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Sep 25, 2011

My Cobalt Flux with Bar

I thought I'd let everyone see a video of my setup. I've had this since April of 2011 and it's been amazing for me.

May 23, 2011

What do I need to start playing DDR?

The first thing you need to do is identify which gaming system you want to play on. If you already have a gaming system, such as a PS2, PS3, XBOX, XBOX 360, Wii, etc., then you have the most expensive part taken care of. Now all you need is a Dance Dance Revolution game and a dance pad. Normally, these come bundled together. Bundles can cost as much as $70 but sometimes you can find bundles that are just as good for $20.

However, if you want the best and cheapest DDR option possible, try out Stepmania! This DDR look-a-like plays just like the real game. The only difference is that you play using your computer. All you need to buy is a dance pad. There are no other cost. You can play on your monitor or you can connect your computer to a TV. Stepmania is super easy to set up.
  1. First, download Stepmania from this website. Then run the installation.
  2. Next, find songs to play! Songs are referred to as simfiles. Here at DDR Download Site, we link to the best simfiles possible. Download the simfiles you want and place the entire folder here: "C:\Program Files\StepMania\Songs\Create a folder with the name of a category\".
  3. Start Playing!
Playing on Stepmania using the keyboard is completely free and worth trying out. If you want to buy a dance pad, make sure it has a USB port. Plug it into the computer before starting up Stepmania. Then configure the joypad so the arrows, start and select buttons will work. You can find dance pads with good reviews at places like amazon. Once you set up your dance pad, you'll be completely ready to start playing!

May 2, 2011

Tips For Choosing Dance Pads

With all the dance pads available, it can be hard to decide which one is best to buy. After all, there's all kinds of soft pads, foam pads and metal pads to choose from but which one is the best? This article will cover the pros and cons of the different types of dance pads and recommend which brands to get.

-Soft Pads-
I would recommend a soft pad for any beginner or slightly experienced player. A soft pad can cost anywhere from $20 to $30. I have found all of Konami's pads to be very good. You can get one of these pads cheap just by buying a game in a bundle. They work very well on difficulties 1 through 9. I've even been able to pass some boss songs on Konami's pads. If you go for a cheaper brand, the pad will sound very crackly and give C's and D's when you should be getting AA's. This can ruin how well you like the game. Another downfall for the soft pad is that it slides around a lot. This can make it hard to know if you're pressing the arrows correctly or not. Crossovers can also be difficult to pull off on a soft pad.

Soft pads all have the same basic design. There are two layers of conductive material separated by a foam layer with little circles cut out from it. When your foot presses down, the foam smashes and a connection is made between the two conductive layers. This simple design makes the soft pad a cost effective option. The downside is that, over time, the foam becomes flattened permanently and the pad will quit working altogether. I would expect a soft pad to last anywhere from three months to a couple of years depending on the brand.

-Foam Pads-
Foam pads are great for intermediate or very experienced players. They offer serious improvement over soft pads. The sensor design is the same as a soft pad except there is a thick, high density foam insert that zips into the pad. This foam insert helps a lot. The foam makes the pad stiffer so the notes will register more accurately. The stiffness is also beneficial because the pad won't bend around under your feet when you're moving around. This will help improve your game significantly. The foam also weighs down the pad so it won't slide as much but the pad will still slide a little. The sensitivity on the foam pads I've tried have been amazing. I've even been able to score a AAA on one of these pads. Out of all the foam pads out there, I would recommend getting an Energy pad ($50~$70) or a Tough pad ($140~$160). Foam pads have lasted about two years for me under heavy use. After that, they suffer from the same problem with their sensors as soft pads. Other than that, they have really come to earn my respect. Just watch out that you don't buy a cheap brand or it will not work properly.

-Metal Pads-
I would only recommend getting a metal pad if you are truly a dedicated DDR player. Most metal pads only offer slight improvements in scoring over foam pads. Metal pads are less likely to slide around and will last much longer than regular pads. One of my favorite things is you can wear shoes on them. Some metal pads will also offer a bar for you to hold to while playing. This will take off a ton of stress from your legs and allow you to move much faster. The metal pad I would recommend right now is the Cobalt Flux ($300). This pad hardly ever breaks down. I love the Cobalt Flux because it almost always works perfectly. Its sensors work differently than the regular arcade style sensors. The Cobalt Flux uses metal sheets that flex to make a connection which makes this pad very unique. Depending on the pad you get, there are mods you can do to make your pad more responsive. The most responsive pad I've been able to find so far, is the official In The Groove 2 arcade pad. Quality arcade pads cost much more than home pads but are unmatched in performance. The biggest downfall with metal pads is that you will have to clean them frequently. Again, do not get a cheap pad. It will likely have sensor issues within the first year and be a huge waste of money.

Apr 15, 2011

How to Make a Simfile

This tutorial will cover the basic steps to creating a simfile. A simfile is a song with dance steps that can be played in Stepmania.

Setting Up Your Simfile
  1. Choose the song you want. It helps a lot if the song is easier to follow the beat to. Make sure the song is either in MP3 or OGG format. If it is another format, find a free music converter to change it.
  2. Go to "Program Files" and under the Stepmania folder, select Stepmania Tools. This will bring up a window with a few buttons on it.
  3. At the bottom of the window, click "Create Song." Locate where you saved the song you wanted to create and select it. After it has been selected, a simfile will have been made at the following location: "C:\Program Files\StepMania\Songs\My Creations" Under "My Creations, there will be a folder with the name of your song with some files in it. Everything in this folder is what you need for a simfile to work. You are now ready to start adding dance steps to your simfile!
Editing Your Simfile
  1. Open Stepmania.
  2. Go to "Edit/Sync Songs."
  3. Find the folder "My Creations" by scrolling left or right under the "Group" category.
  4. Now find your song by scrolling left or right under "Songs" below.
  5. Next, scroll left and right under "Steps" to select the difficulty you want. Press enter. This will create the difficulty. Then press enter again over "Edit Existing."
  6. Now you should be at the screen for editing steps. Pressing left or right changes what kind of notes you will be inserting. (Ex. 1/4 notes, 1/8 notes, etc.) Pressing up and down changes what beat measure you will be on. Numbers 1 to 4 add or take away arrows. Holding shift and pressing the numbers between 1 to 4 will add bombs.
  7. To change the difficulty meter, press Esc and select "Edit Step Statistics." Change the meter to the number you want.
  8. Press Esc and navigate to "Save" to save your song.
  9. Pressing F1 will give you keyboard shortcuts.
Adding a Banner or Background
  1. For a banner, make an image that is 256x80 or 418x164Name it "Song Name-banner.png".
  2. For a background, make an image that is 640x480. Name it "Song Name-bg.png".
  3. Place these pictures in the song's folder that you want them to go with.
  4. Go play your simfile!
Gimp and Inkscape are great free tools for making banners and backgrounds.

Jan 23, 2011

Expert/Challenge Tips

On expert and challenge you will need to run much more regularly from arrow to arrow. Start off on slower songs that are around 150 BPM. It's alright if you can only get a D. Just keep playing a few weeks and then take a break for a few weeks. Suddenly, you will come back and that D may turn into a C or a low B. Keep training your brain and continue relearning the step patterns. Soon, you'll be able to step it up to 170 BPM and then 190. Every time you make a breakthrough it feels like you've reached your peak. When you feel like this all you have to do is take another break and then come back. Believe me, you will keep getting better. Physical limitations are the only limits and learning new techniques will help you get beyond these.

Have you ever seen a stream of arrows that has two of each arrow coming at you but are not spaced evenly together? Likely, these are gallops. The way you handle gallops is by treating them like jumps. The only difference is you let one foot land before the other. Once both feet have landed, use the energy you put on the second foot to spring yourself back up so you can do your next gallop. Once you get this down these notes become very easy. Eventually, you will find gallops integrated into a stream of evenly spaced notes and they will be easy to do.

There are some arrow combinations that seem like they're impossible to do by alternating your feet each note. A common example of this is shown here.    Your first instinct is to use the same foot twice in a row on two arrows. This may work at first but it will slow you down on harder songs. The correct technique is to put your left foot on the left arrow. Then put your right foot on the up arrow. Finally, take your left foot and bring it behind you to the right arrow. It kind of leaves you turned around but it is the quickest way to do this combination. With enough practice, doing crossovers becomes very fun to do. DanDanDo on expert is a great official song for learning crossovers. Most other songs just have crossovers thrown in every now and then.

The final technique to learn is heel-toe. This is important to learn in order to have enough energy for the hardest songs in the game. The whole point of this technique is to save energy and shave off time in between notes. To do this, have both feet covering all the arrows. Two of the arrows will be covered by your toes and two will be covered by your heels. You will be facing diagonally either to the left or right. One foot will always cover the top arrow along with the left or right. The other foot will cover the bottom arrow along with the remaining left or right arrow. Try to stay in the position you are in as long as you can. Only pivot your body when you need to. Remember, the whole point of this is to minimize movement. Another benefit from applying the heel-toe technique is that your stance becomes closer to the center. When you're closer to the center your body stands up straighter. When you stand up straighter you can move faster. Test it out. When you stand with your feet completely on the left and right arrows you feel more spread out. The straighter you are the better. Keep practicing all these techniques and eventually you'll be able to pass any song!

-16th Arrows-
As you get better you will encounter 16th arrows. These are easy to do but can wear you out if you're not in good enough shape. I can jog for miles but a hard DDR song that has a lot of 16th arrows will tire me out almost as much. My tip for this is to simply to get in shape by playing DDR a lot. Once you are able to pull off a stream of these you will really look like you're insane! Not only that but a song that skillfully adds 16th arrows and gallops allows the arrows to flow with the song better which adds personality to it. Once you learn how to do 16th arrows and gallops very smoothly, then you are ready for a boss song! But how do you get from being able to do level 9's to boss songs? This leads to my next tip. Play In The Groove.

-Progressing to Level 10 Songs-
The problem with DDR is that there are hardly any songs to transition you from the average level 9 song to a boss song. Boss songs are way too hard compared to regular songs and there is nothing to get you ready for them. In The Groove is the perfect solution. There are no boss songs in ITG. Almost all the songs in ITG have a difficulty that is almost as hard, if not, as hard as a boss song. The way ITG did the step combinations makes this my favorite version to play on. The creators skillfully added every technique to make it the most fun playing experience. If you want to buy ITG, you can find it used very cheap off of amazon or similar web sites.
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