# [Official 2008 Game Design] Game Elements and Subtasks

This thread is a spin-off of this discussion, and has been started to focus on 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 throwing objects would make for a great engineering challenge. 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.

-dave

OK, building of the direct interaction between alliance bots this year I’ll suggest a continuation of this through the transfer of game pieces between bots. The goal would be to accumulate all of the game pieces in a single bot of the alliance, so the scoring would only count the bot with the most pieces for the alliance score. (e.g. On the blue alliance bot A has 3 pieces, B has 9, and C has 10… the blue alliance would get the score for bot C’s 10 pieces.) This is a task that could go on in parallel with another game task and serve as a bonus scoring mechanism.

Okay, I’ll brainstorm more after I finish a paper here, but I thought I’d toss out a crazy idea that just crossed my mind.

This may not be appropriate for 08, alas, since it draws on 06 skills. But what about a freakish hybrid of Triple Play and Aim High. Objects would be poof balls again. (Perhaps they’ve had enough time to breed and replenish their herds.) The goal you shoot into is a 3x3 grid, vertical like in the middle of the field, or perhaps wrapped into a vertical triangle. At any rate, you shoot balls in to the grid to score points, and the last alliance to score in a square claims it. Bonus points for making the 3 in a rows. Oh… and just had a brain wave. Automode scores wouldn’t tally… except for bonuses. Claim enough squares in auto and any 3 in a rows you make are awarded accordingly, then the board is cleared for tele play. Or maybe it isn’t.

I’ll now criticize my own idea: It’s interesting but quite possibly impossible to pull off. I think you’d have to use colored balls instead of anonymous ones if it’d have any chance of being pulled off. Also, we JUST did balls. Almost.

Anyways, I think multiple auto mode tasks of varying levels are good. And making it possible for a good team to pull off a couple different auto scores makes things more exciting.

Please, please do not have an overwhelming way to score points at the end of the match. Both in 2003 and 2007, the amount of points available to be scored at the end of the match was so large that it was able to overwhelm the efforts made by the other teams in the first 1:45. Coupled with this, these end of match points were much easier to achieve than the scoring methods for the rest of the match (Stacking & Ringing). As a result, many teams chose to focus on the end of match as their only way of scoring points.

These same teams, only being able to score points at the very end of the match, have only one choice for their actions for the initial 1:45 of the game. Defense. As a result, the 2003 and 2007 games as times degenerated into ugly bash fests. By no means do I want to see the elimination of defense, but I think that all games should be designed to promote offensive strategies, and showcase the engineering abilities of the teams. If teams analyze the game and realize it’s easier to win a match by playing defense than offense, many teams will make the choice for defense, especially since it’s inherently easier to play defense.

If you look at the 1999, 2000, 2005 & 2006 games as an example, we see games which had end of match bonuses which were much more in line with the main methods of scoring. The bonuses were valuable enough that they made a difference in close matches while providing an exciting finish, yet never overwhelmed normal match scoring. The 1999, 2000 & 2006 games were a great balance between offense and defense, and provided some of the most exciting matches in FIRST history.

Use a completely new gamepiece again, like this year (almost). This takes away some of the advantage of veterans, and makes the game less predictable. Definatly have robot-robot interaction like ramps again this year, but make the endgame either worth less or harder. No one wants to see every robot oriented around the endgame.

Another thing I’d like to see is either an autonomous task somewhat differant from the rest of the game, or no autonomous bonus/task at all. 2004 is a great example. There was the 10 point ball that could only be done autonomously. However, there was also a huge variaty of tasks being done autonomously. Teams were gathering 2x balls, controlling the mobile goals, preparing to gather mass amounts of 5 point balls, hanging, etc. Almost everyone agrees that this year’s autonomous was not worth enough, but also, there was only one thing teams could really do.

It would be interesting (and challenging) to have a game piece that moved around. Not a ball that just rolls around, but something that moves around completely randomly on its own, like a small robot programed to move around randomly or the gerbils we’ve been talking about here.

This would, of course, be hard to do, mini robots would probably be hard to mass produce, hard for some teams to make/get, and possibly break easily, leaving them completely useless (at least when this year’s tubes poped they could still be used as skirts ). And live animals would provide obvious problems.

1) Let’s bring back the design variety from 2000/ 2001/ 2004. The past 3 years have really only had one, maybe 2 things that robots could do. While this emphasis on driving and strategy makes for a great game, it would also be interesting to see a game with enough tasks for robots that it’s possible to have an alliance where no two robots do the same thing.

2) Lots of possible game objects: footballs, bowling pins, frisbees, trash cans, 55 gallon drums, wheelbarrows (wow those would be hard to control), pool noodles, empty 2 liter soda bottles

3) End game robot points: we’ve seen ramps, hanging bars, end zones, and now climbing on other robots. How about something new? Climb a vertical pole, fit UNDER a platform, or even base points on whether or not the robots can fold back up to fit inside the starting envelope (that could be fun).
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4) Make the robot a goal again, **except this time, double points for each of your color scoring objects in an OPPOSING robot.

**5) **make the autonomous target a MOVING target (catch a roomba?). Kind of goes with the idea from the post above.

more ideas later

Possible compromise? What if there was more than one super scoring end of game option, with one separate from the main goal of the rest of the round, and one tied in with the main goal. For example, this year, teams would have 3 polka dot rings they could enter onto the field in the last 20 seconds, which score 10 20 or 30 extra points based on the level they’re placed on. This would give extra big scoring options to the mostly offensive teams. Though it might just encourage even more defense from ringing teams against teams that can’t ramp or something. I think I’m forced to agree that large bonuses at the end of the game highly encourage defense for most of the game till those bonuses come up. However, I think this could go for ANY scoring method that can give teams a large lead at some point in the game. If you could score a 30 point ball early in the game, defending the rest of the time still makes sense. So, mostly, I think it comes down to a game balance issue, where anything that creates a large score swing needs to be carefully thought out.

Why make them all empty. make some solid concrete, some empty, and some half full of sand.

Also… I would love to see batons. Pick them up from the ground and putting them in different places. Like a row of mailboxes.

Lets have game pieces that help to complete an objective that needs to be completed prior to scoring. Having robots that build something with the game piece would be great, especially if they are working together on it.

Example:
Robots need to get to the other side of the field in order to score somehow. A trench of water(or something else uncrossable) divides the field into halves. Robots put plywood boards across the trench to create a bridge. These robots can either work only within their alliance and try to mess up their opponent’s bridge, or all robots can work together to create one bridge. This is an example of a game where alliances can cooperate with each other and robots build something to get to the next stage of the game. It also uses a different kind of game piece.

I think that we need a game element that has more to it than scoring-we need something new.

Just testing the waters with this idea (and no not a water challenge) but what about rope lights? The camera can pick up these colors if done right and the possibilities of scoring objects and goals is then widened to include camera capabilities. I mean imagine a big Epcot dome that is hallow and made of PVC or stonger material that is laced with rope lights in red blue and green. the scoring pieces i will leave up to the imagination of others.

These: http://www.shapeupshop.com/athletic_equipment/balls/reaction_balls.htm
would make a hilarious game piece.

That would be great, picking them up, shooting them, having to find them in auto with the different colors…

I’d like to see an endgame which offers an edge (but not an outright License To Pwn) to teams that apply a little bit of technological finesse. I implemented one in the game design I put in the other thread: six vision targets, one over each player station, with an X on the floor a few feet from the wall. Towards the end of the match, five of those lights cut off. Teams then try to have their alliance’s robot closest to the middle of the X for bonus points. Obviously, this could be done through brute-force (drive and hope you hit it), but a good implementation of the CMUcam would allow teams to simply mash a button and let the robot do the plowing for them.

Or, if the low-tech endgame persists, let’s at least have a challenge. Anybody can hang from a ten-foot bar, but George Wallace mentioned a devious idea after UCF this year: a three-foot bar. Getting off the ground is suddenly a bit trickier, especially if the game still requried tall robots elsewhere.

Finally, I had an idea involving a bridge similar to the one in Diabolical Dynamics. Imagine if endgame points were scored for having opposing robots on the bridge; the robot that’s higher gets a bigger bonus. However, neither team gets a bonus if the bridge is touching the carpet. It’s a lot harder than the 2001 bridge–it didn’t see two robots fighting against each other–but a sufficient reward might make it worth trying.

The last several games have been focused on putting game pieces places, while the game pieces themselves were generally easy to obtain. I think it would be neat to have a game where you are trying to get and keep either a lot of little pieces or one big piece.

I keep saying pick-up sticks. Different points for different color sticks. Penalty points for getting your opponents color. Blue and red, of course, yellow for anyone and green that is worth big points if scored in autonomous. A a few black ones that let you carry more than one at a time if you get it and keep it…

and nothing goes back onto the field once scored.

What about a new kind of ball? I know that there have been a good number of games with balls, but what I am talking about is completely different. I want to think more like a ‘football’ (or some other misshapen sphere). A football would be easily obtained and a game could be easily found. It would create a difficult dilemma of how to grab/ how to throw/ or whatever else you can think to have them do with a football. Also, I would like to see weights some how involved this year. Perhaps have medicine balls or something where the robot is more about endurance. Something like Atlas Stones from the World’s Strongest Man Competition. It would make it really hard to be too aggressive and would allow for maximum GP.

Another idea I had was for the alliance making format. The way it has been is a lot like elementary -turn-based- selection. Instead, I suggest we do it more like the way they do in industry. Make the alliance off the field. Make appointments to meet with prospective partners, discuss the stipulations for which the alliance would exist (i.e. we will be your partner if you focus on defense), and then announce together all at once the alliance that has been made. This seems to me to be a lot more industry based and appropriate for such an important decision.

That would be so much fun to watch!

How about boxes of different sizes and colors, but rather than stacking make them nesting so you would get different credits for making a partial or complete set? They could be arranged with openings in all different orientations (up, down, side) and there would be some strategy in placing a block in a box to prevent a complete nested set from being made. Some of the boxes could be at fixed locations on the field and some movable.

Sand could be a problem if the bottle got a hole in it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The time for medicine balls is here. They’re widely available, a challenge to maniupulate, durable, and useful for post season workouts.

What they aren’t is cheap, but I’m sure a reasonably priced source could be found.