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Old 09-11-2013   #1
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Default Amateur Stage Design Trials - A New Mapping Contest!


SPOOKY 2013 - LINK

Here they are! I can't say I'm disappointed with the turnout at all. Four maps, each of them with some obvious time and thought put into them. They're all similar enough in design as to not warrant the different divisions discussed earlier, so there will only be one line of voting.

Here's how the audience choice works:

Make a post in this thread, giving your first favorite, second favorite, and third favorite map. Try to give a basic sentence or two, justifying what you liked about each map that merited it as your favorite.You must play the level in its intended gametype, or your votes risk disqualification.

Spoiler: A few voting and playing guidelines

The theme this time is “spooky or scary”. This is the most important thing to pay attention to, whether a map follows this theme, and how well it does that. Keep in mind that spooky/scary is open to a wide variety of interpretations, and people have different levels of tolerance for horror. So if you’re a fan of Amnesia: The Dark Descent and navigate the dark corridors of mansions like it’s your everyday job, don’t be condemning everything to un-scariness because it couldn’t pierce your hardened shell. If you think it might be best to get the full effect, turn the light off and play in a dark room by yourself.

If you need some standards by which to judge what determines something as scary, you can find some of the “scary standards” from a previous ASDT post at the bottom of this section.

Here are the three different elements of level design that you should consider when writing your reviews and advice.

Theme: The core focus of this contest is on the theme of spookiness, so it has to at least be spooky or unsettling in some way. Obviously this isn’t something we can draw a concrete line on, so we’ll just do our best. Do they have a proper grasp on what makes a theme scary, even if they may not have presented it in the best way?

Presentation: How well did the designer present their ideas? Do they use them to their full potential, or did they botch up the execution with some bad design choices? Do the visual and audio assets compliment the theme?

Engagement: Does the map actively let you feel as if your actions really matter in surviving the horrors of the map, or is it just jump scares thrown in at random? Does the level challenge you to use your wits to overcome an obstacle of some sort, or is it just a straight path through scenery? Basically, is it a game level or a movie scene?

Spoiler: Scary Standards
Spooky is what your average Halloween decorations are about. Spooky skeletons with rattling bones, ghosts that say "boo!" and cackling witches with bubbling brews. All in all, it's actually more of a humorous and lighthearted thing, something that pokes fun at all the death and evil around us. "Look around you!" it says. "Look at how foolish it all is! Do you really think it could just reach out and hurt you?" Despite the fact that it doesn't actually frighten anyone but the children (who are still learning boundaries of safety vs. danger), we often consider things like this "scary" or at least "spooky". I know it's been posted a lot in this thread, because it's so humorous, but I just have to do it again. As funny as the song may sound, the lyrics pretty much say exactly what I'm saying. "ooOOooOO Spooky scary skeletons will shock your soul (it's a joke, how silly these skeleton monsters we've created are)"

Even though it may not be legitimately frightening or un-nerving, the judges will definitely have to keep this in mind while they judge the levels.

The second type of scary is no joke at all. It's the kind of scary that things like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, or Silent Hill, embrace. Pure horror. Somehow they tap into the very things that human beings dread the most. It gets your heart pumping, your adrenaline rushing, and if you weren't when you started, you'll be fully awake and alert by the time it ends. But what exactly are the things that cause this kind of "scare"? Here's a few ideas I have on it:
Unexplainable events. Things that exceed your expectations of what something is capable of. Anyone remember the shocking way Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid played mind games like changing your TV channel, reading your mind, and moving your controller? If something exceeds the players expectation of what is possible, it puts them on the edge.

Unseen dangers. Let's face it. The imagination can concoct a being way more terrifying and foreboding than the pixels of a screen can actually represent. One of the worst ways you can ruin a scare is by revealing your monster before its time. If it even has a time to be revealed, that is. Footsteps in the hallway, scratchings from the other side of the wall, shadows across the doorway, unintelligible whispers, each of these things, even when somewhat EXPECTED, are much scarier than an unexpected monster who jumps out of the closet at you.

Unpredictable or erratic behavior. No place to hide. You can't predict where the monster will prowl next, but you do know this: if you stand still for long enough, it will eventually find you.

Now of course, each of these three things are often found together in proper horror, and mixed with all sorts of other elements. Things such as unnerving SFX and music, obscured vision, and any manner of visual tricks which fall somewhere into the uncanny valley.


A week from now, November 20th 2013, we'll call a deadline at about 1PM (UTC-08:00), and the average of the audience votes will be tallied up, and the winners announced. Have fun, and enjoy the experience.

---Contest Submission and Theme Info---

Hello one and all of the aspiring mappers of the SRB2 Community! This is something I have been thinking about doing for awhile, off and on, but just recently was able to make real with the help of some others. “What is this?” you may ask? I shall explain!

The Amateur Stage Design Trials are a series of new level design contests I am going to be hosting from time to time, allowing those of you looking to test your mapping skills in a competitive way, to do so once more! But with this rebirth, comes new concepts and plans, and with the help of Whackjood, Blade, Charybdizs, and Sryder13, we have come up with some interesting ideas for this contest series!

-Interesting Contest Themes!: Each of these contests will have a special theme and goal to reach, much like the old Week of SRB2, which was started by STH218. The difference, is that we plan on doing much more than simple themes like “make a grassy level” or “make a factory level.” We plan on giving the participants challenges based on many of the different elements of proper level design.

-Your Levels In The Spotlight!: Winning levels, in addition to the “Community Choice” levels, will be featured in the “Best Of” pack, which will contain the best levels from all previous Trials, compiled together for easy and enjoyable playing. In addition, the authors of the winning level will be able to play a part in selecting the theme for the next contest! As the contest grows, more ideas may be thought up. too!

-Dependable and Expert Judging System!: In a contest like this, it’s important to preserve the integrity of the end results. As such, we are selecting some of the finest judges and mappers of the community, to make up a panel of about ten to fifteen judges. The requirements? People who have a solid grasp on what differentiates a good level from a bad level, and are picky, but open minded to unexpected approaches at the chosen themes. But fear not, your voice can be heard too! Alongside the official judging, we will have an “Community Choice” winner, where you, as members of the Sonic Robo Blast 2 Message Board, can vote for your favorite map!

-Constructive Criticism!: For new level designers and old, this is the place to really put your skills to the test. We’ll not only give your level a score, but we’ll give detailed comments on your level, aiming to help you sharpen and improve your level designing prowess. Everyone starts somewhere, and we keep that in mind. After all, the contest, isn’t about us, but it is about you, wherever you are in level design.

-Divisions!: The old contest was normally flooded out with the higher ranked mappers taking the contest by a swarm, to fix this we are creating divisions, Beginner and Advanced. The Beginner division is for those who are new to mapping to get useful feed back on their levels and help them get better, while Advanced is for the experienced mappers who are looking for a challenge among the other skilled mappers!


Now, with that stuff being said, I shall explain the rules of entering this contest, and what the theme shall be!

Rules/Theme:

Theme: As it is approaching the fall years, and Halloween accordingly, we are adopting a simple seasonal theme for our first contest. Here’s the official theme:

Design a level with the sole purpose of scaring the player. Anything goes, as long it is in good taste. No exploding babies, gorey torture scenes, or stuff in that spirit.

Game Type: To kick off this contest series, we will start off with the most versatile of maps, Single Player! Please make all entries compatible with this gametype.

Rules:
-Keep it safe
, as stated above. Grimdark ideas are allowed, but remember that younger players are here, and their parents may not like to see a alien burst out of someone with a fountain of blood. No gratuitous violence.
-All levels must be PMed to CoatRack before November 12th 2013 at 3PM (UTC-08:00). Late entries will not be included, so please try to be on time!
-Game Type. Along with the theme, we are also selecting a game type. So make sure your entries match the theme listed above, or else they will not be allowed in!
-Custom Content, We will be allowing you to add custom content, such as music, textures, SOCs, and sprites. You can also build maps for other exes, just make sure to add what exe it uses in your submission message!
-Make sure you enter the correct division! That means that the highly skilled mappers enter the advanced division, and the new mappers enter the beginners!
-Do not distribute your levels before the contest starts. If you need a little collaborative help, just keep it among a few close friends, and keep it from the general public. Multiple reasons for doing so include:

#1: The theme is horror. Common sense tells that if the player has already learned what is scary about the level from an early beta version, the finished product is going to be much less potent. I know I sure don't want to know what is coming in these levels, just for the sake of being able to fairly judge them in the end.

#2: We'd also like to keep the community voting somewhat anonymous, for the sake of fairness. We won't be telling who submitted what, until the community votes are all taken. Obviously this isn't 100% possible, as it only takes a subtle hint to tell who made what, but to the best of our ability we'd like to keep it a surprise.
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Last edited by CoatRack; 11-14-2013 at 02:28 AM. Reason: Updated to include a few new pieces of info.
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Old 09-11-2013   #2
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I've been waiting for this moment my whole life.

well not necessarily in LEVEL MAKING category but this works too
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Old 09-11-2013   #3
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I like your presentation of this. The specific rubric for creating a level may be far easier for those of us who get designer's block. I'd feel motivated to start a level right now if I weren't so lazy.
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Old 09-11-2013   #4
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Ooh, this sounds like it's going to be interesting... :3
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Old 09-11-2013   #5
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Very Good. I was very sad when the OLDC was canceled but this will probably solve the problem. Just a question do we have to send the level to CoatRack via a private message?
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Old 09-11-2013   #6
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Yeah, when you have finished your levels, send them to me via a Private Message.
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Old 09-11-2013   #7
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Hmm... This sounds INTERESTING... I think I would join.
By the way, I'm a bit new and haven't Introduced myself... so, yeah.
Anyways, I wish everyone good luck and to have fun. Never is it about aggressive competition kind of entry. Its about having fun! I better start thinking of ideas...
Also, DO YOUR BEST!
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Old 09-11-2013   #8
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Finally, a true successor to the OLDC. If I weren't so caught up in college right now I might actually try to enter this.
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Old 09-12-2013   #9
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Are you ready to get your guts spooked off?

Fortunately I already have an idea of what I want to make for this and started earlier today. It's not skeleton related, I promise.
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Old 09-12-2013   #10
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I do not know how to make a level that can spook the socks off of people, but I do have ideas of what to put in a Halloween level. Since I was already working on a basic level I will make a Halloween version of it with its fair share of differences if I can find the time.

This format is really good, I may throw something together for this.
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Old 09-12-2013   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoatRack View Post
Yeah, when you have finished your levels, send them to me via a Private Message.
And we have to tell you the division we want to enter in the same message, right?
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Old 09-12-2013   #12
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Yep, you should let me know what division you are entering. We will also be making sure they go to the right divisions, and not have some sneak into the wrong one.
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Old 09-12-2013   #13
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Two things:
  • You need to outline voting rules, i.e. what scale will be voted on, if you need to vote on all maps in a division, whether people can vote on their own maps, that kind of stuff.
  • What is this mysterious "expert panel"? Who will be on it? Who decides who will be on it? When will you put it together?
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Old 09-12-2013   #14
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I may want to enter... I have some ideas for a strange level. Not really scary, per se, but who knows? I may creep someone out at least ;P
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Old 09-12-2013   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiritCrusher View Post
Two things:


You need to outline voting rules, i.e. what scale will be voted on, if you need to vote on all maps in a division, whether people can vote on their own maps, that kind of stuff.
When it's time to vote, then we'll write these down. We have some basic good ideas, but we're still discussing best options.

Quote:
What is this mysterious "expert panel"? Who will be on it? Who decides who will be on it? When will you put it together?
It's a group of people that we (CoatRack, I, and the others mentioned) handpicked from the various srb2 centric groups. People that have a solid but open minded grasp on level design. Though we have a few people in particular selected and informed, the list is still pending. In the end, expect it to be about 10 or so people, who each play the levels individually, and then go on to discuss them with each other in private, and write their thoughts down in a good readable format for the level designers. Then, they'll read over each others' reviews, just to make sure they've said everything they wanted to say, and didn't say anything they DIDN'T want to say, before posting them to the results topic.

---------- Post added at 02:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:43 PM ----------

Have to double post for this important notice I realized was glazed over.

To the point: Do not distribute your levels before the contest starts.

I realized that a couple people had already distributed early betas in places like #srb2fun and the like. Doing this isn't forbidden, but I would strictly suggest that you refrain from doing so. If you really need a little collaborative help, just keep it among a few close friends, and keep it from the general public. Multiple reasons for doing so include:

#1: The theme is horror. Common sense tells that if the player has already learned what is scary about the level from an early beta version, the finished product is going to be much less potent. I know I sure don't want to know what is coming in these levels, just for the sake of being able to fairly judge them in the end.

#2: We'd also like to keep the community voting somewhat anonymous, for the sake of fairness. We won't be telling who submitted what, until the community votes are all taken. Obviously this isn't 100% possible, as it only takes a subtle hint to tell who made what, but to the best of our ability we'd like to keep it a surprise.
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Old 09-12-2013   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charybdizs View Post
#2: We'd also like to keep the community voting somewhat anonymous, for the sake of fairness. We won't be telling who submitted what, until the community votes are all taken. Obviously this isn't 100% possible, as it only takes a subtle hint to tell who made what, but to the best of our ability we'd like to keep it a surprise.
You mean anonymous like some of earlier OLDC's (December 2004, for example) were where the author won't be revealed until the end?
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Old 09-12-2013   #17
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That's right!
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Old 09-12-2013   #18
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I finally started my level. It take place in a haunted castle with a lot of button hunts to do, but watch out for the ghosts. Not really scary but the sounds can surprise some times.
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Old 09-12-2013   #19
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Quote:
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castle
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Originally Posted by the cyan View Post
button hunts
Sounds a lot like the old CEZ2 to me. Doesn't the wiki say to avoid button hunts?
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Old 09-12-2013   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the cyan View Post
I finally started my level. It take place in a haunted castle with a lot of button hunts to do, but watch out for the ghosts. Not really scary but the sounds can surprise some times.
Doesn't the OP say to not reveal the levels...? I mean, granted, you didn't post a file, but still, it's the thought that counts...I suppose...

Anyway, wow, this is great. I have a suggestion: Make an "intermediate" group. For example, I have been mapping on and off for nearly 6 (or 7?) years now, but because I haven't finished/released my major project (remember on/off + waiting for OLDC/themed this) I've gotten no feedback on my new developments in mapping and, as such, I am neither a beginner nor advanced.

Also, I've already got like 4 billion ideas; this will be great.
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