Deep Space: Well Designed

The game designers did a nice job with this year’s game. Here’s what I like:

Teams don’t have to build a “do everything” bot to win, like they did in some other games (2011, 2015). This is more like 2013 where it’s hard to be the absolute best at every objective, but you can leave one of them out and still win. For example, a team with hatch ability and L3 climb can do well. A team with no climb and really good level 1 scoring ability can do well.

Low height point scoring is viable. Some people argue that high rocket scoring isn’t valuable enough, and I see where they’re coming from. That aside, I think it’s great that a team can be competitive without building an elevator. Elevators are tricky to do really effectively. So are big arms. Being tall with high CoG has its own difficulties. Teams have an actual choice this year about going high, compared to other games (especially 2011) where you basically had to go to the top level to have any shot at winning.

Sandstorm is pretty cool - more teams participate! Teams with good auto or semi-auto can use their resources to go for a more reliable 2 hatch auto, which is very helpful.

The point value and strategic value of sandstorm play is quite appropriate - it starts you ahead in the game, but a sandstorm lead isn’t insurmountable. (Compare that to autonomous in 2013, 2018, or especially 2015).

Game strategy is interesting. Decisions of where to place your first game piece and where to send your defense has significant implications for how the teleop period is going to play out. Depending on the alliances, you might choose a different sandstorm task, and since it’s camera driving, you don’t have to be a team that did a month of testing to have the ability to prepare for different sandstorm tasks. That adds variety and fun.

End game is appropriately valuable. It’s important, but it doesn’t decide every match. You can fail your climb and still win sometimes. Sometimes a L3 climber with slower scoring beats a faster team with no climb, but sometimes it goes the other way. You could build a buddy climbing specialist that wins with climbs, but a regular climber with scoring ability would be competitive against it.

Also with the end game, I really like the tiered climbing objective options. You have 4 or 5 tiers of difficulty, including the Hab3 buddy climbs as the hardest ones. This plays out a lot better than something like 2017 where every team could do a relatively easy 50 point climb, but that meant it was basically required in every match. Every team had to have that type of climber to win: less variety, less strategic specialization options for robot design, and less fun since it was more a negative if one of your alliance’s climbs failed than an exciting thing when it succeeds.

The buddy climb’s value is appropriate - fitting two robots (or lifting one) on Hab3 is hard and adds 6 points beyond the Hab3+Hab2 option. That’s enough to matter, but not enough to make up for a lack of game piece ability. The triple climb is super valuable, but it’s also really difficult. I can picture a match where 1678 triple climbs against an alliance that fits two robots on Hab3 plus a partner on Hab2, and the latter alliance would still have a shot to make up the 6 point deficit by being a little faster at scoring game pieces and better at defense. And by the way, Hab 2 climb is a lower difficulty, accessible task that’s nice to have as a niche option.

If the goal is to provide a good experience for a lot of different types of teams, I think this is quite a good FRC game.


Pretty clearly, using roller blinds has been a nightmare for field maintenance. You can bet some other technology will have to be found to continue this concept. I however do like the concept and hope it is not quickly abandoned.


My main problems with the design are the visibility and choke points.

I don’t enjoy watching games where I can’t see, the drivers can’t see, and there are pileups of robots.


Choke Points are always important in strategy. With no choke points, defense is largely irrelevant. I prefer the larger strategic options that choke points allow, both defensively and counter defensively.


2014’s game counters this thought. No choke points on the field and really great matches.


Considering how many scoring objectives there are on the field the visibility is quite good. If you’re sitting somewhat centre to the field you can see every scoring target, except the 2 front bays on the cargo ship. The visibility for both drivers and spectators was much worse in 2017.


It makes me sad to think that so many people will never get to experience 2014.


2014 matches were for the most part, pretty bad. We just remember the top level competitive play, at which point the matches were extremely exciting and fantastic. At lower levels of play it was a bore.


Choke points are a lazy way of creating effective game play options for lower level robots.


My selective memory has forgotten any boring matches in 2014. I remember a lot of excitement. I sure hope the GDC considers an open field again. Not talking about obstacles or ramps or whatever. I just want to be able to see what’s going on.


“Low level” play for most games is boring, Deep Space is no exception. STEAMworks is the exception that proves the rule due to the highly overvalued end game.


I personally think the game would have been better if it had been set up like this:


In this set up, no vision = no defense.

Deep recycle rush.


There are quite a few sight lines for playing defense, maybe not at all of the scoring locations, but definitely in the open field.


Why would offensive robots ever go into the open field? They can rack up a ton of points while hidden from the opponent’s view.

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What about rockets in the middle? True Recycle Rush 2.0


Combining both halves of the rockets and placing them in the middle of each half of the field would also be a cool option.


Vision for scouts: :grin:
Vision for defense: :sob:


I want to give a big kudos to FIRST HQ for the inclusion of null hatches. Such a brilliant move that really made this game watchable at all levels of play while allowing the top teams to expand their scoring ceiling. This game would have been absolutely brutal during the early weeks if teams were forced to hatch up the cargo ship for every cargo they wanted to score.

I also think this game was one of the better games for early week and qualification play in recent memory. Cargo and low scoring were achievable objectives for a large portion of teams, which means almost every team was doing something on the field. Sandstorm made the first 15 seconds less boring. There were more teams capable of doing something beyond just driving on the platform in the end game than in early 2018. The scoring structure wasn’t so rigid that it led to tons of ties. While play certainly wasn’t super refined and we didn’t see much in the way of filling rockets, early week play was significantly more watchable than games like 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2017. It was up there with 2012, 2013, and 2016 for some of the better early week qualification play in the past 10 years.

There are plenty of criticisms I have (sight lines, G9/G10 positioning, etc), but most of those have already been covered in other threads.


I completely agree with this. I’d like to see some form of this continue into the future. Maybe not with the drop cloth, but something that gives an incentive to use auto but doesn’t cripple you if you aren’t up to the challenge.

Anything that helps more robots accomplish more of the game will always get a thumbs up from me.