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I posted this on Reddit but was told this was the appropriate place to put it, so here goes:

I've been playing Osu! for about 2 years now and let me preface this by saying I LOVE this game. It scratches every itch for me (even at a detriment to my health, sometimes), and the community-driven aspects of the game are nothing short of staggering.
Osu! is by no means perfect, though, and a few of these problems I truly believe will be at least be partially solved by the introduction of a career mode.

What do I mean when I say 'Career Mode'?
I've seen posts of this nature before, but usually referring to a 'Story Mode', to which I've seen Peppy respond something along the lines of 'If you'll write the story lol'. I just want to clarify, this is not what I mean. Osu! doesn't need a narrative, what I mean is more along the lines of Guitar Hero's career mode. A preset setlist of maps designed to gradually introduce new players to the game and take them from baby's first song all the way to 6* and 7* maps, introducing new concepts along the way, maps designed specifically to introduce concepts such as streams, slider velocity, spacing emphasis etc. before fleshing out the concepts in later maps. More on why that's so important later.

This Career Mode would essentially be 'Pass this song to unlock the next song' allowing Osu! to control which songs new players play in which order (assuming they start the game with the career mode, which we can't but I am anyway).
Moving on to why I think this will help...

Player Motivation

This is an aspect Osu! very much struggles with. I believe Pishifat touched on this in one of his videos (I'm too lazy to find it right now, maybe I'll edit in a link later). Right now there's only 1 possible motivator for any player. PP. The PP system is very useful in some ways, few games have such a useful way of quantifying player ability, but for a lot of players it is a huge detriment. I'm sure you all know this already, PP farming is something that gives players a sense of personal progress without them actually getting any better and forces players down a path with a dead end. DT and PP jump farming may improve your rank substantially but you're only going to get so far before you hit a PP cap and you're stuck with bad habits and nowhere to go. Why will a career mode solve this? It will give new players an end-goal, a motivation beyond PP. A Guitar Hero - Through the Fire and Flames-equivalent.

A friend of mine, the person who introduced Osu! to me, who has at least a year to my senior in the game, has falling into the trap so many other players have. As a result, despite having at least a year's less experience, I've know surpassed him in PP score and arguably, ability as well. This isn't because I'm better than him at improving at rhythm games, or that I have some natural talent for them. The reason I've improved so much faster is 2 words: Furioso Melodia. I was incredibly inspired by the finals of the 2015 Osu! World Cup. The tie-breaker hit me in a way that few gaming events ever have, and ever since it has been my sole focus in Osu! to beat that song. I don't care about PP, I don't care about competing, I only care about getting good enough to some day pass that song. As a result I've ignored PP farm maps, to some extend I've ignored mods entirely, and only focused on beating harder and harder songs. A career mode would give such a motivation to a lot of new players, a map to end all maps, an end-game to reach that involves honing a variety of skills.

Mapper Motivation
I'll be blunt, a lot of easy difficulty maps are pretty garbage. Not all of them, mind, but a lot of them. This is inherently the result of the ranking process, both the mechanical and social aspects of it. Mappers are forced into mapping easy difficulties, they are nothing but a burden and therefore are often rushed in order to get the harder, and more fun-to-map, difficulties qualified. Beyond that, there's little motivation for creating well-made easy difficulties. There's no glory in it, little praise since players who understand the difference between a good and a bad map aren't likely to even play the easy or normal difficulties. However, if easy maps had the chance to be featured in Osu!'s official career mode, this would change everything. Just like with the annual Osu! mapping contest, mappers would have the chance to have their maps be the first thing a new player sees and plays.

Handling New Player Progression
This is probably the single biggest benefit a career mode would have. The group of mappers that would take part in this would have a whole new world opened to them, the ability to control in which order new players play the maps. As a result the maps can be made with multi-map progression in mind. For example, 'Introduction to streams' would be followed by 'Streaming Practise' would be followed by 'Introduction to spaced streams/death streams/accelerating streams' etc. Concepts can be introduced and expanded on using songs which best support those concepts. The result being that players who come out of the other end of career mode being well balanced, skilled players. Proficient in all aspects of the game. Players can even be rewarded with preset skins during specific stages of the career to introduce them to the customisation of Osu!. Teaching players new concepts isn't just limited to gameplay concepts.

A Better First Impression of Osu!
Let's be real here, how many people have opened up Osu!, downloaded an poorly made, possibly even unfinished, unranked map of their favourite song and immediately thought the game was simply bad and quit? I imagine it to be a non-zero value. I don't have to explain why a career mode would solve this, but a standardisation of a player's initial experience would go a long way to assuring the retention of new players.

Conclusion
A project like this would take time, it would involve organising and choosing mappers who have the right mindset and ability to be able to pull something like this off effectively. Those mappers would have to communicate with each other to organise the overall progression of the mode and I'm sure there's legal issues with bundling copyrighted music with the game from the outset. However, if this is pulled off, it could be one of the best things to happen to this game. As mentioned in the previous point, new player retention would be improved which could potentially skyrocket the size of the active community; Players would be given a motivator beyond PP which would aid in their progression and the mode would open up exciting new opportunities for veteran mappers.

Thank you all for reading, I hope this sparks a meaningful and productive discussion around the topic.
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Rhythm Incarnate
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Well.
The problem with a career mode is the same as with pp: You can't find a one-size-fit-all solution.
Also, while it is true that many players play for pp, there are also many players with a less competitive mindset that are simply not as eye-catching as they won't really make an appearance in terms of "how can I improve the fastest in this game?"
Personally I'm a player that has a very off-meta skillset although pp and competition was always a partially driving factor for me.

Last but not least, if you look for these things you will already find things that have a similar design, be it Pokebis' Beginner Training (which is still a good starting point in spite of the old fashioned maps in it), RaneFire's lists, Akali's Jump Training practice (have the bookmark on my other PC), my own guide on building up a diverse skillset or this crazy guide by Korilak on stepping beyond the average. Not to mention the other stickies in Gameplay & Rankings and generally massive piles of thoughts on playstyles and philosophy although scattered.

There are dozens of reasons to play osu! and accordingly the motivation of players differs - I don't even want to start on different tastes of music which is a massive factor regarding what you will be motivated to play. It is for me at least: The fact that I'm really into low bpm and upbeat songs didn't occur to me that much before getting into osu! but whenever I'm listening to song somewhere and I think "wow, this is so cool, I could try to map this" it ends up in that nice range of effectively 120-160bpm. Guess what I'm best at compared to other players of my rank.
As such I think a career mode might be difficult to implement to everyone's happiness and pp at least leaves you the freedom of song choice.
Last edited by Endaris on , edited 1 time in total.
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Rhythm Incarnate
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If you'll make the beatmaps
Rhythm Rookie
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Endaris wrote:
Well.
The problem with a career mode is the same as with pp: You can't find a one-size-fit-all solution.
Also, while it is true that many players play for pp, there are also many players with a less competitive mindset that are simply not as eye-catching as they won't really make an appearance in terms of "how can I improve the fastest in this game?"
Personally I'm a player that has a very off-meta skillset although pp and competition was always a partially driving factor for me.

Last but not least, if you look for these things you will already find things that have a similar design, be it Pokebis' Beginner Training (which is still a good starting point in spite of the old fashioned maps in it), RaneFire's lists, Akali's Jump Training practice (have the bookmark on my other PC), my own guide on building up a diverse skillset or this crazy guide by Korilak on stepping beyond the average. Not to mention the other stickies in Gameplay & Rankings and generally massive piles of thoughts on playstyles and philosophy although scattered.

There are dozens of reasons to play osu! and accordingly the motivation of players differs - I don't even want to start on different tastes of music which is a massive factor regarding what you will be motivated to play. It is for me at least: The fact that I'm really into low bpm and upbeat songs didn't occur to me that much before getting into osu! but whenever I'm listening to song somewhere and I think "wow, this is so cool, I could try to map this" it ends up in that nice range of effectively 120-160bpm. Guess what I'm best at compared to other players of my rank.
As such I think a career mode might be difficult to implement to everyone's happiness and pp at least leaves you the freedom of song choice.


Fair points. You are correct, appealing to everyone with this system would be impossible, no one would ever be happy with the map/mod selection but I don't think that should stop us from trying when there are so many benefits to having something like this in place.

I appreciate that there are resources available but you're assuming that new players will even look for them and if they do, that they'd even known where to look. I, like many others, at one point went searching for guides on how to improve at osu! and I haven't seen any of those links before (Though I'll be bookmarking them and forwarding them to new players in the future). Downloading and running the osu! client as a player completely new to the game you treat it as any other game, the community-driven aspects to this game are somewhat unique and intuitive, especially with a game that seems inherently single-player. By the time players would seek out these resources, many of them have already quit and for some of them it's just too little, too late. Bad habits form quickly and we should do something about that before, not treat the problem after.

While such resources as the ones you linked are useful, they still don't address all of the points I put across. The new-player experience in this game is awful and volatile. The reddit version of this post had a lot of people who have quit the game saying this likely would've kept them going to a point where they're proficient enough to make their own way from that point onwards. There is no standardisation of the new-player experience and there needs to be if osu! is to keep growing. Player retention in rhythm games is always shaky and throwing new players into the deep end with very little direction isn't helping.

There are a lot of motivations to play osu!, it's true. But for those looking for quantifiable, observable personal progress as many do with such a skill-oriented game the easy target is PP and you can see the result of that everywhere.

This isn't a perfect solution, but these are problems that need to be addressed somehow. Once they are we could see the active users skyrocket, especially if something like this is implemented with the release of osu!Lazer. The new client is bound to attract a lot of new players, but most of them won't stay for long unless we do something about it.
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Rhythm Incarnate
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I wouldn't go as far as calling the bundled Easy diffiiculties bad though.
And you won't be able to stop new players from looking for unranked maps of their favorite song and getting served some trash.
I tend to agree with you that in many cases Easy and Normal diffs nowadays aren't as good as they should be but the amount of Easy diffs that is in fact bad enough to be noticed by new players is still extremely low. Personally I played hundreds of Easy and Normal diffs, many of them multiple times and I had in no way the experience that they sucked and that I was lost or anything. Every map was a new challenge and I took them on. Either you got the mindset or not - eventually you will tire out even with a career mode. Getting good at osu! is a massive time investment, even more so if you get in touch with the community on top of it.

You say the community interaction is strong and unique and although I agree with you on this, it is also exactly the thing that pushes people into the arms of Tillerino.
People get to know about it from mouth-to-mouth conversation in #multiplayer or #osu, from YT and livestreams. It is ultimately what most people joining care about the most as they get to know osu! from that famous livestreamer's reaction video to some Cookiezi 800pp replay or wherever.
Admittedly, ppv2 is a different topic and it has been pointed out in various discussions that despite its upsides it also carries some terrifying downsides to the long-term development of the game's content and its community with it.

Last but not least: Is osu! desperate to grow its playerbase?
Judging from the numbers on the "Online users for past 24h" probably not as it indicates there are at least 50k people playing osu! on a sort of regular basis.
If you can't be arsed to look, there's a link to osu!academy right on the download page.
If the community is really the most valuable thing in this game (and I think it is) osu! should give more incentives to get in touch with the community. A career mode does not achieve that - rather the opposite if you ask me as it feeds on the method of no-brain playing and not paying attention to anything around.
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Rhythm Incarnate
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Great idea, 100% support. My only real issue is that I hate the idea of hard locking maps behind a progression wall. The maps should always be playable and they should get ticked off as you pass them.

Some things to consider though. We need someone to make a map progression list. There's no point implementing this if there's no established, tested progression list. Creating the list can be done by literally anyone(s), so if anyone reads this thread and truly wants this to be a thing, get a group of people together and start listing maps. If someone makes a good list I'm sure it'd get implemented after the new client is released.
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Tempo Trainee
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This is really a great idea. When you write it this way, it feels like this mode should've been included in the game in the first place (I know, it wouldn't have, but this is really good). Really, with the only motivation being PP farming is not healthy at all. I remembered being a new player, the first thing I did (after playing the 1 or 2 included maps) was to find my favorite songs, which mostly aren't ranked, and play them. Those maps are most likely a crappy/unfinished map and I just failed the songs miserably. I quit the game pretty soon after. It's until one of my friends started playing the game and I follow suit and went back to osu. If it's wasn't that one friend I would never come back to osu and enjoy the game like I do now.

Also, a small fraction of the maps included in the career mode could also be switched monthly. As you said that should really motivate the mappers, since there's always a chance to have your maps featured.
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Slider Savant
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Of course some mapsets are trying to do this and of course it won't make every new player an osu! addict.

But here we're trying to take the perspective of newer players, who I am sure would be more content with some guidelines, well designed maps, a course to follow, without having to do research for maps on forums etc..

This is not a "big thing" as I'm sure it won't ever replace the full leaderboard system with performance points, and the grind. That's not the goal, it doesn't even touch it. But it would be a really nice addition to the game as a lot of people really do enjoy a Career mode in solo, where you unlock things and all. I'm also sure newer players who have no idea of what kind of patterns exist, how to train, etc, would be happy to have this all set up in a menu of the game.

Now for a possibilitiy of integration I would find great

In osu!lazer there is this wonderful feature, custom gamemodes, that anyone can quite mess around as far as I know. I dont' know what are its limitations but maybe, this would be useful for easily integrating a carrer gamemode. We could use it to create a career interface with a tweaked beatmap selection (First gamemode, then something like "stages" with different practice aimings, and then gradual difficulty and unlocked maps, I don't know it's just an example), and then it would rely on the main four gamemodes for launching the games, no need to recode it into the custom gamemode, then fetch the results ad handle it how it needs to.

I put this idea on the table because I don't see how an osu:career would be implemented in lazer otherwise then adding a new block to the main menu which i don't think would really fit
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Slider Savant
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Pigu wrote:
I remembered being a new player, the first thing I did (after playing the 1 or 2 included maps) was to find my favorite songs, which mostly aren't ranked, and play them. Those maps are most likely a crappy/unfinished map and I just failed the songs miserably. I quit the game pretty soon after. It's until one of my friends started playing the game and I follow suit and went back to osu. If it's wasn't that one friend I would never come back to osu and enjoy the game like I do now.


I had the exact same experience as you would tell by my "historical" graph in mania. But it was even worse as I only played converted beatmaps which were not good at all obvisouly. If friends wouldn't had pushed me into getting into the game i'd not be here today with all those playcounts and pp :D

Pigu wrote:
Also, a small fraction of the maps included in the career mode could also be switched monthly. As you said that should really motivate the mappers, since there's always a chance to have your maps featured.


This is, for me, the most important : Might even give a new life to Monthly Charts as well as keeping new players with quality maps when they first encounter the game ...

Just look at this recent video a known youtuber has made when first trying osu : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpQ0KZe_S5I
(it's in french but i will recap) : He launched the game without setting anything, explaining his crappy framerate (unplayable), tried the tutorial straight up (nothing wrong he learned what was needed), played a random bundled map trying to figure out how to play and barely succeded, then looked for unranked maps which were a total mess.
This is not really a good impression, and worse it's for a large audience this time ...
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So the suggestion got a hell of a lot of support on the Reddit post, as well as some supporting comments here. Peppy also gave some thoughts and said he agreed the game needs this and if something like this were to be put together it's almost guaranteed to be bundled with the game. I have very little mapping experience and next to no experience and connections in the community, but what I do have is programming experience. So I'm hoping that if I put together a platform for this to work on in Lazer it'll push the rest of the community to come together and provide the content. So that's what I'm going to do ASAP. I don't know how long it'll take, something like this is theoretically quite trivial from a technical perspective, but I have no experience with the osu!Lazer framework so we'll see how it goes. I'll likely post somewhere more appropriate once work is underway.
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Rhythm Incarnate
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I like this idea I just have 1 question.

Would there be 4 separate career modes for each gamemode or would the career mode encompass all of them?
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Edgar_Figaro wrote:
Would there be 4 separate career modes for each gamemode or would the career mode encompass all of them?


I think these are things that are going to need to be discussed once the community really gets behind the idea. Obviously I have an idea in my head of how I would want it to work but it can't just be up to me. The game modes would of course need to be separated in some sense, you can't expect all new players to be interested in every game mode, but to what degree and whether the system put in place to handle them is generic or specific to each game mode I can't really say. Personally I'd like to get something thrown together for standard first ASAP so we can begin testing the system as early as possible and get mappers interested in the project as much time as we can to get familiar with the system and its unique challenges and opportunities for them. Beyond that I suppose it's a matter of community discussion as to what happens moving forward, or if someone on team osu! wants to take the helm, so to speak.
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Slider Savant
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My point of view is that a player should be able to play only the mode(s) he likes without beeing forced into playing a mode he doesn't like. But he should still be provided with a sense of pride and accomplishement for unlocking things in every gamemodes, like achievements, progression bars, warm messages ... STATS
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Whistle Blower
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I approve of this massively.
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Rhythm Rookie
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It would be a great idea for people who are new to osu!
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