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Unread 05-20-2004, 12:33 AM
Natchez Natchez is offline
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Toxic Teamwork

Here is a 2 minute explanation of the Toxic Teamwork game.

*****Editorís note: Bobby is back at the Lone Star Regional after serving this great country for a year overseas. Bobby's words are in {brackets}. As always, this should be read veeeeeeeery slowwwwwwly in a deep Southern accent.

Bobby, welcome back to the FIRST Lone Star Regional. Thank you for everything that you do for our country and I'm sorry that you did not get to see the 2004 competition. {Thanks again for inviting me and I caught some of the 2004 competition on the Internet and it was incredible. There was so much action; I did not know what robot to watch on the field. I think it was even better than the Stack Attack game.} I agree! FIRST did a great job with the game in 2004. This year's game is called Toxic Teamwork because the robots have to clean up all of the "barrels." {Wow! You must mean all of the buckets. The field setup looks much different. What is the object of the game?} Right, there are over 50 buckets in play. If you look at ............ Look, a round is about to start.

(Baaaaaaaaat da baaaaat baaaaaat ............... da bat ... CHARGE! "THEYíRE OFF!") Bobby, do you .... {The robots are moving but they're not moving!} Yea, for the first 10 seconds, the human players drive the robot platforms that we call rovers because they go about as fast as the Mars rovers. {Oh, those blue and red platforms under the robots are NOT part of the robot. That seems silly because wouldn't the human players drive it to the same place every round?} Take a closer look Bobby. The red robots are on the blue rovers and the blue bots are on the red rovers. {Ohhhhhhhhhhh! I get it. So the other team gets to position the opposing bots before they start. That's a great idea!} Exactly, FIRST started implementing a random factor the year of Stack Attack and continued it with the random balls in Raising the Bar now they've raised the bar by randomly positioning the bots before the bots wakeup. {All I can think is goodbye dead reckoning. What will that team 118 do now? } I don't know about 118, but everyone scrambled this year to learn how to use the gyros and IR sensors.

*****Editor's note: The Rovers are 30 x 36 x about 9" tall made of wood with 2 wheels driven (probably directly) with globe motors and have 2 casters. The "control" is a simple 2-channel radio control. The human player has two joysticks that drive the rover with tank drive. The rovers move very, very slow and can not reach midfield in the first 10 seconds. There would be a penalty if the two blue rovers or two red rovers touched before the first 10 seconds. The rovers are very weak and would be pushed around very easily by the typical FIRST robot. For those who think motorized platforms are a little aggressive, read on and you'll discover a way not to have them motorized. The other side of the argument is that this may be a great way to implement robot starting position randomness for years to come.

{Hey, that rover knocked over that stack of buckets.} Yea, some more randomness before things get started. {Did those buckets fall in that bot?} No, each team gets 5 buckets to start the game. They can choose to keep them in their player station which scores 2 points each or put them in their bot and potentially score a bunch of points in the toxic dump area or on the rover.

*****Editor's note: The buckets are 5-gallon buckets that you can get at Home Depot. Please remember that Home Depot's headquarters and the Championships are in the same city; can you say major DONATIONS of 5-gallon buckets!!!! The buckets do not have tops and there is a piece of "foam" glued to the inside bottom of each bucket (about 6 to 12 inches thick) so they do not nest all of the way together therefore it is easy for the audience to tell that they are stacked along with the fact that they will not get stuck inside of one another. One reason that they do not have tops is because it makes them stack easier. Second reason is that tops are not readily available without ordering them. The buckets also have their handle.

There they go! {Wow! They are all crawling off of the platform. I think that I'd just lose the autonomous time and crawl off when I got control.} Bobby, ohhhh no; FIRST thought about that too. If your robot is not off of the platform after the 15 second autonomous period, then your robot does not "wakeup" for an additional 40 seconds and you only have 1 minute to run your bot. {Ohhhhhh, I'd definitely use the autonomous period to drive off of the rover. They seem to all be going to the black bucket.} Yep, the black bucket is worth 10 times that of the orange buckets so everyone tries to get it or at least get close during the autonomous period. {It seems that the rovers have quit moving.} You're right. The human players can not operate the rovers during the autonomous period but as soon as it is over, they have control again.

*****Editorís note: The Rovers do not need to be motorized for the first 10 seconds. The mats could be used from Stack Attack and the humans could just move the rovers manually. BUT this means that the human players could not move them for the remainder of the match so if they are motorized, then even a team that does not have an operational 'bot still is driving something around and effecting the game.

You're about to see why some call this game "Bucket Bashing." Team 456 is picking up a lot of orange buckets while their partner, team 118, fights team 364 for the black bucket. 364's partner 701 is already putting buckets in the toxic dump. Each bucket in the dump is worth 5 points and if they are stacked upright then they are worth 10 points each because you are saving space in the dump. {What is 118 doing now?} They are stacking the buckets on the rover which is worth 10 points a piece because they will be transported to another more environmentally friendly toxic dump. {Do they get 20 points if they are stacked and on top of the rover?} Exactly! {Why is 364 trying to hang that bucket on the hook?} If they get it on the hook, it is worth 20 points. If you look over there, team 456 is herding buckets and giving them to the human player and they get 2 points per bucket that is left in the player station. {Hey, the rovers keep moving around.} Yep, the human players are positioning them so their team can place the buckets on them. {This game shouldn't be called Toxic Teamwork, it should just be called Crazy! Hey, 364 is going after the red rover. Ohhhhhhhh, what a hit by 118. I guess that's what they get for trying to empty the toxic transporter.

Bobby, you haven't seen anything yet. The robots are about to ........ {GO FOR THE PLATFORM! They are fighting like crazy to get on and under the platform.} Yep, if you get on the platform, you get 50 points and if you are under the platform, you get 25 points. {How high is the platform?} Just 24 inches high. (Mahhhhhhhhhhhhhh ... that's the buzzer) {Wow, that was crazy ... just crazy}

If you're still interested, here is a quick list of thoughts for the game.

-The toxic dumps could be mobile goals just like in the past.
-Toxic dumps could be a community dump with red and blue buckets or they could be red and blue dumps.
-The toxic dumps need to be big. Maybe near the center platform.
-There needs to be some better "candy" for the autonomous mode other than just the black bucket ... i.e. the robots need to have an incentive to do something after they get off of the rover. Maybe have the "candy" disappear (not worth anything) after the autonomous period.
-Rovers could be bigger than 36 x 30
-Buckets could have reflective tape on them like in Stack Attack.

If you're still reading, here are some good & bad points.

The good:
-Buckets are readily available and not easily destroyed
-There is only one scoring object
-The toxic dumps and platforms are easily constructed out of building materials
-Score can change quickly (some may view this as a bad thing)
-There is lots of offense (stacking and moving buckets)
-There is lots of defense (removing buckets and defending the buckets)
-Game is analogous to industrial automation
-Buckets are challenging to manipulate
-Home Depot might pitch in a few thousand 5-gallon buckets
-Small bots might make it on the scene with the under-the-platform-score

The bad:
-Buckets are difficult to throw ... this may be good
-The rovers are motorized ... don't absolutely have to be motorized
-Robots scoring under the platform might not be audience friendly
-Frequencies for rovers may not be available (8 frequencies per field x 4 fields at the Championships). Might have to integrate into the team controller and change the rover brain for each team; not a very good idea.
-Don't know if the rovers will be reliable

Thanks for reading about the Toxic Teamwork game.

Take care,