*edit* I'm editing my original post to go from asking why, to saying what needs to be changed and telling Harmonix to fix it (after 6 months and crossing my fingers for RB2, I'm done asking). After stating my points, I'll go into the common statements/questions that follow each point. Getting kinda tired of repeating myself so please read the points before responding with the same statements I already addressed. After that, I'm going to get on a soapbox and get snippy.
First and foremost, at the very, bare minimal, least there absolutely needs to be a way to seperate out a song into sections in practice mode on vocals. There just simply has to be. With that being said, here's some more ideas that are just icing on the proverbial cake.
The Most Optimal Upgrades to Vocal Practice
**Vocal Practice Menu is broken down into 2 choices: by section and by phrase. From those 2 choices you can then pick the according section/phrase. An even better option would be an initial list of sections, then from that list, there could be a sublisting of each corresponding phrase.
**While practicing you have the ability to slow down/speed up time.
**You actually receive a trail of the pitch you hit. The color would be (insert color here) for when the pitch is off, and when the pitch is on, where overlaps the green bar, in changes to (insert color here).
Now to address each point.
"Maybe it's too hard / not possible to seperate the song out"
- Doubtful considering when you pick a section in a song in drums/guitar practice, it comes complete with a vocal track playing at 100% speed. And as I'll point out many time from this point on, vocalists have easiest seperation in the game - neatly cut phrases. It's practically begging to be seperated.
"Maybe the difficulty would be too easy if you could practice each section"
- The essence of that statement is saying Harmonix does not want you to get good at playing their game. If that was the logic, then there should be no practice for any instruments. Also, simply figuring out how exactly to hit a section does not mean the challenge is gone. Got the section mastered? Great now try while playing the whole song.
"Maybe, since some vocal parts blend too much together, it just wouldn't work to try to seperate it out"
- Considering the basic breakup of a song is based on the vocal track (Verse, Chorus, etc), it doesn't make a lot of sense why it couldn't be done. Additionally, drums/guitar in practice mode comes complete with a second or so buffer before starting the section, to give you prep time. No reason the same buffer won't help out vox. Also, my favorite point - phrases. Excellent stopping/starting point.
"Just listen to an MP3 of the song"
- I, for one, am not paying for 140+ MP3s of songs I can play on Rock Band, just to practice vocals when the feature should be in the game like it is for guitars and drums. Also, singing and playing vox on Rock Band are simply not one in the same - especially on expert.
"Why both section/phrase option - why not just a list of one of them"
- This is purely a convenience factor. Optimally the best choice if there was only one, would be phrase by phrase selection. That would be suh-weet. But sometimes you wouldn't mind working on the whole chorus, so picking it phrase by phrase isn't really needed. And if you did want to only work on the song as sections as a whole, scrolling through a very lengthy list of phrases on some songs (*cough* Welcome Home) might be a pain.
"Slowing down will not work. It would sound wierd"
- Just like guitar/drum part, it would simply omit all music/vocals and leave the visual note/pitch to hit with the metronome to keep time. No one really expects Harmonix to develop a slurred out 50% speed Mick Jagger. I'm using Mick Jagger as another example here as well, some songs that have heavy harmony (like Gimmie Shelter) can actually be easier to practice muted.
"Slowing down wouldn't actually help you train (muscle memory)"
- I'm not sure why people think it'd be impossible to learn from drawing out a note. There are many small notes that are in a completely different pitch from the rest of the phrase. Unfortunately, these notes are so fast (a common occurence are 3 letter words at the beginning of phrases) you do not have adequate time to adjust your pitch to see if you can hit it. And this function would be more than useful on any songs that have short pitch changes all through a phrase (Suffragette City for example). Yes at a faster pace it might sound a little different, but the important part is that you're now in the right ballpark of pitch.
"Why bother with the pitch trail? It has an arrow indicator"
- The arrow indicator is just fine when it comes to playing a song. But while practicing, having more feedback is better. Being able to actually see where your pitch was in relation to the correct pitch is incredibly helpful and the arrow just pointing to "lower" and "higher" isn't really that informative. The color of the pitch trail isn't really important, it's just an idea to make it easier to read.
This may seem like asking a lot, but keep in mind we have no real practice as is. We have a no-fail mode - that is not what you would call "practice". Since the start of RB1, we've had to go through marathon length songs just to get to a few sections that we wanted to practice. We're talking, in most cases, playing 5 minute songs to take one shot at 3 seconds of vocals. Practicing these sections is what is the difference in FCs and Gold Stars, and even in some songs, it's needed to not fail out. You try singing Boston.
The only solution vox has to it's practice mode is to play an entire song over and over and over again to train. By the time we're done, singing the song is no longer fun, we don't want to play it because we're sick and tired of hearing that damn song again.
With RB2 coming out, saying I'm incredibly disappointed with their approach to vox is a gross understatement. For one, we're the only one without hardware improvement. Mad Catz had to be the one to put out a mic that has controller buttons on it - leaving me with my controller tied to my Mic Stand (...since I can never find the damn thing after a few drinks).
Software wise, the only thing Vox gets outta RB2 is that talky parts are no longer impossible. So thanks for fixing a blantant bug finally. But the biggest gripe is the fact that there is no difference between No Fail Mode and Practice. How this got an "OK" in functionality is simply beyond me. Reading this about how many songs have tricky/difficult endings, and knowing I'm going to have to either stick to hard or play this song until I hate all things in life, is just discouraging.
Now, Rock Band is a great, solid franchise. I happily support it's products and enjoy so much of the set list they put out. With great DLC, they introduced me to some really great bands I'm quit fond of. That being said, I'm really let down with how they have yet to even address the issue regarding vocal practice mode in the slightest, and are continuing to actively improve the guitar and drum experience. It just goes to show they do not consider vocals an important part of Rock Band. I realize that besides simply adding the vocal track in, there isn't much that can be done in terms of increasing the difficulty at haromonix's end, but it doesn't mean vox should be overlooked as far as an active part in your game.
Discussion after the edits starts at page 7.