I have to call BS on that. The reading of the timing from fading circles is definitely not part of the purpose or design, it's just an emergent feature that happens to be an accepted way to cheat knowing how to play the map from the music alone, without timing information (which is fine). That really can't be part of the design, because that's the part that makes hidden become much easier with harder maps (so much so that sometimes hidden makes maps easier than without it).
yoyomster wrote:I wonder what the purpose of hidden really is: learning to read fading hitcircles or learning to follow the flow of the music WITHOUT reading any circles.both
If it's the latter, I think this can help improving it.
So I really think that it's a serious consideration on whether there should be better signaling on the timing for the first circle of those songs where the map begins on the first audible note. After all, bands don't typically turn around and watch the drummer's hands so they can time their first note to the first drum hit. Beats are laid out... someone will count or one of the instruments will lead off and the others will join. In the recording studio, headphones are used with prerecorded tracks to play against or a metronome. So I don't see why osu players shouldn't get the beat laid out as well... certainly better than using the small, out of the way, lead time meter or timing from the disappearance of the circle, both of which almost never match the beat and thus just throw me off for the second and third notes because of the jerk and the offset. Because really, I'd rather play to the music's beat than sync to a timing that's offset and different from it.
That said, I don't think that showing an approach circle is the way to go. All that's really needed is to get the beat laid out for the tracks that need it, and that could just as well be done with the countdown or a metronome effect (either audible or visual in the background (eg a sweeping meter like the current lead in meter, but larger and centered in the play area so you don't have to look away for it)). Just give people the beat before the first note and let them count in their head for the first note.