Thursday, July 24, 2008

Does RB2's Endless Setlist Spell Disaster for Players' Kidneys?

Recently, Harmonix(the makers of Rock Band) confirmed that the ES(Endless Setlist) will make a second appearance in Rock Band 2. For those unfamiliar with it, the ES is a challenge within Band World Tour that involves playing every on-disc song back-to-back until they're all completed. Without pausing or failing on a song, the ES took roughly four and a half hours in the first iteration of Rock Band.

Some will be excited at this announcement, as it is one of the more daunting challenges within Rock Band. The addition of online play for World Tour mode adds a lot of life to this challenge. Now, the socially awkward can forgo the solo method of Vocals + Gtr/Bass/Drums and simply hop online and tackle the ES with a buddy, or 2, or 3.

The challenge this year will be harder, make no mistake. Rock Band 1's ES featured 58 songs. Harmonix - wary of the hype generated by rival Neversoft's touted 80-90 song setlist for Guitar Hero: World Tour - has seen fit to place 84 songs on Rock Band 2's shiny disc. That's a 45% increase from last year. All things being even, a mathematical projection has this year's ES clocking in at around 6 1/2 hours(assuming zero fails or pause breaks).

What does this mean for the gamers? In Rock Band 1, if you played the ES locally, either by yourself or with other people in the same room, you could simply hit the pause button whenever you needed to take a break. After playing for 2 or 3 hours, it was nice to be able to stop for a moment, take a bio break, maybe get a drink, stretch your legs, etc. However, if Online World Tour in Rock Band 2 follows the ways of Rock Band 1's Band Quickplay in that no one can pause the action, Rock Band 2's ES may be more of a physical challenge than anticipated.

Your average, healthy person can probably hold it for 6 or 7 hours, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea. Vocalists often drink a lot of fluids while playing. I would have to think that drummers could also use the hydration during a marathon of that length. So, the mind begins to wonder at what steps Harmonix may or may not have taken to deal with this issue.

Certainly, you don't want any band member to be able to pause the game whenever they feel like it. Giving the leader direct control of pause breaks is an option, as is a mandatory button press at the end of each song(thus creating a built-in pause). Another thought is giving each member of the band a certain number of pauses. Clearly, if Harmonix wants to allow stops, there are a number of viable ways to do so.

If they decide to not allow pausing during online ES play, is Harmonix walking into a lawsuit nightmare? Just imagine someone playing and holding it in and suffering kidney damage as a result. It wouldn't take long for the 'Rock Band 2 broke my kidneys' stories to hit newspaper front pages. Mothers would be outraged and would be sure that their precious sons or daughters would not be subjected to a game with so little urinary consideration.

One can only hope that Harmonix has thought this through. Otherwise, it won't be uncommon to see a gamer simply move a TV, gaming system, refridgerator, and internet cable into their bathroom and proudly proclaim, 'Bring it on!'.


Matthew said...

Reminds me of this:

BigZ7337 said...

Interesting idea, but I believe Harmonix has said that a band challenge can be started and stopped, so that you can come back to it later. You're allowed to quit and save progress: