[Guide] Slider Art

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Topic Starter
In this guide I will be talking about some advanced stuff like slider art, spinning sliders and other things most of you don't really like to spend the time on. This is kinda a blank topic in mapping, extremely subjective and uhhh... well, today I'll try to kinda set some standards, break some misconceptions and help people to actually make their sliders better (with a bit of salt).
I feel like I'll quit this game soon so it might be the best time to share some experience/thoughts before I forget everything I've learned in past year.
As requested, I guess?

Edit: so apparently this website doesn't allow to include many pictures in one post, so I will use direct links instead.
  • Slider art
    1. Theory
  • 1.1 Emphasis
  • 1.2 Macroaesthetics
  • 1.3 Microaesthetics
  • 1.4 Playability
  • 2. Practice
  • 2.1 Preparations
  • 2.2 Hurricane sliders
  • 2.3 Stacked patterns
  • 2.4 Stacked "hold-patterns"
  • 2.5 Filler sections
  • 3. Conclusion

Slider Art

- So... what is the "slider art"?
- Its a filler section that we are using to express stuff that cant be mapped with clickable objects OR we have to express some kind of weird sounds (usually it happens in neuro/dubstep'ish tracks).
That statement also raises the following question of rhythm choice: say, there is an option of making filler rhythm or you can skip these things at all.
Slider art is a thing that requires imagination and understanding of the music. Basically, if you're in hurry or maybe you're just lazy - then the slider art isn't really an option for you. This stuff requires lots of patience and consumes your time since you will be dealing with "specific" things of editor - White anchors, which are hard to deal with.

There are 4 types of slider art:
  1. Abstract slider art, that isn't connected to anything and is used as a filler section, usually people are using this kind of slider art because they are lazy or out of inspiration:
    Example from my Impulse map:
  2. Themed slider art (it has some connections to the BG, song or to the structure of the map) When done properly, this type of slider art is the best (by my opinion).
    Cool stuff by Akali in his WHAT THE CAT!? map:
  3. The slider art that is made with a purpose to be associated with something, they are easy to recognize and usually its easy to make them. Be it a heart, spiral, or a butterfly.
    Im my Beyond the Shadows map I did something similar, looks like flamingo, isn't it?
  4. Puzzle sliders, that are making some kind of image in connection.
    Example by jonathanlfj in his Shinkirou map:
However, don't forget that there are also an adequate borders of how deep your thinking process should go. The slider art section is all about momentum, its not a riddle for people to think about. People can recognize stuff as long as they can memorize it.

Slider Art section should serve 4 bold rules (they are equal, there's no order in it):
  1. Emphasis - It should express the music - be it a specific slider shape like hurricane sliders, or it can have some kind of separated sections that could display the music behind it
  2. Macroaesthetics - It should follow the structure of the map you have built - thats one of the reasons Im mapping slider sections after I finish the entire map, we will talk about this a bit later
  3. Microaesthetics - It should look nice by itself - I know its extremely subjective, however, you should ask for opinions in that case
  4. Playablility - It should be played good - means, should be readable, the sv speed should not be super fast or super slow, it depends on the flow you have built, it also should not has the overlapping slider path that can confuse the player
If your slider can fulfill 3/4 of these rules - it is really enough to move on.

Lets take a look at these points more closely:
1. Theory

1.1 Emphasis

- How can a slider be expressing the music you may ask?
- Well... there are few techniques you can actually use to make this thing work. When I was starting off, my main thoughts were that the slider ball movement can also express the tiny sounds behind it. Here is an example of how you can make a slider that expresses the music behind it.
Map: Beyond the Shadows
As you can see, the slider ball goes backwards on the tiny sound, and then makes another spin to express its echo. This kind of thing is basic and you can create many variations around this guideline. So again, its cool to add emphasis in slider art section, it brings the bar of how good your map is. Down below we gonna take a closer look at "hurricane" sliders, since its a bit different thing to mention here.

1.2 Macroaesthetics

This one is kinda tricky, since it says "It should follow the structure of the map you have built", but what if you mapped the slider art section at the start of the map? Does it actually mean that you have to build your map around your slider art section theme?
Well, its kinda 50/50. Usually I skip the slider section till I map the prominent parts, so I kinda understand what kind of image I should build so it will fit in the overall picture.
Map: Impulse
So here it gets a bit complex. The macro-aesthetics in mapping is a vague notion even nowadays, since it implies that you are building some "rules" and you're following them along the entire map. So with that in mind, that means that by building these curved/blanketed things you'll have to work around the same theme along the rest of the map. That's how you build consistency in any project - build a rule and work around it by adding some variations in it. In regards of this point, a really good map with macro aesthetics is Uta by Kite.

To summarize:
- What defines a good macro aesthetics of the map?
- Basically, when it comes to sliders, a good method would be to use certain type of sliders to emphasize certain type of sounds. Say, drums would be beziers, snares would be sharp curved sliders (with 1 red anchor), vocals would be just straight sliders. By making such consistency you're also improving the playability and emphasis of your map.
Or in other words, the macro aesthetics of the sliders are defined of what the shapes you are using, when and why.
In the next section I will explain this point more deeply.

1.3 Microaesthetics

For new mappers, I would suggest to use simplified forms of sliders: basic beziers can be easily done by blanketing the slider to the circle, straight sliders and sharp sliders with 1 red anchor. The less things you add to the slider, the better it looks and plays, with the time you gonna start making more complicated sliders once you learn rhythm filtering, advanced emphasis and other stuff.

Here is a list of things to look at when it comes to micro aesthetics of the slider:
  1. If you are making a sliders from image (heart, triangle, spiral etc) - make sure that the final thing will bring the same associations for others, not just for you. Basically, some people are making things that they associate with their personal experience, but for others it may look bad/confusing/ludicrous. It also may work for abstract sliders.
    Some cool example of spiral by jonathanlfj in his Shinkirou map:
  2. Make sure that the slider itself is structured, especially if you're using the red anchors - make sure that the space between the body of the slider is equal.
    An example of good structured slider by Monstrata in his Delta Decision map.
  3. Pay attention to the curvatures, by using lots of white anchors, you are risking of getting "edges" (take a closer look at the start of the slider).
  4. Also, make sure that the escalation of spacing between slider body (before red anchor and after it) is consistent.
1.4 Playability

At first, I wanted to pinpoint only 3 main aspects, and leave this one as addition. However, I think that the playability is very important as well. Say, the pattern quality can be separated on 2 big parts: how it looks (structure, aesthetics) / how it plays (flow, readability).
This point contains 4 things to worry about:
  1. The entry angle - when it comes to unique slider shapes, the player should not get disturbed of the flow aspect of the map in the particular section
  2. The SV - the slider speed should be in a predictable range, making it too fast or too slow can destroy the gameplay experience
  3. The slider path - the slider path should be intuitive to the point, where the player can spectate the slider shape and enjoy it, and not guess the slider path
  4. The snapping - usually it depends on the emphasis, but you should make sure that the distance between sliders equals to its snapping (and the difficulty you're mapping). Means, 1/4 gap is good for jumps on strong beats. When it comes to the fast reverse sliders, the best option (the jump from reverse slider to strong beat) is 3/8 gap.
I do have an example of one section in Impulse map, where MaridiuS convinced me in my wrong:
Lets talk about these Seashells in particular (I lowered the AR to 5). As you could notice in the video, the last seashell is way slower than first two (even tho he has the same form), basically I preferred aesthetic aspect over playability here, although it is a clear flaw of the map.

So whats the deal behind these seashells? - Well, initially when I was mapping it, my thought process wasn't really about how the player should actually play it. If you take a closer look, the slider path is kinda smoothed to not break the flow too much. Initially, it was like that. So I had to remap that part a bit to make it actually more playable.

So again, to make stuff like that works good, you should make sure that entry angle is easy, SV is predictable, the slider path is readable and the snapping is appropriate.

To summarize:
  1. Slider art sections should provide emphasis, playability, micro and macroaesthetics in/between the sliders
  2. There are 4 types of slider art: abstract sliders, puzzle sliders, image sliders and themed sliders
  3. Sliders that are easily understandable and/or can be associated with something are the best, they are easy to play and people like them. In the next section I'll talking about practical part of making unusual sliders and the mistakes people usually make (don't worry, I'll criticize even my own works)
  4. By making a slider, pay attention to (flow): the entry angle, the sv, the slider path and the snapping
2. Practice

2.1 Preparations

In the previous section we discovered the parts of slider art: emphasis, structure, playablity and aesthetics. To be completely real, most of slider art sections are using all of these concepts in combination. Same comes to the types of slider art: usually its a combination of themed, imaginary, abstract and puzzled sliders.
So as I said above, the slider art/slider patterns are really time consuming. however, there are few bold recommendation (by me):
  1. If you cant make the slider in 10-15 mins of your time, just drop it and switch to something else. The best sliders I've ever made were done in like 5-10 mins, then I was polishing it within an hour or so
  2. To make a good slider art, you should really hate it, always think what you could miss and how you can improve it. It might sound weird, but thats the cost of good aesthetics, you should look on your map under different angles and find things that most of people will not notice ever.
    Steven Jobs had the same mentality when he was working at Apple, Billain (the dnb composer) is spending months on his tracks to make them consistent and perfect on all levels possible. There are more examples of people that are "overdoing" their job, but hey, they were/are the best.
    So in few words - your map should be good even at something nobody but you will notice, thats how you gonna progress and develop your own style way faster than others.
    You might say its just a game, the game that is played mainly by the kids. But hey, if you're not doing your best at something, then what the purpose of doing that in the first place?
Slider art sections are really good areas to make something creative, express the feelings you're experiencing and/or to make some cool stuff to entertain the player.
I don't really want to go in-depth about each kind of the concepts I'll mention down below, since each of these is an independent topic to discuss.

2.2 Hurricane sliders

It was introduced by Larto in his map Oh No!. Then I saw the similar pattern in Asahina Momoko's entry in Aspire contest Transform. Basically, it wasn't emphasizing anything in particular and wasn't structured, so the purpose of it was only conceptual.
So back then I was like, hey, its a good idea to emphasize distorted Neurofunk sounds, so I did it in my Jitters map (unsubmited):
It worked pretty nice tbh, tho with the time I started realizing that the ball of the slider should go thru the loops rhythmically to the music. So it actually became a pain to execute properly. To make stuff more visible, I increased the slider ticks and decreased the CS:
So the problem is that the ball didnt really follow the wub sounds, so you have to edit the .osu file manually (or adjust the BPM multiplier more precisely like I showed here forum/p/6480162) to make sure that the slider length is correlated to the sounds. To check that, you should increase the slider tick rate to 2+ and see what is going on there. The good outcome (still not super precise) should look like that.
I dont really want to talk about the process of making them since its pretty trivial, takes few hours to get into.

2.3 Stacked patterns

Its usually comes to intensive neuro'ish sounds, doesn't really play good but when done properly - it looks really interesting.
Wub sliders by Mazzerin in his Introduction / NEURO-CLOUD-9 map:
If you played that place, I guess you can agree that slider pattern is really hard to read, even tho it reflects the music properly.
Stacked overlapping "circles" by Shiirn in his map dreamless wanderer:
My take on these patterns in Impulse map:
Well, at this point its more like a conceptual mapping, all you need is to work with fading out circles and blankets around it.

2.4 Stacked "hold-patterns"

The purpose of such type of slider art is to force the player to hold the cursor in the same place and make the sliders to create some kind of animated image. The best example of that is Monstrata's aspire entry Transform:
My "flower" in Impulse map:
The problem of such stuff is that you can't get 300 points of these sliders, so its kinda unrankable, the only way of making these is to make sure that the slider circle (big circle around the slider ball when you holding it) allows the player to keep the cursor static (means, the slider path is short enough to not get 100 by not moving the cursor).

2.5 Filler sections

So filler sections (usually lacking tangible sounds to make them clickable) are often used by mappers in long maps (marathons). The main problem with these things is that the mappers usually don't give it enough of effort to make it look/play/sound good. What I mean here in particular:
  1. Slider ticks that doesn't has a tangible sounds behind it should be muted (inherit point > volume = 5%)
  2. Literally the same comes to the slider endings
  3. Slider path should be predictable from the first sight to not confuse the player.
    The argument about "Its bad because I wanted it to be bad" or it's an "objective mapping" (while the slider on a stale vocal sound looks like this) doesn't work in 2018's mapping meta, the bar is raised and the current mapping standards are requiring you to put some effort in the map you're pushing to the ranked section of the game. If you really think that mentioned above slider is "objective", I would show you the sound diagram with objective values of sound waves that can be compared to other stuff in that map to convince you that its not "objective" mapping by any humanly possible means.
    Saying "its my style" is ok, but only when you respecting your own "rules" you've been following through the entire map consistently, but not using some few concepts randomly without any reason. If "consistently random" is your style, then I'm sorry to inform you that the mapping today is all about patternization, which implies the presence of consistency.
    If your argument is "its my map, I can do w/e I want" - then sure, its noting wrong in mapping for graveyard.
  4. The same comes to the SV - it should not be too fast (the player can get confused) or to slow (the player can get bored).
  5. The structure of the sliders should be consistent, pay attention to red anchors you're using. usually they are messing up your visual spacing in the slider youre making.
    Example of good and consistent visual spacing by nold_1702 in his Nostalgic (Nightcore Remix) map (I actually fixed it a bit).
  6. The snapping should be consistent and appropriate (mentioned this in Playability paragraph above)[/list]

    Alright, the next paragraph meant to be "Critics of the slider art" where I wanted to pinpoint out some flaws of sliders in famous maps, however, I feel like it would do more harm then good, especially considering that the author of this guide is me.
3. Conclusion

The final point of mine would be that the slider section CAN and SHOULD be patternized, its not that subjective and vague as some of you may think. It still can have a structure, emphasis, aesthetics, flow, gimmicks as usual maps, but its a bit more complicated.
Slider art is not that subjective to examine (at least for you now after you have read all the stuff from above).
So uh... yeah thanks for reading and I hope it was helpful for you.
anna apple
Thank you so much, Askel Deimetson! This was a long awaited post for aspiring osu! mappers. I'm so glad you made this!

also in some videos the audio and video aren't properly synchronized
Topic Starter
There is probably some limitation of how many pictures you can upload in one post, i'll edit it to just use links/videos.
Why isn't snapping in playability?

1/4 snappings on high spaced long sliders is a sin
Topic Starter

Kisses wrote:

Why isn't snapping in playability?

1/4 snappings on high spaced long sliders is a sin
ay shiet i forgot about it, gonna fix
а можно на русском, пожалуйста? Kappa

jk jk jk
interesting.. i will be sure to try to implement some of these concepts into some of my maps in the future
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