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Welcome to the Sonic Hacking Contest 2016!

It's that time of year again!

Yup, you guessed it, it's time for the 2016 Sonic the Hedgehog Hacking Contest! The major changes we introduced the last three years were well accepted and, while we had a whole new site planned, real life got in the way. Again. Gotta love day jobs. But don't worry! This site will work just as well as the last three times, and hopefully without some of the random downtimes we've had in the past!

For those that do not know, this contest is for Sonic hacking enthusiasts who wish to enter and show off their current works, or who have in some cases created entries specifically for the contest itself. Ranging from Sonic 1 through to Sonic Generations, traversing an all-manner of gaming platforms from 8-bit to Modern Consoles, entries in the contest usually have something for everyone.

Teams and individuals can submit as many entries as they want, and once all are entered and the deadline is met a panel of judges will take a detailed look at each and every one of them, discussing and making decisions on which entries should win which trophies. The community trophies also make a return this contest, where you yourself can vote for your favourite entries!

Sounds Great! How Do I Enter?

Just like the last two years the contest works by entering hacks/modifications on this very website. To do this the first thing you have to do is log in with your Sonic Retro or SSRG forum account. If you do not have one and wish to enter, please make one. You have to get through either site's trial period before being able to log in and begin submitting, however exceptions may be made depending on the person and situation by contacting one of the contest judges.

Once done, you will be able to go to the My Entries section and fill in the online submission form. You will be required to provide the name of your entry, some fast facts about it, as well as a description for its information page. It can be as detailed as you want, so go crazy! Once the deadline for the contest has been reached, you will be unable to create any more new submissions.

Also required will be at least three media entries, one of which must be a title screenshot that will be used as a thumbnail and main image of your entry page, and two gameplay media entries. By media entries, we mean screenshots or videos. Screenshots can be uploaded directly on to the website, but videos will use Youtube embeds. You can have as many media entries if you wish, just that three is the minimum.

Actual entry uploading will only allow for Mega Drive-format ROMs, currently, and only up to a maximum of 8mb. This is to prevent non-entry-related files to be uploaded. They must be uncompressed, as this website will compress them for you. If your entry has trouble being uploaded on this website, or if your entry doesn't meet these requirements, you can upload it elsewhere and specify a download URL. Do note that there will be a warning on your entry's information page upon clicking download just explaining about the download being off-site and a potential risk to the user.

Entries within My Entries have three statuses; Incomplete, Public and Partial-Private.

Incomplete entries are visible only to you and the judges, not to anyone public. Use this while working on your entry's description, media gallery and actual entry upload/off-site download URL until it is ready. Any entries left as Incomplete when the deadline is reached will be further unable to be modified and ignored during the voting stages, so make sure to change its status before then if you still wish to compete!

Public and Partial-Private entries will be visible to anyone and everyone viewing the website once the contest deadline has been reached. This does not include the week allowed to make modifications, and entries set to Public and Partial-Private will be visible during this week; only downloads are kept hidden from the public until the voting stage begins. Setting your entry to this means that you are definitely entering into the contest. Please note that there is no given way to change your entry back to Incomplete.

The major difference between Public and Partial-Private entries is that only Public entries will be downloadable by everyone. Partial-Private entries are only downloadable by the site judges and media panel, meaning only your description and media gallery will be shown to the public. You can change between Public and Partial-Private types as often as you want, and once the deadline has been reached you will be given an additional week to further modify your entry and entry page. Once this additional week is over you will be unable to further modify your entry.

Teams can be made up of both Sonic Retro or SSRG users, so if your team traverses both sites there is no need for anyone to re-register. Once a team has been created and set up, and an entry has been set up to be attributed to the team, any of the team members can make updates the entry. It also makes it so team members can't vote on their own team's entries, stopping the possibility of some cheating(!)

Okay, I've Submitted My Entries And Finalised Them. What Happens Now?

The week after the final deadline (after the additional week for modifications), all completed entries are set to visible to the public. You will be able to view your entry as well as all others, read the descriptions and view the media galleries, as well as download entries if they are set to Public. From here, you will be able to leave comments on entries as well as place a vote for them on a Community Trophy. You will only be able to vote for one entry per trophy, but you will be able to vote for more than one trophy per entry. To view all of your votes, you can go to the My Votes section. Just like with entries, you will need to be logged in to your Sonic Retro or SSRG forum account to vote.

During this time, and time after as well if history is to go by, the judges will be viewing and discussing all entries in the contest. Once all judges are agreed on which entries should get which trophy, the Trophy results will be published on the Results page along with the Community Trophy results as well. We will hopefully have some additional events during this week, including live streaming of hacks, IRC workshops lead by experienced hackers and quick time-limited contests that could last for the one week, one day or even one hour! What can you do in terms of a hack from scratch in such a limited time? This could be your chance (and everybody else's) to find out.

If you have any further enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us by going to one of the Sonic Hacking Contest topics on either the Sonic Retro or SSRG forums.

Contest Deadline

The deadline for entries, this year, will be 9th October 2016. No new entries may be submitted after this date, but an additional week will be given for any modifications to already-submitted entries. Once this is over, the Contest Week begins on 7th November 2016 for public voting on the Community Trophies, as well as the judges beginning their discussions, debates and general judging duties.

Contest Rules

There are a number of simple rules that you must abide to when entering this contest. Some of these may be repeating what is already written above, but this is to keep them all together in a concise list. Please be aware of them when submitting your entries:

  1. Your entry must be based on an existing Sonic the Hedgehog ROM or game. No homebrew submissions will be accepted.
  2. No palette-only hacks - we have moved on from these sorts of hacks and we know you can set your goals higher.
  3. Level layout-only hacks will be accepted. If you feel you can't do much else with your hack and think it can't be submitted, think again. Be sure to ask a judge for a second opinion if you're unsure, though.
  4. Joke hacks along the lines of Sonic 1337 will not be accepted. Humourous hacks are most definitely accepted, however!
  5. No Fully Private hacks are allowed. Entries are either Public (can be downloaded by anyone) or Partial-Private (media such as screenshots, videos and music only available to the public, the ROM itself available to the judges).
  6. At least three media entries, such as screenshots (absolutely mandatory, including a title screen image) and videos (YouTube embed IDs), are required for entries, and you will not be able to finalise your entry without them. The judges will no longer make screenshots for you, but seeing as all emulators come with some form of screenshot functionality this should not be an issue.
  7. E-mailed submissions will not be accepted. All submissions must be done via this website.
  8. No double (or more) voting via multiple accounts. While it is possible to log in with both a Sonic Retro and an SSRG account separately, any double-(or-more)-voting will be met by your votes being marked void, any entries by either of your accounts marked void also, and further participation in the Sonic Hacking Contest this year (and possibly others) denied to you.
  9. All submission uploads must be playable. Do not upload an entry that is unplayable just to get the extra allocated time, upload the latest playable version. Reasons for this vary from previous contests where "protected" entries were uploaded to get the additional time and causing confusion between both entrants and judges, to making sure that an entry is valid at the point of the final deadline. If for some reason you upload an entry and miss the very final week-after deadline, you will not be allowed to replace the entry and can potentially forfeit any running you have in the contest.
  10. Any entries found with stolen content will not be tolerated and anyone caught will be dealt with severely, the least of which their entry being made null and void. If anyone suspects an entry to have stolen content, please contact a judge immediately.

Please note that these rules can change at any time. Check back often (or at least before you submit something) to make sure they haven't without your prior knowledge.

Contest Judges

This year's judges will consist of Spanner, Ayla, Cinossu, LazloPsylus, Shannon, SuperEgg, SSF1991, Amphobius, and Clownacy. This team will, as previous years, be reliable and able to deal with contest judging as soon as possible in order for us to progress through the contest and get the results out this year 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. Please note that the final decisions are subjected to the Judging Team, and may not reflect your own opinion. The judges may change at any time.

The Trophies

First are the normal trophies. These are given and decided on by the judges mentioned above. Please note that any level-specific trophies are now hack-specific, meaning they no longer go by individual levels in a hack.

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.

Green Hill Trophy

Entry (or specific level of an entry if non-applicable) that plays most like a Sonic game.

Windy Valley Trophy

Best art in an entry submitted.

D.A. Garden Trophy

Best music in an entry submitted.

Lava Reef Trophy

Best level layout in an entry submitted.

Genocide City Trophy

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

Wing Fortress Trophy

Best cutscene in an entry submitted.

Azure Lake Trophy

Best multiplayer entry submitted.

Generations Trophy

Best 3D Sonic game modification submitted.

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 miniboss in an entry submitted.

Spindash 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.

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.

Big the Cat Trophy

Worst entry overall in the contest.

Newtrogic High Trophy

Voted best entry of the contest by the Media team.

Next are the Community Trophies. These trophies will be based on public votes accumulated over the Contest Week.

Hidden Palace Community Trophy

Voted best entry submitted overall.

Big the Cat Community Trophy

Voted worst entry submitted overall.

Windy Valley Community Trophy

Voted best art entry submitted.

D.A. Garden Community Trophy

Voted best music entry submitted.

Lava Reef Community Trophy

Voted best level layout entry submitted.

11000101 Community Trophy

Voted best technical entry submitted.

Polygon Jim Community Trophy

Voted most unique entry submitted.

And so with all that, we'll leave you to your hacking!

Ready, Set, Procrastinate!!