The design of Guitar Hero 4's drumkit has just been revealed in the latest GameInformer, which was leaked on powerglove's c-blog (http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/power-glove/the-first-shot-of-the-drum-kit-that-will-be-used-in-gh-4-85746.phtml
). It has six buttons in total, including the bass pedal.
At first glance, the kit looks like a carbon copy of the one used in Konami's Drummania games. The placement of the hi-hat, cymbol, toms, and snare appears almost identical, although the colors have been slightly remixed much like the sort of "original" characters you'd come across on DeviantArt. On closer inspection the hi-hat and cymbol pads are more elevated, and between
the snares and toms. This means that players won't be bullied into crossing over their arms to play the faster hi-hat/snare patterns as often happens in Drummania. Also the tiered pads should allow players to move and roll between notes with greater fluidity, which is definitely a plus. Another nifty inclusion is the ability to accept velocity data, which I'm guessing will lead to a wider range of drum sounds. The bass pedal is the only thing that looks like it belongs in a Rock Band kit, but hopefully won't be as stiff and frustrating to use.
In the same article, the project director reveals that these drums will be much quieter than Rock Band's primitive hard plastic ones, and the GameInformer staff reported an "very positive" first hands-on experience with them. The devs also make the bold claim that, "This thing is not going to crack."
A few things bother me about this article. Firstly they say that Activision now owns all the patents to the technologies created by John Devecka, which were used "in all following music games, including Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Konami's Dance Dance Revolution." ALL following music games? What is the exact technology that he pioneered, anyway? This misleading passage makes it sound like Activision now owns the right to make whatever rhythm games and peripherals they want in the US, no matter how derivative. The way things are going, that seems to be exactly the case.
Despite all that, the most offensive thing to me is that Drummania is not mentioned once in this article. GameInformer acts as though they haven't seen anything like the GH4 drumset before, saying Activision took inspiration from "professional electronic kits." Obviously, the inspiration came from Drummania, whose kits were made by Yamaha. Yes, Devecka was responsible for the first Drum simulation game, but the kit from MTV Drumscape looks very different from Drummania's.
In short: GH4's kit is more similar to Drummania's, than Drummania's kit is to Drumscape's.
What this really shows is that the patent laws are a complete mess. As the wikipedia article says, "MTV Games holds the US patent for "drum simulation games", which MTV took full advantage of with the release of Rock Band" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drummania
). How can such a broad category of game be restricted to one company? It's not like Microsoft is the only developer that can make flight sims!
Despite all the bitching, I have to admit that this drumset looks good, nay great
, and perhaps even an improvement over the Drummania home version peripherals (though not likely their expensive arcade counterparts). The only thing I'm worried about is the bass pedal, which could ruin the whole experience if it's not made right. But then again, Rock Band was good enough for America, so I guess it'll sell either way. read