Circles, Sliders, and Spinners, Oh My: Osu!

Apr 18, 2016

Osu! is a rhythm game that involves clicking circles at high speed to the tune of anime, kpop, and video game music. The gameplay consists of only three elements: clicking circles on the screen, dragging a ball across a fixed path and rotating a spinner very fast.

This game first came to my attention about a year ago when a bunch of my friends started playing it excessively due to their obsession with anime. However, their interest petered off after they constructed a bot to play the game and were subsequently banned for doing so. I had only played a game or two, but was turned away at the time by the seemingly daunting challenge of the higher-speed maps.

However, I came back to this game recently because it is actually a pretty useful tool to practice skills that can translate into esports games. According to the Osu! wiki:

The game-play puts emphasis on your:

  • Adaptability and reaction to stimuli (that is, the hit-able objects appearing all over the screen at lightning speed).
  • Understanding of the song beat and design.
  • Your control of your mouse (or your fingers/pen-poking skills if you are using a tablet instead).
  • Timing of your hits on the object that appeared on the screen.
  • Ability to spin the mouse (or your finger/pen for tablet) on spinners.
  • Your physical stamina (especially marathon songs).
  • Proper mouse positioning and hand-eye coordination.
  • Your hardware capability (especially your mouse/tablet).

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Rapid mouse movements for sustained periods of time involving precise positioning and hand-eye coordination to respond to situations appearing all over the place at “lightning-speed”. That sounds fairly similar to the abilities needed to play CS:GO, Dota, Starcraft, and League. Turns out, it is.

I spent the past week playing songs on the “easy” and “normal” difficulties to practice and get better at osu! Then, I went and played a round of Starcraft and a game of League (which I was already terrible at, but that’s a different story). I noticed that in both cases, my response was improved slightly and I was able to process objects and the necessary reaction quicker than normal.

Using a free tool like osu!, we can take our minds off of our tilt but still practice the same skills that we need to be mechanically successful in our games. Plus, as an added bonus, you don’t even need to fire up a separate music client! Combining osu! and strategic research, it’s possible to extend beyond the client to practice our skillshots, our build orders, amp our APM, and generally increase the quality of our game.

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Andrey Sanin
Having played Magic for 10+ years and been around Hearthstone since beta, I've been around various card games for a while now. I love Blizzard games and spend most of my gaming time playing them, but well polished indie games also bite chunks into my time. Follow me on Twitter: @wordoverload
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