With Harmonix ready to ship Rock Band in just a few weeks, its time to focus on what else the musical developer has up its sleeve. The recently published session list for next year's Game Developers Conference gives us some clues about what it might be. According to the description of the session "Your Music Is the Game: Designing the OTHER Project at Harmonix" it won't feature beats "authored by tech-savvy musicians", but "would instead be algorithmically generated, and the game would lack the dedicated peripherals that were critical to the success of the Guitar Hero series." So what will be shown?Session speaker Chris Foster, Senior Designer at Harmonix, will present attendees with a case study on the mystery game's design, but, sadly, most likely won't reveal concrete details about the specific project. Details on the session indicate that past Harmonix titles will be used to "illustrate various points", possibly indicating that a formal reveal will follow GDC.
While details are still scarce and may continue to be so, a Harmonix trademark from earlier this year for a product named Beat Boy may provide more insight.
The first trademark for Beat Boy was for "video game software" and "portable listening devices, namely mp3 players", among other things, which could apply to a game that could algorithmically generate beat charts from already encoded music, say, on a Memory Stick. More specifically, on the PlayStation Portable.
A second trademark was added for Beat Boy specifying it for "handheld units for playing electronic games", another indication that it could make its way to the PSP, a handheld that meets the technical requirements for such a product but one that doesn't lend itself to Guitar Hero-style peripherals.
The trademark was originally filed by Harmonix for Beat Boy back in 2002 but expired earlier this year, possibly indicating the idea has been brewing for a long time.
Of course, the Nintendo DS is also capable of playing MP3s, given the right hardware, something that hasn't been officially released in North America by Nintendo themselves. The GDC listing does mention "unique input mechanics" after all, which could indicate plenty of microphone blowing and stylus tapping. Furthermore, the game could come to any number of portable platforms, including mobile phones and iPods.
It was reported earlier this year that Sony Computer Entertainment America wasn't taken with the prospect of a PSP follow up to Harmonix's PlayStation 2 music game Amplitude, but the developer may have convinced its new owners at MTV Games to fund such a project.
We'll keep digging to try to learn more.