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Where does the music game genre go from here? [roundtable]
Specifically, the Rock Band/ Guitar Hero type games. These games are big sellers, which is evident from the number of sequels and add-ons that continue to become available. The market seems oversaturated and even includes band-specific games like Aerosmith and Metallica.

But where does the genre go from here? The basic concept remains the same: you play a fake instrument to the beat of an actual song and get the sensation that you’re actually playing the song.

Pro Mode in Rock Band 3 seems like a promising next step. Does the mode actually make it feasible to learn to play a real instrument? Does the average gamer care?

DJ Hero appears to be another fresh take on the genre but of course it requires the consumer to purchase yet another plastic peripheral.

Will gamers remain happy if the basics remain the same, with the only major addition being more and more songs being added? This could be the case since these types of games usually become more of a ‘party game’ experience to be enjoyed with friends and family.

Nintendo attempted to bring something different through Wii Music but was not able to pull it off quite well. Was there potential in Wii Music to take the music genre another step?

Just to give my own perspective: I had fun for a while with some of the Guitar Hero games, up to and including Guitar Hero World Tour, but after that I became somewhat uninterested in playing any more of games in the series. DJ Hero looks like fun, though, and the thought of it having original remixes of songs (songs you normally wouldn't listen to but sound awesome when mixed together) intrigues me.

I’m curious to hear what long-time fans of any of these series has to say.

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Posted: 01/21/11, 04:35:46
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Well... I'm probably not the best person to respond to a thread such as this one, as my experience with the music game genre is rather lacking. However, it isn't lacking due to lack of interest in the music game genre, but due to the choices available. My taste in music doesn't quite follow the norm, so games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Dance, and the like, have yet to find their way into my gaming library. However, music games such as Wii Music and Electroplankton have - and I enjoy/have enjoyed them immensely and would like to see more like them. So with that, I can say with a solid yes, I do believe Wii Music could take the genre another step - if its name isn't too covered in mud to attempt a sequel of sorts.

I like the idea of creating your own music. The Korg games for DS are bit too complicated for me (due mostly to my lack of trying to learn the approach), but a game similar to it with the ease of the Tenori-On would be something I would be very interested in having for a home console. Or a game that would allow one to import music files from an SD card so that songs could be rearranged/remixed, mixing up the instruments, or the like. Now that would be something I would thoroughly enjoy playing around with. But more music games that have you twitching to press the right string of buttons whilst holding an array of peripherals? Not my ideal of fun. But again, I've not had the experience with the music game genre as others have. I've dabbled, but that's about it.
Posted: 01/21/11, 07:39:10
NoName, I'm glad to hear you really enjoyed Wii Music, since the general consensus is usually quite the opposite.

I do have Elektroplankton and enjoy it very much so. What really grabs me about it is the fact there is no set goal, no objective at all. There's no tutorial, no guidelines to creating the "correct" song... you simply play around with the different creatures and experiment with the sound. You're not even trying to create a finished song that you will go back and listen to. Quite simply the act of experimenting with the sounds is a joy to the ears.

Hhm, never heard of the Korg games.

I think games like Wii Music and Elektroplankton succeed, to some degree, because you don't need to know anything about music theory or necessarily have any musical talent at all.

Now when you talk about there being a game that lets you import music files so you can mix and mess with the music, there are probably already various computer programs out there that let you do that. AT least, I've heard about them (you music nuts out there can chime). So what game developers have to do is perhaps take that approach and streamline it or make it a bit user-friendly.

Actually Nintendo already has something like this with the built-in "DSi Sound," but sadly I haven't touched that feature much myself.
Posted: 01/21/11, 08:17:20
I don't have a lot of experience with music games either. I did own and play Amplitude at one point, got some enjoyment out of it, but eventually moved on when the game got too hard to be enjoyable for me. Pressing buttons and following a "note highway" is simply not a challenge that I find very fun.

The Guitar Hero/Rock Band games, I've only really played them for a couple of minutes at parties. Fun in that setting, but I have no desire whatsoever to buy the pieces of plastic required to play them.

I've bought a couple of the Electroplancton apps as DSiware and, well, they're cool for a minute but ultimately too limited to hold my attention.

I think Activision and whoever buys Harmonix have to accept the fact that the casual audiences that made their games a success have gotten their fill, and that there are some people like me out there who simply can't be brought to buy a music game (as we know them today) at this point, no matter how innovative.

I think the more interesting path is the integration of music into the gameplay of other genres, kind of like the BIT.TRIP games, but pushed further. I hear Rez does this very well, but I've never had the opportunity to play that game myself.
Posted: 01/21/11, 16:33:07  - Edited by 
 on: 01/21/11, 16:48:58

I agree about the BIT.TRIP series. That's the only way I can see the music genre branch out more, by implementing it into other games so that it can remain a fresh experience. Then again, it kind of loses its meaning, doesn't it?

One game I've seen on PSN that I thought was interesting is Beat Sketcher. It supports the PS Move and also has Youtube functionality so you can upload your creations.

Kind of hilarious but cool to see the types of music people can work into their "art," haha.
Posted: 01/21/11, 16:43:16
For general music games I think Dance Central and Just Dance are the way forward. They are fun and good for a bit of exercise too. Maybe somehow combining those types of games with something like Rock Band would work. Some players could be backing dancers or something. You would need a big space to play it in though.
Posted: 01/21/11, 16:45:13
Pandareus said:

I think the more interesting path is the integration of music into the gameplay of other genres, kind of like the BIT.TRIP games, but pushed further. I hear Rez does this very well, but I've never had the opportunity to play that game myself.

Absolutely agree about the Bit.Trip games. It's music-related, yet you can see it would actually fall under an entirely different genre compared to the Guitar Hero/ Rock Band games.

@VofEscaflowne That is hilarious, but it's pretty creative.

And on a side note, two great DS games that implement music and rhythm really well are Elite Beat Agents and Rhythm Heaven.
Posted: 01/21/11, 18:05:09
I want more Elite Beat Agents, Bit.Trip, Rhythm Heaven, and less Guitar Hero/Rock Band. In short, games where music is incorporated into gameplay in an interesting way, that doesn:t simulate playing a real instrument. I think it:s gonna happen, what with those big franchises already faltering in sales. They:re getting stale, no doubt about it. Even the once mighty Dance Dance Revolution has fallen beyond the point of repair. I still play the PS2 versions all the time - BEST EXERCISE EVER!

As for Wii Music, I can:t really comment. I rented it once and it was alright. I am not creative in the least so all I got out of it was a bit of light-hearted fun with friends. It needed more Nintendo music from the get-go.
Posted: 01/21/11, 19:13:52  - Edited by 
 on: 01/21/11, 19:14:36
If you want my honest truth, I think where it goes from here is either A. nowhere, it stagnates or B. they eventually give us the ability to plug in real instruments through some kind of MIDI interface or something.

Definitely more dynamic playing is needed, people are getting bored of mimicking notes without being able to really rock out.
Posted: 01/21/11, 19:36:38
That's what Band Bros. is for!! Nothing says rawk like MIDI.

But seriously, Band Bros. is the future and the past and all things combined. It is exactly as flexible and musical as you want it to be, although Pro Mode is uncomfortable.

Also, Amplitude and Frequency are still better than Rock Band. I like the Karaoke part of those games, though.

As for the Music Genre... dead, probably? If Rock Band 3 didn't resuscitate it, then what will? I just want Harmonix to keep existing and supporting Pro Keyboard mode. More Queen, please.

By the way, if you read Miyamoto's interviews, a Wii Music sequel is definitely in the works. And Wii Music is pretty cool. I'd like to see them expand the concept, maybe with a keyboard peripheral for more input options.
Posted: 01/21/11, 19:46:30
Zero said:

Definitely more dynamic playing is needed, people are getting bored of mimicking notes without being able to really rock out.

You say that like you think it's true. People are more than happy to just play along with the notes, and some people aren't even ready to plunge into the Pro instrument modes for Rock Band 3 or even try out the trainers built in the game, because it's "too hard" for them.

Anyways... like Harmonix has said during an interview, they plan to put more improvisation and composition in their next iteration, so while Rock Band 3 teaches you how to play, Rock Band 4 will likely teach you how to make music.

And by the way, there are already ways to plug up MIDI instruments in Rock Band 3... so... yeah.

Like I said in my review of Rock Band 3, I think 'music games' and 'rhythm games' are completely different genres:

Paleo @ PK Gaming said:
First of all, you might be wondering why I'm calling them 'music games' instead of 'rhythm games.' Well, I think music games are a sub-genre of rhythm games, where the object of the game is to play music literally, whether through a peripheral or real instrument, and that would define Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Other games in the rhythm game genre would include something like Parappa the Rapper or Rhythm Heaven. I would delve into these semantics more, but that's for another article. Anyway, on to the review.

I don't have much to say about Guitar Hero, 'cause that just needs to die, there hasn't been any great fundamental change in that series.

There are other rhythm/music games that I love playing like Audiosurf and Beat Hazard, where the way the levels are generated is depended on the music you choose to play. I could see the music/rhythm genre moving in that direction.
Posted: 01/21/11, 20:22:30  - Edited by 
 on: 01/21/11, 20:23:26
The ability to make music yourself is the next logical step. Rock Band 3 is teaching people how to play the instruments, now they need to know how to apply it.
Posted: 01/21/11, 22:08:04
"Hopefully down the shitter" is my answer
Posted: 01/21/11, 22:16:31  - Edited by 
 on: 01/21/11, 22:16:51
I've love to see an innovative new music game.

The Guitar Hero style games? Way bored with them... enough is enough.
Posted: 01/21/11, 23:39:24
We don't need any more plastic instruments. Just release DLC forever. Rock Band 3 is already perfect.
Posted: 01/22/11, 00:15:47
I'm not sure if this suggestion would really be taking the genre "further" but... I'd really like to see more stuff like Elite Beat Agents. I'm pretty sad that game never caught on here in the States.
Posted: 01/22/11, 02:59:14
I want a game focused on metal music. Until then, I won't be buying any Guitar Hero or Rock Band games, as most of the music present doesn't appeal to me.
Posted: 01/22/11, 03:31:47
Activision will ruin it. They already have.
Posted: 01/22/11, 03:51:21
Activision will ruin something that they ruined.
Posted: 01/22/11, 04:09:45
There's a Rock Band Metal Track Pack, and there's Guitar Her Metallica. I recommend the latter!
Posted: 01/22/11, 06:47:51
@Paleo_Orca Sales show that it is true, the music genre has seen a huge drop in sales since the early days. You can't keep selling people the concept of mimicking notes over and over and over and over. Eventually you need something new.
Posted: 01/24/11, 05:07:57
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