Rock Band in VR Could be Amazing, Harmonix Says

"We’re excited about the possibilities," Harmonix CEO says.

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The Rock Band experience could be "even more incredible and immersive" in virtual reality, according to Harmonix CEO Steve Janiak. In a new interview with Gaming Insiders, Janiak said Harmonix is always looking to work with exciting new technologies, and virtual reality is no different.

"Harmonix prides itself on being at the forefront of new technologies," he said. "VR is an intriguing frontier, and a great opportunity to fundamentally reinvent how people connect to music."

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Although he didn't announce any specific plans to add VR support to this year's Rock Band 4, he didn't rule it out, either. He even teased that VR could be a way to better capture the feeling of performing in a band--something the Rock Band series is trying to do.

"For Rock Band, the feeling of playing live music, of really being on stage with the lights and the crowd and the sound enveloping you, that's the experience we're trying to deliver with Rock Band 4," he said. "It could be even more incredible and immersive in the context of VR, and we're excited about the possibilities."

Harmonix, of course, is already working on VR with its new music app for Samsung's GearVR mobile headset. It's described as a "fully immersive, music-drive dreamscape," though it's not specifically tied to any Rock Band game.

Also in Gaming Insiders' interview, Janiak says that, in addition to the regular release of new DLC tracks, Harmonix plans to roll out new features to Rock Band 4 as time goes on. This could in theory include VR functionality, but this isn't confirmed.

"We'll also be adding substantial new functionality to the core game and releasing those new features on an ongoing basis, as part of a continuing conversation with our fans to see what resonates with them and what they want," he said.

This is part of Harmonix's plan to release only one Rock Band game this generation of consoles. Instead of yearly sequels, the developer has said it it plans to improve and expand upon Rock Band 4's functionality over time by way of the kind of updates Janiak alluded to above.

You can read the full Gaming Insiders interview with Janiak here. It's a great read for Rock Band fans, as it also touches on song pricing experiments, why 2015 is the right time to bring back Rock Band, and if Harmonix will work with The Beatles again.

Rock Band 4 launches later this year for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Activision is also reportedly planning to revive the Guitar Hero franchise this year with a brand new, more-realistic game due out for the same platforms.

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flashn00b

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I'll start believing that Rock Band 4 doesn't need a PC version if "God Knows" by ENOZ feat. Haruhi Suzumiya is in the song list.

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nousername66

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This is gonna fail so bad

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shinspikes

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I don't think I saw the piano in that entire vid. Does harmonix themselves think it was a useless instrument for their game?

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etremelegendary

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AR digital instruments would be cool too.

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DarkLight748

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How about no.

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RadPro

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@DarkLight748: How about they'll do whatever the heck they want.

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dlCHIEF58

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VR may be a cool idea for the game, but not very practical since your vision is sometimes required to see the instrument like the drums (and guitar/bass for those less talented/practiced). Now AR would be a better option for games like this - you would still have awareness of your surroundings and it can be implemented by the appropriate visuals - light show, pyrotechnics, audience in the background, etc.


I'd still prefer a new stage kit or support for the old one moving forward.

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Hekteur

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Drum players are going to have one hell of a good time hitting an instrument they can't see...

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texasgreentea

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@Hekteur: I'm the developer of DrumVR for Oculus Rift. It is possible to sync a digital version of the physical drum set controller to the correct position so that you'll be able to see it perfectly with all the glorious graphics they can handle on PS4. If you've never tried VR before, it's going to rock your world.

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KoboldKabab

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@Hekteur: As a drummer, for about 15 years, I can play without looking at my set, or with my eyes closed. It's just muscle memory. When you think about it you don't really look at the instrument when you play rockband. You look at the screen. That being said, it would take some time to get used to the bad drum layout without seeing it in your peripheral vision.

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Hekteur

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@koboldkabab@Hekteur: slow clap for not realizing I was talking about drum player for the game. You know? 99% of RB players aren't professional drummers??? Moreover... How do you think those "not pro drummers" are going to do to locate their drums in between songs? You know, let's say a player manage to play a song okayish, song ends. Guys stops drumming. Next songs start a short moment later. GO inexperience drummer! find your "simi hi-hat" without removing the headset.

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iandizion713

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They are kinda correct, the immersion of being a Rock Band would be on point. Grab all 5 of your friends, tell them to brings their VR headsets over and rock out together. Nothin feels more real than having your friends over and not being able to see them even though their right beside you. Rock on!

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jerses

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@iandizion713: you also need 5 gaming laptops and plenty of space. Maybe everyone at their own house lol.

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dlCHIEF58

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@jerses@iandizion713:

Rock Band is not being developed for PC - Xbox One and PS4 only.

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jerses

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@dlCHIEF58@jerses@iandizion713: and the article talks about devs wanting (or dreaming) to have this game on VR. VR is only for PC and PS4 (delayed to 2016)

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dlCHIEF58

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@jerses@dlCHIEF58@jerses:

And the Rock Band game STILL isn't being released on PC and never has as it is designed to be a social multiplayer game. Don't expect that to change anytime soon. So that does leave PS4's Morpheus as well as whatever Microsoft is still working on in secret.

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alaannn

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that sounds interesting they should film real concerts from the musicians pov then put it in the game

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Bugermeister

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Wow, that would be amazing.

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PointingMonkey

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What do I do if I drop a drum stick, mid-song?

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Sefrix

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@pointingmonkey: Some VR headsets have a camera on the outside that lets you "see" through the device as needed. This version of "VR" with a headset strapped to your face still has many hurdles to overcome to be actually practical, but that issue has a so-so resolution to it at least.

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PointingMonkey

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@Sefrix@pointingmonkey: So you would have some sort of split screen with the game feed and the real world camera feed. That seems like it would break the immersion of VR, which is supposed to be one of its biggest selling points.

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Spartan_418

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@pointingmonkey: How about Rock Band in AR instead of VR, like with HoloLens.

You can still see your instruments and everything.

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PointingMonkey

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@Spartan_418@pointingmonkey: That would work better.

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jerses

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@pointingmonkey: wiimote strap like for drum stick?

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PointingMonkey

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@jerses@pointingmonkey: Good point, I suppose that could work. As long as it doesn't restrict movement too much.

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alaannn

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@pointingmonkey: pick it up,pointing at it wont work

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PointingMonkey

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@alaannn@pointingmonkey: Pretty hard to pick it up though, when you have a VR headset strap to your face and can't see where it is.

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alaannn

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@pointingmonkey@alaannn: take it off

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Hekteur

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@alaannn@pointingmonkey: Pausing the game, removing the headset, grabbing the sticks, putting the headset back, unpausing everytime sticks are dropped ...practical for people with barely any real drum experience... And I'm not even getting into how practical it would be for a drum player to not see their drums.

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marcio_br

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that would be ****ing awesome. But yet, all other players will need a VR headset.

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