It’s been a while since the last website update. Beats 1.x has hit an amazing 2 million users/downloads with an average of 9-10k users daily, so I figured I might post something. I’ve been busy with a lot of non-Beats related stuff (vacation to Japan, working at my new job, moving into a new place, playing MMORPGs, catching up on anime, etc.) so there hasn’t been much solid progress, but here’s what I have.
What is Beats2?
Simply put, Beats2 is the spiritual successor to Beats 1.x (aka “Beats, Advanced Rhythm Game”). Tentatively, it’s full name will be “Beats2, Multi-Style Rhythm Game“. The first goal of Beats2 is, like it’s name indicates, creating a rhythm game/simulator that supports multiple play styles/modes. This includes not only the DDR-style from Beats 1.x but multiple others derived from the many popular rhythm games that we all love (see below). Beats2 will not be a clone, however. Unlike StepMania, I plan on focusing more on fun, touch-focused rhythm gameplay rather than simulation accuracy (DDR is for the feet, not for the fingers!). The second goal of Beats2 is creating a multi-platform rhythm game. Beats 1.x was written for Android and ran only on Android. Beats2 will run on not only your phone, but also your tablet and your computer. If it has a touchscreen, it should run Beats2 ; ) In other words, Beats2 will be the free, open source rhythm game that will let you enjoy your favourite rhythm game style on whatever device you want ^_^
Beats2 will support the following rhythm game styles:
- Beats: This is the DDR/DJMax/Beatmania IIDX style that you are most used to. Notes falling from the top of the screen to the bottom. This was Mode #1 in Beats2 Prototypes. It’ll start off as 4-button only, but I plan on adding 5B, 6B, 7B , 8B, and even 9B (Pop’n Music) if I can design the screen right.
- Technika: This is based on my second favourite touch rhythm game, DJMax Technika. Stationary notes appearing with a slider that moves back-forth across the screen. Mode #5 in Beats2 Prototypes was loosely based on this, but I will do split screen for Beats2. 3-button and 4-button only due to screen size.
- Square: This is based on my favourite touch rhythm game, Jubeat. Notes appear at fixed locations on a grid. This was Mode #4 in Beats2 Prototypes. It will be 3×3 and 4×4 grids.
- Taiko: This is based on the fun arcade game, Taiko no Tatsujin. Streams of notes come flowing in one line while you hit “drums”. Gameplay-wise, it’s pretty much 4-button Beats, but just with a different layout ; ) 2-button and 4-button only.
- Mai: This is based on the not-well-known arcade rhythm game, MaiMai. Notes fly out from the centre of the screen to the edges. This was Mode #2 in Beats2 Prototypes. While I don’t think it was really popular as an analog rhythm game (with a very shallow learning curve too), I think it’ll work well on a touchscreen, as Beats2 Prototypes’ data suggests.
The following rhythm game styles will NOT be supported (unless enough people ask of course):
- Ouendan: This is based on the popular Nintendo DS game, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. Notes appear in patterns anywhere on the screen. This was kinda like Mode #8 in Beats2 Prototypes. Beats2 will NOT support the Ouendan style, however, as there is already a well established clone of the game called osu!
- Diva: This is based on the (in my opinion, silly) arcade/PSP/PS3 rhythm game, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva that focuses on VOCALOID music. Notes come flying in from all across the screen. Beats2 will NOT support the Diva style for two reasons. 1) There is already a work-in-progress simulator called Project -Project Dxxx-. 2) It doesn’t make much sense from a touch-based rhythm game perspective; the location of the flying notes have no relationship to the buttons being pressed. If anything, there’ll be plenty of VOCALOID simfiles for the other rhythm game styles anyway.
- Reflect: This is based on the recently released arcade rhythm game, Reflec Beat. It is a 2-player game where you play “Pong” with your notes. The gameplay/mechanics I find a bit confusing and it’s not well known outside Japan, so not focusing on it.
- Vortex – This is based on the recently released arcade rhythm game, Sound Vortex. It is 6-button Beatmania IIDX, but with two slider knobs. Since the slider knobs don’t make much sense for touchscreens, I don’t plan on implementing any special play style for this.
The only simfile format that will be supported initially will be the StepMania .sm/.ssc formats. This is purely because there are already many, many simfiles out there in this format. Beats2 will mainly use it’s own .ini-based format similar to osu!’s (i.e. time=note-type) designed to be flexible and compatible across the multiple styles. I may add a few format converters depending on demand, but I don’t plan on commiting to anything more than .sm/.ssc (maybe .dwi, but we’ll see).
The following platforms will be supported:
- Android: I have both an Android phone and tablet, so expect Beats2 to work on both
- iOS: Don’t have an iPhone/iPad, but I’m sure I’ll find volunteers when the time comes
- Windows Phone: Don’t have a WP8 phone, but know a few people who do
- Windows (Store): I have a Surface RT and Surface Pro, and my laptop runs Windows 8, so expect Beats2 to run on x86, amd64, and ARM
The following platforms are not planned be supported (may be depending on demand and difficulty)
- Mac OSX: I’m not exactly fond of Apple products, but if someone wants to help with the port…
- Linux: I dual-boot Linux, but this really depends on the Unity game engine’s level of support
- Consoles: I have an XBOX 360 and PS3, but this also really depends on the Unity game engine’s level of support
- Web/browser: Depends on whether or not there’s enough donations to support running the servers, but very low priority
The following are highlighted features for Beats2
- Multi-style: As mentioned earlier, one goal of Beats2 is to support multiple styles. This also means that your simfiles will be playable in multiple styles as well! The same 4-button Beats-style simfile can be played in Technika, Taiko, and MaiMai styles (Square will be a special case, haven’t thought that one out yet). Further down the road, expect a “Remix!” mode where you will be able to switch between styles on-the-fly ; )
- Customization: Who doesn’t like customizations? Expect Beats2 to allow for custom themes, custom noteskins, custom sound effects, custom backgrounds, etc. All in easy-to-edit .png/.ini file formats. Can’t figure out StepMania’s confusing theme format? Neither can I, so you won’t have to either!
- Online scoreboard: Probably the biggest feature request of Beats. Didn’t implement it back then because there were many issues with the scoring system in Beats 1.x, but Beats2 will use a revisited scoring system, so I do eventually plan on activating an online, global scoreboard.
The following are potential future features for Beats2
- Online battle: Play against your friends to see who can get the higher score, or who can screw up first from all those “Remix!” attacks ^_^ How this will work will really depend on what kind of netplay frameworks I can find for Unity.
- Song importer: After experimenting around with the Dancing Monkeys simfile generator, I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to implement something that can generate simfiles from imported songs (e.g. MP3 goes in, Beats2-ready simfile comes out). Not sure if I will be built into Beats2 or if it’ll be a separate program or if it’ll be handled by a server, but expect something cool ^_^
- Song store: This will depend entirely on external support. I’d like to have some kind of song downloading store where you can browse and download/buy the latest/greatest songs (and have the song importer generate the simfile). Would be nice to hook up with Soundcloud, Beatsport, iTunes, AmazonMP3, etc.
- Kinect: I experimented a bit with the Kinect before. It was pretty cool, so I might try it again later. Same goes with other fun hardware – I’m always interested in hardware hacks.
- Unity 4: Rather than being written specifically for a single platform (e.g. Beats 1.x for Android), Beats2 will be developed ontop the Unity 4 game engine (currently at 4.2.0). This what allows for the game to be cross-platform as well as support a lot of other features that I wouldn’t know how to do myself otherwise.
- NGUI framework: After experimenting will multiple different 2D frameworks for Unity (e.g. 2D Toolkit, ex2D, and Orthello), I settled on NGUI, mainly because it will make developing the UI much easier and supports 2D sprites (which most Beats2 graphics will be)
- Google Code: The Beats2 source code will be hosted on Google code. The project is open source, but only the parts written by me (i.e. the proprietary NGUI libraries will need to be imported separately). Not 100% decided on the license yet, but it’s safe to assume it will be Modified BSD unless otherwise specified.
- SVN: Because I’m stubborn and because I’m the only developer for Beats2. If enough devs decide to join me later, I may move to git, but for now, sticking with good ol’ svn. Once Beats2 development reaches a beta-testable state, I’ll be using the forums for beta releases.
- Website/forums: Once Beats2 development reaches a beta-testable state, expect a revamped website and forums. The current WordPress and phpbb forums are pretty bad, I admit orz
In terms of game design, I have the game design roughly spec’d out and will be following that. Haven’t settled on the theme/graphics or default songs, but that will come much later (and will require some help from the community). Meiro~D will be the game’s mascot, though her character design isn’t finalized either xD
Meiro~D original design (V2) or newest (V6)?
Well this isn’t really a proper demo, but I might as well post something that you can try your hand at. I literally just threw together some graphics, generated a simple simfile with Ariea Creation’s “Love Is Energy (Instrumental)”, plugged in some C# code that I was already working on, and compiled for Android and Windows.
The result is what you see above and in the video at the top of this post – Beats2 Test Demo, running on my LG Spectrum 2 (Android phone), Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Android tablet), Surface Pro (Windows 8 tablet), and Dell XPS L702x (Windows 8 laptop). Here are the download links if you want to try it out:
- Android: http://beatsportable.com/static/testing/beats2td-v1_android.zip
- Windows Standalone (x86): http://beatsportable.com/static/testing/beats2td-v1_standalone-pc.zip
- Windows Store (x86): http://beatsportable.com/static/testing/beats2td-v1_store-x86.zip
- Windows Store (ARM): http://beatsportable.com/static/testing/beats2td-v1_store-arm.zip
The Windows Standalone does not support touch (Unity 4 limitation), but you can use SD-KL split or the arrow keys. For the Windows Store builds, right click the .ps1 file and select “Run with Powershell” (note: you MUST have a developer license to install/sideload apps this way). The Android build is just a standard unsigned .apk file. The source code, for the curious, can be found in the beats2n branch: http://code.google.com/p/beats2/source/detail?r=33
Enjoy and look forward to more Beats2 updates in the future!
Post your comments and feedback in the forum thread here!