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The Design Failures That Led To Rock Band

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the still-waiting-on-bagpipe-hero dept.

Music 177

CNN is running an interview with Eran Egozy and Alex Rigopulos, founders of Harmonix, about the long road that eventually led them to the creation of Guitar Hero and Rock Band . It wasn't an quick or easy process, and the two worked on a number of unsuccessful concepts before arriving at the games that redefined a genre. Quoting: "I was watching people interact with our product, and the realization came crashing down on me — we had spent 18 months on a music system that was fundamentally flawed. Karaoke isn't about personal expression. It's about people reproducing the songs they know as accurately as they can. The whole notion of adding improvisation elements just wasn't connecting. So I retreated to my hotel room and was depressed for the next two days. The company was on the rocks. We had zero revenue. We had been trying for four years to make something work. We were out of ideas. Those first four years had been a graveyard of mis-starts and product concepts that never made it anywhere. Worse, there was adequate information about two years into those four years to realize that our big concept was fatally flawed."

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177 comments

Yep (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308019)

You'll never go broke pandering to the sheeplike masses!

Re:Yep (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308211)

When it comes to this type of thing, I have to search my soul. I'm conflicted inside about it, but I know how evil Jews are and that they must be stopped.

Just look at how Jews steal from their sand nigger neighbors. Jews have to be the most evil and thieving non-negro race.

Of course you only have to look at Africa to see what a curse of a race niggers are.

Re:Yep (-1, Troll)

Mac_8100_g3 (662248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308225)

Indeed. "...our big concept was fatally flawed." It still is, if you have a life. Here's a better idea. Learn how to play a real freakin' guitar.

Re:Yep (-1, Flamebait)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308323)

...and just to add to the above:

If you cannot be bothered to learn to play a "real freakin' guitar" then go make some friends, go buy some tickets to a local pub gig or stadium event, have a beer or two and enjoy a pleasant evening out.

That way you'll support those people who have learnt to play instruments properly, rather than staying indoors masturbating over a plastic guitar & downloading all your music for free.

Re:Yep (5, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308731)

As stated above: Relax, and stop caring what people do for fun. You'll live a longer, happier life that way.

I love music, but I'm not a musician (unless you count playing the jews harp), don't have the desire to be one either. I support my local musicians, half of my friends are musicians (who play, surprise, Rock Band), I buy them beer, and hype their shows. I don't get my music for free, I pay real money for it. I every time a band is in town that I like I go to it, and spend money on t-shirts to show my support. But I also think Rock Band is a very fun game to play, especially with a couple of beers in my gut. Oddly enough, I also play it with a lot of my friends who are musicians, some of whom are (locally) successful ones. Odd, some of them have seemed to realize that music isn't "serious business". Some of them, I might add, are pretty serious, and classically trained.

And, as I also stated earlier, these games might get a certain percentage of their players actually interested in music. Interested enough to actually pick up an instrument and make their neighbors life hell for awhile. They force people to actually LISTEN to the music that they enjoy, deeply. Not all of them, obviously, but some. This is actually somewhat noble, being that most of the schools I know of have dropped any music programs that they used to have. This, to me as a non-musician, is tragic, as the selection of music would go up if people actually appreciate it.

Another fun thing, the drums in Rock Band is actually decent training for real drums, as is the bass guitar, since they teach actual rhythm and beat, which is pretty difficult to actually grasp for most of us.

Re:Yep (3, Insightful)

Palshife (60519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309475)

We're having some trouble hearing you guys down here. Can you descend to our level temporarily so we can receive the wisdom we so desperately need? It's probably our fault we can't hear. God, we're pathetic.

Rock Band isn't about playing a guitar (4, Insightful)

LKM (227954) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309565)

You're missing the point of the game. Rock Band isn't about playing a guitar, it's about - doh - being in a rock band, just like Gran Turismo isn't about driving a car, but about racing.

Rock Band isn't a replacement for a real guitar, just like Gran Turismo isn't a replacement for the car in your garage.

I'm looking forward to your "People can't be bothered to drive real cars anymore" rant about racing games, though. It's always fun to read posts from people who have nothing better to do with their lives than complain about what other people do with their lives.

Re:Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308551)

Indeed.

"...our big concept was fatally flawed."

It still is, if you have a life.

Here's a better idea. Learn how to play a real freakin' guitar.

So every video game that allows you to do anything you are capable of doing in real life (well, without being given a life sentence) is fatally flawed?

Re:Yep (5, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308703)

Learn how to play a real freakin' guitar.

Don't really want to. Does that mean I'm not allowed have have innocent fun without people telling me I'm not allowed to? I can go get drunk and have a bunch of idiotic fun with my friends right now, without having to spend years learning guitar, and decades to actually be good at it. For what? Growing up (too late) to be a rock star, like the people I acknowledge will always be much better than me at it. I'm never going to be Adam Jones, or Pete Townsend, or Les Paul, or Tom Morello, or Slash, or... You get the point.

Can I play racing games without being an Formula One racer? Can I play an FPS without joining the Marines? A sports game with out being professional Athlete?

Does this also apply to books and movies? I watched the X-Men movies, and I'm not a mutant. I read the Bible, and I'm not God (or even Christian).

Relax, people do what they want. Its harmless fun. And on the upshot, a certain percentage of the people who play might actually get interested in music, and learn to play something real. Stop caring about what people do, you'll live a longer happier life.

Re:Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29309233)

Real guitars are for old people.

Re:Yep (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310473)

I know how, thanks. Been playing for over 11 years.

Rock Band, etc. are still fun. It's not really trying to be like actually playing guitar, any more than playing Madden is anything like actual football. It's a game.

I don't get it... (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308033)

Does this mean Guitar Hero-Abba edition isn't coming out?

Re:I don't get it... (4, Informative)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308041)

Does this mean Guitar Hero-Abba edition isn't coming out?

Since Harmonix no longer develops Guitar Hero, I'd say the information in the interview has no bearing on that question.

Re:I don't get it... (-1, Flamebait)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308069)

Here is a site that may be of use to you: http://www.kindtree.org/ [kindtree.org]

Re:I don't get it... (2, Funny)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309447)

Oh. My. God.

I know that "LOL" and "new keyboard" are pretty much the most worn out cliches on the intarwebs, but when I saw the "Autism Rocks!" logo I came within an inch of spewing coffee across my computer and LOLed so loudly that my cat flew out of the room like someone had tased him. What's next, "I have EXTREME cancer!" t-shirts?

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29310037)

Well actually there IS SingStar ABBA if you're really into it

Huh? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308049)

CNN is running an interview with Eran Egozy and Alex Rigopulos, founders of Harmonix, about the long load that eventually led them to the creation of Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

What, were they making C64 games?

Re:Huh? (1)

SelArom (1370501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310367)

Harmonix has indeed come a long way from their initial release, Frequency which was an EXCELLENT music game. This game actually sparked my interest in electronic music. Frequency was a great example of a killer concept that quite didn't catch on (even though they did make a sequel!), so indeed it was a long road, and although I wish they had continued expanding the Frequency game line as they have the guitar hero, i'm glad they found success for their innovation!

Creative people often make that mistake (5, Insightful)

rubies (962985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308087)

...thinking that other people are creative too.

Most people aren't (or at least, not in that artistic sense). Adding elements that require improvisation or creativity just makes the game like work for those who aren't inclined that way. There's nothing necessarily wrong in pandering to an audience that would prefer to be entertained rather than try to entertain themselves. That's why rail shooters are popular and Deus Ex was a flop.

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308185)

From the Wikipedia article about Deus Ex:

It has sold more than 1 million copies, as of April 23, 2009.

If that's a flop, then let my games be flops too!

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (2, Interesting)

rubies (962985) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308191)

How many at retail prices? I got my copy free with a video card, otherwise it was almost impossible to find in local shops.

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (1)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308235)

My local Micro Center just last Christmas was still clearing their stock of Deus Ex. They had twenty at least on sale for $2. Maybe we had all of them out here in Ohio!

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308865)

I bought my copy at some reasonable price on Steam. Glad I did, for all the old graphics and uninspired mechanics there's just something about that game that was incredible. Maybe is was just the atmosphere, but it had more memorable scenes than any other shooter I've played (or maybe I just like fighting battle mechs with a sword).

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309639)

From the Wikipedia article about Deus Ex:

It has sold more than 1 million copies, as of April 23, 2009.

If that's a flop, then let my games be flops too!

Deus Ex received quite a bit of critical acclaim, but it really didn't sell all that well. Yeah, 1 million copies sounds impressive... But how many copies does the latest incarnation of Madden sell every year?

And of those million copies, a number of them were re-releases for budget prices. And some got bundled with video cards. And some of them were re-sales to folks who liked the game and needed a new disc.

I guess as long as the publisher is getting money from it, a sale is a sale...

But I personally bought the original game when it was released for $50, and then later re-purchased the "Game Of The Year" edition for $20 because my disc was shot. Yes, that's more money for the publisher... But that isn't actually two human beings playing the game.

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310095)

But how many copies does the latest incarnation of Madden sell every year?

I still don't think that "not selling as many copies as a very popular thing" counts as a "flop".

If everyone in the games industry could guarantee at least a million sales, even for a bad release, they'd be laughing!

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308517)

Noncreative people also make this mistake about themselves and others as well.

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (1)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308527)

Indeed. There's a market for making stuff for creative people, but don't expect to make a blockbuster when you're targeting the creative crowd. The crowd is not huge.

BTW - they made a Deux Ex sequel.

Re:Creative people often make that mistake (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309669)

BTW - they made a Deux Ex sequel.

Yes, they did. And they made every effort to correct the flaws in the original game and increase its appeal to a wider audience.

This means it had simpler controls, only one type of ammunition, shinier graphics, more linear gameplay, and a less confusing storyline. In short, they made it more like a rail shooter.

most people ARE creative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29309597)

most people ARE creative. They just don't find overly creative past times as a way to zone out. giving people a way to zone out and a sense of achievement at the same time is a huge profit center.

Rail games (1, Interesting)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308131)

Rock band and guitar hero are just piss poor rail games with better music.

Re:Rail games (1)

Xeno man (1614779) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308197)

And you wish you though of it first.

Re:Rail games (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308229)

Didn't think I'd get a -1 troll for pointing out the obvious.

Snort! /I'm drunker then you.

If I have to listen to any more GH1 and GH2 I'll climb a clock tower.

Re:Rail games (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308329)

If I have to listen to any more GH1 and GH2 I'll climb a clock tower.

I'm assuming you are referring to the music for GH1/2, not the game itself. I can't speak for Guitar Hero, but for Rock Band the game never seems to get old because of the new music I am able to download. Sure, if you have to keep playing or hearing the same songs over and over it can get old, but every Friday I check on Wikipedia to see what songs are being released the following Tuesday. I'm not a big fan of purchasing music (I will admit it - I downloaded most of my MP3 collection) but I think that the Rock Band songs are well worth the money. The amount of entertainment they can provide, when I have a bunch of friends over on a Friday night playing RB until the early morning hours, is well worth it to me. I also pre-ordered Beatles RB and will hopefully be playing it on September 10th and most likely well into the morning hours on the 11th.

Re:Rail games (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308233)

Call it what you want. They still developed 2 incredibly popular gaming franchises. And had you read the article, youd see that they first tried to be creative, letting people create and modify music (adjust pitch by hand movements and such) but it failed as a final product. This was because for non musicians it simply was boring. For the average person they want to feel like they are playing/singing their favorite tune. When Red Octane approached them with a guitar controller idea, that's when they realized a a rail style game would be fun for the average person, and could be a hit.

Don't blame the game makers because of this, blame the GAMERS. The article was quite a good read, and I never knew how much failure the guys went through before landing on Guitar Hero. Next time you might want to read the article before posting such a useless comment.

Controller blackmail, Was: RE: Rail Games (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308297)

I didn't blame anyone, Esp Not the developers.
I simple stated that the game runs on a rail, Nothing more.
I didn't read the article. My daughter has a number of GH games. My disgust is the
planned obsolescence and incompatibility of hardware from release to release.
Having to pay $100> for a new controller+game for each release borders on extortion
when your 14 YO daughter wants *only* that for xmas.
Video Game CRACK.

Re:Controller blackmail, Was: RE: Rail Games (2, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308347)

Having to pay $100> for a new controller+game for each release borders on extortion

What? At least for the 360 version, the same Guitar Hero controllers work for GH2, GH3, GH4, Rock Band, and RB2. Also the PC version of GH3 (& I presume 4).

The Rock Band controllers don't work for the GH games, but they are at least portable from RB to RB2. My understanding is that on the PS3 the GH->RB transition doesn't work either. But even these are still a far cry from having to buy new controllers each release...

Re:Controller blackmail, Was: RE: Rail Games (1)

kirbatious (1453293) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308955)

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2008/11/official-guitar/ [wired.com] PS3 compatability is almost as complete as XBOX. Also, I slightly disagree with the chart, as my PS3 GH3 Les Paul works perfectly on RB and RB2...

Re:Controller blackmail, Was: RE: Rail Games (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310139)

This is because Sony finally stepped in between the two publishers and told them to stop breaking the compatibility, because they realized it was causing people that owned multiple systems to buy the games for the 360 instead (as I did). Personally, I would have preferred to buy the games for the PS3, since at the time the 360 didn't have the hard drive install option and the drive noise drove me nuts when I was playing the games, but I didn't want to have to buy a second guitar controller for Rock Band when I already had the GH3 controller.

Re:Controller blackmail, Was: RE: Rail Games (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309477)

Having to pay $100> for a new controller+game for each release borders on extortion
when your 14 YO daughter wants *only* that for xmas.
Video Game CRACK.

You know...when I was 14 I could have asked for a christmas present worth that much, and I'd have a received a flat-out no. Then again, I was making about 200/month delivering newspapers at that age. Somehow makes one appreciate stuff a little more when you spent 2 weeks in the pouring rain to get it.

Re:Controller blackmail, Was: RE: Rail Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29309615)

Having to pay $100> for a new controller+game for each release borders on extortion
when your 14 YO daughter wants *only* that for xmas.

Who is in control in this situation? Looks like you have failed.

Re:Controller blackmail, Was: RE: Rail Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29309741)

I would be praising some higher power if my 14 year old daughter wanted *ONLY* one thing for Xmas.

Re:Rail games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29309877)

If they had blamed the gamers, they wouldn't be in business today.

Instead, they faced reality and learned from their mistakes.

Blaming your customers is the worst thing you can do.

Sold to MTV (5, Insightful)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308209)

They claim they sold to MTV because :"Harmonix has always been about music first -- games are a means to an end for us"

I wish MTV was about music. For at least the last decade its been all trash reality tv and teen celeb gossip.

Re:Sold to MTV (0)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308339)

"Bruce Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that sheâ(TM)s uncool
Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985"
--BFS

Re:Sold to MTV (3, Informative)

devonbowen (231626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309295)

I wish MTV was about music.

It was really great when it started. Just one video after the next with a VJ coming on at the top of the hour to tell you what was coming up. The concept was new and the only bands that made videos were the lesser-knowns. So you were exposed to a lot of new stuff. Best of all there were no commercials back then. I was too young then to know that stuff like that is always ruined with time.

Re:Sold to MTV (1)

dmleach (917181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310325)

It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that MTV execs are as frustrated by the lack of music programming on the network as we are. If music shows and videos were what made them money, then that's what they'd broadcast. I'd be willing to bet that being part of the liaison between MTV and Harmonix is a plum assignment.

Re:Sold to MTV (1)

op8ed (1281506) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310415)

Yes MTV used to be about music and that was what it was music videos and a VJ. Now it is a farce, to call that waste of frequency allocation Music anything!

Anonymous Coward (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308291)

They ripped off Konami.

How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (0, Offtopic)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308313)

I've never seen this game. I've never played it. I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think that there is some kind of small plastic guitar-shaped controller with about six colored buttons on the fretboard. From what I've been able to determine, a version of a 1960s-1990s classic rock song plays and the person presses buttons on controller in a sequence determined by a video display.

    Allow me to suggest an alternative.

    Get a cheap guitar from Craigslist or a friend. Get a beater electric. Don't worry about the tone, but it should have all six strings and they should be close enough to the fretboard so that you don't have to press them more than 1/8th of an inch even at the highest frets (where the neck meets the body). A cheap 'strat' or 'telecaster' clone is an excellent choice. Don't buy one on eBay because the shipping charge will be more than the instrument is worth (if you take my advice and get a cheap guitar). Acoustic guitars sound great, but they are too loud. Electrics can be loud, or very quiet; you control the volume. Acoustics are always loud when you strum them briskly, and they hurt your fingers after a few hours.

    Get a book from the library about guitar chords or have a friend show you some. Learn how to tune it. Get a real cheap electronic tuner from eBay or plug your new guitar into the line audio input of your PC and download a tuning program.

    Look up some songs that you know from recordings on the web. Google the song name in quotes along with 'tab'. With luck, you'll be able to find the chord patterns to songs that you like. Try playing along with the song but be aware that the tab file and the actual song are likely to be in different keys.

    Try 'dork' or pop songs that you may know from radio or old recordings. The older the song (at least for songs back to the 1960s), the more likely that it will be found as a good quality tab file.

    When you get some skill at playing, try downloading a MIDI notation program and some MIDI files. You can play them through the sound card or IC on your PC. They sound cheezy, but that's not the point. Try learning how to read the music and chords from the sheet music displayed by the notation program. You learned to read English; you learned to read C++, you learned Perl and Python, you can learn to read music. It's not hard. Search the web for MIDI files of songs that you know, download them, and feed them to the MIDI notation program.

    It will look overwhelming at first, but the music notation has every little riff and every complicated chord progression displayed in the notes and staffs of the music notation. It's an order-of-magnitude harder than 'Rock Band' because you have about 20 notes on each string and the instructions for playing are not numbers on a display, they are the position of the music symbols on the staff display of the MIDI notation program. For complex lead solos of classic rock, such as the Stairway to Heaven or Dark Side of the Moon, check out all the people on YouTube who are showing off their ability to copy solos in real time. There are also tab files available of most if not all the great classic rock guitar solos from the 60s and 70s. Some from the 80s and 90s are also available.

    Use an old boom box as an amp if you can't afford a real and expensive one. Get cheap effects pedals from eBay. I recommend any Death Metal Distortion pedal to start, or a cheap Grunge pedal. If you know electronics, keep in mind that it is always cheaper to buy effects pedals on eBay than it is to make them. But check out all the effects schematics on the web so you get an idea of how effects work. The DSP-chip-based 'All-in-one' effects boxes suck. Anything with a seven-segment LED display is going to suck, don't waste your money.

    When you feel good and up to it, start playing with other people.

    This is the 'old-school' tried-and-true method for learning to play in a rock band, as opposed to paying $100+ dollars for a plastic guitar controller and "Rock Band" game. I'm not putting down the new thing. Again, I haven't tried it. I'm just suggesting an alternative that is a little harder but a little more flexible when mastered. In time, the plastic guitar controllers will get better and cheaper and more musically versatile.

    If you're into synthesizers, check out my PS2 QWERTY keyboard to MIDI converters on the AVRfreaks.net website. Everything that I design, program, and upload to there is open-source.

    Good luck and enjoy.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308411)

Yeah, it's pretty obvious that you've never seen it or played it. It isn't about learning to make music, it's about getting a simulated experience of being a guitar god without having to go through all the work. You get on there, and the crowd cheers when you do well, and the boo for you when you do badly. It's all the excitement of being on stage, without having to go through the work to get there. It's not about pretending to play the guitar, it's about pretending to be a........Guitar Hero. And it works. It's exciting.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308447)

Yes you can do all that. But thats not what people (ie the masses) want. They want entertainment provided for them. They don't want to go out and entertain themselves. They don't care. They don't have the drive that we do to sit down and actually learn anything outside of their world. Why isn't Linux popular? Why doesn't everyone play an instrument? Why are there numerous oil change locations?

I don't want to get into an argument, but continuing to tell people this won't make any difference. They want entertainment fed to them. Let them have it. Get over it :P

Besides, the game is fun :P Yes I play Bass guitar, and various other instruments I don't care to mention, but those friends of mine with no musical talent, we can sit down and have fun for an hour or two. Something that brings us closer. If I kept saying stuff like this to them, well, we'd never play.

To put this in perspective, do WYSIWYG web editors cheapen real developers?

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (4, Insightful)

Mascot (120795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308543)

Whoa, way to confuse "I just want to play a game for an hour" with, "I think I need a new vocation".

haven't we already discussed this? (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308625)

over the years, this topic has been beaten to death.

NEWSFLASH: not everyone wants to play a guitar

i've been playing bass and guitar for about 10 years, and i enjoy guitar hero. i have had some auditions where we had no common ground for jamming, so one of us left the audition frustrated. one reason guitar hero is popular is because not everyone has to know how to play or even know the song (thought it does help) to have a good time with your friends (or strangers!).

I haven't tried it

so... what you're telling us is that you aren't a competent judge of the situation? try it before you declare it to be worthless.

face it, not everyone likes the same things or has the same aspirations.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (5, Funny)

regular_gonzalez (926606) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308659)

I've seen people play Crysis. I've never played it. I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think that there are some kind of weapons and enemies displayed on a monitor and you try to use the weapons to shoot them. Allow me to suggest an alternative. Buy a real gun and go to the shooting range. Buy a selection of guns, and practice until you're good. When you feel good and up to it, consider joining the Army so you can shoot real life people in the middle east. I've seen people play Forza. I've never played it. I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think that you take a plastic controller and maneuver a car around a racetrack displayed on a monitor, avoiding other vehicles at the same time. Allow me to suggest an alternative. Buy a sports car and go to your local track. Practice driving a lot, trying to avoid accidents. When you feel good and up to it, consider joining organized races at the racetrack. Wait, that sounds stupid.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (2, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308911)

I've seen people play Forza. I've never played it. I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think that you take a plastic controller and maneuver a car around a racetrack displayed on a monitor, avoiding other vehicles at the same time. Allow me to suggest an alternative. Buy a sports car and go to your local track. Practice driving a lot, trying to avoid accidents. When you feel good and up to it, consider joining organized races at the racetrack. Wait, that sounds stupid.

A great many people actually do this. It's fun, and not all that expensive to "race" an old Miata around cones in a parking lot, or on a lower budget some to the bigger go-kart stuff.

Seriously, video games can be fun, but so can actual real-life hobbies. You don't have to be good enough at playing the guitar to make a living in order to really enjoy playing. You don't have to be a professional driver to really enjoy amatuer racing. Climbing can be great fun if you live close to mountains. Shooting at real people is of course discouraged, but IDPA shoots are more fun than any PC shooter. Most of this stuff is cheaper than a high-end gaming rig, too.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

regular_gonzalez (926606) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308995)

Oh, I agree, and I'm learning guitar right now. But comparing a video game to real life is missing the point. Spending 15 hours in Guitar Hero, I can have fun rocking out to classic songs. After 15 hours on a real guitar, I could play Go Tell Aunt Rhodie.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309073)

When you feel good and up to it, consider joining the Army so you can shoot real life people in the middle east.

I've tried that way (not the middle east, but still). I'm still waiting for my friend to respawn...

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309591)

It's a team match; All of your friends need to be fragged before you mass respawn on the next map.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (4, Funny)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309279)

I've seen people play World of Warcraft. I've never played it. I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think that there are some kind of weapons and enemies displayed on a monitor and you try to use the weapons to kill them. Allow me to suggest an alternative. Buy a real sword and practice on a pell. Buy a selection of swords, and practice until you're good. When you feel good and up to it, consider joining the Crusades so you can kill real life people in the middle east.

I've seen people play Pac-Man. I've never played it. I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think that there are some kind of dots and enemies displayed on a monitor and you try to eat the dots before you get killed. Allow me to suggest an alternative. Buy real pills and eat them until you're good. When you feel good and up to it, consider becoming a hypochondriac.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310503)

Everyone knows it's better in a computer game than real life.

That's why, rather than be like all these fools who actually play World of Warcraft for real, I prefer to play World of World of Warcraft.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310449)

And my favourite computer game is Civilization - I guess I should just become a god and control an entire civilization for 6,000 years, rather than just playing around for pretend.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (4, Interesting)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308753)

What's funny is that the people who say "learn to play a real guitar" usually don't actually know how to play a real guitar. I play a real guitar. I've spent a considerable amount of money on guitars and stacks and pedals over the years. I even did my part for aspiring guitarists by putting a bunch of tabs up on OLGA back in the mid 90s.

I still love playing Rock Band with my wife.

GH/RB are extremely popular with real musicians. You always hear about them playing on their tour bus.

Hell, did you even read the article? Dhani Harrison is a real musician, plays a real guitar, and "was up all night playing guitar hero".

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308775)

You jsut dont get it. Guitar hero fills that moment, its MEANT to ephemeral. Playing a real guitar is a real skill and few have the desire to go that deep into it. They want ot pop in their favorite tune, set it to medium and feel like Eddie Van Halen for 30 minutes. The VAST majority of people who play these games have NO inclination to EVER play the real thing. ITs a game, meant to be enjoyed at the moment. These games were never meant to 'teach' you to play guitar anymore then singing Karaoke will teach you to sing. Your post may be applicable for the very top end of players, but I assure they are vastly outnumbered by the duffers.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

19061969 (939279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308949)

Or, as was put more succinctly several decades ago:

"Here's a chord. Here are two more. Now form a band."

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309371)

"Here's a chord. Here are two more. Now form a band."

and I did... we may have sucked, but we had great fun back then and we got better :)

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309799)

Allow me to suggest an alternative...

This is the 'old-school' tried-and-true method for learning to play in a rock band, as opposed to paying $100+ dollars for a plastic guitar controller and "Rock Band" game.

You, good sir, have completely missed the point.

Neither Guitar Hero nor Rock Band are intended to teach you how to play musical instruments. No more than Halo is going to teach you how to fight a war or Madden will teach you to play football or The Sims will teach you life skills.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310153)

Actually, you're wrong - Guitar Hero is an order of magnitude harder than playing a real guitar.

And you'll just have to believe me since you haven't bothered to get out of the basement in the last 4 years to even try it once. Which basically means you have absolutely no basis to formulate an opinion or a comparison. Just sayin'.

Incidentally, in the time that it took you to explain how to begin to learn to play the guitar, you could have played one or two classic songs on GH.

Re:How to do rock band without "Rock Band" (1)

virg_mattes (230616) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310443)

You say that GH is harder by an order of magnitude than playing a real instrument but then point out how quickly one could play one or two classic songs on GH? That's contradictory. I'm familiar with both GH and playing a real guitar, and GH is nowhere near as challenging to master. It requires you to ramp up your skill level a lot faster than the real thing, but there are no "nuances" in GH. You're either pressing the right button when you strike the strum bar at the right time or you're not. You're holding the button for the right length or you're not. There's no bending of notes, there's no "ad lib", you can't modulate if the mood strikes you. You can't play the same note three different ways, or tap out the melody on the fingerboard. You can't lean into the amplifier to get some feedback, or pull off any of a thousand other techniques that allow you to fiddle with your sound.

Guitar Hereo is a game. It's a fun game, but it's not a good substitute for playing a real guitar. It uses different skills that don't translate to the instrument. In fact, I'm a bit embarrassed to play GH, because my ability to play a guitar doesn't make me any good at the game and it's humbling to find that I can't do it all that well. Play it for fun, but don't play it to try to get good at the guitar.

Virg

Original idea flawed? Quick rip off GuitarFreaks! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308389)

Konami only had essentially what this game was in 1998 and now it's in the seventeenth revision. Really, Harmonix and Red Octane have been riding off Konami's Bemani series for almost a decade now and it's really sad that this watered down product with a different paint job and lowered paintjob is thought of as doing anything new here.

Re:Original idea flawed? Quick rip off GuitarFreak (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29308463)

Yes and no. I find it completely insane that they don't mention guitar freaks in the article, when they mention karaoke revolution and say that Konami talked to them about it.

The article is about how they were doing something weird, that couldn't be explained to people who didn't play it, and it didn't sell. Then they sold some games, that also didn't sell well. Then Konami gave them a shitload of cash and credibility, they did something else that sucked, then Red Octane was like "Well fuck, we already rip off DDR and have a deal to rip it off even more with ITG let's get these guys to rip off another popular bemani game Konami hasn't brought over to America yet". And bam, two extra buttons and a whammy bar on a piece of plastic later, we have America's guitar hero. Then they were like "But wait, in Japan they can play keyboard, guitar and drums together. (maybe karaoke and ddr, though I don't think DDR was in there.. it's not in rock band so I'm assuming it didn't interface with konami's instrument games either ;)) So how about we do that?"

And then we ended up with a shitty ripoff of drum mania and a combination with karaoke revolution. It's annoying, because the guitar controller for rock band is far superior to the official konami home drum mania controller that I used. But the game is just .. inferior. In pretty much all possible software-related ways. Oh well. I still play it since it's about the songs, and none of my friends know any of the songs I'd play given the chance.

Though just be glad they didn't make ITG, can you imagine what they'd have us dancing to?

It isn't about learning to play a guitar (3, Interesting)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308619)

Seriously guys, who in their right mind honestly believes that there is any correlation between Rock Band/Guitar Hero and learning to play a guitar. The two have absolutely nothing in common. People play guitar hero or rock band for a bit of fun, they have no interest in learning how to play a guitar.

Just like most people would rather play Halo than to build a FPS.

Actually that is a lot closer a correlation:

Guitar Hero/Rock Band = Playing Halo
Learning to play a guitar = Writing and designing a game.

So get off of your bloody high horses and realise that this is all about ENTERTAINMENT, not CREATIVITY.

Re:It isn't about learning to play a guitar (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29308781)

KAraoke is a much closer correlation When people go out for Karaoke no one calls it a waste of time and that they should get REAL singing lessons. I will never understand how people fail to make this connection regarding rythm games

Re:It isn't about learning to play a guitar (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310345)

I take your point, but with karaoke, you actually are singing - if you're good at that, you ought to be good at a non-karaoke performance too (the only difference is that usually you don't have an autocue). There's no need to get "REAL" singing lessons, because there is no distinction.

How close is playing GH to playing an actual guitar? Okay, there are similar skills such as rhythm and dexterity, but there's an awfully big difference too. In order to play an actual guitar, you'd still need to specifically learn that.

Imagine if instead of karaoke, you just had to sing an out of tune "la" into a computer at timed moments, in order for the computer to then play samples of someone else singing. Would people still view it in the same way as karaoke? Or would they point out how playing this game is not about learning to sing properly?

Re:It isn't about learning to play a guitar (4, Interesting)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309737)

So get off of your bloody high horses and realise that this is all about ENTERTAINMENT, not CREATIVITY.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Halo is a fairly predictable game. It is fun, it is entertaining, but it is predictable. The single-player is very linear. There's generally only one way to complete a level. If there's an obstacle in front of you, there's generally only one way to deal with it. There really isn't any creativity involved in playing Halo.

Deus Ex, on the other game, encourages creativity. There will typically be multiple ways around the obstacle... And if you really want to be creative, you can do all sorts of bizarre things the developers hadn't planned on. But Deus Ex is also entertaining.

The summary doesn't really say anything about people learning to play guitar, so I'm not sure where your comments come from... But if you read the summary you'll see that originally they were trying to build a game that wanted you to improvise. And people didn't want to improvise, they just wanted to play their favorite songs. This is where creativity comes into the discussion. Folks didn't want to create new music, they just wanted to replicate the music they knew.

Re:It isn't about learning to play a guitar (1)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309845)

So get off of your bloody high horses and realise that this is all about ENTERTAINMENT, not CREATIVITY.

The summary doesn't really say anything about people learning to play guitar, so I'm not sure where your comments come from... But if you read the summary you'll see that originally they were trying to build a game that wanted you to improvise. And people didn't want to improvise, they just wanted to play their favorite songs. This is where creativity comes into the discussion. Folks didn't want to create new music, they just wanted to replicate the music they knew.

My comments aren't directed at the article nor the summary, they are directed at every person here who instantly goes "pfft, Guitar Hero? That's not playing a guitar. Go learn to play one." If you read through the comments you will see this sentiment repeated over and over again.

Re:It isn't about learning to play a guitar (2, Funny)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310393)

Learning to play a guitar = Writing and designing a game.

Which has given me a brilliant idea for a new game: Programmer Hero.

You play a geek programming a computer. Using a specially designed custom "keyboard" that plugs into the console, you have to press differently coloured buttons in sequence at the correct moment, in order for the computer computer programmer to complete the game he is writing.

Choose from endless classic games just waiting to be programmed by you: Quake, Doom, Halo.

Everyone wants to play a computer games programmer, don't they?

Failures? (1)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309101)

Good article. Interesting read. But fuck the premise. Frequency was awesome!

Re:Failures? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309379)

Yeah.. I just read that. "Frequency" and "Amplitude" are two of my favorite PS2 games of all time and I still pulling for them to make a third in the series (though it's obviously not going to happen). The music licenses weren't were probably the best they could get at the time but saying that they still got same great names like Garbage and David Bowie to participate. Plus I don't think that the gameplay is as obscure as they make out in the article.

Re:Failures? (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310207)

The third is Rock Band Unplugged on the PSP. They've improved the controls a bit and added a 4th button to the mix, and you get the benefit of the Rock Band library for the music.

Re:Failures? (4, Interesting)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309989)

From the article:

We naively believed that if we, backed by a big publisher, created a game that was fun, it would be successful. What we failed to recognize was that you have to make games that are easily marketable.

They are saying Frequency and Amplitude were not the commercial successes they had hoped for. I can understand that: the two games have a rather abstract look and the music selection will not suit everyone's taste. However, I love the games because of the look and music selection. And because the different instruments are on separate tracks, which makes for more interesting game play than for example DDR.

Misread... (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309143)

"long load that eventually led them to the creation of Guitar Hero and Rock Band."

Heh. At first I thought that said "bong load."

Re:Misread... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29310007)

Dude, it's "road". You're starting the weekend way too early.

Algorithmic composition with 2D controls (5, Informative)

juures (1631099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309245)

I just developed an algorithmic composition applet [www.uta.fi], very similar to the first application by Harmonix. The users can control the music dynamically with the mouse. I thought it was unique idea, but these guys did it already 15 years ago!

I think their earlier ideas were much cooler than the Rock Band franchise, too bad they couldn't sell them.

They just copied DDR... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29309767)

Guitar Hero copied DDR and Rock Band copied Guitar Hero.

Re:They just copied DDR... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310249)

So, since Guitar Hero and Rock Band were made by the same people, I guess the real copying is being done by Guitar hero 3-5... I also think there's a much better argument for Guitar Hero having copied a number of other games, especially since the Harmonix developers mention in this interview some of the rhythm games they saw in Japanese arcades, rather than DDR. DDR just seems like an obvious reference because it achieved some popularity in the US, but even that was around the same time Frequency and Amplitude were available.

Re:They just copied DDR... (3, Interesting)

goldmaneye (1374027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29310273)

I guess, in an incredibly over-simplified way, you're right. But of course, because it's oversimplified, it misses the entire point of the article (I'm guessing you haven't bothered to read it yet, and I would encourage you to do so, since it's very well written). Allow me to explain.

1. Red Octane, creator of many (excellent) DDR peripherals, approached Harmonix about making a game wherein you used a guitar-like controller (manufactured by Red Octane, of course) to play music. Harmonix agreed, and Guitar Hero was the result. So I guess you're right, they "copied" DDR ... by relying on Red Octane's cumulative experience creating peripherals for DDR to create a similar, but nonetheless novel, gaming experience using a guitar.

2. Harmonix developed Guitar Hero for Red Octane. Red Octane was acquired by Activision, who gained the rights to Guitar Hero through the acquisition. Harmonix was acquired by MTV, who wanted a game like Guitar Hero that they could sell themselves. The result was Rock Band, which is like Guitar Hero (it has guitars, and you play musical notes in a sequence displayed on the screen), but also includes a drum set and a microphone. So I guess you're right again, Harmonix "copied" Guitar Hero ... by using their cumulative experience developing Guitar Hero to create a new game that improved upon the experience of the old game.

You may not have noticed, but the kind of copying you describe is rampant in other industries, too. A lot of computer hardware seems suspiciously similar to older hardware. Newer car models bear a striking resemblance to older car models. Modern operating systems look a lot like their predecessors, not to mention their counterparts.

The point is, the "copying" you are so ready to dismiss is kind of an important way in which innovation proceeds. In fact, if you substitute the word "copying" with the words "building upon," you're much closer to the truth. A lot of innovation proceeds by incrementally improving upon what's already there. So your comment should have read:

"Guitar Hero built upon DDR and Rock Band built upon Guitar Hero."

There, fixed that for you.

Amplitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29310201)

I still enjoy their game before Guitar Hero, Amplitude much more than subsequent games.

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