Brad Feld

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A Weekend Full of Rock Band 2

Oct 13, 2008

And now for something completely different.  No – this isn’t going to be yet another blog post on how you, the entrepreneur, should react to the credit crisis.  That’s later today.  Instead, this is my extreme fanboy blog post for my friends at Harmonix and their amazing new version of Rock Band (very creatively named Rock Band 2).

In addition to being a magnificent video game (and a great example of what we are looking for in our HCI theme), the Harmonix story is a fabulous entrepreneurial tale.  Don Steinberg wrote a long article titled Just Play that’s in this month’s Inc. Magazine.  Yours truly makes a very small appearance in the story which is a testament to both the brilliance of Alex Rigopolus and Eran Egozy as well as their incredible perseverance (the story, not my appearance in it.)  Forget about "macro issues" – these guys show what it’s like to spend a decade where they are weeks (and days) away from going out of business before waking up one day to a blockbuster success.

Now on to the game.  I’ve had the original Xbox 360 Rock Band Special Edition since the day it shipped and have logged plenty of hours on it.  I got Rock Band 2 when it first shipped, but this is the first weekend I’ve been at my Keystone house since it showed up.  We had a full house (six adults) so all we needed was some easily procured food and alcohol to disappear into a Rock Band induced departure from reality.

Five of us had played (a lot of) Rock Band.  We all love the game, but had the same complaint – the UI for creating and managing a band was difficult.  Rock Band 2 fixed this problem – suddenly our band (the name is not work safe – please feel free to guess in the comments) was optimally set up (and modestly dressed – we all looked way hotter in Rock Band than in real life.)  Three hours of touring in Boston, New York, Montreal, and Chicago ensued.

The next morning – when I was alone downstairs – I figured out how to export all the Rock Band songs to Rock Band 2.  I also finally got around to setting up Xbox Live and bought another $200 worth of Rock Band songs (Rush, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Boston anyone?)  Our jam session continued with vigor on Saturday afternoon and into the late evening.

My partner Jason Mendelson – who is a drummer in real life – amazed us all on hard and expert level (where he managed to survive Boston’s Foreplay.)  To reward him, I just bought the Xbox 360 Drum Rocker Premium Drum Set.  I decided I was a bass guitar player and managed to graduate from medium to hard.  Another weekend and I might even be able to play expert on a song here and there.

Alex, Eran, and everyone at Harmonix – you guys are amazing.