Guitar Hero On Tour: Modern Hits Interview

Discussion in 'User Submitted News' started by imz, May 3, 2009.

May 3, 2009
  1. imz

    Member imz GBAtemp's vigilante

    Nov 6, 2007
    Gotham city
    United Kingdom
    <b>IGN: First off, congrats on another cool pocket Guitar Hero. We're playing it in the office and having a blast with it. I know, that's not really a question per se…</b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Haha. Thank you.

    <b>IGN: This time around On Tour is themed for Modern Hits. What does that entail? We're seeing bands like Fall Out Boy and Weezer, but what can fans expect later in the set list? Did you guys set a decade cut-off for all the Modern Hits tracks? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Really with each of the On Tour games we really pick a theme, and focus on music around that theme, and also look at new gameplay that makes sense. So with Modern Hits we really focused on music in about the last five to seven years or so, and it includes things like Fall Out Boy, Weezer, Lenny Kravitz, Wolfmother… a lot of the big acts in the last five or seven years, and we've really taken that music and wrapped it up in some new gameplay mechanics and a setting that really is cohesive with that theme.

    <b>IGN: I noticed a couple repeat tracks in there from other Guitar Hero (console) games. Is that something you wanted to add in to kind of link the games together, or were they just tracks you couldn't pass up due to the era…</b>

    <b>Bala</b>: We just love that music, and we wanted those songs on the DS and take them with us, so we were allowed to pick a couple tracks from previous games and add them onto the DS since we figured other players would like them too.
    IGN: Most of the pocket Guitar Hero games have been mixing it up with more mainstream songs thus far, but from the looks of it fans are tearing it up on DS as well as on consoles. What tracks this time around will seriously challenge the hardcore Guitar Hero DS fans? Can you give us some examples?</b>

    <b>Bala</b>: I think the millage is going to vary on that, and I don't think we've announced some of the later tracks… Here's the thing though. The difficulty is actually measured in bit of a different way, since we've added a new spin on the main career mode with fan requests and general progression, so that's going to really mix things up based on what aspects of the game you find challenging.

    <b>IGN: That was actually my next question. What's the "Fan Request" mode all about? You're adding in fan count, and almost an achievement-like system where they request songs and you have to clear them to move on, right? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yeah. Let me back up for a minute on that one. After On Tour released we started really thinking about where we wanted to take the series with each of the different games, and we said "Ok, we're doing a Decades game. What do we want on it?" and we ended up refining a lot of the gameplay, the touch control, we improved the visuals and audio and then crammed in a few more songs. The big one though for Decades was the song sharing system for multiplayer, and it was pretty cool, brand new technology that let us stream songs from what system to the other. With Modern Hits we've again brought things really up to date. The visuals are again stronger, we've gotten more audio quality out of the system, we've got more songs, stronger touch screen, and the song sharing is back, and then we've got this brand new single player career mode now. It's a deeper, richer experience.

    Part of the goal there was saying "How can we open the world up from just going, playing a venue, and then moving on to the next one" and so you've got this fiction and narrative around it now. You've got a promoter, and fashion designer, guitar shop owner, and what you're trying to do is build your fan base, so now unlocking venues by upping your fans and it's handled very differently. You don't just progress by beating a song once and going to the next tier; you actually need to up your fans to get the privilege to play at a new, larger location. So you've got "opening acts" and "headline acts" and you can go with either one. So you can play through the song as normal, but you can also take fan requests to really build your fan base up. Fans are essentially telling you do different challenges such as "Play lead guitar without using star power at all" or "Play lead guitar and get a minimum of 80%" or "Get a streak of over 100" which is really going to mix things up. And building up those challenges and completing them, and then earning fans, is really how you're going to progress through the game this time around.

    <b>IGN: I noticed the PDA system in there as well, and from what I can remember that's totally new to Modern Hits, right? Does that factor into the whole "complete songs, check with fans, do more challenges" system? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yeah that's right. We couldn't exactly have a PDA in Decades when you're playing in the 70's right?

    <b>IGN: No 80's Miami Vice "giganto" cell phones!?
    <b>Bala</b>: Maybe an 80's Trapper Keeper? Haha. But yes, the PDA system is all new, and it works in with the fans concept. It's a really neat look, and it really works into the whole theme of Modern Hits with the venues, the way we present everything, the new characters… it's all really tied well together, and it creates this much deeper career mode which is more fleshed out and a lot longer as well now that you've got all the fan requests. The other thing that we've changed is that in quick play all the songs are unlocked right away, so you can play anything you want at the very beginning.

    <b>IGN: I noticed that was the case for this, as well as Smash Hits. That seems like something Activision globally wants to support from here on out…
    <b>Bala</b>: Well there are a lot of players now that are still very new to Guitar Hero, and we want to get them in as well. Just as a funny little story I got my wife into Guitar Hero, and she doesn't really play games, and she didn't for the life of her understand why all these songs that were advertised on the box aren't available to play. She was like "What do you mean you have to "unlock it." What does that even mean? It's the same concept as "Well, I bought a CD, and get all my music at the beginning," so its something that helps you enjoy it, play the music you like, but then all the career mode and challenges and fan system… that's all deeper in there for players that want to experience the full-on single player mode.

    <b>IGN: It's a good change. I can remember countless times going to parties or bringing a game over and we don't have the memory card or hard drive, and all of a sudden we're on the internet with a laptop trying to find the codes so we can play with a group of people… </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yeah exactly.

    <b>IGN: Ok bonus time here. Gotta keep you on your toes with some random Q's. Best rock legend of all time? Who is it, and where would you take him out to dinner? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Oh that's got to be Jimi Hendrix.

    <b>IGN: Dinner?
    <b>Bala</b>: Haha. Well there's an awesome place that's called "Bomber's Burrito Bar" here in Albany, and it's a total dive if you go down into the basement, but they've got the best burritos ever. We've been going there since they opened back in the late 90's, and it's just one of the cool hang-out places where you'd find the V V folks, so yeah, that's where I'd take him.

    <b>IGN: So it's Karthik Bala, Jimi Hendrix, in a dark basement eating burritos? I do have that right?
    <b>Bala</b>: Yeah. Ok… that doesn't sound all that cool right? It's a good time though!

    <b>IGN: I wanted to ask you guys from a technical standpoint, you've now got three games under the belt, and the visuals and audio are noticeably better this time around. You guys are big into tech, so how far are you really pushing the DS as far as power goes at this point? Cart sizes, MP3 quality, stronger visuals… </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: There's a lot of refinements. That's a weird thing with these Nintendo systems too. Every time we think we've hit the limit there's some other way to eek out just a bit more, and the fans of the series that are really paying attention will notice and see these changes. The visuals overall, and the venues are really spectacular – not just because of the tech, but also the art team really knows how to make things look very good – and the overall animation variety looks great. It's really just a matter of pushing it further and further over time, and that's one of the things about the song sharing too. If you've got all three games now that means you have 75 songs you can share, and that's pretty freaking awesome. And let me tell you it was a real pain getting that song sharing working…

    <b>IGN: Haha I'm sure. </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: It's just pushing so much data, and trying keep it consistent and high-quality across all the systems. The DS is definitely getting pushed really hard, and I think what we've done with Modern Hits is really a significant refinement, and it really builds on both On Tour and Decades for sure.

    <b>IGN: Very cool. I'm always impressed with what you guys are able to do with the systems you're working on. As another question I had – and this again is something we see in Smash Hits too – is that all the songs in Modern Hits are master tracks, right? I'm not missing anything… </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yup you're right.

    <b>IGN: So this looks like another new Activision-wide mandate right? Smash Hits is big on pushing the "These are all master tracks" side of things, and of course Modern Hits is all master tracks as well now…
    <b>Bala</b>: Yeah we've really gone for that. I think internally within the team all we want to play are masters. I mean, even casual players like my wife know the difference between a cover and a true master track, and there's something that's lost when you don't have them. That's something we really wanted to focus on for DS is making sure that you've got masters. To be honest with you we all know DS games in general get the short end of the stick, so we've made sure that we've been able to keep the quality requirements that are met by consoles.

    <b>IGN: I'm trying to remember which game it first was, but I think it was a Tony Hawk game (maybe 3?) on GBA that was made by you guys, and I popped it in and was surprised to hear actual MP3 tracks playing. Since that day I've supported the whole "Yeah, pocket games can sound good, and should live up to higher standards" and that's the case with Modern Hits. The game sounds great, and I've been playing it with some nice bass headphones… good stuff. </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: For sure. Sound quality is something we really push with this one.

    <b>IGN: Now we're revealing a new character within Modern Hits today – you guys are rolling them out one by one – so can you tell us a little bit about the new rocker? What's she all about, and how many others are on the way? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yeah, Calista. She's a really interesting character… kind of a "hard as nails" rocker that sports a serious attitude to her. She's in your face, thinks she's awesome, and she's like the best rockstar even though she's not, and she really made her way to fame through her attitude. So as you go you're following her through her career as you play and progress, and as far as Guitar Hero characters go she's really a different female character than a lot of the others. We've really tried to broaden the style of characters that are in the game. We've already introduced Simon, and we've got Calista here and then a lot of returning characters as well.

    <b>IGN: That's a newer internal art style you guys are going with now too right? I noticed that in the PDA, the interface, the new character designs… that's all internal artists? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yup, that's all internally done. We're trying to go with a different look and something that's specific to On Tour, and it's really given us a chance to express it more with the character style, since there's a lot more character interaction between sets. We really wanted to expand on that world, and expand on that art style and really go our own direction.

    <b>IGN: Ok, bonus question #2. It's five, 10, 20 years down the line, and Guitar Hero is totally washed up and gone. Activision comes to you and says "We need a new band game. Please help us!" What do you give them? What's the new hottest instrument? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: The triangle dude.

    <b>IGN: Triangle Hero? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Totally unexploited. Totally accessible. It'd rock.

    <b>IGN: Does that go on WIi too then? Or does Wii get like… Rhythm Egg Hero? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Oh on Wii too for sure. The catch is you need three Wii-motes, and it locks them together into a trilangle, and you can harness the three accelerometers and just go nuts with it. Think about it…

    <b>IGN: Oh it's thought on. I'm making the game object page right now for it. It's happening. All we need is release date and price.

    Ok let's move on then…

    What type of new venues are available in Modern Hits? Are you sticking to traditional locations, or going more the Smash Hits route and picking more crazy locations like Stonehedge? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yeah we've got new venues in Modern Hits, and we haven't really gone to the whole "fantastical" side of things with this game. I guess with each game it's got its own theme and style, and with Modern Hits we've kept it fairly grounded still. With that being said it's still a very ambitious design, since we've got things like Casino Vicarious and things like that. As for the others we've got new venues, and they're still grounded and themed from all around the world, but they're also very distinct in their feel. Some of the international venues we've really gone to great lengths to pull in that culture and that feel, but again it's very grounded while still being immersed and somewhat realistic.

    <b>IGN: I know you're keeping a tight lip on most things DSi, but it needs to be asked of course. It's out, DSi Guitar Hero is on the way, there's no GBA slot, and people are asking about online play, downloadable content… endless potential. On the design side, is that something that can be realistically done on DSi, or are you going to have to leave some things until an eventual DS2? What's in the works? </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: I'm going to be a little bit careful about what I can share…

    <b>IGN: That's fine. I can see the red dot on your head from Activision snipers… </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Haha. Well, with On Tour we've really intended it to go as a trilogy. I don't know if we've officially said that, but yes, it's a trilogy, and this is the last game in that On Tour set. Creatively we really wanted to finish off the trilogy as intended, on the original DS, before moving onto DSi. As you know we've been working as a studio on DSi already with our DSiWare Mixed Messages, which is the first third party piece of software on DSiWare. So in that time we've had a chance to really get familiar with the DSi platform and it is freaking awesome. It definitely has all the core features of the DS, but it also has a lot of new things in there too.

    There's a lot of possibilities, and we want to make sure we're taking the time and doing it right. So the guys here are working on that, and we can't really share what we have planned yet. There are a lot of ideas being pushed around, and that's really the great thing about a Nintendo platform. The company puts out a new platform with all these features that feel like they're tacked on - Touch screen? Two screens? What a gimmick! – and everyone's kind of skeptical about it at first, and then all fo a sudden as designers and programmers are spending time with it they go "oh my God we could do this and this…" and all these ideas start popping up with it. So we were realy stoked when going deeper and deeper with the system.

    Now, I think it'd be really tough to get every feature under the sun out there with DSi on the first try, but that's what's so great about the platform. The DS came out in 2004, we had a launch title with Spiderman 2, and now five years later we're still doing great things on the DS. So I think it's going to be a long while before the system is fully realized.

    <b>IGN: For sure. I mean, it's evidence with what you guys are doing on Wii as well. There are a very few companies that are bothering to put a lot of effort into Wii as well. SO now that we've got DSi, you guys are very much a company we're looking to see new ideas from in the form of new tech, new concepts, gameplay integration… the sky is the limit really.
    So what I guess I'm trying to say is… no pressure, right? Haha. </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Well the team is crazy. "No pressure," sure, but you know they're crazy, haha. We're doing a lot, and we're really really busy this year. I can't say exactly what of course, but we're very busy.

    <b>IGN: Well one thing I'm sure you're down to confirm for us, and it's something I know I've personally wanted for a long time, is full band mode on DS. Just think of it! People screaming into the microphone on the subway, making jackasses of themselves. I'm so down! </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Oh so you want to be singing on the subway train, is that it?

    <b>IGN: I'd be all "Don't stop, belieeevin'!" </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Haha.

    <b>IGN: Then everyone's like "Hold on to that feeeeeeling!" </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Or that's how you could get a free seat… everyone would move out of the way for you, right?

    <b>IGN: Exactly. See… that's why they pay me the big bucks here. Ok, enough of that crap. I have a bunch of questions here that are like "Seriously though, DLC confirmed for DSi right?" and all that… I know you don't want to say it, so just say "Wait until E3" and we'll move on ok?
    <b>Bala</b>: I'm not going to say anything… Haha

    <b>IGN: Karen? (Editor's note: Karen Fujimoto is a super-cool PR rock star for Activision, and was on the call) Karen, can we get a confirmation here? E3… that's where it's all going down, right?
    <b>Fujimoto</b>: Karthik is good. He knows what's up. Haha.

    <b>IGN: What are you doing to this guy Fujimoto!? He's a creative mind… let him run free!</b>

    <b>Bala</b>: You know Bozon I'm going to tell you everything I can and then some, but I know where to draw the line.

    <b>Fujimoto</b>: Well we just don't want to let you in on it yet!

    <b>IGN: Ok so E3 confirmed. No need to clarify… we'll see more at E3 then…

    So as we finish things up here is there anything else you want to touch on that I'm missing here? We've got June 9th as the release date… everyone should go buy two copies… </b>

    <b>Bala</b>: Yup, it's June 9th, and we really wanted to go out with a bang on DS, and I think the team did a really great job with the title and we're really proud of it. It's super refined from what we have in On Tour and in Decades, and there's just so many features now that it's a great package to pick up. The big thing that we're having a lot of fun playing is multiplayer with the ad hoc local play, song downloading, so you can get a group of people together, pick from your setlist, and there's just a lot of great content to enjoy. The game's a lot of fun, so if you bought On Tour and Decades you're going to love Modern Hits. If you haven't played them yet, pick it up and see what you're missing.

    <b>IGN: Thanks a lot guys!
    <b>Bala (and Fujimoto)</b>: Thanks. See ya.

    source: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
  2. Domination

    Member Domination GBAtemp Psycho!

    Nov 28, 2008
    Your Mum
    Yeah, i read the interview too. Too bad for DSi owners that are fans of Fall Out Boy, i haven't seen any gh with FOB yet....
  3. Vague Rant

    Member Vague Rant Deceptively cute

    Aug 7, 2008
    Didn't know this existed, looks like all the music in it is awful though, so not particularly fazed.
  4. BakuFunn

    Member BakuFunn Flameproof.

    Apr 6, 2007
    New York
    United States
    Actually, there was a Fall Out Boy song in the first DS Guitar Hero. On Tour.

    I think it was 'The Take Over, The Break's Over'

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