This Is the Devil’s Fake Drum Set

And I will tell you why: The “high hat” cymbal is where the crash cymbal should be, the crash cymbal is where the ride cymbal should be, the snare is where the high hat should be, and the tom is where the snare should be. The only two things vaguely where they’re supposed to be is the floor tom and the bass drum pedal. And to top it all off, everything is too close together. All of which means if you’re a real drummer and you sit down to be the “drummer” on Guitar Hero, you’ll be full of teh suck. Or at least I was. I have cuts and bruises on my fingers from repeatedly jamming my digits into the cymbals.

Not to mention the first couple times I tried it I failed out because, silly me, I was actually trying to drum the actual drum part, as opposed to the fake drum part. Gaaaah.Eventually I figured it out, but I have to tell you, intentionally doing the drum part wrong is, like, you know, wrong, especially when the drums and cymbals are all in the wrong place. After a few songs I switched over to fake bass guitar, because not being a bass guitarist, doing a fake bass line didn’t bother me as much.

Don’t mind me, I’m just kvetching. About EVIL FAKE DRUM SETS. That’s all.

43 Comments on “This Is the Devil’s Fake Drum Set”

  1. At what skill level were you playing? I find once you get up to expert or even hard the drum parts do a pretty good job of representing what’s actually being played in the song. On the other hand, expert drums also do a pretty good job of exploding my brain, so it’s a double edged sword.

  2. Two notes.

    There is at least one real electronic drum set that you can use with Rock Band, and so I presume Guitar Hero World Tour. I haven’t done that, but you can also replace the bass drum pedal with a real one, which I have done, because the cheap plastic one drove me nuts.

    Also, if you play on expert, you are playing the real drum part in almost all cases. So they have to “simplify” the parts for everything else. So that complaint’s easy to solve.

    Guitar’s more fun for overweight geeks anyways.


  3. When Guitar Hero first came out, there was a rash of internet videos showing how much various Real Guitar Heroes sucked at Guitar Hero, at least until they got the hang of things, and realised it wasn’t a one-for-one analog. It’s the equivilant to assuming artists are all awesome at Pictionary, when really the Real Skillz ™ don’t translate to Game Skills at all. It’s not that the skills won’t be useful in the long run, but you can’t use the exact same techniques to produce optimal game results.

  4. I play bongos. I am waiting for a bongo add one to Guitar Hero. Yes, I’m serious.

  5. PixelFish@4:

    I am reminded of the scene in the South Park “Guitar Queer-O” episode where Randy tries to play along with the GH version of “Carry On My Wayward Son,” and fails the song miserably (“GAME OVER! YOU SUCK!”) even though he can do a pretty decent job of playing the song on a real guitar. (Cartman: “Real guitars are for old people!“)

    At any rate, I smell a possible aftermarket for GH drum controllers that more closely mirror the layout of a real kit.

  6. Erbo@7, they pretty much already exist, except for Rock Band. They start at about $300.

  7. RB >> GH

    To be fair, I’m not sure about the difference in the sets. The RB set still has the hi-hat/snare switch, mostly because it doesn’t have separate heights, so trying to do the right hand over the left thingy would be rather confusing. The uber-expensive Ion set allows you to re-orient the pads as you wish, so it should be possible to switch things around as you see fit. It also has separate symbol attachments that can mirror the effects of pads.

    However the note tracks are considerably better in RB. GH will often be hard for the sake of being hard, rather than being mostly accurate to the music.

    Skip@6, the cowbell parts will typically get relegated to the vocalist lines, in most cases. (See Don’t Fear the Reaper as exhibit 1.)

  8. Ah, I’d never noticed that’s where the cowbell lines went, as I never do vocals. Having a combination of perfect pitch for hearing, and an inability to sing worth a damn, it’s just to painful to contemplate.

  9. Most real drummers start off at hard on the rhythm games. Echoing pixelfish, there’s a hilarious video of Scott Ian bombing out on easy playing an Anthrax song. Think of it as fun with friends, active listening, and space invaders instead. It’s a real video game, not fake music.

  10. John: if you’re enjoying the GHWT/RB experience in general but are underwhelmed by the drum kit, you might want to take a look at Ion’s “Drum Rocker” kit, which is actually a full fledged Alesis electronic drum set with an adaptor that lets you use it for rhythm games as well:

    As you can imagine it’s kinda pricey ($300ish), but since it can potentially sub for a (small) drum kit as well as a game controller, you at least get to reclaim some space in your house in return for the $$$.

  11. John, personally, I think it’s that a real drummer can do 6 things at once, and they can’t have that in a game – so they let you off easy, or so they think. Real pilots with no simulator experience have the same problem with Microsoft Flight Simulator.

  12. i discovered when playing guitar hero and its ilk that real skill doesn’t translate (as I’m sure people good at guitar hero and its ilk find out going the other direction).

    Just never became a fan. i like playing the real thing better…

  13. Yep, the skills just don’t translate, that’s what my drummer friends keep saying… As well, I’ve played guitar for many years, and it just doesn’t cross over either.

    Luckily, I’ve got a good singing voice too, so I’m still in high demand when Rock Band gets put in. =)

  14. I worry a bit that Guitar Hero and similar games are creating a generation of kids who aren’t bothering to learn the real guitar, bass, drums, etc. Learning real instruments is hard…playing a video game is comparatively easy. What if Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, or Kurt Cobain had picked up a Wii guitar instead of a real one? The world would have been a different place…

  15. LB @24: I wouldn’t worry about that. For everyone who picks up the game instead of the real thing, there’s someone like me who wouldn’t have even considered playing an instrument until they played GH/RB.

  16. I’ve played (real) guitar for years and when I tried playing “Guitar Hero” with a friend, I could not get two notes in a row. So my friend played guitar and I played drums, and it worked out pretty well.

    Didn’t know they were in the wrong position. I wonder if they could be moved or reprogrammed or something. Seems like you could change them in software somehow.

    Oh well. I still don’t have “Rock Band” for PS3. I’d still like to get it someday.

  17. My brother plays real drums and he could not play RB drums either, even with my Roland. He was either hitting too many real notes that weren’t there on the lower difficulty or couldn’t translate the game screen fast enough on the higher difficulty.

    I have actually gotten together with a couple of guys that I play RB with online to play real instruments in person. We suck but it’s still fun.

  18. Another vote for Rock Band as superior to Guitar Hero, drum-wise. Those cymbals on the GH set are badly positioned and flimsy; it’s much better, IMO, to go with the slightly more abstract (though practice-pad-based) RB controls, where the crash and the floor tom are the same pad, for instance, and where you can (if you have the RB2 drums) plug in additional, more robust, cymbal pieces if you really want the added verasimilitude. You also effectively get a snare and three toms out of them, which feels more right.

    Plus, hi, RB has Maiden. And there’s that whole Beatles thing coming this fall. Not to mention the awesomeness that should be Lego Rock Band.

  19. You do realize that your positioning (which is what I learned as well) of the drums is by no means standard. My stepson plays three different Rock Band/Guitar Hero kits, none of which are arranged the same.

    But then neither are the kits of Carl Palmer, Jason Bonham, Tommy Lee, Alex Can Halen, or Zack Starkey.

    Phil Collins is the last major drummer I saw whose set looked “standard,” and that was in 1987. (Floor section, midway back for Eric Clapton at the old Richfield Colisseum. Pays to date the Ticketron manager. Wonder what ever happened to her.)

  20. The Drum Rocker kit sold by Ion that was referred to a couple of times here is not compatible with Guitar Hero. I understand that it’s *partially compatible*, but Activision’s own compatibility chart says it is not: Otherwise, it is quite awesome.

    I have since bought a midi sequencer, a kick pedal (the pedal that comes with the kit is recognized by the sequencer as a high-hat pedal only) and replaced the snare pad and am learning to play the drums for realz.

  21. I kinda wanted this to be a real emulation of drumming… not sure why cause I could just play my real kit instead but you know – something fun about being about to play drums in the lounge room!
    Still I wanna give them a try but I’ll remember to to think of them as a Video Games drum kit and pretend I don’t know how to play real drums!
    Cheers John hope you enjoyed yourself!

  22. I’ve heard that about the drums in RB. In fact, as a some-time High School Marching Band instructor what I hear is that for musicians who don’t play drums, the RB drums are wicked fun, but for drummers, they’re annoying as hell until you stop trying to play drums and start playing the button mashing video game that it is. :)

  23. As a long-time real drummer, I call BS on those that say the skills are not at all comparable/transferable. I found learning to play on the plastic kits to be not much different than gigs back in the day when I had to play on somebody else’s kit that was “set up wrong”. Learning to play in time, limb independence and so on all come into play when playing either GH or RB. Am I more _comfortable_ playing on my Ion kit? Absolutely.

    Regarding the Ion compatibility with GHWT: the kit works just fine. One caveats: the Ion kit has one less trigger than the official GHWT kit, so the note tracks are automatically compressed from 5 lanes down to 4, which can lead to some less than pretty charts feel-wise.

  24. LB: Everything I’ve heard is anecdotal, but it sounds more as if these games are creating the desire to learn to play real instruments. The Guitar Center catalogs I get are now hawking songbooks of songs featured in Rock Band, with a guitar tutorial to match. Nobody who actually plays the games has the illusion that they’re much like playing real instruments, but by feeding the fantasy of rocking out they seem to be increasing the itch rather than sublimating it.

    While I think Rock Band is a lot of fun at parties and gatherings, I think I’d rather practice a real guitar (which I also suck at) than practice Rock Band or Guitar Hero in my spare time. But, on the other hand, there are also video games I dearly love (hello Geometry Wars), and my desire to play them instead of Rock Band is just an arbitrary matter of taste.

  25. Heh…try being a singer muddling through with the dad-blasted microphone that may or may not pick up your voice (despite being dangit loud), when the notes may or may not last as long as they do in actual performances of the piece.

    I didn’t bother with the drums or guitar – my cats already look at me funny.

    Cheers for the fun, sir – and how sad is it that I’ve been reading your delightful blog for a while now and THIS was the post I de-lurked for?

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  26. It’s Guitar Hero. It’s, at best and arcade game. It is not meant to be a simulation, it’s meant to be fun. I hate it when people get all “Oh, you can’t play the real guitar line on it”… guess what, you don’t left-click to fire a machine-gun, to don’t press a button to kick a football…

    Video games are not real! Get this into your heads, people!