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Sonic Hacking Contest 2018

Discussion in 'Engineering & Reverse Engineering' started by Spanner, Jan 22, 2018.

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  1. Spanner


    The Tool Member

    The 2017 Contest was seen as a great success and a massive improvement to what took place in 2016. We will be building on that success for the 2018 Contest, which is now announced in this thread. Just like last year, there will be a Hacking Contest for those who wish their entries to be judged and a Hack Expo which allows exposure without any judging.

    This year's judges will consist of myself, Cinossu, Clownacy, Dandaman955, Dario FF, Melpontro, OrdosAlpha, SuperEgg, SSF1991 (Donnie) 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 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. For the top three, Judges will give three points to their 1st place, two points to their 2nd and one point to the 3rd with the intention of making this more fairer. 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.

    Angel Island Trophy
    Best Mega Drive / Genesis Sonic hack submitted overall.

    Generations Trophy
    Best 3D Sonic game modification submitted overall.

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

    Mirage Saloon Trophy
    Best Sonic Mania modification 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
    Best art in a Mega Drive / Genesis hack submitted.

    Windy Valley Trophy
    Best art in a 3D modification submitted.

    Studiopolis Trophy
    Best art in a Sonic Mania modification submitted.

    Jungle Trophy
    Best art in an 8-bit hack submitted.

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

    Lava Reef Trophy
    Best level layout in a Mega Drive / Genesis hack submitted.

    Speed Highway Trophy
    Best level layout in a 3D modification submitted.

    Gimmick Mountain Trophy
    Best level layout in an 8-bit hack submitted.

    Press Garden Trophy
    Best level layout in a Sonic Mania modification 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
    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
    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. This year we are adding the 2nd and 3rd Place trophies. For the top three, voters will give three points to their 1st place, two points to their 2nd and one point to the 3rd with the intention of making this more fairer.Unlike previous years, ongoing results will not be displayed to the public and voters will be blind as to what others have voted for.

    Hidden Palace Community Trophy
    Best entry submitted overall.

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

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

    Angel Island Community Trophy
    Best Mega Drive / Genesis Sonic hack submitted overall.

    Generations Community Trophy
    Best 3D Sonic game modification submitted overall.

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

    Mirage Saloon Community Trophy
    Best Sonic Mania modification 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
    Most improved entry from last year's contest.

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

    • 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. As seen with a previous entry last year, original console conversions to PC or another console would also be acceptable as they were based from the existing ROM and disassembly.

    • A entry may ONLY be submitted to either the Hacking Contest or Hack Expo - you cannot have the same entry in both categories. Nothing stops you from having one entry in the Contest and a different entry in the Expo however.

    • 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 2019 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.

    • 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 previous contests, so once again we will not be allowing them this year. However, they will be allowed in the Expo provided that they meet the Quality Control criteria.

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • While these entries apply to both the Contest and the Expo, they will be more stringently enforced for the Contest than the Expo.

    • 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. Offensive content without context is also frowned upon and should be avoided to prevent issues.

    • 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 sole 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. This year we are accepting Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces mods to the Contest providing they meet the criteria above, if not then Expo entries may be accepted.

    The primary submissions deadline for entries will be the end of Sunday 28th 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 4th November.

    If you are submitting to the Expo rather than the Contest you have until the end of Sunday 11th 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 26th November to Sunday 2nd December 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.

    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. And of course, don't forget about the streamers.

    We'll let you know when the website is updated for the 2018 Contest so you can begin submitting as some changes to the site will be carried out to improve it. Once again, in order to freely submit you'll currently need either a Sonic Retro or SSRG full member account, although exceptions may be given by contacting a judge for verification.

    As the website will be based on the new site used in 2017, we do not expect any delays that would cause deadlines being changed, so use your time wisely and produce something worthy of exposure with the ample time given this year. DON'T GIVE US ANY HALF-ASSED ENTRIES!

    Feel free to like our Twitter and Facebook pages, subscribe to our Twitch Channel and join our very own Discord Server which can be accessed through our website. 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. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    Not been much to talk about in here it seems, most of the activity is over at the SSRG thread, but remember people, if you have any comments, suggestions, questions or feedback for the upcoming contest please don't hesitate in using this thread to do so.

    So a number of people keep on asking me about last year's mini contest that did not happen, and honestly, I'm thinking maybe we could do one perhaps in the summer (there will be the usual mini contest during the contest week too).

    What do people think about that? Is it something you would be willing to participate in if you had the time, or would you just like to see what kind of entries come out of this?

    Also another thing that gets brought up concerns the website, particularly the results page. Cinossu, who deals with the site, is a very busy man at the moment and hasn't had the time to get the results up as well as roll the site over to 2018, but it will happen at some point, bear in mind the website is still a work in progress and does not have certain features that it intends to have. If you are looking for the results, please check out this thread or this thread. The results for all contests are available on the Sonic Retro wiki page too.

    There will be more platforms for SHC discussion in the future other than Retro and SSRG, in particular I would like to see more non-English sites get involved, so if you are involved with a regularly used site or forum that may be able to help in that regard do send me a PM and we can maybe try and get something sorted out. Ideas are always welcome. The Hacking Contest is for everyone, not just a few sites.
  3. Misinko


    Bettering the world, one bugfix at a time! Member
    Cornland, USA
    Sonic 2 SMS Cleanup
    If it's anything like the mini contest from a couple years ago, I'd be down for that. I kinda liked the idea of being handed a ROM to work with instead of having to start from square one. Could allow for more interesting challenges on the judge's end.
  4. Clownacy


    Tech Member
    Just a reminder that there are 6 months until the deadline for entering the contest. Like it says in the first post, the last day to submit is October 28th, and after that there's a week to make any updates you need to before the final deadline at the end of November 4th.
  5. Jay


    There were many entries last year that exploded out of the gate with a great Level One but then petered off quickly with TODO areas or FIXME-type content.
  6. Clownacy


    Tech Member

    Big thanks to AquelGamerMexicano (AGM) for making this. RedHotSonic's trailer is still on the way, but it will work a bit differently this year. More info on that soon.
  7. Modern


    what tu hecc is modern! Member
    Well shoot ma boot, I was planning on Entering one of my Mania mods to the Contest, but it appears there's a rule disallowing meme mods. At the very least I can still submit it to the expo. Looking forward to seeing everyone's entries.
  8. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    Yes, meme mods are frowned upon in the contest because years ago we got too many of them which seemed to bother a lot of people. Nothing stops you from entering it to the expo provided that it meets the quality control.

    The deadline for Contest entries is still Sunday 28th October by the way, which is a month from now. The website WILL be up before that, and it will operate in the same way as last year with some additional features here and there if they can be implemented in time. If you have a SHC account that was made last year, you can use that for this year, you don't have to make a new account.

    I can't however answer any questions relating to the website as that is Cinossu's domain, if you have anything to ask you can post them here. When the site is put up, last year's entries will also be accessible again for those who have been looking for them. The website for the 2013 to 2016 entries is also having some issues right now with downloads but it is the intention to move everything to the new website eventually.

    There will be a post about what is needed for redhotsonic's trailer video very shortly.
  9. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    Now Accepting Entries for the Hacking Contest and Expo!
    Information regarding how to submit is all on the site, please remember that the deadline for Hacking Contest entries is the end of Sunday 28th October for Contest entries with a one week update period until the end of Sunday 4th November whilst Expo entries have until the end of Sunday 11th November to get their entries in. If you come across any issues with the website, post in the thread about it.

    Ryan from Tails Channel will be making this year's trailer, taking over from redhotsonic who is experiencing some computer troubles at the moment. It is up to you to provide trailer clips - you show what you want to show, and we'll put it in the trailer.

    All we ask is that you keep it to 15 seconds per submission. For longer videos, you can show them as part of your contest or expo submission page. Please note that there is no guarantee that all of your video will be in the trailer. Longer videos can be added to your entry page.

    Ryan has requested that all clips be submitted in MP4 format, in 1080p at 60fps if possible and in the game's respective aspect ratio. All videos must be attached and emailed to SonicNewsChannel[@]gmail[.]com with SHC in the subject title. Please also link your SHC page so we know it's an entry. If you have previously sent clips to RHS, they will be forwarded to Ryan. You have until the end of Sunday 11th November to get your clips in, get them in as soon as you can!

    Remember, if you have multiple submissions this year, you have multiple clips you can make. If you've only got one, make those 15 seconds count! If you've got issues capturing video, feel free to ask someone you know to help out.

    Taking part in the trailer is not compulsory but it allows for additional exposure before the contest week begins.


    Finally, in the past we have had workshops on demonstrating various things that entail hacking Sonic games. This year is no exception - I have already had a request from someone for a potential workshop and the door is open for more. If you are interested in running a workshop please email shc[@]sonicresearch[.]org with details as to what you'd like to do.

    Keep an eye on this thread for more announcements to come.
  10. Modern


    what tu hecc is modern! Member
    I like the idea of having the hack creators submitting their own footage for the trailer, it allows them to pack more content into their section of the trailer and lets them show off what they feel would be best to show off as a teaser for the public. I actually wouldn't mind if this is how we handled the trailers for next year's SAGE and SHC, if I'm being honest.
  11. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Long-term happiness
    Pretty sure that IS how SAGE's trailer was done this year =P
  12. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    We have had some good entries submitted so far.

    Can I remind those with PC entries to provide installation instructions for their mods on their entry pages. Some have, whilst others haven't.

    We don't want issues that cropped up last year to happen again, so please state how to install your mod, whether it is for a specific mod loader or you just copy the entire contents to the game folder.
  13. Dandaman


    Also known as Dandaman955 Tech Member
    Just posting a reminder that you all have under a week left to get your submissions in if you plan on submitting your hacks to the contest (October 28th). Any submissions will need a full playable build, with a one week update period ending on November 4th. If you miss out on the deadline, you can still submit to the expo, which ends on November 11th.
  14. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    Just a warning that there are two days to go before the first deadline - if you want to take part in the Contest, you need to have an entry page up with a playable submission by the end of this Sunday.

    If you don't get that done, you won't be able to get your stuff judged, but you can still submit to the Expo, allowing you to still show off your work to the general public and of course our streamers.

    We've had a varied selection of entries this year, and it appears there are more 3D entries submitted than ever before, which should be interesting. But the door is not closed yet, so if you want to take part in the Contest, you know what to do.

    Do remember there is still the update period until the end of Sunday 4th November and judging will not commence until then - judges will however be looking at entries during the week to see if they fit the Quality Control Criteria.

    Also, don't forget to submit your entry's trailer clip to redhotsonic - the instructions are in this thread. Ideally, if you are submitting to the contest, you should have that sorted by the update deadline, but the video deadline is open to the end of Sunday 11th November just in case people are a little too busy finishing off their work to make a video.

  15. redhotsonic


    Also known as RHS Tech Member
    United Kingdom
    Remember about a month ago my PC crapped out and I had to replace the motherboard and such? Well, now even the new one isn't working correctly. So yet again, my PC is a sitting brick. I don't know when I'm able to get this fixed (a lot of other stuff going on behind closed doors), but this obviously means I do not have the sufficient tools to create this year's trailer. I'm gutted this had to happen, but Spanner has said he'll find someone else to provide the trailer. He'll announce something shortly. But for now, hold fire on sending you video clips to my e-mail address. Any that you have already sent, I will forward onto the next person who creates the trailer.
  16. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    All those who plan on entering the Contest have LESS THAN 24 HOURS TO SUBMIT. At 12am GMT on Monday (also known as 8pm EDT on Sunday, remember that the clocks are changing), no more submissions to the Contest will be possible but there is always the Expo.

    Remember, you don't need to be finished until next week, we just need that playable entry.

    Also in regards to RHS and the trailer, he did get back to me earlier saying that he may have now fixed his computer troubles after all, although I may have someone else lined up as well. So we may end up with two trailers this year, or we might just have one. There will be more about that soon.
  17. Cinossu


    London, UK
    Sonic the Hedgehog Extended Edition
    Hey everyone! This is your six hour reminder for entry into the Contest portion of the SHC! Get your entries in before midnight UK time!

    Just to clarify, this is for new entries; if you already have an entry, you still have your extra week of work to go about finishing things off. However, we will begin running quality control checks from this point on, meaning you should have a download available for us now and be happy with that being a possible entry at this point. The extra week is for sprucing things up, not to work on the entire entry in total.

    That said, entry into the Expo side is still possible, and will be up and until the Contest Week where everything is shown off and all the fun begins!
  18. Spanner


    The Tool Member
    The deadline for Contest submissions has now expired, no more submissions can be made. If you still have something you want to show, please submit it to the Expo up to Sunday 11th November!

    This week up to the end of Sunday 4th November (12am GMT on Monday 5th, 7pm EST Sunday 4th) is the update period for Contest submissions. After that, the judging will commence.

    A list will also be posted with all the Contest entries following that deadline, it'd be inappropriate to post it right now as by the end of this week we may have some entries moved to the Expo as a result of quality control or failing to submit a playable build before the deadline. Any entries that will be moved to the expo will be emailed regarding it and the reasons why.

    Regarding the trailer, RHS has told me that he will be sending back his motherboard for RMA and therefore will not be doing the trailer this year in case any further faults happen. However, Ryan from Tails Channel will be handling the duties instead. If you have already submitted clips to RHS, they will be forwarded to Ryan. If you haven't submitted trailer clips yet, please send them to SonicNewsChannel[@]gmail[.]com - please remember to submit in MP4 format, in 1080p at 60fps if possible and in the game's respective aspect ratio.
  19. Selbi


    The Euphonic Mess Member
    Northern Germany
    Sonic ERaZor
    I have the unfortunate news that I will skip being a judge for this year's contest. "Skip", not step down. It doesn't mean that I'm not interested in judging and won't do it the upcoming years either, quite the opposite actually. The issue this year arose when I took an early look at the list of SHC 2018 entries.

    Without spoiling too much, for the first time ever, we have more entries for mods of 3D Sonic games than 2D ones. Back then it wasn't much of an issue, because the subset of 3D games was small. However, this year the number of entries is so large that I cannot judge them in an unbiased and fair manner.

    You see, I've never completed any 3D Sonic game apart from SADX, because I really, really, really hate 3D Sonic games. That includes Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic 06, Shadow the Hedgehog, Generations, Unleashed, Colors, Lost Worlds, and don't even get me started on Forces. So it'd be unfaithful to any participant who submitted a mod for any of these games if I just took my preemptive bias and collectively disregarded them in favor of 16-bit games.

    An idea was to plow through all the original games before the official judging process would begin, but in reality that wouldn't change anything. Your hard work and effort put into your Forces mod won't magically make Forces a game that I can enjoy any better.

    So, to preserve the good sports and fair competition for the Sonic Hacking Contest, I will pass over my position as a judge to Melpontro, who has generously accepted to pick up the task for me and is also much more capable of proper judgment for 3D Sonic mods than me.
  20. MainMemory


    Kate the Wolf Tech Member
    You do know that people aren't going to stop making mods for 3D games, right? I'd hate for you to skip a year, only to come back next year and find there are just as many 3D entries, and then you skip another year, etc. Perhaps instead of stepping aside, you could only judge the 2D entries, and have Melpontro judge the 3D entries. Unless there's a limit on the number of judges?
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