Thursday, March 20, 2008

State of the Band - Software Update Announcement

Hi! I’m Dan T (HMXspraynwipe), and I’m a senior designer here at Harmonix. I’m glad to announce that the Rock Band team has finalized a software update for Rock Band on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 that not only fixes some of the common issues we’ve been reading about on, but also introduces a cool new feature!

In this latest software update, you’ll find:

[*] [B] (New!) Music Store[/B]: Rock Band now has a new feature that lets you preview and purchase songs from within the game! Accessible from the main menu, the Music Store lets you view, purchase and sort all available music based on various categories, view album art, listen to song previews, and check out extended information about the song like difficulty for each instrument.

[*] [B]Revised Fan Caps[/B]: To allow Easy, Medium, and Hard players to progress further in the Band World Tour, we’ve increased the number of fans that you can earn before hitting the cap. Easy players can now travel across the Atlantic, Medium players have a wider range of venues they can play at, and Hard players on the Xbox 360 are now able to unlock the “One Million Fans” achievement.

[*] [B]More diverse songs in Band World Tour[/B]: If you’ve ever cursed about having to play “Say it Ain’t So” or a Metallica track multiple times in the same hour, then you’ll be glad to know that we’ve tracked down and fixed the issues that triggered these very repetitive moments in Band World Tour.

[*] [B] Improved phoneme recognition[/B]: We’ve improved the detection and scoring for phoneme recognition. If you had trouble on songs like “Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld” or “Blitzkrieg Bop”, you should have an easier time beating these songs now.

[*] [B]Microphone Latency on PlayStation 3 improved[/B]: Our awesome team of audio programmers has found some optimizations that reduce microphone latency on the PlayStation 3 in certain situations.

[*] [B]Xbox 360 Band Logos are now visible through Xbox LIVE[/B]: An issue with parental controls stopped band logos from being visible over Xbox LIVE. With this update, you can now view all of the awesome band logos that people around the world have created!

[*] [B]Faster loading of downloadable content[/B]: Not only is the loading speed faster, but this information is now cached so that this loading time is a “once only” wait rather than something that happens every time you turn on the game.

Updating any game is something that takes a lot of effort to do – not only do engineers, artists, production and designers all have to be involved at some point, but each change has to go through a rigorous Quality Assurance pass to make sure that it doesn’t introduce any new issues (like corrupting old save data, for example). After we’re happy with the software update, we then pass it on to Microsoft and Sony, who each have their own rigorous testing and certification processes. The entire process can take months for a simple day’s worth of fixing!

Because of this, we’re very aware that there are features that the community has requested that aren’t addressed in this software update. I want to make it very clear that we’re listening to all of your requests, and actively want to get these features onto the Rock Band platform in the future – but when we do add them, we also want them to be 100% perfect, and not rushed just to make it into any specific software update.

Lastly, and most importantly, thanks for being an awesome community! There are changes in this software update that wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the well-reasoned and polite attitude that most of the members on have, and I’m really proud not only of the work that we’ve put into Rock Band, but also of the work that HMXSean, HMXJohnlok, Apples, and the rest of the team have put in to maintain this great place for Rock Band fans to hang out in.

Have fun!