Comments on

Rocked Out

Original entry posted: Tue Jun 23 13:48:40 2009

Matt @ Tue Jun 23 10:43:28 2009 EST

I have to say I played on Easy mostly out of fear of failure. I played Medium on guitar for a couple of tunes and did OK. My problem is that I want to play it like a guitar, so the beats (especially on Easy) don't always match up with my movements.

It's a fun game, and I'd like to pick up a copy before Beatles Rock Band comes out. But of course we just discovered the wiring in our basement is causing problems, so house comes first.

Thomas @ Tue Jun 23 10:51:13 2009 EST

I find that if you have any musical experience, playing on Medium or higher is easier for the reason you mention: you find yourself trying to play on beats that aren't marked.

Too bad about the house, but at least now you have a good reason to wait until September.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Tue Jun 23 13:19:18 2009 EST

I love seeing that happen. One of my most glorious Rock Band moments was when a non-gaming friend came over, 8 months pregnant, and was handed the bass (it being the easiest instrument), which she had to play sitting down, like an old bluesman. She had enough childhood Nintendo reflexes to understand the idea of hitting the strum when the note hit the line, but there was a glorious smile that spread across her face as she realized "Oh! It's *music*!" and proceeded to rock out without a break for the next hour.

I am fascinated by the idea that there might be a better way to represent timing than the note highway. The big advantage of it is that it lets you see the note coming---especially useful on guitar, where you can prepare the fret. There's Oendan's free spatial layout, but that works because you're only tapping, not selecting buttons. Ontamarama did some unusual things with integrating the highway into gameplay, but the game was HARD! The other interesting direction was Gitaroo Man, where the notes came to you in the center, and which gave an interesting role to the joystick as well as the buttons---wouldn't mind seeing that approach resurrected (I still wish Rock Band had some equivalent to Amplitude's joystick-driven Freestyle powerup).

Thomas @ Tue Jun 23 18:01:44 2009 EST

I don't know for sure that there's a better way to do it. I was watching old videos of Guitar Freaks to see how they did things, and they don't have the perspective, but the basic idea is the same. I think the perspective is a little bit scary for newcomers, personally (Ah! The notes, they're flying toward me!), but it's probably not the biggest problem.

I think maybe the easy fix is to steal some of the subliminal visual cues from DDR--like the "flash" of the arrows at the top with the beat. It gives you a visual cue for the rhythm of the song even before any drums come in.

The only other approach that comes to mind now would be to move to something like an abstracted piano-roll tracker, so that the notes pulse from square to square instead of smoothly scrolling. A visual style like Lumines might work with that. But that kind of expression is highly regimented, and there's a kind of looseness to the timing in a lot of Rock Band's catalog--particularly the blues-derived tracks--that would fit poorly with such a metaphor.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Wed Jun 24 18:00:50 2009 EST

Btw, speaking of Xbox music games---have you tried Audiball, from the Community Games section? It's definitely the most interesting music game I've seen lately, and a mere 200 points---would love to hear your reactions to it.

Thomas @ Wed Jun 24 19:57:52 2009 EST

I haven't had a chance to go through the market much lately, since the XBox broke last month. I'll take a look at it.

That Fuzzy Bastard @ Thu Jun 25 10:34:55 2009 EST

I'm actually prepping a "Best of Community Games" article, probably for UGO---I've gotten completely taken with it, despite the high chaff/wheat ratio.

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