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Sonic Hacking Contest 2017 NOW LIVE

Discussion in 'Engineering & Reverse Engineering' started by Spanner, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    Psst. Hey. Guess what.

    We're finally live.


    Logo by Cinossu - click the image to access our new website which is responsive to all devices.

    So, for the first time in a few years we're getting this announcement out quicker than usual as it should be. We know that the 2016 Contest was rather disappointing in a lot of ways, and to be honest it was a wake-up call to everyone to address things for the following contest to make it as good as it both can and should be. We've made some serious changes as a result, which include the addition of quality control criteria that hacks have to meet in order to be accepted. We've also removed a few trophies, added some new ones that people will hopefully like, and we will also be running a separate Hacking Expo during the Contest Week that will allow for hacks to be showcased without them being judged. Let's get right into things...

    This year's judges will consist of myself, Ayla, Cinossu, Clownacy, SuperEgg, and SSF1991 (Donnie) along with new judges Dandaman955, Dario FF, OrdosAlpha, Selbi and Twilightzoney. 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.

    This team will be reliable and will be able to deal with contest judging as soon as possible in order for us to progress through the contest and get the results out as soon as possible. Judges will be able to submit their own hacks but will not be able to judge it themselves, nor will they be able to judge submissions that they have been involved with (such as team hacks). Judges will provide more detailed evaluations of the entries at the end of the contest to give opinion, thoughts, and advice they feel is deserved.

    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.


    First are the normal trophies. Please note that any level specific trophies are now hack specific, meaning they no longer go by individual levels in a hack. Judges will allocate a winner to each trophy and if a particular entry that missed out has enough support as a runner-up an Honourable Mention will be added as well. The same as last year, judges again reserve the right not to award a trophy at all via a Null Vote.

    Hidden Palace Trophy
    Grand prize / 1st place. This is given to the overall best entry in the contest.

    Wood Zone Trophy
    2nd place entry overall in the contest.

    Dust Hill Trophy
    3rd place entry overall in the contest.

    Generations Trophy
    Best 3D Sonic game modification submitted overall.

    Crystal Egg Trophy (NEW)
    Best 8-bit Sonic hack submitted overall.

    Green Hill Trophy
    Hack (or specific level of a hack if non-applicable) that plays most like a Sonic game.

    Botanic Base Trophy (Newly split)
    Best art in a Mega Drive / Genesis hack submitted.

    Windy Valley Trophy (Newly split)
    Best art in a 3D modification submitted.

    Jungle Trophy (Newly split)
    Best art in an 8-bit hack submitted.

    D.A. Garden Trophy
    Best music in an entry submitted.

    Lava Reef Trophy (Newly split)
    Best level layout in a Mega Drive / Genesis hack submitted.

    Speed Highway Trophy (Newly split)
    Best level layout in a 3D modification submitted.

    Gimmick Mountain Trophy (Newly split)
    Best level layout in an 8-bit hack submitted.

    Genocide City Trophy
    Most difficult entry (or specific level of an entry if non-applicable) submitted.

    Azure Lake Trophy
    Best multiplayer entry submitted.

    Advance Trophy (NEW)
    Best handheld game entry overall.

    11000101 Trophy
    Best technical / proof of concept entry submitted.

    Fang Trophy
    Best new enemy/badnik in an entry submitted.

    Eggman Trophy
    Best new boss or mini-boss in an entry submitted.

    Spin Dash Trophy
    Best new ability in an entry submitted.

    Carnival Night Trophy
    Most innovative game play feature in an entry submitted.

    Emerald Trophy
    Best Special Stage in an entry submitted.

    Wing Fortress Trophy
    Best cutscene in an entry submitted.

    Robotnik's Revenge Trophy
    Best fresh concept using existing concepts as the backbone in an entry submitted.

    Casinopolis Trophy
    Most entertaining / fun entry submitted.

    Polygon Jim Trophy
    Most unique entry submitted.

    Tails Trophy
    Most improved entry from last year's contest.

    Blaze Trophy (NEW)
    Entry from this year's contest that is felt to have the most potential.

    Newtrogic High Trophy
    Voted best entry of the contest by the Media Panel.


    These trophies are trophies that are awarded by the community during the Contest Week.

    Hidden Palace Community Trophy
    Best entry submitted overall.

    Generations Community Trophy (NEW TO COMMUNITY JUDGING)
    Best 3D Sonic game modification submitted overall.

    Crystal Egg Community Trophy (NEW)
    Best 8-bit Sonic hack submitted overall.

    Windy Valley Community Trophy
    Best art entry submitted.

    D.A. Garden Community Trophy
    Best music entry submitted.

    Lava Reef Community Trophy
    Best level layout entry submitted.

    11000101 Community Trophy
    Best technical entry submitted.

    Polygon Jim Community Trophy
    Most unique entry submitted.

    Tails Community Trophy (NEW TO COMMUNITY JUDGING)
    Most improved entry from last year's contest.

    Blaze Community Trophy (NEW)
    Entry from this year's contest that is felt to have the most potential.

    1. Your entry must be based on an existing Sonic the Hedgehog ROM or game. No homebrew submissions will be accepted in the Sonic Hacking Contest.
    2. Please take a look at the Quality Control criteria below these rules for what is and what is not allowed in an entry to both the Contest and the Expo below these rules. We're being serious over this stuff this year. If you can't meet the criteria then you need more time before you can take part in the Contest. Take some time to look at what you are missing or need to work on and come back in 2018 with an even better entry than your current one. While the Expo will also be subject to the Quality Control criteria, it won't be as stringent as that for the Contest.
    3. No Joke or Meme entries are allowed in the Contest this year. The evaluations from the public have clearly shown that they did not like the abundance of them in last year's contest, so we will not be allowing them this year. However, they will be allowed in the Expo provided that they meet the Quality Control criteria.
    4. No Private entries. If you want to submit to the Contest your entry must be made available completely to the Public. There is no Partial-Private this year for the Contest at all, but that feature will be available in the Hack Expo.
    5. Submissions must either inform of what has been changed or explicitly what has not - zone and act breakdowns to a full change log, if need be - to avoid people playing stock vanilla levels and gameplay that has been left completely untouched. Submissions can also 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.
    6. You must include media such as screenshots (absolutely mandatory, and must include a title screen image), videos (YouTube links are fine), and music (MP3, OGG, and VGM preferred). The judges will not waste time making screenshots or other media for you.
    7. E-mailed or direct-messaged entries will not be accepted. All submissions must be completed through the online site.
    8. 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.
    9. Hacks found with stolen content will not be tolerated and anyone caught will be dealt with severely, the least of which will be their entry being made null and void. If anyone suspects an entry to have stolen content either flag the entry or contact a judge immediately. If you have used things such as music packs from the Internet in your entry please be wary of this and be sure to double-check on their origins, as they are known to contain content illegitimately ripped from other hacks.
    10. 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.
    11. Please be aware that not all judges can judge certain games - Sonic Generations, Lost World, and other console based entries, for example - as they do not have the capability to do so. If you submit an entry which is not a standard 8-bit or 16-bit entry please have this in mind.
    12. Judges have the right to remove your entry from the Contest at any time if it does not meet the criteria or if your hack is disqualified for whatever reason.
    13. While these entries apply to both the Contest and the Expo, they will be more stringently enforced for the Contest than the Expo.
    14. These rules can be changed, added to, or removed from at any time. Check back often (or at least once before you submit something) to make sure they haven't since you last looked.

    Pick at least one item from, at minimum, three of the four bullet points:
    • Palette changes, physics changes, SEGA sound changes, and other various small things.
    • Art changes, layout changes, special stage layout changes, and mapping changes.
    • Engine changes, sound driver changes, and special stage functionality changes.
    • Music and sound effect changes.

    Or at least one of the following:
    • A complete change to the rules of a Sonic game. For example: Sonic Bash v2, boss rush hacks, Knuckles Emerald Hunt, etc.
    • A (near-)complete overhaul into a whole new game. For example, Sonic Scorched Quest, Sonic Virtual Adventure, etc.
    • A technical feat. For example, MarkeyJester's Mode 7 Mega Drive experiments, Sonic 4 in 1, etc.
    • A 3D modification that changes features in the playable game itself. Just menu or simple texture modifications alone are not acceptable.

    Your entry will be disqualified if it contains:
    • NSFW content that is accessed through normal means or just playing the game. Easter eggs are okay, however, as they aren't immediately accessible without prior knowledge to their existence. Adding the method of access through your entry description, however, will be considered as accessed through normal means. Please share the method of access through other mediums such as forums or discord.
    • Obscure jokes and/or memes that most people will not understand. If the entry focuses on in-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.
    • A joke entry whose soul purpose is to game the rules and exploit any loopholes, if any are found.

    If you are unsure whether or not your hack would pass the criteria, contact a judge for clarification.

    After the release of Sonic Mania for PC, it did not take long for people to break into the game and modify various pieces of it. Right now, Mania modding is in its very early stages with mostly sound, sprite and models being manipulated. Unless things seriously progress to a point where level editing (for example) is able to be done, all Mania mods may be entered for the Hack Expo ONLY.

    Please bear in mind that we have a Quality Control Criteria that must be met therefore anything of a low quality will very likely be rejected by judges and rejected from exposure at the Contest Week entirely. Simply put, we do not want a free-for-all on Mania mods that could ruin what we put in place regarding quality control. If you're unsure if your mod will be accepted, you are very welcome to submit it – the judges will decide whether or not it will be allowed into the Hack Expo.

    If modding progresses to an advanced state (such as level editing and technical additions), we may permit those mods to be judged, however we expect this will probably not happen this year, but rather in time for next year's contest. We are open to discussion on this issue.

    The primary submissions deadline for entries will be the end of Sunday 29th October. You must have submitted a playable build by then to the contest site on your entry in order for it to be accepted past this point.

    You then have a week to refine your entry, fix any issues, and upload your final build. This final deadline will be the end of Sunday 5th November.

    If you are submitting to the Expo rather than the Contest you have until the end of Sunday 12th November to refine your entry and upload your final build.

    Any questions can be asked in this thread wherein a judge will be able to provide some sort of answer.

    Monday 20th November to Sunday 26th November is the Contest Week.
    Like the last few years, the public will have a chance to view this year's entries, download the public hacks and vote for Community Trophies. If you're planning to debut your submission to the public you can do it then, however nobody can be stopped from releasing earlier. If you want to show it off to the biggest audience around the Contest Week is your best time for it. A brand new site is being developed which will have new features and also be more reliable than the previous one.

    We hope to have live streams, mini contests and much more similar to previous Contests - these will be announced closer to the time of the Contest when they have been finalised. We'll also have news coverage this time much like last year. In our evaluation form for 2016 we asked people to provide links to websites and streamers to invite to participate in the 2017 Contest and we will be doing that to ensure that we can get as many people on board as possible.

    We'll let you know when the website is updated for the 2017 Contest so you can begin submitting as some changes to the site will be carried out to improve it. Once again, in order to submit you'll need a Sonic Retro or SSRG full member account, although exceptions may be given by contacting a judge.

    Feel free to like our Twitter and Facebook pages, subscribe to our Twitch Channel and join our very own Discord Server. We also have an IRC Channel which relays from the main Discord channel available at #SHContest.

    The contest rules and features can change at any time - further announcements will be posted in due time.

    So with that, I'll leave you to your hacking.
    Ready, Set, Procrastinate!!

  2. redhotsonic


    Also known as RHS Tech Member
    United Kingdom

  3. Selbi


    The Euphonic Mess Member
    Northern Germany
    Sonic ERaZor
    How everything becomes more epic with dramatic, orchestral music. :V

    Reading these new guidelines was an actual pleasure! It was like reading a good book and seeing your protagonist finally scoring. With all the quality control implemented at last, it's giving a really sweet feeling of certainty that is involved in this year's contest, and I might as well procrastinate something to the last week of submission again!

    I'm not quite certain what you mean with "Pick at least one item from, at minimum, three of the four bullet points". Pick at least one but at minimum three? Seems contradictory.
  4. flamewing


    Emerald Hunter Tech Member
    Sonic Classic Heroes; Sonic 2 Special Stage Editor; Sonic 3&K Heroes (on hold)
    From what I understood, it means: "pick at least three bullet points; you must do at least one item from each of them".
  5. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    So over on the SSRG, where there's a lot of activity concerning the Hacking Contest, there's some discussion about homebrew and whether or not it should be allowed or not.

    Let's continue this discussion regarding homebrew in or not in the contest. After all, we can change the rules at any time.

    Whether you support or oppose it, put your case forward in this thread and the judges will make a final decision as to what to do.

    Also here a message from one of our judges:
    Finally, a reminder of what I said in the 2016 Results thread:
  6. rata


    Trying to be useful somehow.
    Again, what did I miss now? As long as I remember, 2015's was about some weird stuff including Selbi and anothers... what now?
  7. redhotsonic


    Also known as RHS Tech Member
    United Kingdom
    You already know my view on homebrew (a yes from me).

    Also, Spanner, I think you need to answer Selbi's question (unless flamewing was correct).
  8. Atendega


    Lesser Sea Sponge Member
    Comfy couch
    Collecting insults
    It's the Sonic Hacking Contest. Homebrew is not hacking. Kinda defeats the purpose of the contest, which is to show off all the cool shit people have done with various existing Sonic engines.

    I understand the argument in favor of homebrew, but there are plenty of other places to show off homebrew. This should not be one of them.
  9. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Long-term happiness
    I'm with Atendega on this one. Sure, add custom code into a hack, but it's a hacking contest, not one for programming from scratch.
  10. Lanzer


    The saber calls for its master... Member
    Glendale, AZ
    Living life.
    Agreed, I thought programming from scratch was for the likes of SAGE? wouldn't homebrew fit there instead?
  11. Atendega


    Lesser Sea Sponge Member
    Comfy couch
    Collecting insults
    Didn't you hear? They allow hacks in SAGE, now! We can have programmed-from-scratch stuff in the hacking contest, and hacks in the programmed-from-scratch contest!

    It all makes sense! :specialed:
  12. SonicBurst


    That one guy Member
    I hope the 2017 contest is awesome again. I mean, 2016 had good hacks as well, but look back at 2015, we're we had something like "Sonic 1 - The Next Level" or "Cybernetic Outbreak". Hacks which contains art, layout, new mechanics... They missed in the 2016 contest. I hope this will change with the 2017 contest. To have an awesome time again. :)
  13. Dandaman


    Also known as Dandaman955 Tech Member
    Hey. Just posting to let you all know that I am a part of the judging panel for the upcoming Hacking Contest. Hopefully we'll be seeing some amazing entries in the contest and the expo; Let's make this an anniversary to remember!
  14. GRUSS


    Evening all! I've been playing a lot of sonic hacks recently on my MegaDrive. I have a YouTube channel (GRUSS Newton) and I do regular streams using original hardware. Here is a recent one:

    I would love the chance to be able to stream some of the entries for this year if that's possible?
  15. Aerosol


    Not here. Moderator
    Not where I want to be.
    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    Nah. No homebrew please. There are plenty of other contests for that and if there aren't, make one. The Sonic Hacking Contest should remain a contest to see what people can come up with with the SONIC games. So keep it that way, or turn it into the MegaDrive Homebrew Contest.

    + - Mega Drive. Fight me.  
  16. GRUSS


    Most of the entries can run on original hardware?
  17. Aerosol


    Not here. Moderator
    Not where I want to be.
    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    Isn't that an award or something? I don't know nor really care.

    What point are you trying to make by phrasing your statement like a question.
  18. GRUSS


    All I want to do is live stream some of the entries (if there playable via the everdrive on MegaDrive/Genesis)
  19. Aerosol


    Not here. Moderator
    Not where I want to be.
    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    Oh. I missed your post before mine. D'oh.

    Anyway I don't think most of the entries are hardware-friendly to be honest. Someone else would know better than me though.
  20. Devon


    I think I'm paranoid Tech Member
    your mom
    Whether or not hacks run on hardware depend on how the hack was shaped up by the hacker.

    I know that one common error I see in some hacks on hardware are address errors, due to "odd addressing" (basically, running code starting at odd addresses, accessing word or longwords of memory located at odd addresses, etc.), which the 68000 cannot do, so when a hack does that, it will crash with an address error. Something like that could be caught if the hack were tested on an emulator that actually causes an address error with odd addressing (basically, not Kega Fusion and Gens; Gens applies a mask on addresses to make them even for those instances and Kega just straight up lets those instances happen without a crash), or if the hacker tests it on hardware themselves or gets someone else to do a hardware test for them.

    Other issues may not be caught on emulators but on hardware, because of inaccurate emulation and hardware does have bugs that some emulators don't emulate, too.