If the 85 master recordings aren't enough for players of "Guitar Hero: World Tour," they can create their own playable tracks with the in-game music studio feature.
Neversoft senior producer Aaron Habibipour, who also plays real guitar and is in a band, showed me the game's music studio during a demo in a New York City hotel suite last month.
Here's a rundown on the three main sections -- recording, mixing and sharing -- of the "GH: WT" music studio:
Recording -- This is where players can jam and/or record the music they play to pre-made beats. The screen shows the four avatars in a basement studio and the note highway for each instrument. To create a new song, you simply press record and the game keeps track of the notes you hit.
As for difficulty, the game uses an algorithm to automate the track into five levels of difficulty, scaling your songs down automatically from Expert. Players can drop in or out during the session, and after recording, they can preview the tune. Once they've laid down their track, they can edit in more detail in the "GH Mix" interface.
Mixing -- "GHMix" is where players can edit the notes for the drum, bass, guitar and keyboard tracks -- it looks very much like an editing tool, with different icons on the left-hand side. While it looked a little complicated, Habibipour told me that no studio recording knowledge was needed.
The interface I saw was called the "WZ-RD 5000," where you can have pre-made basslines (rock, metal and hip-hop were a few examples) and different sounds for each of the instruments, including various drum kits ('80s and cheesy were options) and different effects for the lead and rhythm guitar. The player can work on all the different instrument tracks for the same song by switching to each part. There, they can edit individual notes, by adding and removing them, and even record more directly into the editor with the instruments. The music editor can also cut and paste notes for faster song creation.
Habibipour also said that GHMix is just as fully featured as other music creation software like Cakewalk or Acid, and it's "pretty close" to what the developers use to create tracks for the game, though they use the program strictly on PC while the game is geared to work with the instruments.
One thing that's missing from the music creation is singing. Players can't record a vocal track for their musical masterpiece due to lyrical legal issues. File size also is an issue. Habibipour did say you can assign a melody track to the keyboard, and have whoever is singing sing along (whatever they want) to those notes as long as they match the pitch.
Uploading and Sharing -- Once you create your song, you can upload your track to "GHTunes," where the "Guitar Hero" community can rate songs. By default, users will be given five spots to upload songs to GH Tunes. The higher a user's ratings, based on other players' downloads, the more spots they'll receive to upload stuff. The maximum space the best music makers can have is an album–length -- 15 tracks.
Also, friends can't download songs and then add their parts; like a real band, music creation must remain local. All the music is playable in any venue, and once the songs are downloaded, they're available in quick play. And GHTunes is fully searchable by genre, artist or user name. However, songs cannot be shared across platforms.
As for copyright issues, Activision will monitor the uploads. Songs will be removed from GHTunes if the company receives a complaint from a copyright owner or otherwise learns a song is a copy of an existing copyrighted song. And though any track can be downloaded and edited, it can't be re-uploaded.
Didn't get all that? There's also a tutorials section for the whole process of recording, editing and distributing your own "Guitar Hero" music. "Guitar Hero: World Tour" will be in stores October 27.
"Guitar Hero" players, are you eager to use these new features?