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Joystiq interview: Guitar Hero World Tour's Brian Bright

Kevin Kelly

At last night's Guitar Hero World Tour party we made sure to seek out project director Brian Bright, and it took us a few hours to find him amidst the party-going rhythm gaming crowd. He agreed to go on the record, "even though I've had a few drinks!" We quizzed him about how he thinks it'll do against Rock Band, his feelings now that it's all over, and what's next for Neversoft and the world of musical games. Check out the full interview after the break.

Gallery: Guitar Hero: World Tour | 30 Photos

Is this a surreal event for you? The game is out tonight, the Smashing Pumpkins are here ... is that weird?

It's not surreal, I wish it were more real. It's too hard to get a drink because the bar is circular. But, it's still pretty cool.

"What's cool is that the community that isn't even legally supposed to have yet has already started uploading a ton of stuff in there, which gives me promise."

Are you guys relieved that the game is out?

We're relieved, but we're mostly excited. Last night I had an early copy of the build that I got to play with a little bit online and I went to GHTunes (which doesn't seem to be up yet) to see what people are making. We put a bunch of songs up in the Showcase section, and there's some fucking cool shit in there. It ranges from like Ventures, kind of '60s surf style to straight up rock to Kraftwerk blips and bleeps. That's stuff that we've kind of promoted in there, but I've stayed out of it the past couple of months so I could focus on work. What's cool is that the community that isn't even legally supposed to have yet has already started uploading a ton of stuff in there, which gives me promise.

Those songs will be in there when people buy the game and get home and plug it in?

Yeah, if you check the Showcase out, it'll be all shit that we've put up or had people put up that work at Neversoft. It's great, a lot of different styles of music.

Rock Band has a pretty big headstart on you guys, are you confident that you can catch up?

I don't know, they got a good game, we got a good game. Both games are fun, both games have great music. Can we catch them? We have a big brand, they had a headstart on one platform, we're on all platforms and we'll be worldwide in two weeks. I don't know ... I can speculate as much as you can.

Are all the console versions out tonight?

They are in North America, then in Europe I think it's a week and then another week in Australia. Just for supply chain issues, we tried to get everything as close as possible. The software's all done, it's been done for awhile.

"We've been working on the future for three months already."

Did you get a break or are you onto the next project?

We had maybe a couple of weeks of downtime, we let the whole company off for a week, but we've been working on the future for three months already.

Didn't you say you're already working on another music game?

Activision's doing a DJ Hero game, and I can't comment on what we're doing. But... we're working on the future and next gen. If I wasn't excited about it I wouldn't be there.

You were very excited when you showed us the music studio in the game back at the House of Blues. Will we see more of that?

I was so stoked on that, we're obviously going to take that to the next level. That was a cool thing for me, I've been making music and doing that for 20 plus years, but getting guys behind that and a team behind that and getting them excited about it, that's been really cool.

The Music Editor seems incredibly robust for a game, almost to the point of it being Apple's Garage Band for consoles. It's pretty overwhelming.

"It's kind of our fault. If we want to encourage the community to make good music and we don't give them enough tools, then it sucks."

It's kind of our fault. If we want to encourage the community to make good music and we don't give them enough tools, then it sucks. You know, it's cool like for the average player, but we need that layer of depth to keep it really driving, and to make the music sound different. We tried to keep it simple on the outside but have all that depth inside so people can create whatever they want. That's what I think will give it legs.

There's crazy shit we did ... just for example there's one drum kit, the electro kit, similar to a Roland 808 kit, where everything on the percussion slate is 120 beats a minute scratch. So if you flip back and forth with your hand, you'll get come up with funky scratch beats. Just shit like that that's fun, easter eggs that like no one will know..

Another thing we have in there... we've even got one thing using the in-game POD that produces robot voices... you play it on your guitar, and every velocity change there's a different robot voice that comes in and says words, there's like 40 different words. No one will ever find it, we're not telling people about it, but it's in there.

[Note: we're not nearly as music-savvy as Brian is, so here's the audio of that last paragraph, complete with his mouth sounds, so it might make a bit more sense to you]

So can Joe User at home who doesn't have the game go online and listen to music?

Yeah, it's really rad, you can go online at home listen on the website. Load it up and go into our Showcase section There's probably going to be a thousand assholes who put shit up, but people can vote on things and the community drives them up. The only thing that isn't community driven is the Showcase, which is stuff that we put up. I can't wait to see what goes up there when more people check it out. I mean, we're giving people a four-track recorder and all these instruments and all these samples ... so you don't have to own all these instruments and a PC or a Mac and know how to do MIDI or any of that shit.

So why can't you record voices in the Music Editor?

"You'll have people that will be like, 'Yeah, I'm a dick! I'm a douche!' Who wants to hear that?"

There's a couple of issues, there's some rights issues that I'm sure we could work around or work through legally for the future, but we couldn't get it done this year. There's also sampling issues, like you could hold the microphone up your radio playing AC/DC or Led Zeppelin or whatever.

There's also annoying issues. It's really something we want to have in the game, but you'll have people that will be like, "Yeah, I'm a dick! I'm a douche!" Who wants to hear that?

So have you been playing any other games?

I'm a Call of Duty freak, so I've been playing the World at War beta. It is a lot of fun, I wish they had some more levels in there. I don't know if the levels transfer over from the beta to the real game when it comes out, and that's something we'll be thinking about in the future if we release a beta or anything for whatever's next.

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