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Pathing Basics - Rock Band - Guitar

Before you can attempt to create Overdrive paths, you must understand the basic mechanics involved. In the Rock Band series, Overdrive is based solely on beats (unlike the GH series, which bases Star Power on measures). There are two different kinds of beats- "red line beats", which are marked above each line of ajanata's charts, and beats within the note chart.

Energy Acquisition

The hardest part of planning an Overdrive path is knowing exactly how much Energy can be gained from each Overdrive phrase. Overdrive phrases without any sustained notes always add exactly bar to the Energy meter. Energy can also be gained by whammying sustained notes within Overdrive phrases. Energy is gained this way at a rate of about 1.1 beats of Energy gained to 1 beat of sustain.
Energy that is acquired from sustained notes is based solely on beats within the note chart. Additional energy can be gained by early whammy, which requires strumming sustained notes as early as the timing window will allow and whammying immediately.

When dealing with short sustains (.5 beat long to about 2 beats long), it is fair to assume that you can get around .25 beats of extra energy beyond what the chart shows. When the sustains get longer than that, the 1.1:1 Energy to beat of sustain ratio starts to become a factor, which is why it's possible to get half a bar of Energy from a single sustain that is ~7.3 beats long (the last phrase in Critical Acclaim has a single 7.25 beat sustain and half a bar is possible).

In the following example (taken from 29 Fingers), the phrase will yield 10 beats of Energy- 8 beats ( bar) from the phrase itself and 2 beats from the two .75 beat sustains:

This gets a little more complicated when phrases have a single long sustain or multiple sustains that are of variable lengths. The following example (taken from No. 13 Baby) has a single, 12 beat sustain:

If it was possible to maximize early whammy (based on the BPM and the proximity of the notes in this phrase, early whammy is not really something you can count on), then it would be reasonable to assume that the first ~7.3 beats of sustain would fill the Energy meter halfway, leaving ~4.7 beats of charted sustain that would likely result in ~5 beats of Energy. Therefore, an activation from this phrase alone would last ~21 beats.

The following example (taken fron Black Hole Sun) shows a phrase with variable sustain lengths that is shown to be worth 2 beats of Energy:

It appears that the four individual sustain lengths are, in order, .66, .33, .66, and .33 beats. The first and third sustained notes appear in such a way that early whammy should work as expected, but the second and fourth sustained notes are part of ho/po sequences, making early whammy harder because there is not as much room before the note to abuse the timing window. It's safe to assume that you can get the extra .25 beat of Energy from the first and third sustained notes, improving the Energy gained from the phrase to 2.5 beats, but if you can get, say, half the usual early whammy from the second and fourth sustained notes, then this phrase could potentially be worth 2.75 beats of Energy. This possible extra .25 beats of Energy can only really be confirmed through testing.

In the following example (taken from Orange Crush), the chart shows only 6.5 beats of sustains. With use of early whammy, it is possible (although difficult) to gain enough Energy from the six sustains to fill the Energy Meter halfway:

Once you can determine how much Energy you will have at any given time, you can plan the best places to activate Overdrive.

Energy Depletion

Once Overdrive is activated, Energy is depleted according to the red line beats (the vertical red lines shown above each line on ajanata's charts). A full Energy Meter lasts exactly 32 red line beats and a halfway full Energy Meter lasts exactly 16 red line beats. Red line beats usually coincide with beats in the chart (four per measure is the norm), but some songs have more (usually 8) or fewer (usually 2) red line beats per measure, generally caused by either a very high or very low BPM.

When the Energy Meter has an exact amount of energy ( or full from Overdrive phrases without sustains or completely full), pathing is easier because the activation lengths can be certain- they will last exactly 16, 24, or 32 red line beats.

Songs that have no sustains within Overdrive phrases are generally the easiest to path. Tame is a great example- there are no sustains in the entire song and the red line beats line up with the beats within the song- four per measure. Since this song has only four Overdrive phrases, there are are only a few options for Overdrive use:
  1. Activate after the first two Overdrive phrases with a bar of Energy without overlapping the third Overdrive phrase. Activate after the third and forth Overdrive phrases with bar of Energy. Both activations last 16 red line beats.
  2. Activate after the first two Overdrive phrases with a bar of Energy. Plan on this activation overlapping the third Overdrive phrase, which will leave the fourth Overdrive phrase unused. This activation will last 24 red line beats.
  3. Activate after three Overdrive phrases with a bar of Energy without overlapping the fourth Overdrive phrase, which will go unused. This activation will last 24 red line beats
  4. Activate after three Overdrive phrases with a bar of Energy. Plan on this activation overlapping the fourth Overdrive phrase. This activation will last 32 red line beats
  5. Activate after four Overdrive Phrases with a full bar of Energy. This activation will last 32 red line beats.

As can be seen in the Tame Optimal Path, the first option is the best.

In the case of Black Hole Sun, Energy depletes twice as fast as normal for the entire song because there are eight red line beats per measure (instead of the usual four per measure). A close to optimal path can be found here. For the activation from measures 53-55, there are two identical phrases that factor in (see the previous section for a breakdown of one of these phrases). Assuming that 2.5 beats of extra Energy can be gained from the sustains in both phrases, the Energy Meter will have 21 beats of Energy (8 + 2.5 + 8 + 2.5), so the activation will last 21 red line beats.

Pathing Strategy

*to come later*

Category: CategoryTechniques

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