But getting back to why I sucked so hard at MIT: the reason, you see, is that I did not get to play drums at Harmonix, because Spitz, who plays in a real band, refused to relinquish the seat. And he doesn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the day. “Awesome,” he says. “They should do Drum Hero to go with Guitar Hero. They should have started with Drum Hero!”
Right now Rock Band features 45 tracks, plus 13 “bonus” songs, some preselected by Harmonix’s staff, some picked out of necessity based on what Baptiste describes as the “multi-tendriled beast of music licensing.” Some songs were chosen with the assistance of an advisory board, chaired by Steve Van Zandt (you may also know him as Little Steven of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos), whose goal is to find more obscure music for the game. “[People] buy [our games], I think, for the songs they do know,” Baptiste points out, “and then they keep playing it for the songs that they don’t know. It’s like when you buy an album and you buy it for that single that you heard off of it, because it’s rad, and then you listen to it and your favorite song ends up being that one that no one ever talks about that is just totally sweet and totally gets you after a couple of listens. I think our games have a little bit of that in there.”
In addition to the original track list, Rock Band introduces the concept of exclusive downloadable content to the mix. People will be able to download full albums, or, in some cases, career-spanning collections of songs by a single artist. As of now, the plan is to release something every week, with the Who’s Who’s Next confirmed as the first full-album experience. “We want to make this game as completely valuable as humanly possible,” says Baptiste, “And make it so that people think ‘Oh, cool, this game’s awesome, and I’m never going to have to put this down. I can keep playing this forever.’ ”
And maybe by then I’ll be able to nail the drum part.