A sit-down with a Pro Keys master

Linos Melendi has authored some of the most refined customs available on C3. We have asked this 25-year old to tell us more about his process…

“My parents were from Vietnam and came to the US to escape the effects of the war. I was born in Maryland and few years later permanently residing in North Carolina. As of right now I have a part time job as a pizza delivery driver while I try to learn the skills to start a career in web development. I’m a pretty shy and quiet person in real life, so I usually spend most of my days on the computer at home playing games with a few friends. MMOs, Shooters, and Rhythm games are usually all I play.”

How did you discovered C3?
“I started out posting my content on the Scorehero forums back in late 2011. Eventually talks and teasers of C3 were coming from some of the users. I didn’t think much of it at first, but later TrojanNemo nudged me to check it out. Needless to say the amount of effort and work I saw into the project was amazing.”

What’s your first memory of Rock Band?
“I was begging my father for Guitar Hero 3 when that got released, he wasn’t able to get it for me at the time. However a couple months later he surprised my brother and I with the Band in a Box bundle for Rock Band 1. My friend was over at the time and we instantly got into it. I was on Guitar, brother on Drums, and my friend on Vocals. It was a really cool experience for us to be playing the different parts of a song together and I got hooked on Rock Band since.”

TrojanNemo nudged me to check C3 out. Needless to say the amount of effort and work I saw into the project was amazing.

How did you get in the world of rhythm gaming?
“My elementary school age self was really into Dance Dane Revolution (DDR). Unfortunately the lousy PS2 dance mats we had broke down so I was stuck just using the controller. It was still fun though at the time.

Few years later majority of my rhythm game experience came from the PC. I definitely remember having fond memories of playing Super Crazy Guitar Maniac Deluxe, Audiosurf, and Flash Flash Revolution to making crude maps in StepMania.

My friend bought an accessory kit for his Nintendo DS that came with a case, styluses, and game cart slots, it also came with Elite Beat Agents. At first I thought it was some cheap game that was bundled with, boy how wrong I was. The gameplay with instantly addicting to me that I eventually got it for myself. I learned of the two Japanese exclusive Ouendan games and I imported both and played them to death as well. Eventually I discovered Osu! on PC and got addicted to that. I made some good friends from playing online and really got into making maps for it.

Guitar Hero 2 was introduced to me from my brother. He got it for PS2 so I tried it out and picked it up pretty quick. Jumped to hard difficulty pretty early on and then eventually expert. It was all I would play.

I’d casually play around with the older tools like Feedback to chart songs for Guitar Hero 3 on PC. They were obviously pretty bad but it was fun to play around with.

Fast forward to Rock Band 3’s release, when the midi pro adapter arrived at my mailbox I dusted out my fathers old Casio Keyboard and hooked it up to the game. I immediately fell in love with Pro mode and is what kept me playing as long as I did when music games as a whole were on the decline.”

Did you make friends in the rhythm gaming world? If so, what friendships did you build?
“Osu! and Rock Band has definitely helped me make friendships. Osu! particularly since it’s online system made it easy for me meet people with similar interests in music, games, shows, etc.

I’ve also spent a lot of time playing Rock Band online which has helped me make friends. We would group up and attempt at FCs and do the Endless Setlist together. Playing Rock Band at conventions was also big for me. I would stay in the game room for hours always playing it with the other regulars that frequented it. These same people would come every year and I always looked forward to hanging out with them.

My customs also opened an opportunity for friendships. The group I attempted start RBN authoring with, the musicians I contacted for my custom work, and the people who liked my customs. I met a lot of friends thanks to the scene, friends I would talk and play with almost everyday.”

Who are your favorite artists and why do you think they are a great fit for the game?
“My taste in music was definitely influenced by my father. Classic Rock bands like Queen, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, and The Beatles are up there for me. It was all my father would play on the car stereo. The songs these bands make are iconic so that you could get the whole room to sing along when playing Rock Band.

I also like a lot of metal (aside from screamo) from bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden to power metal bands like Nightwish and Sonata Arctica. The mix of orchestral elements and synths to traditional heavy metal is what made me adore power metal especially.”

Tell us your coolest anecdote related to rhythm gaming?
A brief moment when I was playing Rock Band at a convention, I was playing Pro Keys to a song I knew very well. I was confident enough in the song that while playing I turned away from the screen and faced the crowd behind me. It was a simple song but people were still surprised and shocked. It felt pretty awesome not gonna lie.

I met a lot of friends thanks to the scene, friends I would talk and play with almost everyday

What’s the hardest thing in authoring for you?
“After 9 years of authoring, I still say Guitar authoring is hardest thing for me. 5-Lane authoring is always a subjective process whereas with Vocals and Pro Keys you put the right note and you’re done. Trying to keep the same notes consistent to the same colored gems, having to go back and shift every chord because I found a new chord halfway through the song that doesn’t blend in with others, constantly self-doubting my guitar solos and wondering how I can do it better. It’s a process that still frustrates me to this day.”

If you could say “thank you!” to 3 people and only 3 in the C3 community, who would they be and why?
“TrojanNemo for getting me started on C3 and allowing me to use the server space before C3U became a thing.

Kueller for creating venuegen, as a venue enthusiast this tool was a godsend.

Nightmare Lyra for helping me out in my early years of authoring.”

There’s always method to madness

Tell us how you work, let our readers know what’s our process, if you rely on others, if you have tools you use, etc.
“One of my favorite things to author is the venue, so whenever I’m doing something like taking a walk, I listen to the song I want to author and try to picture in my head how it would look in the game, when to use certain lights, camera pacing, etc. Once I’m back on the computer I try to apply everything I imagined into Reaper.

I make sure never to leave anything autogenerated in my customs. Do a pass of CAT and Magma and I open it back up and fine tune everything. The lower difficulties, animations, left hands, venues, everything.”

What’s the first thing you check in a song to see if it’s done properly?
“One of the first things that’s noticeable to me when I download a chart is the length of the vocal tube notes. Inexperienced authors will usually have them longer than what is actually being sung and at that point I can already tell the rest of the chart may have issues as well.”

What advice would you feel a new author ansolutely must consider before jumping into this world?
“Learning music theory is a big help. Knowing how music actually works, how songs are structured, the timings, and knowing what notes to place where can give you an edge when starting out.”

Square or round gems?

One instrument must go: drums, vocals or guitar?

Either 4-note chords or guitar on vocals becomes legal: do you riot or do you accept either of those?
4-note chords is fine

Click here to see this author’s work

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  1. It would be nice if he answered some questions about editions with PRO keys that were left in any of his customs, it could help a lot of people who are starting or facing difficulties based on that, but unfortunately ignored it. 😐

    1. I had a look at a handful of recent customs and didn’t see any questions. I don’t know what editions with pro keys are? Is that a typo? I would say that the authoring discord or forum is the best place to ask any questions though. Questions there will get much better visibility 🙂

      1. I meant that it dealt with editing in the Reaper program, more precisely in the PRO Keys editing part, my question was about the animations that were not working. I agree with you, that’s what I did after I realized I was being avoided, I just didn’t understand why, but I got help on the forum and I thank everyone who could help me, but I still couldn’t make the animations work. lol

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