Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rock Band Competition

We had a Rock Band competition the other day, in front of about 1200 people. It turned out to be a somewhat bigger deal than any of us, organizers and performers, anticipated. We received a lot of compliments, and we also learned a number of things about how to run one of these.

The rules for the event were:
The contest will be on the PS3 system, all instruments will be provided.
An Xbox 360 and Rock Band system that will be awarded as a prize to the winning team.
Your band must consist of at least three members (bass player is optional), all of whom are employees.
Your band's song must be chosen from the songs included on the disc:
Your song can be either from the main set list or the bonus songs, with the exception of the few very long songs at the discretion of the organizers.
Each member of the band can choose their own difficulty level.
The winning team will be decided based on
(percent score for each band member) × (difficulty factor) ÷ (number of band members)
where (difficulty factor) is: easy=2 medium=2.5 hard=3 expert=4
If you skip past the scoring screen before your score can be recorded, your band will be disqualified.
Judgments are indisputable, professionalism is required, fun is recommended.
Prize package will be announced and awarded at the completion of the competition.

A few things we would change for next time:
Have an organizer on stage to set up each band (choose their song and difficulty and get the song loading).
Make sure we get more information from the band ahead of time (song, team members names, difficulties, etc).
Have some sort of system for screen capture for the points screen... some bands hit a button to move off of that screen before the scorekeeper could record them. Thankfully there were four other people watching for the numbers. We didn't enforce the disqualification, I think we'll remove that from the rules.
The math would be a little more complicated, but we could correct for the song difficulty (per instrument) based on the numbers on the wikipedia page.
Perhaps arrange a meeting or videoconference with the leader of each band to make sure everything is communicated and all questions are answered.
Limit the number of bands to about eight, in the interest of time, perhaps with a video "audition" if there are more that want to play.
Plan to have someone actually MC the event, with jokes and/or information during load screens (rather than me just making it up on the spur of the moment).
Have the middle screen (behind the band) showing the gameplay at all times, with the side screens switching live video of the players (perhaps with a mobile camera as well).

I'm sure that there are other things we could change as well, those are just the ones that I've come up with based on a few conversations with the other organizers and those who helped make this happen. And this is likely the first time there has been an event of this scale with this sort of group (school district employees). Hopefully it won't be the last.

One of the teams videoed their performance, so you can get some idea of what it the event was like.

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