Posted 13 November

SingStar Developers’ Response To The Community

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to update you all on the current issues we know some of you are finding with SingStar at the moment.

First of all, I am really sorry to hear about the problems that you encountered after our software update (4.2). I am grateful to you for alerting us to these problems and I am aware that several serious bugs seemed to have slipped through our normally rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) testing.

These bugs included:

  • SingStore songs being deleted from the hard drive
  • Game crashing in the middle of a song
  • Media file corruption

As soon as we were aware of these issues, the senior SingStar development team came together and have been working flat out to fix these issues with the aim of getting a patch out as soon as possible.

Due to the severity of these bugs there was a very real possibility of a “quick fix” actually making these problems worse and that is why we have opted instead for a very thorough development and QA test process to ensure that the problems that you are experiencing are resolved.

The good news is that the bugs have now been fixed and SingStar v4.30 is currently with our First Party QA (FPQA). The patch should pass by the end of this week. Once passed the patch will be sent to our Format QA teams (FQA) in Europe and America for final sign off which takes approximately 10 working days. After FQA approval is given the patch will be uploaded to the servers, this will take a day or two, and will then be ready for you to download. This gives us a target release date of the 1st of December (but, as always there could be a delay of a few days if FQA find any issues).

With regards to deleted songs some users unfortunately have been experiencing a reoccurrence of this bug preventing them from re-downloading their content. I wanted to emphatically reassure you that you have not lost anything. We have a receipt of everything you have bought and you will be able to safely re-download everything once SingStar v4.30 is released.

Whilst this has been a really unfortunate experience both for me, my team and especially for you, the positive side of this story is that we have now put in place several steps to ensure that this does not happen again, including a more vigorous QA period and, starting next year, a Closed Beta where SingStar fans will be able to experience new features before they are released.

I really am genuinely grateful to you for keeping the faith, and I would really appreciate your contribution to participate in future closed Beta sessions and feedback on these thus helping to identify any problems before the release of any future SingStar update. More details of how to participate in these will follow.

I sincerely apologise for the problems you are experiencing. This has been our top priority and the team and I have been working all hours to resolve these unfortunate issues.

In a bid to be as open and honest as we can with you, the team and I are online now to answer any questions you may have about this, and we’ll be here all day, so please let us know your comments below. We’ll do our best to answer as many as we can.

Thank you once again for being patient,

best wishes,

Dave Ranyard
SingStar Game Director

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Comments

146 Comments 36 Author replies
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Hiya Guys, Love Singstar as my 320 song carousel will tell you. Just some questions.
Why has it taken so long to begin to address the server capacity issues?
How will you decide which people will take part of any closed beta for new features?
Can we expect any more labels to come on board like Universal in the summer?
Would you consider a variable pricing structure to get more labels on board?
Are you going to update the carousel, with 320 songs its creaking at the seams a bit, same with the Singstore online.

 

Thanks for the update on the fix, I personally can’t wait for this as SingStar has been pretty much unplayable for me since 4.2.

My only question echoes that of YobRenoops regarding how you will choose who will be invited to participate in beta testing.

 

Since you are online, please can you work on getting some real rock tunes on the store, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Oasis.

I love singstar but find myself going to Rock Band etc to sing the songs I like.

Good Work though, keep it up. :)

 

I’m pleased you have taken steps to sort out the numerous problems – and your insistence that this patch will be thoroughly tested underlines to me that the last patch was barely tested at all!

What isn’t mentioned is the stability of the servers, and the time it takes to get a connection to the SingStore or MySingStar Online. At busy periods (which always seem to coincide with when I am hosting SingStar parties) we spend about 10 or 15 minutes sometimes trying to log on!

Also will the patch fix the blank scoreboards I have now, or are those names and photos lost forever?

Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 1:04 pm   5

hi there,

wow, quite a few questions here…

so here goes:

we have new servers coming this Christmas – we have had to re-achitecture some of our server infrastructure to accommodate the server change, so it has taken a little longer than just swapping in new ones.

the team are working on the closed beta now, we will release details of how to sign up early in the new year… if you have 320 songs, it sounds like you are the kind of person we would love to have in the beta group.

We are always talking to labels and we explore all options to get them on board. As you might imagine, some of our deals are quite complex so this can take time. Having said that, we have a great relationship with all labels as SingStar has been very positive for them over the years.

There are a number of ways the carousel can be filtered to reduce the number of songs on there at any time. Obviously we may update the look, feel and functionality of the menus from time to time, but we have to balance this with introducing new game and online features.

Cheers,
Dave

Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:05 pm   6

Hi wotta

Our licensing team is always looking new content; I’ll pass your suggestions on to them. I would love to see Foo Fighters in there :)

Thanks

Mike

 
YobRenoops 13 November, 2009 @ 1:07 pm   7

Dave,

Thanks so much for the reply. Much appreciated. I just wanted to check these details as me and my girlfriend (and all our friends) are huge Singstar songs. Just if I have to hear one more request for Madonna I might punch someone.

Oh and thanks so much for more Erasure ! ;)

Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 1:08 pm   8

Hi,

the new servers and architecture should alleviate the busy time slow down and make it quicker to log on. We are doing everything we can to improve your online experience.

Thx,
Dave

 
YobRenoops 13 November, 2009 @ 1:09 pm   9

I mean huge Singstar fans, not songs!

 
FolkoRoco 13 November, 2009 @ 1:10 pm   10

On a slightly different issue, do you accept that the MySingStar Online trophies are ridiculous? There is literally no way I can get the requisite amount of views to my media in the time period. Based on the top rated videos to get the views I need to persuade my wife to dance around in her underwear while singing!

Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:11 pm   11

Hi FolkoRoco

The score board issue may be down to the current design of the score board system that will be improved after the 4.30 patch. If you could give us some more information on the problems you are having we will look into them.

Thanks

Mike

 
FolkoRoco 13 November, 2009 @ 1:13 pm   12

OK Mike, since the patch all the scoreboards for SingStar Disney and SingStar 80s songs have gone blank. Which is very sad as it had pictures of my god children and their names on there.

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:24 pm    

    Hi FolkoRoco

    Are these the score boards in online clubs? It sounds like you may have encountered one of the bugs that we have been fixing. If this is the case I’m afraid the scores have been lost but the problem is now fixed in v4.30. I’ve just asked the test team to check your issue now.

    Mike

Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:17 pm   13

Hi FolkoRoco

They are tough yes, but we wanted to encourage users to upload really exciting and interesting content. Also, it will get easier as the user-base gets larger as they’ll be more browsing users checking out your media.

Mike

dazman5000 13 November, 2009 @ 1:22 pm   14

Hey, glad to see these problems are getting resolved, good job!

Is the 4.30 patch going to address the problem of people negatively voting for others with multiple accounts? Or is that off the cards for now?

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:30 pm    

    Hi dazman5000

    We are aware of the issue and we do moderate this problem. When these issues are brought to our attention we will investigate them.

    Thanks

    Mike

 

Any plans to implement an ability to compare your song scores with people around the world? Leaderboards would be a great addition to the game.

 
soozibags 13 November, 2009 @ 1:24 pm   16

I’ve just remembered an issue I have with the SingStar friends list – it only ever shows around 35 of my friends when I have closer to 100 that have SingStar.

Although it’s annoying not being able to access all of my friends profiles directly from my SingStar page it’s not a huge issue as I can always do a search. The main problem is that I can’t view any ‘friends only’ media from those who have dissapeared off my list.

I know this was an issue for loads of people a few months ago and was fixed for most of them in a previous patch, however the problem has not yet been resolved for me and a couple of others that I know.

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 1:29 pm    

    Thanks for the info – we’ll take a look into this and check it for you.

    Dave

Given the long time it will take to release (we are talking approx 18 Days with the given target date of 1st December), I am wondering: Why don’t you just back out the patch? Take the previous (working) version, label it 4.3 and push it out to prevent more damage to more installations. Then do the thorough testing it release the fix as 4.4.

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:39 pm    

    Hi Grimmi

    An excellent question. As soon as the community made us aware of the issues we explored all the options including your suggestion. Unfortunately we had several SingStar discs in our QA server at the time and reverting the code base back to 4.10 would have caused major issues and backwards compatibility problems.

    Mike

Quick question about DRM on singstar/singstore.

There are obviously some complex licensing issues for you guys to sort out, and that’s probably why we’ve got the strictest licensing ever seen!! Is there any chance of this ever being relaxed?

When I got my Slim, I called Customer Services to allow me to re-download all my songs on my new machine (to be fair to them, they were very helpful and I could download all my songs again within a week). Wouldn’t it be easier to have a “de-authorise” and “re-authorise” system though, so you could move songs to a new machine? (Could be limited, so you could only do this once in any twelve month period or something similar).

On a similar subject, it would be nice to cache disc-based songs to the hard drive to avoid disc swapping… Obviously, you might need to insert the disc each “session” to prove you still have it. any chance of that?

BTW, the only problem I have with singstar is server capacity (it’s always kicking me off MySS Online). Glad to hear this might improve in the next month or so….

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 1:36 pm    

    Hi pukka-p,

    We are very strict about DRM around songs – our business is based around the content provided to us by the artists, labels and publishers so we take great care about how secure it is.

    As regards your other suggestions, they both make good sense and we’ll take them on board – thanks very much!

    Cheers,
    Dave

 
FolkoRoco 13 November, 2009 @ 1:32 pm   19

No its the song leaderboard scores when you disc swap and use an old PS2 disc. Dont even get me started on the clubs – if you want to see the wasted effort I put in visit MichaelJacksonUK. The old theory “if you build it they will come” doesnt hold water for the SingStar clubs when you are never listed as a featured club!

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:45 pm    

    Thanks for the information FolkoRoco we will look into the problem. The clubs can be a great way to get you and your friends together. You’ve done a little self promotion there so maybe you will get a few more members :)

    Mike

 
YobRenoops 13 November, 2009 @ 1:33 pm   20

Any views on a variable pricing structure to get more artist/labels on board?

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 1:40 pm    

    Hi,

    our licensing team explore all kinds of options to get artists and labels on board, but given the sensitive nature of these deals I really can’t comment here about them. Sorry I can’t be more open in my response…

    Dave

 

Another feature I’m sure everyone would appreciate is the ability to have your whole singstar collection displayed on the carousel at the same time. Then when you want to play a song that is on a different disc there is a prompt to insert it and then takes you straight to the song.

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 1:41 pm    

    another good idea… we’re getting some great suggestions on this blog today.

    Thanks very much,
    Dave

 

Would just like to say thanks for the work you’re doing to sort things out, I’m sure we can all appreciate the complexity.

As for request, how likely is it to have more songs for children? My 5 year old would love to be able to have Lazytown, CBeebies and other similar songs on Singstar.

 
soozibags 13 November, 2009 @ 1:42 pm   23

pb-live – I would imagine that as SingStar is a 12+ game (no doubt due to the online side of things) that kids songs probable aren’t going to make it to the store.

 
Mr_Writer 13 November, 2009 @ 1:44 pm   24

Hi guys

I asked for my songs to be rest so I can download them to my new slim, I was told it would take 7 days. Its now the 7th day and I have a party tonight and have 400+ songs to re-download by 8 tonight but they still havnt been reset!

Will the issuse of songs being deleted from the casurole effect my songs being rest?

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 3:09 pm    

    Hello Mr_Writer

    I have just received a phone call from our technical wizards at Sony central and they have told me that your new PS3 slim is now ready for you to download your songs. Have a great party tonight.

    Mike

 

Nice to see developers listening to us especially devs of such a great game. There is a mistake on you carousel where it says ‘artists’ in the top right corner with a number underneath it, surely it should say songs as the number is for songs not artists.

 

The standalone discs are all different age ratings, so you can buy Singstar Vol 1 as a 12+, but Singstar Disney is lower down, the store is pretty much for everyone though so I don’t think the initial age rating makes a difference, it’s just there to warn people of video/lyrical content on that specific disc.

 
YobRenoops 13 November, 2009 @ 1:46 pm   27

@Dave&Mike

Thanks for all the answers here. Its really good you’ve engaged with everyone on this. Much appreciated!

 
soozibags 13 November, 2009 @ 1:47 pm   28

pb-live, that’s true, and I guess we already have the frog song on there!

 
FolkoRoco 13 November, 2009 @ 1:47 pm   29

“whole singstar collection displayed on the carousel at the same time.”
I love this idea! We even had to print out a karaoke bar style list for our SingStar Party guests so they know what songs we had over all the discs (I think its only SingStar Boybands/Girlbands we don’t have). Disc swap is still a better option that repaying for all the songs we already own, especially as game seems to slowly die when there’s more than 200 songs on the carrousel it seems!

Also can we expect a “songs for a generic tv singing contest” pack to coincide with a Tv show final?

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 1:58 pm    

    Hi

    We have done some optimisation to the carousel so you will see improvement to this once v4.30 is released. We will continue to improve the performance of SingStar with future updates. Thanks for the song pack idea we will look into this.

    Mike

 
FolkoRoco 13 November, 2009 @ 1:53 pm   30

Wow its the famous soozibags! I recognise your name from your Online Videos and I’m envious of your platinum trophy!

 
soozibags 13 November, 2009 @ 1:58 pm   31

lol thanks FolkoRoco – that platinum is probably the only one I’ll ever get :D

Hey, Canadian Singstar fan here.

Keep up the good work.

More suggestions:
– more stats on favorite songs, genre, scores, longest streak, etc. would be nice, better profile info would also help. I’ve played this game at least once a week for over a year now and it would be nice to see some more info on my long-term performance.
– more party games, better integration for multiple singers and modes
– reduce intro load time.. it takes forever with all of the updates now.
– more artists! I know that you’re working on this constantly, but it’s tough, especially with the North American song content.

Anyway, don’t want to be too negative, keep up the good work!

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 2:03 pm    

    Hi,

    We appreciate your support from North America and we are doing everything we can to offer a great experience from game-play to song content… all I can say is: watch this space!

    Cheers,
    Dave

 

Sorry to tell you, but the DRM is too strict. I will never buy anything from the singstore because of that. I want to backup the content i bought and take it to another PS3 machine without hassles. While Sony has the “fairest” DRM on consoles (Nintendo is worst!!) it is still to much. Why don’t you make it like the very succesfull Steam Platform on PC? With Steam i can sign in anywhere, on any machine, in any country and all my Content and Games is there, auto-downloading and auto-installing. Sorry to tell you but that is a thousand times better than your current DRM. If Sony does not change its DRM, and as more and more content is going to be Downloads, i think a lot of people will run into issues with it and get turned off by the Experience. Think about it! Even Apple and the Music Industry move away from DRM. You should too.

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 2:08 pm    

    Hi,

    Thanks for your comments here, it is useful to us to understand how you feel about DRM. However, within SingStar we are dealing with content owned by others and so our DRM does need to be quite strict.

    Although some parts of the music industry have moved away from DRM for audio, this is not the case when synchronizing this content to games. I’m sure you will appreciate that we need to show our partners in the music industry that we are in full control of how their content is accessed. If we did not do this, we would have very little content on the store at all!

    Regards,
    Dave

 
YobRenoops 13 November, 2009 @ 2:03 pm   34

Ah I remember now.

I really really want to be able to see the stats for songs that have been sung. It’d let me know how we’re getting on towards the various trophies.

Particularly the duets one. No-one sings it and its set at 200! So any kind of stats would be great.

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 2:10 pm    

    Hi YobRenoops

    That’s a very good idea. Improving the stats is in our plans for a future release.

    Thanks

    Mike

 
YobRenoops 13 November, 2009 @ 2:12 pm   35

Great! OK I’m tapped out on questions. Thanks again for all this, I know much of the active Singstar community have been looking for this kind of dialogue for a while.

And remember me when the beta invites go out!

 

@Dave
Thanks for your explainations, it is very interessting. I understand the issues and that licensing is very complex. One good idea about the DRM issue would be to have a better explaination of how the system works. I think SCE should create an online guide about it. As i understand, the system is called “Marlin” but even after reading many pages full of information about it i did not really understand how it works and what the customers rights are. It would be great to put out a guide that explains to everyone in simple terms how it works and what the limits are. What do you think about it?

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 2:37 pm    

    Hi tojeka,

    this idea is great – a solid explanation of how our DRM works would be very useful to our customers, thanks for the suggestion, I’ll pass it onto the team.

    Cheers,
    Dave

Guttergod 13 November, 2009 @ 2:35 pm   37

Good news there!

I have a suggestion:
It’s quite rare that anyone ever sings any of the disc based songs I have. How about making it possible to install singstar on the hard drive and let us sing the DLC without having to bother with digging up a disc first?

I don’t really see how someone installing singstar without owning a disc and then starts buying DLC could be seen as a “problem”. :P

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 2:42 pm    

    Thank you Guttergod for the suggestion, we will bring up the possibility of doing this in our next team meeting. It would be a technical challenge but something worth looking into.

    Mike

 

Hi, the main issue I have with SingStar at the moment is that the game save is locked. I want to upgrade my system to a Slim, but I cant move my SingStar game save over which has lots of scores and progress towards trophies because it is locked. I completely understand why the songs have strict DRM but is there any reason to lock the game save? I really don’t want to start over again and lose a years worth of progress in the game. Many thanks.

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 3:01 pm    

    Hi SyncroUK

    The SingStar save data is locked because the stats in it unlock Trophies. If we unlock it now people would be able to cheat the trophy system by swapping save data. We are looking at ways to resolve this and hopefully in a future update save date will be unlocked.

    Thank you for you question.

    Mike

 

Hello,

La France is a country that includes many players Singstar. But yet there are very few French songs? Why? I represent a community of gamers all over French territory. I have a list of French songs that were voted. Do you want this list?

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 3:05 pm    

    Hello razazier

    The French legal system is very complex when it comes to music licensing and it can be very difficult to secure songs. However our licensing team are working hard to make sure you get good content in France. We would also love to have your list of songs.

    Thank you

    Mike

Xardas-87 13 November, 2009 @ 2:54 pm   40

Hey,

i also experienced some minor problems after the last patch. First of all, the text-boxes don’t fade out anymore when there’s nothing to sing. Did you change that on purpose? I always found it nice to watch the whole video and not having a white box block it ;)
And secondly, another issue with the text-boxes. The colored (meaning red and blue) text-lines don’t match the black ones perfectly. When the black text becomes blue (or red) it’s always like there’s 2-3mm missing from the words. I know that this is probably not even worth mentioning but i think it spoils the overall experience.

Anyways, hope you have some time to take a look at it.

Thank u

Xardas

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 3:52 pm    

    The issue with the text boxes will be fixed in v4.30 and so you will find that the boxes will fade out in the 4.30 release. I’ve asked our QA team to look at the issue with text.

    Thank you

    Mike

 
gillyallan 13 November, 2009 @ 2:57 pm   41

I’d like you to bring out new trophies for each disk release (offline trophies)

ie. one for reaching certain targets for each song or for singing them all, etc.

ie. Take that – Could it be magic, could be “the magicians” trophy.

 

Thank you for the interest you have on the French community. The list changes each day. I can send you the song list but where? or how? or what email address?

Guttergod 13 November, 2009 @ 3:17 pm   43

razazier: Put it up on a webpage and post a link. It’s not rocket science. ;)

 
WhatIsTheMatrix 13 November, 2009 @ 3:19 pm   44

Hi Mike can you help?

Since the update yesterday all the new songs for me are padlocked out! I was looking to purchase 9 more to add to my current 150 or so.

On the SingStar forums I’m not the only one who finds themselves padlocked out of the songs.

http://community.eu.playstation.com/playstationeu/board/message?board.id=717&thread.id=13416

I change to my wife’s account and she can buy them but it defeats the object of buying a £20 PSN Card yesterday as well.

Any idea as to why this is happening?

    Mike Rouse 13 November, 2009 @ 3:28 pm    

    Hi WhatIsTheMatrix

    We are aware of the issue; unfortunately it is not a bug in the SingStar client. We have requested that the team who does deal with this fix it ASAP. A small bit of good news is that the lock is usually removed if you log out of the PSN and log back in again. Try this and let me know if it works.

    Thanks

    Mike

 

Dave,

This is a copy of a post I made on our SingStar fan site http://www.totalmusicgaming.com in response to the claims of “rigorous QA”. It is a bit visceral because having worked in QA myself, the constant PR spin of SingStar’s rigorous QA process is wearing a bit thin and I think SingStar players deserve to know why the current QA process is so poor. I hope the QA team will take some of these points on board.

Post follows.

 
SabreSephiroth 13 November, 2009 @ 3:31 pm   46

How long does it roughly take to license a track and get it on the UK SingStore? Or does each label/artist differ dramatically?

Would it be possible to get some Dannii Minogue on the SingStore to cash-in on the X Factor?

Faithless are having a comeback next year, perhaps a few of their more vocal heavy (rather than rapping) tracks could make an appearance?

Thanks for keeping us updated.

 

Dave wrote: “I am aware that several serious bugs seemed to have slipped through our normally rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) testing.”

LOL, lol, lol, I almost choked on my own vomit when I read that. I am sorry SCE LS, but lol, NO, this statement is absolute concocted [DELETED], and anyone who reads this should not believe that for a second. To prove I am not just mouthing off I am going to elaborate exactly why for our readers and the dev team who will no doubt read this later on their coffee breaks.

The first reason is regression testing. Any updated product that is released should have an existing battery of standardized tests created for it that are run prior to every release, whether automatically or by hand. The purpose of regression testing is to re-test all the existing features of the game to make sure that none of the new code changes have broken them. The QA team for SingStar do not use proper regression testing, because if they did we wouldn’t have broken duet scores, friends list or comment bugs that lasted for months. As new features are added to the product, new test cases are created and incorporated into the regression testing for all future releases.

 

The second reason is edge case testing. This is where tests are constructed specifically to test certain limits where the product may be prone to not functioning as expected. Simple examples could be downloading a song or saving a video when the hard disk is full, viewing the comments page when there are zero comments, and downloading songs when the user’s library is already excessively large compared to the average user. Proper edge case testing would have ensured that the ‘deleting songs’ issue never occurred.

The third reason is testing under muliple configurations. In the case of SingStar, this is where a number of PlayStation 3s are setup with various different configurations, installs, SingStar patch levels, hard disk space, SingStar media, SingStore songs etc. and every test in the test suite is performed on each machine. This helps to catch cases where the code may fail under only certain configurations, which seems to be the case for the video editor and the deleted songs issue (although from the outside it is impossible to know for certain, it seems likely).

 

Hi Dave,

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you for the outstanding job that the Singstar team is doing. I have Lips on Xbox 360 and Singstar on PS3 and I can tell you one thing, the only game I’m using to play/party is Singstar!

Here’s some features or improvments that I was thinking about which would be great in the game:

>> To be able to sing online with your friends. This would be a feature that I think a lot of people would love to see.

>> The other one (but already discussed further up) is to be able
to copy all the Singstar songs from the CD to the Hard drive so that you don’t have to switch CDs all the time.

    Dave Ranyard 13 November, 2009 @ 3:54 pm    

    Hi,

    again, both great suggestions, we’ll discuss them on the team. Thanks very much.

    Cheers,
    Dave

 

The fourth reason is adequate verification of new tests. New features must be tested with a new raft of tests, and these tests must be constructed in such a way as to make sure every part of each new feature is adequately tested to be working correctly. The tests currently being created by SingStar QA are evidently insufficient to test each part of a new feature, ie. they do not cover as many usage scenarios as they should. This is symptomatic of rushing a patch through to get it released on time.

The fifth and final reason is that the entire SingStar FPQA team including the network testers, web site testers and offline game testers is one quarter the size of Rock Band’s FPQA team working on the offline game alone.

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