There are many parties and partners beyond the floating sky-fortress of doom who help us ensure that our games are as awesome as they possibly can be. The excellent folks at Fender Musical Instrument Corporation are one of the partners who we work with to develop peripherals and some of the instrument assets that appear in our games.
Earlier this month, HMXSean, Lushlife, Veng, and I attended Fender’s annual company meeting and Hall of Fame inductions to demo The Beatles: Rock Band to the entire company and talk about some of the ways that Fender and Harmonix work together to not only create great games but to use Rock Band as a platform to engage new and aspiring musicians. We hopped a plane, said good-bye to rainy Boston, and readied ourselves for some triple digit weather Arizona and rocking with our Fender colleagues, Brian Tedeschi and Clay Lyons from FMIC Business Affairs.
Our first day was spent largely at the massive Tempe Center for the Arts working with the audio crew to do a test setup of our demo and prepare the staging for our presentation. The show was a pretty massive undertaking – more reminiscent of a full on rock awards show than your typical company meeting. A full band was on stage to play Motown and rock hits throughout the show and we had to ensure that our setup would work around the space they needed onstage.
After working out our staging (with the help of a mobile riser), we ran into a tiny snag – somewhere in transit our dev kit’s disc reader had broken, leaving us without a way to actually play our game! A few panicked calls to HMXKatattack back home had a new kit on the way to us – and being the improvisational rock stars that we are, we used the LEGO Rock Band demo burnt onto our hard drive to run through our dress rehearsal.
The next day we arrived early to meet up with Brian and Clay, do a bit of last-minute rehearsing, and prep for our part in Fender’s meeting. After a few rounds of opening remarks and some excellent music from the impressive Fender house band, Brian and Clay took the stage with our COO, Mike Dornbrook. The three of them discussed the way our partnership with Fender works (design of peripherals, assets in our game, historical accuracy regarding the instruments on screen in The Beatles: Rock Band, etc.) and afterwards, Lushlife, Veng, Sean and I joined them to give a first preview of The Beatles: Rock Band.
We chose two songs to demo that also showed our Fender colleagues how the artistic renderings of Fender instruments appear in our game. We played “I Feel Fine” from the Shea Stadium venue where players can see George rocking his Gretsch Tennessean (known today as the Chet Atkins Tennessee Rose) and then “Get Back,” which showcased the prototype cherry wood Telecaster guitar that Fender had kindly gifted to Mr. Harrison. (Both elicited large cheers from the crowd when HMXSean pointed them out).
Following this, we rolled our setup off the stage and moved out into the lobby where we set up a small The Beatles: Rock Band demo for meeting attendees to get their first hands-on with the game. We spent most of the rest of the afternoon rocking out with Fender folks, showing off harmonies, and generally having a good time.
Afterwards, it was good-bye desert (and Brian and Clay), and hello Boston (and more rain).
We’ve been on the road all summer – keep posted for more stories from the road and the crazy characters we meet.