And to think! I was actually depressed when I heard that Harmonix was moving on from Guitar Hero. I guess they're still there, sort of - they did the 360 version, and I believe they're also responsible for the upcoming 80's themed expansion for the PS2. It's got to be difficult to focus on those products when, right down the hall, their cohorts are busy annihilating the franchise.
The 1up crew jaws on the topic of Rock Band, Gamespot provides an important interview, and a number of strange peripherals bubbled to the surface of Gamestop's online catalog. Already, proto-bands are beginning to form.
Poring over the available information, it's easy to see that a considerable stock of master track recordings will help create another distinction between Rock Band and the "other" franchise. The difference is striking: Red Octane was approaching these companies hat in hand for access to their vaults of content, and being rebuffed. As a part of MTV, the scenario for Harmonix is very different. I would be surprised if labels weren't paying Harmonix in some cases, straight out of the media budget - particularly for new music.
Just in arranging the known information, there is much to be pleased by - but I think there's more. The Harmonix mission wasn't completely on deck for Guitar Hero in the way it was for Frequency and Amplitude, games which shipped with tools for music creation. There is no doubt in my mind that players will be able to quote jam, creating original music, but that's really the ground floor of what's possible. People forming their own bands like you would form a Guild in another genre to compete with others online is getting warmer. Forming your own bands which create original music and then upload these tracks - complete with vocals - to a community rated central repository verges on the supernatural. That's the new MTV. It's what MTV looks like when we seize the reins in glorious revolution.
In terms of cultural impact, munchkins trying to jump over a soccer ball begins to shrink in stature.
I was flip about the future of Guitar Hero when the hand-off of the franchise began, and I want to clarify that somewhat. It's not that I don't think Neversoft can grip the teat of a franchise and wring the product out of it. Guitar Hero is well established now as a template, and I feel confident they can iterate it. But (and you may disagree) the fact that Harmonix is a company chock-a-block with musicians, a company founded to create interactive musical art is what establishes the the ineffable "feel" of Guitar Hero. So, I was distraught when they dropped it. Now it's clear that they have not dropped it so much as shed it, wriggled out of it to pursue some strange new destiny.