Ahoy there, mates! Today we celebrate artist Blackhat making another successful trip 'round the sun with some delicious cake. Cake! o/ We have also posted not one, but two winners of Round Two of the Grand Crafting Puzzle Project, a player run co-operative project to design and create prototypes of Puzzle Pirates crafting puzzles. Congratulations to the winners, Platy and Haddock! The post about the winners can be found here and the games can be played for free, along with many others, on Game Gardens.
Rock Band draws me in because it's a game for a group of up to four people, and in the apartment I live in, there are four residents. One person wants to be the guitarist, one wants to be bassist, and well, two of us want to be the drummer, but we take turns so it works out all right.
The co-operative elements are woven in quite well. For example, if you don't do well and you fail on your instrument, one of your bandmates can activate his stored bonus energy and bring you back into the game. The exception to this otherwise tight-knit gameplay seems to be the vocalist. I'm not sure what causes this, but on the occasions that some of us have taken turns on the microphone, we've felt very isolated from the rest of the instruments. As I have never been in a real band, I do not know if this is representative of the real band experience, or something that is made up for with crowd interaction.
The game has also brought me face-to-face with the selling power and possibilities of free downloads and movies. Each week, new songs are released to download and play on the Rock Band platform. So far as the music of this game is concerned, I am a bit of a cultural black hole. I have heard of some of the groups featured, but I have never heard any of the songs. Every week when the downloaded songs are listed, the roommates and I troop over to YouTube to listen to the songs a number of times and decide whether they sound like fun and should be purchased or not.
Does anybody else fall into this category? For example, I can never decide if I like a music album on the first listen. I either stream or download/borrow the album from a friend first, and listen to entire thing several times over a period of weeks and if it sinks in and I really dig the band, I buy it. Future purchases may be made in faith if I have consistently like the band/group's work, but I would never get into new musicians if it weren't for digital media/friends. Well, mostly digital media.
I know that when we switched to the unlimited trial time in Puzzle Pirates (this was before the doubloon model caught fire), I was enthused because I figured it would give people who are take their time making up their minds about something (like I do!) a chance to really try the game out.
Numbers have been going around comparing the success of Rock Band to Guitar Hero 3, which is an ActiVision rather than Harmonix creation. (From what little I've seen of it, my personal opinion is that it is the weakest of the series.) I think that the games fundamentally will appeal to different groups. If I were a teenager living at home, I would far more likely get Guitar Hero than Rock Band. The higher price tag of Rock Band and the multiple peripherals I might not all be playing would make it mighty unattractive as a holiday gift were I asking parents/guardians to purchase it. Rock Band seems more likely be purchased by adults with full time jobs, more disposable incomes, and residences of their own where they can have friends over.
A word to the noise-conscious, though: while they are nowhere near the level of sound that an actual drum kit can produce, the drum peripherals can make a fair amount of noise on their own. This is very relevant in areas like the densely populated San Francisco, where you are far more likely to be living in an apartment than in a ground-floor house of your own. Speaking for myself, the drum peripheral setup we have at home is atop some thickly padded quilts to muffle the foot pedal for our downstairs neighbors, and I've grown accustomed to going to sleep to the sound of drum tapping carrying clearly through the apartment to the back room.
Bluebeard and I had taken to enthusiastically playing the drums during lunch here at Three Rings, until we found out that the tapping carried clearly to the front room, where it was distracting other folks trying to work. One of the funnier moments last week was when I ran into a fellow who works for Slide, who occupy the office one floor below us. I apologized if they'd heard any tapping on the ceiling during lunch or after hours as we'd just gotten the Rock Band peripherals set up, only to have him confess that their office had just gotten the same game, and were going to ask us if they were creating too much noise.
At any rate, it's a lot of fun, though if I lived on my own, I would likely buy the game separately and the drum peripheral when it comes out, and Drum Hero my way to smashy oblivion. Having popped into Guitar Center to try out our tapping skills on actual drum kits, Hermes and I feel confident in saying that they translate rather well! I can easily tap a 4/4 beat and I can drumroll.
And that brings us, via a very windy, roundabout route, to this week's question from Domokun of Sage:
"Do any of the Ringers have other secret talents?"