Wednesday, October 28, 2009

H1N1 strikes the Macas

This week's session was cancelled as Phoenix, Sylvie and Seb are feeling really sick. Based on the symptoms described, it is likely that they have the H1N1 flu. Phoenix is feeling better tonight than earlier this week, but it is affecting the others pretty hard. We hope you all get better soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another DLC pack bites the dust

Tomorrow we will play some more unranked songs, including some of the new songs from last week's Queen 10-pack.

I didn't try the Queen songs on all instruments yet, plus there are many good ones to choose from (not just the hits), but here are my top 3 so far:

3. "One Vision": Worth it for the drum track alone, tricky but fun, with lots of variety! I can't help but think of its use in the Sony Press Conference at E3 this year.

2. "Somebody to Love": It's neat to now have a great gospel-infused song in Rock Band. The song would be lots of fun with the harmonies vocal system of The Beatles: Rock Band.

1. "Fat Bottomed Girls": Catchy, rockin' song with some great riffs.

Honorable mention. Tie for "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Under Pressure": Both songs have classic bass lines and are lots of fun to play. It will be neat to try "Under Pressure" on vocals to see how tough it is to alternate between Freddie Mercury and David Bowie.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A pink Bongoo and some tough drum songs

This week we played 24 songs, 16 with optimal line-up, plus 8 with the Trapper on Bass. We also played a few songs with 3 players, including the 3 that were released recently with only 3 parts. We gained 23M points (710M to 733M), which will move us up in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Raikan, Phoenix and Sylvie had recently changed the look of their avatars, but I had decided to keep my metal viking look. I guess I chose the wrong day to arrive later for a session, as I had been transformed by the otheres into a pink kilt wearing weirdo with a matching pink guitar... :)

- Stars breakdown for the 24 songs: Gold stars (3), 5 stars (13), 4 stars (5), 3 stars (3)
- Sylvie was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (11), followed by Bongoo, (10), and then Raikan (4)
- Sylvie is the only one who had some FCs (3)
- Phoenix had to take a break after playing "100,000 Years (Live)", "The Wagon", and "More Than Meets the Eye" in the same set (the 1st and 3rd being the only songs we didn't 5-star with the optimal line-up). The songs are not the most difficult on drums but they each require some endurance. What random band is selected for his first song after the break? Iron Maiden...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Updated Rank (Top 20) + Brütal Legend DLC

First off, a bit of news:

Harmonix unblocked my access to the Leaderboards last week (after about a month), so I was able to finish the update for the cycle that started in mid-September. We moved up to rank 20 in the "All Songs" Leaderboards, with a total of 667.5M points (close to 100M points more than before). We'll see a more accurate rank in the next update (above 700M points), when all scores are from after the blockage.

Harmonix's API will make score retrieval much faster once it is ready, but one bit of good news is that normal score retrieval seems to be faster than before, especially for scores with higher ranks. I currently have the full range of scores (top 100,000), and the last time I started a cycle with that range it was going to take about 10 days. I'm hoping the current cycle will take about the same time or less.

Tonight we will play 24-32 unranked songs, including some new DLC from last week. The only pack last week was the Brütal Legend 3-pack, which included some classics from Motörhead and Tenacious D, plus a newer Testament track. A great addition or replacement for the Brütal Legend pack would have been Dimmu Borgir's epic "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" (also from the soundtrack). There were also some very interesting single tracks last week. Here is my top 3 DLC from that selection:

3. "Kansas - Icarus - Borne on the Wings of Steel (Live)": It had been a while since we heard a good progressive rock track in Rock Band (hoping for more Dream Theater or some Opeth eventually). The track stays interesting as it changes quite often, with the highlight being the last guitar solo. It will also make you wonder if you're playing Violin Hero... :)

2. "Testament - More Than Meets the Eye": Testament was the first metal group I ever got into. They are very heavy, but still quite melodic at times with the resilient Chuck Billy as frontman and the amazing Alex Skolnick on guitar. I'm so glad that Alex is back with the group, his solos are always legendary. This time the solo is again very interesting and technical, but not as melodic as usual.

1. "Joe Satriani - Surfing with the Alien": If you've never heard Joe Satriani's guitar virtuosity before, prepare to be amazed. With Yngwie Malmsteem, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, and John Petrucci, he is one of the best guitarists on the planet. "Satch Boogie" might be more intense (now the hardest guitar song in the game, hard to believe "Caprici di Diablo" could be topped), but I find that "Surfing with the Alien" is a better song overall. It still has some crazy technical sections, but it also has a great vibe with its dreamy main riff. I used to play some instrumental songs on my high school radio show, and this one was on regular rotation.

Honorable mention. "Tenacious D - The Metal": It's just a fun short song on all instruments. The main guitar riff was a treat to play in Guitar Hero 3 and it still is. I also like how the vocal track in the bridge section is clearer than in Guitar Hero 3, even though it masks that amazing acoustic guitar part a bit.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Trapper is back from the Gay Bar

This week the Trapper was back for his first Maca session in a while, just in time for some new DLC like "Gay Bar" by "Electric Six". Is that where he is what hiding? ;) I personally like "Dance Epidemic" from that group better (see last post), but "Gay Bar" was sure to get a reaction from everyone...

We played 32 songs, 16 of which were with the optimal line-up. We gained 30M points in the process (going from 680M to 710M), which will help us gain ground in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

- Stars breakdown for the 32 songs: Gold stars (8), 5 stars (20), 4 stars (3), 3 stars (1)
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (18), followed by Sylvie, (11), Phoenix (7), and then Raikan (6)
- Sylvie and Bongoo tied for the most FCs (2 each), followed by Raikan and Phoenix (1 each)
- We 5-starred everything with the optimal line-up, except for "Police Truck" (4 stars), which has some fairly difficult parts for all instruments
- Phoenix, Raikan and Bongoo tie with 97% of notes hit twice in a row (for "Poison" and "Creepin' Up the Backstairs"), but Sylvie just had to be different... :)
- Phoenix finds out that some of his least favourite bands have some very fun drum tracks ("Had a Dad" and "Even Flow")
- We randomly pick "Killed By Death '08" and then "Hell Hole", a logical progression...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I can play some DLC with no strumbar, with no strumbar

This week we will play more unranked songs, including some from last week ("Electric Six", "The Raconteurs", "Alanis Morissette", and "The Flobots").

Out of all the new songs, my favourite is "Handlebars" from "The Flobots" (hence the title of this post). It's just a fun song to play and hear, especially for the vocals and drums (+ gotta love the trumpet). 2nd place goes to "Dance Epidemic" from "Electric Six" (groovy), and 3rd to "Steady, As She Goes" from "The Raconteurs" (good overall music writing). "Alanis Morissette" would get a mention (especially for "Ironic"), but her songs were so overplayed in Ottawa in 1995 that they are somewhat annoying, even to this day.

We are currently ranked 24th with 573M points in the "All Songs" Leaderboards, but our real total is 680M. Harmonix is working on an API for more efficient Leaderboard score retrieval (just the data, plus all 100,000 scores for a song at once). Once it is ready to use, I'll have here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Charlene" 1-star + "Do You Want To" Play As Lefty

Tonight was a fun night as we played 25 unranked songs, plus a special 1-star performance of "Charlene (I'm Right Behind You)". :) I had seen a video of a band trying to get the lowest score possible on that song on Expert. I think we did a "great job", with Phoenix winning the prize for "worst performer" with 36%.

We also played a trick on Phoenix before "Do You Want To", switching his drum settings to "Lefty Mode" He thought the track was very odd, eventually realizing what was going on because of the energy activation on the red pad instead of the green one. :)

We played our last unranked RB1 song ("Dead On Arrival"), and we have about 64 unranked DLC songs remaining. There were two weeks where we played offline, so adding those songs to the total and considering the weekly DLC, we'll likely have caught up with all the songs by December.

We gained about 25 million points tonight (655M to 680M), so we'll continue to move up in the "All Songs" Leaderboards (when I regain access to the Leaderboards).

- Stars breakdown for the 26 songs: Gold stars (10), 5 stars (13), 4 stars (2, for "Wolf Like Me" and "I Will Not Bow"), 1 star (1, for "Charlene (I'm Right Behind You)")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (14), followed by Sylvie, (10), and then Pheonix and Raikan (4 each)
- Raikan, Sylvie and Bongoo tied for the most FCs (1 each)
- We found out that "There Was a Time" was really "There Were 2 Times" (restart due to a crazy guitar solo finish)
- We had a 2nd week in a row with a 4-way tie for "Top Performer" (98% each for "No Rain", no "Top Performer" indicator)
- We almost had another 4-way tie at 97% for "Pick Me Up", but Sylvie just had to be the only one with 98%... ;)

P.S. Phoenix is inquiring about "" being down. Once it's fixed the Score Reader will once again be functional.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Goal for tonight: more rockin' to unranked songs

We"re back to playing on Wednesdays this week, and we'll likely keep this day of the week for Rock Band sessions for the forseeable future. Our goal as always will be to continue playing unranked RB2 songs (24 to 32 songs). We will certainly have finished playing all the songs by the end of the year. We'll then jump to playing the weekly DLC and songs with low scores (ex: played with 1 instrument).

We are still ranked 24th with 573M points in the "All Songs" Leaderboards, even though we really have 655M points. Hopefully Harmonix will soon unblock my access to the Leaderboards so we can see our real rank. You can see a thread with info about this issue right here.

P.S. Sad news yesterday as it was announced that Evile bassist Mike Alexander (of "Thrasher" fame) had died while touring in Sweden at the age of 32. R.I.P.