Harmonix released Rock Band on Nov. 20, 2007, and to celebrate the fifth anniversary, its staff took to the game's official blog, telling stories of how they've broken into the industry, lied to a rock star and selected the songs that ship with each game.
Eric Pope, Harmonix's current community manager, had been unfulfilled working in the financial industry when he met Sean Baptiste, the developer's former community manager. That meeting changed the course of his life, Pope says. After about six months of effort, Harmonix hired him.
"In over four years since then, I have never once woken up and felt like I didn't want to go to work," he wrote. "Every day here is a potential ridiculous adventure. Because of Rock Band, I've worked at the MTV Movie Awards, played The Beatles Rock Band with Tom Hanks, spent multiple days inside Abbey Road Studios, and ingested numerous cases of PAX Pox. It's all been an incredible pleasure, and my life is most certainly for the better because of that crazy popular shockwave that is Rock Band."
Christine Jandreau, Harmonix's web editor, was hired just before Rock Band 2 released. Part of her job is interviewing rock stars about the game, and her first interview happened to be with the lead singer of her favorite band, Breaking Benjamin. When she learned she'd be interviewing him on the band's tour bus, she "tried not to squeal."
"You can listen to or read the interview on the site," she wrote, "but the part you won't hear or read is when Ben Burnley asked me about 'those real instruments you're working on'...the Rock Band 3 Pro Guitar that hadn't been announced yet but had been rumored. I had to sit there and lie to the singer of my favorite band to keep our super secret new guitar a secret."
Greg LoPiccolo, Harmonix's chief creative officer, reflected on how the team chose the songs it included on the Rock Band disc. The process, he said, was designed to reflect as broad a swath of rock as possible.
"The best analogy I can come up with is Jack Black's History of Rock blackboard diagram in School of Rock," he wrote. "[T]hat is kind of how we thought about the song choices in the game, and it was always really exciting when we would clear the licensing for a song that we thought was important to the overall story of rock. I remember getting ‘Suffragette City,' then ‘[Enter] Sandman' like the next week — good times."
You can head over to the Rock Band blog to read more stories about a Rock Band wedding, the stress of and relief of making The Beatles: Rock Band, a wisdom tooth and drug-induced play session and more.