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A Slider is a Hit Object used frequently in osu!. It consists of two Hit Circles with a path between them, usually straight or curved. A Approach Circle appears around the beginning Hit Circle of the Slider. Once it reaches its border, the player must tap the beginning of the Slider and then, while keeping the button pressed down, follow the movement of the Slider Ball (ball-shaped by default) with his cursor along the Slider's path until the end Hit Circle is reached. If there is a reverse arrow graphic at the end point, the player has to follow the Slider Ball back along the same path and repeat as long as a reverse arrow graphic is visible.
Slider Ticks are small circles that appear in regular intervals (relative to the song's beats) along a Slider's path. The player only fails to completely clear a Slider if the cursor is not on the Slider Ball and/or the button is not pressed while the Slider Ball is passing over a tick. Not keeping the cursor on the Slider or the button pressed at any other time during a Slider's path will actually not yield any penalty. Users can adjust the number of ticks on their beatmap's Sliders. More ticks make the Combo rise faster and thus offer the oppotunity for higher scores, but at the same time provide more chances for the player to fail to completely clear the Slider. Each cleared Slider Tick is worth 10 points (regardless of Combo).
Sliders are often mapped to long sounds in the music. They are also used to carry the rhythm (especially when the rhythm would be very complex without a slider), and are sometimes just used for the heck of it.
Inserting Sliders into a Beatmap
To create a Slider in a beatmap, first go to the selection menu on the left and select the Slider icon (make sure you're in the point you want your slider to start at). Then, click once to create the Slider's start point. To create another Slider control point, click somewhere else on the grid and it will create a control point as reference for curves. Double-clicking will make the control point red and the Slider will make a linear change of direction at the exact position of the red Slider point instead of the normal gradual curve.
When you're done with your Slider, simply right click anywhere on the grid.
You are free to move/add/remove slider control points after the Slider is finished. You can remove control points by right clicking them after the Slider has been selected, or add a control point by holding control and clicking anywhere on the Slider lines (double click or control+click a Slider point to make a red control point). Adding slider repeats is as simple as clicking your Slider on the timeline and holding and dragging the end through the timeline to create/remove Slider repeats.
Here's a guide on making sliders: Delicious Sliders Guide
Inserting hitsounds into Sliders
This may seem obvious at first to experienced players. However, this is one of the most common questions asked. To insert hitsounds into Sliders, you first want to ask yourself where you want your hitsound. Is it at the start? At the body? At the end? On a slider repeat? To do so, first click on the Slider. Then, click on the part of the Slider you want to add the hitsound to (it will be highlighted red). This is more easily done by clicking on it in the timeline. (When using kick Sliders, it will be easier if you zoom in the timeline.) Then, just click the hitsound you want to add from the list at the right.
A Slider's speed defines how much time it takes to travel a given distance--or equivalently, how far the slider travels in a given time.
Slider speed is measured in hundreds of osupixels per beat, so a slider with a speed of 1.00 will travel 100 osupixels (or, 100 pixels at 640x480 resolution) in one full beat. This means that sliders with a particular speed setting will travel faster when the BPM is higher.
Slider speed can be assigned from the Timing tab from the editor main window. You can also assign a multiplier to this speed value by adding an inheriting timing section.
It has recently become popular to use slider speeds which are multiples of 0.16 (for instance, 1.60, 1.76, 1.92, etc.). This has the effect of lining up the endpoint of a straight horizontal/vertical slider with osu!'s grid when the Slider begins and ends on a whole or half beat, but has its drawbacks when it comes to slightly curved Sliders.
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Slider Tick Rate
Slider tick rate is the rate that Slider ticks appears in Sliders. For example, a Slider tick rate of 1 means that slider ticks appears once per beat. However, as the Slider ticks do not appear in the two end-points of a Slider, some Sliders do not contain any slider ticks. For example, a 1-beat Slider does not contain a Slider if set at a Slider tick rate of 1.
Typical Slider tick rates are 1, 2 and 4 (3 is used rarely). In the past, a Slider tick rate of 4 was widely used but nowadays, most Slider's tick rate is set to either 1 or 2. A Slider tick rate of 0.5 (meaing one slider tick every two beats) is also available, but forces the beatmap to be unranked.