Hello, enlightened users. Have you ever wondered why the same crappy levels always surface to the top-rated and highest-played lists week after week? Have you ever raged because some 10-year-olds rated your level down because it required more than a basic level of skill? Obviously you have, or you wouldn't have joined this wiki and put up with all of whining about it.
Anyway, let's take a look at what the HW community likes. The level at the top of the featured list (as of 6/30/15) is Subway Rampage (which happens to be mine :) ). However, as far as actual levels go, there isn't a whole lot of playability. In fact, if it wasn't for the hill at the beginning, the player could literally not press any buttons and still win. When I originally created the level, I didn't even intend for it to get featured; I just wanted to submit something that would captivate some kids' short attention spans so they knew I was still alive before I went inactive for 4 months so I could work on my next legitimate level, Demonic Asylum. Ironically, one of these levels went on to HW greatness while the other one got briefly popular before being discarded near the lower end of the featured levels list.
Now take IAmVeryBored's levels. He never wastes time on the graphics and instead focuses on playability. However, of his 5 featured levels, the ones that are at the higher end of the list ( WeirdFrozenCavern1.1 and Segwayball (NEW A.I) ) are notably easier and more detailed.
However, when you look at the popular non-featured levels, the vast majority of them have no details and a good level of difficulty (I'm talking about things like rope swings and obstacle courses, not sword throws and matrices). For some reason, people have no problem restarting these levels until they win. Why is that?
Part of this has to do with how we view the purpose of a HW level. In my opinion, a legitimate level is one that has a plot - meaning that it has excellent details, at least some difficulty, and some sort of reason behind the level's goal. Some users do this really well, like Kirbypwnage and IAMURHUSBAND, but a lot of times we get so caught up in making a level detailed that we forget to make it difficult or have a point to it (I won't name any names but you know who you are.) Part of the reason I started putting more difficulty into my levels is because IAmVeryBored told me that one of my levels sucked for the sole reason that it had barely any difficulty. After having changed my attitude about what constitutes a good level, I've seen so many users with great potential wasting their drawing talent on levels that really have no point. Some of these levels have gotten featured, but many times these levels just get popular for a week and then fade away.
Just to get this out of the way, there are detailed levels that are completely illegitimate, specifically unfinished levels.I can't tell you how many times I've seen a "level" with one scene of highly detailed graphics and then a finish line added at the end saying that it is only a demo or that they reached the shape limit. If it takes you 2 months to finish a level, take that 2 months. If you run down the shape/art limit that quickly, learn to be more efficient with your details. You don't need 100 different art objects to make shading.
So if most popular levels have some sort of skill involved, why are most of the difficult featured levels rated badly? From what I can tell, it has to do with level length. Most of the popular weekly levels are relatively short even if they are quite difficult. Featured levels, on the other hand, tend to be quite long, so it takes longer to beat them. This begs the question of why people associate difficult levels with bad levels - why do people assume that if they can't beat a level, there must be something wrong with it? That's kind of rhetorical, so my real question is why people would believe that a featured level has something wrong with it. Some featured levels are certainly higher quality than others (*cough* Mega Slam Dunk ARENA), but almost all of them are imperfect when it comes to mechanics. At some point, you will run into a bug - maybe you were just outside of the trigger range, or HW was just being stupid that day - but people always complain to you when the bug hits, as if you can do something about it. As far as I know, you have never been able to overwrite a published level, so why people think you can fix something is beyond me. Besides, if levels could be overwritten, it would cause problems with the replays (as was the case of Pyramid of the Gods when our boy Dylan gave me the perfect opportunity to give Jim a fixed version of the level.)
Anyway, I've run out of things to rant about. If you've gotten this far, congratulations! You're all fired up to start your own rant in the comments section.