One of the things I've mentioned recently is that I've gotten back into music, and am doing so by learning a new instrument, the guitar.

Lessons of course, are available, and I've availed myself of a couple, but that gets expensive very fast even if one hasn't fallen down the rabbit hole of all the cool gear you can buy to modify sound, better amps, and of course inputs to record and produce music on your computer.

For clarity - I'm not an utter newb, though I recall far less, and bluntly, learned far less of the formal notation/etc.that I should have back in middle school for violin, and never did get much into basic music theory beyond "hey, a note, play it." Before I picked up Rocksmith I had practiced 10-20 minutes a day for several months and could play and transition with a lilliputian dose of aplomb about six basic open chords, run through several scales, pick out a couple simple songs including a not-terrible version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".

I had also tried Yousician and Guitar Tricks.

As to the former - I was explicitly looking for a tool that would "gamify" my practice. Throw compositions and chords and melodies at me and show me what I got right and what I missed. I was also looking for basic instruction on technique beyond a few bouts with a tutor and guidance from family and friends who play.

Yousician had some basic training, but I believe jumped in a bit too fast without getting into the fundamentals enough. I tried the trial and went to look for something else. That ended up being Guitar Tricks. I've used that since, and actually will be using it again.

If Guitar Tricks had a fault for me, it was that its pacing was perhaps a bit slow, and had no gamification/testing aspect, but it did cover the basics of the strings, posture, strumming, chords, picking, etc. quite well and run you through it in a repetitive manner while also using simple melodies to give you something more than mere drills. I actually will be returning to it because it does an excellent job of leading you through theory, chords, etc. step by step, at least from my beginner's perspective.

So I had gotten to the point where I could learn and or figure out a few simple melodies and noodle around with some basic fingering and picking. I was enjoying myself. Then someone mentioned that Rocksmith now had a Sabaton DLC - and my first response was "what is Rocksmith". I was told, followed by a lament that it's too bad it was Ubisoft.

No, I do not like giving Ubisoft money, but for $40 for a Mac/Win DVD/cable kit that included the installer and a Steam key as well as the USB cable to jack into your guitar (note, apparently does not play well with Presonus, etc), I decided to go for it anyway. Setup was straightforward, though I will note to follow the calibration instructions precisely, and possibly cross check your tuning with Guitar Tuna or another similar mobile tuning app as some people have had issues with the "E" strings not tuning properly as the string tone drifts after plucking.

You know how people who actually play instruments laugh at Guitar Hero/Rock Band types for feeling like they can play, and wanted the same thing for "real" instruments?

That's Rocksmith. It's Guitar Hero for real instruments. The fretboard flows at you like GH, with visual cues as to the string, fingering, chording, strum/pick patterns, and so on all right there in an intuitive fashion - though I'll also admit that after just a couple days I haven't gotten comfortable yet with the color coding convention for the strings. It also includes basic lessons on how to hold your guitar, set your strap/etc up, pick, do chording, and not only includes several basic test/excercises for some of those lessons, but also has a set of minigames that let you practice basic technique, such as shifting between strings for picking, as well as chords, dynamic play. This last factor alone would have been worth the $40 and is implemented far better from a game/scoring perspective than yousician.

But, what about the songs?

Each song in the library is learned in a dynamic, self-adjusting way, broken up into various passages, with the complexity of each passage independently set based on past performance. Your performance is rated, including how many notes/chords you missed. Perhaps the best aspect of this is that you can hit space to pause, and then isolate a particular passage to run through at full speed, or any slower speed you choose, over and over again, until you're satisfied.

I decided to start with "Blitzkrieg Bop". At first, I was just picking out individual notes out of a set, but with repetition, the complexity ramped up, and suddenly I discovered that somewhere along the line I'd mislearned how to hold a pick, and that was seriously making it hard to fast-pick.

With that corrected, a couple reps later I was having chords thrown at me, then I had to repeatedly-fast-strum the chords. Incidentally, the UI cues you as to where you should put your fingers on the fretboard. Ignoring this actually screwed me over when it came to chording because I was basing in the fifth fret for the individual notes, and just using the third finger for the seventh fret instead of repositioning as suggested. This bit of cleverness screwed me over as teh difficulty ramped up because the full chord variation had you reposition your hand and if I'd done it the "suggested" way earlier I'd have been better able to handle the slide back and forth later.

And so after a few hours - roughly the equivalent of week of practice at my previous timing - I don't have it memorized yet, but I can plow my way through most of Blitzkrieg Bop without completely embarrassing myself, and I'm still improving

Me, I'm personally satisfied with what I'm getting for the money.