Do I NEED to be a luthier?


Guitar Hero World Tour introduced a new feature that’s really cool and a step in the right direction: you can customize the guitar of your character. Yeah, Rock Band 2 allowed you to change the colors of your guitar already, but Guitar Hero took the feature to the next level: you can choose the shape of the body, the neck and headstock, the frets, even the pickups and the volume controls. You can choose the finish and the way you want to paint it. All in all, it’s really cool.

But (and there’s ALWAYS a “but” here in this blog), there’s a problem. Here’s the thing: I suck as a luthier. There, I said it. Do you see that guitar up there in the picture I used for this post? I didn’t design that. My guitar designs are only cool when I get lucky. Some time ago I actually designed a cool guitar using the “octopus” graphic, the tentacles covering most of the body. It was sheer luck though, and it looks kinda punkish, to be honest.

Well, I think the customization option is really cool and definitely a positive thing. But I really wish I had the option of choosing my instrument at a store. Like in Rock Band and older Guitar Hero games. Not only it’s easier, you have the guarantee that you’ll find several beautiful instruments, and one that actually exists in the real world, which adds to the feeling of “simulation” that music games should have.

Another detail: I have to confess that I love browsing the stores in Rock Band games. Every item has a detailed description, and the info on the guitars is priceless. And it’s also done in a lighthearted, humorous way, which is a plus. When I was browsing for a bass for my character (I ended up with the Fender Jazz Bass), the one thing that was critical for my final decision was the description of the instrument. I’m not even kidding. There are people like me out there.

Also, I like having to PAY for my instrument. Again, I’m NOT kidding. I like having to do shows, and earn my money, in order to go to the store and FINALLY being able to buy that one guitar I liked. My character uses the Gretsch White Penguin guitar. I love it. What a beautiful guitar. And knowing that this guitar actually EXISTS in the real world made my purchase much more meaningful. I mean, take a look at the real White Penguin:


Beautiful, eh? I would NEVER have been able to create such a kickass guitar using the customization tool. I mean… the world is full of real, awesome luthiers, who can create real masterpieces. Why should I expect to design something better using a simple tool inside a videogame?

So my conslusion is: keep the customization tool. It’s awesome. But give me the option to spend my in-game money in a guitar store with real world replicas. I want to sport a Gretsch White Penguin in future games, please. Thank you very much.


3 Responses to Do I NEED to be a luthier?

  1. BRK666 says:

    That would be awesome, but it would make the game to cost more to the developer, since they would have to pay for the use of the replicas in the games. I think every GH or RB game should have some real instruments skins, but not a full catalog, just some classics, like GH I and II. They’ve added Kurt Cobain in GH5 (a good topic for the blog, the “Kurt is singing Paramore, OMG!”), they’ve should have added the instrument he most used in shows, or maybe the one he used to do the Smells like Teen Spirit video.

    I think the customization tool in GH’s are a cool feature, but they really need to remake the interface. It’s just too much time consuming, confusing, to make a cool sticker to your guitar you need to spend A LOT of time. And it’s not intuitive, every time a show a casual the feature they say “Cool!!”. When they start trying to do something, they simply forget about it and just never return to the feature. And probably Activion knows this, since they’ve put achievments to people who draws a logo for it’s band, etc. Activision: First, make it simple, easier to make cool things. Then start to add features…

    Man what a Wall of Text… Maybe a should start a blog of my own…

  2. rbgh says:

    Hey BRK, thanks for commenting!

    First I’m gonna beg to differ on one point: that adding guitars would be very expensive to the developers. Of course, I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think Fender, Gibson, Jackson and others actually charge Harmonix or Activision a lot of money for their guitars to be displayed in the game.

    And the reason I’m saying this is that it’s very interesting for THEM to have their brands in a rock game. I mean, think about it. It’s a whole new generation of kids being exposed to rock classics and “playing” those tunes. I’m willing to bet money that a BUNCH of kids grow the desire of learning to play a real guitar by playing music simulation games.

    And if they do, it’s important for those brands that those kids have seen their guitars in the videogame. It gives the brand visibility and strength at the same time. For example, I had never heard of the brand “ESP”, until Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom started using them. I knew Jackson Guitars, though, because many metalheads used that brand.

    So exposing your potential future consumers to your brand is a very important thing to do, and music games have opened a very direct channel for guitar makers to communicate with the younger generation. If I worked in the marketing department of such a company, I’d PAY to have my guitars appear in the games, not charge them for it!

    Another example: Ernie Ball strings. You barely even see the strings in your guitar, and changing the strings ingame doesn’t change appearance nor sound output. Do you believe Activision payed Ernie Ball to have their strings appear in the game, or was it the other way around? In the same vein, you have Ernie Ball clothing in Rock Band 2. Do you think Harmonix paid Ernie Ball for the right to use their brand?

    Now imagine… a kid who wants to learn to play the guitar… he already knows the brand of strings that his little ingame rockstar uses: Ernie Ball. Don’t you think he’ll be more inclined to try that brand first?

    And now secondly, I agree with you 100% on the interface of the customization tool. Not only it’s confusing and time consuming, it just feels like WORK. Really, I’d just rather buy myself a kickass guitar, maybe change some minor details, and proceed to ROCK THE WORLD.

  3. rbgh says:

    Hahahahaha look at MY wall of text! XD

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