Frets On Fire: Don’t Bother

Last night I tried “Guitar Hero” (actually it was “Guitar Hero II”) for the first time, and was blown away by the awesomeness of the experience. My mind immediately turned to a piece of software I’d heard of, an open source game which was much like Guitar Hero, except you play it with your keyboard (you pick it up like it’s a guitar). It’s called Frets On Fire. And it turns out it totally sucks. Or at least it did for me.

I have fairly low usability standards, as I use a lot of open source software, but this is what it was like for me to try to run it…

  • on Linux: I download it, make sure I’ve got all the needed support stuff installed, and run it. I get an opaque error message. I google on the error message and all I can find is people on various message boards asking what to do about the error message and getting no answer. Well, wait. One guy got an answer. It was the words, “there is an FAQ, you know,” and a link to an FAQ for one of the components of Frets On Fire, which gave advice completely unusable in this context.
  • on the Mac: I downloaded a single self-contained application, that I could double-click to run. When I ran it, my screen turned black. That’s all. When I hit buttons on my keyboard I got angry beeps. I had to hit command-option-escape (the Mac equivalent of the 3-finger salute, Control-Alt-Delete) to get it to quit. I turned to the Mac’s Console application for debugging info. I found an opaque error message. When I googled on the error message, all I could find was people on various message boards asking what to do about the error message and getting no answer.

I guess I should have smelled trouble when the app’s home page, according to google results, turned out to be blank except for what appears to be an error message in Finnish, forcing me to download it from a third party FoF fan community.

Open Source, my beloved Open Source, why do you have to suck so bad so often?

4 thoughts on “Frets On Fire: Don’t Bother”

  1. My brother-in-law has the windows version and it seems to work okay. Mainly it’s for the novel experience of rocking out on your keyboard. I’m thinking it wouldn’t work so great on a laptop…

  2. I’ve been trying Frets On Fire with the Xbox X-Plorer guitar, and even though it works, it’s not really worth checking out.
    If you got a PS2 or an Xbox 360, save yourself the trouble.

  3. I officially hate Frets on Fire. I found your site after a “Frets on Fire SUCKS” google query.

    I ran it in linux. It starts, but upon starting a song it bombs out. I’ve compiled every kernel sequencer option and every OSS and ALSA option I can imagine it would need, but to no avail.

    I just installed it for windows (dont really run Windows much, but since I was here, what the heck), and after having to reinstall it, the first time it apparently didnt like the resolution I chose and couldnt start the game. Trying to salvage that install, I searched for a config file. I couldnt find one and instead of digging through the registry, I decided to just reinstall it. So cool it let me play a song, but then after playing it, it crashed. Imagine that…


    This game has potential, but the developers and the community around it apparently dont intend on getting it out of an pre-alpha state.

    Adding it to my list of Epic Fails.

    If you run Gentoo, beware.

  4. Duly noted, and thanks for adding your experiences. :)

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