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  • UPDATE: Drummers Out There?

    Posted on July 31st, 2008 Shawn 6 comments

    UPDATE: Nothing extremely exciting, but just yesterday, Logitech announced that they have made a licensing deal with Activision to make peripherals for GHWT. They have not given any specifics yet, but we can add Logitech to the mix of 3rd party developers for the drums on RB and GHWT.

    So, drummers, let’s talk. I use the term “drummers” lightly today, because I’m focusing on plastic drums (i.e. Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and 3rd party stuff). We have a few things to talk about here, Rock Band 2 using the same but optional updates, Guitar Hero World Tour offering an additional input, 3rd party drums, cross-compatible drums, and “Freestyle Mode”. Let’s get into it.

    As I rave in earlier posts about how much I enjoy playing Rock Band [as a drummer] and look forward to Rock Band 2, I am about to give some pre-“street cred” to Guitar Hero World Tour (GHWT), for one-upping the Harmonix guys. You see, Rock Band (RB) has four pads and a pedal, which gives players a total of five drum sounds, not bad [but not great either]. GHWT, ups the ante to three pads, two cymbal pads, and one pedal. Do the math…yes six inputs.
    * Insert Spinal Tap quote here * GHWT says [in a British accent], “Ours goes to 6”.

    With the pads for snare, hi-tom, low-tom, and two dedicated cymbal pads (presumably, Hi-hat, ride/crash), and the standard bass drum pedal, GHWT has a compelling case for users to buy the GHWT kit. Not only is there the additional input, but the cymbal pads are raised much like a true electronic drum set, whereas the basic RB/RB2 kit has cymbals reusing the drums pads. From my early point of view, point goes to GHWT.

    Back the the RB2 drum kit. From what I read, it’s the same basic kit as the RB kit, four pads and a bass drum pedal. The enhancements [I think] are softer pads [my wife will be happy to hear that], velocity sensitivity for louder/softer response, and the ability to buy additional cymbal hardware. I know that the GHWT pads are velocity sensitive (and see above for the rest). So, no point for RB, and no additional point for GHWT [that wouldn’t be a fair point].

    Now, on to what looks to be exciting but is currently vaporware, the 3rd party instruments. There’s a lot of talk out there about Ion and Mad Catz making many different instruments for Rock Band [and presumably compatible with GHWT], but for the sake of this post am only going to focus on the vaporware drums from these to companies.

    Alright, Ion Audio [maker of inexpensive electronic drum kits] is making the well publicized and approved by Harmonix, Drum Rocker. Looks great! Has four separate drum pads which can be positioned independently for a very real feel, and comes with a solid bass pedal. So far so good. And to top it off, you can add on up to three full size cymbal pads which can be independently positioned too. [You had me at “positioned”]. To continue on the happy trail [did I say that out loud], you can add on a second drum pedal for actual double bass drum playing [right now only needed for the Disturbed DLC played on Expert]. Yes, they are velocity sensitive and quiet too. I’m sold, and I know you are too…..but wait, there’s more. You can plug this kit into an actual electronic drum brain to use as an actual electronic drum set without Rock Band. This is sweet; since I have a Yamaha QY-20 and TMX drum module (both need to be dusted off). Before I move on, let’s scare the crap out of you with the price tag. $300 for the kit for Xbox 360 (stand, 4 drums, 2 cymbals/stands, bass pedal, cables); 3rd cymbal is $50; additional bass pedal $??). It’s expected to be available mid-September, right at launch of RB2. Not confirmed, but it should work with GHWT (see below).

    Now, some of you long-time console gamers have heard of the company Mad Catz, they made usually inexpensive peripherals and storage stuff for all different consoles. They generally are known (from what I hear) of making things are fairly low quality. About two months ago, Mad Catz leaked a licensing deal with Harmonix to make several different instruments for RB. AT that point, RB2 and GHWT were so far off in the distance, that they weren’t even mentioned. It was originally mentioned at the beginning of 2008, and photos started surfacing in June. Here we are, going into August, and nothing available yet. But let’s get into their drum peripheral. There are some detailed photos of the drum kit all over the web, although they are all small resolution and very difficult to make out (hmmm, vaporware?). Ok, it’s a rack mounted kit, looks like solid construction and each drum is mounted separately. It has four big drums, same four as in the other RB kits. It also comes with two cymbals, interesting that they look metal in the photo…but have cables running form them. So likely, one is for hi-hat and the other is ride/crash. And since RB only has four total inputs, it’s likely just a 2nd option for hitting the red and green drum pads. Still, cool though. Then there is a solid bass drum pedal, looks to be solid metal…but also a hi-hat pedal. That’s bizarre. So, does that mean there are actually three choices for the red drum pad (the pad itself, the hi-hat cymbal, and the hi-hat pedal)? With only 5 total inputs, I can’t see how it would work any other way. Everything on the kit is adjustable to your favorite height and location. It’s listed at $150. There hasn’t been no news since June 19. Check out Mad Catz. Lot’s of open questions. Will it work as a midi controller, where will the cymbals/pedals map, is it velocity sensitive, will it work with GHWT? BTW, it’s DUE IN STORES TOMORROW FOR XBOX 360!!! Anyway, I’m really looking forward to these two kits and will likely be buying one within the coming months.

    Next topic, Freestyle Mode in RB2. Have you heard about this? This is something that I am very much looking forward too. Freestyle mode allows drums to use RB2 and their Xbox 360 as a drum module (i.e. play drums without playing a song). So, you can actually just practice your drum skills without playing a song, without using training/tutorials, etc. Just playing. That’s great! Can’t wait.

    Final topic, using RB and RB2 drums on GHWT. Now, there is good news for RB drum owners. Although, GHWT drum track will have 6 inputs, Red Octane has confirmed at E3 that the RB and RB2 drum kits will work just fine with GHWT. They actually say that the software has been designed backward compatible with the RB kit. So, if you plug in the 5 input RB kit with GHWT, the GHWT software will dumb down the drum tracks to 5 inputs. You know what; I think Red Octane has a winner with GHWT. Well, at least I can tell you they will be getting at least $60 from me before the year is out.

    Let’s wrap up. Drums for RB2 and GHWT are shaping up to be very exciting. As a drummer, both games have very compelling reasons to buy them. As far as hardware goes, RB, RB2, GHWT, Ion, and Mad Catz…the only hardware that looks to be crap is the RB and RB2 stuff. GHWT, Ion, and Mad Catz looks quite good, if you don’t mind going broke during the purchase. I know that I will be getting a new kit and likely retiring (or keeping for duels at home) my RB kit, but which one remains to be seen. I guarantee you this, I will make sure to play all four new kits and report back reviews of each. Stay tuned, and come back soon…

    …Or, I can spend $5000, hack some firmware, and use this. Hmmm…

     

    4 responses to “UPDATE: Drummers Out There?” RSS icon

    • Great. post.

      I know this response won’t do it justice, but from where I stand, I have to agree. GHWT definitely wins on the drumming side, however, I’m not that into the drums nor is anyone i play with locally so I’ll probably be fine w/ the RB1 set and just buy both discs…of course, once Xtina and I hit the million mark, drums becomes my next hurdle so that all could change…

    • Don’t worry, once we get online world tours for both RB2 and GHWT, you and I will finally have our band going, and I’ll be the drummer.

    • Kudos to ION for coming up with a realistic drum kit. In fairness, the only one worth its salt that I see to actually teach the young folks of today to play a real drum kit. Although I must admit its great fun simulating a rock band drummer and guitarist, If you try to play a real instrument you will be sadly disappointed. But ION has come up with a way of teaching without teaching. Although on the pricey side. Still very impressive. I have a hard time with RB because I play all these instruments for real and the drums for the first RB are hard for me to do. I am used to reaching for a cymbal. Not hitting a cymbal at tom level. also being able to adjust everything is awesome. Wish I could afford a set. ROCK ON!!!! ION

    • DB,

      I hear where you are coming from. I play drums, sing, and a little guitar. For the drums part, I agree. It took some getting used to, though I attribute it to playing on someone else’s drum kit….once you get used to it…drumming is just like riding a bike. Though, the Rock Band drums are not very responsive and are lacking bounce of acoustic (or electronic) drums, making it a bit more difficult than the real thing.

      For the singing part of Rock Band. Well, it’s real singing. If you can hold a tune as an actual singer would, you got it. Though for expert, there’s no room for improvisation (or making it your own song). If you can sing it as the original singer did, you should do fine…expect for a few areas where I think Harmonix made the vocals a little harder than they were originally recorded (i.e. Gimme Shelter).

      For the guitar and bass, I could not agree with you more. Those parts are nothing like the real thing. Period.

      I guess that’s why I never liked the Guitar Hero series, but love Rock Band. I gravitate to the drums and vocals on Rock Band, because…..they are both good practice for my chops.

      Thanks for your input, and I’ll post as soon as I get my hands on the ION set. Can’t wait!

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