Harmonix Rhythm FPS Chroma Getting Overhaul

By Nathan Grayson on May 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

Rock Band and Dance Central developer Harmonix’s Chroma is a very, very neat idea. Work with me on this: arena shooting is great fun, and so is music that thumps like it’s the pulse of the entire planet, right? Well, on paper Harmonix’s plan was to combine the two, as they explained to me earlier this year. Apparently, however, the game’s blend of toe-tapping (though admittedly disparate) elements didn’t quite work out in playable alpha form. One small community test later, Harmonix has decided to try marching to the beat of a different drummer.

The developer sent out an email to fans and testers admitting that Chroma needs a pretty serious overhaul before it’s ready for primetime. Live and learn, basically, with a lot of jazz-hands-ing and dubstep-gunning somewhere in the middle.

“Based on the terrific feedback we got from all of you in the community, as well as our own analysis, we have concluded that Chroma will need some substantial retooling to be the game we want it to be. We remain passionately committed to the high-level vision, and we think there are some very successful mechanics and systems in the existing build. The team has, in fact, already started prototyping new directions for the game based on those successful mechanics. We look forward to sharing more with you down the line, as Chroma evolves in new directions.”

“This is the first time Harmonix has ever done a public alpha on very early gameplay prototypes, and the experience has been wonderful all around. The feedback from the outstanding alpha players was amazing and we’re truly in your debt. It’s been really inspiring to have constructive criticism and optimistic support from an invested community.”

Chroma’s current test will come to a close on June 4th, which means you can still groove along from home until then if you got in.

Hopefully time will allow Harmonix to make the idea really sing, as I think there’s definite potential in it. Certainly, though, it’s something that demands to be executed with utmost precision, given that so many of the proposed rhythm and action elements could unbalance things or confuse people or clutter up the core game. We’ll see eventually, I suppose.

Did anyone get into the first test? How was it? Is Harmonix at least on the right track?

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16 Comments »

  1. MrGtD says:

    I was in the Alpha, but it’s under NDA so I can’t say anything about it. However, I have prepared an elaborate system of stomping my foot and blinking to tell you if it’s good or bad. I’m doing it right now.

    • NonCavemanDan says:

      Ok, major key means positive experience, chord structure of a 12 bars blues in 3/4 means there was some ludo-narrative dissonance …wait, what on earth does an augmented ninth mean!?

      • LionsPhil says:

        RPG elements, and big baggy coats that make us look bigger than we really are.

        • Geebs says:

          D minor is the lemon-limiest key

          Also I totally read that passage as “terrible feedback”. Probably correctly.

          • Darth Gangrel says:

            I bet MrGtD’s foot stomping is augmented, but that still doesnt make it easier to interpret. Meanwhile, I read NDA as meaning National Dubstep Association, after reading this in the article: a lot of jazz-hands-ing and dubstep-gunning.

  2. OctoStepdad says:

    I can’t say anything about the game due to the NDA but I am excited to see what the outcome is after the development overhaul!

  3. KDR_11k says:

    I’m very bad at music so I don’t like this trend of putting rhythm gameplay into everything…

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Bit minor key.

      Major key: “I’m very bad at music, but this trend of putting rhythm gameplay into everything could help me to improve!”

      • KDR_11k says:

        Not really. My “immersion state” when gaming involves shutting down perception of things like music so when I focus on a rhythm I instinctively stop listening to the music and only check for onscreen prompts.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    This is somewhat alarming, given it previously look Interesting and Ambitious, and gaming has a bad habit of reworking Interesting and Ambitious into Generic and Safe.

  5. forddent says:

    I too am unable to say anything about the game, apart from the fact that I enjoyed myself and am super-interested in seeing what they come up with in terms of changes.

  6. brulleks says:

    “marching to the beat of a different drummer.”

    No – marching to the beta of a different drummer. How did you not see that? Step it up, Grayson.

  7. kwyjibo says:

    When Harmonix say “overhaul”, they mean “firing the team”.

    http://www.joystiq.com/2014/05/29/harmonix-lays-off-37-staff/

    It’s OK though, let’s crowdfund another Sony exclusive for these guys.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      It does say “According to Harmonix, today’s layoffs don’t affect any games that are currently in production at the studio.” Hopefully that’s a good sign, assuming they’re not doing some weasel-wording bullshit that defines Chroma as not “in production.”

  8. Phasma Felis says:

    Maybe I’m naively optimistic, but the announcement doesn’t sound that negative to me. It just sounds like the alpha helped them home in on the things that need polishing, which is (a) what alphas are for and (b) completely expected when you’re combining two genres that no one’s ever combined before. I think I can say that I was really enjoying the alpha, and I feel like the game has enormous potential.

    The layoff announcement is certainly ominous, but for now I’m holding out hope that it’s not directly Chroma-related.

    Also, fuck whichever douchebag broke his NDA, leaked the private announcement to Kotaku, and got everybody (on Kotaku, at least) loudly giving up on a game that they’ve never seen and isn’t even half done. I suddenly have a much better understanding of why we need NDAs, if this kind of hysteria is normal.