Have there ever been leaks of the upcoming game in the past? Do teams ever open the kickoff boxes early? How does FIRST protect against this? Has anyone gotten in trouble for leaks?
iirc there have been versions of the game manual that have got out early/ had password cracked.
Not sure what year. Wow, more recent than I thought, it’s been a long past few months.
Previously the game elements at kickoff (2011 era) were a source of info that HQ clammped down on and stopped doing in favor of field tour vids.
that happened with the 2022 game manual
Solidworks leaked the steamworks field cad a few hours early.
FIRST significantly limits who gets information, and even for those that get info, they limit what that info is and give it to you as late as possible. On top of that, if you’re getting advanced info, you’re signing an NDA - breaching that can have legal consequences, although I haven’t heard of anything like that happening within FIRST. More likely they just DNP you for future advanced information.
The Kickoff kits generally aren’t shipped directly to teams*. They’re shipped to kickoff coordinators, who have to show the ability for secure storage for the ~week they have them prior to kickoff. Unless those coordinators open a kit, they aren’t getting any information from them (except for Recycle Rush, as the trash can was too big to fit in a tote). So teams don’t even have access to open early.
I have heard of limited leaks after the fact before, but it hasn’t been anything widespread. Back in the day, FIRST didn’t do teaser videos like they do now - they released actual game hints. There are whole threads on here trying to figure them out. But you never know if you did until after kickoff - and even if you did figure the hint out, it’s typically nothing actionable.
Imagine you get info on a leak. Someone tells you it’s definitely a shooting game. What can you do without knowing the diameter of the ball, or how many balls you can hold at a time? Flip that, and someone tells you it’s a pick-and-place game. What can you do with that? how high does the object have to go? How big / heavy is it?
There are so many details that go into designing a robot, any leak short of a full manual and field specs isn’t going to help very much. And those are kept under very tight lock and key. Even the chief volunteers (like Al and Chuck for inspectors) don’t get to see that. They may get to see the sections relevant to their roles, probably not until about now, but not the rest. And most of that stuff is evergreen these days anyways! Even the game rules don’t help very much, as they don’t provide those critical dimensions and most of them recur most years in some shape or form.
*unless you do not sign up for in-person kit pickup. In that case, they are shipped to you, but arrive late, after kickoff has finished.
I suspect if we somehow learned it was a pick-and-place game (absolutely hypothetical!), we could spend the remaining time prototyping claws and/or jointed arms, or ? There have been a fair run of shooting games, so yes not much to learn for shooters.
They’re shipped to kickoff coordinators
Yea my team is hosting a kickoff this year. That’s what made me wonder “what’s stopping anyone from opening them?” Our team is not meeting during the period from when we get the totes to kickoff.
What can you do without knowing the diameter of the ball, or how many balls you can hold at a time?
I never thought about this, I see how useless leaks are.
if I remember correctly there were KOP leaks day before Lunacy. Nothing that really helped.
Leaks are like sneaking into your parent’s closet a few days before Christmas to find out what you’re getting. It spoils the surprise and it doesn’t really change anything. Almost all of the leaks I’ve heard about have been only a day or two before kickoff (certainly less than a week). There’s no real benefit, especially in a post-bag-day world.
People have claimed they have happened every year (that I’ve been involved) to some degree. That includes 2019, 2020, 2021 (alright they made the game change videos public on their YouTube like a day early that doesn’t count) and 2022.
The 2018 kickoff was the last one that featured a Field Builder program. Relevant blog post.
This is an excellent point. For those of us that have been at this a while we have all fantasized about how we would design stuff for various game challenges. But where the rubber meets the proverbial road the geometry of the field is where at least 50% of the work is (probably more). I.e. In the end it doesn’t do you a ton of good to know there is a multi-rung climbing game (like 2013) , the devil is in the details, so there would not have been a huge jump for 2022 if a team would have known.
Speaking of jumping, the only real advantage having the rules (sans dimensions) early provides is the ability to look for loopholes, like jumping. but these will most likely be caught by the community in the first week (just who will go for building a robot around loopholes?)
In 2015, a supplier accidentally posted the listing page about a month before kickoff for one of the game pieces. Only leak I can remember in recent history.
I can remember this allowed teams that were tipped off to buy out Walmart of the Orbit balls before anyone else had a chance to buy them.
I think a similar leak of someone sending out game object pictures to friends of theirs the night before kick-off happened another year but I can’t recall which year.
I think I remember pictures of the field getting sent out out the day of kickoff from folks working the event, when the live kick-off in New Hampshire was the only one and before they started really obscuring the field. (Full disclosure, I used to call the team back in the shop to describe what we saw waiting for the live kick-off to start while sitting in the stands, because cell phones didn’t have cameras back then…)
There are some very smart people out there who have been able to repeatedly crack the game manual code. There have been mistakes made by suppliers or partners that released information early. Autodesk once leaked the field CAD by accident one year, then the next year Solidworks did. With such a large operation involving many different groups, and a program focused on bringing together some of the brightest engineers in the industry, it’s no wonder that something manages to slip through the cracks most years. It’s just the nature of the beast.
With that in mind, if anyone has any info about the 2023 game, I wouldn’t complain if you sent it my way.
There’s definitely been moves over the last 5 years to try to reduce the number of people with “need to know”:
- Dropping local field builders in favor of field tour videos
- Removing vision examples/images from WPILib/LabVIEW kickoff releases – these used to be encrypted, but are now released unencrypted, typically several days prior to kickoff
- Early announcements of software things (game data, AprilTags), with an additional benefit being community development/testing ahead of kickoff
I know, it’s the worst
I’ve said too much.
I remember being at a local kickoff in 2018 (I think one of the first years that the VR field was provided for teams to “explore”), and I found a few mentors passing around a CAD model of the soon to be released PowerUp field (word on the street was someone got it one way or another via the VR field files). Was very disappointing/disheartening to see people engaging in such acts .
In the end it didn’t have any major affect on kickoff. There was no game manual to go along with it, or any description on how the game was to be played (for all we knew, we could hold 5 cubes that year ). Pretty challenging to “take advantage” of things, and this was maybe a half hour before the broadcast started.
VRC has had some games leaked early.
Change up 2020-2021 was leaked as the closed captions in virtual worlds weren’t synced so the announcement was made early.
Tipping point 2021-2022 had the field shipped to someone early so the mobile goals and field setup got leaked.
Spin up had the Chinese version of the manual leaked on the Chinese vex forum about 2 days early.