Review: Music Game Roundup

OriginalityImpaired

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I don't mean to sound like a fanboy, but Harmonix has always dominated music gaming,
Not only producing the highest quality content but continually innovating and redefining what this genre can do,
After all not only did they create Rock Band but were also responsible for Guitar Hero's existence in the first place and my personal favourite of the series (GH2)

Guitar Hero has always been worth playing, (ok, most of the time anyways) but all they've been doing is struggling to keep up with HMX over the years,
And the non-hero music games are barely worth mentioning

So really it's rather unsuprising that RB3 would "win" this, although i'm sure Gh6 is great, (depending on what you're looking for) I haven't gotten the opportunity to try it yet, i'll get to it after i'm done staring at the hole RB3's burned in my pocket xD
 

-Torchedini-

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Well Im gonna buy RB3. But with the guitar from squier. That would be an actual Guitar :p So with tactile feedback.

tautologico said:
I liked this review format. I was curious about the Power Gig "real guitar" and Rockband Pro mode. I think Rockband 3 is in my wish list now, for sometime in the future (considering that I don't even own a xbox360 or ps3). It would be cool if you could just plug a real guitar and play pro mode :)
Sadly I don' t think its gonna happen with RB3 or GH. Some small projects on PC do it but not a very good job at it, At least thats my experience. They're missing out on fun like RB and GH are fun.
But thats my opinion anyway
 

Ayjona

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Steve Butts said:
I never judged anyone else's attraction to guitar games, but I'm one of those snobby types who would much rather be playing a real instrument than monkeying around with the heavily abstracted simulation of guitar-playing that is the genre's current state of the art.
You and me both, brother-in-rock ;) It is such a dang shame that Guitar Rising never became more than a concept with some suspiciously well-polished mock-up graphics. A niche game, certainly, but one I would have enjoyed note for note.

Now, for something completely different: Something I have been hoping to see in Guitar Hero/Rockband since the inception of the series, is a full-blown rock band management simulation to complement the actual song playing. Something in the veins of Kudos Rock Legend and the online browser game Popmundo (a rather entertaining and unique browser MMO experience). You know, work your way up from a garage band, plan gigs, spend money on equipment and marketing, compose and record songs, give interviews, cause hype, prioritize (wrongly), cause scandals, all executed with sim mechanisms and mini-games, with the actual song challenges still being the most important factor.

I quickly grow tired of games of the type mentioned in the original article. A full band simulation would probably catch my interest.
 

tautologico

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-Torchedini- said:
tautologico said:
I liked this review format. I was curious about the Power Gig "real guitar" and Rockband Pro mode. I think Rockband 3 is in my wish list now, for sometime in the future (considering that I don't even own a xbox360 or ps3). It would be cool if you could just plug a real guitar and play pro mode :)
Sadly I don' t think its gonna happen with RB3 or GH. Some small projects on PC do it but not a very good job at it, At least thats my experience. They're missing out on fun like RB and GH are fun.
But thats my opinion anyway
Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.
 

Ayjona

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tautologico said:
Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.
Actually, it is not hard at all. The now sadly defunct project I mentioned in my post above, Guitar Rising, had fully working and very precise code for using a real guitar as the controller.

In fact, any software-based tuner does this very thing, and they are nineteen to a dozen on all platforms, and damn easy to code. Analyzing wavelengths in real-time is done all the time by a myriad of music programs. Using such an analysis to produce effects in a game is a rather simple thing to produce, even with the great precision and response time needed to make a guitar work as a controller.

The reason real guitars aren't used as controllers is not for lack of technical possibilities. It would simply make for a very niched game, and therefore only sell to a limited consumer base.
 

elvor0

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Ayjona said:
tautologico said:
Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.
Actually, it is not hard at all. The now sadly defunct project I mentioned in my post above, Guitar Rising, had fully working and very precise code for using a real guitar as the controller.

In fact, any software-based tuner does this very thing, and they are nineteen to a dozen on all platforms, and damn easy to code. Analyzing wavelengths in real-time is done all the time by a myriad of music programs. Using such an analysis to produce effects in a game is a rather simple thing to produce, even with the great precision and response time needed to make a guitar work as a controller.

The reason real guitars aren't used as controllers is not for lack of technical possibilities. It would simply make for a very niched game, and therefore only sell to a limited consumer base.
Very true there, I've played games on the pc that use Guitar pro tabs, they sound shit really but their concept works flawlessly, however to go with your last point, I'm sure Harmonix could patch that functionality into Rockband 3 some how, the only problem being is because it's based on sound rather than touch, they'd need to set up some way of doing dropped tunings, and how out of tune your guitar could be to register properly without it being out of fret, etc etc.
 

Steve Butts

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SageRuffin said:
Am I the only one who thinks the end result of this review is a little unfair? The writer outright stated that he loved Rock Band before 3, so I think it's a bit of a given (though not guaranteed, of course) that he would prefer the latest Rock Band title over the other entries.
Nope. I said, "While I was always a mild fan of the series, the addition of Pro Mode has turned me into a full blown fanatic."
 

Madmanonfire

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SageRuffin said:
Am I the only one who thinks the end result of this review is a little unfair? The writer outright stated that he loved Rock Band before 3, so I think it's a bit of a given (though not guaranteed, of course) that he would prefer the latest Rock Band title over the other entries.

But all in all, it's of no consequence to me. I'll just continue to wait patiently for DJ Hero 2 to get restocked up the street so I can "tear it up on the 1s and 2s".
Correct. It's even more apparent because he completely ignored the glaring flaws in RB3, focusing on "interactive training simulator" mode and storylines (which shouldn't even matter in music games.)

This set of reviews barely touches on any of the games and shows a decent amount of bias. They can't be trusted 100%. Also, it's too early to make judgements now.
People, if you want to know what "clearly won" for this holiday season, find some detailed reviews by core music gamers. Better later than sooner.
 

Ayjona

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Madmanonfire said:
Correct? The author wrote that "While I was always a mild fan of the series, the addition of Pro Mode has turned me into a full blown fanatic". How can a comment that is based on the misconception that he loved Rock Band before the third entry be correct?

Madmanonfire said:
This set of reviews barely touches on any of the games and shows a decent amount of bias. They can't be trusted 100%. Also, it's too early to make judgements now.
Something I, as a journalist, wish was widespread knowledge, is that among the vast majority of news media, a decent amount of bias is not only a good thing, but the basis for a review of an entertainment product. A reviewer often strives for a certain amount of neutral analysis, but in the end, she or he also passes his judgement in accordance with her or his personal taste.

The OP underlines his reasons for preferring Rock Band 3 over the others, and lists those reasons, so that others might examine them, and see if they are of value to them. That is exactly what a good review should do, according to the vast majority of news outlets.
 

Jacob.pederson

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Dorkmaster Flek said:
Rock Band 3 all the way for me. I've been a RB fanatic ever since Harmonix gave up the Guitar Hero brand name. They've simply been doing it better since day one. RB3 is absolutely fantastic, and pro mode is the best thing to happen to the music game genre since the original Guitar Hero as far as I'm concerned. Everything I've been hearing echoes your sentiments on the Mustang pro guitar controller; namely, it's alright, but if you're serious about pro guitar you should wait for the Squier. I am impatiently waiting. :)
Waiting impatiently here too, biding the time trying to defeat Beast in the Harlot, Caught in a Mosh, and Llama in pro drums mode. Oh yea, and there's the whole learning to play piano thing. I'm sure it'll keep me busy until the Squier is ready ;)

Also, reviewers bug me when they talk about Guitar Hero like it's this continuous series. It's totally not. After Harmonix left the series, it became but a sad imitator of itself, a mere echo of the genius that once was.

Meanwhile Harmonix continues to blow me out of the water with every new announcement, from Rock Band Network, to Pro instrument modes. Long live the Kings and Queens of ROCK!
 

ace_of_something

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Steve Butts said:
It's a true battle of the bands as the season?s biggest music titles go head to head against each other.
You should mention that you obviously played RB3 on the 360 because the ps3 version is riddled with problems, getting the old games to export is also damn near impossible (it's been a week and I still can't get my codes to work for rb2) and Harmonix/EA/whoever haven't really addressed the issue. Just go to rockband.com support you'll see thread after thread of 'not working ps3' or 'ps3 problems'
It's bullshit
 

tautologico

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Ayjona said:
tautologico said:
Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.
Actually, it is not hard at all. The now sadly defunct project I mentioned in my post above, Guitar Rising, had fully working and very precise code for using a real guitar as the controller.

In fact, any software-based tuner does this very thing, and they are nineteen to a dozen on all platforms, and damn easy to code. Analyzing wavelengths in real-time is done all the time by a myriad of music programs. Using such an analysis to produce effects in a game is a rather simple thing to produce, even with the great precision and response time needed to make a guitar work as a controller.

The reason real guitars aren't used as controllers is not for lack of technical possibilities. It would simply make for a very niched game, and therefore only sell to a limited consumer base.
I didn't say it is impossible, only that it's hard. It's certainly not as simple as a tuner. You mentioned Guitar Rising, a vaporware that had only a concept video on the site, so it does not count as proof.

I know one or two things about signal processing, and I mentioned the possibility of processing the signal in my post. But one thing is processing audio signals as input, to output audio signals (with added effects or whatever), while another thing is processing the analog input signal to output a simple, digitized, midi-like output. Possible, yes, but not easy. For example, see what some guys that do this for a living have to say here [http://www.akoff.com/about.html]:
What is Music Recognition?

In a few words music recognition is mathematical analysis of an audio signal (usually in WAV format) and its conversion into musical notation (usually in MIDI format). This is a very hard artificial intelligence problem. For comparison, the problem of recognition of scanned text (OCR - Optical Character Recognition) is solved with 95% accuracy - it is an average exactitude of recognition of the programs of the given class. The programs of speech recognition already work with 70-80% accuracy, whereas the systems of music recognition work with 60-70% accuracy but only for a single voice melody (one note at a time). For polyphonic music the accuracy is even lower.
Well, 60-70% accuracy for a single voice (the guitar, in this case) is not good enough for a video game, I think. Also, if it was so easy, Harmonix could just support this in RB3 (that already has a Pro mode) and there would be no need to create a special guitar/controller hybrid. Yes, it is a niche, but for Harmonix, they already have the game, it would actually open up a new market.
 

Madmanonfire

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Ayjona said:
Madmanonfire said:
Correct? The author wrote that "While I was always a mild fan of the series, the addition of Pro Mode has turned me into a full blown fanatic". How can a comment that is based on the misconception that he loved Rock Band before the third entry be correct?

Madmanonfire said:
This set of reviews barely touches on any of the games and shows a decent amount of bias. They can't be trusted 100%. Also, it's too early to make judgements now.
Something I, as a journalist, wish was widespread knowledge, is that among the vast majority of news media, a decent amount of bias is not only a good thing, but the basis for a review of an entertainment product. A reviewer often strives for a certain amount of neutral analysis, but in the end, she or he also passes his judgement in accordance with her or his personal taste.

The OP underlines his reasons for preferring Rock Band 3 over the others, and lists those reasons, so that others might examine them, and see if they are of value to them. That is exactly what a good review should do, according to the vast majority of news outlets.
Well, I guess it wasn't exactly correct. I admit I should've used a better term. But the rest still stands.

And I'm afraid I wasn't clear enough on the bias comment. You're right about it being needed for reviews, but there is good bias and bad bias. The article in question is an example of bad bias because he didn't give each game a fair chance. This resulted in RB3 sounding like it had no problems worth worrying about (inside the game, not the concern over buying another peripheral), while the others did.

Edit: See ace_of_something's post for proof of exactly what I'm getting at. What he proposed could be partly why the RB3 section is overly positive.
 

Ayjona

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tautologico said:
I didn't say it is impossible, only that it's hard.
And I did not say you said it was impossible. I said it wasn't hard at all.

tautologico said:
It's certainly not as simple as a tuner. You mentioned Guitar Rising, a vaporware that had only a concept video on the site, so it does not count as proof.
It is, actually. Such a mechanism does not need to make complex analyses of input notes. All that is required for a real guitar to be used as a controller for a note-matching game is for two wavelengths to be compared and matched. Just like a tuner does. The game analyses the note you input from the guitar, compares it to the note speeding past on the screen (or, rather, the note behind the graphical representation on the screen), and if the wavelength is similar enough (threshold would be a big part of getting this right), and matches in time (rhythm), you score a correctly struck note. Since Guitar Hero/Rock Band songs are re-recorded, comparing single notes of any kind of instrument is eminently easy.

I'm fairly certain you are not going to believe me, but the sound input engine of Guitar Rising was very real. I've seen it demoed, in real life.

Generic question: If it is so easy, why not before? Two good ways to approach that: 1) It has been done. There have been several tech demoes of this very thing, some of them working with almost perfect accuracy. 2) The market is believed to simply not be big enough to warrant an AAA title with this mechanism. This analysis might be wrong, but it sure does influence devs over the globe.

tautologico said:
I know one or two things about signal processing, and I mentioned the possibility of processing the signal in my post. But one thing is processing audio signals as input, to output audio signals (with added effects or whatever), while another thing is processing the analog input signal to output a simple, digitized, midi-like output. Possible, yes, but not easy. For example, see what some guys that do this for a living have to say here [http://www.akoff.com/about.html]:
What is Music Recognition?

In a few words music recognition is mathematical analysis of an audio signal (usually in WAV format) and its conversion into musical notation (usually in MIDI format). This is a very hard artificial intelligence problem. For comparison, the problem of recognition of scanned text (OCR - Optical Character Recognition) is solved with 95% accuracy - it is an average exactitude of recognition of the programs of the given class. The programs of speech recognition already work with 70-80% accuracy, whereas the systems of music recognition work with 60-70% accuracy but only for a single voice melody (one note at a time). For polyphonic music the accuracy is even lower.
Yes, I could tell form your first post that you applied real-world knowledge. And your analysis of the situation you describe (as compared to what I speak of) is spot-on. I don't doubt your knowledge.

But you approach the implementation wrong. Just like the piece on Music Recognition above does not pertain to this problem/solution. What you and they speak of, is the artificial intelligence required to make complex analyses of wavelengths, and to output notation. A music matching game simply needs to match wavelengths, as per my explanation above.

tautologico said:
Well, 60-70% accuracy for a single voice (the guitar, in this case) is not good enough for a video game, I think. Also, if it was so easy, Harmonix could just support this in RB3 (that already has a Pro mode) and there would be no need to create a special guitar/controller hybrid. Yes, it is a niche, but for Harmonix, they already have the game, it would actually open up a new market.
The special controller/hybrid constitutes a large part of the income of guitar rhythm games. It is not created out of need, but out of want. And yes, Harmonix could support this in RB3 easily. But there are MANY reasons software does not implement functions, not only the difficulty of doing so. The whole concept of feature bloat is based on this, as is the idea of releasing several games with different focus, instead of cramming it all into one. The simple fact that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are games, intended for casual entertainment and party consumption, has been reiterated by the devs of those (and other) music games time and time again.

The interest of rhythm games developers in gradually providing more complex control methods for their music games is evident in the addition of Pro mode for Rock Band 3, something the Rock Band devs recently explained was a "leap of faith", but gradual is an important word here. It is entirely possible we'll see real guitar input for an upcoming Rock Band/Guitar Hero title, but the fact that it is not here yet, is a result of an uncertain market that is still very young (it might be easy to see the music game market as saturated, but compared to most other genres, it is positively undernourished, and only in its infancy), hard to analyse, and unpredictable. Not any technical limitations.

tautologico said:
processing the analog input signal to output a simple, digitized, midi-like output
This is the basis of drum triggering, and of using soft synths as sound replacement, and is done frequently, rather easily, and often live.

In the end, the fact that I've seen this done is enough for me, and voids the need for the explanations I give above. But unfortunately, others rarely trust such statements online.

EDIT: Hell, all song input mechanisms (Singstar, Rock Band, Guitar Hero) compare pitch. It's a bloody industry standard :-D A real guitar as a controller would work just the same: check the pitch/wavelength of the input, and compare it to the required pitch. Vocals, guitar note, strange bleeping noises, it makes no difference. It is all simple, and done on a common basis.
 

Steve Butts

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I already have Warriors of Rock and I love it. I didn't really have a problem with the campaign, and I actually think it's the best one since 3. I'm sure Rock Band has better gameplay, as is the norm, but it's setlist is completely shite.

As for the other two, I'm not really interested. I may pick up DJ Hero in the future, but I'd get the first game first.
 

tautologico

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Ayjona said:
In the end, the fact that I've seen this done is enough for me, and voids the need for the explanations I give above. But unfortunately, others rarely trust such statements online.

EDIT: Hell, all song input mechanisms (Singstar, Rock Band, Guitar Hero) compare pitch. It's a bloody industry standard :-D A real guitar as a controller would work just the same: check the pitch/wavelength of the input, and compare it to the required pitch. Vocals, guitar note, strange bleeping noises, it makes no difference. It is all simple, and done on a common basis.
I won't argue about this much longer, but just two quick points: yes, I do think it's possible, and it's simpler than full transcription. But your "compare waveforms" idea wouldn't fly for guitars, especially for pro mode. Now, I'm not in the business of programming music games, but I doubt the voice games or game modes compare waveforms directly, but probably use a Fourier transform and do spectral analysis, compare harmonic content, filtering out unimportant information (like tone of voice). This is easy. But you can notice with the vocals that there's a sliding indicator, and it takes a while to fix on a pitch. It's remarkably different from the other instruments, and the response is slower. Now imagine this with shredding guitar songs, quick solos etc.

For the guitar you'd have to do analysis in the time and frequency domain simultaneously, and very fast. Try to get the attack to trigger a note, and analyze it's harmonic content filtering for effects and such (effects that will probably be in the music, while the player guitar is "pure").

Maybe Harmonix didn't do this because of market considerations. When the original Guitar Hero games came out (first 2), I knew the appeal was exactly the simplification. But when you have a Pro mode, I think it's kinda blurring the line.

Well, if you say you have seen it working, I believe in you. Though I'll only believe it works really well, as well/fast/responsive as a controller does, when I see it :)
 

HarmanSmith

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I'm most likely going to be getting RB3 this Christmas, but I have a question for any real guitar players who have played it so far. If I learned to play the pro guitar, would those skills correlate with a real guitar (i.e. if I can play a song on expert in pro mode can I play it with a real guitar)? Basically, is pro mode a good substitute for guitar lessons?
 

Steve Butts

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HarmanSmith said:
I'm most likely going to be getting RB3 this Christmas, but I have a question for any real guitar players who have played it so far. If I learned to play the pro guitar, would those skills correlate with a real guitar (i.e. if I can play a song on expert in pro mode can I play it with a real guitar)? Basically, is pro mode a good substitute for guitar lessons?
I wouldn't say it's a "good substitute," but it's definitely good for learning individual songs. As accurate as the Pro Mode and the guitar controllers are, it's still one level removed from the experience of playing a real guitar. I think you could definitely use RB3 to accelerate your progress, but it's not as close a correlation as you get with the drums.

I'm always a supporter of lessons. You can definitely learn on your own, but lessons are almost always worth the time and money.
 

Seamus8

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Can't wait for a kinect based guitar game that can be calibrated to any guitar of your choice.