Game trends

The logo theory has been debunked repeatedly in as far as I recall.

As for the theme, there has always been a theme to FLL, remember, we are dealing with 8yr olds who have no attention span so the FLL game tends to be very story oriented to hold attention.

Keep in mind that FLL also has a research part to it. The themes aren’t just to keep the kids interested, but to give them something to research.

If we pay attention to everything that Dean and Woodie and Dave talk about when they are directing their attention to the potential and the impact that FLL, FTC, and FRC can make on changing the culture, it becomes very clear that trends run much more deeply than the playing surface or the game element or the slope of the ramp or its absence.

If you want an opportunity to gain some terrific insight into that vision and that commitment, attend an FLL event. Volunteer at the competition. Talk to the teams. Talking to their mentors is awesome and inspiring but if you talk to the students, you gain a very clear understanding of their grasp of what Dr.Flowers and Dean Kamen are saying. When you get that, then you understand FRC a little more fully. And then - you can begin to think about trends in a little different way.


I am so tired of circle game pieces, I really want to see a ramp and rectangle game, sort of like 2003.

I agree totally. I would also like to see a team on team battle much like this year, where robotics was more like a sporting event, instead of each team trying to complete more of the task than the other. Personally i would like that better.

Back on topic, it would be interesting to see a large change in a common rule this year, like a drastic change in the maximum size of the robot just to switch things up, its almost like we’re in a rut here with the same size bots and the ball thing. Maybe I’m wrong but that would be neat. Also, there isn’t really a color trend, i was thinking about that earlier…

Aren’t we already past 3 years? 2007-2009 had no ramps. I guess 2007 did if you count the one’s people put on their robots, but even then we are at two years.

Or a game with multi-shaped game pieces? Like filling bins with balls, then putting those bins somewhere? We haven’t seen that yet…

I would not be surprised if that ended up being the objective of the game this year. In another thread, a game hint consisted of boxes and cans, which could mean multi-shaped game pieces. However, there is no portion of the hint that gives out a possibility of a putting pieces in bins (that doesn’t mean we should give up on that idea though). :wink:

FIRST games don’t follow trends, although there are a few randomly repeating themes. However, there are some general “constants” and apparent trends in the overall FIRST program.

Randomly Repeating Themes:

  • Spherical vs. non-spherical game piece (with emphasis on FRC logo shapes)
  • Single game piece handling (2008, 2007, 2005, etc.) vs. Bulk handling (2009, 2006, etc.)
  • “Flat” floor (2009, 2008, 2005, etc.) vs. “Climbing required” (2007, 2006, 2004, etc.)
  • Expanding robot envelope (2008, 2007, 2005, etc.) vs. fixed robot envelope (2009, 2006, etc.)
  • An unusual feature thrown in to keep us off balance (2009 floor/wheels, 2008 “hybrid” period, etc., etc., etc.)

General Constants (but never assume anything…)

  • 27’ x 54’ field (the basic field perimeter structure is re-used each year)
  • 3 vs. 3 matches (drivers stations are part of the basic field structure)
  • Max robot starting size about 28x38x60 in, 120 lb. (fit through standard door, fit existing crates, 2 students can carry, etc.)
  • Autonomous period, teleoperated period, end game (usually involves a different task)
  • A game that works for both rookie and veteran teams
  • A camera that tracks a target light/color to assist in acquiring the game piece
  • Achieving the basic game task quickly while being defended is the key to victory (duh!)
  • No water games!

Apparent FIRST Trends:

  • Cost reduction via re-use of parts, smaller venues (set up by volunteers), self-transport of robots, etc.
  • Increased “value” for the money (more matches per event, more events per team, fewer teams per event)
  • Summary: Michigan District format.

217 had a shooter that launched over robots. 1114 later replace their shooter to do this (based on 217’s design, I presume) and seemed to use the feature more frequently than 217. I’ve only seen 217 shoot over robots when it had a Supercell. 1114 used their shooter even when they weren’t being held against a wall, while 217 seemed to prefer driving around until they could push the opponent from the side and fire down.

Part of that might have been since 217’s shooter was on the front of their robot, another robot that incurred under 217’s intake could block their over-the-top shooter (2775 did this in an IRI mentor match). 1114’s shooter was located farther from the front of their robot, so they could more easily shoot over the top of other robots.

I have this gut feeling that I know far, far more about the functionality and scoring style of other team’s robots than I ever should know.

Wayne, I made some small changes to your themes and constants. All rather minor. The only major one being that in 2005 you were allowed to handle multiple tetras, the weight made it a pain but it was legal. A small minor one was that 2006 allowed horizontal expansion but not vertical expansion. Interestingly, 2006 and 2007 explicitly forbid FlopBots (67 in 2004/2005 and 16 in 2008) 2007 was also the year of the multiple weight/size classes. All size and weight constraints have remained relatively standard since 2005 as have 3 team alliances.

This is really kind of the yin / yang or balance or whatever you call it of FRC game design in my opinion. On one hand, you want a game with relative separation of tasks that are not completely dependent on your partners and opponents so that “good” teams seed high. On the other hand, you want games where the alliance has to work as a unit directly against the opponent for more exciting matches, variance between elimination matches, and emphasis on alliance selection. It’s a tricky balance.

The real question is … what are NASA’s greatest challenges right now? What have they recently accomplished of great significance that can be simplified and quantified into a game? Additionally, what parts of those accomplishments are easily tailored in order to facilitate some of the other challenges facing the GDC, including improvements to the game format, regional competition format, and/or funding?

Ares I multi-stage rocket
Water on the moon

Therefore it’s painfully obvious that we’re facing an air, space, and/or water game this year. Time to get your spacesuits, goggles and bathing suits on!

im feeling cones so its gonna be fast.

I think part of it will be driving by camera like is being done with the Mars rovers. The only question to my mind is would there be enough band width?

The Mars rovers are mostly autonomous. There’s several minutes of delay in getting radio signals to and from; they can’t be “driven”. Only general directions can be given. Like “drive staight”, and then the rover determines whether straight is save.

Various sources on the internet say 10 - 15 minutes, as a rough first approximation. Dave might be able to provide a more precise number. So, the delay that the driver would experience would be 20 - 30 minutes, provided there is radio access to the robot. That alone cuts out even more of the day.

Hmm. Now that would make for an interesting game. Delay the packets to the robot and back again by a couple of seconds.

The round-trip signal time for communications with the Mars Explorations Rovers varies between 11 and 45 minutes. The actual delay time depends on the relative positions of Earth and Mars in their orbits, which causes the distance between the planets to vary between (approximately) 55 million and 400 million kilometers.


NASA is retiring the shuttle at the beginning of next year and Lego league’s challenge this year is “smart moves.” If you combine this with the train based clues, you get some kind of transportation based game, moving large or heavy objects around the field. But when you think about, that’s the challenge every year:rolleyes: so I don’t know if my input has any meaning.

my $0.02

No entanglement?