Red Octane: “We Were The Guinea Pigs”

While up in Cairns for Activision’s Activate Asia, I had a chat to Red Octane’s Charles Huang, co-creator of Guitar Hero. For what seemed like most of the event, Charles carried around the new wireless guitar that will debut with GHIII. Not only did it make him look cool, it made it hard not to ask him about it.

What caught my interest was the effort Red Octane had to go to get Microsoft on board. GHIII and its wire-free instrument represent the first time Microsoft has given the go-ahead to a third-party to create a controller based on the Xbox 360’s wireless protocols.

According to Charles, the Big M had never planned on allowing other companies to produce wireless stuff, so there was nothing in place for Red Octance to work with.

Actually, all the first parties [were on board]- when we said we’d like to make the guitar work wireless with your platform. It was universal, everybody responded yes, that’s definitely what we want to do. Between Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony they opened up the doors and for the first time, had to begin to share some of the inner workings of their controllers, their wireless technology, to let us make it work in our guitars.

Charles said it took a lot of engineers to make the controller work, with techies based in Washington, China and even Australia. It probably didn’t help that MS invented their own standard.

Microsoft has its own proprietary [wireless]technology … it’s not Bluetooth, it’s not Wi-Fi … I think when they started they had not intended to let anyone other than themselves use this technology.

Hopefully Red Octane didn’t do all the work for them. At the very least, Charles believes they were a good test subject.

Yeah, we were kind of the guinea pigs.


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