Sound Shapes level design contest – Week 1 results – Week 2 submissions

So our first week of our prizeless Sound Shapes level design contest has come to a close and it’s been rather interesting. In a lot of ways what we are seeing playing random levels in-game is very similar to the early days of LittleBigPlanet with a bunch of garbage, “tests” and people who just don’t understand basic gameplay elements.  That is one reason I wanted to start this contest, to give people who have an inkling of what they are doing a forum to show it off to the world.  And by “the world” I mean “the couple hundred people who stop by here everyday.”

So what did we find?  Good stuff, actually.  Everything submitted was at the very least playable – which puts it about 10 bars higher than the rest of the Sound Shapes community currently. Also, Camus and I didn’t have a chance to talk all weekend long but when we caught up we had the same two levels picked – so it’s safe to say the choices were unanimous.  What wasn’t was what category they should go in.  Both are strong in music and gameplay and could be flipped if you wanted.

But before we get to the winners lets discuss what set them apart.  The biggest problem that we ran across in the majority of these levels was an EXTREME lack of checkpoints.  There is nothing more deflating than making it across a few tricky sections and then dying over something stupid only to learn you are back 5 screens and have to do it all over again.  Likewise a good number of the levels had sections that just sucked the life out of the experience.  There were levels that with some polish could be absolute classics, but I would get to certain spots and die 20 times in a row.  I replayed these levels several times thinking maybe I was coming at these sections the wrong way – and who knows, maybe I was – but I never figured them out.  It just took a bit of dumb luck to get through and that was that.

So lets just drop the pretense of one of these levels being better at music and one being better at level design and just call them co winners.  That’s easier, right?   The winners are:

Man-is-Obsolete with The Fall and Rise


Madriiax with Fever Dream

The Fall and Rise is a Super Bros. heavy level that is a rather mellow voyage.  It’s not afraid to use sparse rooms or rely on atmosphere to usher you through the 4 to 8 minute voyage.  But as soon as you start to feel comfortable Man-is-Obsolete is not afraid to create insane contraptions that want to murder you over and over.  I don’t mind dying a lot if I feel like there is a fair way to beat the challenge and The Fall and Rise does this without feeling cheap.  Overall this is a wonderful journey and you can tell that Man-is-Obsolete put a lot of time and effort into this.

Fever Dream is a more abstract level as the name would indicate.  The name setting the tone is important as a lesser level may not be able to get away with having such strange zones right next to each other but for whatever reason it works here.  There are a few parts to test your skills but there is never a checkpoint too far behind.  And both Man-is-Obsolete and Madriiax may have noticed that I had the slowest time on their leaderboards and the reason for that is I would just sit in certain sections and listen to the music. Madriiax in particular had some crazy beats while Man had some chilling atmospherics.  Both were brilliant.

So that’s it for this week one.  Congrats, fellas.  Everyone else post your levels down below for week two, Camus and I will be judging you.



18 thoughts on “Sound Shapes level design contest – Week 1 results – Week 2 submissions

  1. Like TonyTough, I post my level (but against “The Egg and the Beanstalk”, I don’t have no chance to win…Tony, your levels are amazing !!!!)

    I tried to give an original design to it, from the first screen, you have the choice between Heaven and Hell.

    It’s like an easy and a difficult mode…and at the end, on the last screen, instead of going immediately on the finish item, you can go on the right and you will return to the first screen in order to choose the untaken way !

    PSN ID : jool2306
    level name : Hell or Heaven?

    Thanks a lot

    PS : TonyTough, if you come back here, could you give me a feedback, as level design master, any advice will be appreciated, thanks 🙂

  2. Hey Jool2306. thanks for the props!
    If you liked my beanstalk level. I made a new one since then called “A nightmare on chruch street”. 🙂 which is the right side of the street past the beanstalk. haha.

    But here is my humble advice..
    1) I always build a great song first, many screens long keeping a them in mind sometimes.
    2) I love using very very low base. I do this by using MINOR and Bring down the Octive to -6 usually. I also use VERY SLOW tempo. This is a very good tip cause I seem to be able to fit more song into a loop. Especially since I can use the Sound Shapes drum objects which can record more beats per frame then the standard sequencer loop which only can hold 16 notes. Make sense?
    3) I like to use the sound shapes flowers (alot) to add notes to a screen before the user even collects coins. The nice thing about the flowers is that you can make very long sequences. Like 32 notes worth before they repeat. Maybe even more.
    4) I like to add alot of checkpoints and not frustrate my end player. yeah, i’ll make it tough to find the exit using clues, but the playing itself, i dont wanna piss people off. Its about having fun and solving a mystery with my last two levels.
    5) Lots of detail with the back ground images.
    6) never use any sound shapes tools that yell words or sayings or are very loud. It usually just annoys everyone.
    7) close all gaps and areas around all screens so a player cant slip out of the game and lose the moment.
    8) *** after I build my level, i go back to my song and cut and paste my screen of notes just above my graphic i want it in. Then i can simply drop down the note to the correct spot without having to figure out how to create the song again.
    9) USE THE Mulitple select option (L1) button on vita and hold it down while selecting stuff to be able to copy and paste multiple items at a time.

    Im sure i can think of other stuff, but this should help. Let me know you got this or if this helps anyone.

    Keep an eye out for my latest level (in progress) Little Egg Riding Hood. It’s going to be great I think.
    Again, thanks for the kind words.

  3. OH, and one more piece of advice. Not regarding level design but important none the less….
    Early on I lost a ton of work because I got a corrupt save file. Doesnt matter how many times you back it up etc, if your file becomes corrupt. YOU LOSE EVERYTHING. You have to play the tuorial from scratch. That kind of everything. SO
    To prevent disaster. (i had to redo my entire Area 51 level over ugg)
    1) when you are done with the campaign and getting the editting tools, make sure you SYNCH UP with the sound shapes server. SO GLAD they thought of this. This way you can synch up again if your save file becomes corrupt and get your edit tools back without having to play all the campain over again.
    2) If you are working on a level. PUBLISH IT OFTEN. This way, if you crash your save file. There is an option from their server to redownload it back to your editor. Using the Triangle button when your level is being viewed online just before playing it.

    So what i do, to prevent people from playing my Published (but not yet finished levels) which you probably have seen me do, is simply create a side room with nothing more then a start above the finish. This way, you can publish your level for preventative backup and at the same time, keep others from playing it prematurely.

    Then as you work on your level in the editor. you can frequenlty hit the PLAY/TEST PLAY Button while you are developing, it will go to your side room and play it, then you hit the GREEN UPLOAD Arrow to up load it to the server without having to quit out and upload it. ITS A GREAT TIME SAVER.


  4. You’re welcome, according to me, you are with Daftbomb and Thebeejabides the 3 best producers in Sound Shapes game !

    Thank you for your advices, I didn’t get everything but I will try again (I’m french, english is not so easy sometimes…)

    I didn’t know that you can download a published level ! Is it true only for your levels? Because it can be problematic if someone download your level and then change 2-3 things and publish it as it was its own level… 😐

    I supposed that you “new level coming soon” level is just what you explained before…

    I never tought about flowers to add notes to the melody, I noticed that you can do the same with suns, and that the sound is different if you put it on a different place. I will try with flowers hoping that it’s the same.

    I use L button but it’s very a pain when you want to move a more complex group of stuff, I created a devil and wanted to move it, and I was never able to take ALL parts of him. Moving a global zone without clicking on each individual parts would be a lovely upgarde !

    I’m now one of your 587126 followers (:D) so I will see when your new level will be available.

    If you have some minutes available, could you try my Hell or Heaven and said me what works, what doesn’t work? What I tried musically is to begin with the loop on the first screen, on the second screen but the melody (with piano)and on the third but the beat, and then repeat more or the less the sequence. I always create first the music and then adapt the background according to the pieces.

    Ok I will read again the advices and try to understand, a challenge more difficult to beat a Sound Shapes level :p

  5. yes, flowers work the same way as suns etc, and whats interesting is that you can easily share the same notes/song across two screens if the flower’s Stems stick out into the other screen (as with any other music object).

    yes, only your published files can be re-downloaded.

    I will try your level. I have added you to follow as well. Love the option to do that online.

    what you can also do to save music time is to build your LEVEL such that it goes a few sreens right, then goes up/down one screen and then back left. This way your music is used Twice or maybe three times and hence saves notes to have to do over, or better yet, as you go back the other direction, add some more instruments to build it up. This is also useful for the flower stems idea i mentioned above. Have them stick down into the screen you plan on coming back to.

    and yes daftbomb and Thebeejabides are great level designers. Daftbomb likes to do hard challenging small levels, Thebeejabides is more artistic. I like the long artistic levels myself that builds up a story (as you know).

    OK, good luck and i’ll check out your level.
    -Tony Tough

  6. Flowers seem very interesting musically speaking ! Thank for the explanation, I will try a level based of flowers next time !

    In my level uses a little bit the build up down, as you can redo it by the top or by the bottom, when you come back or when you arrive to the last screen, you have like a double melody, I didn’t try to create something really clever with for exemple a melody that begin on the top and the following melody on the bottom to complete it and create something harmonious, but it can be a good idea, it gives me some levels in mind !

    Personnaly I prefer level that tries to tell a story, but the genious of this game is to propose really different levels, thanks to intelligence of creators !
    I tried to tell the story of life in “till’ the moon” level, with the life at water step, dinosaurs, extinction of dinosaurs, discovery of fire, etc but I think that the level design was so poor that nobody understood my idea…

    Thanks again for advices, in fact there are a lot of tips that I didn’t know ! Good to be shared !

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