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Video interview: Harmonix's John Drake


09.09.09 is less than a month away, and Harmonix is ready to reveal all the secrets of its upcoming The Beatles game. We chatted with Harmonix's John Drake to go over the recently unveiled Story mode, and the exciting unlockables hidden away in The Beatles: Rock Band. Below is a small text excerpt of the entire video interview:

Any chance we'll see any more archival videos and photos released as DLC?
I don't think so just because of how downloadable content works on three different consoles, and to keep parity, how it would need to be engineered. I know our code team's pretty amazing, but that sort of stuff is not how we look to share that media. It's a pretty secure and safe media that we really want to keep close to the vest, just as Apple has kept it in their vaults. I don't see it being downloadable content. What you see on the disc is what we have for extras for the moment.

Will we see any retail expansions for the game in the future?
Unless we need to introduce a radical new feature, we're going to stick with that core disc and stick with that DLC mentality: add albums and songs on top of that. The Beatles have a finite catalog, but it's an infinitely amazing catalog with finite songs, so we're still hoping to get as much content from Apple as we can and give it to fans to customize their Beatles playlist.

What about The Beatles' side projects?
The design team really focused on The Beatles: Rock Band being about the four guys. It's about the lives and times of these four individuals playing together and the joy that came from the music they made. So you won't see session players, you won't see the families because it was hard to see where the line would be drawn. I know our creative and executive team spent a lot of time with Apple trying to say, "Do you include Eric Clapton's solo, or Billy Preston's keyboard stuff?" So instead, we just made it about those four guys. But it is about the defined part of their career, so you probably won't see Ringo's solo career, or Wings, or John Lennon's or George's songs. It's going to be just the four Beatles playing together. It doesn't mean we won't see any of those songs in Rock Band, or something along those lines.

What concessions are being made for new, first-time gamers?
All the songs are unlocked in Quick Play right away. So, no more e-mails to the support queue at Hamonix asking "Why did I buy Rock Band 2 and get eight songs?" And we're like "you have to unlock 'em. Read the manual." All 45 songs are unlockable in Quick Play right off the bat; No Fail mode is now toggle-able from the matchmaking screen; and anyone playing on Easy is automatically on No Fail, so if your mom joins mid-session and she wants to play bass, slap her on Easy.

We tried to have all the unlockables be something anyone can get to playing on Easy, so even if you get 5-stars on Easy, it's the same as getting 5-stars on Expert in terms of what you can aspire to get. But, we'll still have some hardcore Achievements in there.

Any plans for Beatles songs in Rock Band Unplugged?
Just like you wouldn't see them in Rock Band, we tried to keep everything separated. We'd love to see it everywhere, but we have a responsibility to treat it like the iconic catalog that it is and keep it sort of separated because it's so good.

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