This time of year means different things to different people - for some, it’s a break from school. For others, it’s hardly a break at all, as classes and extracurriculars pile up, not to mention work. For others still, school days are long gone and we’re just counting down to the weekend.
In any case, if you’re here, then no matter what this time of year means to you in that context, there is one thing that you have in common with the others reading this: this time of year is exciting.
It’s time for the ninth Kaizo Level Design Contest. The goal is, as it has always been:
Make the best kaizo level you can, beatable without tools.
Original levels only.
- Do not submit a level that has been included in any past races, compilations, or accepted/pending/rejected hack submissions to SMW Central.
All custom graphics, sprites, music, and any additional patches, including SA-1 and MSU-1, are allowed.
- Entries that use MSU-1 must provide non-MSU-1 compatible versions of their level if requested by the judges.
Your submission must have infinite lives enabled by default.
- There is no required method to enable infinite lives or a specific retry system to use. As long as infinite lives are turned on when the player begins the level, you are good to go.
Submissions may range from Kaizo: Beginner to Kaizo: Expert, but must be reasonably completable without the use of tools.
- Judges will have the final authority to determine whether a level exceeds a reasonable demand of the player as it relates to difficulty, and any such decision will be made unanimously.
All entries must be fully beatable within 500 in-game seconds from start of level to exit.
- This is not to imply that levels will be played on a clock. Rather, judges will have the authority to determine that a level purposefully exceeds a reasonable demand of the player as it relates to the amount of gameplay asked of them by the creator. As with difficulty, all decisions will be made unanimously.
Levels must be compatible with the most recent, stable versions of both bsnes and SNES9x.
- The platforms judges will be playing on include: flash cart on original console, jailbroken Super NT, and emulator.
One entry per person.
- You can work with a partner, but an individual is limited to one entry. You can't enter both a level on your own and one with a partner.
Please anonymize your submissions.
- It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, but we greatly prefer for judges to be blind to the author of each entry for the sake of transparency and to avoid all possible bias.
Please include a clear video.
- A new development for this year’s contest is a formal call for clear videos for each entry. You may link to these as unlisted videos on YouTube, link directly to video files, or however you wish to share. These videos will be used to assist with the judging process, as well as to help better promote the contest and the contest entries going forward.
If you do not provide a clear video, one will be made for you by a contest volunteer. Clear videos for all entries will be secured before entries are provided to judges, so by providing one yourself, you help speed the process up for everybody.
THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION:
- Posting a ROM as part of your submission
- Posting an .ips patch instead of a .bps patch
- Posting a corrupt patch file
- Submitting a level that is not compatible with bsnes and SNES9x.
- Submitting a level in bad faith either by being blatantly loweffort or a level that seeks to troll the judges rather than exist on its own merits
- Submitting a level that is not reasonably beatable without tools
- Not enabling infinite lives
- Including content within the level that violates the rules of SMWCentral
- Engaging in harassment and/or aggressive behavior, either on or off-site, towards judges or other contest entrants
POINTS OF ADVICE
Whether you are new to the community or entering your ninth KLDC, here are some additional things to consider while you start your level. Note that the following are not rules and will not have direct impact on score, but are meant to help you as you put together an entry:
- Difficulty is independent from quality. Making a level harder or easier does not necessarily make it better.
- Don't overstay your welcome. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing
- Just because a judge isn't streaming your level doesn't mean they aren't playing and fairly evaluating your level.
- Use playtesters not just to ensure the level is on point, but the player experience is also in line with your desired outcome
- “Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.” - Charles Mingus
To help connect creators to people who can help test and improve their submissions, we will be featuring Playtesters-in-Residence. These people are highly skilled kaizo players and experienced in providing advice and feedback to creators of all skill levels, and have volunteered to work with any creator who wishes to have someone play their KLDC work-in-progress.
CNaught (post-August 9) - JonM on Discord and Twitch
To arrange for one of our resident testers to play your level, contact them directly. Additionally, you are free to use your own playtesters - we are just providing resident options for those who can not or do not wish to find their own testers. This list will be updated throughout the submission period.
Note: These playtesters may choose to stream their testing. Judges are aware of these testers and will not be viewing these testing streams, and individual testers will work with you on your schedule and desire to have your submission streamed.
You must submit your entry as an unlocked .bps file, created in FLIPS off of a clean SMW copy. Submitting an .ips file will result in disqualification! You can put your .bps file in a .zip or 7zip archive if you want.
Upload it to your personal File Bin on the site (click on Files in the SMWC site menu), then link to the file in this thread. If you edit your level, edit your original post (double posts will get deleted).
You can talk about your level in the contest subforum and on the Discord server, but in order for it to count, it needs to be linked here in this thread.
All levels must be posted to this thread by 17:59:59 UTC Monday, August 29.
PRE-JUDGING (New in 2022)
Before we hand the entries to the judges, we will be taking an extra step this year to hopefully make their job a bit less stressful and more transparent.
All entries will be anonymized and randomized, as usual, and divided amongst a group of volunteers. These volunteers will review each entry, as well as watch all clear videos provided by authors.
Each entry will have the following questions asked:
- Does the entry conform to the rules of the contest?
- Does the entry require SA-1?
- Does it have a clear video?
- How long is the clear video?
- Does the clear video show signs of being manipulated or of tool usage?
- Does the level appear to have any broken or unviable RTA setups or requests of the player? (Please describe in notes if so)
- Do all of the midways and level transitions work as intended, to the best of your perception?
- What is the perceived difficulty of the level, based on the SMWC system of categorizing kaizo levels?
- What major elements should the judges be aware of when playing this level? (Level type, technical requirements, etc.)
- What notes do you have for the judges that you feel they should know before playing this level?
This process will not affect scoring and is only to serve as a resource for judges. Results of prejudging will be released following its completion.
This year will feature four judges: GlitchCat7, lungfish3000, katun24 and LouisDoucet.
Judges will score levels on a 100-point scale, using the following criteria in their evaluations:
55 points: Level Design
- Structure (20 points): The ‘bones’ of the level. Is there a cohesive idea being communicated, and does the level have a point and purpose it is trying to accomplish?
- Execution (20 points): Does the level communicate its ideas and its structure effectively? Is the technical precision of the build sound, or are there errors in the construction quality?
- Polish (15 points): Does the level feel good to play, and does everything come together to create a memorable and enjoyable experience
35 points: Creativity
- Does the level bring something new to the world of kaizo design?
- Did the level use new or existing resources in a way that creates a unique experience?
- Will others use this level as inspiration for their own creation?
10 points: Aesthetics
- Do the graphics and music enhance the gameplay experience?
- Does the level look and feel complete?
For this contest, the judges have determined that aesthetics will be evaluated on a level-by-level basis and will not set a baseline score.
If a level is determined to be outside the scope of the contest by the judges, but in a way that does not break any rules or go against the spirit of KLDC, the judges reserve the right to award Honorable Mention status to an entry. Such entries will not receive a score, but will still be counted as a participating entry and receive a trophy and recognition on the site.
Trophies will be awarded to the Top 3 entries and to all participant entries who are not disqualified.
Additionally, the Top 3 entrants will be allowed to enter the Cave of Wonders, where they will be allowed to take whatever video game code they see except for the lamp.
Judges' Choice Awards
In addition to scoring levels, judges will confer following the completion of their numeric scoring to award special Judges' Choice Awards. These are determined by the consensus of the judges, and can include recognition of level design in the respective difficulty categories, achievement in technical or non-scored areas, and other awards that the judges may specify.
We have a discussion thread for you if you have questions, channels in Discord where you can talk and show off progress (free of the judges' eyes), and a whole community here to support you.
The only thing left is to create. I can't wait to see what you share with the world this year.
I'm not a doctor.