Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Guitar Hero Can Redeem Itself

I was going to have a song ready for today, but this post is already several days in limbo, and I need to re-do my vocals. But you can join my Facebook or Twitter, you can get it as soon as it's out.

Enough about me, let's talk Guitar Hero:
Now, as I've mentioned before, Guitar Hero needed to be a different game, and for the most part, Warriors of Rock accomplished that. GH5, while still enjoyable, felt like Rock Band 2.5.

Warriors of Rock cranked up the difficulty, and the crazy bullshit, which, while I haven't played it yet, I'd consider a good thing, as it separates itself from the more reserved and professional Rock Band 3. From what I hear, the engine's pretty solid, so there's no impetus to change that. Hear that [future bitch of Bobby Kotick]? The hard part's over.

In order to continue in this different, more arcade-y manner, I turn you to:

The Xbox Live Arcade, or your consoles analog.

Let me back up a second: the biggest complaint that everyone has with Guitar Hero AND Rock Band ends up being the setlist. Everyone has different tastes in music, and even fans of the same band will branch out in other directions. ScoreHero don't care what music it is, as long as the charts end up being Skittle vomit, and the titles have the letters FC on the end.

The normal reaction to this would be to encourage DLC sales, but that still doesn't solve the problem of justifying $60 for a disc 80-ish songs, maybe half of which you'd like. And GH's release schedule for DLC has been tepid at best.

My solution? Get rid of the disc. Let the end user customize their own game.

Here's how I'd start off with "Guitar Hero: The Rhythm Bastard Is Totes Awesome Sauce And We Are Indebted To His Genius Forever" (or GH:TRBITASAWAITHGF): a free version with 5 sample songs, donated by the staffers (similar to the bonus songs in Harmonix titles), with only one playable venue. All the old DLC still works, obviously. This would act as the hub for all future content.

Next, we'd release mini packs with ten or so songs each, and come with a venue or two, similar to Green Day: Rock Band. For example:
-The Indie Rock Pack could come with The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn.
-The New Wave Pack would come with the Whiskey A Go Go
-The Punk Pack would come with 912 Gilman St.
-The Aquabats! Hi Five Soup! Album with unlockable Aquacadet uniform!
-AC/DC: Live at Donnington, now with Donnington venue!
and so on. Each pack would provide a little blurb on the location, to give it a little oomph.

Each of these would only cost $10-15, and act as expansions to the free hub.

Also, the DLC store could bring up song recommendations when you pick a song in your library, kind of like a type deal.

One thing I did consider was the, for the sake of argument, "suburban" market. This market usually isn't very tech-savvy, and would not be likely to have their system connected to the internet. Mostly comprised of Wal-Mart shopping families, you know, the kind of people who buy Cabella's Big Game Hunter and $20 shovelware.

This was the same reason the "Country Track Packs" for Rock Band still came on disc. You could release a more expanded hub on disc, that contains more songs and a few of the packs already on, but make it competitively priced. Or, just a disc with about 30 songs, sell it for $50, and include a code to redeem some of the packs. The codes for the rest can be bought as cards, like what GameStop does for some big DLC.

How often would the packs be released? I'd say monthly, bi-monthly depending, with 5 or so available at launch. The wait between releaes would be a point to say, "Now fill up your library with some of our old DLC songs!"

ToyMachine suggested a Rock Band Network equivalent in his article, and while that could fill in the gap, I'm not sure how charters and the artists would feel.

Another good idea he had? Rhythm guitar, even if it has to sub in for bass.

With all this in mind, hopefully GH:TRBITASAWAITHGF (pronounced Trib-it-ah-sah-way-th-gif) can make the franchise worth looking at again.

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