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I didn't think I'd have a reason to post here ever again, but hey, I'm more than happy to start up again! I had another blog post about this exact same thing good to go yesterday, but either Firefox or Dtoid ate my post, so let's give it another shot.
So, having watched the promo video and read the articles, I have a few things on my mind regarding Rock Band 4 that I'd like to talk about:
Primarily, the thing I want to talk about is the lack of keys, and how we'll be able to find out if it's here to stay or if it's something that can be easily remedied, and it breaks down to one thing, and one thing only: we don't know how the Rock Band 4 DLC looks like yet. The moment we crack it open is the moment we know what we can do with it.
So anyone who plays Rock Band or Guitar Hero knows that when you miss a note or just outright stop playing, the sound cuts out. This happens because Rock Band asks all the companies for tracks ("stems" is the actual term) for each instrument that gets played. In Rock Band, the original DLC track contained tracks for:
The reason Rock Band 3 couldn't add keys to older DLC is because the keyboards didn't have their own track--Rock Band put them in the "Everything else in the song" stem. So the thing we need to to ask is, what will we see in the RB4 DLC? Hopefully it'll be the answer will be everything above, but a lot more individual stems and a lot fewer bits in the "everything else in the song" stem. This gives Rock Band the possibility to implement other instruments in either future installments or future patches.
"But we're downloading the same DLC, right?" you might ask. "If I bought it in Rock Band/2/3, isn't it coming with me to Rock Band 4?"
The answer to this is "yes and no." What's actually happening is called "legacy entitlements," and it works much the same way Dance Central: Spotlight did, as well as PlayStation Cross-Play does--it's not literally the same files that are going from one console to the other, but rather "we see you bought it on this platform, so we're going to give you something on THIS platform!" The secret is that it's rarely the exact same thing. You can't literally run PlayStation 3 games on PS Vita, they had to make a version for PS Vita. Dance Central: Spotlight releases legacy songs, but they add new routines to each song to complement the old ones. They say all the exports that you currently own are going to be available on the new consoles, but how would you run Rock Band 1 to export THOSE? Answer: You don't--Harmonix sees you bought the old export key for Rock Band and provides you with a Rock Band Export Pack for Rock Band 4.
That's the trick: That Rock Band 4 song file holds all the secrets we need to find out whether or not we'll have keys, ukuleles, harmonicas, or whatever in the future.
Hardware compatibility is a trickier thing, at least for Xbox people. PlayStation 2/3 owners only had to worry about a USB dongle, and if I remember correctly they were interchangeable between those PlayStation consoles. I doubt it'll be too much of an issue for PlayStation owners. Xbox owners, however, got hardware that synchronized directly with the Xbox 360, for which I foresee only one viable solution: hardware dongle.
People buying the Xbox 360 wireless controllers for Windows get a USB transceiver which allows communication between Xbox controllers and Windows. (I have one; playing Rogue Legacy with it is awesome.) The problem here is getting permission from Microsoft to use them, find a way to integrate the drivers into the software (since I doubt it's natively integrated into Xbox One) and possibly licensing them for packaging with Rock Band, or at least convincing them to continue producing transceivers/upping the production.
Pro adapters will probably require more permission from Microsoft (for the drivers, again) but I have a feeling they'll work in RB4, further down the line if not out of the box.
Hopefully they'll be able to resurrect RBN. I'm now more assured about RBN DLC having seen this HardcoreGamer article, but I'd love to see it come back to life and people starting to play new, user-generated DLC again.
I'm looking forward to exploring the new things that RB4 will have, and very curious about its setlist, and I hope this is the start of the return of Harmonix to its glory days. And I hope I'll be able to talk about all this with you guys, too!