Monday, June 28, 2010

The Thing Is...

You know how some people just don't give a shit about politics, or science, or the greater mysteries world around us, because they're too focused on just getting through the day?

That's how I've been the past two weeks finishing up papers for my online course.
I haven't posted much about Nickelback and Miley Cyrus DLC, because I'm too busy pretending to care about Modern Chinese history.

Here's that shit in a nutshell:
At first some guys from Manchuria were all like "Fuck the Han Chinese oppressing us and shit" and they temporary renamed themselves the Chin because it was the last big foreign dynasty, sort of like the Tea Party. So they took over and called themselves the Qing Dynasty.

Then opium happened, and they were too baked to win the war against the British, so then they make all kinds of negotiations so every other nation doesn't curb stop them.

THis gets some people pissed, 'cause they're sick of the Qing dynasty's bullshit. A republic's started, then WWII happens and the Soviet tell some Chinese people that Communism is a super idea.

Civil War breaks out, COmmunists win, and then every God damn thing every one does has to be for the state.

Great. That's what I pissed away 5 weeks of my life on.

In less depressing news, Akira The Don's "Steven Wells (He Was The Greatest)" went through a complete round of playtesting. Most of the work is on the vocals. I'll be posting on that again.

I have another song in the tank and ready to be released, but I'll save it as an incentive for joining my Facebook or Twitter.

Fuck Nickelback.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Rock Band 3 Wishlist

All right, everyone's doing it since the news a few days ago, so here goes:

"No More Heroes" by The Stranglers

Get the album and the video game that takes its namesake, because there is absolutely nothing else like it. Why would it make a good Rock Band 3 song? Complex guitar and keyboards will make it quite the challenge, and they interact nicely.

"Reelin' In The Years" by Steely Dan

Did you play through Steely Dan's "Bodhivasta" and thought "Fuck this noise, I'll never like Steely Dan"? Well, this song's much easier on your poor little fingers. It has interesting parts for everyone: the keyboard plays most of the rhythm with guitar coming in for a little lick every so often. Rock Band needs moar Steely Dan!

"Lily, Rosemary and the Jack Of Hearts" by Bob Dylan
Youtube doens't have any good videos, just covers. Aaaaaaaaaaaanyways, it would be a pretty boring song overall, but the story told is damn interesting, and everyone would be too focused on what's coming out of the vocalist mouth to care that they've been going over the same pattern for eight minutes. Then again, if they did "Tangled Up In Blue"...

"Super Rad" by The Aquabats

It was either this, or "Fashion Zombies", but I figured let the Charge!!! album be DLC, because gosh darn it we need something to balance out the depressing indie. Plus, I've been working on my MC Bat Commander voice for a while now, and it's almost as good as my Sean Connery. As far the song itself goes, it has all the hallmarks of ska: busy bass, complex drum beats (courtesy of Blink 182's Travis Barker).

"She Is Beautiful" by Andrew W.K.

Sure, I guess you could have DragonForce if you want metal with pianos in Rock Band 3. You know, if you're stupid. Andrew W.K, the king of partying and the inventor of hard, needs to be in this game, and not just his song, oh no. You know how in my Green Day Rock Band review I said I'm a sucker for the linear mo-cap? Seeing your guy bounce around like AWK would be TITS! It would be ACE! It would be... awesome! The guy's a pretty accomplished pianist, so naturally he plays it in most of his songs.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Total Rock, Total Satisfaction

Well, to most people getting 93% average isn't mediocre, but in the Rock Band Total Rock, Total Rewards contest, it was :(.

OK, maybe I should start from the beginning. Back when the Harrah's Total Rock, Total Rewards competition was announced, I put a post up looking for band members on the site. Of course, I was still back up in school, and didn't have an Xbox, so we couldn't practice or anything, at least until June. This girl e-mails me, saying she's a singer and her boyfriend's a drummer. So we went back and forth for a while, what songs I was good at, what songs she could handle, etc.

Finally, Thursday night, it's game time. I show up early, and look around. Normally I'm a little shy in these situations, but they're Rock Band nerds like me! If it weren't for the $8 whiskey and Coke, I'd make the pilgrimage there more often, because it is a nice place. Anyway, the girl and her boyfriend come in and we talk for a bit. As it turns out, we didn't have a bassist! There was this one guy, but he wasn't up for it if we made the next round. So we finally scrounge up a guy, when, holy crap, we didn't pick a song!

So we have a drummer who's only drummed on the Ion, a singer who wavers between picking a song she's good at and "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine)", a bassist who actually sings and drums, and a guitarist who doesn't own the game. Now, with all that, what song do we pick?


"Carry On My Wayward Son"

So, our band, Last Minute got to warm up first. This was basically fucking around time, we play Chop Suey, Livin' On A Prayer and Conventional Lover. It was fun. Come game time though, I was feeling odd, like in some Zen state where I was focused on nothing but the game, yet not caring about the outcome. Maybe the 2.9 mil high score for "Get Up..." relaxed me a bit. I accepted my fate and merely live in the moment. I knew I wouldn't win, but I didn't care.

I thought about the city. I thought about how the hell Kansas and Styx were considered Prog Rock. Mostly though, I thought about all the new friends I made and just being there.

Seriously, though $8 for a mixed drink? Fuck that. I got spoiled on poor-ass Port Jefferson bars. And buying my own booze.

TL;DR: Yeah, a lot of stuff was done last minute, but it was satisfying seeing this thing through to the end.
For all 0 of you who read this blog, post about your experiences with the Harrah's Rock Band competition!

Friday, June 11, 2010

REVIEW: Green Day Rock Band

So, on Tuesday, I got Green Day Rock Band.

The game is Rock Band, but with Green Day. Just Green Day. That's it really.

FINAL VERDICT: Ask yourself these questions-
1. Do I like Green Day?
2. Do I like Rock Band?
If yes, get it. Nothing else I can really say.

Oh, you wanted MORE? Then all I can give are my impressions and experiences, and that's not a review. EVERYONE'S reviewed this damn thing, so all I can do is tell you folks a little story:

All right, so while my little brother was at work, I called a friend over and we jammed a little bit. Since my Dad would probably want to tear through 21st Century Breakdown, we decided to go through the Dookie campaign. I was an idiot and decided to go on drums, AND try to sing, while my friend played the guitar. It was fun, and whoever thinks that a punk band can't have difficult music is out of their mind. Either way, it was a lot of fun.

The one thing that stuck out at me was how appropriate all the motions seemed. Linear motion capture really does make a difference, and I think that's one of the few areas where the Guitar Hero franchise has an edge over Rock Band.

Sure, you can have the different camera cuts and all that, but it felt more "professional". There is the argument that Rock Band isn't supposed to be about that, but more along the lines of you jamming out with some friends, and they're not going to be doing all the fucking around the GH avatars do. Still, after playing for a while, the "standard" cuts and motions look samey, and sometimes don't fit the scene. Anyway, back to my rambling:

I was born in '88 (raised by the bastards of 1951), and never really got into that album (Dookie). I sort of got into Green Day during that odd period between American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. I just started to pick up the guitar, and "Holiday" was he first song I learned. Then one day my dad heard "Brain Stew" on the radio and he though "I like these guys!", so the next day he got Bullet In A Bible and International Superhits!, and watching that DVD, it's a real treat to see these guys live. "Energy" is the defining word.

And they tried to bring that energy to "Green Day: Rock Band". For the most part it succeeded. There's still the limitations of it being a video game, so the animation appears stilted at some points, and of course the, "fingers go THROUGH the strings" trick.

As far as complaints go, they're not that big, but it's like the Uncanny Valley: so close to being perfect (for me at least), that all these errors seem gigantic.
1. Nothing pre-Dookie. As I have mentioned before, there's a handful of good songs they could have used, and helped beefed up the Warehouse venue. But none of those stems are digital, so that gets a pass.
2. Not a lot of venues. The songs for the "other" albums (Insomniac to Warning) could have easily made another stage. It felt kind of anemic after The Beatles: Rock Band
3. Which leads me to my next point. It could have been cool to see the 21st Century Breakdown and American Idiot albums played out like a story, with GD playing in the background. For a band known for its music videos as well as the live shows, this was a disappointment.

Either way, I had fun with it, and intend to play it again when my brother goes to work later today.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vector Calculations

It's been an interesting experience making RBN tracks, and I'd like to do it again, especially my own. However, it's hard to get a band interested due to the industry standard being at around $1000. Sure, you keep the royalties (at least all the good ones let the bands keep the profits), but if you're a small band looking for a way to get to millions of people, what are you to do? And what about us track makers who spend hours hammering out everything? We did the work, compensation is expected.

Therein lies the problem when you have a band that can't afford the up front costs. If you are one of the "biggies" of the RBN Authoring world, you can either find someone who can pay or break a deal.

One deal I was thinking about, and I'm posting here so we can have a debate on the ethics of the situation, is similar to that of Vector Marketing, or CutCo, to anyone who can do five seconds of research.

Yes, that scam we've all heard about and seen on college bulletin boards. Basically, here's the rundown:
1. Gullible student takes number from poster, calls it, breezes through interview, and gets hired as an "independent contractor".
2. Pays $150 for a "sample" set.
3. Is asked to bug friends and family to sell overpriced knives.
4. ???
5. PROFIT, but only if you're a douche to loved ones.

It's all commission based, and as you sell more, you get more commission. The logic behind that is, since first, you'll be selling to family and friends who'll take pity on your sorry ass, and be more likely to sell, that's when most of your money goes to the higher-ups. Fewer people sell a shitton, so obviously, the system works. There's more info on that at the links I've embedded.

Now, why do I propose a Vector Marketing/Cutco style system? Am I a scummy asshole too? No, I'm just good at math. The plan works the same way: Sell more songs, get more royalties. But, there are a couple distinct advantages:
1. A RBN song is only $1-2, not $900 like some Cutco products.
2. It's digital, so technically it can be purchased a lot of times simulataneously.

All that crap aside, here's how I break it down: If you pay a company that authors a song for a flat fee and lets you keep all the royalties, you begin in the hole. The authors get their compensation, but the focus here is on the artists. To make that initial, let's say $1000 back, you'll need to sell 3500 tracks. You might make that up in merch sales, you might not. With my system, you pay nothing, and by the time you reach that 3500 sales mark, it's about 60-40. Not exactly fair, but better than it was.

Let's take a look at the Vector system, vs. a flat fee (assuming .30 profit on a $1 song):
Up to 500th Download (90% goes to author)
Normal- Artist down $850
Vector- Author makes $135, Artist ahead $15

501-1000th Download (80% to author)
Normal- Artist down $700
Vector- Author up $255, Artist ahead $45

1001-1500th Download (70%)
Normal-Artist down $550
Vector- Author up $360, Artist ahead $90

1500-2000th Download (60%)
Normal- Artist down $400
Vector- Author up $450, Artist ahead $150

2001-2500th Download (50%)
Normal- Artist down $250
Vector- Author up $525, Artist ahead $225

2501-3000th Download (40%)
Normal- Artist down $100
Vector- Author up $585, Artist ahead $315

3001-3500th download (30%)
Normal- Artist ahead $50
Vector- Author up $630, artist ahead $420

Now, all of these numbers are adjustable, and I want feedback from other authors before I deem this legit.

It's only one possibility. I'm not springing it on anybody, and for a fan work (like Akira the Don) I'm going to be more apt to do it on their terms, because, hey, I like them, I like Rock Band and I want to see them succeed.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm Gonna Just Leave This Here...

1. Flirtin' With Disaster's solo is both a lot easier and more difficult than I realized. It still stays within this scale:


But there are parts like these:


It's all in the same scale, but spread out over the strings. had some exercises that address this, but it's riffs like these that make it much more difficult to learn real guitar.

But you know what? Even playing it slow, it feels good. That's one feeling I can never get from a plastic guitar.

Speaking of which:


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Was The Greatest, He Was The Greatest, They Were The Greatest

From concept to completion, "Steven Wells (He Was The Greatest)" is up on the RBN for playtest!

I'm also working on a new song. The weird thing was, I only had it 3/4 written by the time I started recording, and now I got a lot of stuff to work with and make into a song. Sure, I'll revise it, but at least I got over that first step of actually doing it.

After this, I'll probably record a couple covers. After those are in the pan, I'll start up my own Facebook page, just to give an air of legitimacy.

AND YES I WILL FINISH FLIRTIN' WITH DISASTER. GOD YOU PEOPLE WHO DON'T VISIT AND THEREFORE DON'T REALLY PRESSURE ME TO DO ANYTHING. Although some of the transition licks were pretty badass. I'll put something up on those tomorrow.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a paper on the fall of the Qing dynasty to finish so I can spend all June 8th playing Green Day Rock Band.