Before We Start
All the following contents are based on your will of getting your chart stabled. If not, then you can totally do whatever you want, but that would probably lead to nobody playing your chart.
Although the Malody editor can time your song automatically, it's not 100% reliable. Thus I hope you do know the timing of your song well. If without a proper timing, none of the mapping techniques would make sense.
- How to define time points: The beats are counted on the time axis on the left ot the editor, one crotchet one beat, and we divide each beat with fractions. When you use 1.4 snap divisor which can be chosen at the downright corner, the denominator is 4, 0/4 to 3/4 shows the four semiquavers in each beat. And with the beat count and the fraction combined, a specific time point is expressed. For example, the time point in this screenshot is spelled as 57:1/4.
- How to define tracks: There are 8 tracks in Ring editor, track 1 to 8 from left to right. Track 2, 3, 6, 7 are red. When playing, track 1 to 4 are on the left, counting from up to down, track 5 to 8 are on the right, counting from down to up. Although track 2 and 3 lead to the same point, the notes in track 2 appears from the top, while those in track 3 appears from the bottom. Same goes for track 6 and 7, 6 from bottom and 7 from top. Easy to understand
Now you know how to point out a specific note in your chart, so let's see some general rules of Ring mapping.
- Ring mode is designed for thumb playing with your mobile held in your hands. Therefore, all the elements which canNot be (or are extremely hard to be) played with thumbs are currently not allowed.
- No more than two notes shall be tapped at the same time (the tail of Long Note counts) because you only have 2 thumbs.
- Double taps on the same side (same left or right) are not allowed, as they are extremely hard to be handled with thumbs.
- No more than two coherent semiquavers (1/4 beats) or notes which are more intense shall be placed on the same side (same left or right), because you can hardly tap so frequently with a single finger. 1/4 beats in songs with BPM lower the 110 are currently allowed, but should still be judged case by case.
- When holding a Long Note, no other notes shall appear on the same side with the Long Note. Same for the time point when the Long Note ends.
- Long Notes last shorter than a quaver are not recommended. Large portions of short Long Notes make your chart messy while not making much sense because the Long Notes in Malody doNot require the player to unleash at the exact time.
- Notes following right after the end of a Long Note in the same track are not recommended, as in this case you can hardly notice the following note because of the width of the notes.
- The above can change depending on the BPM of the song. please deal it flexibly.
Agreeing on the above, we can actually start mapping. Generally, mapping 3 difficulties, Easy, Normal and Hard for each song is advocated nowadays. There are some restrictions for each of the difficulty and will be declared in below.
- The rhythm should mainly be crotchets (1/1 beats). Two or three coherent quavers (1/2 notes) are acceptable but should only be used in the song's strong part, where the drums are obvious. Do not use it too often.
- Do not use double taps in coherent quavers (1/2 beats), as quick singletapping would be hard for beginners.
- Long Notes should not be shorter than a crotchet (1/1 beat). Do not throw notes on the other side of a Long Note unless it is a super Long Note which is longer than a semibreve (4/1 beat).
- Long Note double tap is fine, but they should start and end at the same time, otherwise, it's not recommended in Easy diffs.
- Syncopations are acceptable, but should only be used when it stands out. Where there's multiple syncopations (more than 3 coherent notes), it's recommended to use a whole Long Note to simplify the rhythm.
- The notes arrangement should mainly be alternates (left and right in turn), twice left then twice right is also fine. But if you're going to use over 3 coherent notes on the same side, it's better used to show some kinds of special features of the music (see Mapping Techniques part).
- Alternate regularly, alternate when the music or your rhythm changes in some ways.
- Place two coherent quavers (1/2 beats) symmetrically or stack them on the same track. Avoid to make them visually too far from each other because beginners can hardly tell their order in time.
- Alternate when you use 3 coherent quavers (1/2 beats), otherwise it will give too much singletapping pressure. Also it's better to make the three notes appear from the same direction (same from top or from bottom) so that beginners can tell their order more easily.
- When placing a note when a Long Note ends, it's better to make it appear from the same direction as the Long Note so that beginners read more easily. Beware, this kind of note will not become yellow like doubletaps.
- The note following an ended Long Note is better to be placed on the other side as this will not require the beginners to unleash the Long Note at the exact ending time.
- The arrangement for syncopations should be unique. Make them look different from the former and latter notes as they break the regularity of crotchets (1/1 beats) rhythm.
- The rhythm should mainly be quavers (1/2 beats) with some breaks. semiquavers (1/4 beats) are acceptable but no more than 5 coherent notes, also better with crotchet (1/1 beat) gaps between and after the semiquaver notes.
- coherent quavers no more than a stanza long (4/1 beat for 4/4 time signature song) for good. Break when the music is relatively weak, to give new players some time to rest and prepare.
- when using double taps in coherent quavers (1/2 beats), make sure there are crotchet (1/1 beat) breaks before or after them. Coherent quaver double taps will make the map too hard for new players.
- Use of coherent quaver (1/2 beat) double taps are allowed when they are stacked on the same two tracks. Make sure to use them when the music is real strong
- When holding a Long Note, setting notes on the other side of it is allowed, but they should better be simple rhythms no more intense than crotchets (1/1 beats) such as the fundamental kicks and snares.
- Long Note double taps can end separately but they should start at the same time. Similarly, when starting them separately, you should make them end together.
- There are no more restrictions of syncopations (3/4 beats) like Easy, but they should be arranged easy-to-be-understood. You can refer to the interlude of c11633 starting from 30:0/4 for syncopation arrangements.
- Avoid using double taps when there are semiquavers (1/4 beats) nearby (1/2 beat close) as that would give big singletapping pressure for new players.
- Alternate arrangements are no longer strongly demanded like Easy, but notes should generally spread evenly on both sides. No more than five coherent quavers (1/2 beats) on the same side as it would make singletapping too hard for new players.
- No longer a must to arrange double taps symmetrically, but the two notes should better appear from the same direction (same from top or from bottom) to make reading easier, especially when using multiple doubletaps. Coherent quaver (1/2 beat) doubletaps should be stacked on same two tracks.
- Alternate when arranging coherent semiquavers (1/4 beats), Making them appear from same direction provides easier reading.
- Alternate when using quavers (1/2 beats) right after (or right before) coherent semiquavers (1/4 beats).
- No more restrictions for Hard, but you should still follow the stuff in General.
- See Mapping Techniques part to make your map more expressive.
The above are all some kinds of rules and restrictions to make your map reasonable and playable. Now, to make it expressive and fun to play, you need some mapping techniques. But before that, let's see some features of the Ring mode first.
The 6 effective tapping points of Ring mode are symmetrically spread out when playing, and can be divided vertically and horizontally. When dividing them vertically, we have3 tapping points on the left for your left thumb and 3 on the right for your right thumb. This affects the requirement for singletapping and moving speed. When dividing horizontally, we have 4 tapping points on top and 4 at the bottom (the two in the mid count on both directions). For the 4 points higher up, the notes approach them from the top, on the contrary, the notes coming for the lower 4 points from the bottom. This affects the requirement of map reading skill.
- Notes appearing separately:
Unlike Key mode or other similar music games, the notes in Ring mode appear from two different directions instead of one. This usually cause reading problem for beginners as they can't just focus their vission on a single point. Good Ring mode maps should help them with this problem with systematic arrangements.
- Notes with different colors:
When playing Ring mode, the notes in track 2,3,6,7 are red and those in track 1,4,5,8 are blue, and when there are doubletaps, the both notes become yellow. These different colors are very important for map reading as they reflect the destination of the notes. Beware, the notes placed at the same time when a Long Note ends will not change to yellow.
The above are some features of Ring mode, and to use them correctly, some mapping techniques will be listed below. But please know that, the contents above are mostly rules and objective stuffs that you should better follow, while the techniques below are mostly subjective ideas which should be judged case by case, you don't need to agree on all of them.
The following is mostly about Hard diff mapping, as in Easy and Normal we have more rules to follow in order to be beginner-friendly. In hard diffs, we do our best to make the map expressive and match with the song.
A song itself, usually has multiple parts, some are intense while some are relatively gentle. A map is just the same, there should be some softer parts which can help the stronger parts stand out. To make the clue of your map clearer instead of messy all the way, you need to divide the map into multiple parts according to the music before you actually start mapping. After doing so, we use different rhythms and arrangements to make each part softer or stronger.
- In stronger parts, more coherent quavers (1/2 beats) and doubletaps can be used, and if there're semiquavers (1/4 beats) in the music, don't miss it! When arranging quaver notes, you can try more singletapping patterns to give bigger pressure and have some jumps (like from track 1 to track 4) where the music supports that. On the contrary, we try not to use coherent quavers all the way in softer parts. Some crotchet (1/4 beat) breaks and Long Notes are preferred. For arrangement, try more alternating instead of singletapping, and avoid big jumps.
- Roughly a song can be divided into vocal and percussions. if it's a instrumental song, there should be other melody tracks which replace the vocal, it may be guitar, piano, keyboard or anything else. Every instrument can be regarded as a track, but that might be overcomplex and unnecessary for Ring mode. When there're two similar parts in a song and you don't want to map them repeatedly, you can try to follow the percussion track in one of the parts and follow the melodis in the other part instead. But once you decide to to so, please follow the track correctly and consistently within one part, and change the rhythm at proper time between the two parts.
Poor copy-pasting is out of laziness, the good ones make the map impressive while making mapping easier. Many songs have repeating parts to make it easy be remembered, a map can just do the same with copy-pasting. Please know that the copy-pasting here is a broad concept which includes all kinds of repeating and looping.
- The biggest requirement for copy-pasting is that the music itself has repeating parts. The parts may not be exactly the same but the most of them, or the main features in them (such as vocal) are the same. When the vocal repeats itself in two parts while the drums are different, we can only coy-paste the notes representing the vocals and add different notes into them to show the different drumming patterns in the two parts.
- Note that copy-pasting are not restricted to be used in coherent parts. In many songs, the composer makes the beginning and the ending similar, and we the mapper can do the same to emphasize.
- When mapping two similar parts with different intensity, it's better to start with intenser one first. After finishing the intense part, we can copy-paste it to the looser part then remove some unnecessary notes and it's done. If you do it in the opposite way, sometimes you may find it hard to find proper places to add notes into when you strengthen the intense part. You can refer to the beginning and the chorus which starts from 138:0/4 of c13628 to see how the copy-pasting is done.
- To avoid unbalanced note arrangements, sometimes we flip the part after copy-paste it to make it symmetrical with the former part. This is done case by case according to how the copied part is arranged.
Symmetrical patterns are used to make your map look good and play well with notes spreading evenly. We already introduced this when talking about the features of Ring mode. that there are vertical symmetry and horizontal symmetry.
- Vertical Symmetry is what we usually talk about. It's used to balance the notes on both the left and the right side, and often used with copy-paste together. After copy-pasting (no matter a long paragraph or short phrase), you can flip the copied part to make the whole map somehow not too repetitive and unbalanced. Sad to be true that, there's no flipping tool in Ring editor to do the symmetry, you can only re-place the notes one by one.
- Horizontal Symmetry unlike the vertical, is not used to handle repeating music phrases, but mostly used to express the flow of the music. Although not absolute, we usually arrange the notes with higher pitch on top while the lower pitched ones at the bottom, the sharp sounds on top while the thick ones at the bottom. When mapping some similar rhythms with obviously changes in drumming pattern or pitches, we can arrange notes from up to down (or opposite) to show this changing flow of music. Horizontal symmetry is also used to build up coherent doubletap or Long Note patterns like this.
- Unordered Symmetry is a very flexible usage of symmetry. I call it unordered, because the notes may seem messy when seeing them in order, but when regarding a few notes as a whole pattern you'll find them spreading out evenly such as this. This is a widely used symmetrical pattern which occupies all the 8 tracks while being less stubborn than strict vertical symmetry (such as track 45362718). Unordered symmetry can also be used for coherent doubletap patterns lke this and there're a lot more for you to try out!
The scaling here is not to make something bigger or smaller, but rather like spreading out notes from the mid to the outside or converge from the outside to the mid. Generally, we tend to place the heavy and chunky sounds at the mid while the open and wide sounds at the outside. This is never an absolute rule though, it sometimes may be useful to express the changes of drumming patterns or vocals such as from whispering to shouts. Using scaling for coherent semiquavers (1/4 beats) like this may also give interesting playing experiences when the music supports so.
- Alternating or Singletapping:
In this part we mostly discuss about the arrangements of coherent quavers (1/2 beats), coherent crotchets (1/1 beats) in Easy diffs or other notes which are singletap-able. To balance note arrangement and to make gameplay smooth and natural, alternating is what we use at most time (it can be alternates with 2 notes on the left and 2 on the right and repeat). On the contrary, when we singletap more than 3 notes, it's mostly for emphasis on some special features of the music. But please remember that semiquaver (1/4 beats) singletapping (of average BPM) is currently Not allowed in Ring mode as it's extremely hard to be played with a thumb only.
- Intense vocal pitch changing (or other melodies) is where singletapping often appears. Three coherent quavers going from track 5 to 6 to 8 can express a crescendo very nicely, opposite way if the music is going downwards. This can also be used for coherent Long Note arrangements.
- Coherent same sounds is also a point which supports singletapping well. Stacking notes can be very impressive when the melody is repeating the same tone or the same drum being played continually.
- Singletapping with Long Notes is often used in higher diffs as we can follow two different tracks at the same time, one with the Long Note and another with the singletaps on the other side.
- Long Note or not:
We all know that Long notes are used for long music notes, but we still hesitate sometime when facing notes which are neither too short nor too long (like a crotchet long). Here are two principles for you to decide whether to use Long Notes or not.
- Deciding according to instrument tracks is a reasonable way to follow. You can choose a certain instrument (such as guitar, keyboard or vocal of course) and use Long Notes for all the notes of this track in one part of the map, and the other rhythms like drums can be expressed with singletaps. In thisway, you can make your rhythm easier to be understood by keeping the rhythm consistent in the whole part.
- Deciding according to paragraph intensity is also fine. We already know that Paragraphing is important before actually mapping. When there're two parts with similar melodies in a song while one being softer and the other stronger, we can choose to use ordinay notes for the softer part and Long Notes at the corresponding points in the strong part to build up the map's intensity.
Mapping is more about art and performance which relies on your experience and musicality instead of any kind of absolute formulars, with the rules in General being followed though. To improve mapping, learn from other good maps and cogitate more. Try mapping different genres of music. And at last, if you want to be a good mapper, please be able to play your own maps properly.
by Zero__wind 11th AUG. 2018