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  • Green Day & Rock Band 3 Details Leaked

    Posted on March 30th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Green Day Rock Band

    PAX East is over and I have lot’s of news to share.  First up, let’s dive into what I learned about the two upcoming Harmonix games, Green Day: Rock Band and Rock Band 3.  Fortunately, due to my decision not to get a “Media” badge for PAX East, I acted as a typical gamer schlep.  That also means I didn’t have to sign any non-disclosure agreements to get sneak peak access.  I just got access through various means, and get to share what I know.  So, here we go…

    Green Day: Rock Band

    Harmonix had a 5 song demo of the game setup in the Harmonix Lounge, which they would turn on a once or twice a day for no more than 30 minutes.  Basically, the people waiting in line to play Rock Band songs got an opportunity to play Green Day songs, instead of the regular Rock Band 2 and downloadable songs.  Fortunately, I was in the lounge twice when Green Day: Rock Band was turned on.


    The demo that Harmonix brought contained 5 complete songs. American Idiot, Hitchin’ A Ride, Brain Stew/Jaded, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and one other.

    Look and Feel

    The instrument lanes, vocal lane, and colors looked very close (if not identical) to The Beatles: Rock Band. The characters in game, are obviously Green Day members. The song selection screen looks exactly like TB:RB, with Green Day colors swapped in. You get to see your instrument difficulty at the instrument screen, and get to change lefty/righty there as well.  During song loading, we get to see some very basic 2-3 frame animations (like dancing bears or falling bombs), though now we get some sound effects added (again similar to TB:RB).  I recall seeing a dancing bear with a snare drum march playing while a song was loading.

    I Played the Game

    I was waiting in line with my brother, planning to play System Of The Down’s Toxicity, when Eric Pope (the Harmonix MC for the weekend) gave us the good news that it was Green Day time.  Xbox’s were swapped, and the system with GD:RB loaded to the hard drive was turned on.  We watched (and I have video) Harmonix folks play Brain Stew/Jaded (a little better than they did at GDC), plus a group of people waiting in line play Hitchin’ A Ride.  From what I saw, these songs are not easy.  Although there’s quite a bit of repetition, there are lightning fast guitar and bass notes, and GD drums are nothing to scoff at.

    Two other groups waiting in line opted to wait until the GD songs were over so they could do Limelight and Don’t Stop Believing, respectfully.  I jumped on the opportunity to get up there with my brother to do my absolute favorite karaoke song, American Idiot.  We grabbed two others to join us on stage to round out our band. I didn’t pay much attention to the monitors when we were on stage, since I needed to bring out my inner Billy Joe Armstrong essence. I can say, it was fun.  Listening to the audio while we played American Idiot, and others playing the other songs, I believe I could here crowd sounds and additional sounds effects (like explosions) from the Bullet In A Bible album.  I’m quite certain of that, which will make this game even more fun, and feeling like a real live GD performance.

    Achievements are already in the game.

    The so called demo of the game we witnessed, was much more than a demo.  We witnessed two achievements unlock during gameplay at PAX.  One for drumming and one for guitar, though they were not for 100% or FCing.  I didn’t get close enough to see what they were, but they were new names, specifically related to Green Day and not generic rock Band achievements. Eric Pope, quickly came on stage saying, “Those aren’t achievements, there’s nothing to see here.”

    Not an Easy FC

    The Green Day Rock Band game will be much harder than most people expect.  With machine gun speed of guitar, bass, and drum notes, the songs will be challenging to just about any player.  For vocals, I got to sing American Idiot. If you like Billy Joe Armstongs voice, you will love singing Green Day in the game. The vocal charting to American Idiot is very accurate. I scored 98% on Expert on my first pass.

    Rock Band 3

    As for Rock Band 3 leaks, we learned that vocal harmonies will be in the game. To me, that’s not much of a leak since harmonies are already in Beatles and the upcoming Green Day.  But the leak, during the PAX panel “An Awkward Hour with Harmonix’ Game Designers” was enough for boss man John Drake to come running into the room and keep a very close watch on the Harmonix panel to make sure their traps remained shut on other Rock Band 3 details.

  • PAX East From the Road

    Posted on March 28th, 2010 Shawn 2 comments

    I’ve spent the last three days experiencing so many great things and people. Not going to type it all on this here BlackBerry. But as a tease, next week, I will bring you, photos, audio, video, and so much more. It will be the most content has ever broughten. And it will be broughten.

  • PAX East Opens Tomorrow

    Posted on March 25th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    I’m typing this on the BlackBerry, so it will be quick and dirty.

    PAX East officially begins tomorrow in Boston. Unofficially, the nerds are already taking over the city. Keep an open ear for PAX related events around the city. They are beginning today (Thursday). There will be unofficial events throughout the weekend. Look at my earlier PAX posts highlighting some of these events.

    Now, about Boston weather. It’s beautiful right now (but in the low 40s). Looks like this is the best it’s going to get this weekend. Expect cold rain, snow flakes, and high 30s. Sorry newcomers, it was in the 70s just a couple days ago. That’s Boston weather.

    Let me know if you are attending PAX East and your thoughts of our city, so far.

  • Xbox 360 to Allow USB Storage

    Posted on March 21st, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Looking at some news on CNET, looks like Microsoft has an update coming for Xbox 360 to allow any USB storage device to be used. This is huge news for the console, which fans have dreamed about for years.

    No more, will you have to pay $100+ for a handful of gigabytes because Microsoft has forced us to buy only their branded product. If this news is true, I would be able to take my 5 year old 250 GB USB drive that’s just collecting dust, and use it to store all my Rock Band songs, plus the growing collection of Xbox Live Arcade games I pick up.

    Check out the CNET article.

  • BlackBerry Slider Coming in April?

    Posted on March 20th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    According to some reports, a BlackBerry slider device (looking a bit like a Palm Pre) is coming. Not only that, but its coming to Sprint and its possibly to be released in April.

    It will have touch screen, without the clicky SurePress of the Storm. It will have a slide out portrait QWERTY keyboard. From prototype photos, it looks like a Bold 9700 with some Palm Pre sliding.

    Looks interesting. I’m typing this on WordPress for BlackBerry, so will post some photos when I get to a computer.

    The people at PC World and Engadget seem to have a scoop on it.

    The Canadian company RIM famous for BlackBerry smartphones is releasing a new model next month. Known as the ‘T,’ The new model is an ambitious product aimed at competing against iPhone’s storm of success. Rim will present it (‘T’) as its flagship model to compete in global markets such as the U.S. and Europe.

  • Xbox 360 Slim?

    Posted on March 17th, 2010 Shawn No comments


    Well lookey here! There may be a hardware refresh in the works over at Microsoft for our beloved Xbox 360.  Reported at VGChartz [SOURCE], M$ has an open job req for a hardware engineer.  The requirements focus on electrical engineering, and specifically focus on the Xbox 360 motherboard, memory, CPU, etc.  I won’t go into the nitty-gritty, but will speculate that a possible new look for the Xbox 360 is in the works.

    Let’s think about this for a minute.  The Xbox 360 hardware design was released in 2005.  That’s insane that 5 years later, the same form factor exists, let alone no predecessor in sight.  That’s a real testament to the product and that the Xbox 360 truly was built to last (not necessarily a single unit…ahem RROD and E74, but the console life-cycle holistically).

    Though, I have said since I picked up my first Xbox 360 in May 2008, “This thing is heavy, loud, clunky, and looks like a giant brick”.  I attribute the Xbox 360 to someone carrying around a Palm Treo 600 (smartphone), versus an iPhone or NexusOne. The Treo now looks and feels like a giant brick, much like the Xbox 360. If you have any other consoles in your house, including last generation systems, sit them next to your Xbox 360.  The 360 is a beast next to anything. I have a 360, Wii, and a Dreamcast.  The 360 definitely looks, feels, and sounds like the organic bully of the bunch.


    After 5 years of having this system in production, I think Microsoft might have enough engineering knowledge to slim down the console, with smaller (cheaper) components.  Historically, as consoles go, manufacturers figure out how to make them smaller/cheaper as the progress through the life  cycle.  Think about the original NES, and then the slimmed version of it several years later. Look at the current generation PlayStation 3. It was released a year after the Xbox 360, and already has a slim version.  So, what’s taking Microsoft so long?

    When Microsoft comes out with a slim unit, will it still be the 360, or another name?  Will they get it out in time for the 2010 holiday season to bundle it with Project Natal? Would you buy an Xbox 360 Slim? For me, I’d buy one. Not to replace my current 360. It’s a May 2008 model and is fairly quiet, has been E74 repaired once, and works fine.  Though I have a second room where I have considered getting a 360 for some time.

    Check out the job posting and sound off in the comments.

    Here is the full job ad (and let the speculation begin):

    Job Category: Hardware Engineering
    Location: United States, CA, Mountain View
    Job ID: 714897
    Product: Xbox Home
    Division: Entertainment & Devices Division

    Motherboard Design Engineer
    Job Description
    The Xbox 360 Console development team is seeking qualified candidates for an Electrical Engineer. The responsibilities of this position are focused on specifying, designing (schematic capture, PCB layout, BOM, cost analysis), implementing and verifying the mother-board and other various sub-system boards that make up the XBOX 360 product line. This work includes development of requirements and evaluating different solution for functionality, cost, and risk. The subsystems on the XBOX 360 mother board include (but are not limited to): High speed busses (front side bus, memory bus, PCIe bus, SATA bus, USB bus, I2S, etc.), memory, Ethernet, audio/video, system clocking, power and thermal management, and misc. analog/digital circuitry.
    The XBOX 360 Console Development team is responsible for aggressive cost reduction of the console throughout the life of the product as well as expanding the market for the console in derivative products. The position involves working closely with industrial designers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, software engineers, test engineers, component engineers, and program managers.

    Minimum BS/MS in Electrical Engineering
    Minimum of 4 years experience contributing to the design and production of complex products in the consumer PC or consumer electronic industry.
    A solid understanding of core engineering principles, fundamental circuit design, and analytical techniques is required.
    Familiarity with PC, embedded system architectures hardware and software, experience with implementation of high speed serial busses (SATA, PCIe, USB) and/or high speed parallel busses such as: memory bus (DDR2, GDDR3, etc.), CPU front side bus, Hyper transport, and/or voltage regulator/power delivery design a plus.
    Design for manufacturing and test experience is required.
    Strong bench evaluation and in-lab debugging skills are required.
    Strong communication skills required. Including the ability to clearly express technical concepts in verbal and written forms.
    Must be able to plan work, and work to a plan adapting as necessary in a rapidly evolving environment.
    The ability to comprehend and assimilate technical concepts across multiple disciplines is a plus.
    Enthusiastic, motivated and self driven.
    Domestic and international travel may be required.

  • Tony Hawk Ride, First (and last) Impression

    Posted on March 15th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Let’s set the scenario. It’s Christmas afternoon.  My youngest brother has received Tony Hawk’s Ride for Xbox 360 as one of his gifts.  He brings it over my house to try it out on my 54″ plasma TV.  The family (age ranges 3 – 55) all take their seats on the sectional couch, as my brother plops the Ride board on the carpet in front of the TV. My brother has already tried the game out at his house, and warns us that it’s impossible to do any tricks.  So, now we fire up the Xbox 360…

    Graphics and sound are good, I’ve seen better but not complaining. My youngest brother (the one who got it as a gift) takes 10+ minutes getting the board calibrated for my TV. Calibration (in general) really sucks, especially for the non-gamer or very casual gamer. Things get calibrated and it’s Ride time. My brother likes to skateboard (real ones) and has a good sense of balance. He does OK for a rookie on this pseudo-board/game. Slips off the board a few times, and gives us all a little scare that he might fall on us or into the TV.  Keep in mind, the room we are playing in is big (2-3 times the size of an average living room), at 23″ x 23″ with the couch set back about 10″ from the TV.

    Now, my middle brother steps up. He’s a bit more like me, a musician and a little clumsy on new things. He wobbles all over the place and falls off the board a few times. He comes within inches of the stereo system and TV, really putting some fear in me that something/someone is going to break with this game.

    So, the first takeaway  is Tony Hawk Ride is not a realistic game for home users.  Most people do not have a big enough or safe enough living room (game room) to set this up and play. My room is pretty big, and still gave us some worries.

    Now compare it to the Wii Balance Board for Wii Fit.  Yes, there are similarities. You need some space, to need to keep balance.  A difference with Ride, is you actually move the board around the floor with your feet.  The Wii Fit Balance Board is stationary, not requiring nearly the footprint or balance of the Ride board.

    A second observation from the onlookers was the watching experience. No one was overly excited to watch someone play. No one was overly excited to give the game a try. Why was that? Maybe the excitement of Christmas day was overwhelming for everyone. Maybe everyone was worried about someone falling into the TV? Maybe it looked too confusing and intimidating. I can say, the watching experience wasn’t compelling enough for most people (including myself) to get off the couch and try it out.

    To sum up my first impression of Tony Hawk Ride.

    • The majority of players will not have a space large enough (safe enough) to set up the Ride board. That is a huge killer to this game.
    • The game play wasn’t compelling enough to just about anyone in the room (young or old). I guess the game play just didn’t grab enough people to give it a shot.

    My brother returned the game and used the money to buy Modern Warfare 2….he plays that game constantly.

  • Slacker Rock Band Station: 51 Songs Added This Week

    Posted on March 11th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Wow! RBN, Lady GaGa, Green Day, and a lot more.  It’s been an insane week for Rock Band music. I’ve updated the Slacker Rock Band station, and 51 new songs have been added to the station within the past 7 days. Enjoy! Please let me know in comments if you are enjoying this station.

    Direct link to Rock Band Station on
    Here’s the entire list for the week:

    1. Dear and the Headlights – Talk About
    2. Despised Icon – Day of Mourning
    3. Fake Shark-Real Zombie! – Angel Lust
    4. Fake Shark-Real Zombie! – Horses in Heaven
    5. Fake Shark-Real Zombie! – Running for the Razors
    6. Fake Shark-Real Zombie! – Sestri Levante
    7. Five Finger Death Punch – Burn it Down
    8. Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies (Live)
    9. Flogging Molly – Requiem for a Dying Song.
    10. In This Moment – Mechanical Love
    11. Jonathan Coulton – Creepy Doll
    12. Jonathan Coulton – Ikea
    13. Jonathan Coulton – The Future Soon
    14. KMFDM – A Drug Against War
    15. KMFDM – Juke Joint Jezebel
    16. Lacuna Coil – Survive
    17. Longwave – No Direction
    18. Marillion – Whatever Is Wrong With You
    19. of Montreal – Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
    20. Senses Fail – Lady in a Blue Dress
    21. Skeletonwitch – Crushed Beyond Dust
    22. Skindred – Stand for Something
    23. Steve Vai – For the Love of God
    24. Steve Vai – Get the Hell Out of Here
    25. Steve Vai – The Attitude Song
    26. Stroke 9 – Kick Some Ass
    27. Stroke 9 – Little Black Backpack
    28. Suicide Silence – Disengage
    29. The Hold Steady – Sequestered in Memphis
    30. The Shins – Australia
    31. The Slip – Children of December
    32. The Slip – Even Rats
    33. Bang Camaro – Push Push (Lady Lightning)
    34. Cetan Clawson and the Soul Side – White Heat
    35. Jonathan Coulton – Code Monkey
    36. Winds of Plague – Approach the Podium
    37. The Shins – So Says I
    38. Flight of the Conchords – Demon Woman
    39. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
    40. Lady Gaga – Just Dance
    41. Lady Gaga – Monster
    42. Lady Gaga – Poker Face
    43. Attack Attack! – Stick Stickly
    44. Between the Buried and Me – Mordecai
    45. Flight of the Conchords – The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)
    46. Eulogies – Day to Day
    47. Green Day – “Brain Stew”/”Jaded”
    48. Green Day – Hitchin’ a Ride
    49. Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends
    50. Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams
    51. Green Day – American Idiot


  • Green Day: Rock Band – Coming June 8

    Posted on March 11th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Green Day Rock Band

    Last night, Harmonix held a private party with their friends to show off Green Day: Rock Band.  This morning, they unloaded the press release announcing the release date/price of the game, some songs, and more.

    June 8 will be the day the game comes out for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. It will be standard pricing, $59.99 and $49.99 respectively.

    Now, I will post the important quotes from the press release below:

    players progress through the story and history of Green Day, gaining access into the band’s media vault, where they can unlock more than 100 collectible images, and more than 40 minutes of rare and unreleased video from interviews, outtakes and performances.

    I loved how they did photos and videos in Beatles: Rock Band, and looks like they are continuing the story trend with Green Day.  Sounds nice.

    Featuring the three-part vocal harmony technology Harmonix introduced with the award-winning The Beatles: Rock Band, Green Day: Rock Band gives players access to an incredible setlist of 47 tracks that span the band’s career including “Brain Stew,” “Jaded,” “Hitchin’ a Ride,” “American Idiot,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” All 47 tracks are fully exportable, providing players with the opportunity to play the songs in Rock BandTM, Rock Band 2TM and the recently announced Rock Band3! Green Day: Rock BandTM features an export fee of $9.99 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 system. The export feature is not available for the Wii system. In addition, the six Green Day tracks already available in the Rock Band Music Store as downloadable content can be played in Green Day: Rock Band with added vocal harmonies, unique performance visuals, and exclusive archival material.

    I was hoping for more than 47 tracks, but this is expected. We hear that there will likely be more than 47 songs as a few might be grouped together, as they were recorded together originally. The export fee is now standard and expected. We previously knew about vocal harmonies, which I loved in Beatles: Rock Band.  What really excites me here is the already released Green Day DLC will now have vocal harmonies in GD: Rock Band.  This holds out hope that Rock Band 3 might bring in vocal harmonies to the existing DLC catalog.  That would be incredible.

    Green Day: Rock Band standalone game for Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 system
    o US MSRP $59.99

    Green Day: Rock Band standalone game for Wii system
    o US MSRP $49.99

    Green Day: Rock Band Plus for Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 system (US/Canada only)
    o US MSRP $69.99
    o Includes special packaging, free export and six Green Day DLC tracks ($22 total value)

    I really was hoping (but not expecting) for a lower price point. But, you have to make money, and the fans of Rock Band and Green Day will pay that standard price point. Special edition, you say?! So, for $10 over retail you get the $9.99 export feature, and $12 worth of DLC.  Now, is that going to be future DLC or current Green Day DLC?  Because, I already have the current stuff, but would likely pick up my Green Day DLC if it were made available (which based on the Beatles model, is lilely). Once the DLC question is answered, I will decide whether the SE or standard edition is for me.

    To sum it up, this announcement is expected from what we know, excluding the SE. Also adding vocal harmonies to already charted songs songs like a good sign for the future. I can’t wait to play this gam at PAX East.

  • TWIRB: Rock Band 3 in 2010, RBN Store Opens & Cartman

    Posted on March 9th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    It’s the return of THIS WEEK IN ROCK BAND! Wow, it has been five months since my last TWIRB update.  Gee, I have slacked since Simon started doing the weekly Rock Band DLC updates, plus our friend Tommy at RockBandAide has been kicking ass and taking names on all things Rock Band.  Though, I do miss the TWIRB pieces that I used to write, plus there is so much Rock Band news within the past week. So, here goes THIS WEEK IN ROCK BAND!

    Rock Band 3 Announced

    Let’s start this off with a giant BANG!  Just today, news started flying across the Twitterverse from @deliciousbees at Harmonix, that EA will continue to work with MTV/Viacom to publish Rock Band 3. Sure, that’s great news for the business people, but the big news from @johntdrake is that Rock Band 3 is expected “holiday 2010”.

    Here’s the quote:

    Harmonix is developing Rock Band 3 for worldwide release this holiday season! The game, which will be published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts, will innovate and revolutionize the music genre once again, just as Harmonix did with the original Rock Band, Rock Band 2 and The Beatles: Rock Band. Stay tuned for more details!

    So, we get no songs or features, or nuthin’.  But, we get something unofficially official, and that’s exciting.

    Rock Band Network Store Opens, 116 Songs Available

    On March 4, rumblings started in the wee hours from a web posting about RBN store going live.  As the day progressed, Xbox users noticed a title update to Rock Band 2.  Then a couple hours later, Rock Band Network appeared as a new in-game music store.  Just like that, more than 100 songs were available for purchase. The official announcement came same day.  In less than a week, more than 115 songs have been made available for purchase, from 99 cents to 3 dollars, all in Microsoft funny money of course.  It seems that a few more songs appear available every day.  So, take a look and download the free demos of songs. Many will be unknown, but you may find something new you love.  There are some mid-range names starting to pop up in RBN too; Steve Vai, Flight of the Conchords, Jonathan Coulton, to name a few.  PlasticAxe did a great job building a list of all the RBN songs.

    Lady Gaga and Eric Cartman DLC Announced for Next Week

    We are going to get some Band Hero equivalent songs for next week.  The bizarre (yet beloved) Lady Gaga will make a 4 song appearance on Rock Band, plus a spoof by South Park’s Eric Cartman.

    “Lady Gaga Pack 01” will include “Bad Romance,” “Just Dance,” “Monster” and “Poker Face”

    All platforms will get the pack (individual for Wii)
    Announcement here.

    DLC Week of 3/9 – White Stripes, Shaimus, Neil Pert and more!

    This weeks DLC, out today, is a great mix covering a few genre’s. You”l be able to pick these up on all consoles this week.

    The Futureheads – “Decent Days & Nights” +
    The Futureheads – “Hounds of Love” +
    The James Gang – “Walk Away” +
    Neil Peart – “The Hockey Theme” + *
    Shaimus – “All of This” + *
    Shaimus – “Tie You Down” + *
    The White Stripes – “Fell in Love with a Girl” +
    The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
    The White Stripes – “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)” +

    With that, what’s NWIRB?  NEXT WEEK IN ROCK BAND!

    • Closer to PAX East. More details about Rock Band at the big show.
    • Looking for more Green Day: Rock Band details.
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