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Old 01-17-2020   #21
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I believe that 3-4 months should be plenty of time to make a level based. As stated above, these aren't making the highest quality maps ever in the universe in 3 months. The goal would be to just see what you can create in that time frame and get then constructive feedback upon doing so. I don't see why it has to be perfect just to exist. You do what you can in that time frame. That's why it's a contest.

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Originally Posted by Whackjood View Post
New mappers vs experienced mappers
As I brought up earlier in the post, I don't think this is a problem. But when talking about the idea of me hosting a new level design contest in the discord server this was brought up. So I will leave this open if people have any ideas on it. I do however think that splitting the contest between new and experienced mappers in two separate categories is a bad idea though. How do you define the difference between a new and an experienced mapper exactly is something that would need to be agreed on for this.
I don't think that you should have a separation for newbie and experienced. It should include everyone I believe. Also, I agree with an earlier statement in regards to voting. If you vote on one I think you should definitely vote on all of them so no one feels left out.

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My worry with bringing back mapping contests is that previous contests had a big problem with toxicity from some voters, who would make it a point to tear apart entries (especially competitors) rather than focus on constructive feedback. I say this as someone who was a big part of that problem.
That one's simple. Don't be toxic. Have rules against being toxic. That one really isn't that deep.

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If you're looking for a "contest" design that might be fun, one idea that was passed around a while ago was making a speed mapping contest instead of focusing on making big, epic things. Give entrants a custom object to build around at the start of the contest and give everyone a small period of time, say 8 hours, to make something using it. Nobody's going to have time to refine anything and it'd be a simple test of how cleverly the author can use the object and come up with something quick but fun.
I really like this idea. I think it would be awesome to see what people could come up with if we had some kind of restrictions like this. I still definitely prefer the idea of the 3 month map contest limit so it gives people plenty of time to make something in that time frame. The only thing I worry about is people making maps that end up feeling pretty samey. And I mean even moreso than if you were to limit it to a single theme, even if it's as simple as "snow", but both have their ups and downs.

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It makes far more sense to incentivize group structures, as these would allow us as a community to combine the strengths of individuals to create a quality mod much faster and much more consistently than anyone is capable of doing on their own. While SUGOI is still a little bit more indivualized as far as level creation goes, its emphasis on everyone pitching into a unified campaign means that there is a much greater sense of community focus, and I'd say this at least partially explains its consistently astronomical submissions turnout with every successive iteration of the series.
I get where this is coming from, but I think there's fun to creating a challenge for trying to make the best level you can in a time frame. Especially when you can get feedback on your levels. Map creators are more than welcome to take their maps and release it as a standalone map and make an improved version based off of feedback they received from the contest. I don't see how this will be a bad thing.

A contest isn't inherently a bad thing. I'd love to see some proper community support for this kind of thing. I'd love to see what things people can make in a 3 month time frame.
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Old 01-17-2020   #22
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Did you have a specific way in mind to get people together for group projects like you are suggesting here? Because I'm not entirely sure how to go about achieving what you want to have happen right now.
As an example, I think you could very easily have one or two people working on building a map while another person contributes graphics, lua scripting, or music to the submission.
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Old 01-17-2020   #23
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A fun idea, but I think there's enough issues that come up when considering timezones and trying to catch a day when everyone who wants to be involved is free to make me question the practicality of that. Of course, we could just ask people to take no more than 8 hours and just trust them not to cheat, and give them a week total to make the map instead, which could work out if nobody takes longer and just claims they only spent 8 hours working on the map instead.
The intent is that it would be scheduled ahead of time with the timing planned to be as good as possible, but yeah, the scheduling part is the main reason this has never been attempted in the past. On the other hand, if we did succeed at it, there's something to be said for a live event with a bunch of people in a chat room all panicking together as the deadline approaches.

The main issue that needs to be addressed for any "contest" design (as opposed to a "collab" design like SUGOI) is access for new designers. Back in the early days of the OLDC, level designs were small and match was popular. Those kinds of maps could be popped out quickly and this allowed a ton of newbies to take part, and sometimes even do well. With the transition to single player stages, and then the massive increase in scale single player stages have had over the last decade, it's become overwhelmingly hard to sit down and make an entry of the same scale of the experienced designers.

Hence, a short time limit is one way to do that. Another example would be a hard limit on linedefs used, such as 2000. This inherently limits the scale of the map and makes it so that newer mappers aren't going to be so far out of their league that it doesn't feel worth it to even try. It also presents an interesting challenge to experienced designers to see how much they can pull off under the restrictions.
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Old 01-17-2020   #24
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So since the OLDC stopped being a thing and because we just stopped getting many entries for it, I went into this thread with the idea of suggesting we do something like the Sonic Hacking Contest, where we just have a yearly thing where people can make any modification, not just levels, and vote based on which ones we like best. Maybe the Judges (actual forum judges or appointed ones who are the most knowledgable about good design) could give different trophies based on various criteria, like best lua script, best level design, biggest departure from traditional gameplay, best overall modification, etc.

But if we did stick strictly to this sort of Make A Good Level contest formula but with SRB2 maps, I think what you've suggested would really work well. Individually, Chrispy's Character Contest and the SUGOI trillogy have done really well. I think spacing things out in 6 month intervals (switching between Kart and Vanilla every 3 months) is a good idea. I think 2 months is a lot to ask when it comes to designing and making a map (speaking from experience, I rushed to finish both of mine for KAWAIII and I was really worried I wouldn't make the deadline) and not having much of a break between each contest was definitely causing some burnout.

EDIT: please note that I have only ever seen the final product of the OLDC, that mostly being the voting thread's opening post, I read into some of the comments but the ones I've read I don't remember being that bad.

To focus on the questions you put in your opening post, Jood:
-1: I believe themes are very much appropriate and could make things more fresh if we did this sort of style. Themes I personally would like to see are something like "make a map that is fun to play in both Kart and Vanilla", (I feel like we're really lacking any race maps even though slopes have made it a lot more balanced) or something more vague like "make a level about x" where x more of a general idea than "make a snow level" or "make a castle level".

-2:Running a Kart contest between the vanilla contests is a wonderful idea, this way people could pick "Ok, this time I want to enter the Kart contest" or "Ok, I'm going to make a Vanilla level!" and focus their efforts on the one coming later, while also having a deadline to make something.

-3: Newcomers vs veterans is going to happen in any contest, no matter what. I feel like there should be trophies awarded by the panel of judges (That being the actual members with the Judge role) based on various things that make their levels unique, such as "best level design" "feels most like an SRB2 map" or "best map overall". These ideas were taken from the SHC but applied to mapping but you could also do your own criteria. The person awarded best map overall should be the one to get a gold name in this case.

-4: Voting to decide a winner is a good idea, but to make it easier to sort through the votes, I'd suggest making a Google Forms survey with questions relating to the current entries like this and having the community vote on them while having a separate thread discussing what could be improved upon.
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Old 01-17-2020   #25
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1. As the person who was the main proponent for themes when the concept first came up on Discord, I'd like to clarify a few things for those who aren't quite behind the idea yet.

First of all, the main idea behind contest themes would be to ensure that they cover a wide enough range of ideas to prevent the maps from becoming samey. They'd exist to prompt creativity, not to create limits.
They can be anything from a level type (like "2D") to a wide umbrella of topics (such as "holiday," which can mean anything from Christmas to Halloween to Easter to St. Patrick's day, and so on) to a vague, general idea (such as "time," which can mean anything from history to futuristic levels to time travel).

That's why I very much wish that the original post hadn't used something like "snow levels" as an example, since that's definitely an example of a theme that's too limiting (and to begin with, it was brought up on Discord as an example of a bad idea for a theme).

A lot of consideration would go into these themes, which is why I like the idea of having users vote on theme ideas. And to prevent themes from getting stale, as well as to give creators an opportunity to make whatever kind of levels they want, I do think that alternating between themed contests and unthemed contests would be a good idea.

However, this, in combination with some other ideas, might lead to some issues which I'll get to in a bit.

2. Running a Kart contest between vanilla contests sounds like a good idea. An alternative idea would be to include a Kart category as part of the main OLDC, just as previous OLDCs had a singleplayer category and a match category. There is a possibility that the Kart category would draw too much attention away from vanilla, however.

3 & 4. I do think there should be an event that gives newer mappers an opportunity to learn and hone their skills. However, I don't think there should be a distinction between new and experienced mappers within the OLDC, because as some have pointed out, there's no way to define the exact difference between new and experienced mappers.

Instead, the distinction would be that the event for newer mappers would not feature any voting, and would primarily be an event for new mappers to get help from the community and get feedback on their levels. (This would be the "writing reviews and having a community discussion about the maps" event as mentioned in the OP.)

On the other hand, the event for experienced mappers would be the actual contest, which would feature voting like the previous contests (ranking-based voting, not 1-10 voting).

Anyone would be able to enter into either event, but both events would have clearly-defined goals. One would be meant to develop skills, and the other would be meant to put skills to the test. As a result, it would be unlikely that these events would be held at the same time as each other, as they'd be very different types of events.

However, this brings us to one big issue:

Between alternating themed and unthemed vanilla contests, alternating vanilla contests and Kart contests, and alternating contests and community feedback events like I suggested, I worry that we might end up overcrowding ourselves with events. Assuming we follow this schedule of alternating, even if we only have one vanilla themed and one vanilla unthemed contest per year, that'd also mean two Kart contests per year and two community feedback events per year, for a total of six events. As much as I like the idea of diversifying the events and providing plenty of options, that definitely sounds overkill.

Of course, we could split up organization responsibilities between the different events. The community feedback events could be hosted by members of the community as SUGOI was, and the Kart contests could be organized by the Kart team. Still, overcrowding of events wouldn't just cause problems for the organizers—it could also cause problems within the community, such as burnout, and lead to decreased turnout per event. That's a problem that splitting up the organizers wouldn't solve.

I suppose we could cut it down to only the two vanilla contests, one Kart contest, and one community feedback event. Does that sound workable? Or does anyone think there'd be a better compromise?

Maybe working Kart in as a category for the vanilla contests would solve this issue, but that does bring up the issue of possibly drawing mappers away from making vanilla maps, as I mentioned.

Of course, as mentioned by many others, turning contests into specifically speedmapping contests would definitely make them easier and less stressful to participate in and to organize. That does also lend itself well to the theme idea, so I'm all for it. This would also allow more events to be held per year, meaning that cutting down on the number of events might not be necessary after all.

Or maybe there could be one major unthemed contest per year with no time limit, with several themed (or a combination of themed and unthemed) speedmapping contests and community feedback events per year in between?

What does everyone else think about this? What is the maximum number of events that could feasibly be held in one year, and what should they be? Should any events be combined? Should any be cut altogether?

Last edited by Kumin; 01-17-2020 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Forgot to mention speedmapping contest ideas. Also removing redundancy
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Old 01-17-2020   #26
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Originally Posted by CobaltBW View Post
As an example, I think you could very easily have one or two people working on building a map while another person contributes graphics, lua scripting, or music to the submission.
That sounds like what a conventional collab of people teaming up on their own terms is for, which happened quite regularly during the old OLDC anyway. But I will see about helping people team up and offering to organize small groups together if they need a hand getting in touch with other modders taking part.

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That's why I very much wish that the original post hadn't used something like "snow levels" as an example, since that's definitely an example of a theme that's too limiting (and to begin with, it was brought up on Discord as an example of a bad idea for a theme).
That was a bad choice for an example on my part, you're right. But yes, my plan is to collect good theme ideas and then let people vote on them before a contest begins to guarantee that it's a theme people are actually interested in mapping for.

After thinking about this for a few nights, I will try and pace these out as follows: 3 month contest with no theme -> one month break, first two weeks asks for theme ideas and second two weeks votes on best themes -> 3 month themed contest -> one month break -> 3 month unthemed contest to bring us into 2021. Community feedback would be encouraged during all points of the contests as WIPs are posted, and during the break as well so people can get feedback on their completed maps. Which gives us 3 events a year.

I think I will drop the idea of doing a Kart contest for now, as the reception on that seems to be somewhat lukewarm. But don't consider that a hard lockout to ever trying a kart contest in future.

I intend to write up a full set of contest rules and more detailed plans when I get time, so either late tonight or tomorrow based on the feedback given here so far. Then I'll open it up to the floor to let people pick apart what I've planned for further improvements. Hopefully, the first contest can begin on February 1st if it all works out eh.
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Old 01-18-2020   #27
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Contest Themes: Yes. Make them abstract enough so that you can get a million interpretations of the same concept. An abstract theme like "Atmospheric" would bring in tons of unique maps. I've also wanted to see a space-restricted contest. You may only construct your map within a 2048 x 2048 box. That would be wild.

Alternating Contests: Good idea. Would likely keep the burnout at bay.

New vs Experienced Mappers: Nope!

Prizes: I'm not gonna lie, I always wanted that damn golden banner. I wouldn't expect anything flashier.

Voting:

...TEXT WALL AHEAD...

I think one thing we want to iron out for sure is whether we want it to be competitive or collaborative. I'm not so sure we can be so mixed about it. This is something I think the long-forgotten Poll would be useful for.

I'll give my ideas about competitive vs collaborative in separate sections...

Competitive:
- If you win, it feels awesome
- There's motivation to do your very best
- Scores can accumulate into fun statistics
- Feedback has a very clear purpose

Let me comment on the last two points.

If we do competitive, I'd say we absolutely must score the levels on a scale. Why? Because statistics! The wiki used to have the top 10 highest scoring levels, and that was possible because you could directly compare levels from across contests. No such ability was possible on the "rank-in-order" system. Sure, people disagree on what the scale means. So what? Provide a basic scale at the start of the contest and hope for the best. Disqualify obvious trolls. Literally every other media out there has to deal with the inherent flaws of an "out-of-ten" system, but they do it so that we can aggregate the data. I like being able to see the top ten of all time, and the bottom ten of all time, and the average score for a particular contest, etc. Even when they're not perfect, those numbers still tell you something.

Additionally, I think that the competitive approach with a number system give a higher incentive on feedback. You should thoughtfully score and comment on every level because otherwise your numbers don't get dumped into the scoring pool. The best thing about the OLDC, which wasn't present in the SUGOI series as much, was that loads of people turned up to give their scores and comments in order to be a part of the fun.

One last thing, if scores are implemented, I'd say they should only be accepted if paired with at least x amount of comments. Because scores with out comments sucked.

Collaborative:
- fun community vibe
- higher turnout
- more accessible to newbies
- longer lasting?

I'll comment on this last point.

I think that a collaborative effort must be lumped into one mod, and most importantly, structure itself in a nonlinear way (much like the SUGOI series). A good counter-example is the Community Chest wads from Doom. I always tried to get into these map packs but I could never bring myself to finish them. Why? Because all the levels were played from first to last. When levels are in a linear order, you have to muscle through the crap to get to the good ones, and I think this can burn a lot of people out.

By contrast, in SUGOI, the buffet was always open. If you were sick of the newbie maps, you could back out and play something else while keeping your progress intact, giving the massive pack an absolutely vital pick-up-and-play nature. The same thing is impossible in a sequential framework unless you've memorized the mapslots, which is unreasonable.

The massive upshot to having the pack be a nonlinear mod was that it was easy to endlessly replay. I think this is why the maps from the OLDC, though they probably had a net higher quality than the maps in SUGOI, were easily forgotten once the contest was over. There was no easy way to pick-up-and-play.

That's what I think about it :)
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Old 01-18-2020   #28
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Community feedback would be encouraged during all points of the contests as WIPs are posted
My concern with focusing the feedback around the contest is that I worry it might deter newer mappers from seeking feedback as well, assuming they're not yet confident enough in their work to submit it to the contest. (That is, if we're talking about an actual competitive contest here, and not just a collaborative map feedback event.)

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I think one thing we want to iron out for sure is whether we want it to be competitive or collaborative. I'm not so sure we can be so mixed about it.
I don't see where this idea is coming from that we have to pick one or the other. Considering that Whackjood just said that we could hold three events in a year, it seems very feasible to me that two of them could be competitive (one themed, one unthemed) and one of them could be collaborative.

Collaborative and competitive events would obviously have a very different vibe from one another, so there's really no inherent reason why they can't coexist—and if we picked only one or the other, something considerable would be lost either way. Plus, if anything, event variety would only serve to prevent burnout. If we had three different annual events—a themed contest, an unthemed contest, and a community feedback/collaboration event—then that would serve to create much more interesting and varied results than three events of any one kind.

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Old 01-18-2020   #29
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Just poking my head to say that any size-based theme should be the playable area, not linedefs - otherwise control sectors will be impossible :P
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Old 01-19-2020   #30
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Collaborative and competitive events would obviously have a very different vibe from one another, so there's really no inherent reason why they can't coexist—and if we picked only one or the other, something considerable would be lost either way.
I think that's a wonderful idea. I should've made it clear that we should pick competitive or collaborative per event. The ULDC probably should rotate between types of events, and my argument is that each event should be as distinct in its goals as possible.
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Old 01-19-2020   #31
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So here's a full set of details for what I'm proposing after trying to take what has been discussed here into account. Give this a read and give me your thoughts, if this is considered to be fine I will go ahead and kick this off on February the 1st at midnight GMT.

ULDC Ė Unofficial Level Design Collab
Woah I've decided to make it a collab, not a contest. After thinking about it and going over the comments made on the thread. Iíve decided that maybe a collaborative format initially is better than a competitive voting one to focus on helping new people and try to avoid the feeling of this event being a bit of an old boys club where only the community veterans stand a chance of winning. This, of course, could be changed in the future for additional events, but for now, I think a collab is the best way to go.

Dates and deadlines
- Players will have until Midnight April 30th (GMT) to submit their levels (3 months from the start time of February 1st) and then maps will be compiled into a single pack (which will take up to two weeks, but probably less time. Iíll see about starting work on that before the contest deadline)
- May 1st: (After contest ends, before next contest begins) there will be a 2 week period of map discussion, giving feedback to the final products to help people improve and generally writing reviews. Additionally people may submit ideas for a theme for the second collab
- May 14th: Voting on the theme for the second contest, a winning theme will be picked on May 30th and the next 3 month collab will begin. Running from June 1st to the end of August 31st
- Future dates and specific plans can be figured out nearer the time. If it looks like the project has burned out, all submitted maps over the last two contests I have permission to compile will be put into a level pack and released. If not, we will go for one more round to finish off a year then they will be compiled into a level pack. Anything after that will be figured out at the time, itís a long way away. The third event could be a kart contest, or it could be another themed vanilla contest, but I'll figure that out closer to the date.

Map submission
- Maps will be PMíd to me as the organizer to submit them.
- Maps must fit the requirements for releases as a bare minimum, so they must be completable and work as intended
- Mappers can choose to give permission to have their map released in a collection of ULDC maps at the end of the year. If permission is not given, they are free to release their map on their own terms whenever they want.
- Maps submitted must not have been released on the SRB2 Message Board before or otherwise had a widespread release through another means.
- Collaborative maps are allowed, credit everyone involved with your map in the PM sent to me with your submission.
- There will be a single player and a multiplayer section for each event (Aside from Kart events if any occur in future).

Community stuff
- While the collab is underway, there will be a WIP thread where people are welcome to post screenshots and gifs of their work to show everyone what they are working on. And everybody will be welcome to discuss and give those involved their thoughts and tips for improvement. And when the collab is completed, review posts and discussion will be encouraged in the thread with the maps posted in!
- All discussion should be constructive! Toxicity wonít be tolerated, anybody being clearly antagonistic could be barred from entering their map into the collab. The idea is for community feedback and constructive criticism.
- If you are interesting in collaborating with someone or you have design skills that arenít necessarily mapping (such as art or lua) but donít know who to work with, people will be allowed to state they are looking for a partner in the collab discussion thread where they can try to find someone to work with, and I can try to be a middle man and pair you up with somebody in a similar situation.

End of contest/year map pack
- Every map I have permission to compile will be released in a single non-linear level pack. Levels will be sectioned off by which collab they were a part of in a very simple hub area.
- Donít expect SUGOI levels of polish and lore here Iím afraid. At most just a SUGOI 1 style hub to give players a free choice of what levels to play and in what order.
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Old 01-20-2020   #32
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Can you contribute on setting up the collab (ex: the hub and the packing) or the host (or you i guess) do it yourself?
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Old 01-20-2020   #33
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I would love to see OLDC return as I've always missed having a reason to come back to SRB2 each month (or two or three) and try out some of the creative works in the community.

I've been tempted to try my hand at making my own level but I'm not sure if I will since it's been so long since I've done any SRB2 development that I feel like I'm basically starting from scratch. I think the 8hr time limit mentioned in Mystic's post sounds even more intimidating to someone that's going to have to learn/relearn everything, but focusing on smaller bite-size levels with a less restrictive time limit might be enough to lure back someone with limited free time and knowledge. I think I'd probably do that if I entered regardless if it were part of the rules, even if it means taking a bad score compared to other longer and more ambitious projects.

I like the idea of themes. It adds a new lens through which to judge the levels, "how does this answer the theme?" I remember OLDCs that were really difficult to judge because you had a witty joke level, an excellent but ordinary singleplayer experience, or a creative and clever gimmick all in the same contest and you didn't know what to do with that. Considering an extra metric to the voting might help to break some of those ties.
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Old 01-20-2020   #34
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Can you contribute on setting up the collab (ex: the hub and the packing) or the host (or you i guess) do it yourself?
If people want to contribute and help, who am I to say no? I expect I'll only bother with a simple hub in the end of year pack though. The average release will probably just have a level select.
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Old 01-20-2020   #35
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I think having flash contest and contests themed around particular limitations could be fun. The SRB2 community's already taken inspiration from the Doom community's DUMP, but there's another contest theme called "1024" which tries to make challenging levels fit in a 1024x1024 map. I wonder if it's possible to create challenging SRB2 levels with such a limit. AFAIK there's no limit on height, and things can be outside the 1024x1024 zone as long as they're cosmetic (or clever enough).
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #36
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Just i thought i had - but what about having Custom Gametypes be a separate category for ULDC? This could be a cool incentive for coders to work on custom gamemodes they made.

If they prove successful, maybe they could be considered as vanilla additons in the future??
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