Suggestions for Rocksmith

After trying to contact Ubisoft to provide them with feedback on Rocksmith (and receiving little more than an automated response,) I figured I might as well put my feedback here for all the good it’ll do. So here’s a list of things that I think they could improve.

  1. Why do I have to press 3 buttons to get into the game? Press A, Press Start, Press A… come on, I got 10 minutes to get my fix, and it takes 2 minutes to load up and get to a song.
  2. Consistent UI- press start, press A, make some noise- choose one and stick with it.
  3. The ability to navigate the menu with the guitar: pluck red open to select, purple open to go back. slide to scroll left or right (remember us lefties though).
  4. After finishing a song, the ability go back to the library, centered on the song you just played.
  5. After finishing a song, riff repeating.
  6. More lives/ easier method to reselect that riff.
  7. You say intonation is important, but provide no way to check intonation. Give us a way to check it.
  8. A mode where you can use the controller to rewind or fast forward, even use the left and right bumpers to skip sections of the song.
  9. The ability to string a couple of sections together for riff repeater.
  10. More games- “Name that Tone” might be a good one for teaching note recognition.
  11. Remember, most users are playing with their guitars, not their controllers- I good portion of them are using their toes to operate the controller. Plan accordingly.
  12. $3/song? That’s a bit steep. Give me a discount for buying in bulk at least. How about a discount if you buy all new songs at once?
  13. “Favorite songs” option in the main menu, as well as a “recently played”.
  14. When doing technique challenges and such, after I see the video the first time, I don’t care to see it a second time, ESPECIALLY if it means another load screen.
  15. Speaking of loading, restarting in the middle or even near the end of a song is instantaneous, but after finishing a song and hitting “play again” it loads… that seems silly. I don’t give a crap about your menu, keep that song in memory if it means no load time.


I’m sure I’ll have more as I continue to play the game.


Update (20111201)

I have a couple more I’d like to add to the list:

  1. Ghost mode- Show the full note patterns, but at 30% opacity. If you play a section correctly, your mastery is adjusted accordingly.
  2. Assessment mode- If I know a song 90% of the way already, it’s infuriating waiting for Rocksmith to “catch up” to my knowledge. This was a major turnoff for an excellent guitar player that I showed the game to. One note every three seconds for someone who knows the song by heart? (I hadn’t played the song yet myself.)
  3. Riff repeater, Riff repeater, play full song, continue journey, songs, song x, riff repeater. The bolded sections shouldn’t be required- I should be able to go from the finished song back to the riff repeater without all that other crap. Actually, Riff repeater after any finished rehearsal should be available.
  4. Saved playlists- I’d like to be able to select several songs and queue them up so I can play them back to back without it being an event. I’d also like to save that queue for use later.
  5. Rehease any song for an event- I see 4 songs for an event, 1 is qualified, 3 are not. I’d like to rehease those three. It should be trivial to navigate and select them- get a cursor on that list and let me select any of them right from the main menu.
  6. Rehearsal Reversal – ever screw up part of a song and be upset about it? Imagine being able to use the controller to reverse the music like a tape player.
  7. Better communication- I just downloaded a 4 meg update and have no idea why. Did it fix something? Communicate that info- I’m a big boy, I can take it. Gimme technical details.
  8. Open Tuner mode – Some times I just want to mess with my tuning. The current setup is very restrictive.

Again, great game, but I’d like to see some of these warts removed and make it an exceptional game.

Update (20111203)

Add to the list:

  1. When you finish a song, show your score, your last score, and highscore. Gimme some stats man, show me that I improved!

Looking for Beta Readers

Finally Finally Finally! Third revision of Ziggy’s first book is done. Now I’m looking for beta readers to read it and give me feedback on strong and weak parts of the story.


This is an autobiography of a man trying to find his place in the world. That world is the Kingdom of Willis, where Wizards are regulated, elves are under siege, Gnomes and Dwarves have locked themselves away, and an undying tyrant is feared by all.
Cut off from the rest of the realm, Ziggy was raised by a tribe of now-barbaric gnomes and knows that King Vern is responsible for his tribe’s isolation. When it’s time to leave his only home, he enters a a new world, and finds himself ill-prepared.

What I need In a Beta Reader

  • Someone who likes Fantasy
  • Someone who can provide *constructive* criticism
  • Someone with the time to read a 400 page book

Types of Feedback I Need

  • Identify boring sections
  • Identify continuity breaks
  • Identify what “doesn’t make sense”
  • Identify bad spelling or grammar
  • Identify uneven sections
  • Identify what works- Interesting, exciting, amusing, etc
  • Identify “infodumps’ (sections where I give too much detail)

Types of Feedback I don’t Need

  • “Yeah it’s nice.”
  • “Sorry, it sucks.”
  • “Your book is Satanic and you’re going to hell.”
  • “It needs more sexy vampires and werewolves.”

If you’re interested in reading it, leave a comment below or drop me a note at TheRise@ziggyswift.com.

Releasing my Inner Rust Monster

It’s no secret Ziggy’s book is based off a DnD campaign that I ran many years ago, but due to the miracle of Intellectual Property law, I’ll probably have to obfuscate that in the book. The problem is identifying the legal lines in this situation;  it’s unclear what I am and am not allowed to use.

Let’s take the lowly Rust Monster in my book, Rusty. Wizards of the Coast does not appear to own a trademark on the term Rust Monster, however Gary Gygax did invent the creature for the first edition of DnD. So, can I use the term Rust Monster, or the general concept of a giant cockroach that rusts metal and eats it? IP Law breaks down into three categories:

  • Is there a Trademark?
  • Is there a Patent?
  • Is there a Copyright?

For me to be in the clear to use the term rust monster, I need to check and see if WotC has any actual legal claim over it. If they do, I need to get permission from them (of which they will ignore or demand entirely too much money to use), or change the creature in my book so it does not infringe of their IP.


After a quick lookup on http://tess2.uspto.gov/, there does not appear to be a trademark filed of any sort relating to rust monsters. Since they have not registered it, nor does google reveal any indication of intention to trademark, I may be in the clear here.


Reading up on patents, I don’t think the concept of a monster qualify as Patentable Subject Matter under Section 101 of Title 35 U.S.C.:

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.”

Since it doesn’t meet one of the base requirements, I don’t think monsters in general are patent-protected.


Copyright is where it gets tricky. Micky Mouse is an IP megastar- his name is Trademarked, and his likeness is copyrighted. Now, presuming the rules are the same for everyone, there’s not much difference between a dancing mouse that wears pants  and a metal eating cockroach. From the copyright.gov site:

Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others:

  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar sym­bols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamen­tation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration

So, the idea of a metal eating cockroach is not copyrighted (nor is the phrase “rust monster”), however the description, explanation and illustrations are protected. So as long as I don’t use their verbatim descriptions or illustrations, I should be safe.

So am I Safe?

Who the hell knows? I probably need to consult a lawyer to make sure I’m covered. It’d be really nice if WoTC would give me cart blanche on these critters, but I’m not gonna hold my breath on it. Their website is focused more on authors who wish to publish through them and write stories for their worlds. Short of a few critters and some generic spells, my world has no overlap with Greyhawk, Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms.

In Conclusion

It’s crap that I have to even think about this. The sad part is Rusty was probably the simplest example, and there are hundreds in my book that are close to the same case. It would probably cost a small fortune in legal fees to have my book vetted, and even then it may not be a guarantee that I’m in the clear. Also, if there are any lawyers out there interested in some pro-bono work, I would gladly accept it.

IP Sucks.

Revisiting Ziggy’s Book

I appeared to have stalled out on SPoE before I could finish it, so I’m flipping back to the reason for SPoE- Ziggy’s book. After taking a full year off of writing, I’m ready to revise the first of the two books. Last year I stalled out on the 3rd draft and was unable to get restarted; now I think enough time has passed to give me a fresh perspective.

Here’s my current method of attack. I’ve printed up the second draft of the entire book through lulu in a spiral-bound, full page format with plenty of room for making edits (~330 pages) . I’ll try to edit one chapter a week for 2 months (there are 8 chapters, but I’ll give 2 weeks to the first chapter). Part of my editing process will involve a set of pens that I’ll keep in a pouch along with it:

  • Black Pen – New additions, replacements
  • Red Pen – Corrections (spelling, punctuation)
  • Blue Pen – Ideas, notes, non-prose
  • Yellow Highlighter – Area that needs work
  • Green Highlighter – Area I like
  • Sharpie – Kill it with fire, I don’t wanna remember it.
  • Mech. Pencil – Overall structures, themes, constructs.

I’ll go through each chapter several times during it’s allocated week;

  1. Read-through: a personal read to reacquaint myself.
  2. Red Pen, Pencil: correcting painful errors, identifying patterns and motifs.
  3. Verbal Read-through: read aloud to identify bad structure.
  4. Yellow Highlighter, Green Highlighter,Blue Pen: marking areas I like or want to change, flesh out ideas.
  5. Black Pen, Sharpie: changes to be made, sentences that should be obliterated.

I’m hoping that a nice, even pace will keep me from burning out, and a logical set of tools will keep the process fresh. With luck, it’ll give me the drive to create a manuscript polished enough to show others. I’m hoping that breaking each chapter into five run-throughs will make it bite-size enough that I can do a little bit each night.  After I finish this process for each chapter, I’ll make the changes and create a new, third draft.

With the start of the 3rd draft, I’ll have to look at pacing and structure issues, but I’ll worry about that when I get to it.

Humble Bundle #2

So this year I managed to snag the Humble Bundle package;  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a pack of Indie Games bundled together. There are five good reasons why you should consider getting it:

  • Name your own price ($5000 or $0.01 – your call)
  • You choose who the money goes to (charities and/or developers)
  • If you pay more than the average donation, you get Humble Bundle #1 from last year.
  • All games work on Windows, Mac and Linux
  • No DRM

Our Christmas funds were already drained, but Jackie and I agreed that we could spare $15.  I’m going through and trying the games now and thought I’d write up my notes on them:


You’re a little bubble that propels itself by ejecting some of it’s mass in a given direction; the more mass you eject, the faster you go. As you float around, you see other blobs- some smaller, some larger. When one blob touches another, the smaller of the two is absorbed by the larger, bur as your mass grows, velocity slows. It becomes a balancing act of launching yourself to get blobs slightly smaller than yourself; if you eject too much, when you hit your target, you’ll be smaller and will be absorbed by your target (and thus dying).

There are two different types of play; “become the biggest” “absorb the ___”. Become the Biggest is played in a square or round sandbox, or it may be orbiting a massive blob; each has it’s own challenges.  Absorb the ___ involves trying to absorb moving targets- other AI blobs or repulsers (runs away from you). There may be more modes of gameplay, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.

I’ve only dug into it a bit, but it’s very addictive from what I’ve played. The only issue I’ve had is it occasionally freezes;  I have to alt-tab out of it and kill it when it happens.  It’s only happened twice, so it’s not that bad. I am grateful that the devs decided to package it as a .deb file so installing it is as simple as doing a sudo dpkg -i. Overall it’s an excellent game and easily worth $15 by itself. I could also see it ending up on the Wii due to it’s simplicity and controls.


Braid is one of those horrible horrible games like Tetris or Columns where the gameplay sinks into your brain and your start envisioning it everywhere you go.  The crux of the game is that your character can rewind time;  while it appears to be a side-scrolling platformer, you can’t actually die; so it’s closer to a puzzle game despite the running and jumping.

Each level you open up unlocks a new “feature” items that sparkle green ignore the reverse flow of time; even though you run backwards, the badguys keep moving, or the key stays where you left it. purple sparkles cause a shadow version of you to re-perform the actions you just performed; if you need to get in a gate but the purple lever is too far away and the gate closes before you get there, you can run to the gate, run to the lever, then pull it; rewind until you’re back to the gate and watch the shadow you run over and pull the lever. while he’s doing that, you can run through the gate.

I haven’t gotten very far, but the storyline is very interesting; we all wish we could rewind time and undo our mistakes, but eventually you will become a prisoner of other people’s expectations. Very fun, and again, easily worth $15. The controls are a little funky on my laptop, but this would be a great xbox arcade game. They just have a bin file which creates a dir on your system; it woulda been nicer if it had a .deb file so I could track it.

World of Goo

I’ve heard a lot about this game, but this is the first time I’ve seen it. It was actually part of Humble Bundle #1, but since I paid over the average ($7.53 at the time I purchased it), I got HB#1 as well. It’s a basic physics/building game; think tinkertoys made out of jello. The goal is to get these little goo balls into a tube; usually this is done by building some type of bridge or tower that the gooballs can climb. when you place a gooball near an existing structure, it forms a goo strut; if it only connects to one, it’ll flop like a joint. if you place it next to two, it’ll form a triangle which is relatively sturdy.

There are many different types of goo; some that drip like snot, some that can only be placed on a structure once, some that can’t form structures, etc. To top it off, if you build an awkward tower out of the gooball, the struts will bend and give way, causing the tower to collapse.

It’s a fun game, broken into many levels and chapters, but not really as enthralling as Braid. I could see this on the Wii for $15 or so by itself.

Revenge of the Titans

Revenge of the Titans is a simple tower defense game based around an alien invasion; the graphics are stylized  but simple, and the gameplay is nothing special. I’ve played probably close to 50 or so tower defense games;  It’s a little more fast paced than most and seems to just be one solid, continual wave.  It’s a well made and decent game, but I’m sorta burned out on the genre.


Samorost2 is a Myst-like puzzle game. Unlike the others so far, this one was flash based. The story revolves around a guy living on a small planet with his dog. When aliens stop to steal his pears and kidnap his dog, he follows them back to their base to rescue him. Each phase of gameplay involves a static screen with minor animations; you identify something on the screen that’s interactive, like a flower or ladder, and when you click on it, it triggers an animation. The gameplay is based on trying different combinations of events and timings. I was able to beat it in around an hour and a half, which makes it the shortest of the games so far. The artwork is great, but in the end it’s “just a flash game.”

Still worth a play for the artwork alone.

Lugaru HD

Lugaru appears to be a single-player  3rd person RPG, similar to WoW. The graphics are a bit rough, but it looks interesting nonetheless. Unfortunately, the controls aren’t great on a laptop, but if I had a mouse I’d probably be more interested in it. Walking through the tutorial, I got a feel for the combat, which seems crazy and fun. I’ll have to spend more time on it later.

So thats just a quick sample of what’s in the pack- I haven’t had time to play the other games. This pack is easily worth $15 several times over, and I sorta feel like I.  If you haven’t heard of the Humble Bundle, now is your chance to check it out. Hurry though, it’s not available after Christmas day.

Mockups and Tools

IRC can be an excellent source of information, especially on the right networks, but every once in a while you have a conversation that is so disappointing you have to share it.

22:15 < morgajel> I'm using mockito to mock up a Dao, but I've run into an issue: What is the proper way to mock up chained getters, i.e. sessionFactory.getCurrentSession().createCriteria(Account.class).list()? a mock with a mock with a mock is considered bad form, so I'm not really sure how I *should* handle this.
22:15 <@toolA> Stop using mocks?
22:15 <@toolA> They are damned pointless anyways
22:16 <@toolA> Use somthing like Junit or spring-db tests, setup a whole cycle with a in memory db, then run that against your queries.
22:16 <@toolB> ~mock toolA
22:16 * javabot points at toolA and laughs
22:17 < morgajel> toolA... really? that's the advice you're gonna give me? "Don't use mocks when unit testing?"
22:17 <@toolB> yeah. i prefer that route over mocks, personally, even though it means testing takes slightly longer.

He continued to rant against mocks and declare them useless. A couple of things disappointed me about this:

  1. I asked a well formed, non-inflammatory question, and the response was to completely ignore the question and say what I was doing was worthless, despite being a well accepted development practice.
  2. Not only did one oper state that mocks were useless, but another one didn’t disagree with his blanket statement. While they *may* have a point that mock objects do not cover everything, to call them useless is unreal, especially in a programming channel.
  3. Rather than say “I don’t use mocks” and let someone who could answer my question respond, the conversation was then dominated by a diatribe about all of the faults with mocks.
  4. The thing I took away from this was “don’t bother asking questions in this channel because people who don’t use the tech you’re asking about will pipe up and shoot you down regardless of how nicely you ask.”

It’d be one thing if I were off topic, or it was not a programming channel, but damnit I expected better. So I don’t think I’ll be going back there anymore.

(And no, the irony isn’t lost on me.)

Why does Ziggy’s Aunt Hate Him?

If you ever see me talking to myself, I’m just working through ideas for my book, honest… Here’s a good example of what I’m chomping on right now.

So I’ve been thinking, why does Ziggy’s Aunt Makuran hate Ziggy so much? Why does his cousin resent him?

First off, Ziggy is adopted, so take that into account.

Originally I thought it was because she was upset that Keltrem was made chief instead of her(since she’s female), and resented him for it because she is the eldest child. When Keltrem’s biological son died, she knew her son Gunthorm would be the next chief. When Keltrem adopted Ziggy, she blamed him, and raised her son to hate them both.

…but that didn’t Gel. Why didn’t Kinnon, Marukan’s husband hate Ziggy? There was power to be had if his son became chief… unless it wasn’t his son.

What if Marukan’s first husband was killed in battle by Keltrem’s decision? That is a much better reason not to forgive her brother. But why would Gunthorm share that hate? He was the son of the first husband… and Kinnon adopted him and had another child with Marukan. Kinnon would feel empathy towards Keltrem’s plight with an adopted son, and give ziggy the benefit of the doubt in private, but be distant when around Marukan.

Marukan’s second son (Agaleron) was fathered by Kinnon, and doesn’t care about all that crap, but since his older brother hates ziggy, he hates ziggy as well.

Gunthorm doesn’t empathize with ziggy being adopted because he doesn’t see Kinnon as a father figure, he sees him as a guy who married his mom. There’s tension there.

Lets back up a bit. Keltrem and his wife Zimissa had a son named Botulf. When Botulf was very young, he wandered near some contaminated turnips and ate one, then died of poisoning. That’s what everyone things. … but did Marukan have a role in that? intentional or unintentional?

Zimissa was heartbroken. Keltrem comforts her. Years later, she becomes pregnant again, but miscarries several months short. (did Marukan have a role in that? just how evil is she??)

Zimissa is devastated, tries to commit suicide (did Marukan have a role in that?) She does so by walking past the dark curtain into the plane of chaos. Keltrem follows, but watches her die, unable to save her. Kinnon (the best tracker in the tribe) witnesses this.

Keltrem is despondent, returns to the tribe, only to walk away without saying a word. Marukan takes command of the tribe much to the anger of the elders.

Keltrem wanders, finds Ziggy, thinks it’s a gift from the gods for his loss.

Keltrem returns several days later, tells all what happened. They accept this as truth, and kick Marukan to the curb.

This adds much more depth to the family dynamics.

This is what I was thinking about this morning.

What’s up?

So I’ve been pretty quiet since I hit 100k words- what’s been going on?

  • Round of layoffs at work
  • Friend diagnosed with cancer
  • Another round of layoffs at work.
  • Jackie became a pampered chef consultant
  • Finances have been wiped out from christmas and getting her PC stuff off the ground.
  • 10% paycut at work
  • Guitar lessons are now done because no one can afford them.
  • Have been reading Manuscript Makeover for ways to improve my book
  • Decided to do an initial cleanup of the first draft of my script, then rewrite the outline before starting draft #2
  • started yet another opensource project- this time it’s a collection of Nagios Plugins.

So I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve finished the cleanup of the first two chapters of book 1; hopefully I’ll finish the rest shortly, but it’s very slow going. We’ll see where things head in the next few months- I expect more crappiness.

103,375 words

I recently crossed the 100k barrier and came to a realization- this book is way too long. I think I’m gonna chop it after section 7 (90k words, 360 or so pages) and split it into two books-

The Autobiography of Ziggy Swift: The Rise
The Autobiography of Ziggy Swift: The Fall

This means that the first book is technically complete and ready for a revision. I’d like to finish the rough draft of both books before I proceed with a second draft of the first.

Jackie is about to start working heavy on revising the first section- hopefully that’ll mean I’ll have something for you guys to read soon.



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