Silicon Heart

Last edited: 2 March 2016, 11:36AM


Silicon Heart was an originally produced song made for osu! UCI's Spring 2015 beatmapping project. The map also included an originally made background and a simple storyboard.


In the previous quarter, the osu! UCI club members individually made songs to contribute to a compilation of beatmaps. This spring quarter, one of the things I wanted to try and do was create a bigger collab project where everyone could contribute on. This was more akin to the development projects I've had plenty of experience on in VGDC. I was confident I could lead a fun and productive group.

That's not to say we didn't want others to work on songs on their own. We encouraged everyone to submit maps, but because most of the active members interested in beatmapping worked on Silicon Heart, we had much fewer songs. The only other song to come out of this quarter was one made by Aaron. It's not much of a compilation with just two songs, but we decided to upload one anyways to commemorate that quarter. You can view our 2015 Spring Compilation on the osu! website.

One of the reasons I was so keen to starting a project this quarter was because I got in talks with Wesley. Wesley was someone I worked with for a long time on SLicense to Dye and briefly on String Theory. He's one of the few music producers I knew that I was fairly close with. I wouldn't say we were particularly best of best friends or anything like that, but we saw each fairly often in the lab and respected each other's talents.

I don't know a lot of music producers, and at that time, he was probably the only one I knew that did a pretty good job on his work. I asked him if he was interested in doing a project with osu! UCI. At that time I was thinking about starting a group project, and if he was on board, I'm sure the rest of the club would be too.

He said he was definitely interested, and we officially started the project. I told him most likely everything besides music would be original work. I was interested in drawing something for the map, and I was also looking into messing with storyboard as well. He was a little hesitant on making an original song for us since he said that could take quite a bit of time. Remixing a song and/or mixing some things together would have been easier, but after giving it some thought, he said he'd be down to make something new for us.

The song making process was a little odd but designed in such a way so that other people had something to work with. Wesley made a rough version of the song that pretty much contained all the core melody and things we should pay attention to. This was given to the mappers to work on. Later, Wesley would add in a bunch extra details and effects to the song, and after he completed a finalized version, we replaced the old rough song with the new one.

This way, the mappers could get started early and have plenty of time to make their maps. The rough version wasn't exactly the prettiest thing to listen to, but compared to the rough version, it wasn't missing much. We didn't run into many problems transferring the song later once Wes finished.

Meanwhile, I worked on the background. In some ways, the background-making process actually started with Wes. We didn't give him any limitations on what to do, so he did whatever he wanted/liked for the music. The only thing we requested was for the song to be on the shorter side (~2 minutes) so we wouldn't be pressed for time mapping. When he sent in his rough draft, he also gave a name for the song, Silicon Heart.

True to the name, for the background he wanted something like an engine stuck within a heart, but by the time we chatted, I already had ideas about what I wanted to do. He said he's fine with giving me freedom too, so I went with my way. I wanted to draw basically what you see now, a cyborg Miku fitted with robotic parts. This was actually somewhat inspired by a previous drawing I did a long time ago, which was significantly darker and edgier.

I was pretty rusty in drawing since I hadn't been practicing that much anymore. It may have taken a couple days to a week, probably on the shorter side, to finish the lines. By then, it was the nearing the end of the quarter, and I wanted to work on the storyboard, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a great job coloring.

I did a rough coloring within a couple hours, something very light. When I posted all my progress to the osu! UCI group, someone, who wishes to remain as anonymous, did some of his own coloring and showed us his work. The reactions from the rest of the group was pretty good, so I asked him if he wanted to do a full color of my drawing. He said sure.

The end result was what we put into the map. I don't know if I particularly liked it that much. It covered up most of my lines that I spent a lot of time on, and because I'm such a big line person, I am somewhat upset about that. I actually liked his first rendition more because of that. But regardless, it definitely looked more complete than my coloring, and after consulting with Wes, we used his finished drawing.

After I handed the drawing off to Anonymous, I worked on the storyboard. I never programmed a storyboard for osu! before, so it was a pretty fun experience learning what to do. I used the Storyboard Generator Language tool to get me started and going.

SGL was a good introduction to learning all the different parts of storyboard creation, but it has its limitations. It's a simple coding language, so it's very basic and doesn't allow for things like classes. For future projects, I would ditch SGL and just write everything in a language from scratch.

For this project, I did a very simple heart explosion effect, not matching the music or anything. I believe every half second or so a heart would pop out from the center and move outwards. Not terribly complicated, just some math to position things properly. Since it was so simple, I never made a repo for it, so I unfortunately can't show my SGL code.

Where the project fell short on was beatmapping. Justin and Royce were our mappers for the project. Justin didn't finish his. He had about a minute done for the song, but the rest was left untouched. I think this was when he was transitioning out of osu! and no longer playing the game, so he wasn't really motivated to play the game and, naturally, to work on mapping as well.

On the flip side, Royce did finish his map, but it's just... really hard to play. I'm not a great mapper, so I can't give really good feedback, but the map plays pretty weird and has some funky sections that certainly don't flow particularly well. We never had the chance to mod each others maps and give feedback, so he didn't make adjustments to his map. By then, it was the quarter's end, so we were closing the curtains on the project.

It's a little sad to see the project left in a second tier state, but I think looking at our quarter overall, we still did pretty well. At least we finished something, complete with music, art, and mapping. The quality may not be the greatest thing to boast about, but it was a fun project to involve everyone nonetheless. Wes, in particular, was pretty happy working with us and wanted to work with us in the future. After the quarter ended, we would transition to Sweet Regret, our summer mapping project.

Oh yeah, one last thing. I should mention some additional links to the finished product. Wes uploaded a few videos of the song to his channel. Wasoon is the producer pen name he goes by. One version is his finalized song version. This was a final version that was actually a little more polished than the one on osu!, but due to timing, we put in an earlier version.

The other version is a playthrough of Royce's Silicon Heart, courtesy of Aaron. I asked Aaron if he could help make a video for us, and he said sure. He did a bit of skin and video editing to remove particle effects, hit sounds, and missed notes.