Josh Randall is the creative director at Harmonix and the man in charge of the forthcoming Beatles: Rock Band. We caught up with him at E3 for a quick chat about the band’s involvement, DLC and the console-less future of the series.
VideoGamer.com: How much input have the two surviving Beatles had into this game?
Josh Randall: When we first started out with making this game, we decided that it was going to be crucial to work closely with those guys as our partners. So pretty much every day we were working with Giles Martin, the son of George Martin, who was our music producer, and we were working closely with Apple Corps. And then we would basically set up a lot of meetings with Paul and Ringo and Yoko and Olivia Harrison. We’d show them the latest build of the game, show them sketches and sort of get their buy-in. So yeah, they were heavily involved, which was great. And by having them so dedicated to making the game good, that made the game good! [laughs]. We really wanted to make the ultimate living treatment to The Beatles, and they were really helpful with that. They’re really big fans of the game.
VideoGamer.com: So they were aware of Rock Band already?
JR: Well, the whole project came about because Dhani Harrison, George Harrison’s son, is a big fan of our early games. He wanted to meet with us, so we got talking. We were like, “We should do a Beatles game, wouldn’t that be cool?” and then it was like, “Hang on, we could actually pull this off.” But yeah, those guys have all seen it and given it their blessing, which has been hugely gratifying.
VideoGamer.com: In terms of the actual game, am I right in thinking this is pretty much the Rock Band 2 engine?
JR: It’s built around the Rock Band 2 engine, but there’s all-new graphical content and a bunch of re-writes everyday for things like the vocal harmonies, which is probably the most ambitious feature we’ve worked on. The dreamscapes were another huge thing. We started to toy with music venues in Rock Band 2, but with Beatles Rock Band we basically started from scratch and really went for it this time. When you get to Abbey Road Studios, the walls melt away and you’re transported.
VideoGamer.com: Do you think there’s a problem for games of this type, in that there are only so many places you can go? Harmonix has a great system, but do you ever feel you’re faced with an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it situation? Or do you have a lot of ideas you still want to implement?
JR: I think for the future we have a ton of ideas. I think we’ve made huge progress on multiple fronts in terms of the parts of our gameplay that inspire people to take the next step and become musicians. With Beatles Rock Band we’re basically teaching the world to sing in harmony with one another. I’ve never been able to do that until I started working on this game, and even last night at our party I saw people singing together without any of us telling them how to do it. I thought that was pretty cool. So, stuff like that… I think we’re actually going to be trying to introduce people to their own musical creativity. I’m excited to keep pushing that forward.
VideoGamer.com: Guitar Hero World Tour introduced a music studio, which seemed like a decent idea. Is that something you’re interested in pursuing for Rock Band?
JR: I don’t really have anything to say about that right now. I’ve been The Beatles guy for two years now, you know? We’ve got people thinking big thoughts back in the lab, but I’ve just been trying to… you know, [get the Beatles game done].