Where are all the easy, normal, and hard maps? Look no further than full-spread mapper OfficialMECH. Happy one year mapperversary!
Q. What inspired you to start mapping?
A. Like anyone else really, I was baffled to see that some of my favorite songs either did not have an existing map on Beat Saber, or that those songs with available maps already did not necessarily age well with the modern standards. So I made it my personal mission to make these songs accessible for not just myself to enjoy, but for players of any skill level to enjoy, and to also give better representation for a wide variety of artists and genres I grew to admire.
Q. What are your preferred genres of music to map?
Q. Are there any other things besides mapping that you’re involved with in the Beat Saber community?
A. It’s safe to say that mapping is my one-trick pony so to speak, but I have been open for playtesting private maps for people and instilling the wisdom I have ascertained throughout my career unto curious rookies looking for the secrets to success.
Q. Which of your maps are you most proud of or is your favorite?
A. I would honestly deem Get Along my best map. This was the map I think I had spent the most time and iterations on, and it shows in its overall production. The patterns have really subtle design choices in the way I tried to represent all the dynamic instrumentation and melodic structures, and I feel like the mapping style builds on this idea in a pretty effective way. The lightshow is admittedly one of my best, as I spent a good amount of time adding subtle little details and lighting techniques I had picked up to make it stand out a bit more. It’s easily the map that represents my core style and level of quality the best, no question.
Q. If you could go back in time and talk to yourself as a new mapper, what is the #1 piece of advice you would give?
A. Don’t strive for perfection. One of the biggest things that I learned throughout my experience as a mapper is that the more you try to cater to the masses in terms of developing your style, there will always be someone out there who will criticize it. When you ground your maps to appease the larger demographic, your mapping style becomes sanitized in trying to play it too safe, and you’ll brandish any semblance of creativity you may have out of fear for your patterns being “too risky” or fear of getting downvotes. I say that once you learn the fundamentals, start taking more risks, get out of your comfort zone every once in a while, and make maps that you would enjoy. At the end of the day, it’s your map; you can do whatever you want with it. Some of my best maps have spawned as a result of this mindset, and I’m super happy with where I am now.
Q. If there was an Amazon.com-style “Recommended Mappers” section, who would you show up under as “If you like [so and so], you’d also like [your name]”?
A. I model my own mapping style off of mappers like Skyler Wallace, Checkthepan, Ruckus, Excession, Saut, among others. Essentially, those mappers who can be super creative and choreographed with their patterns while having them fit within the context and overall feel of the song.
Q. Do you believe that the mapping ‘meta’ is currently in a healthy state? If not, what do you feel would help to bring the ‘meta’ to a good place?
A. From what I see in the current meta, a lot of players seem to have this predisposition that mapping is starting to stagnate in the more modern incarnations, but I feel like this sentiment falls in tandem with the amount of effort a mapper is willing to put in and what they expect to get out of the process. Especially when it comes to ranking, a lot of mappers seem like they fall into a habit of making their patterns structurally simplistic to appease the criteria, and causing them to half-ass the other areas like lighting and lower difficulties just to get it over with and move on. Since a lot of mappers like to stick to this process without deviation, this mindset causes those types of maps to become a turn off for those players who expect a bit more variety. I always try to put myself in the perspective of the player in this situation: “Is this map going to resonate with people after playing it? Does the map feel like something I already done before, or does it stand alone as something unique compared to anything else I’ve released? If I looked back on this map a year from now, would it still be a map I would enjoy playing?”=
Want my advice to make your maps more engaging? Start using more abstract patterns in your flow than resorting to primarily vertical movement, change up your mapping style or try out a new genre from outside your comfort zone, incorporate more intentional resets and horizontals in lower difficulties, put some semblance of effort into crafting manual lightshows, and take a bit more pride in what you’re putting out there. If you find yourself struggling in any of these areas, consult members of the mapping community outside of your inner circle to give you proper guidance in these areas. These aspects of mapping are not as tedious as you may think it is, but it all depends on your initiative and drive to improve your standards of quality.
Q. Is there a mapping practice that most mappers frown upon, that you happen to think can be used really well in the right hands?
A. Double Directionals. While a lot of mappers seem to frown on them in the current meta, they can be utilized in any difficulty level for a better accentuation when used properly. In many cases, they can be more effective than using triangles or wrist resets as a lazy transition, and are also a good way of simulating an “implied” flow without it feeling too inappropriate in their respective context. As long as you’re able to properly telegraph the motion, and use them on a motif that would be fitting to the song, they can be super fun.
Q. What does your mapping process look like? Do you use timing notes? Do you light first, or map? Be as detailed or as short as you’d like.
A. For mapping, I usually start with Expert+ since it’s in my comfort zone for playability and I can get a good gauge of the relative difficulty for the spread. It’s also considered a brainstorming phase for me, as I like to accentuate certain sections of the track with specific patterns I have in mind. From there, I transition into those patterns in ways that feel representative of the mapping style and motifs I’m going for, without making them feel too overwhelming for the player.
Afterwards, I either move on to making a full spread or the lightshow, depending on what I’m more motivated to do. The same mindsets I have for Expert+ carry over to these areas. It can take anywhere from 1-2 hours to make each lower difficulty and anywhere from 3-5+ hours to make each higher difficulty and the lightshow. I spread out this workflow over the course of a couple of weeks so that I don’t get too burnt out on the process. Once it’s all said and done, it’s just a matter of getting a fresh pair of eyes to see if I missed anything and popping that sucker onto BeatSaver for the world to bear.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like the Beat Saber community to know about you, your mapping style, or your thoughts on the game itself?
A. I think the most incredible thing about being in a community like this is how open and accessible it is for any new members. When I first started my journey into the world of mapping, everyone was super respectful and passionate about making sure I had the proper tools, guidance, and advice to help me throughout my time as a mapper. And they did so in a way that never felt discouraging to my goals and ambitions, which I think was one of the big reasons why I stuck with it for as long as I did.
I think the biggest takeaway for me is that feeling of satisfaction when you see comments, live streams, and random messages from people who have played through your maps and deemed those maps some of their all-time favorites. It’s almost humbling to have that sense of assurance in all your hard work paying off, especially when you’re able to look back on some of your older maps and let them serve as a witness to how much you’ve grown after a year in the field. I may not be the most vocal in the community compared to others, but I’m absolutely grateful for everyone who has helped me get where I am today, and I definitely have no intention of stopping anytime soon. So simply put, thank you all.
Thanks for reading! Have a question for OfficalMECH? Hit them up in the comments!
This interview has been lightly edited for spelling, grammar, and clarity.