Quantity and quality. Two words you’ve probably heard associated together many a time before. Which one is more important than the other? There’s no definitive answer, but most charters have found a balance that’s good for themselves; hell, some charters are so skilled that their charts manage to exceed in both. Many tend to prefer quality, however; taking your time to polish and perfect a chart is par for the course. And even if he may not think he does, this focus on quality is something many would say Matt exceeds in.
Matt is a name that almost anyone on SpinShare would recognize, although that may stem more from his community presence than his charts. Then again, his charts aren’t exactly slacking, either; while his library consists of just over a dozen charts that largely stick to songs that take cues from the 80’s and 90’s, such as the wavy synths of Rendezvous, the authentic Amiga sound from A for Amiga and the authentic Genesis / Mega Drive sound from Other and Xeno Crisis, his charts are often held in high regard by others as being consistently top-tier charts.
With a small but nevertheless remarkably solid library of charts, Matt is a charter who may not intentionally reach for the stars, but absolutely lands among them. I had a chat with Matt to get at the facts that make his charts a blast.
What got you into Spin Rhythm XD? How did you find out about it?
It was a game I had my eye on since it launched, but when I was looking at the store page, I honestly didn’t really know how it would play. I wishlisted it when it released and kept my eye on it. I’d always had a passing interest in rhythm games, but I never really got into one as much as I have this game. When the game went 20% off during the 2019 Winter sale, I made sure to pick it up. I would have gladly paid more, but I didn’t know how much value it actually had when I was buying it. The value proposition was quite difficult to justify at the time for that game for whatever reason.
What made you decide to chart for Spin Rhythm?
I primarily wanted to try charting, because I am just not a creative person. Making things from a starting point of nothing has never come naturally to me, so I wanted to test myself and see if I could make anything worth playing. I also wanted to make things for the benefit of the community, because I admire others that are able to do that.
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?
My process is pretty strange. I decide on what I want to chart, put it in the game, maybe chart 20 seconds or so of the song, then dump it. Come back a few days later, do a little more, rinse repeat. I can never chart for long periods of time, because I just get frustrated while staring at the editor trying to think of things to do. So I let it sit, think about things, and come back later. It works, but it’s horribly inefficient of course.
To decide on a song I want to chart, I listen to it a few times, and try to visualize patterns that would work for the song. A lot of repetition in a song is something that will make me throw it out, because repetition is one of my weakest points when charting in my opinion. I don’t know if there is anything about the song that influences the design; I just kind of chart how I think it should play based on the accents in notes, and how I visualized it.
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?
I’m not entirely sure how I would describe my charting style. I think it’s kind of like the way base game plays (or used to play), but I try not to underchart things. That just feels awful. I try to put most of the focus on movement, because that’s the thing that I find to be the most unique about the game. It is, of course, the main mechanic that sets it apart [from other rhythm games]. I try to go for “flow” above all else, which kind of sacrifices difficulty. I just like how it feels to play the game when you’re in the zone, and everything clicks. As soon as a difficulty spike or something you weren’t ready for takes you out of that flow, it feels pretty jarring to me.
I also like interesting patterns of taps and beats, but I’m bad at playing them so it’s an interesting conundrum. Stride swaps are probably my favorite pattern. It just feels really good to me to hit a beat, use the beat for tactile feedback of when to incorporate the movement, and then hit another note after a color swap. I have them quite a bit in the A for Amiga charts. I also like patterns that go spin-tap spin-tap relatively quickly. That gives a nice tactile feeling between each spin. It’s really simplistic, but it can feel good in the right places.
Are there any other charts or charters that you look to for inspiration in your charts?
I think probably the biggest inspirations for me were Stride and Loosiano. Stride for his interesting patterns (primarily Stride swaps, which I use a lot because they’re fun). And Loosiano for his clean charting, and smooth flow.
One thing that sets you apart from most other charters is how you don’t actually have that many charts to your name; there are only 12 on your profile, with a few collabs elsewhere. Is there any reason, in particular, you seem to take your time with charts, or does it mostly just come down to “Oh, I guess I’ll chart this song”?
I primarily take time, because I don’t want to release anything I’ll regret. Ubi Sound was my first “longer” chart, and it has obviously not held up well. And Blast Processing, well we won’t talk about that. I also just don’t really have any other choice but to take my time, because I can’t chart fast. I’ll get the equivalent of writer’s block and I have to give up, then come back later with a refreshed state. I have a pretty ridiculous amount of songs in my “chart maybe” backlog, but it’s unlikely I’ll get to even 1/4 of them at the rate that I go.
What makes this low charting output stand out is that despite a library smaller than most others, many charters and players seem to hold you in high regard. How do you feel about this apparent reputation and status as a high-tier charter despite not actually having that many charts? Where do you think this reception comes from, and do you feel as if it’s warranted?
It’s pretty humbling to see that people hold my opinion in pretty high regard, because I don’t really have that many charts as you said. I also don’t really have that many that I really like. There were a few I charted just because I felt compelled to do them, and it kind of shows. A lot of the time I just really wanted to put the song in the game to see how it would go (Xeno Crisis), or I just really liked the game associated with it (Duck Game). But some of them I charted because I really liked the medium associated with it (A for Amiga, ties to the Demoscene). And I thought it would be really interesting to try charting something that unorthodox, that most people would have not even heard of.
One thing that I find very funny is that you tend to be everyone’s instant go-to for playtesting or chart opinions; your thoughts and feedback, in particular, tend to hold more weight than others. Why do you think this ended up happening? Do you think that this constant playtesting and feedback affected your charting?
I think I have a pretty good understanding of what can make a chart fun to play, at least for me. I can give fairly objective feedback with my playtesting on the [mid 30’s – high 40’s range] because that’s where I enjoy playing the most. Playtesting others’ charts, and giving feedback have definitely affected my charting. I had a pretty good understanding of what was fun to play, what could use some tweaking, and what was just entirely subjective. Being able to provide all that feedback definitely helped me step back and examine how I was doing things in my own charts. I was also around since the beginning of the release of customs, and a bit before then, too. There was a huge transition of quality in charts around May-June 2020 or so; you could really feel when the meta took shape.
Some of your charts draw heavily from the demoscenes of the Commodore 64 and Commodore Amiga, those being Ubi Sound and the A for Amiga charts. How did you find out about the demoscene? What is it about the music the demoscene produces that made you want to chart these songs?
Speaking of Ubi Sound, I’ve been meaning to rechart that. But I never got to it, because I kept plugging away at “DX Heaven”, [which is] my next A for Amiga chart. And I also took that super long break.
When I was younger I didn’t have money or a job to buy games, so I downloaded a lot of torrents and such of games. Depending on the cracking group, some games came with a “Cracktro” which is a separate executable in the game’s folder (or integrated into the game itself on execution) that you can run to see information about the group that cracked the game, and their callouts to other groups to match their skill.
Have any examples of Cracktros you distinctly remember
I want to add one to the interview
not really lol
I remember opening those and being fascinated by the music and graphics that some of these contained. Naturally, I hunted for more, which is how I found out that the demoscene as it is now basically evolved from Cracktros. Cracking groups made these little pieces of software for notoriety and to demonstrate their programming prowess and artistic skill.
Then it became a computer art form all its own. I wasn’t around for that transition period of Cracktro -> Demoscene, but I can still appreciate the roots. My favorite era is probably Amiga and Commodore 64, because those are the platforms with the most reasonable limitation, and where the most creativity happens as a result. Wanting to chart demoscene style music sort of derived from just wanting to introduce others to it. It’s something I enjoyed and wanted to share. I thought they would make interesting charts with some fun rhythms and patterns, but I also just wanted to share something that I appreciate myself with others.
About half of your catalogue is derived from video game OSTs. More specifically, half of your charts come from the games Duck Game, Other, Xenocrisis, and Slime-san; all except the last being heavily inspired by the SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive sound. How did you find out about each of these games, and what stood out to you about their soundtracks? For the first 3 I listed, what do you love about the distinctive sound of the Genesis / Mega Drive?
For Duck Game, I was heavily involved in the competitive community at one point, with just under 500 hours played. [It’s a] party game that seems casual, [but] it has surprising depth to its mechanics that you can learn. Sort of like Super Smash Bros Melee, but not to that extreme. Most of the extra mechanics and tricks you can learn were developer-intended, rather than being bugs with the game engine.
For Other, it was just a new RPG with a mix of real-time and turn-based combat; as most people know, I love that. The combat system of Other was really unique, it’s kind of like an action-platformer mixed with a beat-em-up. Also, its soundtrack really stood out to me, because I love the Genesis sound. It’s just very raw with the FM synth and crunchy tones. The composer hadn’t worked with the Genesis before, so I was really impressed with what he was able to achieve in the soundtrack. I am really looking forward to when that game releases, I backed it on Kickstarter.
Xeno Crisis was a brand-new game made for the Sega Genesis and then ported to modern platforms by being re-implemented in Unity. Savaged Regime is a prolific composer for the YM2612 sound chip (the one the Genesis uses). So they got him to compose the music, and it really puts the Genesis sound chip through its paces. There is some really hard-hitting drum and bass mixed with some nice melodic bits. [It’s] really impressive for the Genesis, especially considering the quality of the drum samples.
Slime-San was a weird one. I had it in my library forever and played it for a bit on a whim. I liked the title theme, and there were some interesting sounding bits, so I just felt like charting it. Unlike the other ones, I very little attachment to the game. [Mighty Mama Earworm] was just kind of charted on a whim. The game is decent, but it’s nowhere near as good as other 2D Precision platformers.
SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive Sound
I also didn’t really explain very well why I like the SEGA Genesis sound, but it’s just sort of nostalgic to me I guess? I never even grew up with one, but I have a strange fondness for it when the sound chip is utilized effectively. Almost like respect for composers that dare to use it effectively, when the SNES was considered to have the more appealing soundscape. It also sounds very “metal”, so that probably has quite a bit to do with it.
Chiptune seems to be a recurring theme in your charts, since the fan favourite among your charts is Ultrasyd’s Chiptune Raster. What about the chiptune sound do you like, and how does it generally translate to Spin Rhythm charts? For Chiptune Raster in particular, what made you want to chart this song?
I’m not sure why I charted so much chiptune. I guess I just was really familiar because I grew up with an NES (as a hand-me-down from my family’s caretakers) and played lots of SNES games on emulators I downloaded from really sketchy sites when I was young. Brothersoft, anyone?
I also have a lot of familiarity with it through the demoscene, because all the demos use chiptune and sync their graphics to that in an interesting way. I think chiptune can create an interesting dynamic for movement patterns with match notes, and the accents on certain notes create nice tap placements. Sometimes it’s really ambiguous what note I think has an accent on it though, so I end up spending tons of time in the editor just trying to nail down tap timings in melodic sections.
Chiptune Raster I just wanted to chart because I randomly stumbled upon it on Bandcamp while browsing other things, and I thought it would be cool. The chiptune machine-gun section, and the melodic chorus sections with the rifling are why I chose to chart it. I hoped I could create some interesting gameplay out of those. I’m most disappointed with the intro ~20 seconds or so, because it’s pretty boring. But I didn’t know how else to do it, so it is what it is, unfortunately. I’m definitely happiest with the melodic rifling section and chorus, those are really fun to play. The machine gun match sections are really fun too, but it’s really frustrating to miss there.
Another fan favourite chart is Scandroid’s synthwave song Rendezvous. Despite being one of your older charts, it’s still held in high regard by many. What drew you to chart this song, and do you plan to chart any more synthwave? How do you feel about it now, after all these months?
What drew me to Scandroid is that I had a phase where I listened to basically nothing but synthwave/retrowave/darksynth, very similar to my heavy metal/thrash metal phase. This is probably from when I was playing Hotline Miami so much [that] it kind of just rubbed off into my music taste. Carpenter Brut and Scandroid are probably my favorite artists. I listened to a bunch of Scandroid tracks to determine which one I wanted to do. Ultimately, I chose Rendezvous because of its interesting drum fills, and its relative rhythmic simplicity. Since it was my 2nd real chart, I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew.
I do want to chart more synthwave, but I want to finish “DX Heaven” above all else, and maybe do another song after that first. I still like the chart, I think it’s still fun even all this time later as a vibe. The drum fills are one of the most fun aspects of it in my opinion, and Prog helped immensely there. I can still barely play them because I’m terrible at beat tap patterns, but they’re fun for me regardless.
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 any that you just don’t would be a good fit for Spin Rhythm?
I actually really wanted to chart some Pegboard Nerds at one point, because I’m nostalgic for some of those songs after getting super wasted with friends at parties. Some of them are on the backburner for now, but I do want to try my hand at charting one at some point in the future.
I also want to chart some Master Boot Record, which is pretty similar to the whole demoscene style of music I’ve been doing. Their music is very grungy 90s-era synth. Their whole “brand” is the DOS era of computing which I find fascinating. All of their song names are some reference to hardware or tech jargon that was relevant at the time. As an example, just the title of the Artist, Master Boot Record. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tackle that soon.
CHKDSK is really fucking good
MBR is really good. Been awhile since I’ve heard it, but I actually heard it in a cracktro a few months ago and got nostalgic for it
so now I want to chart it lmao
Floppy Disk Overdrive is cool too
I think I own
CONFIG.SYS on Bandcamp
CHKDSK is one of two MBR albums I know lmao
DMA being the other
I love how their whole brand and aesthetic is references to old computer lingo and jargon
it’s so unique
I want to chart [ANSI.SYS]. It’s the one I heard in a cracktro a few months ago, and I hadn’t listened to MBR for awhile since then. So I got nostalgic for it because I used to listen to it a ton years ago lol
Is MBR a band or one person
MBR is a single dude I think
Yeah one guy
I just thought could’ve been a band bc the they them pronouns
ah, yeah I remember reading it was just one Italian person awhile ago
There were also some songs I ripped from osu! I wanted to try charting (I obviously would have found good quality audio first). But I scrapped that idea, opting to let others do it instead. Particularly cYsmix I would have done a few of. I might do one or two in the future, but I have other priorities.
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?
I think I’m particularly proud of Chiptune Raster of course. It’s probably the fan-favorite among all of them, and it will be difficult to reach the highs of that one. Chiptune Raster is also probably the most fun to chart, because of the way the song is, I was able to come up with some pretty cool stuff. Feedback from other charters really helped during that period, because I could come up with something and bounce it off a few people in #charter-discussion. Lots of people helped playtest it too, and suggest changes.
Any charts that you consider your favourite, or any that you feel got overlooked?
I think that the two A For Amiga charts (Reach for the Stars, and Final Flight) are a bit overlooked compared to Rendezvous and Chiptune Raster, but I really like them. I’m hoping DX Heaven will be better than both, but we’ll have to see. I have a particular fondness for them probably because of their ties to Amiga and the demoscene, and I have a lot of respect for the composer cTrix.
He makes some really cool stuff, especially within the limitations of the old Tracker software he uses to compose them. Besides music, he has some other really cool projects as well. One time he made a guitar out of an Atari 2600 for a special gathering and called it the “Guitari”; cool stuff like that. He also does music compositions for Demos. I don’t even remember how I found out about them, but I’m glad that I did. I think that’s a recurring theme.
it’s fucking wierd, but it’s cool
it’s fucking wierd, yet again. But it’s cool. Look at that frankestein monster of a macine lmao
The bass is so strong jesus
I feel like my head’s about to explode
Anything that you have to say about the SpinShare community?
I just want to say that I am really happy to be a part of such an awesome community. I have met so many awesome people through it, and everyone is so welcoming. I’ll have lots of memories from being here for sure.
Any advice that you’d like to give for charters?
I’m not sure if I’m in the position to give advice, but I guess I would say not to give up. There were many times where I just wanted to stop charting because I know that creativity is not my strong point, but I try to stick with it and continue to make things if I can. I definitely prefer playing the game, charting is somewhat of a chore because of how much time it takes me, and how little progress I make. But in the right circumstances and with the right songs, it can be enjoyable for me. If anyone else is in that same boat, just keep at it.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One last thing: one pattern must be made illegal. Which pattern is now illegal?
Say It Rifle is now illegal.
charting say it rifle
i lied, just want to ask one last thing