Community created custom maps have long been a staple of Beat Saber, the untouchable king of VR rhythm games.
However, a new tool that utilizes neural networks and artificial intelligence might change the entire custom map scene. Beat Sage, which released last week, is able to generate a custom Beat Saber map out of any song on YouTube. Not only that but, with the right song, it actually works shockingly well.
We know what you’re thinking — tools like Beat Sage that auto-generate maps for rhythm games are average at best, dismal as worst. They never work as well as you hope they do, right? Well usually that is the case — Audioshield’s implementation is lacking by 2020 standards — however, Beat Sage provides amazingly good results when given the right type of music. It works better than any other comparative tools I’ve tried, and in some cases it generates custom maps that I found more consistent and enjoyable than some community-made ones.
The one catch is that only certain types of music work well. As expected, most slow ballads or rock music will produce strange (or just boring) results. However, if you give Beat Sage a pop track with a very strong beat and electronic tone, the results are incredible. Don’t believe us? Just check out some examples in the video below.
As you can see, Beat Sage’s generated maps work remarkably well and are genuinely fun to play. While occasionally there are a few hitches, the maps often play in a similar style, and similar difficulty level, to the official Beat Saber tracks. There’s a specific reason for that too — the tool’s AI actually learnt what to generate based off Beat Saber levels created by humans, like the official tracks. Here’s how the Beat Sage developers explain it on their site:
Beat Sage uses two neural networks to map an audio file into a plausible Beat Saber level. These neural networks were trained on Beat Saber levels created by humans. The first neural network listens to the audio and predicts at what points in time blocks should be placed. The second neural network looks at the predicted timings and maps each to a timestamp to a block type (e.g. red up, blue down, red up + blue down).
These neural networks are the reason Beat Sage maps work so well, while also managing to capture the essence and subtleties of Beat Games’ mappings.
It’s all the work of Chris Donahue and Abhay Agarwal, who are actively developing Beat Sage alongside their day jobs. While chatting with them earlier today, they wanted to stress that the tool is still actively in development, and improvements will continue to be made. While Beat Sage is incredibly impressive already, hopefully it will only get better from here.
In particular, upcoming changes to the AI will address problematic mappings that limit visibility or hinder your flow, which can be a problem with the current tracks. Beat Sage only supports standard notes, bombs and Normal through to Expert+ difficulties at the moment, but they’re planning to add more features (like walls and 90/360 degree modes) as they build support through their Patreon.
While the tool isn’t perfect and doesn’t work with all styles of music, it is still the absolute best AI track generator I’ve seen for any rhythm game. It produces levels which are not only a ball to play, but also challenging and similar in style to the official Beat Saber maps. You can try out Beat Sage for yourself now, with even more improvements to the AI to come in the future.