E3 2008: 360 GH World Tour, Rock Band instruments 'totally compatible'

Neversoft's Brian Bright says Harmonix's instruments can be used with Microsoft's version of the upcoming rhythm game, which will adjust for play with rival's drum set; World Tour instruments also work with first Rock Band.

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During Activision Blizzard's press conference outside E3 2008, Neversoft director Brian Bright surprised many by announcing that non-RedOctane instruments could be used with Guitar Hero World Tour. Speaking today with GameSpot, he clarified some of his statements, offering a deeper explanation--and more than a few surprises.

The Rock Band drum kit.
The Rock Band drum kit.

First off, Bright said the input at the back of the drum kit would allow its control to be mapped to any instrument with a MIDI digital output. "I was just doing it last night with a MIDI-10 drum machine," he said, grinning.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, he said that not only will Guitar Hero World Tour support instruments from rival Rock Band, but Neversoft had programmed the game to recognize and adjust for them.

"We use a five-channel input, and we've engineered the game to sense when you plug in a Rock Band drum set and switch to a four-channel input," he said, referring to the descending note scheme used in the game. "The orange cymbal input in Guitar Hero [World Tour] automatically becomes the green fill or the blue pad on the Rock Band drum set, depending on what works best with the song. You don't even have to think about it."

Such a move might seem surprising to those who observed previous compatibility battles between the Rock Band and Guitar Hero camps. Bright has no hard feelings, though. "Look, it's ridiculous to expect people to have two, three drum sets," he pronounced emphatically.

The Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit.
The Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit.

Bright also seemed confident that such sentiments were reciprocal. "As far as I know, all our instruments work with the first Rock Band," he said. "Whether they work with Rock Band 2, I can't say."

The developer also said that his comments applied only to the Xbox 360 version of the game...for now. "I can't talk about the PlayStation 3 version yet. You'll have to wait for an announcement from Sony," said Bright. He did say, however, that rumors that Microsoft insisted on such compatibility were untrue: "I mean, why not? We want as many people to play the game as possible."

For more on Guitar Hero World Tour, check out GameSpot's brand-new preview from E3 2008.

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