Who Was There: John Drake, the manager of communications for Harmonix, was leading the panel and was joined by Rock Band 3 senior designer Sylvain Dubrofsky and Dance Central's lead designer Dean Tate.
What They Talked About: Before the panel started, six members from Harmonix played Rock Band 3 using the new peripherals created specifically for the game. Rock Band 3 now includes a Pro mode where players jam on plastic instruments that go beyond colored buttons. For more information on the game, please read GameSpot's preview of Rock Band 3 from the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Drake showed off the Mad Catz wireless Mustang pro-guitar controller that had six nylon strings and more than 100 buttons so that you can play every note that's on a real guitar. A keyboard and a bass guitar are also part of the new peripherals that encourage players to learn actual notes.
Dubrofsky talked about wanting Rock Band 3 to appeal to a wider audience and add even more of a challenge to existing players. Tutorials have been included to guide newcomers along, and he talked about focus-group testing where Harmonix was able to get an idea of how each type of player approaches the game.
He mentioned that Rock Band 3 was, "trying to get non-musicians more attached to music and come out of this with some talent."
Both Dubrofsky and Drake wanted to highlight that players would be learning real-world skills through gameplay.
Before going into the Dance Central portion of the panel, Drake announced the following songs for Rock Band 3: "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears, "Rock Lobster" by the B-52s, and "Foolin" by Def Leppard.
Dance Central uses Microsoft's Kinect and lets players perform 600 unique moves through choreographed songs. Songs that have already been announced include "Funkytown" by Lipps, "Hella Good" by No Doubt, "Poison" by Bell Biv DeVoe, "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, and "Body Movin" by the Beastie Boys.
Before talking more about the game, a producer from Harmonix performed "Bust a Move" by Young MC, another song that will be in the game. After the performance, Tate went over how the game worked. Players mimic the avatar onscreen, and there are flash cards on the side for reference. Dance Central tracks how accurate the performance is, and there are three levels of difficulty to tackle.
For those learning how to dance, there is a Break It Down mode where the game will walk dancers through each step, making it easier to learn some of the trickier steps.
At the end of the panel, Drake announced three more songs for Rock Band 3, which include Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People," Filter's "Hey Man Nice Shot," and Foreigner's "Cold as Ice."
For Dance Central, two other tracks that have been confirmed include Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" and Salt 'n Pepper's "Push It."
Tate did confirm that there is a multiplayer mode that hasn't been shown yet, but it involves dancers alternating and competing against one another.
The Takeaway: Harmonix has taken it a step further and moved the music genre into a realm where it's not exactly considered edutainment, but gamers from all backgrounds can learn what it is like to play a real musical instrument.