Guitar Hero: Van Halen

I was doing some reading online about some video game events when I discovered that the manuals for Guitar Hero can be downloaded from Activision’s website.  I saw TFB’s name in a game I would have never anticipated:

Just to be clear, this is not what TFB is working on as their current project.  This simply means they were involved in Guitar Hero: Van Halen.  They are credited in the Wii and PS2 manual.

Underground Development was initially known as Z-Axis.  Before Guitar Hero, they worked on the Dave Mirra BMX series and the PlayStation 3 version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.  There was an announcement they their studio would be closed by the end of May 2008.  Fortunately, they stayed strong and remain open to this day.

How was TFB involved in Guitar Hero: Van Halen?  I made many guesses and at the end, I realized that I can’t answer this by myself.  So, I asked Alex Ness, Producer at Toys for Bob.  Here’s what he said about Guitar Hero:

Yeah, we helped out with Guitar Hero Van Halen and Guitar Hero 5 on the Wii.  Wasn’t much work, mainly building their environments that were based off of the PS3/360 versions and animating the Miis, which was pretty fun.  It was kind of one of those things where we had just finished a game and had a bunch of artists sitting around with nothing to do so they jumped on another Activision product.  We didn’t really have any creative input.  So, sorry if we got your hopes up!
– Alex Ness

I wonder what Fwiffo, ZEX, Talana, Tanaka and the Ur-Quan would look like in Guitar Hero. :D

It seems that more and more developers are getting involved in Guitar Hero.  The main reason for multiple developers getting involved is to push out each Guitar Hero game to as many platforms as possible with the same quality on schedule.  Guitar Hero is one of the best-selling video game franchises.

Toys for Bob has plenty of valuable experience with this generation of home consoles.  They developed Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam, one of the Wii’s launch titles.  When the Madagascar 2 video game was in development, TFB was responsible for the Xbox 360, PlayStation3 and Wii version while other developers worked on a single version.

In his e-mail, Alex briefly touched on TFB’s  secret project:

As I think I’ve mentioned in the past, we’re actually working on something pretty cool right now that I think you will like.  As much as Star Control?  Probably not but I guarantee you’ll enjoy it more than Madagascar 2.  It’s also easily the biggest project TFB has ever undertaken and has proven to keep us extremely busy.  We’re supposed to finish it up by Christmas of this year.  I’ll let you know as soon as it is announced.
– Alex Ness

Here is the list of clues that have been given so far, including some quotes from an older post I wrote called “Farewell Shaba Games”:

  • It’s not Star Control
  • “Not another game based on an animated movie”
  • “Currently the biggest project TFB has ever undertaken”
  • “Will have cool story and gameplay elements that feel more classic Toys for Bob”
  • “We’re supposed to finish it up by Christmas by this year”

At least we have a rough release date and we know this unannounced game is currently their biggest project.  It makes me even more excited about this.  Activision must have trusted them very much with this project if it’s something original, has the classic TFB stuff we all love and is their biggest project so far.  I’m definitely going to add this to my game collection when it comes out.

Happy belated new year to everyone and thank you Alex for taking the time to write back to me.

Links
Guitar Hero: Van Halen page, with manuals
Farewell Shaba Games
Guitar Hero 5 Wii Manual

2 Responses to “Guitar Hero: Van Halen”

  1. Something I noticed on TFB job board..

    Toys for Bob is looking for an awesome UI Artist to help put the polishing touches on our game. You will work with the Art Director, Lead Artists, Design, and Programming teams to conceptualize, build and implement 2D and 3D front-end game interfaces and in-game display HUDs that fit with the style defined by the game.
    Qualifications
    · Experience designing both intuitive HUDs and navigable menus.
    · Ability to visualize and create interface transitions with stylish animation.
    · Knowledge of graphic design and animation software, 2D and 3D, as well as an affinity for learning new software.
    · Minimum of two years of game industry experience.
    · Motion graphics experience for advertising is a bonus.
    · Experience with creating Flash-based user interfaces.

    No real clues to the forth coming game.
  2. They're doing a good job at maintaining the suspense and I hope that they find that awesome UI artist. I think there were postings for a programmer, game designer and artist on Gamesutra before this one.