Beating that RobotWars dead horse again...

I was in Chicago over the Memorial Day Weekend. What should I see on WTTW (the public TV channel) on Sunday night but RobotWars.

It was an import from the BBC. It seemed to me to be a mix of BattleBots and Robotica. They had some preliminary competions to eliminate robots and then got to the one on one destructo competitions for the semi-finals and finals.

The show was pretty campie. The robots were pathetically bad. I would have guessed that 9 out of 10 FIRST robots could have beaten any of the robots there with about 10 minutes of modifications to add a bit of armor.

The thing that kills me is that these guys are getting on TV… …ON PBS NO LESS!

How can we get to the right people in TV-Land and show them that we could be every bit as entertaining as these folks?

Ah well.

RobotWars, BattleBots, Robotica, …

Maybe 2002 will be the year FIRST gets its break.

Joe J.

A little bit of info about RobotWars. RobotWars predates Battlebots by quite a bit. RobotWars started in 1994 (FIRST Is older! ha! :wink: ) and their event occured in San Fransico. After that there was a dispute between the sponsor and the organizer and the sponsor sold rights to a production company to produce a version of RobotWars in the UK (this was what was on TV). The original RobotWars (as in that done by the original organizer) has not been held since 1997. What does all this mean? Nothing really. I just wanted to try out the new forums. :wink:

Matt who needs to get his post count up now that it’s reset to zero :wink:


It appears we truly are beating a dead horse. No offense Joe. I wish that with all this talk about all of these comps we could come up with something that FIRST can do about it. Actually I guess we’ve even been down that road. Perhaps what I hope for most is that FIRST will actually listen to us and some good might come of all of this yet. We shall see I guess.


What FIRST can do!?

Accept these other competitions… embrace robotic education… and ride the coattails to a brighter future of America and the world!

K… maybe not… but seriously…

Best thing for FIRST: keep on learning how to make this better… we need more TV-friendly games (i.e. need some ‘competition’) and to kinda ‘be in the right place at the right time with the right people’ to make it on TV… chances are things like TLC, PBS etc saw the potential and sought out groups for airtime. FIRST needs to be in the spotlight when the next big station is looking to work their magic. And I can honestly say that I think it’s our best bet.

So if the FIRST community embraces all which is robotics, Battlebots, RobotWars and otherwise… while continually developing their game to be more viewer-friendly… time will take it where it’s supposed to go.


FIRST can always pull an “AMD”: To benefit from Intel’s “big budget” ad campaign for the Pentium 4, the big wigs at AMD named there new chip the Athlon 4.

I posted this in the old forums, but it was at the very bottom of the page and only a day before the old forums closed, so I don’t know if anyone noticed it. So, here it goes again…

In the not-so-distance past, the auto racing leagues couldn’t get the TV networks to air the races since the networks didn’t believe that there was enough interest in racing. A few big races would be picked up by a network, but most wouldn’t.

To remedy this problem, the racing leagues would purchase the air time from a network, and then sell the ad time themselves to pay for the air time. Typically, about 90% of the ads were sold to the companies that were sponsering the cars (since the sponsers felt that they wouldn’t get there money’s worth unless they were on TV).

The point is, I don’t see why FIRST doesn’t try this approach. FIRST could hire a small production company, film and edit the competitions into a series of shows, buy air time from a network, and sell the ad space themselves. I’m sure companies like Delphi, Motorola, Ford, and GM would be more than willing to buy some ad time.

As I posted earlier, Dephi sponsors an IRL team and plays many ads during IRL races. I think a Ford ad would have a pretty good impact on consumers if played immediately after a Ford team has a good match (and since the matches are edited, it’s pretty easy for FIRST to guarantee a good match for Ford before the Ford commercials).

I suppose the big key is, before they can do this, they need to make a game the would go well on TV.


Sheesh, I stop reading for a few weeks, and everything changes except the topics…
Ok, I’d like to clear up something… It takes a LOT of money to simply produce a TV show, much less get it aired on TV. Don’t you people realize this? I mean, I know FIRST has some big companies behind it, but that’s a lot of money to ask for. And don’t think that selling ad time will completely cover the cost of production and air time. Heck, if that worked, then corporations would start buying TV shows and air-time, then sell ad time and place some ads themselves and still make a tidy profit. Obviously, this isn’t the case, so no matter what, it’s going to cost FIRST money to make a show themselves. But that’s beside the point. I’ve got another, much more important, much more controvesial point.

Even if FIRST makes a show, or if someone makes a show for FIRST, what are the odds that people will be interested? C’mon. Step out of your FIRST addicted minds and look at this objectively. Say we went back to a highly competitive format like '98. No teams at all. I still don’t think there would be many people watching this. Sure there’s competition, but we’re still lacking what BattleBots, RobotWars, and Robotica have in spades. That would be a very easy to determine objective and scoring system.
Also, if FIRST competitions were made into a series, there either wouldn’t be enough material, or there wouldn’t be anything to hold each episode together and make people come back. If you show the seeding rounds, there would be too many teams for people to follow, and there wouldn’t be a clear-cut winner at the end of every show. But if you stick to just elimination rounds, there just wouldn’t be enough material for more than a couple of shows.
Basically, I think FIRST just will never be as TV friendly as other robot shows, and isn’t very likely to get picked up by a network or anything.

Even though media coverage would seem fun to a lot of people, who would actually sit down and watch? I sometimes get bored at home and pop in a tape of old regionals that I recorded and no one in my house understands whats going on. No one would really understand what was going on unless they knew the rules of the game.

Anthony Steele II
Team 442

"How can we get to the right people in TV-Land and show them that we could be every bit as entertaining as these folks? "

You certainly had the chance, Robot Wars has just announced which American teams will be selected for the new USRW show to be filmed in London this summer. Those selected will have paid airfare, room & board, and will receive a $2000 appearance fee (plus royalties I think.)
I doubt they would have any problem with you touting your FIRST team either, etc. Maybe that is what it will take, some FIRST team has to get on the air and strut their stuff.
Speaking of this…just back from Battlebots and Mr. Bastoni’s kids from PNTA certainly did that–and my bot was on the receiving end. They also appeared in this month’s Newsweek and will appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno–their bots gave Chinkilla a lickin’.

For TV coverage for FIRST we should do one of those shows they have on the Disney Channel where they follow a sports team around for a season starting at anxiousness before tryouts and ending at some sort of tournament or finals at the end of the season, that would be the perfect way to show a FIRST competiton. It could start with recruiting sponsors and members for a team, then show kickoff and brainstorming, building, and animation taking place. They could interview team members on how they feel about the program and how they think everything is going on the team. As it nears the end of the season you’ll start seeing the overnighters and crazy running around teams experience trying to meet there deadlines. With a show setup like this when you finally get to the actual competition you understand whats going on, team dynamics, and feel connected to the kids in the program. At competitions, it would be great to show the excitement to compete, the stress of needing to get your robot ready for the next match with only a couple minutes to fix a problem, the relief when your robot works in the match, The sense of accomplishment you feel when your robot does well whether or not it scores well. This is a really good way to truly capture FIRST and what it is really all about and why people who do it truly love the program.

Pamela 166,
Our team was followed through the 2001 competition as you suggested, by PBS. PBS also followed two other teams and the completed documentary is due out in September. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping it helps spread FIRST and generate interest in schools and sponsor companies.
The only mistake I KNOW they made in this documentary… they had me miked for a night… I can’t remember what I said… hopefully nothing like…“All your bases are belong to us”… (I couldn’t resist! HA, HA, HA, HA!)
Best Wishes

Steve Alaniz