Will Rockfree become the Club Audition of the US?

Rockfree is like Rock Band online, only you’re using the keys to navigate instead of an actual instrument. While it has potential because it doesn’t have that many competitors, I don’t know if the game will become hugely successful because of two things: the broadband situation in the US and the poor graphics.

A crucial part of the game is to hit the keys in time to the music. But with Internet connection being what it is in the US, you may experience a slight lag, and that can ruin the entire experience. Hopefully, the publisher will be running a lot of servers to alleviate the problem when more users join up. A lot of flash-based games are already using this DDR-type thing with the arrows, but again, network connection has to be extremely good.

The second and MAJOR flaw of the game is that the graphics suck. The avatars are two-dimensional and really ugly. There’s no visual pleasure.

The best thing for the publisher to do is to look at Audition. Although I really hate the avatar designs in Audition (their eyes are huge like Anime characters) Audition has done a really great thing in tying in social networking so that it is “the” social networking site to go to if your a teen or in your early twenties (it was also the best online dating place for young people). You dance together, chat together, etc. It has also done a great job in using microtransactions to pimp up your avatar- because people kids don’t mind spending a dollar or two to make their avatar look cool.

The thing is, without the social networking, a music or dance game that you play with your fingers is just not fun. The reason guitar hero is fun is because you have an actual toy guitar that you can pretend to play. It’s that element that makes the game enticing- because why would the average person be interested in meticulous rhythm? (If you’ve seen people doing karaoke, you’ll know that perfect rhythm is the last thing on people’s minds)

I would be interested to see how virtual worlds aiming for teens such as Habbo integrate this. Until now, social networking in virtual worlds has been two-dimensional (except for sex, but that’s not really a major feature of the teen VWs). Even if you’re playing games, the interface is mainly 2D. But playing games (think of what happens in the real world) should be a 3D experience, where you can see the other people and interact with them as the gaming takes place. Game developers for virtual worlds are really missing that point. If you get a 2D game (say, playing tetris against someone) in a 3D virtual world, what’s the point of going into the virtual world in the first place?

That’s why of all the games I played within Second Life, the ones I liked best were extremely interactive. The funnest ones were a game of paintball, walking through a haunted house with a couple other people, and playing checkers. The cute thing about the checkers game was that someone had actually made a 3D checker board, so there were two people playing the game, and people standing around watching and talking- you know, like real life. That totally beats playing checkers online where you can’t see your opponent or have any interaction with other people other than chat.


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