Making Music

Harmonix on Rock Band 2 and the Beatles game.

The battle of the band games has never been more heated. This Christmas will see Rock Band 2 going head-to-head with Guitar Hero World Tour, which works with drum and microphone peripherals too. But with neither game even in the shops yet, Harmonix is already gearing up for round two.

As announced last week the developer is currently working on a new game based around the music of the Beatles. It's not another iteration in the Rock Band series, nor a downloadable song pack, but a standalone title being developed in co-operation with MTV and Apple Corps.

Apart from that, little information was revealed about the game when it was originally announced. So Eurogamer sat down with Dan Teasdale, lead designer on Rock Band 2, and Harmonix PR man John Drake, to try to find out more.

Eurogamer: Rumours of the Beatles game have been swirling around for a while now. Has it been hard to keep it a secret?

Dan Teasdale: Yeah, we've been working on it for 17 months. So to be able to finally talk about it is quite amazing.

Eurogamer: We know it's a whole new game, not another Rock Band title. But can you explain what that means in practice? Is the gameplay different, for example?

Dan Teasdale: It's a whole new experience. We can't really talk about gameplay specifics or tracks, but we'll be encompassing the entire spectrum of the Beatles catalogue. The concept is giving the Beatles legacy and the Beatles experience not just to Beatles fans, but a whole new generation.

John Drake: It is going to be an interactive music game. Although we can't really explain what that means, particularly.

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Remember, kids, this is nothing like Guitar Hero World Tour. Don't even be going there.

Eurogamer: At least it's interactive. A non-interactive game would be quite dull.

John Drake: Yes, a game you just watched would be boring [laughs]. But we will say it's not Rock Band-colon-Beatles; it is a standalone title.

Eurogamer: You mentioned bringing the Beatles to a new generation there, but do the kids really care? It's been a long time since Ringo and co. were top of the hit parade. Kids today like rap music, they want songs about pimps and hos, not yellow submarines... Why not do something more contemporary?

Dan Teasdale: Because the Beatles are an amazing band. They still are the biggest band in the world and they've established an amazing musical legacy, not just in terms of their own catalogue but their influence on music from that point onwards.

I think it's criminal that people aren't familiar with the Beatles. For us, one of the big things about this game is we can bring that history out. By co-operating with Apple Corp. and MTV we can have an incredibly authentic, respectful view of how the Beatles became who they were.

John Drake: Even if you are a hardcore hip-hop head, listening to the Beatles is never anything that anyone should be ashamed of. It's the most exciting music deep down. It's probably moved the world more than any other set of music I can think of.

Eurogamer: Well, you say that, but Sony just announced that SingStar Vol. 3 will feature songs by Lionel Richie and Barry Manilow. How can you compete with that?

John Drake: I think we should give up. I don't think we should try.

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This isn't a shot of the Beatles game, but let's change the filename and put "Ringo" in the caption and see if we can fool Google.

Dan Teasdale: We should burn down the building and claim the insurance.

John Drake: Dude - Manilow. That's all I'm saying.

Eurogamer: I'd like to see Rock Band: The Richie Experience.

John Drake: In a second. Right there with you, Walking on the Ceiling.

Dan Teasdale: Seriously though, we have the right music platform to do wider ranges of music. We did Jimmy Buffett in July, and there's no way you could justify that on a Rock Band disc. He even re-recorded the songs for us, which was amazing. He changed lines to reference Rock Band, so he's a massive fan.

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