Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

November 2, 2011 -

"As much as [reviewers] claim they want innovation, they don't," Ubisoft’s North American executive director Laurent Detoc said, responding to the lukewarm reception Rocksmith received from critics.

Rocksmith's claim to fame is that it could teach users how to play a real musical instrument and allowed consumers to connect a real guitar to their console or PC to further facilitate that goal. But judging by its 78 percent Metacritic average on Xbox 360, Ubisoft thinks reviewers lack enthusiasm for innovation - despite claiming that they want to play games that try something outside the norm.

"What I see when I read the reviews is a lack of enthusiasm for something that is new," he told Gamasutra. "We, as human beings, tend to like what we know. But more importantly, we call ourselves gamers. Are we gamers – or players? I think the 'gamer' label has actually been hurting the industry. As our industry evolves, we need to be more mature and find a way to look at content and judge it as if we were real consumers instead of as gamers."

Source: MCV


Comments

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

their main flaw is they keep calling it a game.

if they advertised/sold it as a learning tool to beginners then it'd go a lot further.

instead they lump it into the fray with rock band and guitar hero themselves and wonder why people aren't receiving it well when its nothing like either of them.

it doesn't even try to be like them, and its rather low end on anything but its training. the gfx are low, the crowds are cardboard cutouts, and the sets are crap. That aside its a great TOOL for learning, but it is not a game.

then again isn't Ubi the ones that complained about Mirrors edge sales being bad for the same reason? despite half the reason people didn't like it wasn't because it was a new style of game, but rather its controls were crazy assed and confusing, while the PC version had numerous bugs dragging it down?

 

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Derp, EA made Mirrors edge and complained.. my brain wasn't on when i was typing :p

i just knew someone previously had similar complaints about innovation being a bad thing in gaming.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

This is basically the core "problem".  The game has an image of a traditional music game if you look at it broadly from far away, but when you get up close, you'll realize that it's not actually a "game" in the traditional sense.  The only trappings of a game I can see really are the scores and the leaderboards for the songs.  There are no stars.  It's not about getting a high score.  It's about getting better at the actual instrument and being able to do what you want with it.  I find myself not caring one bit about what "score" I get on a song, but if it sounded right.  No high score can ever compete with the feeling of playing a song well and hearing yourself do so.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

All in all its poorly implemented, they need 2 things easy play mode that allows for alot of errors (say do 4 or so main cords and ignore everything else) 2ndly it needs a mode that allows for any guitar to be used on it.

 

They are close to having something here but they really need to overhaul it for wider support if your aim is to learn to play.


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Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

I think you're confused about which game we're talking about here.  Rocksmith is the one that does allow you to use any guitar!  Rock Band is the one that requires its own special guitar because of the fret sensing technology in the neck.

Rocksmith doesn't have precise difficulty levels.  What it does have is each section of the song broken down into up to 12 different "mastery levels" ranging from 0% to 100%.  You start on the easiest level, and if you play it well, the game automatically moves up to the next level very quickly.  The "constantly moving goalposts" complaint does have some merit, but I find in practice that this actually works very well.  I'm playing the songs at a comfortable level for me where I'm hitting most of the notes, but not all.  The other handy thing about this is that each section levels up on its own, so if there's a really tough solo, you can play that on an easier level, while also playing the main line at full blast if you can do it.

If you want to play only chords, another thing the game does that I really, really like is having multiple charts for each song.  These are basically broken down into a "single note" (i.e. lead) part, a "chord-only" (i.e. rhythm) arrangement, and a "combo" (lead + rhythm in parts, depending on the song) arrangement.  You can play the chord-only arrangement, and play it at whatever level is comfortable for you.  This is awesome because what basically every beginner guitar player does when first learning a song is look up the chords and just play those.  I know I do!  You can easily ignore chords if you want to.  The game doesn't penalize you, except for obviously getting a lower score on the song than you would otherwise.  There is no fail-out as far as I can tell, if that's what you're referring to.

In fact, unlike RB, the guitar part doesn't stop playing if you miss notes!  It also doesn't penalize you for playing extra notes either, so you can embellish your lines if you want, or play the whole part if you know it while levelling up the section from the start.  You're literally just playing along with the song.  From a pure learning perspective, this is better on almost all counts than RB's pro guitar mode.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

This is Zippy you're talking to. Almost nothing meets his high standards.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Okay, I have no great love for Ubisoft, but there seems to be a lot of confusion over exactly what Rocksmith is trying to do.  It's not trying to be Rock Band.  It's trying to be a learning tool, which despite the fact that you can (and I did) learn stuff from Rock Band's pro guitar mode, is actually much better than RB in several ways.  I say this as someone who owns both games, and plays them regularly.  I have the plastic Mustang pro guitar button controller, and I have the Fender Squier RB guitar (which despite the cool fret sensing tech in the neck, isn't actually a very good guitar overall).

Yes, the presentation while actually performing songs is pretty terrible.  The crowd looks like ass, there's no character customization, and it's guitar-only for now (they said they're working on adding bass support post-launch).  It doesn't matter.  That isn't the point of the game.  In fact, I hesitate to even call it a "game" really.  Yes, it is trying to be one in several ways, but I think it should really stop even calling itself a "game".  It's a practice tool for learning guitar skills, if nothing else.

The ability to use any guitar is extremely important.  The RB Fender guitar simply isn't a very good stand-alone guitar when you get right down to it.  Now here's the trick: for RB itself, this doesn't matter.  You don't actually hear yourself play.  It just detects what frets you're pressing down and what strings you're strumming.  It still just mutes and unmutes the guitar track as if you were playing the normal five lane mode.  This also means that it's impossible for the game to detect certain techniques properly, such as palm muting, bends and harmonics.  Yes, take a moment to chuckle at the fact that you can't play harmonics...in a game by Harmonix.

The point being, if you want to actually learn guitar, you need to unplug the game and plug into a real amp to hear yourself play.  You could be accidentally pressing against some of the strings when you play a chord and muting them, but you would never know from inside RB itself because it only knows whether you're pressing down the frets or not.  With Rocksmith, you will know, because it's actually listening to what you're playing.  The fact that they can do this in realtime in software fast enough for gameplay is frankly astounding.  There is professional software that can't do this accurately.

The ability to hear yourself playing along with the song makes a huge difference in both enjoyment and learning potential.  I really can't over-emphasize this.  The minigames in the "Guitarcade" section are basically practice exercises disguised as arcade-style games.  The note tracking interface is a little confusing at first, but there are a few subtle touches I really like.  The notes appear as an outline on the actual neck as well and get larger in size as they approach on the lanes.  The crowd and venue presentation is ass, as I said before, but for a first attempt, all the important stuff is there and it actually works.

They were at least smart enough to realize that the "Amp Mode" is a big draw and provide a dedicated button on the menu to jump straight into it from any point in the menu.  This mode lets you play around with the huge number of amp and pedal effects available in the game and combine them however you want.  This is ridiculously cool.  This game, along with my Xbox, is my new amp.  I'm not kidding.  It's that good.  They have specific presets for each song (which are automatically activated when you're playing that particular song in the game) so that your guitar sounds exactly like the song you're playing along with.

Gah, sorry this turned into a giant review/rant.  I am a RB nut, a huge Harmonix fanboy.  RB is still the better overall package for all the other instruments and gameplay it offers, as well as the huge library it has going, and for just busting it out at parties in general.  I love what they were trying to do with RB's pro guitar, but as a learning tool and just for playing a real guitar itself, this is better.  Period.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

I agree with everything you said, except that I DO have a great love for Ubisoft.  I am going to buy Rocksmith.  I play guitar and my playing is mediocre to decent, and I hot to pick up some techniques and hope that the game is a fun way to do this and practice. 

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

I hope you (and lots of others) do!  It's definitely a fun way to practice, which is the most gruelling part of trying to learn guitar.  Picking up techniques, yes, but you have to pay close attention to the instructional videos.  Obviously, no game is ever going to replace an actual real teacher who can take your hands and show you exactly what you're doing wrong.

One caveat: make sure you have a proper audio setup to avoid lag!  This is true of any music game (and others like competitive fighting games), but Rock Band and Guitar Hero could at least mask their lag behind software tricks and offsets.  Because you're actually hearing yourself play, that isn't an option for Rocksmith.  The only thing the game can do is add all the pedal/amp effects in software and pump the audio directly out of the console, and it does this very fast.  Basically about the same as other software amp/effects solutions on a PC, about 5ms.  This is so small that it's basically imperceptible when you're playing.

They did think to include a little card in the case that explains the recommended setup for audio.  For best results, you want regular analog audio directly to your sound system or speakers.  I myself use component cables for everything, and my audio cables go directly to a pair of PC speakers so the audio isn't affected by any delay introduced by the TV.  Do not use HDMI for the audio!  This is laggy as balls in general, and actually people who play competitive fighting games like Street Fighter refuse to play on such modern setups precisely because of this.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Ok, giving that and that a friend of mine plans to give me his Ibanez I may get the game after all.

I've been wanting to learn on an electric.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Oh, and while I'm on the subject, the only review on Metacritic that is overtly negative is that 50% Joystick one.  All the others are quite positive.  I think this quote from the Gamespot review (as much as I dislike Gamespot) really sums up my feelings personally:

"There's definitely room for improvement down the road, but Rocksmith's debut has one thing going for it above all else: it's the real deal."

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

We really need to do something about the whole inflated score thing, where anything under a 9 is crap.

And yes, I do know the differences between a guitar and bass.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Giving what I'm hearing about Rocksmith, I think I'll wait and see what if anything else is offered.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Is it just me or does Ubisoft sound more and more like they don't even want to be in the games business. They should just leave it to more able competitors.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

You should see how they respond to how people feel about their always-online DRM.

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Papa Midnight

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Innovation? Try bandwagon riding. This is by no means the first rhythm game that purports to teach you how to play the guitar. It had mediocre reviews because it is a mediocre game. New or not good software is still good software and bad software is still bad software. You don't get a pass on a poor product b/c it is new, which again, their product isn't even original.

Anyway this guy does not understand gamers or gaming. This is the Ubisoft exec., the company that I have decided not to give a single dime to and the company pushing harder than anyone "online only" DRM.

Screw Laurent Detoc, screw Ubisoft, the sooner they are both out of business the better for gamers everywhere.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Thing is though is that it isn't really an innovation.  As one Kotaku reviewer said, The game doesn't allow you to choose your DIFFICULTY, instead it changes the difficulty itself whenever it seems that you mastered a section.  To one that is a huge rhythm game player (the reviewer in this case) he said it was a LARGE setback, compared to Rock Band's Pro mode (Pro Easy to Pro Expert for each instrument).

He also said that it was pretty souless as it is all in first person, only looking out to the generic crowd.  You don't have a avatar pretty much, something that even ROCK REVOLUTION and SIX STRING, two very maligned games, even decided to do.

Oh, and there's no Bass mode again either, while Rock Band has a Bass.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

i also recall the kotaku reviewer saying he refused to correctly setup the game as to minimize the audio lag that he so constantly complained of, and judged it based off. Namely he kept it attached direct to the TV with an HDMI for vid/aud despite the game itself, inserts, and more specifically warn NOT to use this setup without a sound system.

despite the video lag if correctly set could match just find with barely a minimum audio drag behind when setup correctly.

Re: Ubisoft: Reviewers Don't Really Want Innovation

Bass generally have different string thickness and a different means for playing them.

The game is a practice game, from what I've heard. You play a song's section repeatedly. It doesn't sound all that bad, honestly. But I'll grant to other comments that it's certainly not original, either.

 
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