Guitar Hero World Tour - Development


The fourth major entry to the Guitar Hero series, at the time named Guitar Hero IV, was officially announced upon the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games in December 2007. "We couldn't have done it without Red Octane's support." says the Guitar Hero Team. The game's new name, Guitar Hero World Tour, was officially announced by Activision in May 2008.

Activision and RedOctane had previously registered for trademarks on "Guitar Villain", "Drum Villain", "Keyboard Hero", "Drum Hero" and "Band Hero". Analysts speculated that future Guitar Hero would need to include additional instrument peripherals in order to compete against former Guitar Hero developer Harmonix's Rock Band. Activision's CEO Bobby Kotick and early previews of the game revealed that Guitar Hero IV would branch out into other instruments and vocals.

According to the Game Informer preview, the addition of drum functionality came from work initially done towards the Drum Hero title. This work was later folded into the Guitar Hero series after Neversoft was chosen as developer of the series. Neversoft's Allen Flores stated that with the addition of the existing drum gameplay, the development of World Tour took under a year, starting development immediately after the release of Guitar Hero III. The drum instrument controller was designed to be more realistic, with input from Chad Smith (of Red Hot Chili Peppers), Stewart Copeland (of The Police) and Travis Barker (of Blink-182), all of whom requested the elevated cymbal pads. The ability to open-strum the guitar was a feature that was planned for Guitar Hero III but was removed before release, finding that it was too difficult on the guitar tracks. However, they built this feature in from the start of World Tour development for the bass guitar tracks.

Bright describes the development of the note track for a given song once it has been licensed for the game as a parallel effort, a process that they have found to be more efficient than their previous work on the Tony Hawk games. Once the song was mixed for use by the development team, a "tempo map" was created by one developer; this map denotes the beats in the music which then can be used by the rest of the development team. Once the tempo map was complete, the song was then distributed to the various teams, such as the specific instrument teams or to the animators, to complete the song. Note-for-note tracking from the song was then performed, and in some cases, changes were made to account for sections that cannot be replicated on the game controllers; the final track represented the note track for the Expert difficulty of the song. Note tracks were then reduced and adjusted to create the note tracks for the lower difficulties in the game. A difficulty assessment was made using the final note tracks to determine where the songs were to be placed in the soundtrack progression. The difficulty model is based on that from Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, which was adjusted from the Guitar Hero III model after the team received negative feedback from players regarding a "brick wall" in the difficulty progression in that game.

The song list for World Tour started as the list of songs that Neversoft wanted to include in Guitar Hero III, but had failed to get into the game or as downloadable content; the list was eventually expanded to over 500 songs. The song list was then prioritized based on what the team thought would be best in the game, and then going after the music that would take the longest time to license, as was the case for the Jimi Hendrix songs. While songs were selected to make sure that guitar, bass, and drums all had great parts, they also opted for songs that would be strong for one single instrument as to make the game still appealing for those playing the single player modes. Some songs were also suggested through the licensing efforts by Activision for inclusion in the game. Flores stated that the inclusion of caricatures of recording artists in the game was either due to the team seeking that specific artist for the game, or the artist approaching the development team and requesting to be part of it. The band Tool, which hasn't licensed its music since 1996, allowed for the inclusion of three of its songs in World Tour as long they were involved with the artwork and tracking of the songs for the game, leading to the creation of the art-like Tool venue.

Bright noted that they had support for "epic drum solos", in which the band animation would focus on the drummer, but removed this feature from the game's final release due to its complexity. They also had to remove the "Jam Over" mode planned for the game's music creation section that would have allowed players to start with one of the game's songs and play over it on their instruments; this feature was removed in order to keep the final product polished and on-time.

The custom song creation feature was inspired by the current "hacking environment" that has arisen from the first two Guitar Hero games, where players would create new tracks and share them with others.

Hands-On Mobile has secured the worldwide rights to create a mobile phone version of the game to be released later in 2008. A version of the game has been rated by the ESRB for Microsoft Windows computers, though Activision has not officially confirmed this version.

A PC version of Guitar Hero World Tour was confirmed by Intel on February 27, 2009 and displayed at CeBIT on March 3–8, 2009 in Hannover, Germany.

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