It's that time of the year again..

Apologies for another March announcement. Whilst it was our intention to announce earlier this year, the major changes this year, as well as other things to address, caused another delay.

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 2020, we ran the Contest Week in the last week of October. We found that this resulted in problems with the stream schedule due to the clock change and Halloween happening in the same week.

Following preference given through last year's feedback form, the Contest Week will remain in October.

To prevent the same problems that affected last year's contest, it has been moved to earlier in the month, which should not be an issue for most people.

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. We'll also have news coverage much like last year.

This year, to improve coverage of entries shown during the week, we are also considering offering stream time coinciding with the Media Panel streamers for entry developers to showcase their own entry.

Like with previous years, redhotsonic will be handling the Contest Week trailer. Please stay tuned for information on how to submit for the trailer, and when to do this.

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.

Uploads and Patches

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

Compared to previous years, last year's 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.

In addition, we are engaging 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.

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

The Hacking Contest is growing! In 2021 we are expanding 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.

The considerable increase in time necessary to allocate for judging entries has made it difficult for expo entries to gain attention. Last year we widened the gap between submission deadline and contest week.

This year we fixing this with the addition of more staff; which will now focus on judging entries fitting their specialization/area.

This has also allowed the return of a few judges from previous contests, in particular for the Retro Entries, of which a few vacancies were available this year.

With judges only focusing on one area, this should improve 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.

Retro Entries:

· D.A. Garden, Jubbalub, mrcat-pixel, Ravenfreak, Selbi, Spanner, SSF1991 (Donnie), StephenUK, 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 2020 not in this list is not involved with SHC as a judge in 2021.

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, although we may bring back themed trophy names later on, as they are requested by some people from time to time. 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, Sonic 3D Blast / Flickies' Island and Sonic R.

· 3D
For all entries based on the 3D Sonic games outright.

· 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 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
· Most Potential
· Most Improved Since Last Year

As requested by many, we have returned the Best Character Implementation and Best Boss Design trophies to this year's Contest.

Due to the category split, the Top 3 that could be attributed to any entry from any category will be dropped for this year.

And what of community trophies, you ask? Well, you're all in luck this year. 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.

Deadlines

CONTEST SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: End of Sunday 12th September

CONTEST UPDATES DEADLINE: End of Sunday 19th September

EXPO SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: End of Sunday 26th September

CONTEST WEEK FROM: Monday 11th to Sunday 17th October

Ready, Set, Procrastinate!!