Guitar Hero Metallica – Behind the Music

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Hey everyone, this is Alan Flores and I am the lead designer of Guitar Hero Metallica. I just wanted to share some thoughts about why Guitar Hero Metallica is so important to me and why I think we owed it to all the metal heads out there to make the best game we could possibly make.

Recently, I was flying back from San Francisco after doing some press for the game, and I was reading a music magazine. Inside was an article on the history of thrash metal which listed what they felt were the quintessential 12 thrash metal albums of all time. I looked over the list and realized that I have nine of these records on vinyl and one on CD. Yeah, thrash metal, especially Metallica, played such an important role in my life when I was in high school, and now 20 years later being able to work on a Metallica game is nothing short of a dream project.

Guitar Hero Metallica - Record Collection

A small sampling of my vintage thrash metal record collection

It seems like almost everyone I know has a story about how Metallica has meant so much to them, and I’ve definitely heard that sentiment here at Neversoft a lot. There’s a group of people here that would work on the Metallica game for 30 hours a day. From that perspective, we really wanted to make a game that we felt spoke to all the metal heads out there and would make them want to get up and scream about how freakin’ awesome it is.

We approached the game this way and really tried to put as much stuff in there that we (as fans of the band) would want to see. Awesome playing Metallica songs, check. Absolutely amazing opening acts (like my favorite band in high school – Slayer), check. Great character models, venues (with lots of pyro!), lifelike animations, Metallica-themed Pushead UI, check. Then we were like, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get some old photos of the band? How about putting some rare live footage in there?” One of the first things people ask when they hear we’re doing a Metallica game is whether the game will support a second bass drum pedal so gamers can play the double bass tracks. With time schedules and such, it’s really easy to limit ourselves, but we felt pretty strongly that to have an authentic Metallica experience we need to have a second bass drum pedal. We also worked with the fan club, who are Metallica fanatics, and they gave us old photos and live footage of the band and really helped us pack this game with tons of cool bonus content.

I just want to talk about one more thing before I sign off. We have this new feature in the game called Metallifacts and it’s kinda like DVD commentary where the song will play back sans notetrack and you get information in a text box about the song that’s playing. It’s great to get context about the guest artists (why is Lynyrd Skynyrd or Bob Seger in there?) and for getting some insight straight from the band about what a song is about or how they wrote it. Also, one of the things that is really exciting to me about Metallifacts is that metal heads always seem to get a bad rap as uneducated or not very intelligent, which is totally bogus. Lots of metal songs are written about some pretty deep stuff so with the Metallifacts, we can educate people a bit about the music in the game. For example, did you know that the intro to Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” is based on Gustav Holst’s “Mars” from “The Planets Suite Op. 32,” that Mastodon’s album “Leviathan” is based on “Moby Dick” or that Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is based on the Hemingway novel?

I apologize for gushing about Guitar Hero Metallica since I did work on it, but it’s really been a labor of love and I feel it’s the best Guitar Hero game yet, and certainly the most “Metal!” game ever. But you guys can decide for yourself when the game comes out this spring!

Alan Flores

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