Have you ever played “Rock Manager”? It’s a really cool game, and funny as heck. In that game, you had to create a band, produce their songs, release albums and book venues for them to play at. Well, you actually get to do a bunch of other stuff, but that’s beside the point. What really matters is that when your band performs, you actually get a mini review of their performance. And sometimes, the newspapers or magazines would actually release an article about your band, which was cool.
Now, in Guitar Hero, when you finish a song, you get your score and how many stars you got. Rock Band goes beyond, and informs you the score, the stars, how many fans you got, how much money was earned and if you unlocked any new venue. That actually just shows which game is more “arcade-oriented”, and which one is more “experience-oriented” of the two.
But if you’ve been reading the other 2 posts in this “adding spice to your concert” series, you must have noticed that there’s certainly room in music simulation games for tons of additional gameplay elements to enhance the player’s experience of actually planning and delivering a… well, more kickass show to the audience. So I was thinking… maybe it would be kind of a letdown if, after playing a big gig, the only thing the player received was the same old screen with score, stars, fans and money. I’m going to be completely honest here, most of the time I don’t even read those screens.
But what if something extra did happen? Imagine this. You have all the same usual venues of the other Rock Band games. You have single songs, “mystery setlist”, “make a setlist”, “80s marathon”… but also, “BIG GIG”. I really like that name. It’s cacthy. Big Gigs would be those concerts where you’d plan the special effects, drum solos and guitar duels, changes in costumes, songs in the encore, all the details we discussed before. And since those Big Gigs would be those “this is it” moments of the band in every city, I think special rewards would be in order.
One of these rewards, I think, could be in-detail reviews of the concert, and maybe even how each little success of the band in that show awarded the player in some way. Maybe a rock magazine would publish an article reviewing the concert, and what were the strongest points and all that.
Now, that would already be cool on its own, because it would give you a bigger sense of accomplishment with the concert. But maybe some extra rewards could be tied to it. For example, and I’m just imagining here, great concert reviews could open up some temporary bonuses for the next shows (more people would get interested in the band). Or maybe, if you’re starting your carrer, other musicians would be interested in sharing the stage with you. Or your label would be interested in booking bigger venues, or willing to pay for more expensive effects for the next shows etc etc etc.
Anyway, Big Gigs would be the ideal moment for the band to prove to the world that they really mean business. Reviews and rewards should reflect that. And the best way to reward the player after a job well done, is to throw a fun surprise his way. Make the band appear on TV, or actual pictures of the performance on pages of a magazine, complete with praises to the guitarist that won the guitar duel. Give the player the option to save that magazine review. Let him even share his magazine reviews with other players. Make the reviews really funny.
The possibilities are vast indeed. I once read a review of Guitar Hero 5 on Ars Technica (which is a great site by the way) that proposed that it would be ugly to “be on the team that has to think of the next random feature to make Guitar Hero: World Tour: Band Hero: On Tour special enough for a full $60 retail release”. I certainly disagree with that. I think there’s a LOT of stuff that can be done to breathe more fun into these games, if only people took the “roleplay” aspect of the genre more seriously.