How Guitar Hero Was Designed...
There's a partial interview up on GamaSutra with Rob Kay of Harmonix, the studio responsible for Guitar Hero I and II, and now Rock Band. It basically covers the genesis of the original Guitar Hero - what went into the design, how their processes evolved, and so forth.
Interestingly enough, it was not expected to be a "big" game at all - which explains why it was impossible to find a copy of the game the first couple of months. Publisher RedOctane was simply wanting to make more peripherals like the Dance Dance Revolution pad, had wanted to create a guitar controller, but had learned that the one guitar game out there - Guitar Freaks - had not yet been released in the U.S.
So they came to Harmonix and asked them to create a guitar game - basically it was a game just to sell a peripheral. An excerpt:
"I don't think RedOctane had any particularly grand ambitions other than needing a game. Relatively speaking, it was a pretty low-budget game -- about a million dollars, which is pretty tiny as a game budget.I'd say that worked out pretty well...
"We had a team that had just been freed up, as we'd just finished AntiGrav. This seemed like an awesome project. Everyone here was really psyched to work on a rock guitar game; it really fitted in with people's interests here. No one had any notions about it being a massive success; we all just thought it would be fun to do."
Interview: Rob Kay on Designing Guitar Hero