[Official 2006 Game Design] OK, so YOU design the 2006 game...

Okay folks, it is that time again. It has been three weeks since the FIRST Championships, and you have had some time to reflect on what worked about the 2005 game, and what didn’t. There are already several discussions about what next year’s competition might be like. Well, this is your opportunity to influence the design of the competition for next year.

Several groups are working with and within FIRST to address various aspects of the challenge for next year’s FRC competition. They are looking for good ideas, game concepts, rule suggestions, play field designs, etc - everything from a basic idea for a game to a set of detailed rules and parts drawings to a completely restructured tournament concept. With that thought in mind, we would like to once again ask for your help and open a thread to discuss ideas, concepts, and specific suggestions for the 2006 game.

We have been through all the related CD threads posted to date discussing the 2005 game. There is no need to re-hash the pros and cons of prior games, or get too deep into philosophical discussions about previous years. Please keep those comments going, and please provide feedback on the 2005 game at the Team Forums later this summer. But please keep them in the relevant threads. Here, we want to figure out how to go forward and help build an exciting, challenging, stimulating and engaging competition for next year.

Here is what we can guarantee: EVERYTHING that you suggest will be read, discussed, and considered. Nothing will be ignored.

Here is what is not guaranteed: There is no promise that anything that is suggested will actually get used. For any of a number of reasons, the suggestions may be impractical, incompatible, or impossible to implement, and would not be incorporated into future games.

So, here are the ground rules (in no particular order or assumed priority):

  • The game should provide a sufficiently difficult challenge that it will stress the abilities of the students and engineers on the teams to design and build a solution.
  • The game should allow active participation by teams with widely-varying levels of resources.
  • The game should be interesting to play, involving some tactical and strategic depth, and without a single, predictable solution strategy that guarantees a win.
  • The game should be audience friendly and presumably TV-friendly (i.e. you can explain the basics of game to a TV audience in 30 seconds or less, it is easy to follow and exciting for the audience, and visually interesting for the duration of the match).
  • Any field elements must be able to be constructed from readily availably materials (ask yourself this question “can I buy all the parts at Home Depot or Builders Square?”). Field elements that can be disassembled into 45x90-inch (or smaller) units that stack against a wall for storage are encouraged; field elements that require seventeen people to move or a small house to store are discouraged.
  • The game should embody the values represented by FIRST (i.e. brings out the best aspects of a competitive spirit, advances the concept of mentorship within the team during the build and competition phases, does not promote needless destruction or violence, celebrates creative and imaginative solutions).
  • The game should be structured so that ingenuity of design is just as important (or even more so) than advanced fabrication.
  • There are no assumptions about the need for three-team alliances, limiting each round to just six teams, play fields in a single plane, etc.
  • There is a preference (but not a requirement) for robots to have both offensive and defensive roles in the game. There is a preference (but not a requirement) for a role for the human player.

Also, understand that we are soliciting ideas for more than just the game itself. We want to hear about different concepts for alternate technologies and capabilities that might be incorporated into (or removed from) the game, and the structure of the competitions themselves. We want ideas for all elements of the 2006 FRC. To help spark thinking and create a structure for focused discussion, four discussion threads are being created to start things off. These threads will include:

  1. Game concepts - this thread is intended for fully developed game ideas. It is intended to collect specific game concepts, as well as be an opportunity to discuss and refine posted concepts. This thread can also be used to discuss possible themes to drive game design. For example, this past year the FIRST Lego League used “No Limits” as their theme to design a game to examine how people with different levels of physical ability can easily access different regions. There has not been a defining theme for the past several FRC games, but you may have ideas to change this. This discussion will take place in this thread (here).

  2. Game elements and subtasks - discussion of ideas for unique game elements and subtasks. If you don’t have a fully developed game, but have a great idea about a piece of a game or an idea about something that has never been done before, then this is the place to talk about it. As examples from the past, someone could use this thread to post a suggestion to use funny pyramid-like PVC structures as an element, or that stacking stuff should be included as a challenging subtask. Someone else may have a very creative idea for the role of the human player (while some may propose no human player at all). Others can use those ideas as a creativity springboard to develop a game concept. This discussion will take place here.

  3. Autonomy and other technology - a thread to present new ideas for autonomous elements of the game, and other new technologies that could be introduced into the game or kit of parts. While autonomy need not be a part of a specific game, creative uses of autonomous components in any game are sought. For example, a discussion may be presented that proposes no dedicated autonomous time period during the game, but may require that a robot complete a certain function during the course of the game autonomously while other robots on the field are being controlled by their drivers. Alternately, ideas about new drive technologies (anyone know of a source for inexpensive CVTs?) or inter-robot communications may be reviewed. This discussion will take place here.

  4. Radical tournament structure changes - this thread is intended to collect innovative ways to structure tournament play. Using previous years as an example, this might include ideas to add human players to a robot-only format, or to change the three robots playing at once to a three-team alliance format. Sizes of alliances, lengths of matches, number of matches at a tournament, etc are all open for discussion. Like the above thread, this thread is meant to collect creative ideas that can be applied to any game concept. This discussion will take place here.

Understand that this will be a one-way valve for information (for a while at least). There will not be a formal response from FIRST regarding any of the ideas or concepts discussed here. If a suggestion is incorporated into the game, you will not receive any feedback or know about it until the game is revealed next year. If it is not incorporated, you may never hear why (because we will be saving any ideas not used in 2006 for possible use in future games).

If at any time during this year’s competition you thought “if I had designed the game I would have done it like this…” then here is your chance! We know that if there is a single place to go for this sort of input, it will be this forum! Let us hear your thoughts.

  • 2006 FIRST Game Design Committee

A teammate of mine (E. Wood) and I have been working on a possible game, and here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

The field would be about the same dimensions as this year, with the driver’s station on the long sides instead of the short ones. It would be 3v3 again, and the robots would start on the short sides like they did this year. Three raised platforms, one on top of the other, would be in the center of the field. On the center and highest platform, there is a basket or bucket or something of red triangles and blue squares. To retrieve these objects, all four wheels of a robot must be on the middle level, kind of like the loading zone rule this year. The objects are then taken to the end zones, where they’re put in a scoring bin. The triangles and squares are worth the same amount of points.

At the beginning of each match, flat green squares (or possibly pressure pads, but they might be difficult to move around between matches) will be placed randomly on each alliance’s side of the field for the robots to find using a vision system like this year’s. If a robot successfully finds this square, that alliance is awarded two (or three, maybe more?) white circle game pieces, worth much more than the other pieces.

Near the end of the match, say around the 30-second mark, three pressure pads near each end zone will be activated, the same size and shape as each of the game pieces. Each alliance must place one of each object on the corresponding pressure pad. If they do, they will be able to retrieve a larger object from a previously barred-off position on either side of the raised platforms. If the alliance has this object in their end zone at the end of the match, they are awarded a fairly large bonus. One idea we had was that this object requires more than one robot to carry it, possibly because of its size.

On the defensive side, robots are allowed to take objects off the opposing team’s pressure pads, but are not allowed to take them out of their scoring bin. (One possibility if you want to allow a more aggressive defense would be to allow robots to take the objects directly off opposing robots, so long as the opposing bot isn’t damaged.) Robots would be able to block their opponents from getting the objects, but they would have to be really careful not to knock them off the platforms.

Let us know what you think is missing, what you like, and what you don’t like. One thing we don’t have is a real role for a human player; we had thought of them doing something like constructing an object that is worth more points, one that only their alliance can then use, but we didn’t really define a role. If you have one, let us know.

Some additional random thoughts on game design (from a mentor to a rookie team…so there’s not much “history” here).

  1. Three teams per alliance is great. Not much in the real world gets done by one person, much less two (except in marriage…). Three is a good number.

  2. Two alliance is good. Clear definition of “winner” and “loser”, even though this whole event is NOT about winning & losing. Three alliances gets too convoluted for choosing partners in the finals.

  3. Driver’s view of filed needs to be more “flattened” like the 16:9 format of movie screens. So, move the drivers to the “longer edge” of the field.

  4. Game needs to represent “real life” tasks on THREE dimensions. So doing tasks “up high” (like topping the tetra goals) as well as “down low” (like some tunnels or soemthing) is good for 3-dimensions as is driving tasks such as ramps, stairs, etc.

  5. There are plenty of “obstacles” in the game such as running into another robot, or hitting a fallen tetra or game piece, or fixed field pieces. No need to create more land mines, etc.

  6. There needs to be much more POSITIVE FEEDBACK to the drivers on events such as “in the zone” by way of a light, etc like a hockey goal. There was a lot of ambiguity this year about foot faults, robots in the loading zone, etc

  7. The alliance lights (red/green) are a moot point in that they’re impossible to see. Make the robots wear a standard “bib apron” but it is good to novices to see two “team colors”…Plus it keeps the whole subject about color preference alive.

  8. Now, for something unique, I’d like to see the drivers in the MIDDLE of the field. They would need to see/drive around themselves. Could be accomplished by switching off drivers that face each other, or make the driver stations pivot, etc. WOW.

Alright, so I guess it’s time to lay down my concept this year, to prove what I posted in the other threads wasn’t totally insane. :wink:

Picture a field around the same size as this year’s, with five 8’ goals around the field, one at each corner, and one more at midfield in the back. Each of these goals are sort of like basketball goals, but have a long tube that ultimately feeds back into the player stations. Additionally, there is a hole in the bottom to feed balls through. In the front of the field are six loading zones, similar to the loading zones of this year, but have a barrier in front of them and a chute to load with, mainly to keep human players from getting hurt again this year.

The hitch with this year’s game is that the scoring is in real-time. This is the reason for the tubes–you’d probably be dealing with Banner sensors (knowing that they seemed to work reliably in 2004). Tampering or attempting to trick the system is, of course, a disqualification.

The game pieces are kickballs, 8.5" in diameter. (Why 8.5" balls instead of FIRST Frenzy’s 13"? Multiple reasons. First, you can get them at Wal-Mart a lot easier than you can a 13" ball. Next, it means you can’t completely re-use your old ball sucker. Finally, it lets you fit more into a certain area, meaning more cuddly landmines, as the one spotlight goes.) Each team starts off with five, for a total of fifteen per alliance. These may remain in the player station, or may be pre-loaded on the robot. An additional thirty are placed in a trough at midfield, bounded by four-by-four lumber. This trough is what the center goal empties into, instead of the player station. (At this point you’re thinking, “But Billfred, they’re just going to create a loop at that goal!” But that won’t happen, trust me. Read on.)

Autonomous mode starts, and red and blue rotating lights turn on at each goal, signifying ownership. Teams then may score balls in the top of the goal, good for ten points, or herd them into the bottom, good for five points. During the human operation, the balls become worth five and three points, respectively. Teams get the option then of scoring five balls by sending them through the bottom, good for twenty-five points, getting them up into the upper part for fifty, or other things I’ll explain in a minute.

Here’s where strategy comes in, though–scoring a ball in the center goal switches the ownership of the goals. Score another, and it switches back. So if, during autonomous mode, you went and scored a ball in the center goal, your opponents would most likely be scoring for you.

For the remainder of the match, teams are moving balls into the goals, switching now and then to keep things interesting. As the balls are scored, human players are moving them to the loading zones, feeding them down the chute to the robots. Of course, this is a harder task than this year, since you’ve got to carry three or four playground balls instead of one tetra. But I think they’re up for the challenge.

Finally, there has to be some sort of bonus at the end. I imagine this as building the trough long and skinny, only four feet wide on the inside. Park your robot inside, not touching the carpet or four-by-fours, and you get fifteen more points per robot. This is three to five balls, depending on how you score them. Therefore, it’s a desirable goal, but it’s also able to be stopped.

So that’s my concept. I think it’s doable, and would be interesting. You can run strategy (the center goal), go pure offense (just keep scoring on the goals), or go defense (block those goals, or switch the goals at the last second), and you’ve got a finale that’s kinda hard (for a 28" by 38" robot, you have ten inches of leeway one way, twenty the other), but not impossible to stop. The added length of the match and the nature of the scoring means you have to design your robots to run functionally non-stop, while retaining a light touch to park your robot at the end.

Here is an Idea not many will like I don’t think. Last year, we had 2 person alliances and during playoffs, the alliances contained 3 teams that could play. This year the number was 3 all the way through. If we do 3 team alliances for qualifying matches, I would like to see a 4 team alliance go to playoffs. Sometimes the highest ranked team not in the playoffs is not who you want.

I think next years game should me more of a combination between last years and this years game. By this I mean that there should be a lot of strategy involved like this year, but at the same time, many things your robot can do like the 2004 game. That would really be a great game. Also, this year, with the large number of objects in the way and the bigger number of robots, driving was a lot more difficult. Maybe it would be a little easier if there were less things cluttering the field, so that we could give an eaier time for the drivers. Some people may not like that idea either.

Also a game where a defense robot is really valued. Teams that have built their robots for defensive prposes have not been really picked for the playoffs. Thats just my thoughts.

[quote=dlaveryIf at any time during this year’s competition you thought “if I had designed the game I would have done it like this…” then here is your chance! We know that if there is a single place to go for this sort of input, it will be this forum! Let us hear your thoughts.]

Well… this is certainly open ended, isn’t it? I must say, after watching all the regionals and finals I could, I expected more from the vision aspect… I would like to see the autonomous mode given a lot more points, to emphasize it. I think that this aspect is vastly under-rated, and should be given more recognition.
I must agree with previous posts… three in the alliance is a bit much. Most of the teams do not have all that many in their team - and they suffer because they can’t scout everyone. Thus, they don’t do well thinking about two partners - but almost anyone can find one team they understand. I am for the two team alliances, if only for that reason.
Grabbing viewer audience, Arbitron shares? Get Paris Hilton to introduce the thing. Enough of Dean and Woodie and Dave, God Bless Them, get someone with real drawing power to comment on, introduce, present prizes, whatever. That will get an audience![/quote]

It seems to me that most of the penalties this year could be avoided through game design instead of taking off points. The two biggest hitters for point deductions are because FIRST wants to discourage teams from blocking or descoring opponents and keep human players safe.

The reason teams choose a descoring or blocking strategy is because it is easier to block or descore than it is to score. Solution: Have at least one scoring piece (that is really easy to pick up) get deposited into something like a goal so that it is difficult to get out. Also, make many scoring pieces available as well as several places to score.

The safety penalties were targeted around the HP and Auto loading zones. If you hit a bot while they were in this zone, that bot could potentially fall and hit a person. Solution: elevate the loading zones off the floor using ramps or isolate it from the field using barriers. The plus side to using ramps is if someone tries to block you from getting out of your zone, you can go any direction out of the zone. Also, if the penalties still exist for loading zone infractions, then the opposing team can clearly see from across the field that the robot is in fact in a loading zone (because it is elevated from the field). Or, you could keep the HP away from the robot and load the robot from the HP like in 2000 or 2001… from behind the alliance station.

My idea for a future game:
2 Scoring Objects:

  • Balls (A different color for each alliance).
  • Something Else (Floppies, tetras, KK donuts, whatever).

2 Types of Scoring Locations:

  • Troughs/goals/bins for the balls AND other scoring object.
  • Something Else (ONLY for the other scoring object).

Ways to score points:

  • Deposit balls into troughs/goals/bins (common scoring container for all alliances, points will be assessed by how many objects of each color are inside the scoring container).
  • Deposit other scoring object (other than balls) into troughs/goals/bins (This will be worth more than the balls, but less than scoring this object at the specific scoring location) - EG: If I have a donut and put it in the trough, it is worth 5pts. If I take this donut and stick it in my mouth, I get 20pts because 1) it is hard to get a robot to put a donut in my mouth and 2) it tastes better in my mouth than in the ball trough.)
  • Deposit other scoring object into other scoring location (reference example from before).
  • Hang, get to a home zone, or do a little dance.

Auton Possibilities:

  • knock off a ball (as in 2004) that releases more balls or alternate game pieces.
  • Score other scoring object before Auton mode ends.
  • Auton segment at the end, robots are able to move from anywhere in the field back to the home zone or some other location to score points. (Eg: you get points for being in your home zone. Time is running out, but you don’t want to give up your position, or you want to finish scoring your last point. Time runs out and End Game Auton Begins. If you are a good team, you know exactly where you are and exactly where the end zone is [Possibly with the help of the camera or sensor beacons like in 2004]. Now that you have ~10-15 seconds of auton, you can get back to your home zone. If you are a less advanced team, you hope that you were able to get back before End Game begins, or you are at least pointed the right way so your dead-reckoning robot shoots back home.).

Field Considerations:

  • Platforms for auto-loading stations. Here you can get the other scoring objects (not balls, the other thing).
  • 1-2 ball troughs. Smaller bots should have the option of going under the troughs. The other scoring locations could be at the ends of the troughs, between the troughs, or some place else entirely.
  • mobile goals?
  • Alliance-specific other scoring locations?
  • A hanging bar? (Everyone seemed to like the hanging games.)

Game is three alliances - red, green, and blue - of two robots each on the field at the same time. Field is a 30 to 40 foot square. One alliance starts on each of three sides of the field. The fourth side opens to the audience.

There is a merry-go-round in the center of the field. This is a standard playground merry-go-round, maybe about 8 feet diameter, but without the handle bars. So its just a platform in the middle of the field that can spin. It is about one foot off the ground. At the beginning of the match, the merry-go-round begins to spin up. As the match progresses, the merry-go-round continues to accelerate, so it becomes exceedingly difficult to get on, or once on, stay on. But back to that later.

Facing each players station, there is a ramp leading up to the edge of the merry-go round, so getting on and off is facilitated. The three ramps form a one foot deep “chasm” on the side of the field facing the audience. The chasm is filled with hundreds of yellow, green, red, and blue golf balls. There are several layers of golf balls. In other words, nightmarish conditions to drive a robot around in. The golf balls are the primary scoring object, of course.

To score, a team brings golf balls from the chasm to their side of the field, where the balls are dropped into into chutes that automatically count the balls, then return them to the chasm. Kind of like fancy miniature golf. I imagine the chutes as about a foot off the ground, and about a foot deep from the driver’s station. This way, the chutes are easy to access and extend across the entire side of the field, so scoring is relatively simple and therefore extremely hard to defend. As a result, no penalties are needed to prevent defensive strategies.

Each yellow ball scored subtracts a point from any team, while getting a ball with the proper team color adds ten points. Balls with the wrong team color subtract five points. If the balls are equally distributed, this means that a random dump of balls would be worth, on average, negative one quarter point per ball. So thats not very useful - but getting the right kind of ball is very useful. So, “autonomous” is ongoing, because the golf balls are far too many, too far away, and in a chasm, so the drivers will have no idea really what they are getting. The CMUcam will have to be figured out. Sorting through the golf balls then becomes a programmer’s primary concern. Autonomous is no longer necessarily a “period,” but an ongoing feature.

Now, back to the spinning merry-go-round. A robot on the top of the merry-go round at the end of a match adds a multiplier to their alliance’s score. So the first robot increases the multiplier from 1x to 2x and the second robot from 2x to 3x. Its a huge bonus, but with some great ball collectors, it could be overcome. Or, if your alliance has a negative score near the end of the match, you will want to stay off.

The qualifications are scored in the following completely convoluted manner: take each alliance’s score and rank them, from lowest to highest corresponding to one through three. For each alliance, multiply this ranking by the sum of the opposing alliances’ scores. This becomes the ranking points. The ranking itself becomes qualification points. Or to leave it more convoluted, do away with qualification points altogether.

Eliminations will be even more fun. There will be nine alliances of three teams each. The first semi-final will see alliances 1, 8 and 9 go against each other. Each round will consist of three games. At the end of the third game, the team with the highest ranking out of qualification point and ranking points those three rounds advances. Each round, the alliances precess around the field, so that any favoritism from a particular starting spot is nullified. The second semifinal will face off against alliances 2, 6, and 7. The third will face off teams 3, 4, and 5. There will be thee teams left after this. The final will consist of the same format.

To adequately take into account disqualifications during the finals, an alliance’s score will be equal to the score they would have gotten times the number of not disqualified robots they have at the end of the match. So if a one team gets disqualified, it essentially halves the score of the alliance. And if both get disqualified, then the alliance gets a score of zero.

Oh, and one more thing. An alliance must not ever send out the same two robots during a round. So, each of the three alliance partners will play twice in a round. This stresses bottom-to-top strength in an alliance, instead of a “main pair” and an “alternate pair” that both include the same strongest robot.

What do you all think? Yes, I am insane…

In regards to RyanMcE, I really like your game except for 2 of the aspects.

  1. I dont belive that thy should be golf balls but a bll that is a little bigger. Something like a football would be good for this.
  2. This is the lack of the aspect of alliance interaction. In 2004, there was defense of the bar and in 2005, there was the whole thing about fighting for the stack.

But otherwise, that would be a very fun game. I really like the idea of more than 2 alliances.

Here is my entry for the '06 games

Double Domination

Playing Pieces

  • 7" Foam Dodgeballs or similar
  • 10-12” kickballs
  • Tetras from '05 but larger

The field.


This game uses a 27’x54’ field with two sets of ramps. The objects bridging the lover ramps are hinged bridges. In the starting position, the bridges are upright. There are also hexagonal goals meant for both the large and small balls. And the thing on top is where the tetra is scored. In each corner is an elevated goal meant for the smaller balls. There are two tetra loading stations at the two goals farthest from the driving platform, one red, and the other blue. On the short sides of the field there are human loading zones. This is where dodge balls can be loaded on the robot. The human player can carry as many balls as they can, but if they drop one, they cannot load the robot and they have to try again.

The Game

The dodge balls are placed in their starting position on a rack similar to first frenzy.
2 vision tetras are randomly placed on the ramp. One for each alliance.
Kickballs are placed in the chasm underneath the bridge.
Regular tetras are placed on the loading zones.
Bridges are placed upright.

Autonomous Mode: 15sec.
Equal amounts of dodge balls are released on each side of the field similar to first frenzy. The robots can do two things to score points in autonomous mode. They can…
a) Pick up the dodgeballs and place them in the corner goals (5pts each), or place them in the hexagonal goal(3pts each).
b) Find the vision tetra and cap their home goal. (20pts)

Human Player Mode: Rest of match (2min)

  • A robot can be loaded with balls at the human player station. The human player can carry as many balls as they can, but if they drop one, they cannot load the robot and they have to try again.
  • Robots can push down the bridge for 5 points
  • Pulling up the bridge gets another 15 points
  • Robots can try to cap both alliances’ goal with a tetra. Each capped tetra is 7 points.
  • Robots can pick up the large kickballs from the chasm and place them in the hexagonal goal for 7pts each
  • Dodgeballs can be placed both in the corner goals of the alliance (3pts each) or in the hexagonal goal (1pt each)
  • Double domination is achieved when an alliance controls both goals at the end of a match. A goal is controlled is the alliance’s tetra is on top of the stack. 30pts
  • For the bonus, all three robots on the same alliance must get on top of the higher ramp for an extra 50pts.


Autonomous Mode

  • Scoring dodgeballs in the corner goals: 5 points each
  • Scoring dodgeballs in the hexagonal goal: 3 points each
  • Capping the vision tetra on the home goal: 20 points

Human player Mode

  • Lower the bridge: 5 points
  • Raise the bridge to starting position: 15 points
  • Each dodgeball in corner goal: 3 points each
  • Each dodgeball in hexagonal goal: 1 point each
  • Capping a vision tetra on either goal: 7 points each
  • Placing the kickball in the hexagonal goal: 7 points each
  • Double Domination: 30 points
  • Bonus: 50 points

Have a game concept built around the real-world method of “search & rescue”.

Robots are being used more and more to do SAR missions. Even simple “beacons” (technically called EPIRBs) can be used to locate an item/person.

So, for a FIRST game, you could have the robot go out onto the filed in a “search” mode and have to “rescue” an object amidst other similar items.

As an example, have the robot go out and find the red tennis ball in a bucket/box of white tennis balls; similar to finding a human skier in an avalance.

The robot could grab a bunch of the tennis balls and then do an on-board sort to find the red tenis ball and ONLY return to “home” base with the rescued item…

You know, that would make a pretty good autonomus mode. I dunno about a full game based on that.

Here’s my idea:
There are some sort of balls which need to be lifted and placed into a mechanism that I think of as sort of half way between a Skee-Ball game and a pool table that collects the balls from the different pockets into one place. This would probably best be shown with an illustration:


There are eight slots coming from the center, which are each scored differently. One side would be scored for each alliance. Those in the bottom slot would be worth one, the second slot would be worth two, the third slot would be worth three, and the top slot would be worth four points.

The three upper slots would be enclosed so that any ball scored in them would remain there for the rest of the round. In the lowest section, the slanted part would feed into a level section at the bottom which could be accessible from the side, so that a very simple (just driving) robot would be able to score some points.

The field would be square, and there would be four to six robots on the field at once. As has been the case the last few years, the robots on the same alliance would start on the same side of the field. There would be two of the scoring mechanisms on the field, one each on the sides where the robots do not start.

The balls would start out in three movable goals in the center of the field. At the end of the match, a bonus or a multiplier would be awarded to for having the goals on the correct side of the field.

Also, the gap in the center of the scoring apparatus would be closed on one side (the side away from the field) by a sheet plexiglas.

I’d like to hear any comments or suggestions, and to give clarification if any part seems unclear.

Here’s my attempt at a 2006 competition design. I present:

Starry Sortie!

The game is played on a field shaped like a five-pointed star. Five robots play at a time - two on red alliance, two on blue alliance, one on green “alliance.” Yes, this poses issues with final alliance pairings which I attempt to solve below, note the use of the word “attempt.”

Here’s a hasty and horrible drawing I made to help illustrate:


Driver Control vs. Autonomous Mode

Driver control and autonomous mode operate simultaneously for the entire match as follows:

Red and blue robots are always under driver control, and the green robot is always under autonomous control. (This may raise some issues with team assignment during competition, assuring each team gets equal numbers of fully-autonomous vs fully-non-autonomous play, but I haven’t really come up with a good solution for that.) Driver stations are marked “Red DS” and “Blue DS,” respectively.

The green team may NOT bring controls/joysticks to the field. If an emergency shutoff is required for safety reasons, the green human player merely steps off the pressure pad for the rest of the match and hits the emergency shutoff switch. The human player and a coach are the ONLY members of the green team allowed on the field during a match.

Match Duration

The duration of each match is the familiar two minutes (120 seconds).

Game Play

Robots start out in the boxed areas within the star’s points. The circles throughout the field are the goals. I envisioned 3" diameter PVC pipe. Goals within the home areas (star points) are, let’s say, 4’ tall, whereas those within the main field (pentagon) are, let’s say, 7’ tall. Game pieces are of course star-shaped, with a 4" diameter PVC pipe running up and down the middle (not on the flat side, so the heights of these would be roughly half of what Triple Play’s tetras are). These will be colored red, blue, and green. The object is to stack the game pieces on the goal posts. (4" diameter PVC pipe fits nicely over 3" diameter PVC pipe, yes?)

Human Players

Like Triple Play, each team will have a human player standing on a pressure pad which disables the robot if it is not activated (the squares on the bottom of the star). Each pad will have a stack of the appropriately colored game pieces next to it. The human player will step forward with a game piece and load the robot (note that he or she does not have as far to travel as in Triple Play).


5 kickballs each of the appropriate color (the size of the yellow balls at the side of the “Raising the Bar” field) will be placed at the star points, around the back goal. (25 balls total – 10 red, 10 blue, 5 green.) A robot may take one of the appropriate color balls and balance it atop any goal, effectively preventing any more star stacking on that goal. Other alliances may knock these balls off, but, once placed, the same alliance cannot remove it.

Center Hanging Goal

12 feet above the exact center of the playing field will be a small pentagon-shaped object with five short 1" diameter PVC pipes protruding downwards. The star pieces will be able to snap flat into this device, but in such a way that only one star may be placed there.

Goal finding

At the bottom of each goal post will be 5 IR beacons arranged in a pentagon. These will flash at different frequencies depending on which goal. The green robot may use an IR sensor to find a specific goal this way.


Each star stacked on a 4’ tall goal post = 1 point for appropriate color alliance.
Each star stacked on a 7’ tall goal post = 2 points for appropriate color alliance.
Each row of 4 goal posts “owned” (a la “Triple Play”) by an alliance = 10 points for that alliance.
Each goal post “capped” by a kickball = 5 points for appropriate color alliance.
Each robot in appropriate color start zone at the end of the match = 10 points for that alliance.
Star in center hanging goal = 30 points for appropriate color alliance.

Green Fairness Multiplier – Green “alliance” scores twice the amount of ground points (2 points for 4’, 4 points for 7’, 20 points per row, 10 points per cap, and 20 points if in start zone), but still 30 points for the center hanging goal. This attempts to accomodate for the fact that there is one green robot versus two red and two blue robots.


Pinning = -10 points
Intentional tipping = -20 points + auto DQ for entire alliance
Human loading zone infractions (such as touching the robot or loading when the robot is not fully in the loading zone) = -5 points each
Removing same color kickball from previously capped goal post = -5 points
Intentional human player interference between alliances = -10 points for alliance + auto DQ for team involved
De-scoring opposing alliance’s stars = -10 points each

An Attempt to Solve the Problem of Alliance Pairing during Final Matches

The “Green alliance” as well as any green game pieces will disappear during finals. Instead, each alliance will consist of 2 teams. Best 2 out of 3 matches. Both alliances will have one autonomous robot and one driver-controlled robot. It is up to the alliance to strategize as to which team to put in the autonomous position (same team every time or alternate?).


So, what do you think? I think I’m far more insane than anyone who has posted to this thread so far. It definitely would take more than 30 seconds to explain to a TV audience, so maybe it’s too complex.

Definitely insane. Yes, it is a bit complex, but here’s another solution to green: It’s a kitbot, built by FIRST, that is programmed to run interference. It would be in every round, including the finals. Of course, this means that FIRST will have to have a large supply of batteries and chargers at each event, but still, no game has yet had a powered “field element”. (Hey, for bonus points, score on top of the green robot! :smiley: )

A good idea to have a defensive kitbot – it certainly would eliminate a lot of the scoring confusions, and would be just plain cool! But then, no team is encouraged to write autonomous code at all. I’d originally planned to have two autonomous robots (because the score doubling and final alliance pairings get a bit confusing) – but for that I’d have needed a six-pointed star, and that would be offensive (desecration of a religious symbol). I wanted also to get away from the rectangular field, since I’m getting kind of bored with it. Any other shape of field that was used, was before my time with FIRST. Considering that this year’s high school seniors were freshmen when I started with FIRST, it’s time for a change.

My reasoning for making autonomous/regular modes simultaneous was that I think 15 seconds isn’t really enough time to do things. (I saw one team alllllllmoooooossssst cap with the vision tetra during autonomous mode ONCE.) Also, with that, you don’t have to make any special “autonomous only” tasks (like the magnetic hanging tetra).

It would be nice if the field was more square than rectangle.

Most audience-located cameras have to zoom out too far to get the entire playing field in view. A zoomed out shot means it is harder to see clearly what the robots are doing; harder to see the team numbers on the robot; harder to see the flashing LEDs; and there are more distracting things happening above and below the playing field (e.g. people walking around) which are not worth encoding.

Now, if the production crew could move towards HD (wide-screen format) cameras…hmmm…

p.s. In many of the webcasts in 2004 and 2005 it was not easy to see the flashing blue/red LEDs. The “police lights” from previous years were much more visible on the video streams.

KA-108 :cool:

Also, assuming the flashing LEDs stay in 2006, could we require one to be mounted pointing towards the sky so that an overhead (above the playing field) camera would easily see it? (Same requirement for an Underlined team number. Underlined so that we can better distinguish teams 108 and 801 from each other)

KA-108 :cool:

I like your idea for an overhead LED, but also why not an Overhead number? Hopefully the game could go with an overhead camera(s) above the field, it would be great for spectators

that would be brilliant if you had a game similar to Triple Play again… if i recall, last year there was a minature field at the bottom of the screen that would show which alliance owned which goal… but it often times wasnt too accurate. but if there were two views that you could switch back and forth between, like one to get the big picture and another to get all the details and the action, that would be neat.