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! (~^_^)~

Dealing with Multiple Pursuits and Interests – The Craving of a Renaissance Soul

One of the things that I like about video games is that it’s a convergence of different disciplines resulting to an entertaining and fascinating creation. Its field of development is something that matches my interests because other than my passion for gaming and programming, I’m also fond of a wide range of interests and I’m always hungry to learn something new. Music, Literature, Asian Culture, Otaku Stuff, Martial Arts, and everything in between are the other things that makes me tick. It’s a lot of fun to have such holistic learning experience, though at times it can get out of hand, and it feels like the twenty-four hours of the day cannot fit in for everything that you want to do. Here, I’ll try to share some approaches that worked for me in order to keep progressing with my pursuits and interests.

Keep a List

If you have a lot of hobbies and tasks, chances are you’ll miss some of them if you don’t organize it into a list. Creating a list reminds you of the pending items that you want to start or continue. It’s also useful for prioritizing which ones you like to try the most. If an item gets stagnant in your list for quite a while, then you might want to reconsider if it’s actually worth keeping in your list. By elimination, you’re removing clutter from your tasks, which will give you more focus on the things that you really like. If you want to go hardcore, you can also set deadlines for each task so that you’re bound to progress for each item, but don’t impose it to the point that you’ll experience burnout. Schedule enough time to recharge and unwind with a different type of activity.
I use the To-Dos feature of HabitRPG. Gamification is motivating for me, so this web app is my weapon of choice. You can try other note-taking apps as well, but if you’re a gamer, especially of Role-playing games, then this productivity tool is for you.

Find Activities That Will Cater More Than One Interest

Zombies Run: A Game That Combines Real-life Running with Zombie Survival Mehcanics Image from http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/7a/dd/7add9234834237b0b01c0d3bf0ec8002.jpg?itok=H1s8LrDf

With all the stuff that you have to attend to from full-time work to relationships, you have to utilize the time that you have as much as possible, and what better way to do that than to address more than one interest at once. It’s not multitasking but rather choosing the right activity that caters two or more of your interests. Review your list and try to come up with possible combinations that can be formed into one hobby or job.
I’m a bit lucky that a lot of activities are being gamified now so it can address my crave for gaming while doing something productive. A good example would be Rocksmith 2014 which is a rhythm game that features an actual electric guitar as your controller. It has the expected core gameplay of playing songs by following the timing of hovering markers for plucking and strumming the guitar. Beyond that, there are also lessons from basics to advanced concepts for playing the guitar and arcade games that test your skills from controlling your strum volume to playing different scales. These  features are useful that I found some bad habits that I need to correct.

Get Involved in the Community

It’s always fun to meet people who share the same interests with you. It’s also motivating to follow through if you have someone to compare your progress. Just keep it as a healthy competition. You’re there to gain more friends and get motivated, not to pick up some bitter rivalry. Ask for tips from experts of your chosen activity or field. You can also contribute by assisting your colleagues or classmates, especially the newbies in your specific activity. As one of my programming professors taught me, to understand something, teach it to a person. There’s also the possibility that they’ll introduce you to a new hobby that you will enjoy.
For hobbies that let you attend classes, this will be a given thing, unless you want to sit in one corner and just participate to the actual practice, but you’ll miss the opportunity to learn more from other people and get some useful feedback. For other activities, you can join online forums and Q&A sites. Join contests if applicable. It will be a good avenue to hone your craft and find out what you still need to improve.

Having a lot of interests and pursuits gives you a wide range of knowledge and a myriad of skills to take advantage of. Just remember, you’re supposed to be doing these things because you really have fun doing it, and it makes you feel alive. Take it one step at a time and don’t put any unnecessary pressure to yourself. Live the moment and embrace your renaissance soul.  (~^_^)~