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  • Rock Band 3, under $40 All Platforms

    Posted on November 25th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Happy Thanksgiving from Harmonix and Amazon!  Go now and grab Rock Band 3 for $20 off regular retail price.
    Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 $39.95, Wii $34.95

  • Another Day, Another Date..Rock Band 3 MIDI Adapter

    Posted on November 24th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    It looks like we have yet another potential release date for the Rock Band 3 MIDI adapter, by Mad Catz. (See my multiple earlier posts about other dates.) As I was trolling around Amazon.com today, I stumbled on the upcoming release page, which had the adapter listed.

    This time, we get December 20 as the listed date.  To continue the confusion, if you click into any of the links to pre-order, the detail pages still say December 26.

    One thing is for certain, there was some major disconnect with the distribution and communication with retail. Multiple dates have been listed, come & gone, online pre-orders failing upon checkout, and other oddities.

  • Rock Band MIDI, Delayed Until Post-Christmas

    Posted on November 20th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    I figured, I’d check on the release date status of the Rock Band 3 MIDI Adapter (by Mad Catz), which has been pushed back a couple times since the launch of the game. What I just learned, has me more than concerned.

    The MIDI adapter allows real keyboards (you know electronic piano), real electronic drums, and potentially MIDI guitars to connect to your game console (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) for use within Rock Band 3.

    The game came out on October 26, with many (me included) expecting the MIDI adapter to be available upon launch. We quickly learned that the release date had been changed, supposedly due to all adapters being recalled to the manufacturer because of recurring sync issues. Amazon had the new release date as November 26, but Sears/Kmart had the date of November 9. As of November 9, Sears/Kmart web sites stated it was available for purchase, but when I attempted to check out, I’d got an error stating that it was not available. Also, no physical Sears/Kmart’s in the area had them in stock or knew of its existence. The Mad Catz web site has November 26 as the release date for the Xbox version, but the PS3 and Wii versions are still not dated.

    A quick check today over at Amazon, left me a bit sad. Their release date has been changed to December 26. I have faith in Amazon’s dates, which is really unfortunate if it comes true. For me, I spent time/money getting my Roland drum set with all the correct pieces in place for the “Pro Drums” experience of Rock Band 3, but have not been able to take advantage of it due to the lack of this adapter.

    I guess my New Years Eve party will rock out with my new Pro Drums setup. Until then, I will keep working on my Pro Keys skills.

  • Rock Band Radio: Bee Gees, B.B. King, Procol Harum

    Posted on November 12th, 2010 Shawn 2 comments

    Rock Band Slacker RadioThis coming Tuesday, Rock Band fans will be treated to another week of mixed songs. Get ready for a 6-pack from the Bee Gees, and a couple singles from B.B. King and Procol Harum.

    Song title↓ Artist↓ Single / Pack name↓ Release date↓ Pro Guitar/Bass Support↓
    Jive Talkin’ Bee Gees Bee Gees 01 Nov. 16, 2010 No
    Night Fever Bee Gees Bee Gees 01 Nov. 16, 2010 No
    Stayin’ Alive Bee Gees Bee Gees 01 Nov. 16, 2010 Yes
    Nights on Broadway Bee Gees Bee Gees 01 Nov. 16, 2010 No
    Tragedy Bee Gees Bee Gees 01 Nov. 16, 2010 No
    You Should Be Dancing Bee Gees Bee Gees 01 Nov. 16, 2010 No
    The Thrill is Gone B.B. King Single Nov. 16, 2010 Yes
    A Whiter Shade of Pale Procol Harum Single Nov. 16, 2010 No

    These songs, plus all other recent releases have been added to our Rock Band Slacker Radio station. The Slacker station now has a couple thousand songs for you to enjoy in your browser, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, etc, etc.

    INCLUDES ALL SONGS THRU 11/16/10.
    NEW:

    Stone Temple Pilots – 6 pack

    Jimmy Eat World – 3 pack

    The Doors – Greatest Hits: Special Edition

    RushSubdivisions

    Bon Jovi: Greatest Hits: Rock Band Edition

    New OrderBlue Monday

    Talking HeadsBurning Down the House

    DeftonesMy Own Summer (Shove It)


    Direct link to Rock Band Station on Slacker.com
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  • Rock Band 3 MIDI Adapter, November 9 Release?

    Posted on November 8th, 2010 Shawn 5 comments

    A quick look over at Sears.com states, the Rock Band 3 (Mad Catz) MIDI adapter is to be released on November 9, versus Amazon’s listing of November 28. I stopped a by a local GameStop yesterday, and they didn’t know what it was, didn’t have them in stock, couldn’t find them in their inventory system.

    Does anyone have insight when this will actually be released?
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    In the meantime, I plan to visit my closest Sears at lunch tomorrow and report back.

    UPDATE (11/9): This morning the image on Sears.com and Kmart.com stated that it is now available.  I stopped by both a Kmart and Sears, though neither had it in stock. I also stopped by a GameStop to no avail. In another attempt, I tried buying from Sears.com. Once I got to the checkout screen, I received a notification that is was out of stock and no longer available for shipping. Looks like this date was incorrect.

  • Rock Band & Guitar Hero with Real Drums – Part 4: pro setup

    Posted on October 29th, 2010 Shawn 1 comment

    This is Part 4 of a multi-part series.
    Part 1: the discovery
    Part 2: intro and shopping
    Part 3: basic setup
    Part 4: pro setup

    This post is long, LONG overdue.  It began in January 2009 when I discovered that an electronic drum kit could be used to play Rock Band and Guitar Hero (see Part 1). Then I set out to buy the gear needed (see Part 2), which included a Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit. Once we get the basics setup, we are able to play Rock Band and Guitar Hero with Yamaha and Roland drum kits. Now that Rock Band 3 is out, it’s time to finish up this series with the “pro” setup.  How fitting that 21 months ago, I titled this post “pro setup” and Rock Band 3 also calls this “Pro” drums. Great minds think alike, I guess.

    First, lets discuss what my current drum kit consists of. A simple Visio picture should speak a thousand words.

    My Roland/Yamaha Drum Kit

    I did not purchase a specific drum kit. Instead I leveraged the fact that I owned a very old (but fully capable) drum brain, and purchased my drum kit piecemeal. Most came used from eBay, some new from Guitar Center and J&R. in all, I probably spent about $700 over the past 2 years to get this setup.

    There are four drum pads (red PD-7, yellow PD-8, blue PD-8, green PD-8) making up the typical drums on a Rock Band drum kit. I also have three cymbal pads (yellow/blue VH-11, blue CY-8, green CY-8). There is one kick drum pad (Orange KD-8), with a Gibraltar double-kick pedal. For the drum brain, I have a (circa 1994) Yamaha TMX, though any Roland, Yamaha, and some ION brains should do the trick. All of the equipment is mounted on a Roland MDS-10 stand.

    This part is a repeat from Part 3, step 6 to help set the scene for the MIDI note mapping. Configure each pad on your e-drum kits brain with the following MIDI value.  NOTE:  The voice (actual sound) doesn’t matter, what matters is the MIDI value.

    RockBand Settings (CREDIT: Doc_SoCal)

    RED – MIDI Note 38
    YELLOW – MIDI Note 46
    BLUE – MIDI Note 48
    GREEN – MIDI Note 45
    KICK – MIDI Note 36

    GHWT Settings are the same, you just add the orange pad at MIDI Note 49.

    1. I started with the basic Rock Band drum kit setup, 4 pads (RED, YELLOW, BLUE, GREEN) and 1 kick (KICK) pedal. This is all plugged into the Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit’s MIDI port.
    2. Next I added a single cymbal, which for Rock Band I mapped to GREEN as a crash cymbal.
    3. I created a second “drum set” in the TMX brain for Guitar Hero, and repeated the MIDI mapping in step 1. For the cymbal, I mapped it to the ORANGE cymbal specifically used in Guitar Hero games. I switch back and forth from my Rock Band “drum set” and Guitar Hero “drum set” depending on which game I use.

      1. NOTE: For Rock Band 3, I currently use just the Guitar Hero drum kit. Rock Band 3 makes use of the Guitar Hero orange pad by mapping it to a cymbal.
    4. Next I added the hi-hat. This is a fully functional hi-hat (though only made up of one cymbal) which sits on a real hi-hat stand, and utilizes the stands hi-hat pedal. It has two 1/4″ inputs for open/closed/pedal voices. For my Rock Band “drum set”, I mapped the closed voice to YELLOW, the open voice to BLUE, and the pedal voice also to YELLOW. The reason for this is in Rock Band games, closed hi-hat sounds are sent to YELLOW, the open hi-hat sounds are sent to BLUE.
    5. Just this week, in preparation for Rock Band 3 Pro Drums mode, I picked up another cymbal pad and mapped it to BLUE. This will give me the third cymbal pad I need for the upcoming Mad Catz MIDI adaptor (coming November 28) for Rock Band 3.
  • Rock Band 3, Everything & The Kitchen Sink?

    Posted on October 27th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    It’s Rock Band 3 launch day.  I have an unboxing video coming as soon as I can edit all the pieces together. For now, let’s talk about some first impressions.

    Keyboard Bundle

    • Price and Build – The keyboard bundle, at $129.99, isn’t cheap in more ways than one.  The price is steep. The keyboard feels heavy and very well built, especially the actual keys.  I’m truly impressed at the feel of the keys, plus the casing also is made of a strong plastic.  The Xbox buttons and d-pad feel a little flimsy and loose, not as solid as on an Xbox controller, but still not bad.
    • What’s in the Box – Along with the keyboard, you get just about everything you would want from an OBE, out of the box experience.  You get a strap for the keyboard, in case you want to hold it like a guitar. It also comes with 3 Energizer AA batteries.
    • The Game – Of course, a sealed copy of the Rock Band 3 game was also in the bundle. In the game box, there is a 50 page manual (though it’s only so thick thanks to the multiple language translations).

    Drums (very significant information for drummers)

    • Supports all Rock Band and Guitar Hero (GH) drums.
    • GH drums orange cymbal is now mapped to green cymbal, in non-Pro mode.  During fills, your green tom and orange cymbal will have different sounds.  This is awesome that Harmonix took the time to code the game for GH drums.
    • Electronic drum kits going through the GH drum MIDI connector work as expected, in non-Pro mode. If you have a cymbal mapped to orange, it will react just as mentioned above.
    • Any combination of Rock Band drums with cymbal add-ons work in Pro and non-Pro mode. If you have one, two, or three cymbals, you can configure the game to accept those cymbals and Pro mode will adapt appropriately.

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    The Game

    Everything has been overhauled in the game. Don’t think about getting the linear tour experience of Rock Band 1, 2 or Guitar Hero games. Now, in my short time playing the game, there’s so much to get used to in this new experience. Some major bullets below.

    • Drop-in / Drop-out play – This is great where one person can start a song, and others can join in at their leisure, and anyone can drop out at their leisure.  This works locally, and online players can drop-out.  I haven’t seen drop-in yet online, so not sure if this exists.
    • Network Disconnection, Rocking Continues – If you are playing online and someone in your party (including you) gets disconnected, your session continues without failing out.  In fact, I was accidentally booted out of an XBox Live session today and the game reverted to a local single player only set without failing.  This feature is just incredible.
    • Cut scenes – There are cut scenes during the menus, before and after songs. Gone are the “Loading…” screens with band facts.  I miss the facts, but the cut scenes are truly beautiful and entertaining.  I’m not certain how many cut scenes there are, so not sure how soon I will get sick of them.
    • Road Challenges – These are fixed and customizable short sets somewhat like Rock Band 2 challenges. This makes for quick tours which is great online. No waiting in Quickplay screens for someone to scroll up and down the Impossible DLC list. Instead, you pick a Road Challenge and you play what you get.  There’s still a lot for me to learn in this mode, but I like what I see so far. (FYI, Quickplay still exists though.)
    • Vocal Harmonies – Just like Beatles and Green Day, harmonies are back. The important new note here is, even if you are playing a song without harmonies in-game, you can still connect up to 3 mics and sing along. I really like this party-type feature, which ultimately just retired my need to ever play Lips again.
    • Free DLC – Make sure you get right into the Music Store in-game for 3 free Doors tracks.  That will expire next week.
    • Minor Disconnection Issue – When a player disconnects from an online session, a message covers the screen for about 5 seconds completely covering the center players lane. You will not be able to see the chart during this time, but the game will continue to play. I hope this will be fixed in a patch.
    • Stage Kit sadness 🙁 – Here’s a sad story for me.  The Stage Kit add-on from Rock Band 1 and 2, which is a USB connected light and fog kit, doesn’t work with Rock Band 3.  Harmonix, please please add support for this back in.

    Overall, the new interface is vastly different and will take some getting used to.  People I played with online last night were a bit confused navigating around.  I’m chocking it up to being new and we will get used to it quickly.  The game is beautiful, and just about every gripe of the past two years has been addressed (excluding the Stage Kit support). There are plenty of other details, which I can report on.  Though, I’m focusing on the things that might be lesser known at this point. Much more coming soon.

  • Rock Band 3 – The New Instrument Videos

    Posted on October 21st, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Over the past couple months, Harmonix has been releasing introductory videos to the new instrument peripherals. Now that all the videos have been released and we are just days (YES DAYS!!!) away from the launch of the most anticipated game since 2008 (in my eyes at least), I’m posting them all here in one location for you to watch over and over and over, maybe even simultaneously too if you roll that way.

    Pro Guitar – Gameplay


    Keyboard – Gameplay

    Pro Drums – Gameplay

    [Thanks to the RockBandAide YouTube feed for the videos.]

  • Rock Band 3 Gear in Stores

    Posted on October 8th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    I took some time out today to check one of the 5 GameStop stores within 10 minutes of my office. The purpose, check on Rock Band 3 inventory. Here’s what I confirmed:

    • Keys for Wii — In stock and available for purchase.
    • Fender Strat (RB3 Legacy version) for Xbox 360 — In stock and available for purchase.
    • Triple Cymbal pack for all consoles — In stock and available for purchase.

    Everything else, is still not in yet.  I also stopped into the Sears next door. Zilch, nada.

  • Rock Band Slacker Radio: 2,000 Songs & Growing

    Posted on October 7th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    Rock Band Slacker RadioIn commemoration with Rock Band getting its 2,000th song (counting on-disc and downloadable), I figured it’s time to update the Slacker station. You may have noticed, I have been “slacking” myself on the blog updates lately…sorry bout that, my 9-to-5 has been keeping me busy.

    I just went back and added all new DLC from August, September, and October so far. The Slacker station now has a couple thousand songs for you to enjoy in your browser, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, etc, etc.

    INCLUDES ALL SONGS THRU 10/12/10.
    NEW:
    The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceAre You Experienced album
    R.E.M. pack
    The Doobie Brothers
    My Chemical Romance
    Anthrax pack
    Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend album
    The Black Keys pack
    and a lot more!

    Direct link to Rock Band Station on Slacker.com
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