If your Club Fantastic songs are off sync, you may need to adjust your Machine Offset with AutoSync Machine. Try playing a song with strong and simple rhythms (like BOSSY or Horsepower) and choose easier steps than you might otherwise play.
If you already adjusted your Machine Offset with a Club Fantastic song, but now some of your other song packs are off sync, you may want to read below about the ITG 9ms (millisecond) Offset Bias.
If you added Club Fantastic songs to your existing StepMania installation, and your existing song packs are on sync, but the Club Fantastic songs are off sync, you may want to try downloading the other version of the pack.
Club Fantastic is an ITG-inspired project and we want to make it as easy as possible to get into that part of the competitive scene. For this reason, our all-in-one Club Fantastic + StepMania packages include our content with the added ITG 9ms bias. This way, once you sync your Machine Offset with a Club Fantastic song, most of the popular ITG-style step files will feel right on your setup. That decision may change as we feel out the community response.
Synchronizing your movement to the steps is the whole point of dance gaming. Getting great scores with StepMania requires understanding a few important concepts related to sync. We know this is a complicated topic and a bit frustrating to think about. We're working on it. In the meantime, we hope this page helps!
StepMania and other rhythm games work by keeping track of the beats in the music during gameplay. For instance, if your song is 120 BPM (beats per minute), then StepMania counts two beats for each second while the song plays. However, it can't start counting as soon as the MP3 starts playing, because most songs have something before the music that doesn't line up with the beats – like a sound effect or a little bit of silence.
Because of this, the step file has to specify a song offset: a fractional number of seconds that StepMania waits before it starts counting beats. In other cases, song files are cut from longer versions, and the song may have been sliced off in the middle of a beat. In that case, StepMania needs to start counting beats before it plays the song audio, and the step file specifies a negative song offset.
Usually, step artists take great care to sync their steps to the audio, accounting for both the song offset as well as their own machine offset, so that other people can play the song the way they intended. However, sync can be subjective, and sometimes a step artist might not be aware of a latency factor on their computer. To change a song's offset, you can activate AutoSync Song by pressing F6 on your keyboard while playing it, making sure to step with the music rather than following the visual timing of the arrows. At the end of the song, StepMania will ask if you want to save your changes.
Your monitor, sound setup, computer, operating system, USB hubs, and input devices like keyboards or dance pads all contribute latency to your gameplay experience. Added together, StepMania refers to the total latency as your Machine Offset. This is also sometimes called your Global Offset.
Almost everyone will need to change their machine offset, because everyone's computers are different. You can activate AutoSync Machine by playing a song and pressing F6 twice on your keyboard, making sure to step with the music rather than following the visual timing of the arrows. At the end of the song, StepMania will as if you want to save your changes.
If any of your computer hardware changes, your machine offset might change too.
Long ago, In The Groove shipped its version of StepMania with a -12ms (-0.012s) offset. And on arcade dance games, it takes about 3ms (+0.003) for the sound to travel from the speakers to the player. When players began adding custom songs to these machines, they found they needed to add around 9ms to their Song Offsets for the songs to play on-sync.
Over time, this 9ms bias became a kind of standard among ITG-focused step artists. Even today, many ITG-styled song packs have a 9ms offset, with some step artists offering both 9ms and 0ms (null offset) versions of their packs.
If everyone used the same 9ms bias, it wouldn't be a problem, and everyone could just use AutoSync Machine and consider that 9ms in the total latency of the system. However, outside of the ITG-focused step file (or “simfile”) community, step artists don't use the 9ms bias -- they simply set their machine offset, then set the song offset. Therefore, many DDR-styled song packs use no offset bias ("null offset") which is otherwise considered typical.
If a player has a song library containing both ITG-styled step files (9ms bias) as well as "null offset" files, setting a Machine Offset for one style of step file (for instance, 9ms bias) will cause the other style (null offset) to feel off-sync. With both offset styles in your library, it won't be possible to achieve a Machine Offset that makes your whole library feel on-sync.
Furthermore, unless it was noted when you downloaded it, there is no good way to tell whether a step file or song pack has a specific offset style. A good clue is when you consistently see changes of around plus or minus 0.009 when using AutoSync Machine or AutoSync Song.
In an ideal world, the ITG 9ms bias would have either never happened, or everyone would have adopted it. Instead, now we have an inconvenient mathematical divide that separates a lot of great dance game content.
As a player, your options are:
There is no simple solution for players right now. For step artists, we suggest specifying your offset style on your download page, and if possible, offering both "9ms" and "null offset" versions of your content.
In the future, we hope to have technical solutions for the offset problem, like adding descriptive files to song packs that can tell StepMania to adjust all the songs by a specific offset. But… we're not quite there yet. In the meantime, we hope this page helped!