It's that time of the year again..

We said last time we won't do a March announcement and we made good on that word....the week before March.

Sorry about that but as you know, reviewing and planning the contest takes time, along with Judges' personal and work commitments too. Hopefully we'll be able to announce earlier next time.

In any case, people have more than enough time to plan for this year, and there will be those intending to submit, who have been working on potential entries long before this announcement.

Contest Dates and Contest Week

In 2021, we ran the Contest Week in the middle of October. This did not seem to cause any issues, therefore we'll be using similar dates for this year.

Like the last few years, the public will have a chance to view this year's entries, download the hacks and vote for Community Trophies which are only applicable to Contest entries.

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 possible, the Contest Week is your best time for it.

As before, we'll have an extensive list of streamers playing the entries during the Contest Week - these will be announced closer to the time of the Contest when they have been finalised.

In addition to streaming, there will also be dedicated YouTube uploads of games being played too, the Media Panel is not just for streamers. We'll also have news coverage much like last year.

The Media Panel is a stacked lineup that continues from previous years of the Contest Week, as a result it can be hard for us to open stream space to more people as we do not want to overlap other streams unless we have no choice.

Therefore, if you are a content creator and we think you would be a great fit to our lineup, we will contact you to invite you on board, however please understand that we do not have the capacity for every person out there.

Whilst we have plenty of English language content creators, we could always do with expanding our non-English reach: if you have an established platform with a good audience that can help out with this, do contact us.

As with last year, we may offer stream time coinciding with the Media Panel streamers for entry developers to showcase their own entry (Developer Streams), however last year's offer was not taken up much by entrants.

Like with previous years, there will be a Contest Week trailer. Please stay tuned for information on how to submit for the trailer, and when to do this. Please see the 2021 trailer as an example, which was created by redhotsonic.


Speaking of 2021 entries, all Contest and Expo entries are accessible by visiting the SHC Vault and selecting SHC2021. The Vault also contains public entries to download starting from SHC2012 onwards.

Deadlines and Judging

As per before, you can choose to submit your entry to the Contest (which is judged) and the Expo (which is not, and therefore has a later deadline for entries).

This will allow us to ensure that we can better tackle niche games (should any be submitted), better than in prior contests.

Please note regarding Expo entries:

Whilst we encourage Expo entries, especially for those who do not want their entries to be judged, please note that SHC do not see them as unimportant compared to Contest entries.

We encourage all to download Contest and Expo entries, and there are always good Expo entries that stand out just as well as Contest entries, they are not always under the radar.

We cannot however force our streamers to play all entries, especially with a limited schedule for many, and if some focus on just Contest entries, it is because those are eligible for trophy voting.

Uploads and Patches

As per last year, all entries will be uploaded to the site. No off-site links will be permitted again.

Again, our download system allowed for entries to be downloaded without putting any strain on the website, and at no point did the site go down during the week.

Last year, we engaged with mod loader developers to offer one-click installs of entries on the SHC website when the entries are available to download during the Contest Week, for ease of access and to ensure people play the correctly entered mod builds.

Unfortunately due to the site developer's time constraints, we were unable to offer it for 2021, however we do intend to have this up and running this year, as this will benefit the Contest and Expo entries massively.

To address an issue encountered during last year's Contest Week, this year we will also offer a separate upload area where entrants can offer additional files where required for Judges and Media Panel such as save files to access all content they want to show. We will also improve the presentation of the descriptions, including when being downloaded from the site, as this was another issue that had been reported from last year too.

As a general note to anyone who submits, please ensure that you follow the instructions given on the website, filling in the required details where asked to, as well as marking your entry as Complete in order to submit.

Entries marked as Incomplete by the end of the Contest deadline will be moved to the Expo. Entries marked as Incomplete by the end of the Expo deadline will not be showcased.

The Judges

In 2021 we expanded the judging team to include more community members, each specialized in the various entry categories.

Thoroughly judging entries is time consuming. In 2020 we had a 35% increase in the total amount of entries due for judging compared to the previous three years.

While judges have their preference in terms of how much time is spent on a hack, the fact is that in order to play all contest hacks through from the beginning to the end it typically takes anywhere between 12 and 20 hours.

For those judges who write verbose evaluations, the overall time taken can sometimes even double.

With judges only focusing on one area, this should improved the situation for judges and entrants alike.

While most judges will be sticking to categories they are specialized in, certain judges may choose to judge one or more entry categories.

The list of judges is very similar to 2021, with the vast majority returning for another year.

Retro Entries:

• D.A. Garden, Jubbalub, mrcat-pixel, Ravenfreak, Spanner, SSF1991 (Donnie), SuperEgg and Yoshister

2DPC Entries:

• Axanery, Jubbalub, LJSTAR, RMGRich, Rubberduckycooly, SSF1991 (Donnie) and SuperSonic16

3D Entries:

• Dario FF, ĐeäTh, HyperBE32, ItsEasyActually, Melpontro, Sajid, Sewer56, Skyth, SpeepsHighway, SSF1991 (Donnie) and TwilightZoney

Cinossu remains involved with the SHC website and will be focusing on that this year rather than taking part in judging.

Any other judge from 2021 not in this list is not involved with SHC as a judge in 2022. We have decided not to replace them as the affected category had more than enough Judges still available.

Judges & Contest Submissions

Judges will be allowed to submit their own hacks, however they will not be allowed to judge their own entries (conflict of interest).

This includes submissions that they have been involved with, such as team submissions.

Like last year a spreadsheet has been made to track which games individual Judges can play, although bear in mind this year, Judges will only judge their own section unless otherwise stated.

After the main contest finishes, the Judges will provide more detailed evaluations of the entries to give their opinion, thoughts, and advice they feel is deserved.

Disclaimers

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.

Not all judges can judge all games as they may not have the capability to do so.

For example: 360/PS3 based Sonic hacks requiring either powerful PC for emulation or hacked console. If you submit a non 8/16-bit entry please have this in mind.

The majority of judges however are capable of playing PC-based game entries. Due to the category split, this should not be much of a problem this year.

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.

Trophies

The format is the same to last year, these trophies will be given themed names later on in the year. First, we have three main categories that entries can fall under:

• Retro
For any and all retro console hack entries. This also will include the PC games Sonic & Knuckles Collection and Sonic 3D Blast / Flickies' Island..

• 3D
For all entries based on the 3D Sonic games outright, whether it's Sonic R, Sonic Adventure DX, Sonic 06, Sonic Forces, the list goes on and on.

• 2D PC
For those entries based on the 2D ports, rereleases, and remasters on PC, as well as Mania. Please note the following below:

RSDK decompilation based mods will also be permitted this year, and can be submitted to both the Contest and Expo, as they are based on the official iOS/Android releases.

Any mods of Sonic 3 Angel Island Revisited (A.I.R) will be permitted in the Expo only, and not the Contest, as it is not based on an official release other than usage of the ROM.

All three of these categories will have a Top 3 result and individual trophies of the following:

• Best Visual
• Best Audio
• Best Technical
• Best Level Design
• Best Level Layouts - NEW
• Best Voted by Media Panel
• Most Entertaining
• Most WTF (Polygon Jim)
• Best Team Entry
• Best Multiplayer Entry
• Best Character Implementation
• Best Boss Design
• Best Fresh Concept Using Existing Concepts As A Backbone
• Best Best Entry of a Game Not Commonly Modified - NEW
• Most Potential
• Most Improved Since Last Year

Each category will feature a Top Three for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place, they will be given themed trophy names too.

And what of community trophies, you ask? Apart from the obvious exception of "Best Voted by Media Panel", the community get to vote on each and all of these categories and trophies as well.

Regarding Themed Trophy Names

SHC used to have themed trophies for contest winners, rather than standard names.

For example, Hidden Palace was first place. Most entertaining / fun entry submitted was the Casinopolis Trophy.

In an attempt to make things easier to understand, we scrapped the themed names for SHC 2019.

People asked for them to be returned for a few years, and it has been something that was on the back burner, as we corrected other aspects of the SHC to improve upon prior years, such as 2021 bringing a complete judging split.

So now we want to bring the themed trophies back, but rather than spend months trying to come up with new or returning names, we're leaving it to the public, to give us their best suggestions. We will take them into consideration.

You can suggest as many or as little trophy suggestions as you want, just fill out the form again for the trophy names.

Contest Rules

Please note that these rules can be changed, added to, or removed from at any time. In such event, the contest staff will notify you through this thread and send a global announcement using any form of Social Media we have at our disposal. We recommend checking back often to ensure nothing has changed.

Everything described in these next sections applies to both the Contest and the Expo unless otherwise specified.

Entry Eligibility

1. Your entry must be based on an existing ROM or game tied to the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise. Homebrew submissions are not accepted.

Hack of Super Mario 64 converting it into a Sonic game.
Custom game engine with imported Sonic game assets.
Hack of a Sonic game turning it into a non-Sonic game.
Hack of a Sonic game introducing new features/content to the game.

Tech demos of console to PC/console conversions are acceptable if based on an existing ROM and/or disassembly.

2. Joke/Meme entries are not allowed in the Contest. Public evaluations clearly shown people did not like the abundance of them in previous contests. Once again we will not be allowing them. They will however be allowed in the Expo provided Quality Control Criteria are met.

3. 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.

Submission Rules/Guidelines

1. Each entry by a participant may only be submitted to either the Contest or Expo. You cannot have the same entry in both. That said, nothing stops you from submitting any number of different entries to the contest and the expo.

"Sonic Hack R" in Contest AND Expo.
"Sonic Hack R" in Contest.
"Sonic Hack R" in Expo.
"Sonic Hack R" in Contest, "Sonic Hack Z" in Expo.

2. You must include media such as screenshots and videos. The staff will not waste time making these for you.

3. All submissions must be completed through the online site. Emailed or direct-messaged entries will not be accepted.

4. You must inform what has been changed or explicitly what has not. This can be zone and act breakdowns to a full change log, if need be. We need to ensure stock vanilla levels and completely untouched gameplay is not being judged and/or played by the general public. Submissions can 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.

Quality Control

In the Sonic Hacking Contest we take quality control very seriously, but try to be inclusive enough to potential contest participants by not setting the bar too high.

For Contest entries the quality control is pretty strict, while for the Expo entries we are a bit more lenient. As a general rule of thumb, we use the following measurements to decide whether an entry is of sufficient quality for the Contest.

Retro & 2D PC Entries

Must have at least 3 of the following:

A. Palette changes, physics changes and other various minor modifications.
B. Art changes, layout changes and/or mapping changes.
C. Engine, sound driver and/or special stage functionality changes.
D. Music and sound effect modifications.

3D Entries

Simple texture only hacks.
Simple object layout modifications.
Model swaps of existing game models, unless the process is technical.
Collections of custom models, assets, objects.
Custom levels and/or playable stages of acceptable quality.
Custom game logic/code written in assembly or existing game logic hooked using arbitrary programming language (C/C++/C#/D etc.)
Modification(s) that change features in the playable game itself.

All Entries

Alternatively if your entry meets any of the following criteria (regardless of entry type), it is sufficient to enter the Contest.

Pick at least 1 of the following:

A. Complete change to the rules of a Sonic game. (Example(s): Sonic Bash v2, Boss Rush Hacks, Knuckles Emerald Hunt)
B. Overhaul into a whole new game. (Example(s): Sonic Scorched Quest, Sonic Virtual Adventure)
C. Technical feat(s). (MarkeyJester's Mode 7 Mega Drive experiments, Lantern Engine, Sonic 4 in 1, etc.)

Can't meet the criteria?

Take some time, look at what you are missing or need to work on and come back in next year with an even better hack than your current one.

Unsure if your entry meets the standards?

Ask a judge or a member of the Hacking Contest staff. If it happens to be the case you already have submitted your entry, do not be concerned. We will tell you if we believe the entry does meet the given standards.

Copyright & Intellectual Property

1. All work used from external sources/contributors (sprites, VGM conversions, etc) must be credited. Hacks found with stolen and / or uncredited content will not be tolerated. If anyone suspects an entry to have stolen and / or uncredited content either flag the entry or contact staff immediately.

2. If you have used asset collections such as music packs from the Internet, please be wary that they are known to contain content illegitimately ripped from other hacks. Please always double check your original sources.

3. If you are reusing assets from another game (such as its art as part of a level) or other assets not created by you, please mention the game or original location in the credits section of the entry page. This will be available this year on the website for you to credit all your work.

The general course of action for stolen content is that the participant will have all of their entries removed from the Sonic Hacking Contest.

What Not To Do

1. Cause or exacerbate drama. The contest is not an appropriate place to air your grievances with individuals or communities.

2. Include obscure jokes/memes that most people will not understand. If the entry focuses on inside 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.

3. Have NSFW content accessed through normal means. Easter eggs are okay, provided accessible without prior knowledge of existence. Adding the method of access through your entry description, will be considered as "accessed through normal means".

4. Make a joke entry with the sole purpose of just gaming the rules/exploit any loopholes. You'll just be banned, from this year and possibly future years as well.

Entrants Code of Conduct

Whilst the Contest Week generally goes without much issues, unfortunately in 2021 there was a particular problem relating to some contest entrants acting in a rather disrespectful and unprofessional way, very much the low point of what was a generally decent Contest Week. We cannot have this again, therefore we have an Entrants Code of Conduct this year, just like how we have a Judges Code of Conduct.

These are a set of rules and guidelines to follow for this year.

All entrants of SHC (Context and Expo) will agree to the following as part of their submissions:

  • To be civil in their interactions during the Contest Week. Many attendees of SHC’s Contest Week are not hackers or modders, they are the general public (just like some entrants were before they submitted to SHC in later years), interested in playing your entry. If they are unsure on how to play the entry, or have any questions, be fair to them.
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  • Not to disrespect or harass SHC staff or associates, including the Media Panel (our official streamers and content uploaders), during the entirety of the contest, including before and after the Contest Week. As per the rules, SHC is not a platform for your community drama.  
       
    • Sidenote: We explicitly provide all information to the Media Panel weeks before the Contest Week with entries which include the descriptions and notes you give to them.
    •  
    • As mentioned earlier on this page, you must be clear with your description, with instructions given on how to play if different from the main base game, and how to set up.
    •  
    • We try our best to ensure your entry is played to the standards you want but do also understand some people like to play the game in their own way too.
    •  
    • We also assist with any setup enquiries that are brought up. It is however up to the Media Panel to raise these issues up if they are having any, we try our best to advise them accordingly but do understand many of these streamers are very busy, taking time out of their schedules to help present SHC for a week.
    •  
    • Also, we cannot guarantee your entry will be played by particular Media Panel members. The schedule is very busy and streamers only have as many slots available for them to go through entries. If they cannot show many Expo entries for example, please understand this is solely due to time constraints, rather than anything else. Some Media Panel members will also be uploading content out with streams.
     
  • Accept that their entry may be played differently to their standards. If someone isn’t a professional at the base game, then do realise they may not play the mod well either.
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  • To accept the judging results (both Judged and Community) whether or not their entry wins any trophies, and not to cause a bad reaction on the likes of Twitter or elsewhere if they do not agree with the results, if they didn’t win the trophy they wanted, etc.
  •  
  • Remember, it’s not just the judges who vote, but the public too through Community Trophies.

We encourage anyone who sees the above to report any issues to SHC should submitters break these rules.

Do note we can’t control what goes on in outside spaces (such as a non-SHC Discord server) but if brought to our attention we can look into it and discuss the issue raised with the affected parties (including the entrant themselves) and take action accordingly if required. We have moderator or above contacts in many community servers we can go to if needed should the issue occur there.

If the issues take place in SHC hosted spaces (the contest site, the Discord, any other SHC provided services) then SHC staff absolutely have a right to intervene. Public spaces such as Twitter are also something we can take into consideration as they are not private profiles. Everything else ultimately is a case by case basis.

Any action taken will depend on how severe the rule break is. For some cases a warning will suffice. At the most extreme, we can and will disqualify contest entries submitted, void any votes, and have it put in the expo, if these issues occur during the Contest Week.

We do not want to ban entries, but we must have respect from entrants, regardless if it’s towards the public, our streamers, our staff, etc.

The SHC is the time of the year where hacks and mods get the highest exposure from the public.

Don’t risk your entry getting bad attention because of you.

If anyone has an issue with these guidelines, please contact SHC to discuss your case.

Judges Code of Conduct

Following a few issues presented during the 2020 Contest Week and Judging Evaluations, we have created a Judges' Code of Conduct to provide transparency to the public with what a Judge is and is not expected to do during the judging of entries and before, during or after the Contest Week. We hope this addresses any concerns some may have and encourage people to submit to this year's Contest and Expo along with subsequent events.

In Relation to Representing SHC

• If a Judge feels that they can not judge entries this year, for personal or other reasons, they should inform SHC prior to commencing the judging period, to allow for a replacement Judge to be recruited in good time to allow for a full judging period for them.

• Judges are not permitted to discuss potential winners or voting statistics as this can result in influencing the voting; the results will be announced at the end of the contest week.

• Judges should not engage in any form of community drama which may implicate SHC during the SHC contest and judging period.

• Anything that happens on another website or platform is completely unrelated to SHC unless the issue seriously affects SHC as well. Leave the drama at the door. We all want a good SHC, not something ruined by the latest drama.

In Relation to Evaluations

• Judges will only evaluate the categories they have agreed to participate in. The categories are split into Retro, 2D PC, and 3D. By splitting the Judges, this will allow all entries to be judged in the fairest of manners, compared to previous years of the Contest where all Judges took part in evaluation and allocating trophies to all entries regardless of type.

• Judges must evaluate all the entries submitted should they have the capability to do so.

Exception 1: If a Judge is involved in an entry, either individual in a major capacity, or as a team effort, the Judge is excused from judging and evaluating said entry.

Exception 2: If for whatever reason, the Judge cannot play the game, due to hardware requirement issues, if a multiplayer entry cannot be done through net play, etc.

Exception 3: If a Judge, for whatever reason, cannot provide an honest judging or evaluation of an entry due to issues with the contest participant in general, rather than cause drama, they may excuse themselves, within good reason. However, this exception may only be granted on the most severe of circumstances and therefore this must not be abused and must be raised and approved by other judges prior to requesting this.

• Judges may not show bias towards an entry because they do not like the base game, characters, etc.

• Judges are allowed to evaluate the entries as they see fit, they are not asked to evaluate anything a certain way, if they want to rate something out of ten or give them a five star rating, that's their call, not every judge will be the same.

• Judges accept that although their opinion on each evaluation reflects their own opinion and not SHC as a whole, what can be said ultimately can be seen as reflecting SHC as a whole.

• Judges are allowed to express an opinion on each entry as they see fit, but should avoid problematic behaviour such as derogatory and outright offensive comments, as this can bring the SHC into a negative light and can put people off from submitting again.

In Relation to Streams

• Judges are permitted to assist streamers off-screen with entry setup and technical issues. Streamers however should prepare entries outside stream time, to avoid any delays. Streamers should also pay attention to the entry description and setup instructions.

• Judges may not force themselves in any way (through stream chat, direct messages, or any other way to beg for invitation) into participating on air of any Contest Week streams, or be seen as biased towards particular entries, regardless of their involvement.

• Any judge who is invited onto a stream is done so as an invitation of the streamers themselves, who may have their own participants (including non-Judges) in place.

The Judges fully accept this Code of Conduct and understand that violation of any of these guidelines can result in not being invited back to judge for subsequent contests.
Other Considerations

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

2. Offensive content without good context is frowned upon and should be avoided to prevent issues.

3. Give a thought about your target audience. Make sure your entry is not over-complicated to run or unnecessarily bloated. If a mod can be 200MB and easily installed with a mod loader, we don't want to see a 2GB submission that achieves the same thing requiring total file replacement.

4. All entries should be enjoyable for all to play. Please refrain from submitting monotonous, off-putting, or insanely difficult entries (such as "Kaizo" hacks). While these are enjoyable to some we want everyone here to be able to enjoy your entries, and unfortunately these just do not do so to most. If you feel you must submit one of these, please stick to the Expo rather than the Contest.

5. 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.

6. Contact us if you have any issue regarding the Contest. Whilst we do try to collect feedback and other responses from people following the end of the previous year’s Contest Week, on occasion we do come across people who have something to raise regarding the Contest, but do not contact the proper people about it, leading to some issues or grievances not being addressed, which can lead to potential entries not being submitted in some cases.

An example of this can be the 2020 Contest Week being in the week of Halloween, which some people saw as an inconvenience, but people did not bring this up when SHC was announced months before, for which we could have altered the dates if this was preferred. People are entitled to discuss what they think about SHC with people in private settings, but ultimately the only people who can take action, are SHC staff.

It is therefore important that if you have had an issue with SHC at any point of time, to directly contact SHC. If there is anything you want to discuss regarding SHC, you can submit to this form, and staff will reply back in due course.

Please do not use this form to air your grievances about individuals involved in SHC or communities that do or do not take part in SHC activities.

Deadlines

CONTEST SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: End of Sunday 4th September

CONTEST UPDATES DEADLINE: End of Sunday 11th September

EXPO SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: End of Sunday 25th September

CONTEST WEEK FROM: Monday 10th to Sunday 16th October

Ready, Set, Procrastinate!!

Subscribe to the SHC Newsletter for Updates





Thanks to ShogunDX for the SHC background featuring 2021's entries, and CalamityJames for converting the SHC placeholder page.