Sonic Hacking Contest 2019

Discussion in 'Discussion & Q&A' started by Spanner, Mar 12, 2019.

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  1. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    Click Here for the Results!


    Sorry for the later posting this year.
    As much as we wanted to get SHC2019 announced right after 2018 was done,
    we had a number of things to look into and deal with before kicking off the show.

    As much as we believe the 2018 Contest and Expo went well, we noticed a few things that needed to be addressed.
    Notably, last year was the first year starring more 3D entries compared to their classic 2D counterparts.
    This in itself is nothing bad, in fact we believed it was eventually going to happen.

    Knowing this, we felt it was necessary to look at how we handle things going forward.
    We want to ensure a fair playing field for all entries, which as you may already know
    effectively means revamping how the entire trophy system was handled from the ground
    up. This in itself is a rather difficult task, as to both figure out the general format of the
    trophies and come up with new names is time consuming.


    Recently, we gave you the exclusive opportunity for the final format to be used for trophy distribution
    and you decided “Option 2”. This means that starting with SHC2019, we will be employing a new format,
    which for those who have stuck with us for long still retains close similarities with the original.

    Entries will be graded top 3 overall in the respective common submission formats/categories:
    “Retro”, “3D” and “2D PC”. Various “general” categories, subject to different interpretation based
    on submission format such as “best visually appealing” or “best sounding” will also be split in the
    following manner.

    Last of all, “special” trophies such as “most improved since last year” or “most WTF” (Polygon Jim)
    will remain as is.

    We understand that there is a possibility that some of the trophies under the format may end up
    “unnecessary” in the long run with no real “winners”, due to what may or may not be submitted.
    For such trophies, the “Null Vote Rule” will be applied, with “Null Vote” being a voting option if no
    entry either satisfies the trophy description or does not meet a given quality standard in the given
    trophy’s department. If “Null Vote” becomes the top vote for a category, no trophy is awarded.


    The Judges

    This year's judge set consists of Cinossu, Clownacy, CodenameGamma, Dario FF, Melpontro,
    OrdosAlpha, Sewer56, SSF1991 (Donnie), Spanner, StephenUK and Twilightzoney.

    The notable difference this year is we have included more people with both knowledge and
    reverse engineering of PC titles. This includes both general 3D (Adventure, Boost style) as
    well 2D (RSDK, e.g. Sonic Mania). We believe it will be to the benefit of judging quality greatly.

    Judges & Contest Submissions

    Judges will be allowed to submit their own hacks, however they will not be allowed to judge
    their own entries
    (conflict of interest). This includes submissions that they have been involved
    with, such as team submissions.

    After the main contest finishes, the Judges will provide more detailed evaluations of the entries to
    give their opinion, thoughts, and advice they feel is deserved.


    This judge list is not final and additional judges may be recruited to replace former judges who have
    left the contest due to retiring or other reasons. Do not ask to be a judge as that just rules you out.
    If we think you're up to the job, we'll talk to you.

    Not all judges can judge all games as they may not have have the capability to do so.
    For example: 360/PS3 based sonic hacks requiring either powerful PC for emulation or hacked console.
    If you submit a non 8/16-bit entry please have this in mind. The majority of judges however are capable
    of playing PC-based game entries.

    Please note that the final decisions are subject to the Judging Team and may not reflect your own opinion.
    If one hack wins a whole load of trophies that is what the judges thought should win. Judges may change
    at any time due to unavailability or other reasons.


    This year we're doing trophies a bit differently. First of all, we're scrapping the names for
    now to make things easier to understand. Secondly, we're categorising them differently
    to before. First, we have three main categories that entries can fall under:

    For any and all retro console hack entries

    For all entries based on the 3D Sonic games outright

    2D PC
    For those entries based on the 2D ports, rereleases, and remasters on PC, as well as Mania.

    All three of these categories will have a Top 3 result and individual trophies of
    the following:

    Best Visual
    Best Audio
    Best Technical
    Best Level Design
    Best Voted by Media Panel

    As well as these we have a set of misc. trophies that can be attributed to any entry
    from any category.

    Most Entertaining
    Most WTF (Polygon Jim)
    Best Team Entry
    Best Multiplayer Entry
    Best Fresh Concept Using Existing Concepts As A Backbone
    Most Potential
    Most Improved Since Last Year

    Of course we also have the overall Top 3 that can again be attributed to any
    entry from any category.

    And what of community trophies, you ask? Well, you're all in luck this year. Apart
    from the obvious exception of "Best Voted by Media Panel", the community get to
    vote on each and all of these categories and trophies as well.


    Please note that these rules can be changed, added to, or removed from at any time. In such event,
    the contest staff will notify you through this thread and send a global announcement using any form
    of Social Media we have at our disposal. We recommend checking back often to ensure nothing has

    Everything described in this section applies to both the Contest and the Expo unless otherwise specified.

    Entry Eligibility

    1. Your entry must be based on an existing ROM or game tied to the
    Sonic The Hedgehog franchise.
    Homebrew submissions are not accepted.

    ❌ Hack of Super Mario 64 converting it into a Sonic game.
    ❌ Custom game engine with imported Sonic game assets.
    ✅ Hack of a Sonic game turning it into a non-Sonic game.
    ✅ Hack of a Sonic game introducing new features/content to the game.

    Tech demos of console to PC/console conversions are acceptable if based on an existing
    ROM and/or disassembly.

    2. Joke/Meme entries are not allowed in the Contest. Public evaluations clearly shown people
    did not like the abundance of them in previous contests. Once again we will not be allowing them.
    They will however be allowed in the Expo provided Quality Control Criteria are met.

    3. All entries must be playable and cannot prevent judges from playing them if they have been
    uploaded. Judges have the right to look at your incomplete work if you have submitted it. However,
    judges will not allocate trophies based on any incomplete builds, only the last build submitted
    for the completed entry.

    Submission Rules/Guidelines

    1. Each entry by a participant may only be submitted to either the Contest or Expo - you
    cannot have the same entry in both categories. That said, nothing stops you from submitting <x>
    entries to the contest and <y> entries to the expo.

    ❌ “Sonic Hack R” in Contest AND Expo.
    ✅ “Sonic Hack R” in Contest.
    ✅ “Sonic Hack R” in Expo.
    ✅ “Sonic Hack R” in Contest, “Sonic Hack Z” in Expo.

    2. You must include media such as screenshots, videos (YouTube links are fine) and/or music
    (MP3, OGG, and VGM preferred). The staff will not waste time making these for you.

    3. All submissions must be completed through the online site.
    E-mailed or direct-messaged entries will not be accepted.

    4. You must inform what has been changed or explicitly what has not. This can be zone and act
    breakdowns to a full change log, if need be. We need to ensure stock vanilla levels and completely
    untouched gameplay is not being judged and/or played by the general public. Submissions can
    inform of other information such as cheat codes, easter eggs, and other worthwhile information
    that would benefit your entry when being looked at and judged.

    Copyright & Intellectual Property

    1. All work used from external sources/contributors (sprites, VGM conversions, etc)
    must be credited.
    Hacks found with stolen and / or uncredited content will not be tolerated.
    If anyone suspects an entry to have stolen and / or uncredited content either flag the entry or
    contact staff immediately.

    2. If you have used asset collections such as music packs from the Internet, please be wary that
    they are known to contain content illegitimately ripped from other hacks. Please always double
    check your original sources.

    The general course of action for stolen content is that the participant will have all of their entries
    removed from the Sonic Hacking Contest.

    What Not To Do

    1. Save the drama. The contest is not an appropriate place to air your
    grievances with individuals or communities.

    2. Obscure jokes/memes that most people will not understand. If the entry focuses
    on inside jokes with no appeal to anyone other than those in the know, the Contest or Expo
    is not a valid place for it to be shown.

    3. NSFW content accessed through normal means. Easter eggs are okay, provided
    accessible without prior knowledge of existence. Adding the method of access through
    your entry description, will be considered as “accessed through normal means”.

    4. Submit joke entries with sole purpose of just gaming the rules/exploit any loopholes.

    Action may or may not be taken depending on the severity if you infringe on any of the above.
    In the worst possible case the participant may have their entry removed, possibly along with
    any other entries they have submitted.

    Other Considerations

    1. No private entries. If you want to submit to the Contest your entry must be made
    available completely to the Public.

    2. Offensive content without good context is frowned upon and should be
    avoided to prevent issues.

    3. Give a thought about your target audience. Make sure your entry is not
    over-complicated to run or unnecessarily bloated. If a mod can be 200MB and easily
    installed with a mod loader, we don't want to see a 2GB submission that achieves
    the same thing requiring total file replacement.

    4. All entries are viewed equal regardless of who submits them.
    Do not be put off with people well known in the community potentially submitting
    that could win trophies - people do not win trophies because of who they are in this
    community, people win because their entry deserved to win.


    In the Sonic Hacking Contest we take quality control very seriously,
    but try to be inclusive enough to potential contest participants by not setting the
    bar too high.

    For Contest entries, the quality control is very strict, while for the Expo
    entries we are a bit more lenient. As a general rule of thumb, we use the
    following measurements to decide whether an entry is of sufficient quality
    for the Contest.

    Retro & 2D PC Entries

    Pick at least 3 of the following
    A. Palette changes, physics changes and other various minor modifications.
    B. Art changes, layout changes and/or mapping changes.
    C. Engine, sound driver and/or special stage functionality changes.
    D. Music and sound effect modifications.

    3D Entries

    Modification(s) that change features in the playable game itself.

    ❌ Simple texture only hacks.
    ❌ Simple object layout modifications.
    ❌ Model swaps of existing game models. (UNLESS process is technical)
    ✅ Collection of custom models, assets, objects.
    ✅ Custom levels and/or playable stages of acceptable quality.
    ✅ Custom game logic/code written in assembly or existing game logic hooked
    using arbitrary programming language (C/C++/C#/D etc.)

    All Entries

    Alternatively if your entry meets any of the following criteria
    (regardless of entry type), it is sufficient to enter the Contest.

    Pick at least 1 of the following
    A. Complete change to the rules of a Sonic game.
    Example(s): Sonic Bash v2, Boss Rush Hacks, Knuckles Emerald Hunt.

    B. Overhaul into a whole new game.
    Example(s): Sonic Scorched Quest, Sonic Virtual Adventure.

    C. Technical feat.
    Example(s): MarkeyJester's Mode 7 Mega Drive experiments,
    Lantern Engine, Sonic 4 in 1, etc.

    Can’t meet the criteria? Take some time, look at what you are
    missing or need to work on and come back in next year with an even
    better hack than your current one.

    Unsure if your entry meets the standards? Ask a judge or a
    member of the Hacking Contest staff. If it happens to be the case
    you already have submitted your entry, do not be concerned - we
    will tell you if we believe the entry does meet the given standards.


    CONTEST UPDATES DEADLINE: Sunday 10th November
    EXPO SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: Sunday 17th November
    CONTEST WEEK FROM: Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th December

    The Contest Week has been put back due to Thanksgiving, but also
    allows extra time for judging and quality control.

    Please see this link regarding submitting for this year's trailer.

    Ready, Set, Procrastinate!!


    Forum Thread also available at Sonic Retro.

  2. EMK-20218

    EMK-20218 The Fuss Maker Exiled

    Aug 8, 2008
    Jardim Capelinha, São Paulo
    It's very hard to decide. All the choices are very good, but I opt for the first one. We have a very big quantity of modding varieties. Mania Modding, Genesis mods, 3D game mods and etc, so I think it would be unfair to put all the projects together to compete in the same level, especially when certain methodologies are kind of incomparable between themselves in terms of effort and aesthetical result. I'm going for the first one, splitting the champions between the categories from that they were made from, rewarding each job in its proper category.
  3. ProjectFM

    ProjectFM Optimistic and self-dependent Member

    Oct 4, 2014
    Orono, Maine
    I'd go with choice two mainly because the game engines are so different in terms of design, it's difficult to compare them against one another. For example, there could be an amazing soundtrack for a Mania mod and another for and another for a hack, and the Mania mod would sound better because of the freedom the engine allows. The judges would have to figure out how they can adjust how they judge each in order to not give the Mania mod the advantage, and every judge would do that differently, complicating the judging process and making the final decision feel less fair. A more dramatic difference would be for the best visuals award, in which the judges would be comparing pixel art to textured models which are affected by lighting. It would just be comparing apples and oranges.

    Another reason is that I'd go with that option is because there are people who care only about modding 3D games, modding Mania, or hacking. Most people who care about the contest don't have a 3D game or Mania to mod, so a lot of those people would be only looking at hacks. Those people would prefer to see only which hacks win certain awards, so it would make sense to not mix those hacks up in the same pool as the other games those people may not care about.

    There isn't really a disadvantage to extra trophies. More trophies will make each one feel less special, but I doubt there will be so many that that's noticeable. If you really need to compromise, you could merge the Mania and 2D art trophies as well as the Mania and 3D sound trophies and so on.
    maple_t and RouRouRou like this.
  4. AkumaYin

    AkumaYin Well-Known Member Exiled

    Aug 21, 2014
    My vote goes to choice one. While I would appreciate separate "top 3" awards for each different category, I feel that having different "best looking", "best sounding", etc. trophies would cause more clutter than is necessary.
    maple_t likes this.
  5. Clownacy

    Clownacy Retired Staff lolololo Member

    Aug 15, 2014
    Just a reminder to get your votes in by Wednesday.
  6. Sewer56

    Sewer56 Newcomer Member

    Aug 25, 2016
    United Kingdom


    Hi folks, Sewer56 here.

    I'm that one guy who's often seen tampering round with Sonic Heroes
    and a practitioner of mastering the art of the Ultimate Mod Loader.

    Joining the Hacking Contest team starting with this year, I am the author
    of the new Hacking Contest announcement format, including the header
    images and refactoring of the text you see in the thread here (and on Retro).

    The Dark theme used on Retro is called Eternal Halogenic Midnight,
    while the Light theme used on SSRG is called (uncreatively) SSRG White.

    The overall process of making the two different announcement themes and
    reformatting the post into its new layout you see today for the two boards took
    just over 10 hours for SSRG and Retro combined.

    Let me know what you think of the new thread designs on both of the sites.


    What's This!? You expected that I would end my previous post there?
    No end, just me, Dio. That's not happening yet.

    I have a few extra goodies to hand out with this year's announcement post,
    mainly in the form of wallpapers using the Eternal Halogenic Midnight theme
    seen in the Retro post.

    Previews (Warning: Large)

    You may download the mini asset pack from here.

    As with everything I do, the sources for Eternal Halogenic Midnight are public, so if you ever need
    feel free to remix or modify the wallpapers should you require any minor adjustments.

    Enjoy and have fun.
    See you during the contest week.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2019
  7. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ♡ ! Member

    Jun 27, 2009
    I'm not sure what you're doing really (to be fair I haven't read your post fully and probably should, but I don't have much time right now to be fair).

    I will say though the screens in the spoiler tag, I like them quite a bit! They look like professional advertisement posters, I'd expect to see one at a bus-stop somewhere~
    Unused Account and maple_t like this.
  8. nineko

    nineko I am the Holy Cat Member

    Mar 24, 2008
    I think you got this bit backwards, as the topic on Retro links to this one, and this one links to itself, I guess you wanted to link back to Retro instead.
    TheInvisibleSun likes this.
  9. Sewer56

    Sewer56 Newcomer Member

    Aug 25, 2016
    United Kingdom
    Right you are, oof. I knew I forgot something.
    I'll fix it when I get home.

    Edit: Fixed

    I basically rewrote the entire thread from scratch including the headers/images etc.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2019
    nineko likes this.
  10. DanielHall

    DanielHall Well-Known Member Member

    Jan 18, 2010
    North Wales

    Basically, everything went to shit for me around that particular time period and it peaked in late November, so I'm gonna have to apologise on that front. I'm not really comfortable spreading my situation at the time on a public forum but if you really need to know then send me a private message. Another thing that I'm going to have to apologise for was the inability to play 3D mods: The scope of last year's 3D entries compared to 2017's caught me by complete surprise and turned a nonissue into a very big one. Nevertheless, I'm back with the evaluations that were meant to be uploaded on December:
    pixelcat and ProjectFM like this.
  11. EpsilionDubwool

    EpsilionDubwool I am the danger. Member

    Aug 7, 2019
    Hoping to get my hack into the contest :):). Its not done btw but will asap.
  12. EMK-20218

    EMK-20218 The Fuss Maker Exiled

    Aug 8, 2008
    Jardim Capelinha, São Paulo
    Don't worry. We have two months until the next contest so if you be into the quality criteria requeriments, you'll be able to join.
  13. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    Just a reminder to everyone intending to submit, we are exactly one month away from the Submission Deadline for entries to this year's Sonic Hacking Contest, Sunday 27th October.

    Remember, it's not the only deadline, there will be the Update Deadline on Sunday 3rd November for Contest entries to polish up their submission for judging and for those who forego the judging and submit to the Expo, it's Sunday 17th November.

    Please read the first post for all the information you need to know. All submissions are welcome provided you meet the criteria. If you are unsure if you meet the criteria, ask a judge for clarification.

    As always, the site will be open for entries when the site is open. Please be patient.

    Stay tuned for further updates. And check out SAGE whilst you're at it.
  14. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    We have had to delay the contest deadlines for another week as it has not been possible to get the site up in time to allow for a decent window of submissions, due to Cinossu being ill and also very busy with work.

    New deadlines are as follows, note the Expo deadline and Contest Week remains the same as before. The site will be open for submissions at some point in this week.

    CONTEST UPDATES DEADLINE: Sunday 10th November
    EXPO SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: Sunday 17th November
    CONTEST WEEK FROM: Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th December

    Enjoy the extra week. Please make good use of it.
  15. EpsilionDubwool

    EpsilionDubwool I am the danger. Member

    Aug 7, 2019
    Can't wait to try out the new hacks!
  16. Cinossu

    Cinossu A blend of secret herbs and spices Member

    Aug 14, 2007
    London, UK
    SO THE WAIT IS FINALLY OVER. And we do mean it this time.

    The site is finally live.

    As always, a mix of work, illness, stress, and other factors have lead to a late opening. But we're open. Come enjoy, come enter, and make sure to read the news post and information pages on changes to this year's SHC!

    Of note, if you already had an SHC account from last year, you have one this year already too. You'll just need to go through the Forgotten Password system to restore access. We changed how user accounts are stored, so had to wipe out all existing passwords and such. But, once in, have fun~
  17. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    Please see this link regarding submitting for this year's trailer.

    In the mean time here's a promotional video from Tails Channel:
    Deactivated Account likes this.
  18. Clownacy

    Clownacy Retired Staff lolololo Member

    Aug 15, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
    Deactivated Account likes this.
  19. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    A reminder that this is the last day to submit to the Sonic Hacking Contest! Submissions will close at the end of Sunday, after which only Expo submissions will be accepted.

    Remember that you do not need to have a finished product by the end of today, just something that is playable. You can polish your entry up until the end of Sunday 10th November.

    If you want your entry to be judged, get it in today, in the Contest section, or you will miss out on potential trophies that could have been awarded to your entry.

    I have seen a few Expo entries that certainly would have been good in the Contest, but at the end of the day it's up to the submitter on where they want to enter it in.
  20. EMK-20218

    EMK-20218 The Fuss Maker Exiled

    Aug 8, 2008
    Jardim Capelinha, São Paulo
    Wait... the time to update/refine the hack goes until december 10th? I thought I had only one more week to do this. Haha!
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