so that you [the player] can have complete control as well. I want to say that we definitely do things the accurate way.
RF: Is that what sets you aside from the rest, and makes your game relevant and not just another rhythm game?
MH: Well…I don’t consider us a “rhythm game” per se. We are more of a guitar, bass, and vocal experience, where there are definitely game aspects incorporated in our experience. Certainly there’s the analytics, and leaderboards and scoring. But, essentially, our identity has been forged from the get-go. The other brands out there are trying to do this, left a wide path for us to carve our own, and they went their own way and we went ours. Their UI is their own, and ours is tablature and its something that can be universally spoken and shared across all. It breaks down barriers allowing people to get deep into the game and it gives us the chance to really establish that identity as: a game that helps you become a better musician.
RF: Nice…Anything else you want to add?
MH: Yea… I can say that we have a different path, and you can choose it or not, there really is no right or wrong. We just have a specific brand identity and a specific direction, and as long as everyone is learning music, there is no reason why two brands can’t peacefully coexist.
The experience speaks for itself. People learn with tableture and repetition and being able to slowly develop their skill set in a comfortable UI. That’s all we wanted to do- to make the best sounding, best looking, funniest video game experience you’ll ever get!
RF: Thank you so much for the info! Any word on a release date?
MH: No problem! We are definitely looking to release it before Thanksgiving this year… right in time for the Holiday season. There will be different versions, but those details haven’t been finalized yet so I can’t elaborate much on the names of them or what will be included. There will definitely be achievements and trophies, and DLC which will be song packs, and not individual songs, but that’s all still in progress.
RF: Great! Thanks again!
Bandfuse: Rock Legends is rated T for Teen.
BandFuse: Rock Legends will ship with three distinct hardware bundles for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 systems, giving players an excellent, smartly priced set of retail options, whether they already own a guitar or not.
- The Artist Pack ($69.99 MSRP) includes the BandFuse: Rock Legends game and 1/4” to USB guitar cable (Xbox 360 also contains an Audio Adapter and headphone extension cable).
- The Band Pack($79.99 MSRP) includes two guitar cables, a microphone, multi-port instrument hub, and an acoustic guitar adapter.
- The Guitar Bundle includes the BandFuse: Rock Legends game, guitar cable, and authentic Fender Squier guitar (MSRP to be announced at a future date).
BandFuse: Rock Legends will be released on November 19, 2013