FRC Game Design

I’ve been sucked in the 2020 Game Speculation Thread, but it’s brought up some interesting questions.

  • What is the process for designing each FRC game?
  • Are there dedicated (paid) engineers and game designers?
  • How much feed back is there from the community (beta testers)?
  • Are any robotics built for the game before it is released (for figuring out feasible challenges, rules, max weights, etc.)?

I may have more questions, but these are all I can think of right now. Thank you for your responses.

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I believe there was a good blog post on this a while ago.
I’ll try to find it.

Because FIRST wants to keep the game secret, there isn’t a lot of visibility into the design process, except that every once in a while something will be denied by a GDC member (e.g. the old four-year-game-cycle theory). It appears that there are dedicated engineers.

and given the size and scope of the rules, it seems likely that there are also dedicated game designers.

There does not appear to be any beta testing; if there is, the beta testers have a strong NDA that they stick to! Purely my speculation, it seems likely that the engineers will design and test manipulators to ensure the challenge is a challenge but within reach of many teams.

  • What is the process for designing each FRC game?
    I don’t think they’ve ever said the exact process… but it’s a year-long one. They went through a couple of years ago to revamp it so there would be overlap in development, letting the game design finish earlier to give them more time on field production and fine tuning.

  • Are there dedicated (paid) engineers and game designers?
    There are a number of people at HQ on the GDC as part of their job, but it’s not their entire job as far as I know. You can imagine what it looks like… the inspectors have a point of contact at HQ that handles everything inspection related (working closely with Al and Chuck, of course!), but he also works with the GDC. I’m sure there are many more like that, employees who are experts in one area of the program that provide that expertise to the GDC as part of their job. They also bring in some community individuals to serve on the GDC, I believe, as volunteers.

  • How much feed back is there from the community (beta testers)?
    I’m not sure what a “beta test” would look like. No teams get info on the games ahead of time. No one outside of HQ/the GDC knows enough to build anything or test anything. I have heard stories about early field builds being scrutinized (In Nov/Dec?) by a slightly larger audience for feedback - one of the best is from 2015, when someone asked if they needed a rule to keep kids from standing on the totes… while standing on a tote themselves. There is definitely some community feedback. First from the Chief Volunteers, who get copies of their section of the rulebook early (but not the whole thing! Sometime in December, I believe) so they can provide feedback for needed changes, and later from everyone as they open the Q&A after kickogg.

  • Are any robotics built for the game before it is released (for figuring out feasible challenges, rules, max weights, etc.)?
    If there are, I’ve never seen one.

The noodles also were added as “litter” at that time too at the behest of certain influential individuals…

I know (second-hand) that certain community members that are mentors of teams were able to see at least partial components of the field and game dynamic in the past and provide feedback.

For example, I was told the “Rock Wall” was originally taller then it ended up being, and it was suggested to FIRST that they lower it as it would have been too difficult for most teams.

Another example I heard was that the original threshold for the extra RP for the kpa in 2017 was much higher then it ended up being (somethingk like 100kpa needed for the RP iirc).

From everything I have heard (again, second-hand), how these people are chosen to have things run by them seems to be on a case-by-case basis and jsut select individuals are chosen to do this. I’m very confident that those individuals have to sign an NDA.

If anyone closer to this process or with direct knowledge knows more or thinks anything I said above is incorrect or needs clarification, please do. Once again, I am a second-hand source on this, not directly involved in any of this, so this is just things I have heard from people I generally trust.

Overall, the game-design process itself, not just the games, have always been very secretive and not very transparent, imo more then it needs to be.

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I love these threads - "I don’t know much but here’s some rumors that are probably true"

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A little old, but here’s the 2010 GDC video:

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Franks talks about the rules review committee in this blog post and I believe the FUN episode that is mentioned is here.

Frank has also done several interviews over the years where he explains more details about how game design is currently done.

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Many teams would probably benefit from doing what the GDC is shown doing in this video. The Haagen Dazs probably doesn’t hurt either :wink:

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