Building A Real Drum Tutor

Coming from Rock Band, we would first need to either adjust the position of the pads into something more like a real kit, or allow gamers to change the positing of the pads. It's impossible to play cross handed (for a right handed drummer, the right hand would be playing the hi-hat crossing over top of the left hand) on the Rock Band setup which has caused me quite a bit of grief on Iron Maiden's Run to the Hills. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing that I learn to play open handed, but either way the layout causes you to use a different technique than you would on a real kit.

Next on the agenda would be a real kick pedal, more responsive drum heads and the addition of a hi-hat pedal. We've seen mods out there that either alter or replace the Rock Band pedal to address one or both of the two major complaints: durability and feel. Quick foot work is difficult with the Rock Band setup, and in order to learn proper technique people would need an actual pedal. Also, cymbals feel totally different than pads, but we can't think of a good way to incorporate a realistic enough cymbal feel into something like this.

The only other major change we would suggest would be to add a difficulty mode (beyond expert) where dynamics are factored in. Currently, it doesn't matter if you hit something hard or soft as long as you hit it. On a real kit, if you hit something hard it is loud and if you hit something soft it is quiet. This is one of the major things that musicians need to be well aware of that gets very lost on Rock Band.

Personally, I don't see why we can't scroll the sheet music for drums horizontally across the screen. I wouldn't care if they even took liberties with the spacing of notes in order to give the same visual cues that are currently used, but actually having them in there could really help teach drummers to read music. Not many these days take the time to learn how to read drum music these days, and building it into a game could really help.

On top of that, having a tutorial mode that went into depth on different grips, how and when to use them, proper kick technique to achieve different types of sounds, and tutorials built around rudiments and rolls would help. But that's not really a fundamental difference and could easily be incorporated to the game if Harmonix wanted to go there.

The bottom line is that what we have today in Rock Band is a game and not a teaching tool. It certainly can get more people into music who might have stayed out of it, but there could be problems with learning poor technique and causing frustration in future musicians. Unlearning something is much harder than learning it right the first time.

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  • Southpaws - Friday, February 15, 2008 - link

    "Not many these days take the time to learn how to read drum music these days"

    Every now and then there's an article or a story on the news where a senior person states that kids today just ain't doing things properly like they used to do in the old days, the underlying theme always being that our society is gradually but surely degrading.

    I for one am not overly worried that Rock Band will breed a generation of musicians that don't know how to read music or play with correct technique.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    "Of course, Rock Band's short comings have forced us to pose an interesting question. What would we want from a game that could also potentially be used as a real teaching device for instruments? Answering that for guitar is difficult short of making the controller into something more like an actual instrument. But since the drums are already so close, we can easily tackle that one."

    I do not really know how you could combine a PC with a guitar as a 'proper' learning tool. Just a quick thought, maybe 'we' could borrow from remote debugging applications, and implement some form of computerized guitar that somehow networked with a desktop, with software that analyzed your playing technique ? *shrug* The idea would obviously be very complex. Drums are easy, except for perhaps cymbals as you mentioned elsewhere in your article.

    "The bottom line is that what we have today in Rock Band is a game and not a teaching tool. It certainly can get more people into music who might have stayed out of it, but there could be problems with learning poor technique and causing frustration in future musicians. Unlearning something is much harder than learning it right the first time."

    Key words 'Bad Habits'. Someone in the comments section of your last article argued against this point that I made, but it is obvious he/she never played the guitar, or other instrument well, while trying to break a bad habit . . . I never played really well myself, and I definitely attribute part of that to picking up bad habits early in my learning stage. Fingering chords, and picking technique are very easily done wrong, and once you've started, it can be a PITA to correct.
    Reply
  • EODetroit - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - link

    One thing to point out is that this is the first Rock Band game. You can be sure that there will be a second and probably a third, and they'll certainly try to improve some things with the controllers on them. Whether they change what we want, who knows, but they'll make "improvements" of some sort in order to sell more, for sure.
    Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    On the subject of using these games as instrument tutors, it would be totally easy (easier than any other instrument) to have a piano-based game. It could cover classical stuff as well as pop music. There are even enough songs with keyboard/piano to do an add-in with the full band in Rock Band.

    A cheapie keyboard could be included with the game, or you could hook up any MIDI keyboard (including expensive weighted-key digital pianos) and basically cover every aspect of piano playing. I don't know why Harmonix hasn't done this yet, but I have to think that it's on the "to do" list somewhere.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    Oh . . . oops, sorry, I got completely off topic here. Music tutors for the piano/keyboard already exist on the PC. Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    Yes, but they're tutors, not games. There's a big difference. They all look boring and feel like work.

    Are there any piano tutors that play like Guitar Hero or Rock Band? That is:

    1) Make you play through a whole song at the right tempo, no matter what notes you miss, unless you miss so many that you 'lose' the song;
    2) Have progressive difficulty levels for the same song, so that you hear every note even when you're not playing every note, so that you can get used to the tempo and overall flow of the song without having to play every last note;
    3) Have little built-in rewards and challenges at various parts of the song;
    4) Let you compete and/or play along with another person;
    5) Look awesome while doing all of the above?
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    I would suspect that It would have to do with the instruments popularity. I am sure many people out there into music(specifically rock) have dreamed about playing guitar at one point in their life(or another). This gives those people a chance to pretend being a guitarist, whilst having a bit of fun. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    Just saw him in concert a few months back, with the reunited Police. Awesome show! I can't believe you've never heard Truth Hits Everybody before... but then I haven't heard either of the other two songs. Too bad I don't have a console so I can tackle the singing! I can wail like a banshee when called on.... ;) Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - link

    yeah, i know ... i'm a copeland fan and i really do love the police, but i'm that lame guy that isn't familiar with as much as i should be for how much i like em.

    i went the oysterhead route and i really enjoyed his theme songs / soundtracks.

    speaking of which, the Dead Like Me theme freaking rocks. deal with it :-)
    Reply

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