RHYTHM GAME MAPPING
So rhythm games. Niche? Maybe.. but a lot of fun both mapping and playing! Various games have different challenges in how to get started in mapping. OSU and Guitar Hero had vast differences and i am excited to show it here. The reason i have chosen these two games? They are so different, both in aesthetics and gameplay, but the core is the same. See a note? Hit it in time! The communities are a little different in the aspect of song styles, but this doesn't stop people from making any songs at all. I'll explain!
As a side note, i will be referring making an OSU map as "mapping" and Guitar Hero as "charting".
It's essencially the same, just different names.
Also, Guitar hero is the base game, but the game i will be charting to is actually called Clone Hero, and is a fan-based game made in Unity. Thus, i will be calling it Clone hero.
Osu is a rhythm game that, while gameplay is easy to pick up, it's extremely difficult to master. And mapping a map has a lot of techniques.
OSU has a community that is revolved around playing generally faster phased J-pop, synthpop, indie rock and stretches itself into some high production power metal genres.
An important note is that you can map anything, and make it fun. A good song is subjective to everyone, and you cannot relate to everyone. But you can get closer by making the song fun to play.
I chose a song called Trick or treat by Hyper potions. OSU has a list of approved songs on their site, free for anyone to map and upload themselves. I went through the list and found a song that I easily could paint a picture in my head of how I wanted it to be mapped. OSU was user-friendly from the start. To start mapping, you just drag and drop a song into their in-game editor and within a few clicks in the initial settings of how difficult you wanted to map it, you could start mapping! This was a huge relief in comparison to the Guitar Hero charting.
Clone hero, played with a guitar controller, is a more restrictive way of playing compared to OSU. While OSU gives your playfield the possibility to be all over the screen, Guitarhero has gameplay where you have 5 buttons, and a fretboard with falling notes. ( Picture of fret with notes? )
The community loves metal/rock songs, it is packed with different charts of heavy riffs and awesome solos. But this is my first chart! So the song I picked was a slower phased song called Behind blue eyes - Limp Bizkit.
From the get-go i had issues starting to chart. Unlike OSU there is no in-game editor for you to play around with. You have to download an external software called Moonscraper. This editor is really limited as well, you cannot edit the audio files when imported, so it had to be edited before you start charting the song because if you change the song in any way, the notes are not synced anymore!
First thing you see before starting to map your idea out.
But with the freedom of having a whole screen to make whatever you wanted, it was easy to be overwhelmed with options. I've played a fair amount of OSU and I know patterns I love and hate. I also knew I wanted to map this to be difficult for me. This wasn't supposed to be a beginner-friendly map. This, in contrast to guitar hero, was meant to be fun to play for me and people around my skill level.
Example of how the editor looks.
Example of how it looks ingame.
I had issues balancing the difficulty without making the gameplay feel unsynced with the high-paced song. To combat this I adjusted the distance the circles approach each other, matching the difficulty I was idealizing. I also had a problem where the song felt way too difficult because the circles were appearing too slow, making the screen feel cluttered and making the player feel lost in where the next part comes. This was discovered when a friend of mine playtested it. I could regulate this by adjusting the approach speed of the circles, making the song harder in the aspect of reaction speed, but easier in the sense of having a clearer playfield.
First thing you see before charting.
I wanted it to be beginner-friendly. In the classic Guitar Hero game, the difficulty has always been based on how many buttons you press. Easy was always 3 buttons, medium 4, hard 5. Expert was hard, but with a faster pace. But in the Clone hero community, it is a very small percentage that doesn't play on expert. So I decided to make an easy song for expert players. The main reason was to chart an easy song for me to start with but be able to have all the 5 buttons to play with.
Example of how the editor looks.
Example of how it looks ingame.
An issue I came across was that the notes must line up with the lines as much as possible. This gives the player a feel that everything is in sync and it looks aesthetically pleasing. But doing this was a chore in itself. Songs can sometimes deviate from the core BPM ( Beats per minute ) between choruses, verses, and bridges and if you do not line up your chart with the BPM from the get-go, you have problems.
Simply put, if you change the BPM when you've finished a section further into the song, you change how fast the lines come towards you, and it makes everything out of sync and you have to start over.
The mapping was a lot easier even if I was overwhelmed at the start. As soon as I could start putting my visualization of the map in the game, it was easy to finish up the song. The editor was super sympathetic against smaller mistakes. If you put your notes on the map, you could move them around however you wanted. This made fine-tuning a blessing to work with. I wasn't scared making of mistakes anymore, and I learned faster than ever.
I fought a lot to get this song done, but I was pleased with the result. The editor made me feel like I was fighting it to finish the song, instead of having it help me along the way. Instead of doing mistakes, i found myself working around mistakes before they were made. A mistake in charting a song could cost you a lot of work being made for nothing besides a valuable lesson. And boy did I learn a few.
This little experiment of charting/mapping was really enjoyable. It opened doors I never knew existed. Suddenly I could not only play these games with a different perspective and appreciation to the work done, but I could pick any song I enjoyed and make it my own and play it for myself. There's still a lot to learn, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I've realized that making your chart or map, is putting your personality into a way of playing the game. Do you like a certain pattern of notes? Make the song based on that pattern! The main objective in charting/mapping is always to make it fun to play for you or your audience, and I had a blast.