Things I Want to Learn for 2015

My renaissance soul is always craving for something new to learn, and this year is no exception. Whether it’s something to increase my proficiency in my chosen field or something that I want to emulate from amazing people, I always make sure that the year won’t end without adding something new in my skill set. As Irish novelist Michael Scott once said, The Day We Stop Learning is the Day We Die, so I will continue to live and build a better me. Here are some of the stuff that I want to learn this year.

Speed Reading

Spreeder - an online tool for practicing speed reading. http://www.spreeder.com/app.php

Spreeder – an online tool for practicing speed reading.
http://www.spreeder.com/app.php

Regardless of the type of book, I’m not really fond of reading for several hours. I feel envious of my friends who can finish more than a hundred books in a year. Given that I give less time for such activity, might as well utilize what I have. I’m more into informative books (software development, self-help, etc.) so it takes more effort to process the information, making my pace slower. With this, I considered trying Speed Reading. The ability to read at the average of 600 words per minute will be a lot useful for my continuous consumption of new knowledge. It doesn’t promise a 100% comprehension of the material, which is quite a low for me given that I have a bunch of new concepts to tackle, but I’m taking my chances anyway. If it doesn’t work for me, then time to find another alternative or find some way to increase my time for reading.

Last December, I availed a speed reading course in Udemy for a big discount. It’s my ideal setup since it’s an online course, so I have full control of my training schedule. Just like any useful skill, it takes a significant amount of effort to master. The practice exercises need to be done everyday for several minutes a day. It’s barely two weeks since I started so I can’t claim that I’m already seeing some results, but I’m hopeful that I’ll see some progress soon.

Options for Passive Income

Cashflor Board Game - mobile version. Image from - http://play.google.com

Cashflor Board Game – mobile version.
Image from – http://play.google.com

One of the valuable things I learned from Cashflow board game is the importance of having a passive income. It’s not saving that will get you to financial freedom, but producing passive income that will exceed your expenses. I know a bit about stocks, mutual funds, and UITF, but not familiar enough that I can invest without too much worrying. As I grow older, I’m becoming more and more frustrated on getting rich, so might as well explore the options on how to upgrade my finances and lifestyle WITHOUT sacrificing the job that I want to do (i.e. game development).

I’m having a really hard time pursuing a financial venture that I’m not passionate about, no matter how lucrative it is, so as much as possible, I’m for something that can be gamified in some way. Heck, I even have a design for a game that will try to improve one’s personal finances. I’m aware that regardless of the option, there’s no fast and easy way to such path, but at the very least, I’ll take risks to a field that can really pique my interest.

Aerial Flips

Being a big fan of Martial Arts Movies, I always wanted to learn how to do those fascinating acrobatics, especially the back flip. Part of my bucket list is to direct an indie action movie someday, so I need all the skills I can get to be an action star, or at least to train some action star LOL. Other than it’s impressive to watch, it will push my physical capabilities to the limit, and that’s good since I want to age gracefully.

Last September, I enrolled to Ninja Academy for a training in Tricking. I’m learning more stuff than I expected, and I’m enjoying the session despite the demand for physical endurance. I’m on the preliminary training of back flip now, and I know it will take some time to actually do this specific trick, but I’m not in a rush. After all, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it right?

Advance Techniques in Guitar

Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

I’ve been playing guitar for several years now but only in a casual manner. I described it as such since I never went through any formal training, and I still don’t know the advance techniques. I will need this more than before since I’m now part of the band. Good thing my bandmates are well-versed musicians so they know how to guide me accordingly.

When I started playing Rocksmith, I discovered the bad habits that I developed when playing the said instrument. Thank goodness, this game had all the features in a progressive and comprehensive manner that I know what to do next. It even has its wide library of songs for practice. This will provide more options for our band’s cover performances.

Advance Concepts of Mobile Game Analytics

After working on Dragon Snack, I learned the basics of implementing an analytics engine to observe the players’ behavior and other game parameters. It’s such a useful tool, but it introduces several terms and concepts that run deep beneath the surface. Having my own dream of making it big as an indie developer, it will be helpful to utilize the capabilities of the analytics engine to improve my games and hopefully pull more players in turn.

I have my eyes on the Udemy courses for analytics just in case it lands on sale again. I’m willing to wait since I still have a handful of courses at my disposal anyway, and I don’t want to suffer a burnout from studying a lot of stuff.

Whew! A lot of stuff to learn for the entire year. In the end, it all revolves in my aim to improve my quality of life and be a better person than I am now. How about you guys? What new things are you planning to explore for 2015? Whatever it is, I hope you’ll achieve your goals and move forward with the sense of accomplishment. Happy New Year and cheers for our future success! (~^_^)~

Rocksmith 2014 – A Faster and Fun Way to Learn Guitar

A few months ago, I bought Rocksmith 2014 to fill my basics in guitar playing. My initial thought is that I will be able to practice while also playing a game (for the gamer that I am), and I was not disappointed. It’s fun as a game, but it also borders as a guitar learning software. Here are some of the features that made this a faster and fun way to learn guitar.

  1. Tracks – When you start a new game, you’ll be asked to choose which track of guitar playing are you planning to learn. The three options are Bass, Lead, and Rhythm. Each option will affect how the practice songs will be presented to you. The rhythm will be more focused on strumming the chords. Lead will be heavy on plucking. And bass will play the bass guitar part.
  2. Lessons – This is my favorite part of the game. The lessons’ options are made up of a lot of items ranging from the most basic things like Picking 101 to Advance Chords. I thought I can skip to some of the lessons since I can play several songs, but after performing poorly in the power chords lesson, I was obliged to run through each lesson until I completed it to 100%. This feature is really useful since it made me aware of my wrong habits and practices in guitar playing. The lessons are usually divided to three parts:
    Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

    Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

    1. Lesson Proper – The concept will be taught to you in a video lesson so you can imitate it with your own guitar.
    2. Trial Playthrough – Here, you’ll play a segment of musical notes that focuses on the chosen lesson. For example, if the lesson is about slides, then you’ll encounter notes that prompt you to slide from one fret to another.
    3. Practice – The last part will let you play a longer segment of musical notes. If you performed well by hitting around 90% of accuracy and technique, then the segment will transform into a more challenging sequence. With this, you will need to repeat the lesson (you can skip to the practice part) until you reach the lesson completion to 100%.
  3. Learn A Song – This is one of the features that make this an authentic video game. The format is just like the rhythm games you play in the arcades like Guitar Freaks and Rock Band except that it’s displaying the fret board of a guitar and not the orthodox three to five buttons. The camera moves accordingly so the transition from one note or chord to another is smooth and not obtrusive to your gaming experience. There are also more notations to remember since you’re dealing with chords, slides, pulls, hammers, etc., but you’ll get the hang of it if you go through the lessons. It also has tool called Riff Repeater. It lets you select a segment of the song that you want to practice. You can adjust the difficulty which will determine what notes you are going to play for that segment. Basically, the 100% difficulty is the actual chord of the song. The lower difficulties will transform it to an easier chord (e.g. barre chord becomes a power chord) or to a single note for the lowest setting. You’ll play this segment again and again until you hit all the notes right. After this, there’s an optional setting to increase the difficulty and replay the segment or proceed to play the next part of the song. To know more about the feature. See the guide video below.
  4. Guitarcade – These are minigames that practice the different parts of guitar playing. One game might test you in playing the scales while another game will test in regulating the volume of your strum. All games are presented in 8-bit retro style which is a lot of fun to play. It has leaderboards that submits your score via UPlay account. If you need a break from the lessons and songs, this is a good diversion while still practicing your guitar skills.
  5. Missions –  This is  your main guide on what to do next. It will also show the features that you possibly haven’t explored yet. There was one mission that required me to use the riff repeater, and from there I got my resolve that I could really learn each song because of this tool. This feature is also aided with markers that stick with the game’s menu items. If you see the Rocksmith logo beside the session play, then it’s part of your current mission. Once you’ve fulfilled the requirement, the logo will be removed. It makes the entire learning process more intuitive. However, there are times that the mission may still seem unclear and will leave you wondering what you need to do. Don’t fret (pun-pun-pun). You can go to the forums and seek some advice. Chances are, that part is already resolved by your fellow players. If not, the community will be there to help you.

    Missions will serve as your guide for all of Rocksmith's features and learning path.

    Missions will serve as your guide for all of Rocksmith’s features and learning path.

Some Clarifications

  • What do I need to play the game?
    • You need an actual electric guitar, a copy of Rocksmith 2014 game, and a Rocksmith™ Real Tone Cable. If you buy the game on game shops, the copy is already bundled with the cable. If you buy the game from steam, you’ll have to buy the cable separately.
  • Can I use my Steam account if I purchase the game from a game shop?
    • Yes. The copy also comes with a key which you can redeem from steam. After installation, it will be added to your account’s library. You won’t need to insert the disc again.
  • Can I use my acoustic guitar?
    • YES. As long as it has a pickup where you can plug the Real Tone Cable.
  • What guitar brands are supported by the game?
    • Technically, it should support any brand, but I suggest that you use a mainstream brand like Epiphone. I’m currently using Yamaha EG112C.
  • Can I plug other types of instruments?
    • NO. You can only use a guitar. There’s actually a feature called  Session Play that will let you play with a wide range of accompaniment based on the notes that you play, but all of the sounds will be provided by the game and not from an actual plugged instrument. The said feature is pretty impressive, and you can create a lot of possible combinations.

I won’t claim that this is the best way to learn because I really value the importance of an actual teacher. However, if you’re someone who wants to play the guitar and is looking for other options to learn, then I suggest that you give Rocksmith a try. It has a 60-day challenge program that will boost your current skill level. You can even share your experience with fellow players. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next great rockstar of this generation. Enjoy playing and rock on! (~^_^)~