Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back online + 1st 4-way tie for "Top Performer"

Phoenix has regained internet access, so the 32 songs we played tonight will be tracked. We played the first 24 with the optimal line-up, finishing all of those songs with at least 5 stars except for 2 (4 stars for "Kids Don't Follow" and "Sin Wagon", both very tough, the 1st especially on drums and the 2nd on guitar).

One funny moment was when we just missed getting 1 million points for "Heartbreaker" and I jokingly asked "Who's to blame?" (meaning who's the worst performer). It turned out that we all were! :) Everyone had the same percentage (98%), and there was no "Top Performer" indicator.

This is the first time there was a 4-way tie for "Top Performer" since we started tracking this info. Before that we did get 2 full band FCs (for "Nine in the Afternoon" and "Today").

We gained about 30 million points tonight (625M to 655M), so we'll continue to move up in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

- Stars breakdown for the 32 songs: Gold stars (8), 5 stars (15), 4 stars (8), 3 stars (1)
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (23), followed by Sylvie, (11), Raikan (6), and then Phoenix (3)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (8), followed by Sylvie (3), Raikan (2), and then Phoenix (1)
- Pheonix did a great job on "Hammerhead" on drums, hitting 93% of the notes, which helped us get 5 stars
- Phoenix also had a great time with his "Science Genius Girl" drum sightread (fast and fun drum pattern)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Goal for tonight: play more unranked songs

This week's session is on a Tuesday, but we go back to playing on Wednesdays next week. As usual, we will continue playing unranked RB2 songs (24 to 32 songs).

We are still ranked 24th with 573M points in the "All Songs" Leaderboards. Once Harmonix unblocks my access to the Leaderboards, we will know our updated rank (see News section in the Forums for up-to-date info).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

RB2 multi-instrumentalism + Sylvie takes over

Tonight was our first RB2 night in three weeks due to the "Beatles break". Sylvie had a great night as she was the "Top Performer" for the most songs, as well as being the one with the most FCs.

We played 28 unranked songs, the first 16 with the optimal line-up, and the last 4 with 3 players. We gained about 23 million points (602M to 625M), so we'll move up a bit in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

It was neat that we could 5-star almost every song we played, even with many people not on their usual instruments. Everyone has pretty much become a multi-instrumentalist.

Phoenix didn't have the internet set-up once again, so we're not sure if the songs we played will be uploaded to the Rock Band servers at a later date. Based on our experience the last time we didn't have a connection, I don't think this works well in RB2. We'll just have to play them again after we're done playing all the songs.

- Stars breakdown for the 28 songs: Gold stars (6), 5 stars (18), 4 stars (4)
- Sylvie was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (13), followed by Raikan and Bongoo (9 each), and then Phoenix (1)
- Sylvie had the most FCs (4), followed by Raikan (2), and then Phoenix and Bongoo (1 each)
- Phoenix would have had to have been "More Human Than Human" to do well on drums on a sightread of that song on Expert, it's quite tricky
- Phoenix is fed up with his drum silencers, so he converts them into some pretty neat slippers! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goal for tonight: go back to RB2

This week will be our first RB2 night after our 2-week Beatles break. Our sessions will now be on Wednesdays, with the exception of next week (Tuesday).

We are currently ranked 24th with 573M points in the "All Songs" Leaderboards. As usual we will play between 24 and 32 unranked songs to continue our climb.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Beatles thoughts

I started my solo play in "The Beatles: Rock Band", and here are some more thoughts about the game.

1. Stats:

Great job by Harmonix for adding more info in the Quickplay menu! Being able to see the star rating again is a plus (it was removed in RB2), but the real innovation is seeing the top 5 scores among friends, including everyone's rank. The game even tells you who is ahead of you after finishing a song. That makes it easier to pick which song to play to get ahead in the Leaderboards.

It's also great that Harmonix has added a way to see the Bass scores in the Quickplay menu. This feature was missing in previous games.

I am still planning to add the Beatles scores to in order for people to see all their scores on one page and see some expanded Leaderboards, but having this additional info in the game is a step in the right direction for Harmonix. Great work! :)

2. Dolby Digital:

When I started playing, I didn't realize that the sound was not set to Dolby Digital by default. after setting the lag calibration to my normal configuration and then playing a few songs on guitar, I noticed that some of the fast chord changes didn't match the music. I thought that was odd because I use the same settings for all the rhythm games released so far. But as soon as I switched the audio settings to Dolby Digital, the calibration issue disappeared...

We played two weeks in a row at Phoenix's house without realizing that it wasn't in Dolby Digital. I did feel the calibration was slightly off when I played guitar the first week. This could be one of the reasons why.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A "triple fag" night

Oh I meant to say "triple fab", the reward for singing a phrase perfectly with all three vocalists. :)

We had a great time trying out the vocal harmonies in "The Beatles: Rock Band" tonight. We actually managed to play all the songs, including the Encore that we skipped last week.

Next week we'll go back to playing some unranked Rock Band 2 songs. Phoenix's internet was down this week, but he'll change ISPs by next week's session due to the frequent interruptions.

For most of the night, Raikan was on the blue harmony line, Bongoo on brown, and Phoenix or Sylvie on orange. Seb also joined us near the end, with Pheonix and Raikan on drums.

Overall, I found singing the harmonies to be a great experience. Hitting the "triple fabs" was awesome as it usually sounded great. But I was annoyed or frustrated with a few aspects of the vocal system:

1. I hated when the pitch lines suddenly shifted up or down. I'm used to RB2 vocals representing the whole range for a given song and not moving. This feature is most likely due to the need to see the distance between the harmony lines, but it did make it quite difficult to adapt after a shift.

2. If someone didn't sing the beginning of a specific harmony correctly, the game had a tendency to lock a player to one of the harmony lines. That made it difficult to adjust the pitch to skip to the desired harmony line. Raikan pointed out that SingStar didn't have the lock-in feature, which made it easier to make adjustments.

3. On certain songs, the harmony lines blended so much that only a very short portion of a given line appeared independently in a segment (ex: brown line near the end of one of the songs). We could adapt to the blended colors, but this made it difficult at times to know which main line to use.

Apart from these issues, I found the vocal harmonies feature to be very well implemented. Kudos to Harmonix for bringing a new dimension to the Rock Band experience.

- Stars breakdown for the 45 songs: Gold stars (10), 5 stars (24), 4 stars (9), 3 stars (2)
- Harmony stats (highest percentage or 100% for one of the harmony lines):
- Bongoo was the "Top Vocalist" for the most songs (25), followed by Raikan (11), Phoenix (5), and Sylvie (4)
- Bongoo was the only one who had some FCs (4)
- One song we didn't like very much which I forgot to mention last week was "Good Morning Good Morning"
- We find out that the Beatles liked to say "Woo" a lot, which we often performed as "Woof"...
- Sylvie did a song with two microphones, and oddly enough, the percentages were slightly different for each one

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beatle Harmonies + RB2 Unranked

Tonight we'll start by playing "The Beatles: Rock Band" with 3 microphones. It will be neat to see how many "Triple Fabs" we can get.

We'll also go back to playing Rock Band 2, playing some unranked songs to move up in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Beatles have some funky colors

We beat "The Beatles: Rock Band"! :) It wasn't too hard to do, but it was quite a lot of fun in parts. We unlocked the bonus song "The End", but didn't have a chance to play it yet.

The first thing we noticed when we started playing is how colorful everything was. It gives the game a great visual style, but it was hard at first to get our eyes adjusted to the notes. Just as we got used to it, the game turned ultra-psychedelic in the middle section, the backgrounds occasionally overpowering everything.

I also found the hammer-on notes a bit difficult to notice, as they are closer in size to the normal notes compared to the ones in Rock Band 2.

The setlist was pretty good, with the middle "trippy" part the worst section of the game. Some of the songs were just odd and boring (ex: "Getting Better"), but the beginning and end of the game had some great songs (ex: "Here Comes the Sun").

We started the night with our optimal line-up, but when Seb showed up, we took the opportunity to try the vocal harmonies as a 5-member band. Raikan and Phoenix had some interesting vocal exchanges, especially when the game makes the singers alternate talky parts. We only had 2 mics, but we'll definitely try the game with 3 mics next week.

- Stars breakdown for the 44 songs: Gold stars (3), 5 stars (24), 4 stars (16), 3 stars (1)
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (29), followed by Sylvie and Pheonix (12 each), and Seb (2, on Medium)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (5), followed by Phoenix and Sylvie (1 each)
- We only fail on one song, "Birthday", which had some tough vocal sections
- Phoenix swaps the lyrics from one song to another pretty nicely (was it a pony, a bird, a bulldog, a walrus, or an octopus?)
- He also raps along "Helter Skelter" Beastie Boys style, coming up with some memorables lines like "I like Ewoks!" :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Goal for tonight: "The Beatles: Rock Band"

Tonight we're going to give the next Rock Band game a spin, "The Beatles: Rock Band"! :)

If we finish it, or if we want to keep some of it for another time, we'll continue our climb of the "All Songs" Leaderboards by playing some unranked Rock Band 2 songs.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Q-Bert in a Magic Bus with some unique beers

This week was our first session with the new line-up and it was a lot of fun.

We played some Q-Bert while the new DLC was downloading, with Phoenix showing us some of his daring moves (ex: jumping in harm's way to get to the annoying green tile turning monster).

We played 32 unranked songs, 24 with the new line-up and the last 8 with some instrument swaps. A lot of songs were pretty difficult tonight, which is partly due to us playing the easy songs last week.

We gained 25M points, which would be enough to move us up to 21st place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Sylvie did an amazing job on drums in the last set, finishing "Magic Bus (Live at Leeds)" on Expert. That is a crazy song on drums near the end. Keith Moon was a beast of a drummer!

- Stars breakdown for the 32 songs: Gold stars (2), 5 stars (19), 4 stars (11)
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (16), followed by Sylvie (12), Raikan (5), and Phoenix (3)
- Sylvie and Bongoo tied for the most FCs (2)
- Phoenix bought some special beer glasses that are meant for different types of beers, which we used to taste some uniquely flavoured summer beers (pineapple beer from Belgium, "homemade" Innis & Gunn (Sapporo + scotch), raspberry wheat from New York state)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Goal for tonight: have fun for our first real session with new line-up

This will be our first real session with the new line-up if everyone shows up. :)

Last week's scores have probably not been uploaded because we played offline, but we are currently ranked 25th with 567M points in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

If we play at least 24 unranked songs, that would move us up to 22nd place (including last week's scores).