Should we have more SMBX contests?

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Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby ShadowStarX » Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:31 am

So, remember when SMBX had like 3 or 4 contests annually? I do.

Like, said contests' entries wouldn't live up to today's more thoughtfully crafted levels, but they were nice to have nonetheless. They brought activity to the community. I am not saying that SMBX is "dead" but it's not as lively as it could be. Discord is still decently active, but having frequent (as in, at least semi-annual) contests would help the situation a lot. And well, Beta 4 boosted the activity compared to prior to its release, but it's nowhere near exponential.

Speaking of Beta 4. Surely it only came out roughly a month ago and it's nice to have a little "sandbox time" before hosting anything. (not counting the preview builds as sandbox time) The numerous possibilities though make for great potential and it'd be a bummer to have a stagnating activity for an engine that only started getting big updates again. We have hundreds of new NPCs, blocks and lots of new features besides those. LunaLua is also easier now, and Enjl has made a very good tutorial playlist too, which means more people can learn how to pull off even wilder ideas.

Another reason I think contests would be neat to have is the fact that it p. much guarantees that all the participants get feedback, as it's not uncommon for levels in the Levels forum not to get constructive criticism. But in a contest, every single level is reviewed thoroughly by multiple judges, which doesn't only have the benefit of averaging scores out, but helps in assuring that criticism is as constructive as possible.

SMWCentral is hosting 5 contests per year on average, and while it might be a larger community in general as ROM-hacking is widely known in the gaming community, the contests play a huge part in keeping the place lively.
If you also were to look at the amount of participants of CC7-12 and SCC+ASLC, you would notice how the more frequent CCs had 70+ contestants (except for CC10) meanwhile SCC and ASLC had around 40.
Having scarce contests might also result in, at least in the case of a few people, that when a contest does happen, they'll stress out, even if just a bit and getting a worse position than desired heavily disappoints them.

So, do you think that we should have more contests per year than one or in more fortunate cases, two? Regardless of whether you agree, disagree or a bit of both, I'd like to hear your points.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby FireyPaperMario » Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:37 am

My answer: Yes, but we need more creative contest hosts imo

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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby cato » Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:54 am

Yes.
However, SMBX contest is bond to have low efficiency that it takes 2-3 months to make a level and 1-2 months for judging.

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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby ShadowStarX » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:04 pm

cato wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:54 am
Yes.
However, SMBX contest is bond to have low efficiency that it takes 2-3 months to make a level and 1-2 months for judging.
I think a workaround for that is to have different contests and not just CCs with an occasional Vanilla Contest... That means that having one contest's submission period intersect with another contest's judging period wouldn't have the issue of them being too packed.

SMW Central manages to solve keeping contests fresh and distinct through having a variety of official contests. (24HC, VLDC, KLDC, etc.)
I'd obviously not carbon-copy the contest pacing and/or gimmick of SMW Central as some of them might not fit SMBX all that well.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Enjl » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:32 pm

Only if the contests aren't all copypasted. There's far too many contests with the same rule format. I yawn whenever I see a contest thread that looks like less than a week of work went into the planning phase.
Look at SMWcentral for reference:
https://www.smwcentral.net/?p=viewthread&t=100108
Creativity Convention (a week of everyone sharing new and wip content with prizes) and the mosts can be ignored on this schedule in regards to traditional competitions.
That leaves a Kaizo Contest, a 24-hour level design contest, a 72-hour music contest, a "chocolate" contest (allowing asm programming and all that jazz), a vanilla contest (duh), superfamicompo (another music contest with different rules), and two other contests. Looking at the event history you can see that those wildcard contests were often themed, such as "Halloween Contest", or "Overworld Design Contest", or "OLDC" (design a level like it would fit into SMW). Some cool variety here. The idea is that some people might find one contest fun to participate in, and others do so for another. Making generic copypastes without direction like we always have until now will only result in burnout and people prioritizing working on contest levels OR episodes over the other, hurting the other option in the process.
As for rule format, what I mean is that if you were to increase the number of competitions, a few things need to happen:
- a contest's ruleset must cater towards the expected submissions, to discourage spamming premade or low-effort endevours. in halloween contest, for example, you could have a "spook factor" rubric that acts as a multiplier for the other rubrics (perhaps ranging from 0 to 2)!
- the idea of making episodes for all of these is unsustainable and nobody would want to play them anyway, considering a good portion of submissions are guaranteed to be poor. release the levels as a pack instead.

Going further....
- judges absolutely mustn't be able to submit themselves and i don't know how people still make contests where they can. Just mentioning to prevent potential bushfires.
- smwcentral has subforums dedicated to all their contests where people can post wips and get feedback from other contestants. i support also implementing this move here.
- given the usual lack of variety in judges in the community it might be a valid idea to remove the pressure on the poor souls frequently selected for having their judging paragraphs judged by their peers. You could, for example, have judge sign-ups during the contest's planning phase (with the planned judging period in the first post) where people post a small blurb about what they wanna see in a level in a competition built around x, and then the community selects their favourite ones
- you could also get away with doing away with detailed rankings and rubrics entirely and ask for a list of placements with justification from the judges. "i think level x did the theme the best because ..., but it was awful to play so im putting level y in first and level x in 5th". goes well with the sign-ups explaining what potential judges will look for.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby MECHDRAGON777 » Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:01 pm

I mostly agree with Enjl here. Allowing pre-made levels would be a little detrimental and SMC does have it's way so to prevent so. (Still does not stop the rare cases where a pre-made level happens to already meet the pre-requisite of the new contest though. The main part about Enjl's opinion I disagree with is the episode. I love the episodes being released. You could always delegate the episode creation to a specific team that is neither hosting, judging, or participating that wants to.

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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Enjl » Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:06 pm

MECHDRAGON777 wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:01 pm
The main part about Enjl's opinion I disagree with is the episode. I love the episodes being released. You could always delegate the episode creation to a specific team that is neither hosting, judging, or participating that wants to.
Weeks of time spent on delaying the release of the contest level bundle just so players can walk through a rushed hub rather than selecting the levels by double-clicking the files in the folder? With potentially awful navigation or progression? I won't mind it as much if the bundle is released immediately with the results, and the episode is considered a "whoever feels like it can do it" and completely separate from the actual event instead. With no clause for episode inclusion agreement in the thread and instead it being opt-out through a readme included with the submission that would prevent the level from being in an episode against the designer's will.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby ShadowStarX » Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:10 pm

Enjl wrote:
Spoiler: show
Only if the contests aren't all copypasted. There's far too many contests with the same rule format. I yawn whenever I see a contest thread that looks like less than a week of work went into the planning phase.
Look at SMWcentral for reference:
https://www.smwcentral.net/?p=viewthread&t=100108
Creativity Convention (a week of everyone sharing new and wip content with prizes) and the mosts can be ignored on this schedule in regards to traditional competitions.
That leaves a Kaizo Contest, a 24-hour level design contest, a 72-hour music contest, a "chocolate" contest (allowing asm programming and all that jazz), a vanilla contest (duh), superfamicompo (another music contest with different rules), and two other contests. Looking at the event history you can see that those wildcard contests were often themed, such as "Halloween Contest", or "Overworld Design Contest", or "OLDC" (design a level like it would fit into SMW). Some cool variety here. The idea is that some people might find one contest fun to participate in, and others do so for another. Making generic copypastes without direction like we always have until now will only result in burnout and people prioritizing working on contest levels OR episodes over the other, hurting the other option in the process.
As for rule format, what I mean is that if you were to increase the number of competitions, a few things need to happen:
- a contest's ruleset must cater towards the expected submissions, to discourage spamming premade or low-effort endevours. in halloween contest, for example, you could have a "spook factor" rubric that acts as a multiplier for the other rubrics (perhaps ranging from 0 to 2)!
- the idea of making episodes for all of these is unsustainable and nobody would want to play them anyway, considering a good portion of submissions are guaranteed to be poor. release the levels as a pack instead.

Going further....
- judges absolutely mustn't be able to submit themselves and i don't know how people still make contests where they can. Just mentioning to prevent potential bushfires.
- smwcentral has subforums dedicated to all their contests where people can post wips and get feedback from other contestants. i support also implementing this move here.
- given the usual lack of variety in judges in the community it might be a valid idea to remove the pressure on the poor souls frequently selected for having their judging paragraphs judged by their peers. You could, for example, have judge sign-ups during the contest's planning phase (with the planned judging period in the first post) where people post a small blurb about what they wanna see in a level in a competition built around x, and then the community selects their favourite ones
- you could also get away with doing away with detailed rankings and rubrics entirely and ask for a list of placements with justification from the judges. "i think level x did the theme the best because ..., but it was awful to play so im putting level y in first and level x in 5th". goes well with the sign-ups explaining what potential judges will look for.
Those are some valid points.
Some of those things are already applied for CCX1:
- judges won't compete
- the first phase is actually going to be judge applications
- I'd personally like a contests subforum and a #contests text channel on discord

A 48-hour contest with a distinct theme each time was already something I thought of. (mixing it together with Halloween, Easter, Christmas, etc. would be a nice way to test how well somebody can improvize) Obviously announcing the date of hosting 10-15 days before but only clarifying the theme when the contest begins)
Choocolate and Vanilla contests are an obvious yes too. (well we've already had those, they just became less common in the past few years)
I think that this post should be used for future reference.

Regarding episodes... if somebody wants to make one then I personally have nothing against it as it's possible to play it through the editor anyway. (the hub and its assets wouldn't take up a super high amount of space would they... or the world map for that matter)

Releasing the level bundle regardless of the episode sounds like a good idea though... It's quite a pain to collect all the levels above the score of 70/100 manually.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Cedur » Wed Mar 04, 2020 6:23 am

I also support more contests and some variety of contest ideas. Aside the things mentioned, this could also be an occasional seasonal contest theme like "halloween" and "winter", or a special level-related theme like "airship", "castle", "final level of an episode" etc.
Some fancier themes I came up with are "non-video game music" (choose actual songs for your levels) and "new X2 characters" (after the full release). However these could show not very popular in terms of participants.

Speaking of which, what I don't like about today's contests is that standards have become so high and "creativity" is so overhyped that many people might not like to enter "just for fun" and casuality is pretty much lost. Lighten up with the standards and don't punish levels that abstain from being super gimmicky and just aim at "giving the player something fun to play". This is a fangame, not science. Sometimes a super gimmicky level even gets away with having overly difficult and frustrating portions, while any other level does not. I also feel like creativity on other aspects like a variety of tiling and extensive decoration is ignored or even paradoxically discouraged by you X2 peers.
Both this and the generally decreased userbase are the reasons behind the drop of participants. So, keep expecting that amounts of participants will stay in the range of 20-50 and accept that. Going with shorter deadlines will prevent you from overcrafting your level but it will also decrease participation further. Just like any advanced theme with advanced skill demands also will.

Regarding judging: I already consider trying the next judge sign-ups. If you think my judging approach is objective and analytical enough, then please don't ignore it for being different to what the standards in this community have become in the past years. I also support Enjl's approach on how the sign-ups should work (and also trying a ranking instead of rubric scores).
I will rate gimmicky levels well if the gimmick makes the level fun and if it's exciting. If it's a trouble to play or if it's overly repetitive, I will like it less.
Any other fun and exciting level will also be rated well.
Also we learnt from AVLC to refrain from public spoiler areas for non-judges, because nobody can fill any gaps and so we had to go with just two judges in the end.
I don't think a contest subforum is needed at all, you don't need more than one (announcement) thread and they're archived in the end. Changing #events to #events-and-contests on Discord is cool, but again, no spoilers.

Regarding episodes: I found it pretty disappointing that promises from SCC and ASLC were not fulfilled. I think ToB-hub-styled episodes have become pretty stale but at the same time I don't want to give up on episodes altogether. The world map concept of LCJ was already pretty cool. I don't exactly remember how it worked so I just put an emphasis on what I'd prefer:
The map should support a quest of doing all levels progressively and not just walking around and play whatever you feel like (which would be the same effect as a level pack). I'd think of sorting similarily themed levels in a world/group/island/etc, which gives something in the way of Super Talking Time's world map. Levels of different placement tiers can be mixed, other than the straightforward progression in ToB (which sometimes sucks).
By the way, bad or frustrating levels will not be played in a level pack as well. I think the contest team should be allowed a bit of discretion on which levels are tweaked to be beatable or made optional.
Also I think that two or three subsequent contests of equal theme could be merged, depending on the amount of participants. Say, CCX1 goes with 45 entries. That's already a nice amount, so make an episode or level pack from it. Now say, CCX2 only goes with 35 entries, these could be included in the already existing episode from CCX1. The world map approach would be pretty flexible.
Of course, for a special level theme like "airship", I'd also support a level pack.

An episode has also been promised for AVLC, right? How is it being planned?
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Sancles-Chan » Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:09 am

Avlc episode is being made by me, but seeing as you can download and play all the levels yourself, I'm not exactly in a rush to finish it

Also, submitting a "casual" level to a contest is as good as not participating at all.

Contests with a set "level theme" will more often than not be aesthetic stipulations si I don't think they'd be that good ("final level of episode" is pretty interesting though)

Contest subforum would be cool, but only if the frequency and variety (as in, more than just level contests but also graphics, world maps etc) increases.

I believe the decreased userbase is directly tied to the long, eventless wait for beta 4, more contests would get people more excited.

Anyways I'm on phone so longer post maybe later idk.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby SPEEDIE » Sun Apr 12, 2020 8:36 pm

I think it would be great, because if you make levels for a contest, it gives you practice without having to make a full episode every single time you need practice, and I know you can just make single levels, but at least for me, I think that's a bit boring. If you join a contest however, even if you don't win, it still feels good to get great feedback from the player.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Cedur » Mon Apr 13, 2020 5:37 am

SPEEDIE wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 8:36 pm
I think it would be great, because if you make levels for a contest, it gives you practice without having to make a full episode every single time you need practice, and I know you can just make single levels, but at least for me, I think that's a bit boring. If you join a contest however, even if you don't win, it still feels good to get great feedback from the player.

CCX1 is upcoming. Looking forward to it and hoping for it not to be the only official contest of 2020.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby ShadowStarX » Mon Apr 13, 2020 3:43 pm

Cedur wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 5:37 am
SPEEDIE wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 8:36 pm
I think it would be great, because if you make levels for a contest, it gives you practice without having to make a full episode every single time you need practice, and I know you can just make single levels, but at least for me, I think that's a bit boring. If you join a contest however, even if you don't win, it still feels good to get great feedback from the player.

CCX1 is upcoming. Looking forward to it and hoping for it not to be the only official contest of 2020.
Hopefully we'll be able to have 3+ contests a year.
My personal ideas are:
  • 48 hour contest (the date is known beforehand, but the gimmick is announced only in the first hour)
  • Vanilla Contest X series - no CGFX and lua
  • Chocolate Contest X series
  • Other Gimmicky contests that may not be part of a series (e.g. predetermined tileset contest, X character only contest, etc.)
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Ness-Wednesday » Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:23 pm

ShadowStarX wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 3:43 pm
[*]Other Gimmicky contests that may not be part of a series (e.g. predetermined tileset contest, X character only contest, etc.)
If we could have an X character only contest, perhaps there could be official ballots (via google, no the polls) made prior to the contest. If not, I'm not sure how most of the community will be fine with the X character contests being random selections. Some could also be chosen with only the 2.0 characters (though, some are still inferior to the default cast like Bowser and Snake).
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby ShadowStarX » Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:59 am

Ness-Wednesday wrote:
Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:23 pm
ShadowStarX wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 3:43 pm
[*]Other Gimmicky contests that may not be part of a series (e.g. predetermined tileset contest, X character only contest, etc.)
If we could have an X character only contest, perhaps there could be official ballots (via google, no the polls) made prior to the contest. If not, I'm not sure how most of the community will be fine with the X character contests being random selections. Some could also be chosen with only the 2.0 characters (though, some are still inferior to the default cast like Bowser and Snake).
The thing I thought about is letting the designers go with Peach, Link, Wario and Uncle Broadsword. As most levels are designed around Mario, Luigi and often Toad.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby FireyPaperMario » Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:06 am

I had this idea for a SMBX level contest based off Oot Master Quest after the Chocolate Contest X contest is over.... But I don't think it'll make any sense to the members who played both Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Ocarina of Time Master Quest. :cry:

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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Enjl » Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:24 pm

FireyPaperMario wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 8:06 am
I had this idea for a SMBX level contest based off Oot Master Quest after the Chocolate Contest X contest is over.... But I don't think it'll make any sense to the members who played both Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Ocarina of Time Master Quest. :cry:
It would certainly make more sense if you explained the concept.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Murphmario » Wed Apr 22, 2020 11:03 am

A level contest that revolves around Link's moveset would be neat, now that I think about it.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby Cedur » Wed Apr 22, 2020 11:21 am

I think if we make a contest about a non-Mario character, we should also include new characters from SMBX2.
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Re: Should we have more SMBX contests?

Postby FireyPaperMario » Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:54 am

Enjl wrote:
Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:24 pm
It would certainly make more sense if you explained the concept.
Sorry for the one week late reply, but sure, I'll explain the "Master Quest" concept as best as I could:
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Concept:

  • If any of y'all SMBX members didn't played "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest" on either the Nintendo Gamecube and/or Nintendo 3DS, or both of them, Master Quest was a "Side-B" mod of the original Nintendo 64 masterpiece. Where all of the dungeons and temples are the same designs, but with some harder mods and traps, and requires going through them in a different room order.
  1. Example #1: In the first dungeon (Inside the Great Deku Tree), you'll have to deal with fire bat enemies that'll burn your wooden Deku shield if hit by one.
  • Example #2: A little bit early on in the Fire Temple, you'll encounter the first Iron Knuckle (A mini-boss enemy that you normally encounter later in the game during the Spirit Temple) and must fight it to continue on.
  • Example #3 (Optional): Exclusively on the 3DS version of Master Quest, you take twice the pain when you get hit. Plus, I'm pretty sure that can be translated into SMBX2.0 via Lunalua scripting for Peach, Toad, Link, and the other extra playable characters that 2.0 has (To make sense of this, use some of y'all's fancy Lunalua scripts to make 1 hit from a enemy/hazard take 2 hit points off the player's HP instead of 1! ^^").
  • Example #4: (This applies to "Hero Mode" on other Zelda games, but I'll allow it) Limit the amount of health replenishing items in the dungeon. Either limit the amount of useful power-ups in your level submissions to either less to no overpower power-ups or just super mushrooms being the only power-up you can collect for this level.

  • Optional, if you want to submit an already-made level for this if you like. But if you do, please:
  1. Make a "harder side-B version of this level! Just like in the original OoT Master Quest, but please have few to no kaizo traps. :roll:
  • Optional: Do the first thing list, and mirror the entire level (Like in the 3DS version).

That's all I can explain it. Thanks for reading



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