Steve went into great detail about what the switch to VR would mean for Rock Band’s gameplay. In the older titles, the player follows musical cues through a series of lines shaped like the neck of a guitar. Hit the associated buttons at the proper time, and the player earns points. Miss the right “notes,” and the performance suffers. This format works well enough when the player’s vision is focused on one angle, but what happens when the player can turn their entire head around and remain in the game? The biggest and most obvious hurtle Harmonix had to overcome involved replacing that pesky music bar.
Of course, handling the game’s format made up just part of this new system’s challenges. Chris Wilson specializes in sound editing, and explained how a VR headset demanded that the performance sound authentic, but still entertaining. To make a performance sound believable, Chris and the other designers had to prioritize volume for different sounds. For instance, the player’s guitar sounds much louder than the drumset ten feet away, or the indistinct shouts thirty feet in the crowd. However, if the designers fully committed to a realistic performance, the music would sound terrible from the player’s point of view. So once again, Chris and his team compromised to keep the game’s audio reasonably authentic, but still “the best live show you’ve ever heard.”
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