Showing posts with label video games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label video games. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2013

They say that all good things must come to an end

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while

On April 2nd, Don McLean's "American Pie" will be the very last Rock Band song.



But from what I read on Twitter, it may not be the last ever, but it is the end of the weekly download content that has been flowing for years.

We bough so many songs. We probably have more invested in Rock Band songs than we do in the Xbox and all the other games we own.

I have some good memories of playing Rock Band, Rock Band 2, and Rock Band 3 over the years. It's the only video game that my wife played often on our Xbox. She refused to play any instrument other than guitar. Bass was boring. Guitar was a challenge. And she was pretty damn good at it too.

I remember struggling to move from Medium difficulty to Hard, and having to deal with more than 3 buttons. I thought for sure that I would never learn to play without looking at the neck of the guitar and be able to transition my fingers up and down the neck of the guitar without forgetting where I was.

I remember the first time my wife and I gold starred a song and how awesome it felt. Sounds silly, I know, but it was a cool moment.

I remember the day my wife and I decided to go for the "Never-ending Setlist" achievement, and how it took much longer than we expected, and how patient our kids were waiting to be fed, late, that evening. :)

I remember the first time playing drums. And how "real" it felt to nail a tricky beat on expert as if it had never been a problem.

It still amazes me how my fingers seem to magically press all the right buttons in sequence to a seemingly impossible stream of notes cruising down the TV screen.

I remember the first time I got 100% on a song, on expert, and how it made want to thrust my fist in the air and yell "FUCK YEH!"

And sometimes I did just that.

There has always been criticism from the naysayers about how "real" Rock Band is — or not real, as the case may be. "Play a real instrument!" they'd say.

It's a game. A fun game. And for some people, it inspired them to learn real instrument. How can that be so bad?

Good times. Lots of them. With family and friends. And as long as I can make our remaining guitars and drum kit last, the good times will last.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gonna be a rock star

Ok, maybe not. :)

I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was in my late teens, along with a beginner book and some guitar picks. Weeks later, after building callouses on my fingers, I set the guitar aside.

Every few years after, I'd pick it up, with half-assed determination to learn how to play. I replaced strings a few times.

To date, I still cannot play the damn thing, mostly due to frustration, lack of patience, and no lessons I suppose.

Years ago my wife and I developped an addiction to the Guitar Heros and Rock Bands. Yeh, plastic instruments and all. Spare me the "pick up a real guitar and learn" crap. It's tiring. Thanks to Rock Band, my nephew bought a drum kit and took lessons.

Anyway, when Rock Band 3 came out with its "Pro Mode", my interest in learning guitar was renewed. Maybe this was what I needed? But the real Fender Squier Strat designed for it was a little expensive. However, when I heard about another upcoming game called Rocksmith, that used REAL guitars without anything more than a special USB cable included with the game, I was able to justify the Fender purchase. It would serve two purposes. Rock Band 3's Pro Mode, and to use with Rocksmith.

Rock Band 3's Pro mode was a tad frustrating, but mostly because of the "hybrid" Fender strat requiring tweaking to get to work properly with the game. It still isn't 100% good with the game, but to be honest, it was enough to make me set it aside.

In the meantime, I picked up a small 10w Fender amp to accompany my guitar, for real play. I should have held off on the amp purchase.

Enter Rocksmith.

After reading a couple of early reviews, I was a little hesitant. Latency seemed to be the issue. After reading a few positive reviews, I bit the bullet.

This "game" is awesome. It connects your electric guitar via a special USB cable to your console (PS3 or Xbox 360), and then connects to your home stereo, which acts like your amplifier, and also provides a whole whack of pedal effects to accompany game play. It turns out that my system configuration is the recommended best at minimizing latency. After tweaking the in-game latency setting, I think I've pretty much eliminated it.

I put the word "game" in quotes because it really is more of a teaching tool. Perhaps it doesn't go into as much theory as a guitar less might, but it teaches people like me enough so that one day they may be able to pick up a guitar and rock out a song or two.

I live for that day. :) Perhaps I should add this to my bucket list...

The game is not without some frustrations though, and I suspect it's mostly due to the Fender that I'm using. For one thing, the specially designed frets (for Rock Band 3 Pro Mode) sometimes make the strings catch when string bending. I also think that it doesn't stay in perfect tune, possibly due to the inntonation being a little off. That could be due to the weak neck because it contains eletronics for Rock Band 3 Pro Mode. I followed some instructional videos on YouTube for adjusting inntonation and it's a little better, but still not perfect.

Last week I decided to look into getting a new guitar; one that is designed 100% for real play. I emailed, where I bought the Fender and the amp, for any recommendations. They're Canadian, and I like their service. I told them looking for a decent beginner guitar in the $300 price range. After a few email exchanges, I settled on a See Thru Black Cherry ESP EC-100QM. I even checked out a few youTube videos of people playing this guitar. I liked the look at the sound.

I called late Friday and placed the order.

Maybe once I get a little better, I put up a video. Maybe. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saving a few bucks on Xbox Live Points

If you...

  • own an Xbox 360
  • occasionally buy Xbox Live Points to purchase game DLC or Xbox Live Arcade titles
  • are Canadian

... keep reading if you want to save a few bucks.

Microsoft sells Xbox Live points direct from the Xbox Live Marketplace for the following prices:

  • 500 Microsoft Points - $7.25
  • 1000 Microsoft Points - $14.50
  • 2000 Microsoft Points - $29.00
  • 5000 Microsoft Points - $72.00
  • 6000 Microsoft Points - $87.00

Not taking tax into consideration, that works out to 1.45 cents per point, unless you buy 5000 points which works out to 1.44 cents per point. (oooh big savings there)

You can save a few more cents more by buying a 1400 or 2800 point card at Best Buy or Future Shop. At regular price, they sell them for:

  • 1400 Microsoft Points - $19.99
  • 2800 Microsoft Points - $39.99

That works out to ~1.43 cents per point. In comparison to Microsoft's pricing, 1000 points would cost you $14.28. Still not much of a savings. You'd probably spend more on gas driving to the store.

I think that's pretty much the standard pricing for those cards everywhere, unless they go on sale, and that's pretty rare.

There is another option that I don't think many people are aware of: sells Xbox Live point cards, as well as gaming consoles, games and accessories. Buying your Xbox Live point cards from will save you even more. On top of that, they have FREE SHIPPING and they also accept PayPal.

This is Dell's pricing scheme for points cards:

  • 1400 Microsoft Points - $17.99
  • 2800 Microsoft Points - $38.99

You can quickly see that the best bang for the buck is the 1400 point card. 1400 points is ~1.29 cents per point and 2800 points is ~1.39 cents per point. In comparison to Microsoft's pricing, 1000 points would cost you $12.85 — a savings of $1.65 before tax.

Granted, the convenience of having points instantly-when-you-need-them isn't there, but if you plan ahead you can save a few bucks and maybe buy that cool hat or outfit for your avatar. :) In my experience with, their shipping times are really good. Almost everything I've ever ordered from them has arrived within 2-3 days.

Monday, January 3, 2011

No excuses now - Week 7 progress

I survived the Christmas and New Year indulgences.

Overall, it wasn't anywhere near as evil as I expected it to be and I managed to say somewhat on track. My weight this morning was just under 257 lbs.

I managed to break the 9000 calorie mark at the end of December and I'm just over 500 calories away from reaching 10,000 calories. 10,000 is the last calorie achievement on Xbox Live. When I started this, it seemed so far away.

So anxious to get below 250 lbs. :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

More than just the turkey got stuffed - Week 6 progress

I should have seen it coming after the Christmas morning breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon and hash browns exceeded half of my daily calorie intake.

Despite switching from working out daily to every two days, I had to work out yesterday to counteract the evil to come in the form of Christmas dinner. On the plus side, the workout yesterday was the biggest calorie-burner for me this month at 459 slayed calories.

Dinner came and went. It was damn good, but I paid for it adding ~2000 calories to the ~1400 I ate at breakfast. And that doesn't even include the 7 or 8 beers later in the evening. It sure adds up quickly. It's no wonder I am the weight I am.

Anyway, the weigh-in this morning turned out to be no worse than yesterday's weigh-in at around 258. This leaves me at around 2lbs over my lowest so far, so all things considered, I'm not in bad shape (no pun intended). Since I'm off work for the Christmas holidays, I have a week to work it off -- again -- before New Years Eve arrives.

My wife bought me some 3 pound weights for Christmas to use with my workouts. I tried them yesterday when I did my YSFE cardio boxing. They even recommend using hand weights with some of the workouts. What a difference. It's too bad that there's no way to account for using weights in the workouts. I'm sure more calories are being burned and not counted.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Counting Calories - Week 5 Progress

This counting calories thing appears to be working, thanks to the web site.

A few days ago I broke the 260lb barrier. Unfortunately, I did put 1 or 2 lbs back on thanks to a yummy pot luck lunch at work, but I expect that after this weekend, they will be gone and I will be below 260lbs.

This makes me very happy.

My goal is set at 2000 calories per day. With the exception of two days that I hit nearly 3000 calories (last Sunday, before I started tracking, and Thursday's pot luck lunch), I'm averaging 1450 calories per day, after my workout burned calories are subtracted. Even without the workouts, the average would be below 2000. Knowing that makes it tempting to skip a workout every once in a while. I have to convince myself that if I do that, then it'll get easier and easier to skip.

One thing that is extremely difficult to keep low is my sodium intake. It's almost always over the recommended daily intake. It's crazy. I have to try and keep a closer watch on that.

My workouts are up to around 30 mins long and are supposedly burning off anywhere between 350 and 400 calories per day, according to Your Shape Fitness Evolved. That's more than double than when I started and it's my plan to keep doing that much as a minimum.

My left hip joint is giving me a bit of trouble. It's bothering me for a couple of years now. It feels like it's grinding or needs to pop. It hurts when I stand for a long time or do a lot of walking, but I can really feel it when I work out and have to kick with my left leg.

Anyway, that's the update for this week.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fitness hell - Week 4 progress

My suspicion from last week was correct. I have to start keeping a close watch on what I eat.

I weighed myself this morning and was disappointed to see that I gained a few pounds back. It's not like I went crazy with eating, but clearly whatever I ate was really bad for me.

Ugh. Too good to be true. :)

And to top it all off, I burned more calories this past week than the 3 weeks prior: just over 1600. I hate to think of how it would be if I hadn't.

On the plus side, it's looking really good for beating my 2000 cal in 14 day goal that I set for myself; 5 days and 274 cal to go!

I'm really enjoying the cardio boxing routines. That's part of the reason for the increase in calorie burns. It makes for a great warm up.

The Your Shape FE web site is still not fully functional, and it's been at least 2 weeks since I've been able to access their support forums. For some reason I get an error when I try to log into them. There are others with the same problem. At first, the reps in their Facebook page seemed concerned and were passing along info to their support people, but now our pleas appear to go ignored... and the problem still exists.

The leaderboard stats are a little f'd up too. For example, it has me listed twice. The "female" one is not the correct one, obviously. :)

That was yesterday, but it's still listing me twice today.

There have also been some questions about when they're going to post "events" on their web site that we can participate in. No replies to those questions either.

It's annoying when a product is released with virtually no support to back it up.

Here's my current rank:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kinect & Your Shape FE - Week 3 progress

Since the last update, I discovered that I had entered my weight incorrectly into Your Shape FE when I did the fitness test. I fixed it, and it didn't seem to change the recommended workouts. However, since my weight was incorrect, it miscalculated the calorie burn. Heavier people burn calories faster. Based on the number of calories burned at my correct weight, I estimate it is around 360-400 calories short. Not a big deal though.

After completing the 12 easyier sessions, I went in search of something different. I learned the the Cardio programs will change daily, which makes it a whole lot more interesting. Plus, they appear to be broken down into two or three routines per session, which lets me decide how many sessions I want to do per day. I upped my workouts to burn around 200 per workout. That lasted until the weekend.

I had a little setback (err... night out) on Saturday. I didn't go crazy, but it definitely wasn't part of my fitness agenda. :) Good food. Cold beer. Fun times.

So, on Sunday I was wiped. Not hungover, just tired. I did try to workout in the evening but after a few routines, I was so winded it scared me a little. I had to call it quits.

At least I tried, so the guilt was minimal.

This evening, I decided to re-do the fitness test with my correct weight set to see if anything would change. It didn't seem to affect the recommendations as far as I can see, but it feels better knowing that it's based on my correct weight.

I redid one of the easy sessions for this evening's workout, which is how I determined how much short the total calorie burn was with the incorrect weight. It went well, but it felt like a bigger workout than it was. I didn't feel as energetic. Either I was still in weekend recovery mode, or missing a workout really messed things up.

On to the weight loss for this week. There was none. In fact, I gained about ½ a pound. Should I be surprised? No. Oddly enough, I weighed myself on Friday and it had me about 3 lbs heavier, so in the end a ½ lb is good enough for me.

We'll see how this week goes, but I suspect I'll have to start taking a serious look at what I eat if I'm going to have any chance of achieving a 10lb per month loss. The Christmas holidays sure aren't going to help with that either.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Shape

I'm sort of... round. :)

I've never been a big fan of working out. I don't particularly enjoy exercise unless its a byproduct of something fun. Cycling, for example, I do enjoy, although last summer I didn't do very much of that at all and I'm not sure why.

You would think that being on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol and being about 70lbs overweight would be enough to make me wake up. You would think that years ago when my doctor compared my health situation to a house that would fall apart in 5 or 6 years, it would wake me up.

You would think.

And it did, for about 2 years. My doctor was somewhat of a hard-ass, no bullshit kind of doctor. Some hated him. I hated him, at first, but then realized that he's just telling me like it is. I didn't want to hear the speech every 3 months when I saw him, so I did something about it. I lost 45 pounds back then, down to 240lbs. Then I had to switch doctors, for reasons beyond my control.

I put most of the weight back on.

On the plus side, I did quit smoking almost 2 years ago, but the weight remained between 260 and 270lbs.

This past fall, I had the opportunity to try something very cool: Xbox Kinect.

When the official release date arrived, we picked up a few games for it, one of which was Your Shape Fitness Evolved.

Perhaps my head isn't screwed on the right way, but the thought of earning Xbox achievements in exchange for burning calories appealed to me.

Yeh, you'd think that perhaps living a longer life would be more appealing.

Anyway, for whatever reason, this "game" has woken me up.

The first day I tried it, the "beginner" workout that it created for me after my assessment kicked my ass. I actually pulled my calf muscle. I had to put my workouts on hold for a few days to let my calf heal.

When I resumed, I tried morning workouts on a weekend and found that I didn't have the same energy as I did after work, so after work ended up being my chosen workout time of day. Since then, with the exception of a few days, I've been doing my beginner workout and the odd "gym game" or "cardio boxing" session on a daily basis. I try to burn at least 100 calories each time, which works out to somewhere between a 20 to 30 minute workout. It's not much, but it's 100 calories more than I was burning before, and I'm sure it's building muscle.

It really didn't take long before the workouts didn't make me feel like I was run over by a truck. I seem to be adjusting to them quickly, and that's a major plus for me.

In that time, I also bought a digital scale. Our old one was so inconsistent. I'm not 100% sure of what I weighed at the start, but if I estimate my starting weight at around 267lbs, I have now lost 3.8lbs since. That's 3.8lbs in under a month. And, I haven't made any significant changes to my eating habits -- yet.

I've never been to a health club or anything like that, so I can't really compare them with "Your Shape", but to me it does feel like I'm at one and I have my own virtual trainer who motivates me and tells me where and when I'm not keeping up with them, all in my own living room; and without feeling uncomfortable or awkward.

Another plus is seeing and tracking my progress in the game and on the Your Shape web site. Seeing really is believing. :) As of tonight, I have burned ~1400 calories in total and completed the beginner workout sessions.

This is a great start for me. The more I do it, the more I want to do it.

I highly recommend Kinect. If workouts aren't your thing, there are more game-like games available for it that are a lot of fun to play. My daughter really likes Dance Central, and Kinect Sports is my fav and can also give you quite a workout without even realizing it.

I'll keep posting the occasional update of my progress, so if you're interested keep checking back here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Xbox 360 compatible USB storage

Ever since Microsoft released the dashboard update for the Xbox 360 that allows it to read and write to USB drives, I’ve been searching for any information on compatible USB sticks storage. The last I read, a list was “forthcoming”.

In addition to that update, Microsoft also announce that they would be selling preconfigured, Xbox branded, USB sticks by Sandisk. In typical Microsoft fashion, they will be overpriced at around $70 for 16GB, and $35 for 8GB. I wouldn’t hold your breath on MS providing a list of compatible USB sticks.

I already tried a 4GB “Energizer” brand that I had lying around on my Xbox and it gave me a warning that it did not pass the performance tests. Despite that, it has been working fine.

I noticed that the part number on the Xbox sticks was similar to Sandisk’s own Cruzer flash drives, so I had a look around for those. I found 16GB Sandisk Cruzer USB sticks at Best Buy for $40 each. It wouldn’t surprise me if they are the exact same drive in different cases. The one linked above on Sandisk’s own page says “new design” but looks pretty much the same as the one at Best Buy.

I ordered a couple and they arrived today. They seem to work great and they pass the Xbox’s performance test.

It should be noted that these drives come with some program installed called U3 Launcher and a hidden partition. If you plan on only using this on your Xbox, it might be worth removing it and freeing up the space. You can find information and a removal tool by searching Google.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting paid to promote your music

I read an old article earlier today where Trent Reznor said that Nine Inch Nails won’t be releasing any more tunes to games, like Rock Band.

On more than one occasion in the article, he said music isn’t a game.

“Music isn’t a game, it’s supposed to be an emotional kind of experience.”

“I want it to be an album, a piece of music and not a game.”

Having your music in a game doesn’t make your music a game. It doesn’t take away from the “emotional kind of experience” at all. At least not in my eyes.

It’s a golden opportunity to introduce your music to new ears. Get old ears excited about an upcoming release. And on top of that, I’m sure they get a cut of the $$ made selling the songs as download content for a game like Rock Band.

That’s even better than free publicity. That’s paying publicity.

Since my wife and I got hooked on the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises, we’ve been introduced to many new bands and I’ve bought the music as a result. These are sales that probably never would have happened otherwise.

I’m sure there are bands out there that would kill for an opportunity like that.

I think Trent is missed the point. His loss. Hopefully some other band’s gain.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ear Force X3 Headset -- my review (or 2 cents)

I love gaming. I love gaming late at night. Unfortunately, this means that I can't play certain games and fully enjoy the experience without disturbing my family as they sleep.

I discovered that Turtle Beach makes wireless headsets to solve this problem. They allow you to listen to the audio of the game AND chat with friends at the same time. Up to now, my options were:
  1. use the original Xbox headset and keep the game sound low
  2. plug my stereo headphones into the stereo to listen to the game audio and not bother with voice chat
  3. use both my stereo headphones and the Xbox headset at the same time (ever tried wearing two headsets at the same time?) :)
I picked up the Ear Force X3 after a few friend recommendations and reading glowing reviews on the web. I had high hopes for these, but I have to say that I am disappointed.

The sound is good and they're comfortable, but there is one thing about them that is making me seriously consider returning them: they are not compatible with the Rock Band guitars or the Xbox chatpad. You can't even use the adapter wire that came with Rock Band.

I thought that surely I must be doing something wrong. I visited the Turtle Beach web site and found this:
The wireless X3 and X4 model headsets use special connectors that draw power from the Xbox handheld controller's "puck" connection. This connection is used to power the X3/X4 chat level boost, which boosts the chat when game soundtracks get so loud that they might obscure the chat channel.

Because the Chatpad, Rock Band and Racing Wheel controllers do not provide these extra power connections, the X3 and X4 headsets are *not* compatible with these aftermarket controllers. There are no adapters available that will make them compatible.

The Guitar Hero controller has been reported to work with the X-series headsets.
So, not only can I not use it with the chatpad or the RB2 guitar, but I can't use it with the racing wheel either.

I may be able to live with not using it with the chatpad, or the racing wheel, but when I play Rock Band or Guitar Hero, I use the RB2 guitar. My main purpose for getting these was so I could talk and play RB2 or GHWT later at night. Without being able to talk, I may as well wear my old stereo headphones and put up with the inconvenience of the headphone wire extension. (and wear two headsets at the same time) :)

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rock Band & Country Music?

Still on a musical roll here...

I read over here, that Rock Band will be getting a few country music songs in the download content next Tuesday.

This is a first. Feedback has been mixed. Some say country music has no place in Rock Band and it should get its own game to play in. Others don't seem to mind.

I'm not fan of country music, but I'd certainly rather play it than some of the death metal stuff that came with Rock Band 2 -- songs like "Visions" that sound worse than rocks in a blender. Country music is closer to "rock" than that crap, IMHO.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

Midnight Line-up for Gears of War 2

Future Shop, Halifax, Nova ScotiaGears of War 2 for the Xbox 360 is due for release later today. Future Shop and Best Buy were holding midnight release sales for an hour to let gamers be the first to get their hands on the game.

I've never stood in line for the release of any game before. The only time I ever got in a line-up early for anything was Pink Floyd tickets way back in the 80's. Anyway, even though I didn't expect to have any trouble finding the game later today, I decided to go to Future Shop tonight just for kicks.

The doors were supposed to open at 11:59pm. I left home at around 11:20pm, and after hitting Timmy's for a coffee, I arrived at Future Shop at around 11:30pm. I didn't expect a long line-up since this wasn't like a new release of Halo, and I wasn't disappointed. I estimated that there were around 20 people waiting. They had a BBQ going with hotdogs and drinks in front of the store. No idea if they charged for them. They also had a chalk drawing of the Gears of War logo on the sidewalk. The few employees that stood outside all had Gears of War T-shirts on.

I sat in the warmth of my my truck, drank my coffee and had a smoke.

About 10 minutes later, I saw two other cars drive into the parking lot, so I decided it was time to get in line. If I counted correctly, I was 17th in line.

People talked mostly about the game, or its predecessor, Gears of War. I have never played the original game. Others talked about the Sens vs Flyers hockey game from earlier in the evening.

At around 11:50pm a cop car pulled into the parking lot slowly and drove past the front of the store watching us as they talked on their radio. A few people made jokes that they sent a lady cop to deal with large crowd of guys hanging around outside Future Shop after closing hours. Not quite sure why that was funny since she was the one with a gun. :)

She started to drive away and then came back and rolled down her window to speak with one of the employees. One of the guys in line said he saw someone staring out the window of a house that backed onto the parking lot. We figure they called the cops because it looked odd that 25 guys were hanging around outside Future Shop just before midnight. :)

She drove off, content that there were no shenanigans going on.

Just before midnight one of the employees told us all that if we had a pre-order, we could go straight to the customer service desk. A few minutes later, they started to let people in 5 at a time.

About 5 minutes later, some of the first people that were let in started to come out, with their purchases in hand. One of them made a comment that he had waited 2½ hours. I guess he expected more people. Sucker. :)

By 12:10am, I was in the store. The aisles were all blocked off with caution tape to keep people at the front of the store, where they had the display set up with the games, the "bonus" Gears of War figurines, along with Xbox Live Points cards, controllers, and other miscellaneous Xbox 360 hardware.

I picked up a game, the free figurine and headed to the cash.

I was back in my truck and on the way home by 12:15am. As I drove off, the last of those in line were on their way into the store.

I'm sure it wasn't as exciting as any bigger selling game, like Halo, but it was kinda cool. I don't know if I'd do it again, especially when stores like Best Buy are guaranteeing stock on the first day, or they'll give you a $20 gift card.

My curiosity has been satisfied.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When "free" isn't really free

Harmonix finally announced the list of 20 "free" tracks for Rock Band 2, slated for November 4th.
  • The 88 - "Sons and Daughters"
  • Authority Zero - "No Regrets"
  • Between the Buried and Me - "Prequel To The Sequel"
  • The Cab - "Bounce"
  • The Chevelles - "Get It On"
  • The Cocktail Slippers - "Give It To Me"
  • Dealership - "Database Corrupted"
  • Endeverafter - "I Wanna Be Your Man"
  • The Ghost Hounds - "Ashes To Fire"
  • Hollywood Undead - "Young"
  • Kutless - "The Feeling"
  • The Len Price 3 - "If I Ain't Got You"
  • Lesley Roy - "I'm Gone, I'm Going"
  • Opiate for the Masses - "Burn You Down"
  • Semi-Precious Weapons - "Magnetic Baby"
  • Shaimus - "Like a Fool"
  • Thenewno2" - Crazy Tuesday"
  • Tickle Me Pink - "The Time Is Wrong"
  • Underoath - "Desperate Times, Desperate Measures"
  • X Japan - "I.V."
The Rock Band forums are abuzz, but mostly negative.

I searched YouTube for each title to have a listen, and I'm a little disappointed. Quite frankly, most of the songs that they've included in the "free" track pack are crap. Many in the forum are of the same opinion. They appear to be indie bands -- not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, most of the original indie content that came with the game is fun to play and I've been introduced to bands I probably wouldn't heard otherwise. I'm all for it, but come one, at least give us some GOOD indie content worth playing or listening to.

There are some who seem to be pleased with the list, and some of those people are slamming those who are expressing their dislike about the songs.

"It's free, what do you expect?" is the most common response. Let's get something straight here. Although Harmonix marketed them as "free", they aren't. We paid for those 20 songs when we bought the game. I don't recall reading anything about it being "for a limited time" or for early buyers. It was promoted as including "20 free downloadable songs" at a later date, therefore the price we paid for the game included those songs. End of story. Had they released the game without the promise of free content, and then at a later date said "Hey, we're gonna give you guys 20 free songs!", then you could argue "hey, it's free, what do you expect". Alas, that is not the case.

At least one person speculates that this list of 20 songs was not the original list that they intended to give away. They said that they believe Harmonix decided to sell that content at $2 per song and give away the songs they knew they couldn't sell. Again, it's speculation, but it does seem to make some $en$e.

Now we wait for November 4th to see exactly how this track pack will be distributed. I'm really hoping that they allow us to pick and choose which ones we want from the list, but I fear that it's going to be an all or nothing deal. It would suck royally if we have to accept the entire 20 songs just for a few, because that would mean more undesirable content appearing on the game's "Mystery Set lists" while playing the game. There's nothing worse than having to play a song you don't like among three or four songs that you do like.

There is a small silver lining to all of this. There was at least one song that I found rather catchy: Lesley Roy, "I'm Gone, I'm Going". She reminds me of a cross between Paramore and Kelly Clarkson. Although I'm mostly a rocker type of guy, I do like the occasional pop song. :) I know that my daughter is going to love singing along with it in Rock Band.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rock Band drum kit warranty replacement

A follow up to my past posting about warranty replacements for Rock Band drum kits...

Me warranty replacement kit arrived while we were on vacation. Fortunately for me, my sister inlaw happened to be outside when it arrived so she signed for it.

It seems that EA isn't sending the newer models out as replacements afterall. I, and two friends, all received another "EL" series kit to replace our defective kits.

I tested it out over the last couple of days and it does work better than the one I'm sending back, so I still happy with it. But it would have been nice to get one of the newer series to avoid any future failures.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Rock Band Drum Kits & Warranties

Rock Band (video game)Image via WikipediaHere's something I found out today, that some of you Rock Band owners may not be aware of.

EA has extended the default 60-day warranty on the Rock Band hardware.

I quick search of the web will bring you many links to complaints about the drum kit failing. An indication of a failing drum kit would be hits on the pads that don't consistently register as hits.

When we first got the drum kit earlier in the year, I dismissed many of my missed notes as bad timing on my part. I had heard of faulty drum kits, but since we were beyond the 60-day warranty, I just accepted it. I could still get a fairly good percentage on songs, so it didn't take away much from the enjoyment I got from the game.

It seems that the kit in question is one with "EL" in the serial number underneath the pads. They later fixed the problem with a second series that has "QM" in the serial number. You can find information about the serial numbers at various sites on the web, but this one has pictures to help you determine which one you have.

A friend at work, who recently got Rock Band, said he was pretty sure his kit was faulty and not registering all hits on the red (snare) pad. Since he was still within the 60-day warranty, he looked into getting it replaced.

He discovered that EA states on their support web site that they will continue to make "exceptions" to the 60-day warranty until October 1st, 2008. By "exceptions", I mean no questions asked. No proof of purchase required. No asking for the date of purchase. Nothing. Just fill out the RMA request, provide a credit card number for a $125 "hold charge", and they send you replacement pads along with a pre-paid shipping label to send the old kit back to them. Once they receive the old kit within 28 days, the will remove the $125 hold.

This was good news to me.

This evening a ran a few tests of our drum kit. I switched to practice mode and chose The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". I picked the part in the song where there is no instrument playing required and set it to 50% speed to lengthen the passage. I hit each pad repeatedly, with a steady beat. Sure enough, not all the hits on the red "snare" pad registered. The other pads seemed to work OK.

Is it any surprise, or coincidence, that both my friend's drum kit and mine are both the EL series?

I went to, answered a few questions and then filled out the RMA request. Sure enough, no proof of purchase was requested. Unfortunately for us Canadians, the only option is to use a credit card for the $125 hold. U.S. residents have the option of requesting the pre-paid packing to ship the old kit back first, and then receive the replacement.

I would expect that EA will send the QM series as a replacement, or the newer "SL" series which is apparently just as good as the QM. We'll see how it all plays out.

Coincidentally, while I was testing our drum kit this evening, my nephew called me to say that he just bought the drum kit and was having problems. Whenever he hit the red and yellow pad at the same time, the red wouldn't register. I told him to try the same tests that I did, and also check for the serial number.

He called back to tell me that the red pad was definitely a problem, and his serial number has "EL" in it. I told him he could try exchanging it at EB Games, or he could try an RMA through EA.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Poll finds number of Canadians playing video games naked

Digital Home Canada - Poll finds number of Canadians playing video games naked: "one in five Canadian men (17%) has played a computer game in the nude while a significantly smaller percentage of women (9%) have done the same"
I'm not sure if this is funny, or disturbing. Why anyone would want to play video games -- while naked -- is puzzling.

They also have other interesting stats in the story.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 2

It's officially day 2 of my 2-week vacation and so far I have done nothing terribly exciting.

Monday was spent vegging on the couch and playing Rock Band. :) Oh... and the inlaws from 4 or 5 doors away came over for cake since it was my Birthday.

This morning my wife and I attended our daughter's school play for an hour, after my wife dropped our truck off at the dealership to get the paint chips on the bumper repaired. The remainder of my family-free day was spent watching a movie and farting around here on the laptop.

Now that the kids are home from school, I'm sitting on the doorstep typing this boring blog entry.

Tomorrow will probably be more of the same, but in the evening I'll hopefully be going to pre-register our team for this Friday's Relay for Life event. That's assuming that I can get everyone's cash donations to bring with me, otherwise we'll have to wait until Friday evening to register during the event.
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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Guitar Hero & Rock Band Haters Make Me Laugh

To play a note, the fret button and strum bar must be pressed when the solid note scrolls through the corresponding ring at the bottom. The interface shows the player's score and score multiplier (left), Star Power meter (right), and Rock Meter (bottom right).I can't help but laugh at all the Guitar Hero & Rock Band haters out there.

I was browsing a few impressive videos of young people playing both of these games when I noticed a trend. It never fails that some know-it-all chips in his two cent comment like "That sucks man, play that on a real guitar" and adding that they hate it when some kid thinks that it's like playing a real guitar.

The only people I ever see making a comparison between Guitar Hero or Rock Band and a real guitar or drum kit is the so-called "real" musicians who hate the game.

Here's a particularly pissed off individual, quoted straught from a YouTube video (spelling & grammar errors included) of Eddie Van Halen's live "Eruption":
"It fuckin pisses me off,kids go into the guitar shops while youre playing a real guitar,and theyre like,yeah,I can play that...on guitar hero,its easy.and they think theyre real bad asses.Guitar Hero has to be one of the worst inventions ever."
Good grief, does that really matter? It's apples and oranges.

I'm sure there are probably a few kids who think that it's like the real thing, but so what? If it gets them interested in music, maybe one day they'll take interest in learning a real instrument?

I've heard some say that these games are nothing more than a glorified "Simon" game. Hate to break it to you, but they're more difficult than Simon. There's more coordination needed to play. It's not as simple as just pressing a coloured button when it flashes. There's timing involved in pressing the button and hitting the strum bar. You have to be in sync with the notes. You need to get a feel for the rhythm and the beat to play the game well.

If you're one of these haters, keep your hate to yourself. Don't slam anyone who likes the game. You've got nothing to fear. You may or may not realize this, but these games are designed created by REAL musicians. People who can play real instruments, AND play the game well.

Maybe that's why you hate the game. Because you can't do both?
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