I was at Harmonix from December 2014 through March 2017. I primarily did UI and gameplay, working very closely with artists, designers, sound designers, and QA, and often building tools and dev cheats to make development go more smoothly for everyone. I also got to help with a lot of our community engagement work, including being in videos and livestreams, working demos and convention booths, and writing this guest blog post.
Rock Band 4
I was on the Rock Band 4 team for most of its pre-launch development and continued to work on it for its first year of monthly updates. During my time on the project I wound up at least briefly touching most parts of the game, but some of the features I owned were:
- The Music Library, which supports DLC collections of 1700+ songs, including sorting, searching, and filtering features
- The “Overshell,” a system of global independent menus for each player which manages player state and allows users to tweak their personal settings without interrupting gameplay for other players
- The drop-in/drop-out system, whch allows players to join and leave the game at any time, even mid-song
- Practice Mode, in which players can rehearse all or part of songs with helpful options like slowing it down or playing guiding audio for vocalists
- Too many smaller UI menus to list here, including the main menu
The Rock Band games obviously have an impressive legacy, which means I inherited many of the systems I owned. We were building the game in a new version of Harmonix’s internal engine, however, which meant I was often porting entire systems from an engine I’d never used to an engine I was still learning, which was a really fascinating challenge, and a great way to learn the ins and outs of a codebase! Other systems were new features, or we just made the call to rebuild them from the ground up for the new engine, so it was really great to get to flex both sets of coding muscles. Our (more-or-less) monthly updates both added new features and fixed bugs and exploits, and working on a live update schedule was both tricky and exhilarating!
SingSpace is an online multiplayer karaoke game for GearVR coming out this spring. Not much has been announced about it yet, so I can’t go into too much detail – which is a shame, because I love it and wish I could gush about it! My work included realtime online gameplay using the Oculus Rooms API, a generalized game flow state management system, player feedback using environmental effects and character animations, and the onboarding and tutorial system. I also got to work closely with external partners while using brand new technology, and learned a lot about best practices for VR in general and optimizing for the GearVR in particular.