Friday, January 17, 2014

Back to Surf Hell, Pour Some Sugar on Me and Tackling Score Attack

16 January 2014

Finally cut off and went to bed at a more reasonable hour last night. 1:00 AM. That’s a whole hour better than what I’ve been doing this week.

Last night was back to guitar, playing the PRS Tremonti. I was thinking about selling that guitar off, but it’s quite a nice guitar and I like it. Plus, it’s one of only two (electric) guitars I still own that weren’t used when I bought them. It just had some aesthetic “battle damage” that could easily be fixed, so I got a “good deal” on it (but haven’t fixed the damage yet). What I have not played at all for quite a long, long time is my Gretcsh Electromatic hollow-body. I’ve also been ignoring my Ibanez Artcore hollow-body for quite a while. Probably shouldn’t have bought those. Bad case of GAS last year. Apparently I haven’t completely recovered; I’ll pick up that Schecter and the Peavey bass within a few weeks. But after that, I’m done. For a while. Really. I’m actually kind of burned out. This year I’ll focus on improving the guitars I already own: shielding, better pots, maybe potted pick-ups, maybe some new pick-ups. Possibly a capacitor mod I read about somewhere. Stuff like that.

I had been looking for a guitar with the input jack on the front of the body. I just don’t like having the cord sticking straight out of the back end like it does on most guitars. I do have a 90-degree adapter, but that doesn’t work on every guitar. It won’t work with my Telecaster because the jack on my Tele is countersunk into the body. Getting a stand would probably solve the biggest issue: setting my guitar down on the floor with the plug sticking straight out. All things considered, I really wonder why somebody hasn’t made a guitar where the cord plugs into the back of the body. I may have to try doing that mod.

Last night I didn’t feel like getting into anything too complicated. So, I went back to Surf Hell to clean it up and get it re-mastered. Took a couple of minutes to get the main riff. Eventually I forced myself to quit thinking about it and just play it, which worked. Also, as I pointed out before, the new RS2014 “Lead” arrangement is slightly easier than the old RS “combo” version. No chords in the 2014 version. So, now I got all the phrases leveled up again pretty easily.

Then I did the Score Attack thing. I got reasonable scores on Easy and Medium levels, but I had to cheat on Medium. Remember this was one of the first songs I ever played (if not THE first song I ever played) in Master Mode – so there’s some muscle memory involved. Backing down to “Easy” on Score Attack was, well, easy. Because there are so few notes at the Easy level I can just sight-read my way through the Easy level. At the Medium level, however, there are too many notes for me to sight read at full speed, and, since I already know the whole song, I’m really trying to figure out what notes to omit – not which ones to play. That’s sort of hard to do. I thought about forcing myself to do it for the challenge but then I said, “Screw it,” and just played all the notes as if I were in Hard/Master level. That’s cheating, right? Or is it? The ethical dilemmas of playing guitar. . .

I suppose I could have just skipped Medium and gone straight to Hard, but I have some OCD issues. I like to complete stuff, and skipping the Medium level would have bugged me forever. I still think about going back to finish law school even though I hated it and don’t particularly want to be a lawyer. Except I’d like the money.  

Since I was playing the Hard level notes on Medium, you’d think I’d have nailed Hard level and shot straight to the top of the L/B. But, I didn’t. I got a Gold run on the first pass and then a Platinum run and pretty good scores, but I was sloppy and I posted something like a 770,500 or so.

Turns out Platinum may not mean 100% accuracy after all. I got a Platinum run but my accuracy was only 99.something %. Not sure if there’s a software glitch or if I just guessed wrong on the standard for Platinum in Score Attack. I kind of think there’s a glitch. Riff Repeater has been a little wonky lately, too; sometimes it’ll level me up or accelerate me when I’ve botched more than one note on a phrase.

Master level just killed me. Yeah, I can get through Surf Hell from memory with no strikes, but posting a L/B-worthy score is a-whole-nother story. I was missing one note somewhere and that put me toward the bottom of the heap on the Master-level L/B. Like the bass part on We Three Kings, getting 100% accuracy just gets you on the board. To get a top-end slot here I needed to hit all the notes AND play them precisely on time. But, I couldn’t even hit all the notes. Instead of beating myself up for another 2 hours, I called it quits after a few reasonable attempts and resolved to come back to this song some other night. Sometimes you just have to know when to make a strategic retreat.

After my “workout” I looked for a “just for fun” song to run through once or twice. Unfortunately, the Lead arrangement for You Really Got Me, like the bass arrangement, uses some weird, non-standard tuning. So, I passed on that one for the second night in a row. The Joe Satriani song, Satch, sounds interesting but hardly something I’d be able to play “for fun!”

Since the bass part was pretty easy the other night, I decided to run through Pour Some Sugar on Me on lead guitar. Not exactly “easy,” but I managed to get the basics figured out in a couple of runs. Mainly what you’ve got here is your classic I, IV, V power chord progression in E (E5, A5, and B5). Just the sort of simple stuff on which many a rock star has built both a career and a mansion. That was it for the night.

I did an official count before I shut down the box and so far I’ve played 29 songs on RS2014. Nine of those songs are new RS2014 songs. Some of those new ones I’ve only played once or twice in multi-player mode with my son, but I’ve played more new stuff than I realized. Still, slightly over 2/3 of the songs I’ve been playing since I got RS2014 are songs from the old Rocksmith or DLC that came out before RS2014 was released. Not quite sure what that means, if anything. But, there it is.
I’ve warmed up to RS2014, but I still miss the gamey “journey” concept of the old RS, especially the old venues. I just really enjoyed playing in all these different places – like actually being on tour. Of course, the crowds were exactly the same at every single venue, but it was easy to “suspend disbelief” and enjoy the illusion. I always hoped they’d add on to the venues and maybe even reproduce some real-life venues in the game – like The Cavern, Red Rocks, The Fillmore, or even Woodstock. They could also have coordinated with some smaller local venues for the lower levels of play, giving the venues exposure and giving the game a more realistic (and, to me, more fun) feel. The Vogue or The Patio in Indianapolis come to mind since that’s where I started out. I’m sure almost every city and college town in the country has their own to add. Alas, it seems that aspect of RS is dead and buried and we’re left with some incredible and still very fun learning software. Not complaining. Just reminiscing.


  1. You know that there are "levels" of venue that you unlock, right? It's not like ORS' venues, but the (barely visible) crowds do get bigger as you advance through the levels....

  2. Skydvr - Yeah, I've moved up to about Level 7 or so and I can sort of tell that I'm supposedly playing in a larger venue, but it's just not the same. I did see notice some rock n' roll horns the other night when I was playing. Guess the barely visible crowd was enjoying the show!