loopychew: (Default)
So, uh, hi.

Days at work right now are desktop deployment, which means a lot of small gaps of idle time--enough time to jot down a few things that are on my mind, most notably the death of Guitar Hero, as well as the sale of Harmonix. All of it can be found here for your perusal. Again, I figure most of you don't care much, but just in case you're curious as to what's been up with my hobby of choice, there you have it.

Also, I mainlined all of Community to date a couple of months back, and have been following it steadily since. This past week's episode focused on a character with suicidal thoughts, and without turning it into a Very Special Episode (or even mentioning the word "suicide"), managed to write a fantastic episode that explores the situation in-depth. I'd not heard of Scallywag and Vagabond up to now, but after this essay, I'll probably be checking up on them on a regular basis to add to my critical analysis of pop culture TV.

Still reading everyone's posts! Even commenting on them, occasionally. Life just isn't that exciting, even if it's a bit busy right now.
loopychew: (Default)
If you haven't been following gaming news over the last couple of days, you may have missed the announcement of Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney.

I can think of only one way to make it even better.

loopychew: (Default)
By the way, if anyone was actually interested in my music gaming blogging, I moved it over to Destructoid. It gets updated once in a while, and of course, it's mostly RB-related (there've been a couple of Power Gig entries as well). It also has a fifty-song wishlist for RB3 (of which a whole two are in the final game! Woo!) and random blathering.
loopychew: (Default)
Title: Barneybalt
Character: Barney
Fandom: How I Met Your Mother, Canabalt
Rating: PG/PG-13 (the sexuality you'd expect from Barney)
Word Count: 400
Spoilers: Absolutely none.
Summary: After a fantastic night, Barney has a long way to run.
Notes: I...

...

...

...make no excuses.

If the warning sirens didn't tip him off that something was horribly, horribly wrong, the giant alien robots attacking the city did. )
loopychew: (Default)
I've seen a lot of people on Joystiq talking about the Xbox gaining limited USB device storage in the Spring update saying, "now I can get my Rock Band DLC off my system and use it for other stuff!"

And here I am, thinking, "thank God I can move crap off my HD to make room for more RB DLC!"
loopychew: (Default)
As mentioned in that last post, I still do not intend to purchase any Activision/Blizzard products.

But Cut Chemist on top of Daft Punk, Grandmaster Flash, and Jazzy Jeff? You certainly know how to tempt a guy.
loopychew: (Default)
Bobby Kotick: "We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games."

If that sounds like it would create a corporate culture that isn't all sunshine and hugs, then it's "mission accomplished" for Kotick. The executive said that he has tried to instill into the company culture "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" of the global economic downturn, adding, "We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression."
loopychew: (Default)


...on second thought, Guitar Hero 5 has so much potential for wrong that I may have to at least LOOK.
loopychew: (Default)
So the meter that gauges the esteem I hold for the Guitar Hero franchise has had its needle bouncing back and forth repeatedly over the past couple of months with every tidbit of Guitar Hero 5 news I receive. It went up when I found out GH:WT and GH:SH songs would become exportable. It dropped when I came across the word "some" when describing how many tracks would export. (Note that Rock Band, when they announced track export, said "most.") It went up again when I found out GH5 could play WT DLC. It dropped a little when they said it would play all but 6 DLC (presumably the Hendrix tracks). Now, hot on the heels of the announcement that GH5 DLC won't work in GHWT, it's hit rock bottom again.

I suppose it's purely an academic exercise since I think at this point I'm too financially invested in the Rock Band franchise to ever deviate, but goddammit, I WANT COMPETITION! COMPETITION IS GOOD! And as of yet, the only reason the GH franchise has been able to compete is because they've aped most of the gameplay elements from Rock Band, from the Guitar/Bass/Drums/Vox setup in the beginning (which is fine by me, because they aso included drum compatibility of sorts) to their about-face regarding the life meter layouts and live star tracking (both changed after WT), inability to rescue band members, and collective vs. individual Star Power pools (both changed for GH5).

"Advancements and innovations made to the franchise?" PULL THE OTHER ONE. What kind of "advancements and innovations" could possibly be so integral to the game that patching GHWT to ignore that extra data is impossible? The only way I couldn't see a patch working is if they've completely overhauled the core structure of the DLC (and by core, I mean, "we've gone and changed the corresponding MIDI notes for the charts and choreography"--in which case, WHAT KIND OF FUCKED UP STUDIO ARE YOU RUNNING?)

I really, honestly don't get it. Activision isn't nearly as big as Microsoft, so did they really think they could get away with what Microsoft tried with Vista and DirectX 10? Did they not realize that the public opinion of that was that Microsoft had so little faith in their final product they decided to take something that didn't have to be exclusive to the new platform and MAKE it so? That on top of the fact that they're shouting "FREE VAN HALEN WITH PRE-ORDER OF GUITAR HERO 5!" is making them look more desperate with every passing second. I don't know if they're more worried about GH5, GHVH, or both.

Not to mention, this is PAID CONTENT. Has Activision not paid attention to the fact that the DLC (including the shelf presence of the Track Packs) is the Rock Band platform's bread-and-butter? That people playing RB1 this very moment can go ahead and play the same Dropkick Murphys song I got last week is one of the greater strengths. HMX/EA have shown that they believe that 1) the DLC they offer is strong enough to keep the franchise running; they don't NEED to worry about releasing a new core title every year and 2) they figure that eventually the new features of later RB core titles alone offer enough incentive to be worth the purchase (and I don't mean HOPO chords and drum solos, I mean things like category sorting, quick-scrolling, solo World Tour, Tour Challenges, Battle of the Bands, and the like).

Harmonix plays it like they own the place, like a boss, despite the fact that they are, in terms of popularity, the underdog. (They're not nearly the underdog as they were when RB2 came out, despite the RB marketing blitz on VH1/MTV/etc., especially now with the Beatles getting their own game.) (Still disappointed that they slapped the Rock Band name on it despite it not being a Rock Band game, franchise OR core title, but I get why they did it, and it hasn't stopped me from anticipating getting a copy and a Gretsch.) The defining moment for the Guitar Hero franchise was when Bobby Kotick used the word "exploit" when describing what he was looking for in a franchise. Exploit they have, and exploit they continue to do, and at the expense of integrity. Activision feels like the cowardly king trying to justify his crown when another heir apparent is gaining popularity amongst the masses.

I don't want that.

I want Activision to say "THIS IS GUITAR HERO. WE KICK JUST AS MUCH ASS AS THE OTHER GUY, AND WE WILL TREAT YOU WITH THE SAME KIND OF RESPECT THE OTHER GUY DOES." I want them to reinforce their product through quality, not quantity. I want them to give the consumer the same kind of options that Harmonix and EA do. (Know why I refer to "Activision" and not "Neversoft" the way i refer to "Harmonix?" Because anyone who knows their Guitar Hero knows that Beenox was the company working on Smash Hits, and as such is probably the Treyarch to Neversoft's IW.) Every new feature I've seen in GH5 seems to be more gimmicky than fun, and I've already said my piece on digital avatar rock stars (not even digital Shirley Manson can tempt me).

And I sincerely hope that day will come, and soon. That will be the day Guitar Hero becomes, on strengths beyond its franchise name, a viable contender to Rock Band. And if they don't do it soon, there will be more people like me, who have seen RB as the superior product, and will end up pumping so much money into it that they won't WANT to switch franchises because of that.
loopychew: (Default)
So here I am, three o'clock in the morning, giddy as a sailor on shore leave.

Scratch that, I have not been this euphorically incomprehensible since a specific night back in September 2006. This is no exaggeration--I was actually hyperventilating (quietly) for roughly an hour after I heard about it (which, unfortunately, was about half an hour before work was up). I then spent the next couple of hours calling up people and talking about it enthusiastically.

Anyone who knows me or has seen the tags below and are interested know what I'm talking about--the Rock Band Network.

A brief summary:

  1. Artists record their songs and submit the master tracks (separated as per the norm--guitar, bass, drums, vox, other sounds) to trained third-party developers.

  2. These developers (Harmonix already has a group of developers trained, but apparently the program is open to anyone who can be trained) will then use Harmonix's in-house tools to script and track each song, instrument by instrument. These tracks then get submitted for peer review (for technical errors, not artistic merit) before officially being published.

  3. ???

  4. Revenue! 30% of the track sales go back to the artist.

This is, pun unavoidable, a game changer. This is very much a reach-for-the-stars moment for the Rock Band platform, a giant middle finger to GHTunes and Activision's "we have 2000 people charting notes for Guitar Hero", and surely some form of madness. The more people Harmonix trains, the faster content can get out there, and the emptier our wallets will become. I can see labels having their own in-house tracking staff, and potentially studios (small groups-of-five operations, likely) arising specifically to handle these kinds of jobs.

This is the kind of scene that has me interested. AMVs? MIDI sequencing? It all ends up here.

I've signed up to be part of the creators' beta, which I am led to understand means the track authoring. This is the opportunity I've been looking for--to see if this is something I want, to see if this is something I can handle. I don't know if I'll get in, but Lord knows this is the kind of thing I've dreamed about, as a musician, a Rock Band enthusiast, and a music transcriber. This will keep me walking on sunshine for the next few weeks.

Just be prepared to be sick every time I open my mouth, because I have the feeling I won't shut up about this any time soon, particularly when I get my hands on Reaper and Magma, the programs used to design the tracks. And don't say I didn't warn you.
loopychew: (Default)
You know--is the pattern +1, or x2? Either way, it's kind of crazy.

The GH franchise is basically like that friend you've had since forever that kind of had an "episode" a while back and hasn't been the same since. (In this case, obviously, acquisition by NVS.) GH3 was fun enough, and I had a good amount of fun with it. I enjoyed the spots of GH: Aerosmith I played, although I could never be bothered to pay full price for it (maybe when someone sells it for $20). Anyone who hasn't read my impressions of GH:World Tour should be prepared for screens of text. I haven't played it since, and I don't feel any remorse for not doing so, despite "No Rain" on my hard drive begging to be played over and over again.

The point I'm trying to make here is, ever since Neversoft took over, the GH console iterations have actually gone progressively downhill in my eyes. I've been bitten pretty hard, particularly by World Tour, and I was about to leave them.

Then I saw this trailer.

Honestly, I'm not a huge Metallica fan, and I wonder if this is the coked-out buddy on his knees at my doorstep at 4AM begging me to let him in, he can change, here look at this thing he did that proves it just give him one more chance pleeeeeeease! But the thing is, with a simple gesture--the life bars on the side of the note charts--GH is making me look at it again.

I'm not going into the track list, because 1) the track list organization is still the same as before (not so bad in a track list of under 60) and 2) I'm not a metal guy. However, the game looks that much more playable now. There are still a few interface questions I have (is that a band multiplier now?), and it's now significantly more obvious that they're ripping cues off of Rock Band (what with the five-star counter and progress meter and--again--is that a band multiplier?), but if that's what it takes to make the Guitar Hero franchise competitive again, I'm all for it. And if they manage to properly pack enough bonus material on there to justify a separate game as they're promising, it could be totally worth it.

I really, REALLY want to believe. I love HMX and Rock Band, and I'm a firm believer that Guitar Hero is a shadow of its former self as it is right now. But if they've managed to adjust the attitude and start being friendlier to the player, then I'm willing to forgive it.
loopychew: (Default)
Still slogging my way through it for the moment. Started a tour for vox, guitar, and bass, am still in the process of unlocking tracks, but I think for the most part, I think I can set the tone for any future related GHWT posts I may have. To be short: Not too positive.

The bullet point list. )

Rock Band and GHWT are taking two completely different philosophies to the same subject matter, and clearly my interests align more with the Rock Band school of thinking. Neversoft's "YOU ARE THE ROCK STAR," sophomoric, frat-boy approach loses out significantly to Rock Band's "You're part of a bigger picture" feel in my eyes. Still, in this day and age where DLC is becoming more relevant (a lot of overlap is happening thanks to DLC, including songs like "Love Spreads" and "Dammit") to song selection, I feel that not even finding my "Cliffs of Dover" for GHWT will be enough for me to support the franchise. GHWT's setlist is happening, yes, but I firmly believe that the focus for both developers, in terms of actual releases, should focus more on features and design rather than a song list.

GHWT's interface is clumsy, and for a game that's trying so hard to be accessible to casual players (the concept of an easier-than-easy difficulty, which I think is really cool but I haven't tried out yet), is pretty confusing for a seasoned plastic instrument player to get around. The GH franchise is clearly focusing on the song list (advertising that they have one more on-disc song than RB2, when two of the songs are actually guitar duels). Rock Band's setlist, while not as full of karaoke hits, is strong (and supported by a DLC collection which I'm sure GHWT will eventually match in pace), and matches it with an ambiance that feels, and people know that I don't use this word frequently (unlike the rest of the internet), epic.

Maybe I'll change my mind when I get a four-piece band set going, but I'm more pessimistic about exploring this game further than I was when watching previews of it. I'm straining to keep from doing a complete point-by-point comparison to every single part where RB2 is clearly better (partly because it's totally subjective, partly because I don't like indulging the fanboy side of me, or even acknowledging that it's there) but I'm failing pretty miserably, and it's taking a lot of effort to not just pop RB2 back in and continue tapping away at that instead. I'm going to continue pecking away at GHWT until I've unlocked all the songs, and then we'll see whether or not I've managed to have proper fun by then.

Your mileage may vary; a lot of the people at Dancing Gamers seem to worship the ground GHWT walks on, possibly having been burned by the six-month release delay between RB US and RB EU. Personally, I just don't see it.
loopychew: (Default)
Anyone who harps on about GH3 completely downright sucking, I pity. As stupidly overcharted as a lot of it is, and as much as I want to murder whoever thought "Raining Blood" was a good choice for a song (and overcharting), and as much as I hate the new graphics, and the new timing windows, and the lack of Clive Winston and Eddie Knox, and the hippification of Xavier Stone, and the trampification of Judy Nails, and most of the game, it wins for the charting of, and for introducing me to, "Cliffs of Dover."

That song, out of everything I've played in the Guitar Hero franchise, still stands as the greatest joy to play. Even though GH2 tends to stay in the 360 as the Most Played Game in my collection, "Cliffs" will hold a special place in my heart.

Also fun despite (or maybe even because!) of overcharting, "Mauvais Garçon."

GH4 (aka Potentially Band Hero) and GH:A? Could be fun, and I'm interested in seeing what those installments bring before I judge. I already know RB will be my drug of choice come end of May, and will probably be for some time.

But for those of you hating on the Tony Hawk's Grooving Sound franchise, hold off until it is out, because chances are there'll be at least one thing you'll love about the upcoming installment.
loopychew: (Default)
http://kotaku.com/377152/rock-band-gets-official-european-release-date

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEEEE!

Oh, DUH.

Apr. 8th, 2008 12:52 am
loopychew: (Default)
It just occurred to me:

The Aperture Science Computer Aided Enrichment Center.

The Aperture Science CAEC.

The CAEC is a lie.
loopychew: (Default)
Happiness is Guitar Hero II, two Les Paul controllers, and a P2.
loopychew: (Default)
A No Doubt track pack for GH3?

I've been able to resist purchasing GH DLC up to now, but this...this may be serve as the tipping point.

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