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Old-School Level Design Contest 2021 - Discussion
Forum Index - Events - Current Contests & Events - Old-School Level Design Contest 2021 - Discussion
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Now that the deadline has passed (and that I conveniently get post 100 here #smrpg{haha}) I can now announce the judges for OLDC 2021!

 K.T.B. MrDeePay  NopeContest  patcdr and  Sinc-X!

Having skimmed through the entries myself the past couple weeks, I can say we've got a very diverse and interesting package of levels! It's definitely a competitive bunch, so it will be interesting to see who makes it out on top. :O
Good luck to all of the participants, as well as the now-announced judges! I certainly didn't expect the amount of entries to be so high at first, though 125 is still a well-rounded number to end up with.

From what I've seen so far, the levels this time around are quite neat, so it sure will be interesting to see how things play out.

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What is a Lunar Magic, and can I eat it?
Originally posted by DeppySlide
Koopster is correct.

Originally posted by slakkmichael
One thing I want to point out is that; after patching in the base rom, I get this message:



Is that something I should worry about or ignore?

From what I can tell, everyone using the baserom has gotten this message. I'm not exactly sure why this happens, but according to people on Discord the baserom should still be fine to use. If you're not comfortable using it, though, I have provided the hex edit on its own if you want to patch it yourself.

I actually didn't get this message!
Just realized that the mwl-file in my entry/zip folder is not the latest version of my level #progamer #smw{o_O}
I think it's still beatable but you could possibly be the victim of some spawn jank at the end #w{xD}
Is there a list of which number is whom so I can at least know what is the number of my entry?

e: nevermind! Shoutouts to gbreeze who suggested me to find my entry by the .bps size lol
Hi! #smrpg{sick}

For those that don't know me, I'm NewPointless. I've been having a lot of fun with this competition, but I want to share my thoughts on the contest so far.

Kaizo levels

We can see at the top of the rules, the following:

Originally posted by Deppy
Do not submit a Kaizo level, as it will be disqualified!


This seems to have been moved to the top of the list and bolded. When I asked Deppy what kaizo means, he said he doesn't want to get into a discussion about it, that I should just have a level playtested if I think it's kaizo.

Now, in my opinion, it doesn't seem fair to have such a vague rule that can potentially disqualify a level, that many contestants are legitimately confused about. Not only that, if a level is deemed kaizo by a random playtester, then the level has to be redone because that means that the core design is probably compromised.

This isn't Deppy's fault though. As far as I can tell, KLDC is being run in a similar way. There are no rules or explanation about how an entry needs to be kaizo, but some non-kaizo levels were submitted and are considered unscoreable. A "no kaizo" policy is common across most LDCs.

Discussion

Kaizo has an accepted meaning.

BeeKaay's essay on the definition of Kaizo is considered by many to be the gold standard of what Kaizo is as a design style.

This is corroborated by Gbreeze's kaizo design tutorial under the heading "B. What is a Kaizo hack?"

Hybrid design is now prominent and isn't going away.

Perhaps smaller hacks like Super Nothing World could be swept under the rug, but the watershed release of YUMP 2 puts to rest the idea that hybrid design is a fringe thing.

A level's design can be both kaizo and non-kaizo.

This is because kaizo didn't occur out of nowhere with an unexpected release. It was a trend in Japanese hacking that continued organically until it exploded in popularity with Kaizo Mario World. Many hacks are still made in this "pseudokaizo" style.

Therefore,

I believe that there is a broad segregation between kaizo and non-kaizo across the site that is going to become increasingly difficult to maintain. A lot of this comes down to the history of the site and technical hurdles in updating the site, but I think there are updates that could be made to LDCs with very little labor.

Proposals

Make rules for LDCs more concrete.

Saying "no kaizo" is abstract. Concretize the rules by disallowing exactly what is problematic. Is difficulty the problem? Tech? Glitches? Strictness?

Give the judges more power.

Judging, even for experienced kaizo players, is an arduous process. Even with save states and other quality of life hacks allowed, judging the 100+ levels for an LDC is taxing. Just give the judges the power to give up on a level. If a judge gives up, count their score as a 0, or if more than 1 judge gives up on a level, disqualify it.

This would require a shift in perspective from LDCs being about making great levels, to being about making great experiences for an intended audience.

Deduct points instead of disqualifying.

If a level is clearly, 100%, definitely not kaizo. Give it 10 points. If it forces some tech or movement that is considered exclusionary for certain audience, give it 5. If it's absolute kaizo, give it 0 or resort to some of the suggestions above.

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NewPointless
As someone who played through all levels(though some on their possible earlier state), there was only one pure kaizo level
"Winning level"
by
NewPointless
, hmm why now is that name so familiar.. Anyway, which I did kinda skip on, I did get through secret exit of it(off camera/video), but not the main one since I legitimately couldn't figure it out even after spending half hour there, with save states. You can see my playthrough here (Dont watch if you are official judge, some of the levels had authors names in their filenames I didn't erase).

And while there were about four levels I didn't beat(two for puzzles I couldn't figure out,
mycologic masochism
and
Castle of WTF?!
). And then
Rehab
and
Jolly bouncers
(long level where I got save-state softlocked(death was only option to progress) with no midway point that I didn't feel like replaying all over again, though I did beat latter off-camera/video). But none of them were kaizo, or even kaizo-lite, and I wouldn't disqualify them, for one since I played possibly earlier version of them, I gave them all lower score because of it.

There were plenty of level though, that are on the borderline of being kaizo-lite for difficulty/length wise, I played shamelessly with save-states, but I did feel they could have easily taken me hours to beat legitimate, even longer for secret exit and more for collecting all dragon coins and moon.

And what I mean exactly was that those levels were the ones where you can die easily, and or were long(some were long even with save states) so death is very punishing, especially since apparently midway points(especially working ones, I saw few where they just didn't work at all) and powerups are overrated and apparently some creators think everyone who plays their levels are mario gods or something.

But anyway, that level I mentioned first is Kaizo level. Should it be disqualified? No, just add one of those green doors from the VLDC's which takes player straight to exit(wasn't that the result of this same exact discussion on previous contest before? Im having deja vu). But thats just my two cents and the rules did clearly say in black&white, no kaizo.

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Originally posted by NewPointless
Now, in my opinion, it doesn't seem fair to have such a vague rule that can potentially disqualify a level, that many contestants are legitimately confused about. Not only that, if a level is deemed kaizo by a random playtester, then the level has to be redone because that means that the core design is probably compromised.

Is the no kaizo rule that vague, though? The compromise on whether a level is kaizo or not isn't solely deemed by a random player [though I assume you are making an estimation], because that would just cause bias. The fact is that every judge should be aware of every design philosophy to be able to judge a level well and label it appropriately according to its difficulty.

Though in case of compilations, if push comes to shove we should just outright sphere them ala VLDC as JP32 said.
The .zip is in the neighboring thread

e: my response was to IronFoxGaming who deleted their post afterwards, lol
Originally posted by Katerpie
Is the no kaizo rule that vague, though? The compromise on whether a level is kaizo or not isn't solely deemed by a random player [though I assume you are making an estimation], because that would just cause bias. The fact is that every judge should be aware of every design philosophy to be able to judge a level well and label it appropriately according to its difficulty.

Though in case of compilations, if push comes to shove we should just outright sphere them ala VLDC as JP32 said.


Yeah a lot of people were confused about this rule. I guess the intent was to make the levels beatable by the judges, who aren't kaizo players, but to a lot of the newer contestants that are part of the Kaizo community, "kaizo" is a design style and means something different.

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NewPointless
there is some levels like variety path from vldc8 that are very close to bordering kaizo but still too hard to beat.
I will agree that the no-kaizo rule is only "vague" in the sense that the line between what is and isn't kaizo is often rather blurry - depending on which definition of the word you're using, anyway. However, I still don't think that anyone should have a hard time determining what is and isn't reasonable difficulty.

I haven't finalized any of my scores and comments yet (I've written some rough drafts), though I have played through most of the entries as quick run-throughs just to get a general feel for what to expect from this batch, and there definitely are some levels - one level in particular - that I would say undeniably fall into what I consider to be the "kaizo" category. I don't really care what arguments people have for the technical definition of the term, because no matter which view you have about the philosophical meaning of kaizo, one level was still very clearly not designed with a wider audience in mind; and the levels for this contest are supposed to appeal to a decently-sized audience - that's the entire point of separating all of the site's contests into kaizo vs. non-kaizo in the first place.

Heck, I actually do play kaizo hacks myself, and I still haven't been able to complete the level I'm talking about.

This isn't at all meant as a disrespect to whoever designed it - and I'm not even really trying to call out this level specifically - I just think that people need to estimate the desired difficulty based on their audience (in this case, the "audience" is the general SMWC community at large, since this is contest is a derivative of one of the site's most prominent events). To ignore that in favor of focusing purely on whether or not your level is conforming to someone's arbitrary definition of the word is just pedantic, in my eyes.


E: Oh, and just to be extraordinarily crystal-clear here - When I talk about levels being "accessible", or appealing to a relatively wide audience, I'm absolutely not saying that levels that are even somewhat challenging should be banned, or anything like that. I'm only referring to extreme difficulty levels (such as kaizo) where 99% of the userbase can't beat them without using tools such as savestates and rewinds.

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Currently porting: Sparkster - Steel Works (Note: I've got an exam this week, so my porting progress won't be as speedy as it used to be.)
OLDC Judging: In progress
Twitter
Well that makes a lot of sense, but I guess I never assumed that the levels in this contest should be accessible to everyone.

--------------------
NewPointless
Well they should indeed be accessible to everyone and that prominently includes kaizo in their own contests.
Originally posted by NewPointless
Well that makes a lot of sense, but I guess I never assumed that the levels in this contest should be accessible to everyone.

I supposed it should be common sense. Either in kaizo or non-kaizo (light) contests.

If it's a normal level contest, entries ought to be beatable by everyone. No intricate or obscure (to standard scene) tricks. Glitches can be used, but they must be explained first and be feasible for a first-time one-go playthrough.

Kaizo: light contests are for those who understand fundamentals of kaizo philosophy and can make their courses RTA-viable.
I have a Discord server as well!

KLDC2021
OLDC2021


Basically, I believe in peace and bashing two bricks together.
Originally posted by 7 up
I supposed it should be common sense. Either in kaizo or non-kaizo (light) contests.

If it's a normal level contest, entries ought to be beatable by everyone.



Well "everyone" is a lot of people. It's not immediately apparent to me, as a first-time contestant, what the intention or audience is for an LDC. Does this discussion about a level belonging or not belonging to an LDC happen a lot?

That being said, it's my personal opinion that if a level can't be beaten by the judges, it's fair to disqualify it. I respect the judges' choice.

--------------------
NewPointless
From someone who's been in the community for a quite long time it's funny to see this come up now, as for the longest time we've been not kaizo oriented and only in rare occasions people would get into playing or designing kaizo, and now we see much of the opposite. The fact kaizo phylosophy has kind of merged into the regular level design practices of some of the community might make the two "types" a bit difficult to distinguish. It may sound kind of arbitrary, but I think the people we usually hire as judges can draw a good line between the two. If in doubt, I suggest putting your level out for playtesters who are experienced, but come from outside the kaizo community. If you tend to make kaizo, I will also suggest playing it as safe as possible.
Originally posted by NewPointless
Does this discussion about a level belonging or not belonging to an LDC happen a lot?

It's happening for ages ever since the VLDC compilations (adding the green door/sphere and all).

For instance, some people who are more into kaizo find it hard to make regular levels just for the fact that the kaizo philosophy is a lot easier to work with, such that making regular levels for a site-wide contest out of the blue to fit a specific audience is a challenge to them. And when they do, we as players are bound to find some kaizo elements here and there. I'm just putting myself in their shoes because I've been on that place before. Though as mentioned, it's a matter of just playing safe.
I'll be streaming the entries over at our twitch channel. Come in and join the fun!
Oh nice! When does it start?



Cool looking layout I guess.
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