StepMania is an open source and cross-platform rhythm video game and engine. It was originally developed as a simulator of Konami's popular arcade game series Dance Dance Revolution, and has since evolved into an extensible rhythm game engine capable of supporting a wide variety of rhythm-based game types. Released under the MIT License, StepMania is free software.
Video game series In the Groove and Pump It Up Pro/Jump use StepMania as their game engine. StepMania was included in a video game exhibition at New York's Museum of the Moving Image in 2005. StepMania 4.0, based on a 2006 CVS build of StepMania, is currently in the beta stage of development.  Shortly after the announcement of StepMania 4 beta, StepMania's CVS/SVN fork has been unofficially been branded by the StepMania community as version 5.0
The primary game type features the following game play: as arrows scroll upwards on the screen, they will meet with a normally stationary set of target arrows. When they meet the targets, the player should press the corresponding arrows on his or her keyboard or dance mat. The moving arrows will meet the targets based on the beat of the song. Stepmania strongly utilizes a player's sense of rhythm in its game play. The game is scored based upon how accurately the player can trigger the arrows in time to the beat of the song. The player's efforts are awarded by letter grades and a number score that tell him/her how well they have done. An award of AAAA (quadruple A) is the highest possible award available on a standard installation and indicates that a player has triggered all arrows with "marvelous" timing (within 0.0225 seconds under official settings) and avoided all mines and completed all hold arrows. However, a patch is available that provides "ridiculous" timing (within a window of 0.01125 seconds, or half the timing of marvelous) and a top grade of AAAAA (quintuple A). An E indicates failure for a player to survive the length of the song without completely draining his/her life bar. Default scoring and grading for Stepmania is almost identical to scoring in Dance Dance Revolution; however, timing and scoring settings can easily be changed.
StepMania allows for several input options. Specialized adapters that connect console peripherals like PS2 and Xbox controllers or dance pads to one's computer can be used. Alternatively, and most popularly, the keyboard can be used to tap out the rhythms using arrow or other keys. Many song charts designed for keyboard are unable to be passed using a pad. In addition, the game possesses the capability to emulate other music games, such as Beatmania itself, o2Jam and DJMAX's 7-key arrangement, Pump It Up and Techno Motion - but scoring however, remains identical to DDR-style play, although some have found a way to change the scoring method to a Pump it Up style.
- Custom Songs ("Stepfiles") also known as "Simfiles": StepMania allows users to create their own custom dance patterns to any song in .ogg or .mp3 format. The program includes a comprehensive Step editor to aid the creation of these stepfiles. Despite copyright concerns, many Simfile websites exist where users share and distributed Simfiles for copyrighted songs. Additionally, official DDR and In The Groove songs with their original steps are commonly available for StepMania.
- Background animations: Support for many types of animations behind the arrows onscreen, including sprite-based animation sequences, a single full-motion video or multiple FMV visualization overlays.
- Modifiers: Visual mods that affect the scroll of arrows and either increase or decrease difficulty. StepMania includes multiple modifiers featured in Dance Dance Revolution as well as dozens of additional modifiers created exclusively for StepMania.
- Multiple arrow types:
- Mines: An object that scrolls onto the screen along with the arrows. If a player triggers the mines, they will be penalised by having their dance gauge reduced. This step type was developed for the StepMania-based arcade game In The Groove, and was ported into StepMania itself during development of that title. A derivative of these mines, known as "Attack Mines" or "Mod Bombs", force a modifier change on the player when triggered instead of diminishing the dance gauge.
- Holds: A long arrow that requires you to keep your feet on the corresponding panel for its duration to pass.
- Rolls: A special hold arrow which requires a rapid tap on to keep alive. This step type was developed for the sequel to In The Groove - In the Groove 2, and was ported into the StepMania 4.0 development builds.
- Lift: a special type of arrow (colored Gray by default) which requires the key (or panel) to be held down before the note passes and released when the note passes the target arrows. This is different from freeze arrows in that the timing of the press is not important, only when the note is released.
- Multiple game types, including partial simulation of other dance games like Pump It Up, ParaParaParadise and EZ2Dancer.
- Real-time lyrics, which display on the opposite side of the screen for stepfiles that have accompanying lyric data.
- Custom themes: users can create their own skins for Stepmania. StepMania themes can vary from simple replacement of images to drastic changes such as the forcing of modifiers under certain conditions (such as the day of the week).
- Dancing characters: 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional character models that dance in the background according to a pre-defined routine.
- Infinite BPMs: an official implementation in StepMania 4 of a bug in the 3.9 series that could be exploited to create "warps" in stepcharts using negative speeds.
- Network play: support for lobby-based online play, dubbed StepMania Online. Typically, users connect through the StepMania Online centralized server. Network Play is only available with StepMania 5.0 builds or alphas. All players must have a copy of the song chosen by the host in order to play.
StepMania runs on most common operating systems (Microsoft Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista/7, Linux, Mac OS X), and has also been used as the base engine in a variety of free software and proprietary products. It has also been ported to several platforms including the Xbox, iPod (running Linux) and cell phones.
Use in products
Several StepMania-based games have been released due to its open nature:
- In The Groove (ITG) is an arcade dance game series developed by the core StepMania developers, and is based on 3.9 and a CVS build of StepMania often known as version 3.95. To prevent unauthorized copying, StepMania was re-licensed under a more permissive license (changed from GPL to the MIT License with the agreement of all coders, in exchange for their names appearing on the ITG credits screen), not requiring source code to be published on derivative works, and thus allowing ITG's copy control to remain proprietary and closed source.
- Pump it Up Pro is a spinoff of the Pump it Up series headed by former ITG developers and musicians. The game utilizes a build of StepMania 4 for its engine, which also led to improved Pump support in StepMania itself.
- Mungyodance was a series of downloadable games using the StepMania engine. The three versions in total feature nearly 900 songs. As of its 2nd version, Mungyodance features gameplay judgement more akin to Guitar Hero, only judging by if an arrow was hit or missed, and not the actual accuracy. Mungyodance 2 and 3 also feature "modbombs" (also known as Attack Mines), which apply modifiers to the player if hit. The game also features "Extra Mode", songs with scripted modifiers. Mungyodance 3 was released on August 25, 2008, and is the final game in the series.
StepMania developers conducted StepMix contest for step builders to create stepcharts/stepfiles that can be played using StepMania. StepMix 1, 2, 3, and 4 were run successfully. Participants need to have a song to be used in the stepchart/stepfile. The song must be under a compatible license for distribution or be authorized for use in StepMix 4, or the entry is automatically disqualified. Additionally, if the graphics used in the entry are found to have been copied from another artist and used without their authorization (as happened once in StepMix 2), the entry may be disqualified.
The scoring is determined by the overall quality of the song, steps and graphics.
- ↑ "Rock Bands, Guitar Heroes, Recriminations and Comedy Litigation". Sprong. 2007-04-04. http://news.spong.com/article/12240/Rock_Bands_Guitar_Heroes_Recriminations_and_Comedy_Litigation?cb=767. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
- ↑ Museum of the Moving Image article
- ↑ Danford, Chris. StepMania project reboot: opinions wanted. StepMania.com. Retrieved on 15 August 2010
- ↑ Danford, Chris. Release: StepMania 4.0b1. StepMania. Retrieved on 15 August 2010
- ↑ Stepmania Online Official Website
- ↑ StepMania Xbox FAQ
- ↑ StepMix 4 Contest Entry requirements
- ↑ My art is in a song...but I dont know who took it! - StepMania Forums
- ↑ StepMania Forums - View Single Post - 20070310|Dokodemo Kawaii
- ↑ StepMix 4 Contest Judging