I hope they patch the difficulty so experienced guitarists can jump in at a higher difficulty from the off.
"The three reasons Rocksmith fails as a way to learn guitar"
My wife and I are both extremely new to the Guitar scene and haven't really had much of a problem with any of the things you listed. I do have my setup through my stereo system so thankfully I passed up on that hitch but the scaling difficulty really is what keeps us going. The ability to feel like we are improving every day when we pick up the guitar is great, and when we have a bad day it corrects itself so we don't get burned out or frustrated.
The primary issue seems to be lag, and an unwillingness to connect things in the optimal way. It seems kind of bizarre for someone wanting to learn a musical instrument to be so against plugging things in a certain way to get the best sound/experience. It's pretty common to rearrange stomp boxes to see if connecting them in different orders gives a different tone or less noise, for example.
If you don't have the ability to run cables properly then yeah, it seems like something you should skip. I'm one of those "probably rare" types that have my sound going direct to my sound receiver and HDMI going to my TV. I picked up Rocksmith yesterday and I'm really happy with it. I got it to make guitar practice time more fun, not to get a cool new rhythm game, though.
For $80 I have scrolling tabs, pretty good amp/effect modelling set up per song, and licensed background tracks perfectly synced to the tab. I'm quite happy with it so far.
I've been playing it since Friday and I really can't complain. Yes, the rewiring of the system is a bit of a pain, but that's not the fault of the game designers, is it? That's a problem that's been going on since Guitar Hero one came out.
The Difficulty leveling isn't that hard to get around. If you are good at guitar and can play the song, then just going through it once or twice will level the song up for you to a high level pretty quickly. And if you can't level it up that fast, then maybe you aren't as good as you think you are. The game is pretty unforgiving in letting you level, which is good because it makes you practice and practice and practice. Which is the only real way to learn an instrument.
The unlocks are a bit silly, but since that is something in EVERY OTHER MUSIC GAME, why not? It doesn't hinder your experince and it's trying to build on the achievement/endorphin rush system that's in practically EVERY OTHER GAME.
My main complain is the loading times. If it just went from song to song, or practice mode to practice mode quicker, that would improve my experience a lot. As it, I think it's a perfectly competent learning tool. I've been dicking around trying to learn for a year and the past few days have already increased my coordination on the fret board. Not exponentially, but my scores are going up and I'm looking at the board less and less as I play.
This game really isn't about immediate gratification. It is a learning tool and it does take time to master what it's got.
(I just REALLY wish the loading times were lower)
I've had Rocksmith for a couple weeks now. Before getting the game, I'd never picked up a guitar. Given all that, here's my response to the Ars Technica article:
1. There is lag.
True enough. If you are not willing or able to have your 360 output stereo audio directly to headphones or a sound system (or your TV if using component video with stereo audio), you will experience a slight delay in the time you strum your guitar to the time the sound comes out of your TV. I fixed this issue by picking up a $13 cable from Gamestop. HDMI video and sound to TV; RCA sound to a pair of headphones. I change the audio source for my headphones depending on what I'm trying to do. Easy fix but most people have problems hooking up TVs and receivers properly.
2. There is no way to select your difficulty
This is true. You can only reset songs to their easiest difficulty or to the hardest difficulty "unlocked". I thought that the hardest difficulty setting defaulted songs to their toughest arrangements (100% single note, chord, and/or combo) but that's not the case. All players must level up each of a songs riffs until 100% of the notes are displayed. I've found that the game levels songs a little too quickly for my liking but I'm a new guitar player. Anyone who knows how to play guitar will likely level up songs fairly quickly judging by the number of mastered songs popping up on YouTube. Any missed notes or poorly performed riffs will cause the song to reduce the difficulty of the riffs to help you finish the song. If you feel the song levelled down too harshly, you can always reset the difficulty back to your highest watermark.
3. Unlocks? Why?
I'm not a good enough guitar player to worry about the various unlockables. But I could see how good players might want access to everything right away. Then again, I'm good at a lot of other games and am still forced to play the "unlockables" game.
4. It's not a terrible game
Rocksmith is for anyone interested in learning to play guitar (as a beginner) or anyone looking for some easy achievements (10+ years experience with guitar). If you fall in between, have no interest in guitar or music, or are looking for a game to play with friends, Rocksmith is not for you. I will likely spend 1,000 hours or more with this game supplemented with some light reading on music theory. I'll also need to practice chord progressions and scales on my own as well (though the game does present some arcade to help with this).
Learning to play any instrument well is not fun for the first few years. It is rewarding though. And in time, when the practice, scales, theory, and finger exercises start to finally pay off, you can finally enjoy yourself. I'm really looking forward to the time when I can pull out my guitar and my wife and kids are excited to hear me play. Right now, they all leave the room or, in the case of my youngest son, start crying.
The sooner people start recognizing that Rocksmith is a practice aid, and not so much a game or pure educational software, the better off we'll all be.
Nobody bashes Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing for being a lame game, because just about everybody who uses the software is up to 70 WPM in about 2 weeks. You don't see it getting lame 2 star reviews for because somebody didn't like Mavis' cheesy Submarine home-key minigame.
Rocksmith has plenty of flaws. The interface is clunky, for one thing. It's not flashy. They've got a Gibson license and you never really see the guitars until you jump into a menu. Rehearsing songs and nailing down difficult sections is, currently, more difficult that it probably has to be. It doesn't teach theory, at all. Then there's the lag that everybody whines about despite the bevy of good advice and FAQ material available on the subject.
None of that stuff matters when you are playing Rocksmith. I've said this elsewhere, but the music is its own reward. I have learned, in a week, 25 different arrangements of music, without ever having to dive into inscrutable tab, watch shitty youtube videos, or worse, sit with a recording and try to play by ear.... and I only play a few hours a day. For a musician, that's awesome.
It's really this simple. If you want to learn to play a real honest-to-god guitar and not a piece of plastic, this is the game for you. It makes practicing fun, and that's all. It's not a guitar teacher and never claimed to be.
If you don't have any interest in learning to PLAY a guitar.... if you just enjoy rhythm games, by all means, stick to Guitar Hero and Rockband. Rocksmith is a musician's game, not a gamer's game.
Also, regarding the stupid unlockables gripe that every negative review seems to mention. All you need to do to unlock gear --and you get between 3 and 6 pieces of equipment each time-- is to play a song at an intermediate level far below max. Some songs are more difficult to unlock, but many of them can be unlocked on your first playthrough. Guitars are simply unlocked by playing venues (extra pedals too) whether you give a good performance, or not.
Comments like these lead me to believe that many of these reviewers tried Rocksmith for a few hours, and either failed hard and gave up, or they were never that interested in playing an instrument to begin with. I had a nice collection of equipment in just a few hours.
Just wanted to say, that as a terrible amateur guitarist with 2 years of self-taught experience, that Rocksmith is incredible. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing, and if you have any interest in learning guitar it is money well spent.
As for the Ars Technica review, well he's an idiot. "You mean I have to plug in a different cable to make it sound right?". Dear god, what a hardship that must be.
I totally agree with Parkingtigers.
The article complains about how the difficulty stuff doesn't work and there's lag. It sounds like that dude already knows how to play guitar. So he's going to have the same complaints every guitarist has about games like this. "It's close but it's not rewarding me for being awesome at real guitar (which of course i am)"
As far as Lag goes, I'm playing on a 50" samsung Plasma TV with just an HDMI cable and I'm not seeing any noticeable lag... no need to plug into a separate audio or anything...
If i had any complaints I'd say that it feels less like a "game" and more like a tool at times, where i'm along for the ride and just going through what the game recommends without actually making any choices. Which is totally fine because when left to my own devices i end up dicking around for 20 minutes and not really learning anything or practicing anything.
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