Feature: Leamington company FreeStyleGames is set to launch Guitar Hero Live

A screenshot from FreeStyleGames' Guitar Hero Live which is set to be released in autumn.
A screenshot from FreeStyleGames' Guitar Hero Live which is set to be released in autumn.

With festival season soon to be upon us international rock and pop idols will be taking centre stage on these shores in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Leamington computer games developer FreeStyleGames will be putting the finishing touches on the latest, and potentially greatest, addition to a successful franchise which is making a rock ‘n’ roll-style comeback to inspire gamers and music fans alike to become stars in their own homes.

The company in Upper Holly Walk has spent the past couple of years working on Guitar Hero Live - a fresh and innovative addition to the Guitar Hero series for which a game was last released in 2010.

And just days after a ‘whirlwind’ announcement tour visiting Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Hamburg and London, Freestyle’s creative director Jamie Jackson described the company’s sense of achievement in creating what could be one of 2015’s biggest games releases.

“I’d like to think we’ve done something pretty awesome,” said Jackson.

“We had an amazing reveal week last week and I’m really happy and proud to be part of something that came out of ‘little old Leamington’ that will be big worldwide.”

I’d like to think we’ve done something pretty awesome

Jamie Jackson

The developers used a giant robotic camera to film extras and actors who became the audience and band members who react to players’ performances.

This gives players the first-person perspective of lead guitarists who - using an improved version of the franchise’s signature guitar-shaped controller - can play their way to superstardom over two music festivals featuring hit songs from various genres ranging from rock to dance and including artists such as The Killers, Ed Sheeran and Skrillex.

“We didn’t want to come back with the same game,” said Jackson.

“We noticed that a lot of people who played in the past would only use their three fingers so we changed the controller so you use six buttons in rows of three.

“It gives you extra depth but you can also stay in your comfort zone if you need.

“We also wanted to make it more immersive from a visual point of view. The old graphics were great but we wanted to drag you in so that’s where we came up with turning the camera around.

“The visual innovation is filming real people and crowds and they react to how well you’re doing. If you’re playing well they’ll sing along but if it starts to go wrong they might become a bit more aggressive.”

Perhaps the game’s pièce de résistance is the access it gives to GHTV, a 24-hour playable music video network on which players can compete with others around the world.

“With mobile technology we’re used to getting our music and videos from this so called ‘cloud’ and GHTV was our answer to that,” said Jackson.

“We wanted to give people a really broad range of content from the outset but also to update that content rapidly as we carry on over the years.”

Despite Guitar Hero Live’s worldwide reach, FreeStyle has still given a nod to the game’s geographical roots, naming one of its fictional bands The Jephson Hangout.

Jackson said: “You might find some little ‘Easter eggs’ referencing Leamington but I don’t want to give them away.”