Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rock On!

So did you spend a wad of cash on Rock Band 2 this Christmas? Did you have to buy an expensive console to go with it? Did you lose hours to playing the the happiness that is Rock Band and or Guitar Hero (but secretly feel guilty about the price)?

Well you are not going to like me very much.

Last night I was over at a friend of mine's. Now I had been perfectly happy to scoff at anybody who lost hours of their life playing these rhythm music games. Then he had to pull it out. And I played it. And I liked it. And my wife played it. And she liked it. Rats. Big fat expensive rats. We were driving home and when I reached to turn up a song on the radio she asked "You are thinking about Rock Band too, aren't you?" Yes. Yes I was.

So after drinking too much coffee on the drive home I sat down to think about it. I was jealous and wanted Rock Band II. But I have one problem. I am cheap (cut my own hair cheap). Friends have tried to call me frugal but they are just being nice. So I started looking for a free open source clone. Enter Unsigned. A free open source rhythm music game. It felt just like Rock Band. The bonus is that apparently XBox 360 instruments connect to PC's quite easily. After some reading it looks like Wii and PS2/3 versions will too - but with more work. (I already have experience hooking WiiMote's up to my laptop.)

I was surprised to find out that the program runs well on my low end work laptop. I have only been using the keyboard to play and it is fun. Later this afternoon I intend to go and rent a XBox 360 guitar controller to try. There looks like a reasonably active community that creates charts for existing music (charts are the part that tell you when to hit the buttons - the actual game). You are supposed to own a real copy of the original music. There are more free tools for doing it yourself.

The cons? It is not as pretty as the real thing. The song charts are user created so most of them don't have all of the instruments and don't have all of the difficulty levels. (Why don't they make more easy levels? Not all of us can play on expert!) The program actually isn't even finished. All we have now is a beta version. If you try and play a song on a difficulty level that hasn't been created then all you look at for the entire song is a bunch of empty frets. The songs and charts are a little bit annoying to download - you usually have to move the files around to two different directories.

It definatly isn't perfect - but I am sure that there are flaws with the money I am saving too. Until I win the lottery I will continue being cheap and playing this free game. It's fun.

Now where did I leave those hair clippers?


pcone said...

Cheap yes, but also determined.

You and my mum should go shopping at dollar stores together some time. (Do you drink tea? If so, she would think you the perfect "young man" (she's 82)).

Anonymous said...

I am currently working on something similiar. I am trying to hook up all the instruments to my bowflex. Except for the drums...I have set those up to accept rounhouse kicks. One problem so far, Rock Band doesn't have a "Chuck Norris" setting.