About the Sonic Hacking Contest General information about the SHC, the judges, trophies, and other important details

Welcome

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, as well as the removal of a few trophies and adding some new ones that people will hopefully like. 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.

The Judges

This year's judges will consist of Ayla, Cinossu, Clownacy, SuperEgg, SSF1991 (Donnie), and Spanner, 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.

The Trophies

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.

The Community Trophies

Next are the trophies that will be 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.

The Rules

  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. This can range from zone and act breakdowns to a full change log, if need be, and is 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.

Quality Control Criteria

This year we're being a bit more stringent than last, and introducing Quality Control Criteria that your entries into the Contest must abide to in order to make it past the initial stages of the contest elimination. While this may seem harsh, we are trying this out to maintain a good standard of quality in this year's Contest. While the Expo won't be as strict, entries will still be somewhat subject here too.

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 (or at least 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 entry would pass the criteria, please do not hesitate to contact a judge for clarification!

The Stance on Sonic Mania Mods

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, Sonic 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 Sonic Mania mods may be entered for the Hack Expo only.

Please bear in mind that we have 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, right up to the point of the final deadline.

The Deadlines

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 the various forum threads wherein a judge will be able to provide some sort of answer.

The Contest Week

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.

And Finally

For further immediate updates, please visit the forum threads at SSRG, Sonic Retro, SFGHQ, and/or Sonic Stadium. We'll let you know when this website is updated for the 2017 Contest so you can begin submitting your entries. 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, and subscribe to our Twitch channel. If you wish to join our very own Discord server please contact a judge for a private invite. We also have an IRC Channel which relays from the main Discord channel available at irc.badnik.zone #shcontest.

Please remember that the contest rules and features can change at any time - further announcements will be posted in due time.


So with that, we'll leave you to your hacking!

Ready, Set, Procrastinate!