Hi I’m AmperSam, remember the events of 2020's "Bad Level Design Contest"? Neither do I, which is why it’s foolishly back and rebranded and I’m proud to bring it over to SMW Central for the first ever Questionable Level Design Contest! Together we are honored to give you all the opportunity again to show us your most cursed, cringeworthy, and borderline unplayable (but please make them actually playable) level ideas!
"What does that even mean?" I don’t have the answers but you probably do! Are you steeped in all the hacking memes from years back? Have you made a level and thought "maybe this shouldn’t exist, but it’s so dang fun"? Then this contest is for you! So give us your all, have fun creating and don’t take this too seriously, we aren’t!
Contest Submissions are closed. For more information about the contest close and judging process please read this announcement thread.
The goal of this contest is to showcase the best levels of "questionable" design with no creative limits placed on you, the level creators. You are encouraged to eschew traditional rules of level design, forget about polish (cutoff is allowed!), get experimental, and do some wacky and unexpected things. The more weird and wild your entry is, the better suited to this contest it will be, so good luck!
Anything goes! In this contest you are encouraged to go all out with all the resources available to you to enable your ideas! While this contest is pretty open-ended, there are still some ground rules to keep in mind to make it a good experience for all involved, which are:
- You may work with up to one (1) partner.
- You can use any patches, graphics, blocks, sprites, music, or other resources (including base ROMs) you want.
- Entries must be original. No submissions of pre-existing levels.
- Entries must be either Standard: Easy, Normal, Hard or Very Hard. Avoid making Kaizo levels as they are not appropriate to the contest criteria. Ignoring this may result in exclusion from contest placement* or disqualification.
- Entries must include infinite lives or some form of life farm, please indicate which in your submission. If your entry is found to have neither it will be patched with infinite lives.
- No more than one (1) entry per individual or partner pair.
- No more than one (1) exit per entry, and keep things within a reasonable total in-game time. Exceeding a reasonable time limit may result in exclusion from contest placement*.
- Don't spoil yourself as the author! Entries must be anonymous to the judges but joke names or pseudonyms are allowed. There won’t be a penalty for including identifying information, but try to avoid it.
- No deliberate softlocks, hardlocks or crashes. Entries that unintentionally crash or are found to be unplayable will be excluded from contest placement* or potentially disqualified on a technicality.
- Tool assistance will be used by the judges at their discretion should a level be too cumbersome, but do not make levels with that in mind, i.e. don’t expect the judges to savestate through your submission.
- Use of MSU-1 is not permitted.
The judges reserve the right to not complete your entry if it is deemed too difficult for the contest brief, submitted in bad faith, or is blatantly low-effort and a deliberate waste of their time after which they can nominate it for disqualification. Disqualification only occurs if there is consensus among all judges and organizers.
Also, the following are grounds for immediate disqualification:
- Posting a ROM as part of your submission.
- Posting an .ips patch instead of a .bps patch.
- Posting a corrupt, locked or broken .bps patch file.
- Submitting a level that is not compatible with a current, stable version of bsnes or SNES9x, or console-compatible Flash cartridges.
Important: if any material found in your entry is determined to be offensive or denigrating of any persons (living or dead) or that violates the rules of SMWCentral you will be immediately disqualified. This is a questionable level contest, not a tasteless one.
Judging & Prizes
How does one even judge a contest like this? Well our questionable experts in questionable Super Mario World gameplay: authorblues, Kezcade, rezephae, shovda, and ThirdWall have some clue (we hope) and will be evaluating your levels.
However, we’re doing something a little different for this event: submissions will not be adjudicated on rubric, point scored, and ranked, instead judges will look at levels qualitatively to determine the top 3 of the contest.
You may be thinking: "but wait there’s no scoring, how do you award top 3?" Top placement will be chosen by the judges through consensus as being the overall best in terms of the quality of level design, how well it fits the contest brief, and all the other nonsense of regular contests (like overworld, aesthetics, etc.). We think the judges' efforts are best spent determining those placements rather than ranking levels in a rubric and we’re confident that point scoring to award first, second and third would not deviate far from a qualitative evaluation of levels and the levels that will be named the "best in show" for questionable level design would be so regardless.
Levels that do not place in the top 3 will still receive a participation trophy but will not know how well they did otherwise, this is both to avoid undue focus on rank placement and allow everyone to feel good about participating in the contest.
If you're also thinking "New contest?? This must mean new trophies!" you’re right. We have a whole host of shiny new trophies for this contest up for grabs (hover for details).
Alongside the "Top 3" trophies, all non-placing entrants will receive a QLDC trophy for their participation in the contest and the judges will receive a trophy as recognition for their contribution to the event. Disqualified entries will not receive any trophies.
However we have something new for QLDC, entries that earn a special distinction from the judges (outside of top 3) will earn one of these shiny orb trophies instead of a participation trophy, for doing something particularly unique or memorable or uniquely memorable in their level, for example (hover for details):
There is no limit on these distinctions but they will not be handed out arbitrarily and each judge will have to make a case to the other judges for levels they want to give distinctions to in order to award an orb trophy. So do your best to stand out!
Now this may be a lot to wrap your head around if you’re used to how regular contests work but we hope this new format makes it fun for all involved and gives everyone the opportunity to win more things and be showcased in the event!
You must submit your entry as an unlocked .bps file created using Floating IPS on a clean Super Mario World ROM. Submitting an .ips file will result in disqualification! You can put your .bps file in a Zip or 7-zip archive if you want. For ease of submission and access, we suggest using your personal File Bin here on the site to host your patch or archive file.
To avoid potential disqualifications for patch errors, make sure your .bps is in working order by re-applying it to your copy of Super Mario World before submitting it. We will do our best to check your patch for errors, so try not to make last-minute submissions!
Submit your entry in this thread. If you need to update your entry, EDIT YOUR POST instead of creating a new one! Duplicate posts will be ignored in favour of your oldest post, so keep your entry up-to-date.
You are allowed to showoff things from your level in the contest Discussions thread or in #qldc-showoff on Discord, but you must post your final level in this thread in order for it to be judged.
All submissions must be in by Friday, August 13, 21:00 UTC, which means you have:
Special thanks to Doctor No for guidance and helping me get setup for organizing this first contest with you all.