Nervous Breakdown

So in my first bit of personal down time in the last 72 hours while on the road at PAX how have I decided to spend my break? Reading the Rock Band forums. It's hard to decompress after working for such a long time (and I think that's true of almost any job) so here I am, gravitating towards familiar territory.

PAX is absolutely astounding. I had never been before. It's an absolute mob scene, and non stop sensory overload. Words cannot do it justice. We've been taking pictures for future newsletters and Rock Blogs, so I hope that does a better job at capturing the scope of this massive event. I've met some amazing people here too. Forum regulars (Fedora actually wears a fedora! Brilliant!), leaderboard giants, moderators on RB fan sites, hosts of RB bar nights, gaming press, other devs, Microsoft and EA reps, a whole panel full of online community managers, booth babes, and more fans than you can shake a stick at. There's a ton of work that goes into an event as big as PAX, but all of those people have totally made it worth it.

Now, maybe more than ever, there's a really bizarre disconnect between these forums and the general Rock Band public. Fan reaction at PAX has been absolutely staggering, and people have shown so much support for Rock Band 2. We've seen hundreds of bands play already, and we'll see hundreds more before we leave, and it's an amazing thing to stand at the foot of our stage and watch someone really enjoying themselves while nailing a particularly wicked drum fill, or play a guitar solo one handed, or maintain bass grover while playing behind their back, or watching a singer pull out a real tamborine to play the tamborine parts in "Any Way You Want It." We've had 2 hour lines to play, and rooms full of people clapping, and laughing, and singing along all weekend here at PAX, and it's really been genuinely touching.

But on the forums... well... those of you who have been posting the last few days know how the forums have been. And it's particualy jarring for me, going from the floor of PAX to my hotel room to check what the word is on HMXsean has popped in once or twice to comment on some of the juicier threads, so I'm not going to rehash what he's said. I just wanted to pop in and let people know what we're up to. We really don't want anyone left out of the loop.

We love telling you guys what's going on. We're really proud of the work we do on RB, and we're proud of the DLC, and we want to share it with everyone. Unfortunately we're not always able to offer full disclosure, but we do the best we can. Sometimes there's a lot of red tape to hurdle, and sometimes there's time limitations, and sometimes we end up working with so many labels, and bands, and amazing people that there's an honest to goodness miscommunication and things don't happen as smoothly as planned.

As Sean mentioned, the last few days have been a bit rockier than usual because we've all been on the road. We're not on a beach somewhere sipping little umbrella drinks either, we're working long days to meet with important people to make Rock Band the best game it can possibly be. We'll be back in the HMX offices next week so hopefully things can get back to normal then, but I think we can all feel a little bit better knowing that this week is the exception and not the rule.

I think (I hope?) that anyone who met us here on the floor at PAX or at a live RB event wherever we end up playing them would tell you that we're not bad guys. We're happy to hang, and we're happy to chat, and we won't ignore you or yell at you if you ask questions we don't like. We're not prima donnas (except for Sean, you should have seen how much time he spent grooming his moustache for the History of HMX panel) and we're not too cool for school. We're just a couple of dudes who like to play video games and hang out and talk with other people who love video games.

We're still releasing DLC every week, even in light of the recent hiccup, and RB2 is still on the immediate horizon. We've just announced six more full albums, and we'll have more albums down the road as well. We're still on track to hit 500 total songs by the end of the year, and we've still got more than a few tricks up our sleeves DLC wise. We're working hard to make sure that all the loose ends are getting tied up and all the little "technical difficulties" end up getting fixed. Like the man says, "This too shall pass."

I hope this quick blog from the road reminds people on the forums that we haven't forgotten about them. You guys number among our most devoted and passionate supporters, as well as some of our toughest critics, and both of those things help us in the long run. We need to know what we're doing right and we need to know what we can do better.

We'll have a full PAX report when we get back to HMX HQ next week. We'll have some rad stories and some even radder pictures (how does HMXJohnlok singing with a full Star Wars band suit you?) to share with everyone. Thanks to everyone who we've met at PAX so far, and thanks to everyone who has been holding it down on the forums and making sure that cooler heads prevail. Please be kind to the mods in our absense. They are kind and gentle creatures and mean you no harm.

My break is now long over and I've got to hurry back to get to the Rock Band Omegathon set up. Stop by and say hello if you're in the area.

Keep on rocking. I will if you do.