I did a presentation at my office recently about the basics of XNA 3.0 and what’s possible with it. During that presentation someone asked me if XNA was being used by any major developers to create games. At the time I didn’t have any specific examples but I did say that I believed the platform had the capability to do so. Yesterday I found an article that talks about the new Rock Band Network a joint venture between MTV (which owns Harmonix, the company that developed Rock Band) and Microsoft to create a community driven platform for adding content to Rock Band.
This is pretty much what I’ve been expecting from one of the two music games from the beginning. Some way for emerging artists and bands to throw their master tracks up and have something spit out the appropriate colored buttons on virtual fret board. I actually think the Rock Band Network is an even better solution than some sort of algorithm. Now, there’s a way for labels, bands, or studios to put a track on the Network and have a dedicated community help create the virtual track.
Now, being that this Network is actually a subset of XNA Creators Club it’s unsurprising that the tracks created through this network will only be available on the Xbox 360. Bummer for those PS3 owners, but in the grand scheme of things a venture like this is only going to improve the music game genre which, in my opinion, has become incredibly stale and over-saturated. Maybe I’ll even dig my plastic instruments out of the garage and turn the game on again.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
The Rock Band Network is the result of a 16-month development process with a number of partners. Most important was Microsoft. Tracks released through the Rock Band Network will only be available at first to Xbox 360 users, as it relies on Microsoft’s XNA game development platform and its Creators Club online community of developers.
The Creators Club allows freelance developers or hobbyists to make their own games and sell them on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Games created through this process must first be submitted to the Creators Club community for game-play and content review before they are added to the marketplace.
The Rock Band Network marks the first time that XNA and the Creators Club have been used to outsource the development of expansions to an existing game, according to Dave Mitchell, the Microsoft product unit manager in charge of overseeing the two programs.
The Creators Club reviews about 30-50 games per month. Because MTV and Microsoft expect the number of “Rock Band” submissions to quickly dwarf these totals, the software giant took the unprecedented step of creating a custom version of the Creators Club for Harmonix, complete with a customized set of review procedures specific to music games-including checking for copyright infringement-which Harmonix will host separate from the existing Microsoft site.