E3 2009: LEGO Rock Band Interview
Written Sunday, June 14, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
There were a huge amount of music titles on show at E3 this year but it wasn’t just the usual Guitar Hero vs. Rock Band wallet measuring contest that we’ve become accustomed to. Of course, that was still there, but with titles like DJ Hero, Scratch “The Ultimate” DJ and LEGO Rock Band, it was clear that certain publishers were looking to broaden their horizon in the music market. Whilst wondering the show floor, we got chance to grab a few minutes with Alan Moore, Harmonix Producer on the upcoming family music title, LEGO Rock Band and talk about what to expect from the title when it ships this year.
So Alan, can you tell us a little bit about LEGO Rock Band and what we can expect to see in the title when it’s in stores?
So why are we making LEGO Rock Band first? We’re making LEGO Rock Band because Rock Band is the best party game ever made and LEGO brings a great sense of humour and that sort of playful, fantastical stuff that we wanted to bring in. It’s a really family friendly brand and that’s what we want to bring into the whole game.
What’s fun? We have a great story; we have like a rags to riches rock n roll story. We bring in cut scenes ... great LEGO cut scenes like from the other LEGO games. We’re bringing in all the fun customisation of the characters. You’ll be able to unlock new costumes that you can buy. You can play on a pirate ship, you can also play as a pirate, and that kind of stuff.
It’s family friendly as well, so we’ve got some specific changes to make the game easier at the bottom end; like a new super easy difficulty. With super easy, on guitar, you don’t have to worry about hitting buttons; you just strum along to the notes. And then the drums, you can hit any drum, so long as you hit a drum in time.
We’ve also got ... you know how you don’t die in the LEGO games, you lose your studs, or you fall off the wall and come straight back in ... well if you fell out, you come straight back but lose your studs and you can try and recollect them again. Well, we’re going for that same mechanic here.
Is it safe to say then that it’s Rock Band for the family then?
It’s partly that.
That’s a big part of it ... the family part. I just like how we’re making it easier for the family to play together, as well as that, we’re going for music that’s fun, accessible. Some of the stuff you’ll all know and recognise ... Pink’s “So What” for example ... then there is some they won’t know but it’s all just great music. Like Song 2 from Blur, the one Blur song that everyone knows and loves. We’ve got The Final Countdown from Europe, Jackson 5’s, and loads more cool stuff.
We’ve also got the “Rock Power Challenges” and they’re kind of where the story really gives you more of a specific objective to do. The challenge we’re showing here, is called “Wreck and Roll” and so we set it out with a cool cut scene, then there is a demolition crew trying to knock down the building and luckily your band is there, and so your band goes into use the power of rock to bring down the building. We kind of spotlight different instruments, so drums, guitars, and if you’re doing well, you’re literally bringing the building down around you. Everything’s falling down, you’ve got windows blowing out, and then if at the end, if you’ve done well, the whole building will come down.
How will the other Rock Band DLC work? Will it be compatible seeing as it’s a Rock Band title?
We’re not talking about the online stuff really today. We’re not going into any specifics just yet, but as a general comment, we’re really committed to the Rock Band platform.
What sort of other things can we expect to see in terms of features? Or is it just about making the current Rock Band platform fun and family orientated rather than just a title for music lovers?
It’s all about fun rather than revolutionary gameplay. You can have a home area where your little LEGO guys can run around and you can customise it. You can customise your “crib” – not sure whether that’s the right word, I’d say your home space. We play in the LEGO mind frame of unlocking stuff, more challenges, clothing, etc.
We get to have a lot of fun with the challenges. Some of the challenges for example you get to be on a pirate ship and fight a giant octopus, you can also be in a helicopter trying to escape from a giant robot. It’s about making a really fun family experience with the LEGO humour.
How many songs can we expect to see?
We haven’t announced that just yet.
50 plus maybe?
Again, we’re not discussing that yet.
But I presume it’s a totally different style of set list than the traditional Rock Band titles?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s more of an eclectic popular song feel.
Plenty of pop songs then?
Yeah and stuff with guitars and drums in of course, but we’ve not finalized the set list yet. At Harmonix we work with the TT guys, we have dialogue and they have to run everything past LEGO, because they have to make sure everything is family. We’ve got things like “Girls and Boys” by Good Charlotte which is a good sing-along song.
So feel good songs basically?
Yeah, I think that’s fair to say.
Who would you say your intended audience was? Are you looking at just families or hard core Rock Band fans as well?
So we’re looking to extend it so that it’s a game that families want to play together, but at the same time, this is a game that core Rock Band fans are going to love as well. The expert difficulty is still the same expert difficulty that you’re going to find in our other games. It’s a co-development and one of the things that Harmonix are doing is the authoring, the pacing and the patterns and everything. As for expert we’re treating it the same as Rock Band. We’re just kind of extending the bottom end to make it more accessible.
When can we expect it to ship?
Holiday this year. We’ve got some cool stuff we’re not announcing yet, it’s going to come in the next few months. It’ll get people really excited.
LEGO Rock Band is set for a holiday 2009 release on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and DS.