FIRST Game Changers Breakdown - The return of Infinite Recharge?

I’m pretty happy with what Tyler had to say. I think this Game Changers thing is a lot deeper then we think.

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FIRST doesn’t have to ruin the program just to cater to the audiences. I really don’t want to see a slightly/same different game year after year with a slightly/different same robot year after year. If 2021 has to replay fine (I think it won’t) but I really don’t want to see the program head that direction. Games can be simpler but I’m not a fan of the “patches” theory.


Consider something like Formula SAE or Robosub in college. Do the “challenges” change from year-to-year? No! The competition fundamentally doesn’t change, but we still design, build, and test new cars every single year and it has always been a great learning experience for all team members. My point is, the competition doesn’t have to change to obtain a meaningful learning experience. Cash-strapped teams can opt for a two year development cycle, while others can continue building a new robot every year. Just my 2c.


There’s also (sort of) a robotic football league at the collegiate level that is slowly gaining traction. It started at Notre Dame and now has 10 universities involved.

Pretty severely modified rules, but it’s still football, and colleges field entire teams instead of just 1 robot.

Heres my take,
Formula cars all look the same because we already know what design is proven. FRC on the hand is different because we get a new challenge with different goals every year allowing us to design for those new challenges. Doing the same thing year after year would be boring. The robots would become all just about the same with minimal slight upgrades year after year. No design challenge. No need to rebuild a robot if last years is fine just swap out the CIMs for falcons or other minor upgrades. FIRST is unique with a new challenge every year and probably wouldn’t work near as well without it.

Take tombstone from battle bots the design is mostly the same since they released the original back in 2004. Sure they do minor changes overtime but really nothing too exciting. Battle bots is a competition. While FRC has a competition, it is also a design, build, and programming challenge.

In short, I feel that one of the bests parts of FIRST is that we build different robots to accomplish different tasks every year.


I feel like what I said may have been misconstrued.

I don’t think FRC should keep the entirety of the game each year, just one element.

For example, let’s say Game Changers introduces a game that has Infinite Recharge style ball shooting alongside a balance board challenge and , for the sake of argument, a Kinect Based Hybrid mode auto period. That challenge, while maintaining one piece of the prior year’s game is fundamentally different from the previous challenge, despite having one similar element.

The following year, the game would then retain one of the challenges from the prior year, while changing two others. This allows team to iterate on one part of their bot, while redesigning the rest.

Sports involve teamwork, working to move a single game piece down the field together. Not since Aerial Assist (best game ever) have we had a challenge where teams work together like that. I wonder if that is in the thought process?

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Paul isn’t really active on CD, but @cory @Travis_Covington, you guys work with Bite Force, right? How much work goes into redesigning between seasons? Is it a good engineering challenge or is it largely just copy/paste?


Very little between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. It’s all about improving reliability of things at this point and building up spares. There are iterative changes that could be made that would give more flexibility/possibly improved performance/reliability, but they would also be risky. Particularly given that there often isn’t a ton of time between when battlebots makes the next season official and the start of filming for that season. That’s compounded by team members being busy with work and FRC build occupying the majority of that time between confirmation and film start.

Some teams build at risk (either risk of not being selected or that they will have sunk major amounts of time and money into a robot for an event that doesn’t end up happening). That’s not something our team has been willing to do, which makes it very risky to make big changes in a small period of time.


I wasn’t involved with FIRST when Aerial Assist was played, but I’ve thought for a while (after watching videos of high level matches) that it was a really fun to watch game. However, one of the main knocks against it that I’ve seen when the best all time games are brought up is that at low levels of play, the “dead ball” card would have to be played somewhat regularly, as the team with the ball would die on the field and cause scoring for the alliance to stop.

I would suspect that FIRST has moved away from this model because while cooperation between teams is great for watchability at a high level and fits FIRST’s goals, it can result in a really bad experience for teams as one dead/bad robot on your alliance can guarantee a loss.

So, that looks like it could extrapolate nicely to the current FRC situation.

In a replay, the raw engineering challenge could be lessened for some teams. Teams with robots they’re happy with are going to be working towards reliability improvements, but teams with robots they’re unhappy with could still do more significant work. Building at-risk is relevant here, too. There’s still a big question mark over the whole 2021 season.

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I think the most intriguing part of the video announcement is “revolutionize the way we play and move”. The return to sports, now including esports, is a big plus, as that was a very successful way to construe FIRST in the past (though that idea was lost beginning in 2015). No secret that I have been fantasizing about games being replayed for some time (Aerial Assault League, anyone?) so I’m aware that my bias is coloring my vision here. Still, it seems possible that FIRST is not seeing the “new game, build a new robot” model as sustainable given our new realities. I realize many of you think a repeated game would be boring and not worth participating in, but I really think that’s wrong. If games are reused ad infinitum, we can develop each season much more effectively than we do when we treat it as starting from scratch. I have a ton of thoughts on why this would be good for FIRST and good for teams, and I won’t put them all here now. Like I said, I’m seeing this through my own bias, but it’s possible this is the way FIRST will take things, and I would support it wholeheartedly.


Considering I’ve already taken the other side of a bet with you on this, I really think people are reading too much into this, and it’s likely we have another themed game where the theme happens to be sports. While I sincerely hope FIRST is looking at more sustainable models of FRC into the future and potentially through significant economic downturns, I don’t think this is it.


Finally. I miss the older, less themed games where it could be described as “stack totes faster and higher” or “launch balls, and/or catch them”. Less Gaudy, less flashy, more direct.


I think we are coming at this from the wrong direction. Its not about us. FIRST’s goal of changing the culture has finally paid off.

Starting next year, each NBA “tournament” will consist of 40 basketball players who signed up on a first come/first served basis. They will get a playing schedule where they are paired up with 4 other randomly selected players (your team mate in one game may be your opponent in another) for a series of short “qualifying” games. At the end of that process, top ranked players will pick their teammates (in a serpentine draft format) for a final tournament to determine the winning team.

The NFL is still working out the details of how they will implement the new “FIRST Game Changer” rules. :crazy_face:


For a robotics analogue, Battlebots is the same game every year and is pretty successful without many rule changes, the robots are generally pretty similar every year, but the matches change constantly and are still fun 4 seasons into the reboot. I think a replay wouldn’t be nearly as bad as people expect.

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The issue I have with that, is that Battlebots is a lot more designed for the TV aspect of the show. Alongside the fact that you have the same team for multiple years, it makes more sense for these teams to keep working on the same robot, rather than in FRC where you have an entirely fresh team every 3 years, practically every other year. Joining a new team just to find out you are working on the same robot, becomes less rewarding for new students compared to Battlebots where you are working on your robot for multiple years.


I agree, if there won’t be a new game, teams will gain fewer skills from the program. For example planning (you could plan a whole year but the challenge isn’t the same ). In Turkey, teams think that they could do all the missions as shooting power cells, rotation control, position control, and climb. However, most of the teams couldn’t finish their robot or they don’t have time to test. Teams who planned the build season and build a simple robot do a better job in the field. If infinite recharge comes again, simple robots will have difficult times in the field.


We still have our two Mammoth robots. I think it would be fun to play them again. Maybe in an off-season event. That is what R.C. did for the 2015 MTTD. That was huge fun.

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