Destructoid/Blast Works contest winners announced

The results are in. Grant Poock and his team at BudCat, developer of the modern shmup masterpiece Blast Works, have finally completed their judging in our Destructoid/Blast Works custom level design contest. For those that haven’t been following along, Blast Works is a game on the Nintendo Wii (now available on sale at the low price of $20) that allows you to create your own 2D shmup levels, complete with custom enemies, ships, bullet patterns, and backgrounds, and upload them to the Blast Works depot, where they can be downloaded by anyone around the world. The concept was so great that we just had to throw a contest to celebrate it.

Four people entered, and three of them are walking away with prizes. Hit the jump to see who won and why.

From here, I open the floor to BudCat’s Grant Poock. 

 Here is how we felt the contest ended up-

1.)  Zycyzyx

2.)   Pest Quest

3.)   DCity

This was a lot of fun seeing the imagination and ingenuity that everyone used in their levels. I’m sure if they were given more time we’d see even more amazing stuff!

Here’s a quick run-down of the levels and why we placed them the way we did. 

Zycyzyx

We had to give Gryzor mad props for everything about this level – he definitely showed us what the creative crowd out there is capable of; and in some cases showed us what we didn’t even realize was possible! Here’s the Pro’s & Con’s of what we saw:

Pros:

·        Title screen – well done, completely unexpected, and even exploited a rendering bug in the game to get text to disappear!

o       Extra brownie points for hiding the power up in the title screen – we love Easter eggs

·        Very innovative us of music and SFX for all cases, damage, destruction, firing; everything

·        Unbelievable color usage on enemies – the variations and slight gradients in color gave all of the enemies a really well-rounded and polished look

·        Well designed “level splits” using large enemies to split the screen and force the player to decide what path to take

·        Really awesome attention to detail, fake gloss on enemies, smoke trails, embers, lit letters and words – Gryzor knows how to use propeller shapes – let’s just leave it at that

·        Innovative use of the background & mixing it with the foreground objects and enemies

·        Very good use of layering enemy stages and making enemies “break up” as they’re destroyed

·        The final boss – amazing color usage, multi-stage difficulty, and overall composition

·        Hidden money bags – brilliant

 Cons:

·         Some of the bullet patterns were nearly impossible to see during the “action” where a lot of shrapnel and wreckage was on screen – specifically the smaller “green” bullets that fired from a lot of enemies

·         Could’ve used more availability of power-up weapons – perhaps spacing them out a bit?

·         Boss was a bit high in the hitpoints in the early stages – made the overall fight drag on a bit

 

Overall – this was the pinnacle of what we could call a completely polished and well thought out design. We still have a lot of fun showing this level off to new people, friends, family, and would certainly recommend that Gryzor use a video capture of Zycyzyx to hopefully boost his portfolio and showcase his artistic and design-minded abilities. Very well done.

 

But we have to ask – what’s up with the level name?!

 

Pest Quest

Overall Danderson showed us how the creative community could understand what enemy grouping meant – and how simple design can equal enormous amounts of fun.

Pros:

·         Great execution of simple design & clean layout

o        There wasn’t a lot to “distract” the player

o        You always knew what was going on

·         Nice sectioning within the level itself

o        It was like mini-levels inside of a larger campaign – this was a very innovative way around the limitation of not being able to “link” levels in the game

·         Inventive usage of the flowers as obstacles

·         Great SFX choice for most of the enemies

o        The toad fights later in the level definitely had us laughing

·         Nice camera movement touches

o        It certainly did help break up the pacing a bit and make for some interesting obstacles

·         Great branching paths within the level

·         Fantastic grouping and pacing of the level

·         Awesome variety of enemies

·         Great humor in background objects

o        The clouds that were smiling – then the one that was pissed … we loved it!

 Cons:

·         Scoring was a bit tough

o        We often found ourselves scrapping to get enough of a score for an extra life (see below point about difficulty)

·         Some bullet patterns could use a little adjustment

o        Some of the enemies that dove off of the screen to the bottom got a few “sucker” shots in at us from behind – some would argue that this is a good challenge, from time to time it did feel a bit cheap

·         Could’ve used a specific player-ship to go along with it

·         Ace difficulty intention right off the start was a bit daunting to try and tackle

We definitely kept playing this one over and over again – the grouping of tougher opponents around the higher-scoring enemies was a nice touch; not to mention mixing those little buggers in with the toads with beanies that came around later in the level. Overall, fantastic work and a great showcase of what “simple and elegant” mean to level design.

Dtoid City

Talk about barely enough time to breathe! This level got right down to it and the Dtoid references were priceless … also cocks. However, a short level means a short write-up:

Pros:

·         Fast and frantic pacing – we had to play it a few times just to know what the hell was going on!

·         Hilarious billboard sign and Dtoid nuance

·         It showcased the awesome website that put this all together! In video game form!

 Cons:

·         Short and way too easy to beat

·         Needs more Spacecat

We had to give this level props for the Dtoid tie-in’s – after all, they’re the ones that organized this whole shindig!

Yoshi Cave

This is a great example of how a little pixel art work can go a long way! I came to have a love / hate relationship with this level as it starts out really fun, but becomes aggravating at times. But otherwise it was a great challenge!

Pros:

·         Fantastic sprite & pixel art usage

·         Good pace increase

·         Nice “battletoad-esque” race section

·         Great enemy mixture at times

·         Interesting bullet patterns for the player-ship Yoshi’s

·         Great attention to enemy detail

·         Awesome throw-back to the SNES Mario titles

 Cons:

·         Odd SFX choice for a lot of the enemies

·         Missed a lot of “damage” SFX

·         Bullets were too small for some enemies

·         Yoshi was a bit too big

·         Scoring is very unforgiving for the player

Ultimately it was a very tough decision to put Yoshi Cave behind the other entries – but the level definitely had Marcus and I swearing on a few occasions. Nicely done.

And finally, here’s Marcus Brown’s (co-judge of the contest and fellow Blast Works developers) take on the contestants-

Zycyzyx:

The art direction of this level is amazing.  Every object and enemy has a polished, professional look, and a unique semi-cartoony style.  Most objects have a high enough contrast to tell what’s going on, however some enemies shot bullet patterns that were a bit difficulty to distinguish from stars, as the bullets were too small.  Gryzor demonstrated a master of combining movement patterns on enemies to make their animations seamless.  I also liked the smoke bursts, flak, and other particle effects – these made the level come alive and added to the polished look.

Pest Quest:

The progression of this level from easy to hard was seamless and well thought out.  The grouping and placement of waves of enemies was intelligent, and Danderson knew exactly how to steer the player to where he wanted them to go.  I enjoyed the “bonus” enemies that were protected by tougher foes; I also liked the grouping on spiders (and other enemies) where if you destroyed the spider’s web, you’d also take down the spider.  I enjoyed each segment where I was forced to pick a path, such as when destroying the floating mines, or choosing to go above or below the indestructible vine.

DCity:

This level was short and to the point.  I don’t read Destructoid as regularly as Grant does (uh oh!), so some of the imagery was lost on me.  My biggest complaint would be that enemy placement was a bit too sporadic; there wasn’t much strategy involved except to keep shooting straight and weave up and down.

Yoshi Cave:

This is another good-looking level. Qoouep supplied four Yoshi ships, and each one had a distinct firing pattern.  We found that the green Yoshi worked the best, as there was a “burst” at the end of the firing pattern’s “tongue” that dealt a lot of damage to enemies.  This level was one of the more difficult that we reviewed, and this was partly due to the fact that the enemies scored too low (all enemies turn into fragments, only mushrooms can be glommed).  I liked the Battletoads-esque obstacle segment, and I kinda wished that there were more of these types of obstacles throughout the level.

And that’s it! Thanks again to eveyone that entered, and good luck with the next contest. Contest winners can expect a PM from us in the next few days on how to collect their loot.

 

Jonathan Holmes
"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Just like in a Gameboy game... a nice tight little world... and all its inhabitants... made out of little building blocks... Why can't these little pixels be the building blocks for love..? For loss... for understanding"- James Kochalka, Reinventing Everything part 1 "I wonder if James Kolchalka has played Mother 3 yet?" Jonathan Holmes