Thursday, July 17, 2008

GH: World Tours for your own songs

I've been debating with Andrew for a while about the differences between Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Tonight we weighed up whether RB2 or GH: World Tour would be the way to go. The problem from my perspective is that Sony is limiting my options with olden days lock-in. Do I fork out for a cross compatible 2nd guitar so that we can co-op in GHIII now and be complete when (if) RB hits our shores? Do I wait out for the new "I've got drums too" GH:WT? The whole thing leaves a sour taste in my mouth ...

It's a bit weird I'm even labouring over Guitar Hero anyway. If it weren't for Andrew's generous birthday gift I still would have been oblivious to the potential of this game. After a few sessions I began to hum the played songs all the next day, I couldn't get them out of my head. Not just the song, but the beat, the rhythm, the solos. It was ingrained into me. Andrew had noticed the same thing, as had other people I had talked to who had played the game. This is not just listening to music anymore, it's deconstruction, analysis, living the music !

There's a term I'd like to adopt. Live the Music. GH has a knack of getting you into the song more than mere appreciation. If you also happen to like the song it gels so well that it's a glorious experience. I never would have guessed I would enjoy this game so much because I thought it was targeted at the wannabe rockstars ala MovieWorld. But it's more than that. It encourages you to break down the songs, to understand an off tempo solo section by analysing why you keep missing certain notes, keeping the beat and feeling the energy change in the song, humming purely the downbeats. I had never heard of Cliffs of Dover before playing it, but I distinctly remember 1/2 way through thinking that I really like this song. The more I played it the more I loved it. It made me google up who the artist was, why was it in the hardest bracket? and OMGWTF!!@!
I've never done that for any song in the last 10 years.

So where's the next step? If this is such a great experience (not quite front row concert but better than listening to it) why aren't new songs being pumped out all over the place for free so you'd try them out? I'd certainly play through some freely downloadables (like the Dropkick Murphy's ones) just for the fun of it, but if there were more I'm sure there'd be another Cliffs of Dover experience in there. A new "Live" album or REM. Man, "New adventures in sound" was hard to get into but incredibly rewarding. How much better would it have been going through that experience in GH? So why aren't there millions of songs out there? If I were a record label and had played the game it would be obvious that it's the replacement for radio. I'm guessing they just don't play.

Rock Band on the other hand looks like it's moved on. It's still not songs, songs everywhere, but it's certainly getting there. It feels like they are one step ahead at this point and that they can see what the final goal is, just not able to break through the music industry chaff. Neversoft, on the other hand, still seem to be stuck under the maintenance of the franchise rather than sallying forth to rewrite the rules. The initial GH:World Tour pack just looked like a catchup move. That's when I saw the trailer:

Make your own song anyone?
Why bother waiting for the music industry to "see the light" when you can have a million people churning out songs faster than sporn. That's it. Game over.

The only thing will be whether the game can cope with sorting and organising all the content into useful ways like spore doesn't. A system akin to LastFM would be a nice start.