Microsoft, Now Embracing Kinect Hacker Scene?

Microsoft appears to be taking the step some of its rivals – the likes of Sony and Nintendo – failed to do, and that’s to acknowledge that something it made has been re-imagined beyond its original purpose. The above video pretty much says it all. Remember, it might not have been this way. Aside from direct control of the Kinect hardware, the shield of aggressive intellectual property laws in countries like the United States covering reverse engineering, to say nothing of a bucket of patents, Microsoft could easily go after hackers, open source libraries, and creative misuse of their designs. …

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New Music Games+Tools for iPad, Xbox 360, in Circles and Tenori-On Grids

In the blurring areas between gaming and creation, toys and tools, there’s certainly a lot of action, spurred on by platforms for sharing software. Pulse is a new title for the iPad, an ambient rhythmic gaming experience with a unique interface centering around a series of concentric circles. The graphic design looks gorgeous in its abstraction, as much music visualization and animation as game UI. The developer, Cipher Prime, has done this kind of terrific work before – their work includes the ambient streams of colored particles in Auditorium, the Flash-based browser game, followed by the Mac + PC game …

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Hands-on: Rock Band 3’s Keytar, a Surprisingly Serious $80 MIDI Keyboard

The Rock Band keytar Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard, next to an iPod touch, for scale. What if a gaping product hole for musicians were filled by a game company instead of a musical instruments company? There’s no need to imagine: pick up the new Rock Band 3 keyboard, and you’ll see what I mean. Consider: most sub-$100 and compact keyboards have dumped 5-PIN MIDI DIN ports in favor of USB only – little comfort if you want to plug a keyboard into that DIY sound module or eBay treasure. (Alesis’ QS25 is one exception, but even a $150 M-Audio …

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Exclusive Details: How the Rock Band 3 Fender Mustang Works as a MIDI Guitar

A toy controller – in a good way. The Mustang Pro guitar controller for Rock Band 3 is equipped with a full MIDI implementation and standard 5-pin port to connect to synths and computers. Since the very first Guitar Hero game, musicians have found ways of converting game music controllers into genuine music controllers, through various hacks and tricks. But now, no hackery is needed: Rock Band 3’s new “Pro” controllers ship with actual MIDI DIN ports on the back. With the help of Harmonix, we get to look inside how that MIDI implementation works. The Rock Band 3 Fender …

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harmonixhead

Rock Band 3, Behind the Scenes: When A Music Game Gets More Real

Play testing Rock Band’s challenging new play modes. You know, challenging — kind of like music. Alli Thresher, community moderator, and Jessa Brezinski, intern. What Harmonix has achieved with Rock Band, and their original Guitar Hero, is remarkable. At their core, these games are descended from arcade rhythm games, reducing music to simple coordination of a few buttons. Yet numerous studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that, in an age in which recording has made musical experience passive for many, the fantasy of holding a plastic instrument is enough to convince people to explore music making again. Rock Band’s collaborative gameplay …

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Unity 3 Game Engine Approaches Mind-Blowing Upgrade

Unity, the commercial game engine, has long been a development tool of interest to those working not only in games but other live and interactive 3D visuals. In contrast to traditional tools, Unity is simply friendlier to designers and programmers alike. It’s what you’d imagine a game engine to be. After first attracting developers on the Mac, Unity has since become a powerhouse on various platforms. Interestingly, it’s all powered by the open-source Mono, a free version of Microsoft’s .net platform (and a painful reminder to Java advocates of what Java could have been). You can read a case study …

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Unity Game Engine 3 Adds Real-time Audio, Mod Tracker Features

Nearing the release of Unity 3, the popular multi-platform game engine, the dev team offers thoughts on what excites them most in the upgrade. Amongst those features are some tasty introductions in sound. Real-time audio features could make Unity an appealing environment for people working on experimental 3D interfaces for sound or adding more interactive sonic and music elements to games. And a MOD tracker … well, if you have to ask, you probably don’t care, but some heart rates in a particular community just shot way up. From the blog: Samantha Kalman I’m most thrilled about the new audio …

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Rock Band 3 to Add Keyboards; No Idea How it Works, Great News for RB Network

This’ll work great! (Artist rendering; final product may differ.) Bach manuscript image (CC-BY-SA) Nathan Siemers. Mock-up created by the createdigitalmusic.com Future Prediction Department… intern. Kotaku notes that Rock Band 3‘s icons tease something we’ve been awaiting a long time — keys. It’s ironic that in order to make guitars playable in games, they were effectively made into keyboards, yet it’s taken this long to actually get keyboards. Oh, wait — yeah, there is that whole problem of having as many as 88 keys, two hands, and no convenient way to fit the staff notation into the descending gems view. Not …

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Chime, Beautiful New Music Game on Xbox 360: Play to Philip Glass, for Charity

One Big Game is a charity assembled by game developers to raise money for children’s organizations. Musical games look to figure prominently in the series. Design legend Masaya Matsuura (PaRappa the Rapper, Vib-Ribbon), father of rhythm games and without whom there likely would be no Rock Band or Guitar Hero, has signed. And the first title out, from Zoë Mode, is musical in nature, too, in a game called “Chime.” Chime is an elegantly-designed game and a lovely way to unwind, particularly with Philip Glass’ gorgeous “Brazil” in the track list. (“Brazil” has Glass’ usual musical furniture, but the cut, …

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