By now we’re all familiar with the Rock Band and Guitar Hero video game franchises, which allow you to “play” a huge selection of famous songs. Big name acts are increasingly using the games to promote new releases. Aerosmith, and soon Metallica, even have entire games devoted to their music! With the release of Guitar Hero World Tour yesterday, I saw an opportunity to get in on the action.
GHWT features an in-game “recording studio” where players can record full songs and make them available to other players. My plan was to post one of my new songs as close to the game’s launch as possible, before countless other amateur efforts make it impossible to cut through the noise. Early downloads of the song would keep it high on the rankings, fueling more downloads and keeping it visible as the game grows in popularity.
I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for the horrible interface. Two simplistic tutorials are the only documentation for what one of the developers described as a “watered down version of Cubase.” As someone who’s used Cubase exclusively since 1998, I speak with authority when I say that it is nothing like Cubase. It’s not even close to the more amateur-friendly GarageBand. There are free open source music production programs that are far deeper and easier to use. Beyond the unintuitive controls, the editor lacks basic features. I couldn’t for the life of me even figure out how to play a note in a different octave!
Did I mention that you can’t even record vocals? Even the best efforts sound like glorified ringtones.
Still, the sampling of user-created songs that I downloaded were fairly complex. My guess is that the developers created MIDI files on their computers. Rumor has it that the ability to upload MIDI files is coming soon, though the Xbox 360 version will only handle drum tracks because of “hardware issues.” If those issues are resolved, it’ll be relatively painless for me to add a Color Theory track or two, but in the meantime, it’s not worth the effort.
On the plus side, my drum chops are better than ever.