Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rocksmith 2014 is Ordered! But, I can't Play It.

Yep - you'd think the author of possibly the only Rocksmith blog in existence would have been among the first to order, play, and review the new 2014 edition. That would be a reasonable conclusion for someone who doesn't know me very well. But, to be fair, it's not just chronic procrastination and my fickle interests which have delayed my efforts.

First, there was a minor issue with my Amazon order. I actually pre-ordered Rocksmith 2014, sans RealTone cable, way back in September. But, apparently I never got around to updating my credit card info on my Amazon account and the order got cancelled. OK, so procrastination was sort of the root cause. By the time I got around to fixing the issue with my Amazon account, pre-orders were done, I'd missed out on the free extra song, and most of you probably had a few hours of play-time logged. I should have my copy of RS2014 by the end of the week. Unfortunately, I won't be able to play it for a while. In fact, I can't play guitar or drums or even pick my nose with my left hand right now. I suppose you could argue that this is also due to procrastination - I should have gotten around to learning how to ride a skateboard years ago. Here's the deal.

When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to own, borrow, rent, or try to ride any skateboard ever. Mom's rule. Dad had prevailed on getting me a bicycle, so I couldn't even appeal to him for leverage on this one. No skateboards for me. Period. (Also no ice hockey, but that's another story for another time.) Of course I broke the rule and rode friends' skateboards once in a while, but my friends weren't really into it so I never had a chance to really develop any skating skills when I was a kid. (I could, however, ride a wheelie on my bike for pretty much as long as I wanted to.) Eventually my interest faded and I just forgot about skateboards. Until very recently.

As long-time followers of this blog already know, I have a young son. He's not a total skater boi, but he's skated casually for a few years. He recently decided that he needed a newer, better board to ride. He also recently decided that I needed a board to ride. Now I have one. Don't ask. I'm not going to argue about boards or trucks or wheels here. It's an inexpensive longboard, just something I can fit both of my adult-sized feet onto and enjoy riding comfortably. Which is all I need. Like most of my guitars, it's good enough for me and probably better than what someone at my low skill level actually deserves.

Before you jump to any conclusions, I do just fine riding up and down the street and even negotiating our relatively steep driveway and making the 90 degree turn into the street from our driveway. I can ride a skateboard, thank you very much. But, I'm probably about as good on a skateboard as I am on guitar. I can strum along pretty nicely but I haven't really worked up to any cool tricks. Which is sort of how I got into the state I'm in now.

I have seen lots of really cool skateboarding videos. One thing I always thought looked especially fun is riding in a bowl. I mean, it's like a perpetual motion machine. You never have to walk back to the top of a hill or pedal or push or put up a sail or anything. You just roll down into a bowl or pool and momentum does the rest. Sure, the turn-around at the top looks a little tricky, but I wasn't looking to do a grab on the edge with my board six feet up in the air. I just wanted to sort of wallow around back and forth without having to push for a while.

Last month, after an out-of-town softball tournament, my son and I found some concrete bowls at a park and had the opportunity to try them out. After tentatively poking around inside the big bowl for a few minutes, I concluded that the only way to do this was to get a rolling start up top and just ride over the edge into the bowl. So I did. This was the skating equivalent of grabbing my Epiphone Les Paul Special and jumping up on stage to play Walk This Way with Aerosmith. Like playing guitar, bowl-riding on a skateboard is a lot harder than it looks in the videos, and I was nowhere near ready for it. Gotta give me credit for trying, though, right?

I'm not even sure what happened once I went over the edge and down into the bowl. When I hit the ground I felt my elbow come apart and a quick glance suggested that my arm was probably broken. I said, "Ouch." Or something. My son retrieved my board while my wife and daughter retrieved me. We walked a couple of blocks to our van and drove a few more blocks to the nearest ER where I spent the next 10 hours, 7 of which under heavy sedation. That was a month ago yesterday.

Turned out my elbow was dislocated. Basically, my forearm bone had been pushed out of the joint that connects it to my upper arm bone and a few fragments of the joint got broken off in the process. Also, my wrist was sprained and my left ass-half was bruised so bad that it's still a little tender. The ER docs did what they call a "reduction" to put my arm back together. Ten days later, I had surgery to tighten up the ligaments and other tissues that hold elbows together. I didn't have a cast, but I was in a splint for a few weeks which made it impossible to do a lot of the things I normally do with my left hand -  like eating, writing, washing my right armpit, or picking my left nose - and a few things that I normally do with both hands - like buttoning the top few buttons on shirts and playing guitar. Now I'm out of the splint and in therapy to recover my range of motion. It ain't fun.

A couple of nights ago I picked up my latest guitar acquisition - a Michael Kelly Valor with coil-splitters and some awesome abalone fret markers - but all I could manage to play was the open chords at the nut. The E chord was a little bit of a strain. So, I guess I'm really not much worse on guitar than I was before all of this happened. I'm still a hack!

Still, I'm looking forward to giving the new Rocksmith a test drive. Amazon guarantees it'll be on my doorstep by tomorrow. I'll let you know.


  1. Hope you heal quick! Best wishes!

    1. Thanks, skydvr! And thanks for sticking with my blog. I've been REALLY, really slack since Spring! Will try to do better now that 2014 version is out.

  2. Man, that sucks about your elbow. Thank goodness for modern medicine. Those guys can fix about anything.

    2014 is good. There are some good changes, and some less good changes, but nothing that is really bad.

    Get well,

    1. Thanks, Tim. I've read some things about the new version that disappoint me - like the fact that they've basically eliminated the "game" aspect. Honestly, even if the scoring system on the old version was sometimes a little hinky and irritating, that was a huge motivator for me. Without "The Journey" to motivate me, I don't know how long I'll stick with 2014. But, it arrived a day early and was in my mailbox when I got home yesterday. So, I guess I'll load it up and give it a test drive as soon as I can do more on my guitar. My questions now are whether any new DLC that Ubi puts out there will be compatible with the old version of RS - just in case I decide to stick with the old version. I still have quite a few songs left in the old version that I never mastered, so lots of mileage still left in my original RS game.

    2. What I've read is that , no, the new DLC will not work on original RS. And you have to pay to use the old songs in the new version ($10 or so). But, I haven't gone through the process, so I could be wrong...

      And I've *only* played the original (and only with a bass), and only on a PC (somewhat old laptop, even), so I have no other sample points, but I don't hate it.... I'm not very good though, so maybe I don't get affected as much by any problems.....

  3. Skydvr: So, if I read that right, you have not yet tried RS 2014? And, you have only played RS on PC? Interesting! I don't think skill level would have anything to do with it (although leveling up would add more notes to the RSNH. . . ), but I have to wonder if the bass parts play better on PC. Will have to check that out.

    Do you have any issues with playing bass through your laptop speakers?

  4. Yep - no RS2014 yet, and only on PC for the original. I haven't had any issues playing thru the laptop speakers, although it *does* seem like the "sweet spot" to strike a note is right before it hits that "target" at the bottom, so, sort of anticipating the timing a little.

    Oh, and rarely, the cable just "stops responding". It's not unplugged, game doesn't complain that it's unplugged, but the notes I play don't register until I unplug and re-plug. usually only at an event, of course.... (RS *does* complain when I unplug it, so, it "knows" that it's plugged in - just doesn't seem to register notes)

    1. That "anticipation" issue was an issue even on console versions of RS, and it wasn't just an issue of lag. It's a known cheat that you could greatly improve your score on most songs by playing just a tad ahead of the beat. 2014 seems to have corrected this for the most part. A very bad habit to get into, though, if you ever plan to play with other musicians!

      I never did try the PC version on a more capable computer. I am glad to hear that at least somebody has gotten it to work right on a laptop. It would be really handy to be able to play RS when I'm traveling or even when everybody else in the house wants to watch Netflix or something on the big TV.

      Not sure what to make of your USB cord problem. I tend to believe it's probably just something related to the PC version, although as I accumulated more and more data and more DLC I noticed that my events started to get a little "glitchy" even on the XBox. It'll take a long time for me to compare the 2014 version. I have had maybe 2 occasions when my game just totally froze up and had to be cold-booted to restart, but that was on the old version and the game never gave me any error messages regarding my cord. (In fact, I have successfully been playing through a wireless system for the past several months.)