In the Groove (series)


In the Groove (series)

"In the Groove" (commonly abbreviated "ITG") was a series of music video games that used a four-panel dance pad. The series was first distributed by Roxor Games during a time when four-panel dance games in the arcade market were on the decline. As of October 18, 2006, Konami (makers of "Dance Dance Revolution") has acquired the intellectual property rights to the series.

The name "In the Groove" refers to three different things: the arcade version of the game "In the Groove", the PlayStation 2 and PC version of the game, and the brand name of the franchise itself. In the Groove 2 is the second game in this franchise. An "In the Groove 3" was planned but cancelled, due to a lawsuit with Konami.

This article discusses the franchise, with specific respect to the arcade games. In this article, the term "In the Groove 1" refers to the arcade game named "In the Groove". The term "In the Groove (PS2)" refers to the PlayStation 2 game named "In the Groove."

History

"In The Groove" is based on a modified version of the free and open source "StepMania" engine, which was originally designed to simulate the "Dance Dance Revolution" series. While the core engine of StepMania was basically a clone of DDR, the engine has evolved over time to include support for a multitude of different rhythm-based game types. "ITG" is produced in the United States, and the majority of the "In The Groove" fanbase consists of players who desire songs and step patterns of a higher difficulty than those found in "Dance Dance Revolution". A total of 72 songs are available in the original release of the game, ten of which are unlockable and one of which (Liquid Moon) is only available at the end of a single Marathon course.

RedOctane published a PlayStation 2 version of "In The Groove". This version has all the features and songs from the arcade release, in addition to four "preview songs" from the arcade version of In The Groove 2. The game reached store shelves on June 17, 2005, and introduced several new gameplay features, including the Novice difficulty, new Marathon courses, and new Fitness and Training modes.

At the Amusement Showcase International 2005 in Chicago, IL, Roxor Games announced that "In The Groove 2" would be released with its own dedicated cabinet as well as an upgrade kit for old In The Groove conversion kits. The new cabinet was initially produced by Andamiro, the creators of "Pump It Up", another dance-simulation game. However, in 2006, Roxor announced that they themselves would take over cabinet production for "In The Groove 2" dedicated cabinets.Fact|date=June 2007 "In The Groove 2" was also made available as a conversion kit for older "Dance Dance Revolution" machines. In The Groove 2 features 65 new songs, as well as every song and course from the original release of In The Groove. Although a PlayStation 2 version of ITG2 was never released, the PC version (based on the first game) received a patch adding all the songs from ITG2 plus the new theme.

On May 9, 2005, however, Konami filed a complaint against Roxor seeking, among other things, a preliminary injunction preventing them from selling arcade cabinet conversion kits. See Roxor Games (or "Lawsuit", below) for details.

On January 14, 2006, at the "In The Groove North American Tournament Finals" in Las Vegas, NV, Roxor Games announced that the arcade release of "In The Groove 3" and the home release of "In The Groove 2" would take place sometime during 2006. ITG3 was to be previewed at the Amusement & Music Operators Association Expo 2006 convention in Las Vegas, NV, though was absent from Roxor Games' presentation area, presumably due to delays in the game's production. The release of "In The Groove 3" appears unlikely, as Konami gained the intellectual property rights to the series. Some songs that were to debut on ITG3 found their way into Pump It Up Pro and Pump it up NX2. Due to the open nature of the Stepmania platform used by ITG, the discovery of the ability to add custom songs to an ITG machine, and a patch for In the Groove 2 called "r21" (which adds support for custom songs, released shortly before the lawsuit) many fans of the series have used "leaked" song and incomplete step files from ITG3 to try and "rebuild" it as a fan-created product.

Common Gameplay Elements

The gameplay mechanics of In the Groove are very similar to Konami's "Dance Dance Revolution" series, involving stepping in time to the general rhythm or beat of a song using a four-arrowed Dance Pad. During normal gameplay, color arrows scroll upwards from the bottom of the screen and pass over a set of gray, stationary arrows near the top (referred to as "targets"). When the scrolling arrows overlap the stationary ones, the player must step on the corresponding arrow(s) on the dance platform.

Longer arrows referred to as "Holds" must be held down for their entire length for them to count. "Rolls" (as introduced in "In the Groove 2"), which appear to be spiky, green and yellow holds, must be rapidly tapped (like a drumroll, hence the name) for them to count. Mines deduct score and health if a player's foot is on an arrow when they pass by the corresponding target arrow on-screen.

coring System

Passing & Failing

On the player's far side of the screen is a life bar. This is affected by the accuracy judgements the player receives for hitting (or missing) arrows (see "Judgements" below for specifics). If there is anything left on the life bar at the end of the song, the player passes the song and can proceed to play another (up to the maximum number of songs allowed for one credit).

If the player's life bar empties at any time, the song (and possibly the round; see "Safety Nets" below) is failed.

Auto-Fail Feature

Most machines have the Auto-Fail feature turned off - that is, any player whose life bar empties during a song can still finish playing that song, but will be failed at its conclusion. All machines will immediately fail any player who stops hitting arrows long enough to accrue 30 misses in a row.

Judgements

Basics

Similar to other dancing games, the player is judged for how accurately they step relative to when they were "supposed" to step. From best to worst, possible judgements are "Fantastic," "Excellent," "Great," "Decent," "Way Off," and "Miss".

For holds and rolls, if the player finishes the hold or roll successfully, they receive a "Yeah" judgement. If not, the player receives a "Bad".

How Judgements Apply to the Life Bar

Steps judged "Fantastic," "Excellent," or "Great" add to the lifebar until it reaches its maximum.

Steps judged "Decent" do not have any effect on the life bar.

Steps judged "Way Off" or "Miss" will take away from the life bar.

Timing Dashes

During gameplay on all difficulties except Novice mode on ITG2, all judgements except "Fantastic" and "Miss" are prefixed or suffixed with a dash; a prefix indicates the player stepped earlier than they were supposed to, a suffix indicates the player stepped later.

Combo

In the middle of the screen, the game keeps track of a player's current "combo," which is the length of the player's most recent chain of good timing judgements.

Steps judged "Fantastic," "Excellent," or "Great" add to a combo; steps judged "Decent" or worse will break a combo. Contrary to what one might think, hitting a mine does not break a combo.

A player's combo carries over from one song to the next, typically ending at the conclusion of a credit. However, if the player utilizes a USB card to keep track of their scores, their combo will also carry over from one credit to the next.

afety Nets

When a player plays on the "Novice" difficulty on an "In The Groove 2" machine, the machine allows them to play all the songs in their credit regardless of whether they pass any of them or not.

When players play on the "Easy" difficulty setting (but not with anyone on "Novice"), the machine allows them to play their second song even if they fail their first; however, if they fail their second song, the game is over.

If all players are playing on the "Medium", "Hard" or "Expert" difficulties, there are no safety nets - fail any song and the game is over.

It is also worth noting that if two players are playing, if "either" of them passes a song, "both" get to play the next song.

coring

For each judgement, the player receives or loses points depending on their accuracy:
* Fantastic: 5
* Excellent: 4
* Great: 2
* Decent: 0
* Way Off: -6
* Miss: -12

And for holds and rolls:
* Yeah: 5
* Bad: 0

Mines, when hit, deduct 6 points, but when avoided have no effect on score.

These points are divided by the total number of points possible for the song or course to make a percentage. The percentage is shown during play and at the results screen.

Grade

At the end of the song, the results screen displays a grade for each player based on the percentage of points that they got. These are the minimum scores required for each grade:

* Quadruple Star: 100%
* Triple Star: 99%
* Double Star: 98%
* Star: 96%

* S+: 94%
* S: 92%
* S-: 89%

* A+: 86%
* A: 83%
* A-: 80%

* B+: 76%
* B: 72%
* B-: 68%

* C+: 64%
* C: 60%
* C-: 55%

* D: Less than 55%, but didn't fail

* F: Failed (life bar emptied)

Records

As of April 13th, 2008, according to [http://www.groovestats.com Groovestats] , a popular website for tracking ITG scores, 98 out of 113 Expert difficulty songs currently available on In the Groove arcade machines have been "quad-starred", meaning that someone has reported a perfect score of 100% on that particular song.

"In The Groove" rates song difficulty on a scale of 1 to 13, and according to this scale, the number of songs on each numerical level that have been "quad-starred" is as follows:

* 9's: All of them
* 10's: 34 out of 35
* 11's: 9 out of 12
* 12's: 2
* 13's: 0 out of 3 (For reference, the three songs that are rated a 13 are "Pandemonium," "Summer ~Speedy Mix~," and "VerTex2.")

Of note is the fact that only one Expert-difficulty song (VerTex2) has a world record score under 99%, and only four Expert songs have a world record score that contains 10 or more "Excellent" judgements. In addition, it is the only song in the game, in which a full combo has not been achieved by any player.

Technical Details

In The Groove is built on a complete PC system dubbed the "Boxor" which runs a heavily modified version of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. The computer contains a standard IDE hard disk, Celeron processor, 128mb nVidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card, 256MB of RAM, a Gigabyte Technology GA-8IPE1000 Pro2 motherboard, and a USB 2.0 hub (Cypress EZ-USB FX2) for transferring user statistics and edits onto a flash drive. On upgrade kits for Dance Dance Revolution machines, The Boxor includes a special I/O board called "ITGIO" for making a JAMMA connection to the machine. Some Boxors have slightly different hardware than others. The software used to run the game is based on the open source "StepMania" computer program. Anti-piracy measures are achieved through the use of a "serial dongle," which attempts to make sure that, even if the program were copied, it will only execute on a licensed machine. In addition, the official songs on the machine are archived and encrypted, to prevent unauthorized distribution of the "simfiles" that make up the official songs on the machine. The boxor came as a modification kit, designed to replace the internal hardware of a traditional Dance Dance Revolution arcade cabinet - custom adapters map the input from the pads and buttons to a joystick-like interface, and connectors to interface the PC with the monitor, audio, switches, and lights to provide compatibility with original DDR cabinets.

As a result of the system's advanced hardware, ITG is theoretically able to store more song and movie data than previous CD-based dance game systems, and has the ability to add new effects by using already-available 3D libraries, such as OpenGL. Additionally, with the introduction of new custom cabinets manufactured by Andamiro and Roxor, In the Groove 2 is able to run at a higher screen resolution than previous versions of arcade dance games.

Because ITG and ITG2 are based on standard PC computer hardware and open-source software, enterprising users have found ways to "hack" the game and change settings and themes, add songs and modify the game in similar ways that Stepmania can be customized. [http://media.rhythmatic.net/index.php?dir=In%20The%20Groove/Events/Exploits/ In the Groove Exploits] ] The exploit involves using a USB keyboard to change the boot sequence on the machine's BIOS in order to boot a Linux distribution from a USB key. Once a proprietary version of linux is booted, full access to the hard drive and file system can be achieved. While this exploit works best on ITG2, ITG is also vulnerable, with the one hurdle that the monitor on upgraded DDR cabinets do not have the ability to display the correct refresh rate when in the system BIOS and in the Linux console. Users hacking an original In The Groove cabinet must perform the operations "blind", or disconnect the cabinet's monitor from the boxor and replace it with their own monitor.

Certain versions of the In The Groove 2 cabinet - in particular the ones manufactured by Andimiro, have BIOS passwords. In this situation users have to bypass the password by resetting the BIOS on the machine in the usual way - by removing the power cord and CMOS battery, then activating CMOS_PWD reset jumper on the motherboard of the computer.

ongs

Most of the songs in the ITG series were composed by aliases of Kyle Ward (commonly compared to DDR's Naoki, who works under similar circumstances). Ironically, 3 songs found in the DDR series are now also present in "In the Groove 2": "Bumble Bee" and "Typical Tropical" by Bambee, and "Sunshine" by Triple J (originally known as "Follow the Sun").

ong Synchronization

The ITG as a whole is generally considered to have good synchronization between the step charts and the background music; most charts in ITG have steps which are fairly close to being on beat with the song. However, this wasn't always the case.

DDR, according to many players, have an early bias in its steps. Often players would have to step a few hundredths of a second ahead of the beat to obtain a perfect score. Adversely, In the Groove 1's stepcharts were generally synced slightly late of the beat. Players generally had to step a few hundredths of a second after the beat in order to obtain a perfect score. Since players were already used to stepping early, this gave original versions of In The Groove the feeling of being offsync.

The initial release of In the Groove 2 presented better synchronization between stepcharts and their songs than its predecessor. Since Roxor now had precise control over the hardware that was being used in the machines, it was possible to sync the songs to be more precisely on-beat. Despite the overall improvement in song synchronization, early revisions of In The Groove 2 still had several charts were noticably offbeat (examples include the charts for the songs Agent Blatant, Amore, Lipstick Kiss, and Turn It On). As a result of these findings, and other bugs that were discovered, patches (known as revisions) were gradually implemented that provided bug fixes and sync improvements as they were discovered in the initial release. As revisions were released, they were dubbed names based on their version, starting with "R2", and ending with "R23".

R16 made a significant change to the way that In The Groove 2 polled the dance pad for input. In particular, it increased the rate of polling to provide a more accurate representation of when the user stepped on the arrows. Although there were few actual song synchronization changes, this modification made the grading much more accurate, and many player's scores improved as a result. While this polling modification was made in R16, it was not until R21 that it was popularized. R21, like the other revisions, was a rollup of all modifications from R2 onwards, but it included both the polling frequency change, and the much sought after option of allowing users to play custom songs loaded on their USB keys at the arcade.

Lawsuit

On May 9, 2005, Konami of Japan filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, asking for an injunction against Roxor and payment of damages, based on "Konami's patent and trademark rights in its "Dance Dance Revolution" arcade game" and unfair competition law. Konami claims that the refitting of arcade cabinets "has been done in an infringing and unfair way". This did not affect the PlayStation 2 game, which was released as planned. On July 10, 2005, however, Konami amended its complaint to include the In The Groove PS2 game and its publisher RedOctane. On July 25, 2005, Roxor Games filed a counterclaim against Konami. In the counterclaim, Roxor denies most of the claims in Konami's complaint. Roxor Games also claims that "In The Groove" does not violate patent law and that Konami has engaged in unfair competition. However, the lawsuit ultimately ended in a settlement where Konami would acquire the "In The Groove" intellectual property rights and that Roxor would "respect Konami’s intellectual property rights." [ [http://www.inthegroove.com/page/Press_Release Press Release - In The Groove ] ] Kyle Ward and several other of ITG's developers and musicians later formed a new company, "Fun in Motion", to in association with Andamiro, produce Pump it Up Pro, a spinoff of the Pump it Up series featuring music and features carried over from In the Groove.

Games

* In the Groove (2004)
* In the Groove 2 (2005)

ee also

* List of In the Groove Musicians

References

External links

* [http://www.inthegroove.com/page/Press_Release Konami has acquired "In the Groove"] (press release)
* [http://www.beatspace.net/ BeatSpace International Machine Dance Community]


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