Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crossover rhythms

Nice interview at Game|Life with Tsunku♂ -- aka Mitsuo Terada, the J-pop producer behind hit DS game and Beyoncé endorsed Rhythm Heaven. I liked these quotes:

Rhythm games have always transcended nationality, though. Rhythm is something that can be learned without complex theories; it just takes practice and repetition. This is true for children, adults, men and women. This is why I thought a worldwide release of this title wasn't just a pipe dream.
I think there will be increased potential for game music to cross over into the mainstream in the future, but avid fans usually don't respond to gimmicks they feel are too contrived. The key is to start with as pure a game concept as possible, and give it the type of music that suits it best. If the fans respond well as a result, performing the song live in concert would be a natural next step. That sort of pattern seems ideal to me.

I was rocking away at RH quite happily this week until I hit the level with the off-beats, and now I'm stuck. Here's a Japanese trailer with examples of many of the mini-games within Rhythm Heaven.

Oh Activison, why must you be so eeeevil?

I've been quite looking forward to seeing this fall's DJ console games compete head to head, as they both seem different enough from each other to appeal to different types of music fan and/or gamer. But did Activision -- who publish GH, and therefore cannot be totally evil, right? -- really buy out a rival developer to make sure that its DJ Hero will be the only contender? What's going on, Gamestop?

Now yet another company is taking the Guitar Hero and Call of Duty publisher to court. Tuesday evening, Scratch DJ Game LLC, publisher of the forthcoming Scratch: The Ultimate DJ, filed a legal action accusing Activision of various misdeeds. The LLC is a joint venture between DVD distributor Genius Products and audio-equipment manufacturer Numark Industries, who commissioned indie shop 7 Studios to develop Scratch to try to break into the rhythm-game market.
[The suit] alleges that "Activision has engaged in intentional interference with contract, breach of contract...and misappropriation of trade secrets obtained from Genius to purchase 7 Studios, which is under contract to develop the much-anticipated new hip-hop video game, Scratch: The Ultimate DJ." (Emphasis added.) The buyout, which had not been publicly announced, is already complete.

The whole case is a mess and it's far from obvious who's right and who's wrong, but it's still disheartening to see corporate shenanigans and lawyers decide what kind of innovation can be possible in music games, as well as in the music business per se. Bring the beat back!

Friday, April 10, 2009

April fuel

I've been most neglectful of the blog so far this month. But I've been keeping up on my own research, playing GH: Metallica, GTA: Chinatown Wars, and Rhythm Heaven. I have to admit that GH:M is much better than I'd expected, and is even making me appreciate the band; 'tallica is more entertaining to play than to listen to, I think. Rhythm Heaven is silly beyond words.

Here are some links I've been not posting all week.

In further Metal news, I see Jack Black is "starring" in a new game called Brütal Legend from the many who brought us Secret of Monkey Island. And speaking of legends, two members of the Blue Oyster Cult contributed to an original song for Warhammer Online titled "Kiss My Axe (While I Drink My Beer)".

Meanwhile, Technology Review asks "Can Video Games Be The New MTV?" My personal answer to this question was, "Wait, what's MTV again?" In a similar vein, something called the World News Network (I think that's where Ron Burgundy ended up) has a piece on "Rock Band and The Future of the Music Industry". Nothing very new in it, but still good to see the meme spreading.

And finally, video games -- and shoot'em ups specifically -- improve your eyesight. It's science!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So LoudCrowd, what's this all about then?

A student waiting to see me this morning told me that she was getting into LoudCrowd, which I'd read about on Epicenter but still haven't found time to try out.
Conduit Labs' LoudCrowd, co-founded by former Harmonix employee Dan Ogles, generated tons of buzz with its Tuesday SXSW announcement of a social music gaming network, somewhat along the lines of Guitar Hero meets MySpace. After playing around with the LoudCrowd site for a bit today, we feel like that hype is somewhat justified.

The second paragraph has the twist -- using music discovery as the reward incentive for playing.
One of the coolest things about LoudCrowd is that it makes you want to earn virtual money by playing games to collect actual music. When we won our first track after performing well in a DJ game, we were thrilled even before we heard it. This is an intriguing way to get people excited about music, because it encourages active listening.

So I'm going to try it out at some point soon. Anyone else playing it already?