The Modding Problem

Modding... oh, how that's been haunting all mappers since the very beginning. Why do we all need to go through such a troublesome chore? Life should be more simple, you know? Yet, everyone who has ever tried to map, or even visited the forums, knows that modding in beatmaps is an incredibly fundamental process in a mapper's career. But why is this so?

The whole ranking process for a map is such a huge ordeal, it was only natural that people tried to systematize it so that everyone can get their maps treated the same way, at the same time, and everyone can chime in, to contribute to a greater good as community. But of course, the main point of this whole system was to try and make the whole thing less of an ordeal, or rather, make everything better... but has it done any good? Does it work? Has it not lost it's vision from where it started? Does it involve any side effects?
In this post I intend to analyze what modding is about, and a potential logistic problem in the whole thing.

Why does modding exist?

osu! is an amazing game by itself. The capability to create beatmaps in the same software, the timing precision and rendering, the sounds and playability of it all, it's super amazing. Easily stands above all other rhythm games I've tried for the PC. But peppy didn't stop there: he made the whole thing even more amazing by adding online functionalities. Online rankings, can you believe it? Everything you play is uploaded to the server, and upon that it builds a whole ranking system to evaluate every single player globally. Pretty cool, huh?

But well, for online rankings in maps, there needs to be maps already created... obviously. And where do those maps come from? The players themselves.
If you think about it, it's actually kind of a miracle osu! still allows everyone to map freely - other games wouldn't have done that. What other games would have done is restrict the creation of ranked beatmaps to certain staff only, and releasing only that certain amount of beatmaps per, let's say, week. Not only that's different in osu! - every player, whether newbie or experienced, has the same chance of getting their map sent into the online rankings (or as commonly said, getting it ranked). It's fantastic. But of course, to do such a thing isn't simple.

Well... people started mapping to get their maps ranked. But let's say... not everyone knew how to map good stuff back then. And they were a few of the only maps in existence... so the question arose: if the map was terrible, should it be ranked? That is obvious: of course not. Nobody would want to play it; it'd be a waste of space and time to acknowledge it in the rankings, not to mention it'd be harder for people to find good, fun maps to play. That's why people started creating guidelines and rules of mapping, and started modding other people's maps. Modding was then defined as checking other mapper's creation thoroughly to see whether there's a mistake or not.

The fact that only good maps can go to ranking makes a lot of sense. As the osu! community grows, more and more mappers appear. What would happen if you had a much more lenient modding system? Almost anything would get ranked, and even though that might sound good if you're a struggling mapper to get his map ranked, in reality it would be chaos. Just picture it for a little bit: imagine having dozens of maps of the same song, and the majority of them not being even remotely fun to play. Imagine not being able to change your submitted map later, because it was ranked even though it had lots of faults and could have been improved a lot more. Imagine the servers running out of space because there are over one hundred thousand of maps ranked. It would be disastrous, not fun!

How it has evolved

In the beginning of times, since there weren't that many maps, people ranked every crap someone created. This was because nobody had enough experience to say what was right or wrong, what was playable, and was what better than the rest. But of course, that didn't last long - players started noticing some things were awful to play. They started to realize they needed to control what the mappers created, in order to have a better quality standard for everyone, so everyone has good, fun maps to play.

Well, first things first, modders created definite rules that shall not be broken in any case... like for example, not putting two notes at the same time. Nobody complains about these because they make a lot of sense - you absolutely cannot play two notes at the same time, so why in the world would you do that on your beatmap? Do you want your beatmap to be unplayable? That's stupid.

And after that was settled, people took on topics a little bit more subjective, like... Burai sliders. These are sliders which have their path go at least twice through the same position... or in other words, sliders that run over themselves. After the community had a friendly debate, the majority agreed sliders should always have a clear path to follow, because otherwise it's impossible to read. In order to play Burai sliders, you'd need to memorize the map first... which is unfair, not difficult.

But what happens once you nail down all these objective things to follow? There had to be a limit of how many things you could forbid and still be able to judge a map objectively. These first things helped many mappers to realize what made their maps good and what didn't, but many others were still left in doubt... and there were still many mappers who released their not-so-great creations on the website. Would it be acceptable to rank this map if it's not good, even though it follows all rules?

So, to solve this problem, guidelines were created, which are like toned-down rules. Stuff you should follow, but are not obliged to do so, like... spacing. You're free to use whatever spacing you want to, and change it if you like, but everyone knows that maps with consistent and clear spacing play better. That's why they created this guideline. All guidelines only judge subjective matters, stuff that can't be ruled out objectively, and where it's not really wrong if you decide to ignore it.

Guidelines serve a good purpose and are very helpful, specially for mappers who are still starting up. They indicate what you need to know to make a really awesome beatmap, and newbie mappers can learn something every day. It also helps modders who are still starting, so they know what to check in other's maps, and what would be better suggestions to improve them. That's the bottom line here - modding not only helps to check for errors, but also for improvements.

In the modding scene nowadays, it's very common to see modding posts that contain more than anything, suggestions. Sometimes they only contained suggestions, implying that the map was actually completely error free. And even though modders always said "you're not obliged to do this or that", they always strongly advised they do so - to make the map better, and so to add it to the rankings as a high quality map. After all, the maps that go to ranking must be of a certain standard up, to appeal the whole audience.
This is where potential problems arise - some mappers disagree with everything they say, and want their map ranked as it is (considering that it is error free), while staff and mods disagree. Clash of opinions arise all the time when modding.

Modding guidelines - is it right or wrong?

Modding is for checking errors and suggesting improvements in maps. The way modding often goes is "if you move x object here, it would be a lot better" or "it might sound better if you put a finish hitsound here". So... considering this is the way everyone mods today, we have to ask ourselves, is modding serving its original purpose? We must remember that the original goal of this is to get high quality maps on the ranking.

Beatmapping is art. I have proven this several times. And when you get a map ranked, it means the modders acknowledge the map as being a good, very playable product; as being above the average quality standard of beatmapping. But in reality... how would you be able to judge that? Can quality be judged objectively? I'm afraid to say that no, it can't since, once you get rid of all technical errors, it becomes an entirely subjective matter. One map that you enjoy a lot, might not be that good for the next player, and so on.

Let's put an example here... with some other type of art. Let's say you want to enter a drawing contest, so you create your drawing, and are waiting to receive a reply to your submission, to see if it's been accepted or not.
If your drawing was good, you'll receive an acceptation letter, but... what happens if it wasn't? Would you really receive exact and precise details of why it wasn't good? Would they really say stuff like "the bit around here looks like it wasn't drawn with the correct perspective" or "it seems you missed a line here", or what would be even more ludicrous, "it would look way better if the hair was green instead of orange"? Of course not! You would just receive a "sorry, your submission wasn't accepted" reply. Makes sense. Would this really work the same way in osu! ?
And just picture it a little bit further... if your submission was accepted, but was only questionably good, what comes after that? It might enter the contest, but take last place among all submissions. So yes, this could work for modding beatmaps - the beatmap gets ranked, is playable and all, but receives low ratings and doesn't enter the ranking charts (I talk about ranking charts a little bit later).

Another example: if a musician uploads their creation to a service like SoundCloud, and people start commenting on it, would they really say stuff like "the background beat here sounds like it wasn't mixed correctly, maybe fix that" or "this would sound better if it was on the D major scale"? Nope. They often just say "I love this part" or "I don't get this part", but they're not telling the musician to change anything in their song. It is, after all, his very own form of expression, and he has the right to do with it whatever he wants.

Well, you might argue that the SoundCloud example might not apply that much to beatmapping, since there's really no approval standards on what gets published there, but still, as a place to share your creations, no one should order you to change anything. Getting your creations judged and approved is not the problem, it's the way they're being judged


So, back to beatmapping. When someone mods your map and tells you many suggestions, first of all... they're saying your creation could be improved. Depending on the view of the mapper, it might be pleasant or not to know about that and, the way art is, that is almost always the case - you will never be able to release a "perfect" creation, so you can always improve it. But what the modder is really saying is how the map would be better according to them, and not according to you. They're changing your creation, your expression of art.

I know it sounds a bit silly for me to keep calling beatmapping art, but we have to face it, it's true. And that's how a mapper feels with his beatmaps when he's experienced and takes pride in his work; it's not so easy to just let anyone else change it as they like. Perhaps you wouldn't understand as well until you feel the passion of beatmapping like vicious people like me do.

For newbie mappers, all this suggestion-based modding works, because they're still starting. They're open to suggestions and new ideas, because they still don't know what makes their map better and what doesn't. They still haven't developed a sense and style for their own beatmapping, and they learn every day they keep mapping. But it doesn't work the same way for experienced mappers. And thing is, they're often treated the same way as newbies; people keep suggesting all they want, even though the map is perfectly fine as it is.

But still, we all know that this is a necessary process for ranking maps. They absolutely must comply with a certain standard of quality, as I explained earlier. The problem here, though, is that all this talk about suggestions, quality standards and guidelines, is subjective talk about subjective stuff. There's no way everyone will agree with the same thing, and there never will be. At best, we have to compromise. There's no clear line to identify what makes a good mapper an experienced one, or what makes a good map good. This is the big problem with all these suggestions; everyone will push their own mapping beliefs and styles onto others. When the mapper refuses to apply any and every suggestion people say, the mapper is often seen as stubborn, even though he's only reserving his own right to leave his own piece of work unchanged, like it should have been from the start.

Furthermore, experienced mappers should be respected and their creations should be ranked more quickly - because it should no longer be the modder's responsibility to send a good map for ranking, it's the mapper's. The mapper should know what he's doing. In these situations, modders should only check objective stuff in case an accident or something happened, but by now the mapper should know that ranking the map involves leaving their map like that forever, having it available as long as osu! lives, with anything that might imply. If the map sucks, the mapper should know it sucks, and he must be okay with it.

But well, that's the way it is. What should be the correct approach? What would it involve, what needs a change in this system? Believe it or not, there's been attempts to fix this whole thing, although not directly. An idea I've seen discussed in the past is, people shouldn't just aim for ranking in their beatmaps, but something more.

The Ranking Charts - the future of beatmaps


peppy, some years ago, created the ranking charts - a ranking competition of sorts that takes place every month, with different maps each time. This is a way to create competitive rankings besides the global one, because before performance points were implemented, it was not a matter of who was a better player or not, but a matter of who played more maps and farmed more score. It was kind of unfair, for sucky players to be able to achieve any position in ranking, if they had enough time to waste. After all, rankings are supposed to measure a player's skill, not dedication.

The ranking charts just take in account a certain amount of maps, a specific selection of maps chosen by a few experienced players. This was the way to make certain maps stand from the rest - these players try their best to choose the best picks of the month. This is the way the staff wants to make people not only aim for ranking, but aim for the ranking charts. In the end, we want mappers to release better, higher-quality creations. It sets the goal higher. But is it working?

The way this would work, is if the mappers wouldn't just map anything like whatever. They wouldn't just map it like they usually do, but try their damn best in every single map, being innovating and doing new things all the time. Map quality would be left to one's own judgement - after all, creating a good map is your responsibility, not anyone else's. It's your chance to compete among others for a spot in the next month's chart!
It definitely is the correct approach - for people to be motivated for something more than just ranking. To not just make it "passable", but make it the best possible... but the problem is, people don't know what makes their map good and what doesn't. They're still unsure of what they should do in a map.

The way I see it, people need to know not only what you need for ranking, but also what you need to make an awesome map, so it can truly become a competition for the best, not just an evaluation to get an okay. The bad thing is, it's all subjective. The people that pick the best maps of the month, are the best maps according to their perspective. Since there's no consensus about what makes a map good and what doesn't, the whole community is left in the dark about what actually gets them to pick maps. It's not really promoting improvement, it's just suggesting it; people don't have a clue about what to do and just remain doing the same.

In what way would the ranking charts affect the modding system? Well, if everyone tried harder and created better, high-quality, error-free maps, people would complain less and the modding system wouldn't be as overused as it is right now. Also, mappers would start taking pride in their work, and stop accepting so many suggestions in their maps, since they wouldn't take it the same way. Modders would be okay with that; they wouldn't worry as much about any extra improvement for the overall quality, since the ratings and ranking charts would later decide how good the map really is. But the way everything's turned out right now, things have stayed exactly the same; mappers only aim for ranking, so when a mod suggests things for their map, they keep changing it freely so they can get it ranked more quickly. They don't care about anything else, they just want to get it ranked. It hasn't made any actual change in the quality of beatmaps, nor in the modding system.

I'm not saying the ranking standard should be lower, but it should instead allow more freedom in beatmaps... or well, less suggesting. The modding system would adopt the idea of "it's up to you and only you", and there would only be an objective ranking criteria all modders need to adhere to. The rest of the judging would be decided by ratings and ranking charts.
Of course, the modding system cannot disappear - we can't start sending crap to the rankings, I perfectly know that. I'm just saying it shouldn't be as necessary, or that the use it has today needs to be toned down. Right now the modding system is not used correctly - people suggest and keep suggesting regardless if it's a good map or a bad one, and they all do according to their opinions. We need to formulate a way to mod maps correctly.

Judging beatmaps the correct way

The whole way modding could work, is if modding wasn't as systematized as it is right now. For example, picture a BAT modding a map, and if the map isn't high-quality enough, giving general pointers of what could be improved... kind of like how judging is done in beatmap contests. Not just saying "move this two grid squares up and it'll be okay", saying stuff like "the spacing overall needs to be a little more spread up - this hardly feels like an insane, it feels like a normal". Get the general idea?

It makes sense from the perspective of "I can tell you what's wrong, but I can't tell you how to fix it - it's your creation". The problem would then be... mappers have grown accustomed to having direct pointers to check so they can get their map ranked. They only know how to fix something if they're told directly how to do it... and that's not good at all. Mappers would then feel abandoned, because... depending on the situation, the mod could never be satisfied with what the mapper creates, but still refuses to say specific ways to fix it. It'd get tiresome and frustrating, and we know nobody wants that.

In the end, it all comes down to what we all think is a quality beatmap. If the staff is able to recognize what makes a beatmap good, it should teach it to the rest of the community. The problem is, we all have different opinions about that. The community needs to reach a consensus before it decides to make any changes in this system.

Conclusion

osu! has something great in the works. It's truly amazing to be able to map and get something ranked just like everyone else - but there are many unsolved problems that arise. What makes a map good, excellent or the best? When do we start saying a mapper is experienced, and until what extent should he be respected? What should be done about all these suggestions in modding, and what should be the correct approach?

In any case, this is just brainstorming, and shouting my opinion about the modding situation - the whole community must make a consensus here, if there were ever to be a change in the system. But I can certainly say, I feel like the modding system needs a change very badly. It's kind of sad to see modding has remained the same since 2008-2009.

Oh damn, this is a huge post! I never thought I'd write so much in my free time. Haha! I'd love to hear if you have any opinions about this!

Mapping to the Vocals: Why

So, in summary, you should always map to the main melodic line.

Yeah, the summary shouldn't be at the start of the post... but you know, it just makes sense.

Well, before I start, note how I always say should, instead of must. That's because mapping is a subjective art, one that each person will understand and enjoy in a different way, one that cannot be regulated by strict rules because it's just about expressing yourself... so if you know you map to something else and still enjoy your map, well then just help yourself. But in most cases, you'll likely want to map to the vocals so your map makes more sense.

Why is it so awesome?

You have to ask yourself: why do you listen to music in the first place? It's probably because you can't get a bit of the song out of your head; perhaps it's because you like to listen to the beautiful sounds of harmony, or you think the backbeat loop is very catchy. In any case, you love music and enjoy it very much.

What if you ask yourself now, why do you map? If you have met some osu! beatmaps, played a bit, then you'd probably love to map some of your favorite songs so you can play them the same way, and nothing more. But what's involved when you map, and how should you map that song you like so much? Many people know why they map, but don't ask themselves how they should map, and it's a very important point.

When you map, what you want to do is represent that song in beatmap form... of course, so you can play it afterwards. The way you capture it is your job. How should you represent that song you love so much? That should be with that certain part, that certain something you like to listen to, in the song.


In a song there exist many melodic lines or layers, so to speak; like the drums, the melody, the counter-melody, the bass, the piano, the vocals, and many more. They all harmonize at the same time, forming a beautiful song. You listen to all of them at the same time when a song is playing, but... when you listen carefully, most of the time you'd only be able to focus on a single track or layer. And also, most of the time, you'll be able to remember one (although sometimes several) that, for you, represent the song entirely; this is most commonly the melody or the vocals track. Perhaps in a certain song, you wouldn't be able to remember the drumming line so much, nor the counter-melody, because it's hard to discern, but 99% of the time you'll be able to remember the vocal line perfectly, even more if you like singing. When you think of those lyrics, you think of that song, and that's the song for you, and probably for many other people too. That's the little earworm that crawls inside your brain and repeats itself so many times while you're absent-minded, that makes you think "damn it, it's still stuck in my head!".

Now, when mapping, what do you do? Mapping allows you to... let's say, add one layer on top of that song, for it to play at the same time. In technical terms, mixing one more track on the song. If this track is what you want to play in osu!, then you need to take some other track from the song as a guideline, and start capturing that track, representing its very soul to make it as fun as possible (in case you forget, that's what we want in beatmaps). It's just one layer though, one track that can only correspond to a single other track of the song. In that layer, you can't reproduce all the notes of all the tracks of the song in hit objects... because it's just impossible, and it would be a disaster if someone attempted to do it.

If you have only one layer to mix on top, you'll want to take the one thing that you'd remember the most of the song, that one super-catchy part that you can't get out of your head... which is, as I said before, the vocals or melody. Taking as guideline some other track would be wrong, because then it just doesn't feel as good to play to something else while you're thinking of the main, catchy track. It doesn't feel satisfying, it doesn't feel right.
You want make your map as unique to the song as you can... and usually, the melody is the one thing that doesn't repeat in another song, ever. Perhaps the drums sound the same or the bass is similar to some other random song, but the melody never repeats, or it's copyright infringement.

That's how you should represent the song as a beatmap. In a nutshell, you could say... just map to whatever you would hum about that song, because that's what you like the most.
If you can remember the song just by watching the map, if you're happy with how the map sings along to the song, or if you think your map is impossible to confuse with others, then you did a good job.

Mapping to the drums - the popular thing today

There's always the odd case where the mapper says he likes to map to the drums because he likes rhythm more, and it's perfectly understandable... perhaps that guy is a drummer and he always focuses more on listening the drums, and no one can blame him. As I said at the start of this post, everyone understands music in a different way, and if you know you map that way and enjoy mapping that way, then it's fine. No one has the right to tell you it's wrong because, in reality there's no wrong... but of course, everyone has the right to voice what they don't like, just like I'm doing right now.
If you wanted to appeal to more audience, then you should be more interested in mapping to the melody. There are many mappers who map to the drums, and I consider it a problem of originality; I believe that right now, everyone who maps to the drums is just because that's the way they've seen other people map, and that's the way everyone educated themselves. They think it's okay and it's quite acceptable to just do the same, and they hope their beatmap will also get recognition because it complies with everything. Yet, it's not correct, and that's not the way it should be.

Well, I know I shouldn't say it's wrong, because, if you play a map like this without too much thought, it can be pretty fun. These maps are fun if all you do is just follow approach circles... but the problem in my case, is that I can't enjoy the song in these kind of maps. The map can be very dynamic and exciting, but I get lost when I try to follow the song. I also listen and enjoy the song too, which is the main purpose of beatmaps. That's the reason I used to say (and many people still say) these maps are good, because I didn't know the song beforehand and clicking along to the rhythm was okay; following the vocals is actually harder to sight-read and hit the first time you play a beatmap. But once you become familiar with the song and start learning the vocals, it's not fun anymore.

If you think about it, a melody consists of certain notes of certain duration and certain pitch. Melodies between songs can be very varied, there are literally infinite possible combinations of notes that could form a song. Drumming, on the other hand... consists only of hits. One hit, at a precise time, and that's it. No duration, no pitch; although there are a few percussion sounds that do have a certain duration (like the reverse cymbal), they are the exception. There are only so many combinations you can do with the drumline, so unavoidably, if you keep mapping to it, your map will get repetitive. Repetition leads to dullness, which is not what we want in a beatmap. Besides, when so many other beatmaps have also followed the drums, they're bound to meet similarities in their songs, which then leads to confusion and generic look.

In the vast number of beatmaps there exist today, you don't want people to confuse your beatmap with some other, do you? Considering a beatmap consists of only three different kinds of objects, it's particularly easy for someone to do that. Saying your beatmap gets confused with others is saying your beatmap is like any other, generic-style out of a factory, which is never good. You don't want people to say that - well, that's if you want to create a spectacular map, because not every map is spectacular. If you don't want to create a spectacular map, well, you just lack pride.

Conclusion

This is the huge why I always talk about. Over the course of all these years, in my experience, I've found that following the vocals, without a doubt, makes the map more enjoyable. Curiously, all my favorite maps (plus almost all original iNiS maps) do this! I have so many examples I would like to post about.
Of course, though, this is a much broader subject - there is also an explanation to when you need to map to them. This was just the introduction. Leaving it for some other day seems like the most healthy approach!

Quick thoughts: Analyzing a beatmap is complex

Well, it's something I've always known. Beatmapping isn't as simple as it seems. A beatmap is a very complex piece of art, consisting of several layers of work one must do. Creating one is, therefore, time-consuming, considering you want to do it right. Analyzing it is even more time-consuming, because not only you must know what beatmapping involves, whats in technical terms correct and what the better choice would be, but you are also trying to understand something abstract that has infinite interpretations. Beatmapping is a subjective art, after all. But indeed, there must be a way to qualify and rank beatmaps by quality. It's a question I've struggled with some times.

Well, as I said previously, a beatmap is made of several aspects, several layers that play an important map of the beatmap. In beatmapping contests, things like creativity, technical aspects and flow are evaluated, but I've found that evaluating all these at the same time on the same layer is way too difficult to do. So, for optimum and objective evaluation, you must go step by step, taking a different perspective each time you observe it. A different perspective for each layer of depth in the beatmap.

Layer of depth, huh? Well, this is the main purpose of my post. I've come to realize there are three important layers of depth in a beatmap (although, there may be more). In order of importance, these are: Timeline placement, Visual placement, and Sound Placement. For a beatmap to be really good, all three must harmonize on the same song. All three can be vastly different one from each other (in terms of quality).

Timeline placement is the most important. If you have fun timing positions, you can let yourself go with visual placement and hitsounding because it's almost guaranteed your map will be fun. Likewise, if you have discordant rhythms in your objects, not even the prettiest combo will help you; your map will not be as fun as it could be. Of course, the way to correctly place things to the timeline is according to the vocals.

The one thing that makes the most fun out of a song is, representing the song completely. That is, either timeline wise or visually, where both would be the ideal thing. But when criticizing a beatmap, you must decompose it on each of these three layers, and talk about as if they were separate. Even though the map might have really good structure (has good technical skill), it doesn't represent the beatmap visually in any way. Even though the hitsounds might not sound bad, the beatmap might not be fun because the timeline placement is messy.

Just some quick thoughts. Next, I think I might post about how hybrid mapping works and how it should be; also, I need to address the issue of whether 'quality' is really quantifiable, and if it is, what it means for a beatmap to have good quality (in other words, whether I'm right or wrong to map to the lyrics).

Quick thoughts: Symmetry is beauty.

Take this as a small post-it note to remind myself that I need to write about symmetry. Symmetry is a very important aspect in every artistic composition, and it takes an equally important role in beatmapping!
Many people think it's just lazy copy-pasting, but when done right, it's not like that at all. Granted, not everything should try to be symmetrical because then it'd feel too fabricated and not natural, but symmetry is essential to give your map a good visual feel. I like to think that symmetry is a very important aspect of beauty.

Well, blah! I need to make several drafts before I can say something concise. But for now, you can read this interesting page I found on the topic: http://daphne.palomar.edu/design/bsymm.html it's about visual arts in general, but some parts of it also apply to beatmapping too. Maybe it doesn't help that much, but it helps! I know I need to get off my lazy butt.

Oh, and also, just as a quick notice, I'll be working on editing existing posts to include videos encoded in the amazing webm video codec! So it may take me a bit.

Quick thoughts: I'm not a crazy theory maker

Just thought I should leave this wise quote here:
"Within modern music the main platform for melody occurs in the form of the lead. Whether vocal or instrumental, the lead is clearly the most important melodic part of the music—and thus it is often the ingredient by which we chiefly remember the music itself."

I read this in a book "Harmony for Computer Musicians", in one of the introductory chapters; and I couldn't agree more with it, as it's exactly what I've been saying these past years. The melody, the lead, is what you remember about the song. It's musical theory! So fundamentally, mapping to the lead is what one must do to represent the song appropriately. Mapping to the drums, the rhythm, or the 'whatever', is not the way to go.
Now that I think about it, it's not really that hard to figure out... it's just a matter of thinking it through a bit. But well, I guess I'll leave that for some other time!

Quick thoughts: Circular Motion

It's just something I've been noticing in the last three, four maps I've published... and well, since then it's been everywhere, really. You gotta stop and think about the wonders of circular motion in osu!. It's everywhere! Don't you see?

The most basic example would be the spinner. Answer me the five million dollar question: what do you need to do to clear a spinner? Spin, you idiot! And obviously, it's gotta be spinning in circular motion, because what other way would you do it?
Yes, so we all spin around endlessly when we play. But one's gotta wonder: why spin, of all things? Why not move the cursor up and down, or click everywhere, or scream at the screen or something? There is an explanation for stuff like that.
Think about it. Spinners fit where there's a crescendo, an increase in pitch or an impending strong note or section. Spinners were designed to represent build-up, with the bars on the sides, the spinning sound and what-not. And spinners motivate you to spin as fast as you can, because hey, you don't want to miss the bonus. Harder spinners are possible to miss, so it's like, do it for your life. So every spinner, for every good player, is as chaotic as hell. How can someone possibly play a build-up part of the song? Doing what? Or rather, why spin?
Think of other possibilities: if the hit object encouraged you to move your cursor around like an idiot, it would probably be unplayable because of the uncertainty of your cursor, the uncertainty of the recognition system and of course, possible desk destruction. Moving your cursor in some kind of line fashion as fast as you can is... not possible. Well, that's if you want to do it as fast as possible. And if you didn't, well, sliders and circles exist, you know.
So, spinning is perfect. The system has no problem recognizing it, it's as chaotic as it can be without physical destruction, and it keeps the flow going. It's playing the map, all over the grid and as fast as you can. And of course, it's used scarcely, as it should be used only for build-up parts. After the spinner, since it was pretty hectic, mappers must give players some time to regain control of their cursor and see the next object (just in case a break isn't coming next).

Well, there's people who like spinners and people who don't. But I blame that entirely on the device they might be possibly playing; they often complain about crappy mice, touchpads or touchscreens. In reality, spinning with a mouse feels very natural and organic. It just feels so good. And if you ask me why, I'll tell you it just does.
That feel good sensation, I have observed, has slowly been transferring to the general placement of objects in the grid too. The shapes my patterns create, often need to have the cursor move in circular motions too. As a result, I scarcely use linear sliders now, because when sliders are curved, they feel more natural.

Okay, examples are needed here, I know. But I guess I can't diddle around writing this post too long, because... people won't read it. People don't read this in any case, anyway. But I'll save examples for some other time.

Quick thoughts: P!nk - Try [Hard]

So hey, I see this song pop up in my feed of osu! Ranked Beatmaps. Pretty cool! I also listen to P!nk and I liked the newest album she released. It's also kind of a relief to see something I know get ranked, instead of anime or generic video game stuff. So hey, I'm going to use a couple of minutes to check it out.

Wait... what? I did choose the correct one, right? I see it has a sad anime background. Man, it is the correct one. Why...? I mean, it's just a background, I know, but... it's not something I relate with P!nk. I can understand there's a lack of proper images you can use, but still! Let's face it; the fact that it's an anime background is pure favoritism, and bias for the otaku culture.

By using a background like that, you're giving the map a face, and therefore you're relating the song with it. If it was something generic, like a photo of a building or rain, it would be okay because there's nothing personalized, or rather, there's not a face there. But in this case there is. You're relating the song to an anime character. It's kind of hard to explain, but... let's say, it would be just as bad to use a background of a plushy bear with a huge heart that says "I love you", because you're relating it to the plushy bear; it just doesn't fit the song.

Well, darn, that sucks. Let's see what they did with the song, then. I guess I'll just take a look at hard.

...
Okay, yeah... nah. It's disappointing. There are several things missing for it to be a good map, and overall it feels generic. Just as every other beatmap. Overall, it's well done, but it's nothing special.

First thing: I dislike when beatmaps do that thing of putting really short breaks just for like 2 or 3 seconds; either you should have a normal break or have none at all. This beatmap did this at the start. It doesn't feel right.

Second thing: It does the same as every other beatmap. The pathway phenomenon, is what I'm referring to. There are little to no patterns at all... and very little things are actually symmetrical or structured in some form of shape. It makes it feel random.

For example... in the chorus, where it says "you gotta get up and try, and try, and try", every "and try" should have been the same pattern, at least timeline-wise. Instead, this beatmap goes like "whatever, let's just keep the beat steady, and I'll add a triple here to follow the drums". That's wrong... I've demonstrated that many times already.

Third thing: there are some things that aren't consistent, and consistency is pretty darn vital for a map's structure. For example, timeline-wise, I'm sure it wasn't consistent at some parts.
And then there's stuff like this... I can kind of understand the jumps before the chorus starts, but then it goes back to how it was again.

I can't go too in-depth in this post, so this all is just off the top of my head. Overall review: not impressed - still has ways to go before it can become something outstanding.