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Old 11-16-2007, 11:32 PM   #1
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Default A real guide on how to make a good simfile

REVISIONS:

7/16/08
- Whoa, almost forgot about this thread, holy ****
- Amended #13, CREDIT TO PATASHU

11/22/07
- Split #2 into two parts to emphasize the last point
- Added #4.5 to clarify the importance of pitch relevance
- Added #12.5 to address the issue of trends

11/23/07
- Added the TIPS section
- Added #17 to address the pack epidemic

11/30/07
- Added #6.5 regarding layering
- Added #18 regarding flow

12/01/07
- Added a link to Patashu's thread on how to make simfiles
- Rearranged intro paragraphs

Intro:
Before you even bother to continue reading this, read Patashu's thread on how to actually make a simfile.
http://www.flashflashrevolution.com/...ad.php?t=48587

I'm doing this because it seems to me that a lot of people here have no clue how to make a quality simfile. I came to this conclusion based on the fact that I've played some of the files made by members who frequent this area of the forum and they've all been pretty mediocre or just plain bad.

These aren't RULES, but they're more like guidelines. Keep in mind that I'm assuming you all know how to work the SM editor since I'm not going to go into any kind of detail on that.

This guide is only for KEYBOARD simfiles. That's what I make so that's what I know.

The Guide:

1. Consider your audience. Who are you making the file for? Indexers? Spread players? Elite players? Beginners? If you want to cater to many people, multiple charts are a must. Keep the ridiculously hard charts as Edit charts.

2. Consider the song. SONG CHOICE is the most important thing to making a good file. How you step the song depends solely on the song itself. A good example of what I mean is this...would you make a ridiculously easy chart to a driving speedcore song? Or an overlayered and incredibly difficult chart to a chill ambient song? The answer is no. Keep the difficulty and the amount of layering relative to the song's mood.

2.5. Don't pick boring, generic electronic music or songs that have been stepped 5 million times before. Be original with your song selection.

3. Follow the music, but don't be one of those guys who put arrows to stuff you can only hear on 0.3x rate. Slow down the music to clarify rhythms, not to find new sounds to put steps to. Every arrow should go to something specific in the music. In other words, arrows that "kinda" go with the music are a no-no.

4. Try to use pitch relevance where applicable. To be more specific, step lower pitches more to the left and higher pitches more to the right. Usually this is relative to the surrounding notes. This might sound like a bit too specific for a Stepmania file, but pitch relevant patterns actually tend to be quite fun. It's ok to break pitch relevance to avoid otherwise annoying patterns like jacks and trills that would otherwise break the flow of the file.

4.5. Pitch relevance isn't necessary, but it's generally accepted to use it when stepping distinct melodies in certain songs i.e. a piano or guitar solo.

5. Be careful with holds. Using them can make the file more fun or the steps fit the song better, but in excess they can make an otherwise good file annoying to play. Mini-freezes (64th length or so) can be used to emphasize certain sounds in the middle of complex patterns but don't use a whole lot of them or try to use them to signify more than one sound during the same section of the song.

6. Learn how to layer properly. Layering, if you didn't know, is simply putting arrows to multiple sounds at the same time. This is how you get jumps and hands. On that note, hands are just as much a matter of taste as it is a matter of proper layering. If you layer something and it has a bunch of hands that don't feel right, it's probably better to tone it down. You don't need to have a ton of hands to prove that you can layer. Most files work just as well with just jumps and a few hands as long as they fit. Excessive hands should be avoided in index charts.

6.5. Layering doesn't have to be exact. The process I described above is simple layering, which is stepping all the sounds in a precise manner and simply layering them into each other. There are other ways to layer that don't force you to put jumps and hands everywhere. Be creative with how you choose to layer. Use layers to accent melodies, harmonies and percussion in a different way. Just make sure it makes sense.

7. Repetitiveness in simfiles can be avoided very easily by not stepping repetitive songs. To keep a file interesting it's best to start with an interesting song.

8. For spread files, keep the annoying patterns down to a minimum. Left-handed trills and jacks can be irritating for right-handed players if abused.

9. Climaxes in stepfiles are always a good addition, but they should only occur during the actual climax if the song. If the song doesn't have a distinct climax then you should avoid stepping a climax. To clarify, climax in stepfiles means you can add a bit more layering or difficulty when the song is at its peak of intensity. Just make sure the rest of the file is still good. There's nothing worse than a boring stepfile with one ridiculously hard part in the middle.

10. Be creative, but be careful. Use BPM tricks, stops and mines only where they make sense. When used properly they can add flavor to the file, but when used in excess they can be irritating.

11. The level of accuracy in the file is totally up to you. If it's close enough, it's good enough for most people. Some people like to be as accurate as SM will allow and that's fine. Stepping a guitar solo, for example, as a 24th stream is acceptable if the solo sounds reasonably close to a 24th stream. Some people, however, would rather step it accurately, using a bunch of colored arrows to match each note perfectly. Both ways work so it depends on how hard you want to sit down and work on it.

12. Step songs you like. Chances are you'll be more willing to take your time to make a good chart if you enjoy the song.

12.5. SM trends come and go, but try not to limit yourself to those trends. I remember when everyone used to step Sharpnel like it was going out of style. A good way to stand out from the crowd is to do something different.

13. Consistency is key. During every section you should try to stay consistent with your patterns, your layering, and the sounds you follow. The whole file shouldn't have to be wholly consistent, but switching between sounds during a single section is distracting and confusing. Stay focused.

13a. If a section of the song repeats itself a large number of times without changing its general form, try changing the style or layering you're stepping it with half way through. (This is only if you CAN do such a thing, of course)

14. Take criticism. Don't be a douche because someone had a legitimate complaint about a file you had already decided was perfect before you even finished it. No file is perfect and, if you haven't been simfiling very long, it's almost guaranteed to be far from it. Keep an open mind and listen to what people have to say.

15. TAKE YOUR TIME. I'm sick of hearing of people who finish files in less than a few hours and expecting them to be good. I can make a ****ty file in less than an hour, but it takes time to make a good file.

16. BPM and gap should be CORRECT. There's no excuse for them NOT to be. If you have problems with it, ask someone with a reasonable amount of experience for assistance (as long as you're not being an annoyance). As for gap, it differs from computer to computer because of hardware and software lag that is never the same on different machines. If it's close enough, the player can easily adjust it to their liking during gameplay.

17. Don't randomly start simfile packs. You should at least be strongly established in the community as a simfile author before you even consider it. You also need people who will back you up and a very strong idea of what you want to do with the pack. If you have none of those, don't do it. Also, one-person packs are pointless unless you have a theme and you keep the pack SMALL (<10 files or so).

18. Flow is important. Flow is something that is only apparent while playing the patterns you've used. It's hard to describe flow, but if your patterns usually transition smoothly between the right and left hands in a non-irritating matter, you've got the general idea of flow down. usually you want the flow of your patterns to match the flow of the music. Smooth musical phrases should be stepped with flowing pattern. Jagged, more chaotically moody phrases can have more broken, less flowing patterns. Just make sure you don't do anything to break flow when it doesn't fit.

TIPS
- For layering, it's good to create a dummy chart to help. I used this technique to make Admiral of the Seas and Fire Wire and it really helps on complex songs. If you're working on the Heavy chart, create a blank Standard chart as your dummy and step one layer of a section on each chart. Using F5 and F6 to switch between Standard and Heavy, you can see where your layers should overlap. All it is is a matter of adding the arrows (one-by-one) from the Standard into the Heavy. I usually do the same with Oni while using Edit as a dummy chart.

- Place all stops and BPM changes into your chart AFTER you finish stepping the actual chart. This allows you to work on the steps without having to worry about screwing up steps you spent hours working on. It's also a good idea to save a copy of the SM file before you start adding your tricks, just in case. Of course, if the BPM changes are necessary to keep the file on-beat, put them in before you even add one step unless you're syncing as you go.

- Never use CTRL + R to make your steps. It's good for quickly stepping very simple rhythms if you know the song well, but don't rely on it otherwise. A "recorded" stepfile is usually off-sync and looks like an utter mess.

----------------------------

That should be good enough for now. If anyone wants to ask questions, feel free to post them and I'll answer them at my earliest convenience. If you have suggestions on how to improve the guide, feel free to post them.
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

Well posted.
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

yes very nice.

it's stuff i already knew, but it emphasizes everything making the stepper want to actually do these steps.
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whats more dense, a black hole or an icyworld file
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

Amen.

Of course, knowing all of this is only the first step. You still need to practice practice practice, though, some will pick it right up, but others will gradually get better over time, like...
<------

Also, I would recommend that if you have a short attention span, not to step.
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

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Amen.

Of course, knowing all of this is only the first step. You still need to practice practice practice, though, some will pick it right up, but others will gradually get better over time, like...
<------

Also, I would recommend that if you have a short attention span, not to step.

well, yeah. practice does make perfect(or godlyness, close enough)
some will pick it up, and some may get better, but there are some that no matter what they do, they are bad.
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

Whoa lmao I thought Sulferdragon = Shadowdragon! XD
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Old 11-18-2007, 01:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

This is too low on the page so I'm bumping it.
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Old 11-18-2007, 02:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

I request that this becomes stickied. It's well thought, typed, and really explains itself well. Nice job.
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Old 11-18-2007, 02:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

No one ever reads the stickies, though.
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Old 11-18-2007, 02:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

I do
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Old 11-18-2007, 03:06 PM   #11
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I do
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Old 11-18-2007, 03:07 PM   #12
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

in before that's a smile not an upside down frown
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Old 11-18-2007, 03:23 PM   #13
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

That's a nice on-topic discussion you're having there.
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Old 11-18-2007, 07:55 PM   #14
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

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4. Use pitch relevance. To be more specific, step lower pitches more to the left and higher pitches more to the right. Usually this is relative to the surrounding notes. This might sound like a bit too specific for a Stepmania file, but pitch relevant patterns actually tend to be quite fun. It's ok to break pitch relevance to avoid otherwise annoying patterns like jacks and trills that would otherwise break the flow of the file.
I don't find stepping low pitches on the left and high pitches on the right to be terribly important. Pitch schemes can be however you want/need them to be, though going from left to right or down to up tends to be more intuitive. It just needs to remain consistent for as long as the instruments do or until a change is necessary.

Excellent guide. I don't have time to read it all right now, but I'm sure it's excellent. It looks excellent.

New simfile authors: these are great guidelines for you to go by. After you've mastered the fundamentals (made a lot of files with a good amount of time put into them), you can branch out and put your own spin on things. Normally, this happens without even trying from tendencies picked up earlier, perhaps modified slightly to be made more relevant. Put lots of effort into your files, reach out for constructive criticism from players and artists alike, and keep refining your methods.

Then, once you've gotten as good as you can, make a bunch of files so you actually leave some sort of legacy. I forgot about that part, myself.
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Old 11-18-2007, 08:36 PM   #15
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

Where da **** you been, danceguy? Or have I just not noticed you on here at all recently?
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:11 PM   #16
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

Listen to this guy, he knows his stuff.
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:51 PM   #17
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

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15. TAKE YOUR TIME. I'm sick of hearing of people who finish files in less than a few hours and expecting them to be good. I can make a ****ty file in less than an hour, but it takes time to make a good file. It takes even more time to make a great file.
I think that's the biggest, and should come earlier in the guideline list. Most idiots upload their 4 min songs done in, like, half an hour. That's why the a lot of the sims in FFR database aren't worth playing, and are just filling up a box for tips with not money, but crap.

Look how long it took rebirth to do TGWP.

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Old 11-18-2007, 09:53 PM   #18
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

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Where da **** you been, danceguy? Or have I just not noticed you on here at all recently?
I visit FFR daily with few exceptions and usually make at least a couple of posts. I haven't been playing SM more than the few songs here and there, probably totaling to less than two hours a month. I usually just peek at the Simulator Files board for a second and leave when I realize not only am I not involved anymore, but I'm also not interested in the developments nowadays. I still think of music I listen to in terms of arrows occasionally, though. I don't know if that will ever go away. In terms of simfiles.. I dunno, I'll make one sooner or later. Honestly, it'll get to me, sometime when I'm less busy. I've got a million songs I could make files out of.

In terms of rhythm games, it's pretty much down to Guitar Hero and Rock Band for me. DDR and ITG aren't all that fun for me anymore, though I'll play on occasion. Guitar Freaks and DrumMania aren't worth the minute-long trip to the arcade, honestly, especially with Rock Band coming out. I'd play Pump, but I don't have one anywhere near me. If my neighbor gets a metal Pump pad, I'll be playing that. I'd play IIDX, but my PS2 isn't modded, and my friend won't burn Japanese games for me to play at his house. His PS2 is a little broken, anyway. FFR and SM usually only happen upon request. I'd just rather play CSS, HL2 (really have to get around to beating that), Guitar Hero, or whatever game may have just come out, if I'm going to play videogames at all.

If things ever get boring, though, look for me.
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Old 11-18-2007, 11:43 PM   #19
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

13-16 need to be higher up IMO

Great guide, it's sad most people are retards and won't heed this advice.
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Old 11-19-2007, 12:02 AM   #20
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Default Re: A real guide on how to make a good simfile

great guide! i knew all these things i just chose to not care as much >.>
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