InterviewsSpinShare

A Spinterview With HighCaliberTree: Beloved Birch

"Going bongo mode on turntable"

Experimentation in any creative medium is always welcome. Even if the execution doesn’t quite deliver on its concepts, the sheer creativity and innovation on display is enough to awe and draw attention. In the best cases, it can even rigorously shake up the playing field. The same of course, is true for charting in rhythm games. The charters of SpinShare have found a fairly reliable process and set of standards to make good charts, albeit potentially limited by those processes and standards. But we can do more while remaining intuitive and playable, right? After all, I’d think most players would choose to look at HighCaliberTree as an example of going even further beyond.

One aspect is common in the charts of HighCaliberTree: a very peculiar usage of beats and beat holds, but a welcome one, nonetheless. With roots in Laur’s artcore album The Angel’s Message and the Eurobeat fan favourite The Top, HighCaliberTree has branched off and firmly planted himself into a plethora of other genres such as the synthwave EP of Mirai Sekai, the bass house of JOYRYDE. Hell, there’s even a delve into VTuber territory with Ahoy!! 我ら宝鐘海賊団☆.

Ahoy!! 我ら宝鐘海賊団☆Houshou Marine | Charted by HighCaliberTree

With a distinctive and pristine charting style, HighCaliberTree lives up to his name. After all, someone as tall as him could only be a tree, while putting out high-caliber charts at the top of the line. Let’s have a chat with Tree to find out just why this branch keeps setting SpinShare on fire.

What got you into Spin Rhythm XD? How did you find out about it?

I first heard about it from an osu! content creator named tokaku when she made a video about it back in October of 2019. Then I immediately added it to my wishlist and forgot about it until Miraie, another osu! youtuber, made a video about it 2 months later, which made me finally buy the game. I don’t regret it.

What made you decide to chart for Spin Rhythm?

I had previously tried to chart for osu!, but the growing pressure of making a good chart and my total inexperience ultimately demotivated me from really putting effort in to get somewhere. I have a pretty harmful habit of comparing myself to the best of the best and it really didn’t do me any good in this situation.

Fortunately, we all kinda sucked when I started charting so it was much easier for me to learn since I didn’t have the same pressure.

What’s your general process behind a chart? What makes you decide you want to chart a song, and what about that song influences the chart’s overall design?

To be completely honest, I don’t know. I have a pretty “instinctive” charting process and half the time I probably wouldn’t be able to explain why I chart something like I do. Other charters are seemingly much more methodical in their approach, while I just place note.

Apparently it works. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

#1f1e33 – Camellia | Charted by HighCaliberTree

As for song choice, it’s much of the same. I’d be looking at my recommended page on YouTube (I don’t usually search for new stuff, it just presents itself eventually), and then when I vibe hard enough to something I just chart it.
As for influence, uh… yeah there’s a pattern here.


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
Man, I just chart.


Is there any way that you would describe your charting style? What makes it unique, and what makes it similar when compared to other charters? Are there any patterns you’re particularly fond of?

The best way to describe my style is turntable. I’m one of the veteran turntable charters so I’ve obviously had the time to nail down that charting niche. I also don’t have to worry about CTM friendliness so I can (almost) go all out with my ideas.

Masquerade – M2U | Charted by HighCaliberTree

Favorite patterns? I can’t really narrow it down that easily. There are so many fun and dynamic patterns available that ranking them is pretty difficult. But hey, I can give at least one: beat tap alts and the many, more complex variants are always fun to play. Going bongo mode on turntable and hitting that one tricky pattern is very satisfying.

Are there any other charts or charters that you look to for inspiration in your charts?

I used to look up to Darnoc’s charts a lot. I’d never have pushed turntable charting like he did, but his unique use of beats would always linger in the back of my mind; a thought which culminated into my corps-sans-organes chart, a very odd chart, and one of my first attempts at experimenting with beats. Nowadays it’s really me, myself and I. I barely play customs anymore so I don’t usually get inspired.


imfallinfree 03/02/2021
These are some big boy questions man like
You don’t have the most questions but you certainly have the longest out of any of the spinterviews so far


HighCaliberTree 03/02/2021
Wait I agreed to an interview, not a reading comprehension test


imfallinfree 03/02/2021
Unfortunate


One aspect that makes your charts stand out from others is your beats and beat holds. While most charters usually chart their beats to regular, consistent sounds such as drums and their beatholds to prominent sounds alongside the main rhythm, your placement of beats and holds tends to be much more selective.

While you do opt for the typical method for charting beats at times, other times, you deliberately omit beats while placing them elsewhere, resulting in beats that almost function as an “emphasis” for the main melody.

You’d think that all the other customs would condition players to find this method strange, but if anything, it’s the opposite – players often remark on how natural your beat placements feel. So, how do you decide your beat and beat hold placements in a song? Why do you opt for this unconventional style of charting beats, and how do you think it’s impacted your charts?

Origins

During the early days of charting, a lot of people tried to distinguish themselves from the rest. Some charted new patterns, some did full diff, and most had their own signature style. Now, I know some will say otherwise, but I never felt as if I had developed my own signature, the thing that would make someone go: “yeah that’s a tree chart, no doubt about it”. So one day, I just decided to chart The Top, but the beats never felt right, so I left some out to help with readability, but then the chart felt empty.

The Top – Ken Blast | Charted by HighCaliberTree

That was when I decided to try and chart beats to “major sounds”. There’s no real way to describe what that is, since I’m inconsistent with what exactly I choose to emphasise, but it’s usually more intense noises in the song: vocal spikes, punchy instruments, chords, sometimes it’s just to back up spins and make them feel more impactful. If the song demands a little bit of extra kick, an extra beat will do just fine.

Usage

Of course, there’s a time and a place. If you’re already charting beats normally, don’t add them as emphasis at the same time. You’ll just get a mess of a chart. I prefer using beats as emphasis on easier charts that wouldn’t benefit from normal beat usage, but that’s not to say it can’t work in higher difficulties.

Mirai Sekai Pt.3 – Aeon MetropolisVarien & 7 Minutes Dead | Charted by HighCaliberTree
Impact

I really liked the freedom this style gives. It’s really just another tap you can use that add dynamicity when you need it. It’s also a great way to chart while avoiding being too note dense. One of the best examples of this would be the final drop in Viyella’s Memory. The original was charted with normal beats and was way too cluttered and a pain to read, while the rechart was much more clear to read while still being equally challenging.

As far as I can tell, you’ve been charting pretty much since the editor came out. Some of your early charts, alongside those of Prog, Zick, and Darnoc, seemingly set a general framework for ‘good’ charting – with the early charts of both you and Prog, in particular, going on to influence charting standards.

In the time since, the charting scene has evolved rapidly. Charters became more experienced, patterns became identified, and charting conventions have been both formed and broken. Having been a part of the community throughout these developments, how did your approach to charting adapt alongside this evolution?

Beginnings

Well obviously at first I sucked. We all did so no big surprise there. I began charting day one and finished Cloud City, my first chart, in a week. At this point, it’s just a question of getting the basics down. At some point during this time, I switched from having an alt tap on keyboard to only tapping on turntable, so from fake CTM to true CTM. This already helped a lot with some of my charting jank since I had to be CTM friendly.

Adapting

So during that time I thought about how to get good, and the two best charters were Darnoc and Zick, so I studied their charts quite a bit. Zick’s Overkill EP and Darnoc’s artcore charts were the ones I looked to for inspiration the most. However, that didn’t last forever since Darnoc took charting to the extreme and Zick just disappeared for long periods of time. I had also stopped playing and instead focused entirely on charting so my main sources of inspiration got cut off.

So now I was free to develop my own style, just like monks isolate themselves as to grow oneself and meditate on one’s desires.

Standards
corps-sans-organes – cybermiso | Charted by HighCaliberTree

Just kidding. I still followed the charting scene via the discord server and I wasn’t always happy with what I saw. I started to disagree on what standards have become, finding them too much too strict so I tried to push the boundaries while trying to stay tournament legal. Sometimes, that was by making harder and harder CTM charts (Sound Chimera/Lune), sometimes it was changing up conventions (The Top) and sometimes “experimental” charts (Lord and Master). I tried throwing some ideas out there and seeing what sticks.

Fortunately, charting standards got noticeably looser in recent times. While I wouldn’t say I was ever someone who threatened the fundamental ideas of standard charting, I’m now well within those boundaries. I’ve even been surpassed many times by people with much crazier ideas and styles than I ever had.

Most charters have a tendency to chart what they themselves can comfortably play (i.e. they probably won’t chart something in the 40’s if they can only play up to a 28). You’re perhaps one of the most notable exceptions, as while you’ve released a fair amount of charts above 50, your spin plays and posted scores tend to indicate that your own skill level isn’t quite at the level that your charts sometimes demand from players. So, how and why do you go about creating these high difficulty charts above your own capabilities as a player? In that regard, how are you able to tell when something’s too difficult or potentially unfair without playtesters?

Parodia Sonatina Ice | Charted by HighCaliberTree

To be honest, I’m good enough to individually FC most segments of my charts, or at least the more difficult patterns I include, but that doesn’t mean I can magically pull FCs out of 60 diff charts on a sightread. The only time I absolutely needed to slow it down was for ANiMA and Parodia Sonatina, both 70s. So really, playtesting for me just consists of making sure drift isn’t too bad. Oh and that patterns are fun too, I guess. Now, why do I chart high diff? Well, unlike most(?) people, I don’t chart for myself. I have never done so and probably never will. I’m not worried about what I can play, because they’re not for me, they’re for the ones who want a challenge. I like seeing people overcome my charts.

Some of your earliest and most iconic charts came from Laur’s album “The Angel’s Message”, an album full of artcore bangers that combine orchestra with a plethora of electronic genres. How did you first find out about Laur, and what made you decide to chart the songs on this album? You’ve certainly looked back on them already given that you’ve made “TREEMIXes” of a few of them, so what spurred those on? How do you feel about both the originals and the TREEMIXES now in retrospect?

As with many staple rhythm game artists, my first encounter with Laur was through osu. At first, I only really wanted to chart Pristine but the very positive reception made me look through the entire album for the first time and it just made me want to chart more of it. Unfortunately, I dropped half of the album for various reasons ranging from the songs being long and uninteresting to chart to songs just… not being good.

Viyella’s Memory [TREEMIX] – Laur | Charted by HighCaliberTree

The TREEMIX charts were made because I grew very unsatisfied with the earlier charts in the album; Pristine was made in the early days of charting and I was never really happy with Viyella’s Memory, so I redid them both to much more modern standards. Nowadays they’re much more solid charts and still hold up. I left the originals up as a sign of my progression but I don’t recommend playing them, especially OG Pristine.

The synthwave EP Mirai Sekai was one of the first full album showcases on SpinShare. How did this project come to be? Did the prospect of charting it as a full album impact your charting process, or was it business as usual?

Mirai Sekai was another one of those YouTube recommendation charts where I just vibe so hard I end up charting it asap. Nothing really changed for the process however, it just took me 4 days instead of 2. The most notable part was separating the charts into the four parts, which was only done so that I could reach the submission limit for one of the SSSO.

Some of my favourite of your charts have to be your JOYRYDE charts; the blend of dubstep and house makes for charts that are all so much damn fun to play. How did you first find out about JOYRYDE? What about his music do you like, and what about his music made you want to chart it?

ON FIRE – JOYRYDE | Charted by HighCaliberTree

I have to thank Darnoc again for this. His I SLAY chart put JOYRYDE on the map for me, but it wasn’t until months later when I heard FUEL TANK that I really discovered the bass house songs from him, which is mainly what I’ve charted. I charted JOYRYDE because they just clicked: good songs, and I thought it would make for interesting charts. I was correct.

While I usually try to focus on genres and artists over individual songs, I can’t get away with this interview not having a question about The Top. A fan favourite of the Summer 2020 SSSO, what made you want to chart this song? How do you feel about this chart nowadays? And of course, what about it made you think it was the iconic difficulty 28?

The Top was actually my second requested chart. I don’t usually do requests unless I actually want to chart it, but oh lord did I want to this time. I’ve always loved Stebbin’s music (Ken Blast = T. Stebbin) and I was looking for another song to chart from him after I had finished FAITH. The Top was just a perfect pick.

If corps-sans-organes was a testbed for beats as emphasis, The Top was the chart who proved it can work, and people seem to agree.


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
Oh, and The Top 28 because it’s about as hard as rattlesnake.
I can rate diffs accurately I swear


Am I allowed to ask about [REDACTED]?

Ask away.

I’m really excited about [REDACTED], because [REDACTED] despite [DATA EXPUNGED]. How familiar are you with [REDACTED] and what introduced you to it? Obviously, being [REDACTED], the songs are fantastic and are practically [DATA EXPUNGED]. Charting them is a no brainer, but around ██? What made you decide to commit to [REDACTED]? Plus, most of the time [DATA EXPUNGED], they tend to [DATA EXPUNGED] that have practically [REDACTED] such as ██████████████ or ███████, which [DATA EXPUNGED] because it’s that popular. However, in this showcase, you [REDACTED]. What drew you to [REDACTED], instead of [DATA EXPUNGED]?

“The reason I’ve decided to start this project was because [REDACTED].”

HighCaliberTree

I’ve known [REDACTED] for [REDACTED] now, and I was even introduced to it via [DATA EXPUNGED]. While I won’t be charting [DATA EXPUNGED] since my focus is on [REDACTED] from [REDACTED], it will [DATA EXPUNGED]. The reason I’ve decided to start this project was because [REDACTED].

[REDACTED] – [REDACTED] | Charted by HighCaliberTree

I’ll [REDACTED] since, while the [DATA EXPUNGED] are [DATA EXPUNGED], the [REDACTED] are still [REDACTED]. Which places me in a difficult situation because I have to [REDACTED] and I don’t feel like [REDACTED] despite that. So ██ it is. And now with [REDACTED] I have to [REDACTED] and then [MASSIVE DATABASE CORRUPTION].


imfallinfree 03/10/2021
[MASSIVE DATABASE CORRUPTION] lmao


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
dude
ok
I [REDACTED] for [REDACTED]


imfallinfree 03/10/2021
When I [REDACTED] I [REDACTED]


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
0


imfallinfree 03/10/2021
Like 5 minutes before that [REDACTED]


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
I’m [REDACTED] so [REDACTED]


Are there any other artists or songs that you love outside of Spin Rhythm? Any that you want to chart, but just haven’t gotten around to yet – or you just don’t think their music would be a good fit for Spin Rhythm?

There are so many artists I love. It’s not feasible to chart everything I’d want to chart in a single lifetime. My current charting playlist has over 300 songs, and that’s barely scratching the surface of what I could potentially chart and all the future additions to that list.

And then there’s entire genres I’ll barely touch because they don’t make for interesting charts (Chill EDM) or are difficult to chart well (metal). I’d love to chart more but I fear it wouldn’t turn out as well as other genres.

Alright, now let’s finish up. Of your charts, are there any that you’re particularly proud of? Which one was the most fun for you to chart?

Hard for me to pick favorites, I rarely upload charts I’m not proud of. But if I really had to give an answer, I’d say ouroboros; it’s a pretty notorious chart in rhythm games with its complexity and speed, and I felt like I really did it justice.

Lord And Master – Apashe | Charted by HighCaliberTree

The most fun to chart was Lord And Master, another testbed chart but this time mostly for weird movements and spins. It’s “experimental” done right and it was a blast to chart.

Any charts that you consider your favourite, or any that you feel got overlooked?

I have to answer Revolt From The Abyss here, because it’s pretty much the only song without swiss triplets that I’ve played in months.

Anything that you have to say about the SpinShare community?

It’s a very patient community, which is good because I need to make you all wait even more for my showcase sorry not sorry.

Any advice that you’d like to give for charters?


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
This is Spin Rhythm, don’t chart like it’s [insert game here].


Is there anything else you’d like to add?


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
Don’t chart Laur I wanna do Laur 🙁


One last thing: one pattern must be made illegal. Which pattern is now illegal?


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
Anything Rek3dge uses.


imfallinfree 03/10/2021
I lied, just one last thing I want to ask: why are you so tall?


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
Gravity.
I lived down under for 6 years and my spine stretched a lot during that time.
Now it’s a permanent 2.00m or 6’8″ for you burger people


imfallinfree 03/10/2021
bunger


HighCaliberTree 03/10/2021
bunger


imfallinfree

Spin Rhythm XD charter and SSSO Playtester. Interviewer for SpinShare.

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