Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Rocksmith 2014 Journey Begins - I Can't Pick my Nose, But I Can Pick a Song


When you first start Rocksmith 2014, there is a short 6-page slide show much like the beginning of a movie. You cannot skip through these pages by clicking, but they go by fairly quickly. When the 7th page - the main Rocksmith title screen - appears, you have to press the > (Start) button to continue. (The A button also works.) After choosing whether you're using data from your HDD or from the cloud, you finally get to the Main Menu. All this takes less than a minute - which is far better than the original RS intro sequence - but it still seems like a lot of junk to go through just to get to the main menu.

*Recommendation: If you have an XBox with a Kinect, turn the Kinect sensor OFF before starting Rocksmith. (Go to System Settings/Sensor.) My Kinect seems to confuse the background music and bizarre background noises (jets, motorcycles, cars, . . . ?) in Rocksmith for commands, which causes random, involuntary menu selections even when I'm not touching a controller.*

Main Menu Page

The Main Menu screen has a new, slightly stripped-down studio background and a 9-item main menu. From here you can choose:

Learn a Song
Session Mode
Nonstop Play
Tone Designer

On the main page you can also switch your "Path" (lead, rhythm or bass) using the < (Back) button. Or, you can go to Tools using the > (Start) button. The Tools menu lets you access Tone Designer (in case accessing Tone Designer directly from the main menu doesn't appeal to you), Tuner, Options, Shop (again, for those who really dislike using the main menu), a Chord Book and a Technique Guide. Really have no idea why the developers included redundant navigation paths for Tone Designer and Shop, but I'm sure they had a very good reason.

The Tools/Options path is important because this is where you can adjust your volume mix, visual settings, play settings, or restore the factory default settings. There's also a user manual buried in here. I think I'd have put the user manual right on the Main Menu, but the game designer didn't ask me. The Options menu also includes a Credit sequence superimposed over an animated time-lapse video which appears to depict several people building and tearing down a sound stage. . . Somebody put a bunch of work into this video, but I have no idea why.

Anyway. . . I'll start checking the options on the Main Menu out one by one over the next several days. On my first night, I jumped straight into the Learn a Song Mode.

Pick a Song - Navigating the Song List, 2014-Style

The first thing you have to do when you select Learn a Song is pick a song. Click on Learn a Song and the next thing you see is your entire song list - displayed as a vertical, scrollable list with audio samples. This is a HUGE improvement over the old horizontally-oriented list!

In a way, choosing a song is more difficult now than it was in the old RS. First, there are simply more songs now. Also, there are no more set-lists, so YOU have to do the choosing. The old set-lists could be modified, but I was always content to let RS's automatically generated "Rocksmith Recommends" set-lists choose my songs for me. I just liked the randomness of it. RS-2014 still provides "Recommended" songs, but it seems like all of the songs are "recommended" by default. I suppose you could just start at the top of the list and work your way to the bottom. Or. . .

One way to choose is by sorting the song list on any one of the following 12 sort criteria:

Recommended - No idea how RS determines which songs to recommend. As I said, they all seem to be "recommended," but it's an option.
Count - Sorts on your play count for each song, I assume. Probably most useful if listed from lowest play count to highest.
Tuning - Lets you separate all the songs with non-standard tunings (Drop D, etc.) from the songs which use standard E tuning. Handy.
Source - Groups songs alphabetically by where you got them. For example, 2014 on disk songs, original RS on disk song list, 2014 DLC, etc.  A great way to separate the 2014 songs from the your original songs if you imported all your old stuff but are ready to play some new stuff.
Owned - I don't think any songs that you don't own will appear in the list. . . so, I'm not sure what this one is supposed to do for you other than give you an alphabetized list of all your songs by Title.
Favorites - THE BEST! You can designate any song as a "favorite" and group your faves - leaving the songs you hate at the bottom of the list where you don't have to scroll through them. AWESOME!
Title - Sorts alphabetically by title.
Artist - Sorts alphabetically by artist.
Year - Sorts songs by the year they were released. Another useful sort.
Difficulty - This could be the most useful sort of all, but I have no idea how the songs are ranked. When I sorted my song list with this one, it listed Gobbledigook as the second easiest song on RS and Good Enough by Tom Petty as one of the 10 hardest. There's something funny about this one; it doesn't seem to work right.
Mastery - Great way to pick your weaker songs to work on, but I haven't figured out how Mastery levels are assigned to songs yet so I can't really tell if this one works or not.
Length - For when you just don't have time to play Jessica or Freebird. . .

Rocksmith 2014 includes a great selection of on-disk songs, many of which were very popular when I was much younger. I narrowed my selection to the RS-2014 on-disk songs by using Source to sort my list and then just scrolled through the 63 songs that came with RS-2014. It didn't take long to settle on my first song.

Way back in about 1976 or so, I heard Aerosmith's Walk This Way for the first time, played by a cover band at a wedding. Since that night, I've wanted to play that song on guitar. In 37 years, I've managed to figure out the first riff and that's it. Not that I've tried very hard. Several other songs caught my eye, but I stopped scrolling when I saw Walk This Way.

Next entry will cover the Learn a Song option in detail.

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