Meet Kai Huang, co-founder and CEO of Red Octane, a video-game developer now owned by Activision. Huang and his brother, Charles, are the people you can thank for the wildly popular “Guitar Hero” series. The newest game in the series, “Guitar Hero World Tour,” is slated for an Oct. 26 release date. The game is expected to challenge Harmonix/EA's “Rock Band” in what should end up being the ultimate battle of the band video games.
Recently, Kai Huang talked about “Guitar Hero World Tour,” creating the popular “Guitar Hero” series and what it was like to work with iconic band Aerosmith for the game “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.”
“Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” is available for the Sony Playstation 2, the Sony Playstation 3, the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Xbox 360.
Q. What makes this version of “Guitar Hero” different from “Guitar Hero II” and “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock”?
This version of “GH” offers a unique twist on the game series. It takes the same “GH” formula and adds Aerosmith's story to the game. You can follow Aerosmith from their first venue all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This game tells their story. The game covers their 30-year career and contains 40 songs; 25 original Aerosmith songs and 15 songs by groups inspired by Aerosmith.
Q. Tell me about the process – why did you choose Aerosmith for this installment of “Guitar Hero”?
We were looking for an iconic band with great songs. We had to make sure the band had enough songs in their catalog. We agreed to go with Aerosmith for the game. However, they were not leaving Boston. So we had to fly out to Boston to mo-cap (motion capture) the band. We boxed up all of our gear and flew from L.A. and San Francisco to Boston and set up the gear to tape them, mo-cap them and videotape them.
Q. What was it like heading to Boston to do motion capture?
Steve Tyler wanted everything mo-capped. (Motion capture is a process where designers capture movement of objects and apply the movements to a digital model of the object.) He wanted us to mo-cap every song. … We even mo-capped his mouth. We also mo-capped Run DMC during our Boston session.
Q. Do they play “Guitar Hero”?
Not in front of people, because they don't want to look foolish. When they are home, they do play the game.
One day, Joe Perry heard some noise in his basement and went downstairs to see what the noise was. He saw his son and his friends playing “Guitar Hero” and he played it. He liked it. His son said, “Dad, you should be in this game!”
Perry talked to the band about it. They said they were interested, so they contacted Activision. Activision contacted us, RedOctane, and we started working on the game.
Q. What will “Guitar Hero World Tour” offer that gamers can't get with “Rock Band” or “Rock Band 2”?
“GHWT” will offer all new wireless instruments. The instruments will be realistic – the drums, the microphone. It will offer the most music. There will also be a music creator to allow gamers to create music and upload it for others to download it.
(Also) Metallica is giving gamers a gift – they can buy the CD or download it in the game the day of release. So you can play the new songs the same day you can buy their CD in stores.
Q. Can we expect other game expansions in the “Guitar Hero” series?
Yes. Expect (hip-hop and country versions). We are looking at different instruments to incorporate into the games.
Q. What inspired you and your brother to do “Guitar Hero”?
Back in the '90s, there were great music games in Japan and Asia. We like the games. The Japanese audiences loved games like that, and it was indeed a neat concept. We wanted to bring those games to the U.S., but make them appealing to the U.S. gamer. So we thought – what would a popular party game have? What is appealing to the masses? Rock 'n' roll. So we created a game based on the Japanese and Asian concept, and added the rock 'n' roll twist.