J2C Rating System
                 Submit Level

What is the rating system?
What are the things that you look for in a level when you rate it?
How can my level get a rating of three-stars? (***)
What are the settings you use when playing levels?

What is the rating system?

Each level has a possibility of getting 0, 1, 2, or 3 stars. This rating system took the place of the one used on the old J2C, which used ratings from 0-4 with decimals. (Look at the Old Levels page to see how it worked.) I stopped using the old system because it was too confusing for both me and the people who downloaded the levels. Although many people would rather have a more exact rating, the 3-star rating system allows the general public to quickly figure out whether or not a level is worth downloading or not. In addition, I give quick comments for each submission so you can learn about the high and low points of the level. Here is a basic explanation of what each rating means:

0-stars All levels with this rating are not posted. If I receive a 0-star level I inform the author that the level will not be posted. I provide reasons for this and give suggestions regarding how to improve the level in case they would like to work on it more and resubmit it at a later date. Zero-star levels frequently don't have backgrounds, have very bad eye candy and design, have errors and other problems, don't fit the category they are supposed to be in, (such as a Single Player level with few enemies and no challenge or a CTF level with ill-placed bases) and often aren't beta tested, resulting in many of the problems mentioned.
1-star(*) These levels almost always need improvement in at least one area, although they are still good enough to be posted. One-star levels frequently have questionable eye candy, problems with desgin, over-use of events, are small in size, and may have errors or evidence that there was not much beta testing.
2-stars(**) Most levels get this rating. These levels are the in-betweeners. They are better than 1-star levels, but not quite worthy of the honor of 3-stars. Most 2-star levels have good eye candy and design, use of many layers, good use of events with sometimes more advanced events, and they always fit into their category well. Levels with 2-stars usually are worked on for a significant amount of time and are beta tested a lot to ensure that there are no bugs.
3-stars(***) The 3-star category is almost exactly the same as the 2-star category except for one thing: there is something(s) in the level that makes it stand out above all other levels. Examples of how to get 3-stars are listed here.

Note: Tilesets are obviously rated differently than levels, although there are similar concepts between the two. No tileset has ever gotten 0-stars.

What are the things that you look for in a level when you rate it?

Note: I may rate on other things besides the ones mentioned below.

All Level Types:

Creativity The aspects of the level that make it different from other levels, if there are any. This is often what determines whether or not the level gets ***. More details on this are located here.
EyeCandy Are all 8 layers used if the tileset allows it? Is the tileset used in a creative way? Are animations present? Is there more to the level besides just walls, ceilings, and floors? Simply speaking, is the level appealing to the eye?
Errors Levels are checked for problems with the use of tiles that may get you stuck in a wall, for missing warp targets, or other things that will kick you out of Jazz 2 or that seem to be a problem or error that should have been noticed during beta testing.
Events Your score can increase if you use complicating events or if you use events in an interesting way. Your score can also increase or decrease depending on the position of the events, what kind of events they are, or how many you have.

Single Player Levels:

FunFactor Simple whether the level is enjoyable to play or not. Some conditions in the eye candy, design, error, event, and other departments may make the level not very fun to play.
Challenge A good level shouldn't be too easy and should't be really hard or impossible either. Many factors apply to this, including enemies, carrots, other events/goodies, the design, (mentioned below) etc.
Secrets Secrets can make a Single Player level funner, more challenging, and just overall a lot better. So, be sure to use a lot of Layer 3 when you're making a level.
Design Single Player levels should have a design that lets the player do exploration (lots of secrets) and it's also nice to have multiple routes to give the level a good replay value or areas that can only be reached using a certain character. The design shouldn't include parts that are impossible to get through. Most SP levels, with some exceptions, should be easy to navigate. I never recommend having a maze in a SP level or any other level type, as they can be very annoying and have been way overused in the past.

Battle Levels:

Creativity Besides eye candy, design, errors, and events, this is the only thing that really matter in a Battle level. You can pretty much call any level that you make a Battle level, which is why I grade so strongly in this category.
Design Battle levels should not have a design that is challenging for a player to get through. People play Battle to go on a shooting spree - if they want challenge they can play a Single Player level. I also don't recommend having too many secrets, as it may give certain players an unfair advantage, but coin warps aren't too bad of an idea. Often levels with variations in platform sizes and lots of platforms get good ratings.

CTF Levels:

BasePlacement The red and blue bases should be pretty far apart and in strategic places. It is also nice to have various routes to get to each base, although you probably won't be penalized in that specific aspect.
Design Lots of the best CTF levels are mirrored. This is actually a good idea, and I recommend using it if you want. The design should allow for some difficulty in reaching each base. (in other words, if you only have to run in a straight line back and forth between the red and blue bases you're not going to get a good rating)

Treasure Hunt levels:

GemPlacement The number of gems doesn't really matter since you can set the amount to anything you want when you play the level, but it's usually nice to have a game with lots of gems. (but not too many, although I've never seen a level with too many gems before) On the other hand, I do grade on where you place the gems in the level, which relates to the design:
Design The design should allow for some challenge in getting gems. In other words, you shouldn't have all of the gems in a single room. Treasure Hunt level are best if they are spread out over a large area. A small level makes it too hard to collect gems because the only thing that will go on is shooting gems out of everybodies opponents.

Race Levels:

Challenge Gotta have some obstacles so the player doesn't get bored.
Design An uninteresting design makes for uninteresting gameplay. In other words, having the player run in a staight line most of the time isn't going to cut it.

Level Packs:

I have the same grading criteria for level packs/episodes as I do for single levels. Usually I'll rate each level in my head and have the rating be the average of all of the level ratings. Of course, it's always important that the levels are linked together properly, and I'll check to see if the levels follow the storyline if there is one. Those two items don't hurt your rating too much though.


Due to the fact that tilesets are more difficult to create, all tilesets submitted get at least a rating of one-star. (I can't completely guarantee this, but I have never received a 0-star tileset since I started doing Downloads in June of 1998.) Here are some things I look for:

Masks All tiles need to have a proper mask that fits the shape of the tile.
Tiles A good tileset needs to have tiles for walls, ceilings, floors, backgrounds, and eye candy.
Color Is it a simple color scheme or a complex one?
Originality Better ratings are handed to people who create all/most of the tiles by themselve, without copying pictues into their set from other sources.
Creativity Interesting tilesets get downloaded the most. Some of the best custom sets are focused around a theme, although it's not necessary to have one.

How can my level get a rating of three-stars? (***)

Getting 3-stars is not hard at all. Often you can get it just by having super good eye candy or design. However, now that 1000's of Jazz 2 levels exsist, it's harder to get *** simply by having good eye candy. Instead, I have started to focus more on creativity when rating levels. If you want your level to stand out above hundreds of other levels, you need to have something in it that sets it apart from the rest.

One technique that is being used right now is having a Single Player level without enemies. In replacement for the regular baddies, there are various challenges that the author makes up. There are also many things you can do with the events themselves that make interesting conditions. Although MCE's aren't a new thing anymore, there are still plenty of other things you could try. It just simply involves experimenting with different variables until you come up with something you like. The tiles themselves can even be used in a creative manner. For instance, you could have unique animations, or you could make every tile in your level transparent. There's an infinite number of things you can do to make your levels stand out about the rest. Just be creative!!!

What are the settings you use when playing levels?

All levels are played in Single Player settings, even if they are a multiplayer level. Playing every level over the Internet with other people would be virtually impossible because of how much time it would take. So, I don't recommend using events that only show up in multiplayer because I won't see them. If I can open the level in JCS, I look at it there before playing it. If I can't, I drag the level onto the Jazz 2 icon and choose "Open With" to access it. I can no longer open levels from the Home Cooked Levels list because it has been full for months. (it only allows you to view 256 levels on the list) Therefore, this means that I can't pick my character or difficulty before playing the level, meaning that all levels are tested using Jazz on normal difficulty.

Levels are played in a window on 800x600 resolution. I do not play full screen because I need to do major multi-tasking when updating J2C Downloads. For maximum effeciency, I use 8-bit resolution, although I may use 16-bit if there is water in the level. I will check for ambient lighting in levels, although often I won't play with it on so I can see the level better for rating purposes. Other than what I mentioned I use maximum video and sound settings. Also, I frequently use cheat codes so I can see parts of the level I normally wouln't be able to see, so I can get through a level quicker, etc.

Please e-mail me if you have any questions about the J2C rating system that were not answered on this page.