I decided to go over the wall.
A Little Bit of History
I started playing osu! the summer of 2014. After the first few hours of playing, I was already playing full alternating. I improved quickly within the month I started but soon hit “the wall.” I remained within that wall for the rest of that year and stopped playing Osu! when I switched to full Ubuntu on a laptop.
Over the winter break, I decided to play some osu! again, this time on a Macbook Pro. I watched a few Twitch streams and one especially stood out to me, Elysion. Her play felt boundless and unrestricted by the rules the rest of the players follow. It felt as if she were flying. It didn’t matter if she didn’t full combo the song because she was transcending the speed limits put on humans.
She was right. I too need to be boundless.
Improvements, Changes, & Problems
Now that I am in the correct mindset, I need to identify “the wall,” my weaknesses, and what I can do to improve. There are many factors that affects my gameplay: hardware, play style, stamina, and skills. Some can be improved immediately, so I took those as priority, some takes time to build, and others just can’t be helped for the time being so I left those in the ice chest.
To further get me into the mindset, I need to become more involved in the community and become one with the osu! culture. A lot of Twitch, Reddit, and Googling.
Tablet or Mouse
I used a mouse when first started playing on a desktop, but now I use an osu!tablet because I don’t use a mouse with my Macbook. I initially bought it because it was cute. I don’t know yet about the limitations of this tablet but it is serving me well. I read that the pen snaps easily so I have bought an extra pen just in case. I am also considering getting a Huion glove in the case that I am hurting my hand.
On the other hand, literally my other hand, the Macbook keyboard is very limiting and hurts my fingers. I have my hand pointing in at an inward angle to minimize wrist pain, but in this process I have put my fingers in an awkward position, with my middle finger being too long and cramped. I have ordered a Thnikk osu! Keypad with Gateron Clear switches to remedy this. Although a little pricy, I prefer the portability and looks of this over pulling out my giant mechanical keyboard just to click two keys. I will be receiving them in a few days!
Once I get the keypad, I can also adjust my laptop position. I have been trading back comfort for arm comfort and it is slowly taking its toll. I have to bend down just to be able to see my screen clearly. I have also bought a laptop cooling pad, which may help with the lag a bit.
Lead Finger With Assist Finger or Full Alternating
I have been playing Full Alternating since the first day I started playing osu! so I had no idea that the prevalent play style is to have one leading finger that clicks all the notes while having an assisting finger that comes into play whenever there is a stream or group of fast notes. It is easier to keep a consistent accuracy and beat with a lead finger and it is almost used by all top players. I considered changing play styles, but I couldn’t manage to grok the idea of having an assisting finger. For the time being, I have determined that it is a matter of preference and that it should be okay if I stick with my current play style, though open to changing in the future if any walls come up.
Tablet Pen Grip, Hovering -> Dragging -> Hovering
At first I tried hovering my pen over the tablet, but I kept moving my pen too far from the tablet that it loses the cursor. I switched to always dragging my pen on the tablet. The idea being that if my pen never leaves the tablet, then it won’t ever misread it. I thought that this play style may be slowing me down so I decided to Google and Reddit. Dragging the pen eventually wears down the nibs and may cause more physical damage than necessary. I have to grip the pen really tensely and require more control. I may have slightly fractured the side of my right index finger from gripping too hard. I had a numbing pain for about a week whenever I held something with that finger. It is okay now.
I switched the grip to a more natural one. The trick to all of this is to have your pinky tip touching the tablet in order to stabilize your movements. Since my pinky was on the tablet, I no longer needed to drag my pen along the surface because my pinky allowed me to always keep my pen at a safe distance to the tablet to ensure that it will always be read.
The process of getting into a comfortable tablet playing style took probably over a week, but was one of the most important changes that I have made. If I had stuck to my original grip, I wouldn’t be passing a single song. If I stuck to dragging, I’d be slowed down by the extra friction, affecting my future play.
Computer OSX or Bootcamp Windows 10 on Macbook Pro.
The lag is real sometimes. In multiplayer, the more players there are in the room or spectating me, the more my unstable bar shifts to the left, meaning that the map appears later. Continuously having to adjust the offset is a pain. I don’t really have control over this. Will improve when future conditions change.
Stamina & Overplaying
Some things in life are just not physically possible to do at first, but they can be. I am building forearm muscle through streaming long stream maps. It used to hurt and tire right from the start, but now I can’t even feel any pain. Perhaps I need to up the intensity a bit. Anyways, stamina is something that I will need to always continue building up over time. Improving my stamina has proved to be helpful right from the first day I started training. I began passing maps that were too long or that I have never cleared simply because of that one stream.
Although it is nice to have the stamina to play a lot, doesn’t mean that I should. I have to make sure that I take care to not cause too much damage in my fingers and wrists so I can play more in the future. This is an ongoing problem.
Reading, Muscle Memory & Consistency
Will need to play a lot of practice maps, songs that I can FC, and just play play play a lot! Slowly upping my BPM and AR limit bit by bit. Something to build up over time.
It is important that I understand where my weaknesses are and to fix them.
I believe that I am moving my pen too fast and moving it to the next note before my fingers can hit the current note. Exert more control on cursor hand.
I am bad at sliders. They are evil. But I must face them. What do.
[01/18/16] Sub 100k Ranks!
[01/27/16] Sub 90k Ranks!
osu! Solo Queue Ladder
osu! Solo Queue is in beta and will be starting on the 29th! I think it is a good chance to use it to set incremental goals. The problem that came up is that the Standard song pool is too difficult for me to clear while the Beginner song pool may be too easy. The solution to this is to suffer through Beginner for now and to get better in order to be able to participate in Standard.
Inspirations & Cool Stuff
All of this has been very exciting! I lot of thoughts have passed through my mind these past few weeks and I hope I have captured them all. I have learned a lot and am filled with determination to continue doing better. I am still only getting started. Future posts won’t be like this. I will just address new and ongoing weaknesses and what I have been doing to improve on them. Then I’ll have a section dedicated to the top inspirational and mind-blowing events during that time.