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Viacom To Sell Rock Band Creator Harmonix

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the time-for-the-next-fad dept.

Businesses 112

UgLyPuNk tips news that Harmonix, the game developer behind Rock Band and the early Guitar Hero games, will be sold by parent company Viacom, signaling the media conglomerate's exit from the console game market. Quoting Wired: "The news is yet another ominous sign for the music-game business, which exploded seemingly overnight in 2005 with the release of Guitar Hero. ...sales have been in free fall since the dizzying heights of 2008, with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock moving only 86,000 copies in its first week... Thus far in calendar year 2010, the balance sheet seems to show that Harmonix has been a $300 million liability for Viacom. And it doesn’t look like Viacom believes in the long-term future of music games. With any luck, the company will find a buyer that can help Harmonix grow, but it’s hard to imagine a better partner in the music biz than MTV."

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Fuck Viacom (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204448)

I blame them and MTV for killing America.

Re:Fuck Viacom (0, Offtopic)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204544)

Is this supposed to be the new "Fuck News Corp"? Because I'm gonna say, Rupert Murdoch is still way eviller than Sumner Redstone.

Music business? (4, Insightful)

haystor (102186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204452)

I would imagine some partner in the music business would be better than partnering with MTV.

Re:Music business? (3, Funny)

magnusrex1280 (1075361) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204484)

Exactly. The "M" in "MTV" hasn't stood for "music" in at least 10 or 12 years, if not longer than that. These days it stands for "moron."

Re:Music business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204522)

Well the 'morons' on MTV are laughing all the way to the bank. damn i hate this country.

Re:Music business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204768)

M in MTV stands for 'Money'. FTFY.

Re:Music business? (2, Funny)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207010)

Exactly. The "M" in "MTV" hasn't stood for "music" in at least 10 or 12 years, if not longer than that. These days it stands for "moron."

In their defense, "16 and pregnant hero" would have never sold. They had to try the music thing.

Re:Music business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204486)

You don't want games that simulate "reality tv"? Well, I suppose they would just be dating sims with less purpose. They may improve on the Facade structure even.

They can only blame themselves for super saturating the market anyways.

Re:Music business? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205060)

They can only blame themselves for super saturating the market anyways.

Definitely. I don't think I even knew Guitar Hero VI (certainly had never heard the name "Warriors of Rock" before today) was out, though I did get Guitar Hero: Van Halen and Rock Band: Green Day around that time. I did buy Rock Band 3 recently too, but I no longer have the same interest in crushing all the songs on expert drums/guitar that I did with Guitar Hero III, IV and Rock Band 1. Still looking forward a little to the pro guitar coming out though.

Re:Music business? (3, Insightful)

haystor (102186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206120)

As a casual player who can't hit that 5th button on a regular basis, I don't need expansions.

What I really need is for the jump from medium to hard to be the same difficulty with an extra button, instead of a huge jump in difficulty in addition to the extra button.

I have no rhythm, so I don't need to buy more songs I can't get past.

Re:Music business? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206268)

Yeah the extra button was awkward for me too at first, but after a couple of weeks I started to get it. If you are really interested in playing at higher levels rather then you could just play in practice mode with the speed at 70% or something until you start developing an awareness where all the buttons are.

I used to always purposefully shift my fingers along one button when I wanted to use the orange, but eventually I just started being able to use the extra button without thinking about it, same as I do with a computer's keyboard. When I touch type and play guitar hero, I don't think about where my fingers go, I just know which buttons I want to press, and I don't always use the same fingers for the same buttons.

Interestingly when I tried playing through the game with the other hand, my fingers were already able to use the extra button okay. I thought I'd have to get used to playing again, but it seems my brain was able to carry over the awareness to the other hand. It's still weird though obviously, as I was still feeling the urge to strum with that hand :p

Of course, I have decent rhythm, especially since I started drumming, so that probably makes things easier too.

Re:Music business? (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34209214)

I would skip over hard and go right to expert. As you said, hard is really just a toned down version of expert, more so than a toned up version of medium.

Just find a song that you can barely make it through (and you like) and play it until it's like second nature.

Something interesting, I found for me playing on "ultra fast" mode was actually way easier. You still have the same number of notes at the same frequency, the difference is they move down the screen faster. The end effect is you see fewer notes on the screen at a time. For some reason I found this made the game way easier.

Re:Music business? (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210776)

irritatingly, medium in rockband 3 frequently still gets you the orange button. I'm getting a bit better at it, but it still surprises me.

Re:Music business? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208952)

Fender has a lot of money and a preexisting relationship with Harmonix...

required peripherals (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204532)

I'd buy these games if I didn't have to spend hundreds to get the peripherals for them. Yeah, I've played using a PS3 controller, but this is really their downfall. Each new version of Rock Band and Guitar Hero gets more outrageous. I've been a drummer, I wasn't so hot at it, but I do know that any sort of skills you develop with these games are pointless for playing actual music and it doesn't matter how advanced these games get. They are just money pits.

Re:required peripherals (3, Insightful)

cutegigi (1246884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204536)

well... I dont think being very good in driving game will make you any good driving in real life either...

Re:required peripherals (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204556)

How much does steering wheel cost you? $40?

Re:required peripherals (3, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205580)

How much does steering wheel cost you? $40?

And how much does a guitar controller for these games cost you?

You don't HAVE to buy all the peripherals. Just like you don't have to buy the pedal and shifter controller to go with your car game. Shocking that the more you try to accurately emulate real life, the more expensive it gets.

Re:required peripherals (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204602)

A realistic enough driving game might.

Re:required peripherals (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204660)

Re:required peripherals (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204844)

Yes, it can, but not if you play Need for Speed or Burnout. A game like rFactor, for example, simulates "the relationship between slip angle, self aligning torque and cornering force" just for tires.

The difference is that Rock Band and the likes aren't simulators.

Re:required peripherals (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205090)

Seeing as tyres are the most important part of the simulation, I'm pretty sure all games do that. The self aligning torque is presumably only really important when you have a force feedback steering wheel, but games have been doing that for years too.

I learned to drive rear wheel drive cars in computer games. I now have a rear wheel drive car IRL and the reactions I've learned in game do carry over fine to the real car for controlling power oversteer etc.

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34205604)

Seeing as tyres are the most important part of the simulation, I'm pretty sure all games do that.

You really think games like Need For Speed have such advanced physics that they simulate multiple facets of how the tire interacts with the road? You obviously haven't played many racing games/sims, because that's far from the norm, and really only suited for people that want realism in their sims. Most gamers prefer cartoon physics and arcade-style gameplay -- they don't want to worry about fuel consumption rates and tire wear. Yes, there are sims out there that do take these into account, but they're far from the norm and really only serve a (decently-sized, but small) niche market.

Re:required peripherals (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205894)

And you obviously haven't played NFS Pro Street, or NFS Shift.

The stuff the OP mentioned wasn't that advanced, it's just basic stuff you need in a racing game, unless you're playing something absurdly arcadey like Ridge Racer..

Re:required peripherals (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206670)

A lot of gamers appear to prefer "something absurdly arcadey". What else would explain the success of Mario Kart series and other companies' clones?

Re:required peripherals (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207198)

Sure, I was addicted to Ridge Racer Revolutions once upon a time, and still enjoy games like Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing, but I don't pretend they're real racing games.

The stuff that icebraining mentioned ("the relationship between slip angle, self aligning torque and cornering force") is all pretty standard stuff that even games like Grand Theft Auto simulate well enough. However in the really arcadey games the tyres tend to be much grippier. In something like Gran Turismo if you switch from arcade to expert physics you really notice the tyres having far less grip, so you can't just blast around the track not knowing what corner is coming up next and slam on the brakes at the last second.

I do remember some game years ago simulating tyre temperature in 17 segments around the tyre and that kind of thing. Doing that definitely starts to get more into proper racing simulation territory, but even without that level of detail, cars in computer games these days generally react the same as cars in real life, but without little details like taking into account brake fade, tyre wear, weight of the car changing as fuel is consumed/refuelled, etc.

Re:required peripherals (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208270)

Is there a standard set of equations to model the stuff that icebraining mentioned, in case some hobbyist wants to develop a racing game with a proper first-order simulation of vehicle kinematics?

Re:required peripherals (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208772)

I used to hope for something like that myself when I was a teenager, I considered trying to write a racing sim a few times, at least in 2D if not 3D, but that idea ended up falling by the wayside.

Here's a list of good physics engine type tutorials including many links to [gamedev.net] Brian Beckman's tutorials [locost7.info] , they're great if you want to learn more about car handling or simulation.

If you wanted to see some real code that implements realistic car physics then have a look at TORCS [sourceforge.net] :)

Re:required peripherals (0, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205610)

well... I dont think being very good in driving game will make you any good driving in real life either...

you're completely and totally wrong. if I were not so lazy I would track down the article where they took some of the world's best computer racing drivers to the track and they posted quite good times and had excellent grasp of fundamentals. Anecdotally, my driving improved significantly after playing Gran Turismo, which included a booklet which concisely explained proper driving technique. Actually, playing video games with light guns substantially improves first-time-out target shooting as well. Indeed, the US Military uses nintendo systems and modified rifles for ammo-free target practice. On in short, you have no idea what you are talking about, and ought to STFU.

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34206308)

It doesn't make you good, but it can help you keep your skills up. I used to do autocross, and the guys there who were much better than me would play Gran Turismo and take it somewhat seriously. The thing about GT is that there are plenty of ways to play it unrealistically, but if you don't choose to cheat it's pretty good with the braking+turning+acceleration trinity of inputs and their results.

Re:required peripherals (1)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204538)

The drumming skills are not too bad. The keyboard skills on Rockband 3 aren't so bad either. It's hard to screw up when the controller is an actual keyboard and the gems coming at you are the actual piano roll for the song that's playing. And the game teaches you scales, proper form, etc. Not sure about the new "pro guitar" thing, as I've not seen the controller or anything.

Re:required peripherals (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204564)

Glad to hear it's come along. The scales and piano roll really surprise me. Guess it's no longer just hitting colored pads on a drums (or buttons on the neck) to a beat that doesn't even come close to matching the actual song.

Re:required peripherals (3, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205116)

Guess it's no longer just hitting colored pads on a drums (or buttons on the neck) to a beat that doesn't even come close to matching the actual song.

If you play the drums in "expert" difficulty then the beat is usually 100% the same as the actual song. In one song in Rock Band it seemed like you had to play the hi-hat in double time compared to what the actual song was playing but that's about the only difference I noticed.

Even expert guitar is usually very close to the same rhythm as the actual song. It's only on the easier difficulties that they take out notes. I actually find some of the songs more difficult to play on expert guitar in these games than I do on a real guitar, because the fingering is more awkward in the game compared to just holding a barre or power chord and sliding your hand up and down the neck.

Re:required peripherals (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205606)

My father in law was/is the LITERAL guitarist for a couple of tracks that made it onto Guitar Hero.

He can't play the game. His problem is that the 'notes' don't match up to the song, and the disparity is so great that he is so used to playing the actual notes, that trying to 'reduce' what he would do on an actual guitar is not possible.

It is the weirdest thing to listen to the guy grab the guitar next to his couch, and play the actual song, or listen to his old performances OF the song, and then watch as he plays the game as if he were wearing oven mitts.

Re:required peripherals (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206650)

My girlfriend recently got GH6 and I played this for the first time this week and this is exactly right. It's quite a frustrating experience when the notes are even slightly off the beat, to the degree that some songs are easier to play if you actually ignore the music and just use the visual cues on the screen (I've not gone so far as to turn the sound off but I bet it wouldn't negatively impact and may even positively impact performance on some songs). Not sure if Rock Band does this better, but the annoying thing is it doesn't then "feel" like you're playing the song (I acknowledge that this is actually about as far away from playing the song as you can get, but what I mean is it kills the sense of immersion or suspension of disbelief).

Calibration? (2, Informative)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210870)

Did the parent try calibrating the system? There is a known problem of lag varying from setup to setup, as all tv's, sound systems, and cables are not the same....

It helps a lot, really

Re:required peripherals (1)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211212)

I think Rock Band does this better than Guitar Hero. I can calibrate both games, but Guitar Hero never has the notes on beat, so I have to play by eye rather than by ear. In Rock Band, I look at the notes as they appear rather than when they pass the "hit area," and play them by ear.

Re:required peripherals (5, Insightful)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204570)

The "real" controller, the one most people are waiting for, won't come out until March 1, 2011. That'd be the actual Squire Strat that works with Rock Band. I know a lot of people holding off buying RB3 Pro-Mode DLC for a while, until around when this guitar comes out, and some are even waiting for a while to get the game. Hopefully stuff gets sorted out quickly with the future of the franchise, because a lot of people ARE still invested in the game, and the company, but the lack of details is making gamers more nervous than geeks were when Oracle bought Sun... because Rock Band actually does do a fair bit in terms of building transferable skills to real instruments - with Pro Drums, Pro Keys, and eventually Pro Guitar (and with Pro Guitar right now to an extent with their "pro controller" - good for hand positions... but not great). And as a drummer myself - the drumming skills really aren't bad. I play on a stock RB2 kit, with the cymbal expansions - and even though my kit in real life lays out different, has a different number of parts, etc - Rock Band still holds you to a tempo, and builds limb independence. It's not everything you need to be a good drummer, but it helps - and the stock pedal, though nothing like the real thing, is actually pretty good at building leg muscle and if you can heel-toe on that, you can do it even better on the real thing. So... yeah.

Re:required peripherals (1, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204624)

Why not just buy a damn guitar, man? With as much effort as you put into this, you could do it for real. I know, I know, stupid idea, I shouldn't have even contradicted the zeitgeist of USA 2010.

Re:required peripherals (5, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204686)

Learning guitar takes a lot of patience, especially early on.

I think that's why you don't see guitar a lot in school.. most instruments you can get people transitioning between a few notes pretty quickly, then can get everyone together and honk out "twinkle twinkle little star". With guitar this takes a little longer. There are a lot of fundamentals you need before you can progress to anything beyond very simple tunes.. and getting these fundamentals can be very tedious.

Wrapping up the hours and hours of scales and building muscle memory in a game might encourage some people to pick up music who otherwise wouldn't have the patience. Personally (as a non elitist type) I think this is a good thing.

Re:required peripherals (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204918)

Just reminds me of a elementary school concert I saw in Hamburg Germany. Almost all the kids were dressed prim and proper, girls in yellow dresses and boys in suits and ties, then you had the guitarist with long hair and ripped jeans. Hearing trombones and guitars at the same time was kind of cool though.

Re:required peripherals (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205422)

What, clicking buttons to match the colors onscreen isn't very tedious?

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34205776)

No more tedious than any other game. Any FPS game could just as well be called "tediously pressing buttons until the bad guy is dead". If you find the genre interesting, then you see beyond the literal actions involved in playing. Otherwise it's just tedious button pressing. This applies for any style of game.

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34206694)

It recently occurred to me: ultimately, playing a piano is just hitting buttons to match some written notation. Scrolling colors on a TV are just a different musical notation. And if you you don't hit the right buttons, the song doesn't sound right.

So is Rock band really so different than playing a real instrument, at least at a beginner's level? Sure, you can't improvise and you have minimal control over dynamics, but when you're just starting, you don't do that anyway.

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34206830)

I think that's why you don't see guitar a lot in school.. most instruments you can get people transitioning between a few notes pretty quickly, then can get everyone together and honk out "twinkle twinkle little star". There are a lot of fundamentals you need before you can progress to anything beyond very simple tunes.. and getting these fundamentals can be very tedious.

I'm not buying. I'd say guitar is one of the easiest instruments to play. Think about playing a trumpet - to make sounds correctly you have to: be able to play the note naturally through the mouthpiece, know the correct fingering, and know when to release the spit valve. What if you want to change keys of a song? Then all the fingering changes.

Now think about a guitar. All the notes are laid flat out on the board. You just have to place your finger and strum. What if you want to change keys? The same finger pattern applies, you just move up or down the board. G-->A means move everything up 2 frets. Once you learn one scale, you can play it any key. Not so with a trumpet, etc

Not to mention guitar has the benefit of chords, which allows you to play music that everyone knows and would want to listen to. Not the easiest thing, but you can become fairly competent with chords in 2 to 3 weeks for a dedicated but complete beginner.

Sorry for the long rant, but I play guitar and a few other instruments since then. Guitar has some pretty nifty advantages to it. If nothing else believe Radiohead when they say "Everyone plays guitar"

Re:required peripherals (5, Informative)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204772)

The Fender Squier is a real guitar. On a promotional event a guy had it hooked up to an amplifier while also being connected to the game, so you could actually hear his playing while the tune also rolled in Rock Band 3. Check the (rather cool) demonstration/teaser video on Fenders website [fender.com] .

In other words, if you go for the Fender Squier, Rock Band 3 will function as a learning tool. That games career mode is more about challenges rather than just plauying at venues. Different difficulty levels (where the hardest setting equals the way the guitarist is actually playing the current song), tutorials and the ability to slow down sections at will makes it possible to get down to business learning how a guitar produces sound. If you take the time, you will be able to learn to play. The only thing the game doesn't teach specifically is technique, but with the songs including (and the game supporting) hammerons/pulloffs, left hand muting, open chords, arpeggios, sustained notes and slides, the techniques will come eventually as long as one is eager and willing to learn.

Re:required peripherals (2, Informative)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204786)

I forgot to mention one more thing; all the controllers (keyboard, drums, button guitars) are made by MadCatz except the Squier, which is made by Fender. It is a guitar with midi-support and some extra electronics so the game can determine where the player is holding his fingers.

Re:required peripherals (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205006)

That can be said about almost every game out there. From boardgames, over toys to computer games.

They are not real. That is the whole purpose of them.

Re:required peripherals (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205142)

They are not real. That is the whole purpose of them.

You haven't had a look at all the "pro" instruments in the latest Rock Band then.

Sure Guitar Hero was a lot more fun that I expected even when it was only pressing buttons in time to the music, but I really loved the drums because it's almost exactly like playing real drums. Now with the keyboard and guitar controllers you also get to learn real keyboard and guitar parts. It's more fun than just learning a song on guitar by yourself because you get a backing track to play along to, and you get graded on your accuracy.

Re:required peripherals (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207294)

And I'm sure that making it a game had given it a more favorable learning curve and made it easier for some people to find the hour a day needed to get good at it.

Re:required peripherals (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205156)

Playing RB is much more fun than practicing guitar, even if you have one and play in some tiny band every week.

Re:required peripherals (1)

Velex (120469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205564)

Why not just buy a damn guitar, man?

I did buy a damn guitar, you insensitive clod! (Got it used for $150.)

Re:required peripherals (2, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205638)

Why not just buy a damn guitar, man? With as much effort as you put into this, you could do it for real. I know, I know, stupid idea, I shouldn't have even contradicted the zeitgeist of USA 2010.

To misuse an old spice quote. Experience is everything.

So do you go to war zones instead of playing Call of Duty? Did you go out and buy an F1 racer instead of playing that racing game? Did you post on Slashdot instead of interacting with a person in real life?

Re:required peripherals (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205644)

Why not just buy a damn guitar, man? With as much effort as you put into this, you could do it for real.

You missed the whole point, and thus your comment is a gigantic waste of time. It *is* a guitar. It's a Squier Stratocaster, aka a basic Fender guitar, with a MIDI interface. I don't know if you've ever seen the Yamaha MIDI pickup but it's like $200 used and it blows. We're talking about a whole guitar with a MIDI interface for $250. On Pro mode, you have to play all the notes. That means that you can buy the guitar, move up through the modes and learn to play a real guitar, because you'll be playing real songs on a real guitar.

In addition, RB3 also supports two other real instruments, keyboards and drums. You can buy the MIDI connection kit and then connect your actual, professional MIDI keyboard and drums. I have a Casio with basic teaching features which are horribly annoying to use. I have a 360. With RB3 and the MIDI kit, I can have the computer teach me to play the keyboard, starting with basic rhythm games and working my way up to playing actual parts, all on my real keyboard.

I know, I know, stupid idea, I shouldn't have even contradicted the zeitgeist of USA 2010.

No, it was a stupid comment, because you don't know what you're talking about but posted one anyway.

Re:required peripherals (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205668)

From what I've heard (going on just rumour mill here), the Squire Strat Pro-controller IS essentially doing that. You will literally control the game in EXACTLY the same manner as playing a real guitar, to the point that I have heard that the controller will have an amp output and can be connected to a standard amp and actually played as a guitar.

As someone who DOES own several real guitars and can play them OK-ish but would like a fun way to practice some things, I think if they can make the game good enough to act as an educational tool for player a real guitar, then I'm sold. As it is I've only played Guitar Hero 3 though. Happened to get it from a discount/clearance store with the guitar bundle for $20 last year . . .

Re:required peripherals (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206778)

With as much effort as you put into this, you could do it for real.

Clearly spoken like someone who has never picked up a new video game and beaten it within a week - and then picked up a guitar and not mastered it in a week.

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34205402)

Can I Ask?

If you are so enamored with playing a squire strat (http://www.squierguitars.com/products/search.php?partno=0310600525) (lol) why don't you just not learn to play the real thing? You are clearly intelligent (posting on slashdot and such..) so how about you get one of these (http://www.marshallamps.com/product.asp?productCode=JCM800.. and one of these (http://www.fender.com.au/electricguitars/strats/amerstandard/amstdstrat.php), and play?

It may be something that gets you.. ?

Gareth

Re:required peripherals (2, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206748)

I can't speak for GP, but a lot of people find learning an instrument a very dry and, until you start getting good, largely unrewarding process. If they can make that process a little more interesting and fun by tying it to a game interface, where's the harm in that? You're still learning, but it feels less like you're hitting the same chord repeatedly for hours with no reward, because you'll be earning rewards and such in the game (you also get the benefit of an eternally patient group to practice with, and an independent judge - the game - to tell you where you're going right/wrong without ever having to feel embarassed by your mistakes).

Re:required peripherals (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205640)

I haven't tried their Pro Guitar either but I can say that as a bass player and a Fender man all my life that I royally suck on their "Fender Bass" and watching my guitarist on the Fender Strat he frankly isn't any better on that either. The "Feel" is just too far off and the game itself is more like Simon than playing an actual instrument, especially on some of the songs like Rush tunes where I alrady know how to play them and automatically want to climb the neck at the correct points. So if anything I'd say you'll be worse at music games if you have any real experience with those instruments, whereas with the driving games I've found that the car handling is pretty damned realistic nowadays.

As for TFA, is anyone surprised? The Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises have made Call Of Duty look like Half Life with all the damned releases and new gadgets. They simply drowned their market in endless piles of games and controllers until they collapsed their market under the weight. I wish this would be a lesson to Activision and EA not to completely destroy and then piss on the ashes of my favorite PC series: Call Of Duty, Medal Of Honor (been playing the 10th Anniversary pack just last night), and C&C, but it looks like the "Take a great series and flood the market with more of the same for infinity" is sadly SOP still. Playing the 10th Anniversary pack it is just sad to see it go from the first gen (MOHAA plus expansions-great) and second gen (MOHPA-still damned good but nothing new) to third gen (MOH Airborne-totally shitty arcade crap with horrible EVERYTHING). While I haven't gotten the latest from the sounds of it the thing is just another online fragfest. I just haven't seen anything like the fighting in a dust storm with Nazis calling out in the distance or getting shot down over Italy and losing all your squad before you even hit the ground and having to sneak around at 3AM hunting Italians.

From what I've seen it looks like GH and RB got greedy and went to the well one too many times. While it was a decent party game (if you shelled out the $$$ for the set) even by the third one I figured it would be a fad genre and not a long term thing like RPG, FPS, and RTS. It just required too much hardware. I personally figured it was over 6 months ago when my GF who loves to yard sale started finding tons of RB and GH controllers at nearly every place she went. Folks have just moved on to stuff like the Wii where the same controllers can be reused for multiple genres. RB and GH are just over, and Viacom was wise to jump now that the profits are gone. All I could see doing now would be to milk them a little longer with DLC, but giant controller packs like The Beatles are probably history.

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34206538)

Isn't the new "pro guitar" controller just a guitar? Apparently you don't even need to use their controller with the pro mode, any guitar that does midi is supposed to work (I don't own the game so I can't confirm this from personal experience).

Re:required peripherals (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204648)

any sort of skills you develop with these games are pointless for playing actual music

When did the point of any game become to prepare your for the real life equivalent (ok, there are actually some examples, but moving on..)

We have flight games, driving games, a whole variety of sports and military games, however for some reason people hold music sacred. Learning to play a real instrument is a major endeavor that takes a lot of time and patience but (and I know this sounds kinda lame) brings a lifetime of joy. I am sure the same can be said about flying a plane, driving a race car, playing professional sports, etc.

I play (real) guitar.. but I can still enjoy playing a fake plastic guitar with some friends (and copious beer). It's not the same as a jam session, but its not supposed to be.. it's a game!

I think it's also worth noting that Rockband 3 is going to include some kind of modified (real) guitar to be used in professional mode. This might actually have teaching implications. The irony of it is that rock band might actually encourage people to learn a real instrument, rather than prevent them from doing so by providing a "close enough" experience (which I think is where a lot of the early hatred for rockband came from).

Re:required peripherals (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204854)

On deciding to become a drummer as my friends and I decided to start a band - I signed up for lessons etc. and then considered buying the WII rockband drumset as a way to get to practise the basics in a fun way before investing in a full drumkit... when I realized that the rockband drumkit would cost me as much as a pretty decent second hand drumkit, I decided to rather save up a bit and invest in a really good drumkit.

Right now I'm tempted to go for an electric drumkit however, if only because being able to play with headphones will be very useful for practicing in an apartment building without pissing of the neighbours, will ask my teacher whether he agrees it's a good idea.

Re:required peripherals (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204930)

As a drummer I would recommend getting the real (acoustic) kit because the lower end electronic kits are just not going to give you the same feel and dynamics as an acoustic kit. Now I have messed with some of the higher end Roland kits, and they are amazing. They offer great feel and dynamics... but your gonna shell out at between 3 to 5 thousand dollars for the base models. For just the raw muscle memory, rudiment practice you can get a practice kit that consists of rubber pads or you can get rubber pads to place on the acoustic kit. Hell, to work on wrist coordination and stamina... grab your sticks and a pillow. Go through the rudiments on a pillow... especially the double stroke roll, or paradiddle. It forces you to use your wrists and not rely on the rebound of the sticks on drum head... it's a hell of a workout.

I would recommend talking to your neighbors and find out when they are not around (at work etc) and try and work with them on a practice time.

Re:required peripherals (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208424)

As another drummer I would say avoid rubber electric drums. However a good compromise can be mainly rubber kit with a proper skinned Roland V-drum snare. It depends on the type of music you are playing but personally most of the intricate rolls and more delicate techniques that require a decent bounce are done on the Snare drum. I only really use the toms for the occasional fill.

Re:required peripherals (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205364)

I play (real) guitar.. but I can still enjoy playing a fake plastic guitar with some friends (and copious beer). It's not the same as a jam session, but its not supposed to be.. it's a game!

yup... The original Guitar Hero 2 got me back into playing again... I found it easier to play my real bass than the GH in bass mode... since then I've got into guitar as it's pretty depressing playing bass on your own... and most bass solo pieces are just widdle fests up in the dusty end where you might as well be playing on a guitar...

Re:required peripherals (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204714)

For the most part I agree with the whole "any sort of skills you develop are pointless for real music". As a drummer I was fairly impressed with the drums ability to simulate with 4 pads and a kick pedal a real drum set. I mean, yeah playing rock band is different than playing my real kit in the garage, however... playing the game on expert gives a basic sense of timing and coordination. Lots of the beats and fills you play in the game can be taken to the kit for real and will sound good. Will it make you the next Buddy Rich or Bernard Purdie... no... but if you can play RB drums on expert you will be able to use it to get some decent beats going on a real set. Now it will not teach you rudiments, or dynamics or hand/feet independence... you have to have a real kit for those things.

Re:required peripherals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34205000)

Now it will not teach you rudiments, or dynamics or hand/feet independence

As an obsessive Expert Rock Band drummer I can say that hand/feet independence can be learned from the game. Rudiments and dynamics, still no.

Re:required peripherals (5, Informative)

homb (82455) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205934)

I started with RB1, knowing NOTHING about drums or pretty much any instruments really.
By the time RB2 came along, I bought an electronic drumset (Alesis) that I hooked up via a custom wireless controller and started playing that pretty much exclusively (3 symbals, 4 pads, etc...). I got my first real drumset a month ago, and I can tell you that both beats and hand/feet independence carry perfectly well over. Perfectly. In fact, the acoustic drumset is in many ways easier than the electronic one: the "pads" are bigger, and the sound much fuller so you don't need to be as precise.

People saying that RB doesn't teach drumming are full of shit. In fact, not only does it teach you drumming, it teaches you different styles of drumming as well. From Keith Moon's footwork-as-symbals to Mitch Mitchell's technique, you can learn it all if you take the time. Yeah you're copying, but over time it becomes second nature and you pick up a number of different rolls, fills and other techniques from many drummers.

Re:required peripherals (1)

shish (588640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204946)

I do know that any sort of skills you develop with these games are pointless for playing actual music

Have you seen the latest "pro" controllers? The pro keyboard is pretty much a standard MIDI keyboard; and the pro guitar, while not exactly a standard guitar, does seem to have the same number and layout of places to put your fingers

Re:required peripherals (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205082)

I've been a drummer, I wasn't so hot at it, but I do know that any sort of skills you develop with these games are pointless for playing actual music and it doesn't matter how advanced these games get.

I'm a self taught drummer, and I have to say that playing Rock Band did improve my drumming noticeably. I started struggling with the necessary limb coordination about half-way into the set list, but after a couple of months of practice I completed every song in the game on Expert drums and had a lot more independent control of my limbs.

Re:required peripherals (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34205596)

I'd go out and sell stuff right now if I could play a real bass with RB3. Guitars are too small. Planning on getting the midi adapter and playing with my keyboard when the time comes (i.e. when it comes down some.)

Re:required peripherals (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207134)

If you keep your eyes peeled (or set a slickdeals.net alert) you can occasionally find deals on the stuff. When "Rock Band/Guitar Hero X+1" comes out, you can usually find "Rock Band/Guitar Hero X" on clearance somewhere for a much better deal.

Re:required peripherals (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208154)

You seem to have the same problem that my guitarist friend does - you seem to think that Guitar Hero is actually "How To Play Guitar: Playstation Edition". It's not, it's a game. Lots of people have fun playing it, never even considering that it could make them a better player on real instruments - why would it? It's just a game. The peripherals make some sense - the whole point of Guitar Hero is to imagine yourself as an amazing guitarist which is easier to do if the controller you're wielding is "axe"-shaped. I wouldn't say it's a money sink, at least no more than any other game with peripherals is (the comparison with racing games and steering wheels is a valid one). You may be paying money in but, in theory (and for most people, in practice), you're getting a lot of fun for your money.

Any actual musical knowledge gleaned from playing it is simple a bonus.

Ominous sign my ass (5, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204560)

What happened is that they exploited that genre to exhaustion.

Note to your ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34204584)

More succinctly, gamers are exhausted of the genre. It happens, dude.

Re:Note to your ass. (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204616)

Probably. I still think that 22 Guitar Hero titles (not counting DJ Heros) over 5 years is clear exploitation. Rock Band did better but still has 3 main titles, a couple band-centric standalones, and a handful of spin-offs/ports.

All told, that's, what, some 30-32 music games from just two fucking companies over 5 years?

Re:Note to your ass. (5, Insightful)

Ruke (857276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204632)

Rock Band is doing fine, it's Guitar Hero that's doing so poorly. And it's doing so poorly because they followed the Activision strategy of pushing out a new game every six months, which is actually the exact same game that was previously released. Between 2006 and 2010, twenty-two (22) Guitar Hero-branded games were released - about one every three months. Granted, this was across multiple platforms. If we look at console only, there were only eleven unique Guitar-Hero branded games during this time frame. Still way too many. The simple fact is that they flooded the market, and killed off their own brand.

Re:Note to your ass. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204782)

There was no real need for a Rock Band 2 or 3 IMO.

If it were on PC the functionality in the new games could have just been patched in.

Rock Band had it right, 2-3 new songs per week. That's how you keep people's interest in a game.

Re:Note to your ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34205624)

There was.
At the very least for the wii.

Re:Note to your ass. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34205846)

There was no real need for a Rock Band 2 or 3 IMO.

Yes there was. Changing some of the gameplay fundamentals required breaking compatability with previous scoring methods. That would invalidate all of the existing high scores, and gamers wouldn't be too happy if suddenly the company came along and said "sorry, but your high scores are gone".

Let me give you one example of what I'm talking about. RB3 has this nice new way of tracking scores during a song. At the end of the song, not only are they able to score you as a band and record a new band high score, but each player is able to be scored on their individual performance. The are given the score that they would have received had they given that exact same performance in a solo game, and even though they just played as a band, that solo score can actually count as their own personal solo high score for that instrument. This could not have been done in rock band 1 or 2 because of the unison bonus, which earns you more overdrive than you could possibly have earned in a solo game. So in order to make this new scoring system work, they had to remove the unison bonus. That would instantly break every existing high score had it been done in the same game.

Re:Note to your ass. (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206164)

They didn't remove the unison bonus, they expanded it to apply in solo play as well.

Re:Note to your ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34206188)

Too bad that feature is buggy. The gold star cutoff for your solo part while playing with a band is lower than if you play solo. So, if you get a score below the solo GS cutoff but above the band cutoff... it credits your solo score with gold stars, even though you did not earn them.

Re:Note to your ass. (3, Insightful)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206124)

Rock Band 2, maybe. However, there were tweaks to the core engine and scoring that would invalidate the leaderboard scores, and fairly major interface changes that were much welcomed in RB2. RB3 though, I don't see how you can argue that a new game wasn't necessary. The interface is literally completely different in every conceivable way, an entirely new instrument was added (keyboards) and an entirely new mode based around getting as close to a real instrument as possible within the game was created. That stuff could simply not have been done with a simple patch.

Re:Note to your ass. (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206962)

Of course we all know the real reason you have to at least release a new game a year is that nobody wants to buy a four year old game, even if the game is receiving relevant, up to date content. For that reason I wouldn't begrudge one new iteration per year, so long as they make it simple to bring all the previous content along. One of the things I thought sounded nice about the latest GH games is that you could "import" songs from previous versions. Since I've never had experience with either game before GH6, I naively thought that meant I could just buy one of the old games cheap, copy the songs to the HDD and play them in the new GH, but no, apparently a tiny number of songs have so far been converted to work, you need a unique code from the old game to tie it to your account, so buying it used is out, and god only knows how this works when more than one person plays, do we all need our own copy of the old content to get our own unique IDs, is it tied to one console or can we take it with us, etc. Not to mention you have to pay a re-licensing fee - what?? That's right, you already have a license, but now you need a re-license. It's a complete joke, they appear to have made this as complicated as possible to make it incredibly difficult to import music, so they can advertise it as a feature, safe in the knowledge a lot of people won't use it but will instead buy their ridiculously over priced DLC. Apparently Rock Band does this a little more sensibly, although you still have to pay to re-license your existing music.

Re:Note to your ass. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207162)

Everything here could have been patched in.

Scoring? Do exactly what Diablo II does. Every time a new patch comes out, the rules are essentially changed. New balance, new items, new monsters - it's a different game. So the old leaderboard is frozen for all time, viewable to all, and a new one is started.

Occasional restarts of the leaderboards (yearly is good IMO) will keep the competition fresh and keep the bands with 15 billion fans from remaining #1 forever.

Re:Note to your ass. (2, Insightful)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207370)

The leaderboard issue, maybe. The problem is that we don't know how tied to the internal Xbox Live mechanisms this is. Would MS allow them to "freeze" the old leaderboards and keep a copy of them around to be viewed? If the only alternative is wiping them, people would freak.

As for the other stuff, uh, no. No, it cannot just be done in a patch. First of all, it would have to be a free forced upgrade. Adding new engine support for the keyboards, plus the insane amount of R&D that went into developing the pro guitar mode? That is not going to be free. If it's a paid patch, then it's technically a DLC addon, and that means it's optional. Now you have new DLC which supports the new features and doesn't work with the old "non-patched" version of the game, but it's still all the same game in the DLC marketplace? That is just insanely confusing. No, a new disc release is the only sensible way to handle that.

Re:Note to your ass. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208546)

I agree with your point the way you wrote it, but that justifies at most 1 new game. Everything in RB3 should have been in 2 IMO. =/

Re:Note to your ass. (1)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34209192)

Oh yes, as I said in my original post, RB2 you could argue that point. But RB3 is absolutely justified being a new disc release.

Re:Note to your ass. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34206700)

And Rock Band is just better than Guitar Hero.

Re:Note to your ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207754)

I completely agree. I saw some cheap looking knockoff of Guitar Hero only to realize it was another legitimate Guitar Hero game. It was the country version and was at Sams in a bin right next to Jock Jams 48.

Re:Ominous sign my ass (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204642)

Some might say that is the ominous scenario that those in the music game business would be fearing. If this move makes you fear for your job, knowing its because they've run that well dry isn't the comfort, that's the fear.

haha (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204820)

Not Found The requested URL /story/10/11/12/037241/Firefox-4-Regains-Speed-Mojo-With-No-2-Placing was not found on this server.

This is surprising? (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204990)

After all, there are only so many ways you can reinvent Simon.

If you ask me what Simon is, that's just an example of how young you are. Or how old I am!

Re:This is surprising? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207000)

I get this too when I tell people it's just Simon [wikipedia.org] with a different controller, and that I was a dab hand at it back in the early 80's. Wow, was it really so long ago? I should really think about growing a lawn.

Re:This is surprising? (3, Interesting)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208058)

Oh a Simon analogy! That's fresh and original!...

On an extremely superficial level, it is like Simon... and that would be that they are both games that have several large brightly colored plastic buttons on an electronic device, where these buttons also happen to result in a tone. However, where are the rest of the similarities?

However, if you insist on using superficial analogies in order to fool yourself into thinking you are insightful and/or belittling a game type that doesn't happen to be your taste, let me offer a few alternative analogies so you don't have to rely on the surprisingly cliche (for being so inaccurate) comparison of Simon.

* Rock Band is nothing but a reinvented Space Invaders. Instead of the aliens scrolling horizontally and you have to shoot them before they land, they scroll vertically and you have to "shoot" them right as they land! It's basically just a vertical shooter with 5 cannons, right?

* Rock Band is just a reinvented fighting game, without fighting characters! The defining characteristics to fighting games are simply responding having to hit buttons at the right timing, and pulling off combos effectively, right?

* Rock Band is just a reinvented Tetris! All the player is doing is responding to various falling colored blocks, right?

Why just stick to Rock Band style games?

* StarCraft is nothing but a reinvented game of Risk!
* World of WarCraft is nothing but reinventing NetHack!

Being cynical and dismissive on the internet is fun!

Potentially good news (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206180)

This may lead to Tribe getting back together!

Re:Potentially good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34206692)

That would be good news. Harmonix would have to hire Janet though, pay her to relocate,
then lay her off with an embarrasing large severence package...

mtv? (1)

bemenaker (852000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34206316)

What does MTV have to do with music? Hell the M in MTV doesn't even stand for music anymore.

Fine with me. (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207916)

They are just schills for the RIAA anyway. Any destruction of anything related to the RIAA gets my stamp of approval.
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