Smile and Nod: Is it Too Loud, or Am I Too Old?

Smile and Nod: Is it Too Loud, or Am I Too Old?

Who wants to be a drummer? Not Russ Pitts, that's for sure, but maybe he's just too old to appreciate Rock Band.

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genius. i feel the same way about rock band. i mean, i've played it, but i always stick to the guitar. i just can't get into picking up that mic and humiliating myself.

I definitely feel this is a good article. I felt, when I first played Rock Band drums, that I should have had more fun. I think the idea of the whole band experience being fun is a result of advertising causing need. I was perfectly fine playing ANY game with the simple formula that just isn't around these days.

It's understandable that Rock Band would fail to please. Guitar Hero really did nothing new when it came to rhythm games - in fact, it was a big step backwards, from a purely technical and skill based perspective, in that it manipulating the guitar controller is a lot more like using a regular controller (very little body coordination involved, just manual dexterity) compared to games like DDR or Samba de Amigo.

But GH allowed people who felt that dancing, shaking maracas, playing bongos or singing was "gay" to enjoy the same fun that those games offered without tickling their inhibitions. Yet Rock Band didn't anything that would appeal to the crowd that embraced GH, for all the reasons outlined in the article (drummers almost never get the glory; the lead singer role only pays off if you actually get real girls by doing it). At the same time, it didn't offer anything to people (like me) who were never into guitar rock that much.

I think the strategic error in Rock Band was concentrating on the same types of songs (arena/guitar rock) that worked for GH, when they should have been branching out into more bubble-gum, fun pop territory (that would appeal more to women and lamers like myself). The key would have been to choose great pop & bubble gum, not the horrible J-pop non-hits that fill up the rest of the rhythm games, but legititate mega crowd pleasers (think Chuck Barry, Beatles, ELO, Hall & Oates, New Wave 80's stuff, B-52s, The Cars, some pop-metal like Bon Jovi, etc.)

I'm actually the opposite - Guitar Hero was neat in theory, but I've never had any desire whatsoever to play guitar (I grew up playing classical piano). Nor have I been overly attracted to guys who play the guitar. So, I liked it for it's innovative gameplay, but on actually playing, "meh."

Rock Band, however, is fun. It's fun in that after a really frustrating day, it's fun to bang on the drums for a while. Also, I don't mind singing. Rock Band allowed people like me to have fun at all those events that, in prior years, turned into Guitar Hero parties.

I have disliked singing simulator games since, when playing on Singstar or something with a cousin, I realised its easier to score points by just humming rather than singing. The drumming pads simularly dont appeal precisely because they are just pads. The guitar, even if its obviously not real, is shaped so that you can pretend, & if so incined can get carried away rocking out with it. Drum pads? its four pressure sensitive pads that u tap. THere is no massive drumkit to go crazy with (which is the only time it looks kewl), you cant blow up the bass drum Keith Moon style, you cant even hit it that hard. your just sat there, tapping the pads with ur sticks with no easy entry into the illusion of rock grandeur (unless ur looking to get lost in a boring electronica fantasy).

The drums are my favorite part of Rock Band. One, they are difficult for me in a pleasant way; in the, "if I work at this, I can get better" way. Unlike GHIII's Expert which started normal (and beatable), then smacked me around, called me inferior, and stole my lunch money, inexplicably, partway up.

Two, they're something new. I have a DDR game... I have two sets of Kongas. I now own 4 plastic guitars. I have 3 mics. The drums are just variety to me (also, I have a large peripheral fetish, ie, Steel Battalion, etc).

BigBoote66: Your post seems centered around the idea that Rock Band "failed" (in multiple contexts). I think Russ (and yourself) are welcome to express the opinion that it failed to tickle your fancy. But to claim the game is a failure? By what standard are you making that judgment?

Your last paragraph makes me wonder if you have any idea what you're talking about. J-pop in Rock Band? ... I'd like to see some as well Chuck Berry, though I think that misses the core demographic. The Beatles are not available for anyone to license at all, though everyone and their sister would like to. But then we get to the end of your list... The B-52's? The Cars?? Bon Jovi??? What... the... ****?

Cousin_IT: While I appreciate that you may have rocking-out deficiencies when it comes to plastic drums, I assure you the problem is not widespread. Might I recommend some natural supplements?

Max Roach says STFU you whining fool.

I totally agree that the plastic guitar games genre is getting old.

I still play guitar hero II with my friends on occasion, they have all the fun I used to have and they ooh and aah when I choose expert while they choose medium. But its been a long time since I played the game on my own and I just can't see myself getting excited enough to spend a couple hundred dollars on rock band and GH: world tour.

Its time for the next gimmick to rock my world, so to speak.

Being one of them guitar playin fellas (I just had a jam with some friends a couple hours ago, and my names purple haze after the Jimi Hendrix song) I'm gonna say that I agree and disagree. Although it doesn't feel the same as really playing guitar, or really playing drums, I find it better not to even think of it like that. I just think of it as a game and I think it's one of the best and most fun games I've played in a long time.

I see it the way purple_haze does. In the end, it's just a game, and in a way a simple one at that. It's just that the reward of having the game make a sound whenever you hit the buttons right, up to playing a song without flaws, is just beyond satisfying.

GH and RB are not games that make you play instruments, but rather (at least for me) make you appreciate music and gives the satisfying illusion of being flawless in a way thats different from having high scores or making it to the end of an action game.

As it was stated in the article, it redefines gaming in a certain way.

On another note, i think everyone who is tired of the RB and GH Games just happened to play it too much. As long as you don't aspire to have your 15 minutes of fame on Youtube, these games aren't meant to be played excessively.
If you don't keep a balance between playing music-games and playing "real" games, and if you are "rocking out" too much, the games are bound to become dull and senseless.

Frybird is quite correct, these games aren't about playing instruments per se... it's not a guitar, it's a guitar shaped controller, same as the drum controller isn't a Pearl 5-piece, your not fulfilling the necessary components required in a band, your extracting joy from a simulacrum. It's ONLY a game that some have attached too much importance to due to the compelling immersion it generates...in some.

(*Beware* Fanboy rant/moan imminent...As for the article, I have to point out that TOOL redefine the drummer to skill ratio within a traditional group dynamic)

Wow, the article trots out the same tired drummer jokes, and then totally misses the point of RB. Nobody except some loser thinks that playing plastic instruments in your living room is real, but put a RB "band" together and you have many of the same emotions as being in a band. Sometimes even the same exact conversations: "you aren't pulling your weight", "steve refuses to play any metal songs", "I need to hit the practice room, I don't know that song yet", "let me play bass for this song", "lets play something easier", "what do you want to play?", "we KILLED thats song", etc. The best part of GH2 for me was co-op, so RB just made it even better. When my kid's friends are over, they fight over the drums, and it's not usually hard to get one of them to sing. None of them would be caught dead playing DDR, though.

Oh, and the guitar player was just joking, the drummer is still cooler than you for at least one reason: he plays in a band, you are just a guy carrying the amps.

I don't know; of all the guitarists I know, the majority of them spend their time stumbling over the same tired-ass riffs. Yes, we get you can kinda almost play the opening to that one song by Dragonforce. Awesome for you.
On the other hand, the majority of the drummers I know have a pretty good grasp on musical theory and a better understanding of the art.
And of course on another note, playing the drums is just fucking fun. You stick a five year old in front of a drum set and a guitar, and which do you think he's going to want to play? Same goes for most adults :P

You stick a five year old in front of a drum set and a guitar, and which do you think he's going to want to play?

I think that's more a measure of the level of skill involved than anything else, my friend. Five year olds can't fret.

It's understandable that someone who is skilled enough to use a real instrument and talented enough to make music in an actual band could grow tired of the "rock and roll simulation" genre, but I whole heartedly disagree with the comment that the theory concerning giving the opportunity to create music to those who can't is bullshit. I think Harmonix has nailed the formula, but there still is a large gap to be filled by the player's own imagination.

I would reference the photo in the article that shows the small trio playing Rock Band. (I also understand that the photo may have been staged for illustration purposes, but bear with me) One is sitting down on the couch, there is a baby sitting nearby, which is totally fine, but this more than likely means that the singer and general conversation has to be kept at a reasonable volume, and the drummer is far removed from the group. In the scenario, the players have taken all the game has to offer, but has given nothing back.

Call me obsessed, but I bought a mic stand. I felt that the singer at our house wasn't ever really feeling like he was part of it, so the stand helps him feel more connected to the group. I bought the drum silencers (greatest things ever, by the way) to help the drummer feel less like he was hitting buckets. And my friends and family fill in the gaps. We move to the beat, we sing along when we know the words, sometimes the guitarists will go back to back while rocking, we treat the people waiting for their turn like audience members, we jump simultaneously to a heavy down beat... in short we rock. We may rock like the biggest dorks on the planet, only emulating what we think should happen in a rock band, but by using our imaginations, getting over our pride, and enjoying the feeling of the music, I would like to think that we fulfill Harmonix's mission statement.

(That all being said, I am running out of places to store all my plastic instruments when non-videogame based parties happen.)

Russ Pitts:
Five year olds can't fret.

Unless they have one of these:
image

What I got from this article, is that these games are getting old and we need to move on. And that after Guitar Hero, nothing new has been brought to the table. Aside from giving us Drums, that's true. It's also given us the feeling of what it's actually like to be in a band. I've never been in one, but I think arguing about what song to play and getting frustrated by picking a song that's too hard for one of your bandmates by accident pretty well reflects that.

Amateria:
(That all being said, I am running out of places to store all my plastic instruments when non-videogame based parties happen.)

That's exactly why I'm not buying Rock Band Guitar Hero: World Tour.

Ya know, there's at least one B-52s song already available as DLC for Rock Band: Roam. (Which is unpleasant for a guy to try to meet the pitch of, singing, but I digress.)
They're also branching out in other areas on the DLC front, there's freaking DEVO coming soon.
Interestingly, Rock Band was what finally pushed me over the line to get a real guitar.

Geoffrey42:

Russ Pitts:
Five year olds can't fret.

Unless they have one of these:
image

Woah man, just imagine the riffs!

My problem with Guitar Hero games is that:

A. I never wanted to be a Rockstar
B. I suck at rythm games
C. About two good songs per game

I R teh alternative!

----(think Chuck Barry, Beatles, ELO, Hall & Oates, New Wave 80's stuff, B-52s, The Cars, some pop-metal like Bon Jovi, etc.)

The Beatles are insane and expensive, but they're in talks. As for New Wave, the Police have five songs for DLC, and we're getting a Devo pack. The B-52s have a song and a promise of more to come, the Cars have AN ENTIRE DAMN ALBUM in Rock Band, which ties them for the band with the second-most songs in the game right now, and Bon Jovi have a song on the disc.

One of the biggest advantages of Rock Band is the DLC. The base setlist is nice, but on PS3 and 360 you can sign on and customize it. Love the Pixies? Buy Doolittle and rock out to Tame, Silver, and Monkey Gone to Heaven. Hate the Pixies? Skip the week and buy the rest of those Judas Priest songs you missed, or that Monkeys song from a while back, or the first Grateful Dead six pack, or the Jimmy Buffett pack. They're low on grunge and funk, but every single song that has those four instruments has a realistic chance of being DLC (as long as Aerosmith didn't write it and the masters are usable).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_in_rock_band#Downloadable_songs

Guitar Hero is fun, but when you're playing with three friends, scrolling through a hundred songs to construct a 3-song make a setlist and realizing that you really, really like eighty of the songs instead of just sort of having them, that's pretty awesome.

Russ Pitts:

You stick a five year old in front of a drum set and a guitar, and which do you think he's going to want to play?

I think that's more a measure of the level of skill involved than anything else, my friend. Five year olds can't fret.

Eh? When did hitting things with sticks stop being fun? I don't understand.

Likewise, wailing into a microphone trying to find the right pitch to satisfy the computer is hilarious. Getting someone to take the mic is just a matter of either finding someone that can sing, finding somebody who isn't all uptight and boring, or waiting until everybody's drunk enough to not care about sounding bad.

My brother brought visited a while ago, and he brought Rock Band with him, with a full set of peripherals - give or take an appropriated Guitar Hero controller. People were lining up to get on the drums. We had a great time. And that was ages before we broke out the beer.

While the article was good, and everything, I can't quite see where all the problems came from. The drums are a decent mimicry of an electric drumkit, the singing on easy mode is lenient enough to assauge fears of ruining the song, and pretending to rock out on the guitar solos using the five new frets is great. It's such a ridiculous parody of a real rock band, that if people are worried about making fools of themselves because of such a thing, well... Your friends sound kinda boring.

Am I the only one here, who actually does play a real instrument?
I play the guitar in one band, drums in another and some bass and piano for myself and I guess since I'm playing for 12 years now, I can call myself somewhat advanced. But still I have to say, that I enjoy playing both the games. I know what it's like to be on stage in front of 800 people and everyone's going wild. Those games both simulate that very well to some level. It's of course not nearly as intense, but it's still somewhat the same feeling. That goes for the drums and for the guitar. So, even though I play all those instruments and now what the real deal is like, I still enjoy playing GH or RB. For me it's a reminder of all those great gigs I've been lucky enough to be a part of. I think it can actually be more fun if you do play an instrument for real because of that. We just can't have a gig three times a day (though I'd welcome the challenge).

And being a drummer kicks ass by the way. It's the most fun instrument to play. Especially live. With a guitar you always have to think about what you're doing and stay somewhat concentrated, but with the drums it's different. As soon as you've mastered a new ryhtm, you can play it as easy as walking down the street. There's no real need to concentrate, you can just bash those toms and snares and cymbals and rock out. It's definitely the most fun of all instruments. But all drummers should try and play some guitar as well, so they can contribute to the band in more than just rythm. I write about a quarter of the band's songs in which I play the drums, so I don't have to hear any drummer jokes.

And that's why I'm much cooler than all of you, harharhar!

No-one likes us drummers ;_;
On the other hand, you'd be damned to find a better drinking partner than a drummer, which, after all, is why anyone forms a band in the first place.

Juan Regular:
Am I the only one here, who actually does play a real instrument?

No.

But I do agree that drums are awesome. :)

MotherFuck what you said about drummers. But other than that, yeah, I kindof agree

Juan Regular:
And being a drummer kicks ass by the way. It's the most fun instrument to play. (...) As soon as you've mastered a new ryhtm, you can play it as easy as walking down the street. There's no real need to concentrate, you can just bash those toms and snares and cymbals and rock out. It's definitely the most fun of all instruments.

QFT. Russ, as a drummer and an Oxford student I feel somewhat insulted by your article. We aren't all alcoholic no-hopers with zero prospects in life other than sitting morosely at the back of a stage watching while the rest of the band gets laid. I'm not proficient enough at other instruments (I've played piano and guitar in the past, didn't give up willingly on the latter) to write full songs like Juan Regular here, or at least, not so much that I can do it on the fly. I'm sure I could given time. I do, however, come up with all of the drum parts for the band, and am regularly complimented on them by the others.

And I'd love to have a thrash at Rock Band. Sure, electric drum kits don't give you the same feel that you get from a real one. Sure, I don't have my 3 cymbals + hi-hat, my beloved Pearl double bass pedal (which I still suck at...) or the four cowbells I bolt onto random places on the kit to increase my arsenal of textures. But I'd still rather play those four little discs than a guitar. Or sing, for that matter. And I bet it'd be a blast.

 

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