Some initial thoughts on Rock Band, after a couple of nights of playing with friends at home, instead of special occasions.
The Marshmallow Mod works. It doesn’t make the drums quiet, but the mechanical volume is now in line with the clickety-click of the Guitar Hero III wireless Les Pauls and the singing. I had to add some more tape to hold the cushions in place over the ends of the drum sticks. I do consider making the cushions even thicker once it’s time to replace the current ones.
I’m still left wanting for a microphone stand and a drum throne. Both of these cost around 30 USD, so I’m probably going to shell out for them. Especially the drum throne would be useful, and the mic stand is just essential for the feel.
The game’s frontend design has issues. While the game did mention it, I didn’t realize that the band leader was both permanent and actually tied to a single, role-specific character. I thought it meant just the gamer profile! So once I accidentally became the band leader on the drums, we couldn’t play without the drums. The second time, we accidentally created a band with a fronting vocalist – again, no playing without someone on the mic. Last night, we erased the non-functional bands and took pains to create new ones, with only guitarists leading, as we think we’ll always be playing at least one guitar when putting the bad together for a session. Not being able to shift the band leader status to another instrument or character feels like bad design to me. Based on the amount of online writing about this, I’m not the only one who’s learned about this the hard way – wasting a couple of nights’ worth of playing time.
It also looks like you need to create a separate character for every instrument you want to play with one gamer profile. That’s just dumb. Why can’t you use the character you’ve already designed for another role?
All that said, major respect to Harmonix for creating a frontend with easily legible typefaces, even on a small SDTV display.