One of my most painful (but at the same time wickedly amusing) memories relating to the Guitar Hero and Rock Band gaming boom a few years ago was when a high-scoring king of the button/paddle guitar controller tried to show me how easy it was to play a real guitar. He soon learned that playing a real instrument can be very tough at the beginning, so much so that many would-be axe gods give up before the calluses have even had a chance to form. GuitarBots from Ovelin is a new online learning system that combines challenge and reward computer-based gaming and a real instrument to take string pickers from the tentative first steps right through to more advanced soloing and rhythm play ... and it looks like a whole lot of fun, too.
It's not the first time that we've seen real instruments enter the gaming/learning arena (think Squier Strat, Power Gig or Rocksmith) but GuitarBots allows you to use any electric or acoustic guitar. The game is presented as an intergalactic challenge where the player must master basic guitar-playing skills in order to advance to new levels. Riffs, solos and full songs must be played correctly with a robotic band to unlock new songs and practice areas.
"Everyone has the potential to learn to play a musical instrument ? the key to success is to keep practicing, especially in the early phases," said Christoph Th?r, the CEO and co-founder of Ovelin. "GuitarBots makes guitar practice more fun and motivating, which in turn makes learning easier."
Since the game is played directly in a web browser ? like the impressive iPerform3D system we covered last July ? it's compatible with both Mac and PC computers (although you will need to install the Unity Web Player to run the game). Whatever sounds you're making are picked up through the computer's built-in microphone.
GuitarBots features step-by-step tutorials, a built-in tuner and a variety of songs with both beginner and advanced difficulty levels. More advanced players can skip the basic levels and dive right into more difficult songs, like the one played by Joaquin in the following demonstration video.
"Pricing is US$9.99 for a premium account (for unlimited access and premium features that are coming soon)," Ovelin's Mika Jalonen told us. "Anyone can try the game for free for five minutes (no signup required). At the end of the 5-minute try, you'll be prompted to sign up for a free account. If one doesn't sign up, the progress in the game won't be saved."
"By signing up for a free account (you can do it without first trying as well in the main screen), the game can be played for five minutes per day (and progress is saved within the account)," he added. "The free account play time can be extended up to one hour per day by inviting friends to sign up (you earn five extra minutes for every invited friend that signs up)."
A version for mobile platforms is currently being developed.
The following video features Shaun from Ovelin introducing the GuitarBots learning game.