My First Week In Rocksmith 2014

I have tried to learn guitar many times in my life, from early lessons in my teens and sitting down with friends. I never forced myself to sit down and actually learn due to the wonderful distraction era we live in.

While I have owned an acoustic guitar for quite a bit, I never took the plunge to delve into the world of electric due to knowing myself and thinking I would never be committed to actually sitting down everyday and learning it.

I have found enjoyment in games such as Guitar Hero but was frustrated with the fact that it was just a rhythm game with a fake guitar with big’ol colorful buttons. Playing it at a friends house I felt like I could be learning the actual thing with my time invested. While I am getting older and turning into Randy Marsh, I feel the guitar is a timeless investment.

After some research I found out about Rocksmith 2014 via scouring Bing/Youtube for key search terms “guitar hero with a real guitar for PC”. And was pleasantly surprised when I found Riff Repeater’s videos. Watching him play to songs I love and seeing how the visuals worked, I knew this would be a game I could learn from so I have to delve deeper.

Doing research I learned about how the game really eases you into pretty much everything guitar. The game learns from how well you’re doing and throws you curve balls into the mix once you start doing better. You can even pause a song and repeat a riff and set a plethora of settings such as slowing down time so you can continue to work on where your hands should be.

Their official video explains the base features far better than I can.

So during a night of drinking after work I finally took the plunge. I found a cheap decent looking electric guitar on amazon and ordered a physical copy of the game because I needed the ‘real tone cable’ to plug into my PC.

The physical copy of the game came the next day (thanks Amazon) and was ecstatic to find out it was steam integrated so I could take advantage of the current sale going on for some song DLC. I only picked up a couple songs such as The Doors – “People are Strange”, Queen – “Another One Bites the Dust”, Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze”, and the Queens of the Stoneage song pack as I am more focused on learning the guitar instead of owning ever song I want to play. I don’t even know at this point if this is something that will even work out for me, but I am hopeful.

Don't plan on buying every DLC available unless you have the cash.

Don’t plan on buying every DLC available unless you have the cash.

A couple days later the guitar arrived (which I have named Lini) and the amount of excitement I got when opening that box felt like the day I opened my first N64 as a kid on Christmas. I know that she is a cheap guitar comparatively but when I took her out she was and still is beautiful and most importantly, she is mine.

I wanted to get started right away but I also had to set limits for myself. I don’t want to get burned out and I have to take it slow, most importantly I need to be consistent. I applied the stickers that came with the guitar and loaded up the game.

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When you boot up you are presented with a few questions such as your skill level, what type of guitar and what position you want to play in the “band”. I picked the Lead position because that obviously sounds like the most fun.

Got started and quickly realized how much I sucked, but that was OK because I was also having tons of fun and also felt the progress. The game started me off really easily and while I knew I wasn’t playing the whole song, I knew I was playing with the song. Playing parts of the chorus and getting more comfortable simply holding the guitar. I told myself that I would do at least 1 hour everyday and not force myself to overdo it. So while I could have gone longer I stopped myself and noticed how much of an itch I was getting to continue.

The next day was Friday and it was time to delve even deeper. I continued down in my comfort zone and played a song I felt was fun, Jaws – Stay In. The game quickly threw me a curve ball and kicked me right out of that comfort zone. While I didn’t get it right away, the time the chorus hit again I was able to adapt and was able to actually do it. And while it probably didn’t sound just right, it felt great because I was able to make progress and there is no better feeling than that.

I ended up taking a day off due to other things going on with the internal promise that I would not give up and I would continue playing daily. The next day I realized how much that one day set me back and felt like I needed to relearn things, but the most important thing was the fact that I was continuing and that is progress in itself.

I started to split my time between songs and the mini games they offer. The mini games are awesome and teach you the basic techniques. Really helpful and most importantly fun.

What have I learned?

I have noticed the more I continue and the more it’s on my mind and the more I improve. While I do have those stickers on my guitar, I am starting to not stare at the guitar as much and getting more comfortable with where my hands are.

I am starting to garner more rhythm as I continue

I’m thinking about it constantly in the shower and work on how to actually improve.

And the most important thing I have learned is that I am having fun and I simply cannot wait to play more.

Conclusion

Just today I was sitting on the menu screen not playing the game but actually just playing the guitar, coming up with my own notes and techniques. Is this game fun? YES. Will I continue to keep playing and get better? Absolutely.

Thoughts from VR Demo Night at the Unity HQ

VR = Virtual Reality

Before I begin I would like to say that this is the first time I have used the Oculus Rift and all of the hardware demos they had to show. For the low cost of absolutely nothing I got to go inside and play and observe all these demos at the Unity HQ.

People starting to gather up to mess with VR demos

People starting to gather up to mess with VR demos

I didn’t play too many demos, I mostly observed as there was 500+ people in a small office section and lines for everything up the wazoo. Observing was just as good as I wanted to see what people did outside of the VR, how they moved and reacted to what was going on on the screen. Some demos people were perfectly safe sitting and some even safe while standing. One demo, Jedi Training, had people standing using lightsabres blocking attacks. Repeatably the devs hosting the demo had to stop people from walking into people swinging their ‘lightsabre’ controllers. One guy was super into it yelling his warchant and even lunging forward as he blocked attacks. Most of the people I observed were pretty stationary though and just did a boring X blocking pattern. I don’t blame the players for this as it was probably the easiest way to win, it just didn’t look very Jedi to me.

Dev making sure everything works in the Jedi demo

Dev making sure everything works in the Jedi demo

WARNING: LOUD AUDIO Here is a video of someone playing the Jedi demo doing the typical X block everyone gravitated to.

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Another demo was the ability to use your hands to push on things and break them apart. The calibration basically had you hold up your finger and spin a ball. With no feet work or illusion of movement, and quick hand movements needed in the demo people did not move much and had no issues hitting people in the face when trying to push buttons or messing with bike pieces.

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A demo that I didn’t fully understand as it was always crowded, loud and was impossible to hear the guy talking was a Ring called the “Nod”

I saw a chess demo on the screen and the concept was really cool but the demo video on their main site kinda worries me about the latency. I certainly will not be playing Halo with it but for turn based games like Chess or Civilization I can see it being really handy.
(pun intended)

Site link

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My favorite hardware demo was the one from Tactical Haptics. This one I did sit down for and was also my very first oculus rift experience. As for the software it wasn’t much to write home about but it did what it was made to do and that was to show off the controllers. The haptic feedback controllers are made to feel like you are doing whatever you are doing in VR space. The demos they had were

  • pulling on rope
  • using a slingshot
  • shooting pistols
  • flail
  • sword

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The flail and sword were a little lack luster but I think that was because of the limited amount of space and not wanting to hit anything. Pulling back on the sling shot or pulling apart the rope really felt.. nice. You can really feel the tension in the pull and the firing of the pistols. I’m excited to see where controllers go in the future of VR

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sadly didn't get a picture of the monsters, they didn't show up much because you needed to run away from them.

sadly didn’t get a picture of the monsters, they didn’t show up much because you needed to run away from them.

What is a VR demo night without a clean normal video game played on a normal console controller. But this isn’t just any game, it’s a first person survival pacman name “Dark Deception”. Run around in the maze, look down to see the map, wakka wakka wakka all the purple gems and try not to get caught by the creepy as shit looking monsters. I observed this for a while because I wanted to see someone beat it and a guy got pretty close but took one wrong turn and was taken down. The game wasn’t really shock horror but I am really scared to see a shock horror game on the Oculus. They will need sensors for your pants to tell when you are pissing them so your character in-game also pisses him/herself.

Glow Stick Games website

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There were face recognition demos. Mostly webcam but also a cell phone app that will manipulate your face into different animals and beast. SOE has also done something like this for EverQuest 2. I personally never played around with it but this could be really useful for people who are plugging into the Matrix and really enhance the way we interact and socialize on the WWW

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Looksery website

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The rest of the demos I saw were observant VR Oculus demos, like a concert behind the DJ where you could look around or a view of inside San Fransisco on top of a moving car where you can look around.

Device used to take constant 360 pictures so you can look around in a moving space.

Device used to take constant 360 pictures so you can look around in a moving space.

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Thoughts on the Oculus

The star of the show, the Oculus Rift. As many of you know the Oculus Rift has been bought out by Facebook and there have been many jokes about Facebook statuses and sharing moments with your friends. I for one was not too thrilled to find out about this but after thinking about it some more I realized that this is a really good direction for Facebook to move in. They have always wanted to touch on the gaming market and that’s why Farmville was so popular because Facebook provided those tools, but over time the limitations set in and people got bored of them or didn’t care about the future games as much. I personally ignore any gaming request I get on Facebook because I have plenty of real games to play. But with the Oculus Rift in their pocket they will be able to reinvigorate their gaming side and hopefully create a good market behind it as long as they don’t find someway to require Facebook for certain things to work.

My biggest gripe with the Oculus is that I have to use my glasses while using it, probably with the way the light works with our eye balls. I have yet to wear contacts and I don’t know if I ever will wear them so it kinda sucks that for most things ocular VR we have to deal with these kinds of things. The 3D glasses at theaters aren’t so bad anymore as they have been designed to fit over out glasses. But we still are putting an object over an object

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Conclusion

Final words from the sponsors and host

Final words from the sponsors and host

The event was put together on Meetup.com. It was really awesome that Unity hosted this event in their office in SF and for everyone who put it together. Being able to hands on try the Oculus Rift and observe people using it really changed my perspective of the prospects of VR. They provided us with drinks and pizza which was awesome (although greasy food and sugary drinks around keyboards and face devices makes me cringe) and on top of all of that the whole thing was free to attend. The whole purpose of putting it together was to get the word out about VR so it can gain critical mass. The more people that are into it the more awesome software and games start to show up. I look forward to getting my hands on my own Oculus Rift some day

When I heard there was going to be a red carpet. I knew what I had to do.

When I heard there was going to be a red carpet. I knew what I had to do.