FVC GDC wants your feedback

my opinions

Autonomous Mode: [review]the time period this year, i believe was perfect… but the false starts that occurred at nationals were very disappointing

Tele-Operated Mode: [suggestion]if possible, interference would be a big problem that would be great if it could be lessened [as much as possible]

Game Object(s): atlas ball was very important in this game and created multiple strategies in both autonomous and tele-operated modes and even in strategizing - i think that something to that effect should be kept next year

Goals/Scoring: the point differentials in this year’s game seemed very even

Tournament Structure: although the regional setups had a good number of matches for teams, the championship event only had 4 matches per team which i believe is not enough to fairly determine who should be the number one seeded team

Other/General Game Ideas: no comment

Note: I’m not in the FVC, but I think some of these ideas might be workable. They are ideas I’ve had for the FRC, but aren’t workable with the larger scale (durable field pieces in the FRC would weigh far too much to be added or removed each match).

Autonomous Mode:
A. Have the results of autonomous mode (even if not combined with teleoperated period) affect the field. Example: Perhaps the game field has a series of slots with lexan ‘doors’ in them. The doors might create chokepoints near a goal or simply be annoying obstacles. Accomplishing certain tasks would open or close these doors (the lexan would be removed or placed in the slot). Ahead of time, alliances could collaborate to determine which doors they are capable of opening/closing and which ones they want opened/closed that match.

Tele-Operated Mode:
A: Having a pit packed full of game pieces lower than the level of the floor so that robots have to reach below their wheels to retrieve the game pieces. If those game pieces roll easily, then it becomes more difficult as the game goes on: initially, they are packed tight and don’t move, but as they are removed, they start moving around and well-designed robots must cope with that. In combination with my doors idea above, perhaps the doors could control access to an area of the pit with an even-lower bottom so that things would flow into it.
B: Same idea as the pit above, but instead of having it below the floor, have it with a semi-rounded bottom sitting freely on the field. If robots want to retrieve balls near the endgame, they’ll have to tip it towards them to have the balls roll towards them. In order to have no team advantaged at the beginning, have a flat spot on the bottom so it is level at the beginning. In fact, it doesn’t even have to have a rounded bottom. Think of a 12"x12" cardboard square (pizza box?) with a short pillar in the centre at the bottom. It is tippable, it stays level at the beginning, and you can fill it with balls.

It also opens up some prospects for cooperation/competition: opponent out-scoring you? keep the box tipped your way so they can’t refill. Ally needs balls? help them hold it down so your opponents don’t keep it away from you.
Since I like the tipping-box idea a lot, here are some renders of how it might look:

I rendered the first one before I realized the extreme angle it’d reach with such a long pillar. Obviously the pillar length could be adjusted a bit.
Game Object(s):
Egg-shaped things would be cool, though I’m not sure where you can buy a lot of them. I think any game pieces would need to be able to roll to be really interesting.
Multiple goals with multiple point valuations makes for a more interesting game and wider design variation.
Tournament Structure:

Other/General Game Ideas:
Anything to increase the amount of autonomous choice would be fantastic. I think it would be very cool if teams had to write 5+ somewhat simple autonomous modes each (and maybe a doozie for mega-points). If I was in high school again, I’d probably be spending 100% of my time programming a FVC robot.



Autonomous Mode: very good, most of our matches were won with a successful program, keep the bonus, keep the time.

Tele-Operated Mode: no comment

Game Object(s): like the softballs, alot of different designs but i think we need to move from balls. i was thinking those red dixie cups.

Goals/Scoring: differential was good, triangle prevented huge dumps. maybe there should have been 2 low goals and one tall goal to make high scoring harder.

Tournament Structure: more matches!!! if nationals wants to keep it as one division and 100 teams then we need to go to alliances of 3, that would allow for 6 matches instead of 4

Other/General Game Ideas: surprise us next year, stray away from the “put balls into goals” game.

My biggest compliant about the game is the scoring. The score of the winning alliance should not be determined by the score of the loosing alliance. THe score you earn should be the score you get. Our team would have done so much better is this had been in place.

Also at the world championships all foreign teams should have at least one person on the team who speaks English or have a translator.

thes were my two biggest complaints.


To increase the weight placed on programming the robots, I suggest a set of valuable autonomous compulsory exercises (related to each season’s game) be devised each season and then carried out separately by each robot before the qualification/elimination matches occur (or not carried out as the case may be). These would resemble the compulsories figure skaters must perform.

The non-trivial score each robot achieves (attempts to achieve) by executing these compulsories would be carried into each qualifying or elimination match/alliance by the robot/team and would be added to the alliance score achieved during each match.

I do think that alliance vs alliance qual matches should continue to have a brief autonomous period at their start (or perhaps at the end to make this type of autonomous operation more challenging).


  • I definitely think that the programming part of FVC (and to a large extent this year’s FRC) gets short shrift in current competitions.

  • When I think of inspiring a student to pursue a career in robotics, I think of industrial and commercial robots that perform autonomously.

  • When I think of teleoperation I think of large machines like ships and earthmovers, small machines that are usd in surgical procedures, and fly-by-wire planes or ROVs; but I don’t think of “robots”.

  • The scheme above, assuming the points to be earned in the autonomous compulsories are big enough to really get folks’ attention, would seriously light a fire under teams that do little with software now, would inspaire teams that want to emphasize developing software skills, and would foster stronger collaboration between all teams’ programmers and mechanical designers.

  • Because of the points they would bring to each qual or elimination match a well programmed autonomous robot/team would become a desireable alliance mate, even if their teleoperated performance is average or weak. This would put software finesse and cleverness on a more equal footing with driver skill and mechanical design (or mechanical brute force in some instances).

  • Simply raising the value of the current style of autonomous operation would over-emphasize the robots’ ability to mimic one brief set of the exact same maneuvers used in the teleoperated period.

  • This would force more tough compromises in the robots’ designs and would probably give rise to a more diverse set of robot designs each season.

  • A hoped for side effect of this would be that teams would use more software macros to carry out parts of the teleoperated matches such as placing objectss into a goal once the robot is brought near the goal.

PS: Do many FVC teams have trouble with getting their software ready for competitions today? Yes. Should we make the software part of the competition less valuable as a consequence? No; we should make it more valuable in order to make it worth their while to invest more time into learning the software side of robotics; we should do a better job of teaching these skills; and we should continue improving the documentation and ease-of-use of the tools they are required to use.
PPS: No - In case you are wondering, I’m not a computer scientist/engineer or a professional software developer.

To make the challenge harder, they could put a weight limit on the bot. This would have killed us this year. I think if we were a little bit heavier, our bot would have sunk into the foam mat :slight_smile:

The non-trivial score each robot achieves (attempts to achieve) by executing these compulsories would be carried into each qualifying or elimination match/alliance by the robot/team and would be added to the alliance score achieved during each match.

I like this idea: It allows for some pretty complex and varied autonomous modes without extending the length of the individual autonomous matches. You could have a 2-minute long autonomous qualifying period once in a competition, and all the qualifying matches would remain the same length.

As an extension to your idea, I propose that teams could have a small number of retries throughout the competition, with their highest score so far achieved (not the average) being the value that is carried into the match. They still get an advantage if they come into the competition with a ready-done autonomous mode, but if they fail initially due to equipment failure or unforeseen bugs, they can try again with the penalty of playing some qualification matches without the advantage.

In a one-day competition, teams could try once before qualifying, once at a mid-competition break, and once just before eliminations. Since drivers do not have to actually actively do this, the trials could be done by a volunteer on a seperate field whenever the team is ready.

Autonomous Mode: Autonomous mode right now is great. The 10 point bonus and the 20 second time period fit this year’s task perfectly.

Tele-Operated Mode: This mode is quite good. No improvements to be made here.

Game Object(s): Like many fellow VEXers I would like the game object to be easily accessable and able to be purchased from nearby stores anywhere. Or the game object should easily be created. Balls still work great, perhaps ping pong balls or poof balls, some ball that is shootable can be encorporated into next year’s game. Stacking or placing objects works as well.

Goals/Scoring: I would like to see a game where we can shoot poof balls or ping pong balls(similar to FRC 2006). Otherwise stacking or placing objects works as well (similar to 2005/2007).

Tournament Structure: Perhaps VEX can consider making 2 day tournements for large tourneys (Penn had 45 teams). This allows many more matches and less of a rush.

Other/General Game Ideas: I think FVC should consider allowing teams to compete and win awards in 3 tournements like FRC. This allows for teams to travel more, and better convince their administration to pay for their trips. It also encourages teams to arrange exchange programs.

Autonomous Mode: Multiple tasks, and no task that gives a clear “autonomous bonus” to draw teams to do it. My favorite FRC game to date is FIRST Frenzy, among other reasons because in autonomous, teams did not stick to one task, like this year. Multiple tasks add more creativity to this aspect of the game

Tele-Operated Mode: Good as is.

Game Object(s): Something non-spherical please. All FVC challenges to date have been good, but the treaded ball elevators are getting a little tiresome. How about hockey pucks? Also, I liked the atlas ball in that it was simply too large for a 18x18x18 robot to handle properly without very good design.

Goals/Scoring: Scoring this year was good except the atlas ball was worth way too much. Once again, lexan triangles are getting a little tiresome as goals. How about something like a large scoring wall at one end of the field that teams can place gamepieces into via holes at various heights.

Tournament Structure: Seemed to go well, although it would be nice for both fields to be running together in Atlanta.

Other/General Game Ideas: Three team alliances would be nice to see.

Autonomous Mode: The integration of the autonomous and operator control worked well, besides a few glitches at tournaments with some starting matches. 20 seconds seemed like a good length for this section of the challenge, but I think codes could have been more complicated with 30 seconds total, but the 20 second autonomous mode worked well.

Tele-Operated Mode: Worked well. In a few tournaments I noticed that there were some problems with teams losing control of part or all of their robot.

Game Object(s): The softballs were interesting because of their size, and low coefficient of friction, making it sometimes harder to grasp onto the balls. Still having balls as the scoring objects could be good, as it is pretty easy to maneuver with them. The atlas ball, was often frustrating, as the setup was painful at times, and the fact that the atlas had to be MOSTLY on your side meant that it could be resting on the line, and made the refs job harder if it was a 50/50 chance.

Goals/Scoring: This worked well, two high goals and one low goal for a side resulted in much crossing over for the competition, and often with the atlas ball heavily contested, made strategies numerous in competition.

Tournament Structure: The tournaments ran well, sticking to the schedule for the most part, with few if any mistakes in the day. Something to change would be the amount of matches, the teams at the nationals only had 1 practice round, and 4 qualifying rounds.

Other/General Game Ideas: Keep the same field walls each year to make a one time cost to teams for an outlay for their field.
Common goals possibly. If, at the center of the field there were 2-4 goals, and balls all over the field. Teams could place balls (all the same color) into the goals. The goals could be moved around by teams, and if the goal is all the way onto their part of the field, they would get the points for all balls in the goal, this adds a bit of complexity due to the fact that you have to spread your scoring over many goals, and if you don’t all your scoring could be given to the other team if they push the goal onto their side. This is an idea for part of the competition, not the whole, low goals would still be a good thing.

We would need a significant upgrade to the motors before we can shoot a ball.

First, I have heard several people complain that the 2 fields were not running together in Atlanta. The idea was that they could do field reset on one while running games on the other. If they ran them together, there would have been a longer time between matches due to field reset. We would not have gained any extra time for more matches and the video monitor/webcast would have been more difficult.

I have also heard the idea to have 3 teams before. Can you imagine fitting 3 robots on that size field. They have guaranteed the field would not change for a few years to make it an affordable investment for teams. They would have to shrink the robot envelope to make 3 team alliances.

Autonomous Mode:
I loved the combined autonomous with tele-operatred mode, much better than the half-pipe hustle split

Tele-Operated Mode:
Nothing wrong here, just fine.

Game Object(s):
Like others have said, balls get old 3 times in a row, maybe something new (i love tetras)

Atlas ball was way too overpowered in my opinion.

Tournament Structure:
Worked just fine, no serpentine = win, but my biggest complaint would be Atlanta-related. 2 fields for 100 teams is not enough. 4 games per team is way too few. Need more matches in that regard. Maybe make it a 2 division thing where the winners meet up for a mega-match?

Other/General Game Ideas:
Once again, in my opinion, the atlas ball was completely overpowered.


Maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean; but if you are talking about truly using two fields simultaneously, do the math.

(10 channels) minus (four robots multiplied by up to two channels per robot) = two crystals left for the second field…

Unless you start sorting robots according to the number of crystals they use, you can’t plan to simultaneously use two fields consistently under the current FVC rules.

PS: I am assuming that the two fields are close enough to one another (so one audience can see both) for a transmitter on one field to reach a receiver on another field and that their is no intentional shielding installed between/around the fields.

not necessarly, you just need to learn to do it right:

Not true.

FVC competition crystals are different channels from the ten commercially available. This is done so that the commercial crystals can not interfere with FVC competitions. There are enough channels to run two fields simultaneously, with a small amount of expansion, too. If no one’s noticed, the field controls are designed and built to be used by three teams per alliance.

Vex uses the standard hobby ground frequency of 75 MHz, channels 61-90. That’s 30 total channels, minus 10 commercial channels, leaves 20 FVC competition channels. Fine for 2 vs. 2, but a little tight for 3 vs. 3.

If running two fields simultaneously, I would still recommend staggering the fields so only one field is active at a time to eliminate any possibility of interference between the two fields. It would still be faster than what was being run in Atlanta. If you have a 30 second window before and after the match to get radios turned on and off, you should be able to run on a 4-5 minute match cycle. We ran on a 5 minute match cycle at the Hartford regional with only one field, so two fields running staggered on a 5 minute cycle is within reason.

I understand a team’s concerns. Paying a large amount of money to compete at Championships, then only getting 4 qualification matches, doesn’t seem justified. It also left large blocks of teams with similar win-loss records. I would like to see the Championships split into 2 divisions of 50 teams which play to divisional winners. Then the two divisional winners could play for the overall title. Even with the extra matches needed for the elimination rounds, a faster field cycle should be able to get teams up to at least 6 qualification matches. :cool:

GDC This years game was great! Especially the atlas ball. I’ll agree with previous posts, time for a new game piece. Give balls a rest for a year or two.

Also… 3 vs. 3! :yikes:

I only attended one FVC event this year, although I think it counts for something that the one event was the Championship. Here’s what I thought:

**Autonomous mode: **VASTLY improved upon Half-Pipe Hustle. I didn’t see much line-following, but the field was configured to provide plenty of dead-reckoning or encoder-based possibilities. Lots of great plays to run.

**Teleoperated mode: No complaints here. Good clean fun.
Game Objects:
Perhaps balls are becoming a bit too common in FVC–I know a few teams essentially showed up with their center-goal Half-Pipe Hustle robot. (That’s an exaggeration.) Let’s see something a little different next season–maybe still balls, but make them particularly different in use or nature from past seasons’ balls.

Oh, and the Atlas Ball did sometimes make following the action a bit tricky…but such is the case with any large opaque object.
Goals/Scoring:** The Atlas Ball, in the end, seemed a bit too weighty–pin that with one robot, have the other score some in the high goal, you win. Throwing the ball out was a tricky but big move, one slightly hampered by the driver placement. (I would frequently find myself waving back drivers so the ball could go either in or out.) It was nice to have the high goal be significantly higher than the Half-Pipe Hustle goal, but something different might be nice for next season. The platform and bar were a nice setup. I wish the turntable was a little bit crazier, but it was still a neat change.
Tournament Structure: Championship match thinness aside, I’ve got nothing much. I do prefer this ranking structure over the Autonomous-mixed-in arrangement of Half-Pipe Hustle.
Other Ideas:
One I’ve been jonesing to see in FVC: robot-actuated field elements. We saw a bit of this in the high-level play of Half-Pipe Hustle, where teams would use their robots to empty the auto-loaders of the loader-dependent opponents. I’m envisioning some sort of lift or conveyor driven by a small Vex wheel, just to ensure maximum replication ability.

I’d also like to see some electronic scoring–the bumper switches in the Vex kit seem to be perfect as a target for teams to hit either with robots or game pieces.

Lastly, the robot-as-scoring-object approach of Rack 'N Roll was just good clean fun. If that can be integrated into an FVC game without coming off as a total rip-off, I imagine it’d be fun.

One I’ve been jonesing to see in FVC: robot-actuated field elements.

I’d also like to see some electronic scoring–the bumper switches in the Vex kit seem to be perfect as a target for teams to hit either with robots or game pieces.Yes! - Similar ideas here. Jim Koca and I had fun discussing similar possibilities for an off-season exhibition event last summer. The plan didn’t get implemented because our “customers” for the event were properly reluctant to use a field that might require expert assembly and trouble-shooting when reused by them for other exhibitions in the future.

An effective compromise between field complexity and the rewards of having an “active” field is bound to exist. The idea just needs some testing and refinement so that we can identify where that compromise lies.

It will be easy to prove that there is no “rip-off” by referring to this message that was posted well before Rack-N-Roll was announced.

Dave Lavery’s speeches to the regional audiences about FRC teams having to get “into the heads of” the other FRC teams this year was one that I could have written myself. I look forward to seeing more of these sorts of opportunities woven into the FIRST FVC and FRC games.

PS: Last year, for Aim High, I urged our FRC team to build a mobile pillbox/tank that lumbered out into position on the field with a slow; but nearly impossible to dislodge or block high-traction, high-torque drive train; and then opened a hole(s) that looked like a low goal.

For the rest of the game it would just sit at its money-spot and accurately fire 3-point balls into the high goal. Allies would only need to harvest the balls that littered the game fields and deliver them to the pillbox bot’s low goal(s). I suspect that we would have consistently gotten very high scores from the strategy.

I would love to see future FVC and FRC games have clear/obvious opportunities for alliances to create this sort of division of labor. Perhaps even carried to the extent of having robots declare whether they will be a hunter or a gatherer (or an autonomous vs teleoperated, or a ___ vs a ___) at the beginning of each event. Then the match schedule would explicitly put one bot of each type into each alliance for each match.

See these also:

Well, “Yes” and “No”.

“Yes” because we are specifically discussing FIRST events at the moment.

“No” because VexLabs and FIRST appear to be collaboratively attempting to keep the genie in the bottle by only offering 10 crystals for sale to anyone who doesn’t know the secret handshake (a bit annoying - especially for organizers of large practices and scrimmages that use VexLabs equipment and/or FIRST’s games; and for users who want to do multi-robot experiments or games that aren’t related to FIRST’s competition games. Formal FIRST events are not the only activities that use Vex equipment…).

You mean commercially available to ordinary buyers through VexLAbs. The crystals for the other channels are commercially available from plenty of other sources (I now need to look for the right connectors from other vendors…). See your and my further comments below.

This genie will be out of the bottle very soon. In an odd case of serendipity, I had this same “conversation” with my hobby shop team sponsor last Monday and with Chuck Harris at a PVL-sponsored FVC scrimmage yesterday.

So, I doubt I will be the first person to take a crack at figureing out how to adapt commercially available crystals from sources other than VexLabs for use in VexLabs Tx/Rx equipment. Hopefully it won’t be any harder than finding a source that uses the same two pronged plugs.

Thanks for the reinforcing info Skimoose!

PS: Is anyone able to recommend a suitable vendor already?

Thanks for all of your feedback over the past two years. Look for the 2007 FTC game to be released in mid-Sept.