Ok, so YOU design the 2003 game...

Okay, it has been a week since the National Championships, and you have had some time to reflect on what worked about this year’s game, and what didn’t. Are you sitting around, already thinking about next year’s competition, and wondering what it might be like? Well, how about an opportunity to possibly influence what next year’s competition might be like?

Several groups are working with and within FIRST to address various aspects of the challenge for next year’s 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.

With that thought in mind, I would like to open a thread to discuss ideas, concepts, and specific suggestions for next year’s game. What we are looking for here are specific, detailed ideas or suggestions about how to design the game for next year.

I have been through all the related CD threads posted to date. There is no need to re-hash the pros and cons of prior games, or get too deep into philosophical discussions about prior years. We want to figure out how to go forward from here, and help build an exciting, challenging, stimulating and engaging competition for next year.

So, here are the ground rules:

  • 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 be audience friendly and presumably TV-friendly (i.e. you can explain the 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 entire game).
  • Any field elements must be able to be constructed from readily availably and inexpensive materials (ask yourself this question “can I buy all the parts at Home Depot or Builders Square?”)
  • The game should embody the values represented by FIRST (i.e. brings out the best aspects of a competitive spirit, does not promote needless destruction or violence).
  • 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 two-team alliances, limiting each round to just four teams, playfields 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.

The need for non-tangling tethers is entirely up to you. :smiley:

Here is what I 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 unimplementable, and would not be incorporated into future games. Likewise, there is no guarantee that you will receive a response on anything you submit. If a suggestion is incorporated into the game, you will probably not know about it until the game is revealed next year. If it is not incorporated, you may never hear why.

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! I know that if there is a single place to go for this sort of input, it will be this forum! Let’s hear your thoughts.

  • dave lavery
    FIRST Executive Advisory Board

Let’s have a game on a concrete or dirt floor. Carpet was proven this year to be no match for some of our more vigorously traction-oriented teams. Concrete would be a more uniform, cheap surface that almost everyone already has available, but dirt would probably be more fun.

Let’s have a game that has more opportunities for autonomous behavior. Use the retroreflective tape again next year (It’ll catch on, give it time), but turn the robots on for five seconds before the drivers can touch the controls. That forces innovation in controls to rival the great mechanical designs we’ve seen over the years.

Let’s have a game that uses heavy game pieces. Concrete blocks, bricks, bowling balls, medicine balls, 180lb goals on casters - the game is more interesting if two humans would lose to two robots. (Note - the trouble with the heavy game pieces is that they can tend to make the game slow - fast goal towing robots were the exception to the rule this year.)

Let’s have a game where a team can score before time runs out.

So here’s my game:

-Three minutes per match.
-Three teams of two robots each on a hexagonal dirt or sand field.
-Ten (or some other non-multiple of three) cinder blocks are stacked in the center. Robots go get the cinder blocks, then bring them to their initial scoring zone.
After one minute, the number of bricks in each scoring zone is tallied, and the zones shift randomly. So the red team’s zone is now across the field from where they are now, and the blocks that red worked so hard to score are now counting for blue. The teams then have a minute to move the bricks to their new scoring zone. At the end of that minute, the bricks are scored, and the scoring zone changes again.
-Basically each match has three one minute periods, with no break in between. A robot’s goal is going to be different during each period - either getting blocks out of the center, preventing other robots from moving your blocks, or preventing other robots from moving their own blocks.

Ok, so it isn’t a complete game, or even that great of a start, but you get the idea - make the game hard, and integrate some way to assure scoring before time expires.

Two things:

I think this year we had two different games: the qualifying matches and the elimination ones. Different strategies to play each. I’d like to have only one game, only one rule for the whole competition.

An interesting thing would be a mata-burro (I don’t know the name in english) wich is a bridge made of transversal sticks. The distance between them would make it difficult to cross the bridge, because regular wheels would get stuck in the gaps.

I’ll think of more things and edit this post later.

By the way, I think this thread is great! I tried to start one like this before but it was too early…

How about an over head cable to get to some part of the field which is other wise inaccessible.


I haven’t really though of all aspects of the game, just the main obstacle. Let’s make it so 1/2 of the field is on the ground level and 1/2 the field is on a plateau 12" high or higher (maybe 2’) You can score on the 1st level, but scoring on the 2nd level is like a 3 point play in basketball. Place the scoring zones up in the air, so simply driving into something won’t unscore it. Let’s make it harder to unscore the object than to score the object. Also, let’s make the scoring objects heavier than a ball or inner tube.

I would also love to see dirt, but probably impractical given some of the venues (dirt and basketball arenas don’t mix.

Now, ice arenas would probably love to have this game. Put carpet (or some other high traction material) where people walk and have the game on ice. The logistics would be pretty hard, but think of all the new designs.


My team didn’t really have a problem with the carpets, but i heard that some teams are pushing traction to the extent that the stuff peels up or tears. I can picture already the school administrators raising hell if we try to put a large dirt or sand playing field indoors, but maybe just plain plywood floors? They would be more uniform and clean then dirt, and less susceptible to damage then carpet.

I’d like to see larger teams, 3 on 3, maybe 4 on 4, though even numbers of alliances to avoid ganging up. 3 on 3 though would elliminate the occasional 2 to 1 match ups when one robot dies or isn’t working, 3 vs 2 is i would think would be a more even match if one team dies. Plus with 3 robots per alliance, more robots could compete at a time so they would be more matches for each robot, and you’d likely see a greater range of capabilities, which brings me to my next suggestion…

Several ways of scoring, soccer balls in a goal, bowling pins set upright in scoring zones, robots hanging from a bar or climbing onto a foot high pedestal, large levers that initially are neutral but can be tipped one way or another to score for that alliance, or any others, just pick several to see a wider spectrum of robot designs, beyond just ball robots or goal robots. Potentially some way of scoring such that one robot must lift or work directly with some other robot to do one single task (possibly worth many more points) Like perhaps a single long metal rod, too heavy or awkward for a single bot, one must pick up each end, and place onto some type of support structure like the rack in gyms for holding the bar when doing bench presses.

Ok, that’s about as far out into left field as i want to go right now. Good luck on AP exams to all the high schoolers and final exams to all the college students

Any sort of different scoring system would be much appreciated…

maybe just plain plywood floors?

only problem with plywood floors is what if a piece breaks… then you have the problem of trying to fix it in between matches whereas with carpet just a little duct tape will do

I would like to see a game where speed, maneuverability, and teamwork are important. I’d like to see a game where alliance partners can benefit by passing playing field artifacts back and forth. I’d like to see a very low friction playing field; ice perhaps. I’d like to see very low friction goals. Take this year’s goals. Attach a skirt to the bottom plate. Add a blower motor. Voila, Hover-Goals! I can just imagine goals zinging around on the playing field while robots frantically try to catch them. I suppose I’m envisioning a game that vaguely resembles air hockey.


I think a game similar to hockey, but with frisbees would be awsome!

For an alternative floor how about some 1/4" steel? Like to see teams break pieces off of that!
And frisbees for scoring devices.

I’ll come up with some rules after finals.


What could have real life uses....

i say go back to a game like 2000, people understood it quickly, it was fun, anything could happen, there were alot of “upsets”, and the scoring wasn’t too complicated. it had just the right amount of pushing and shoving, but the game didn’t rely on it, and stratigy was extremely important. plus you could play defense, offense, or both. i really enjoyed 2000.:cool:

*Originally posted by tjrage_25 *
**I think a game similar to hockey, but with frisbees would be awsome! **

FRISBEES!!! i am all for it.

About the surface of the playing field i suggest plastic ice. the type used in skating rinks in malls and exibitions where a real ice surface is not availiable. It is very durable and cheap. comes in tiles and easy to transport. Also adds a little bit of challenge to traction although most rubber will grip it anyways.

THe scoring this year was really complicated for outsiders to grasp quickly so i suggest an incredible easy way of scoring and increase the strategy in other areas such as two types of gaols worth different amounts. Also an interstingly shaped field like a V shape where two teams start at the ends of the V and race towards something at the bottom of the V.

Just some ideas for consideration as i think of more i will post them.

I liked the way there was an obstacle in the middle of the field last year (bridge + bar), that allowed different robots to overcome the obstacle diffently (some went under the bar, some just went over the bridge normally, some (well one :)) were an extension to the bridge, etc.). Something to make it more interesting for the drivers might be to have columns in spots so you have to go around them, or have half the field blocked off except by one narrow ramp, or some other sort of devious obstacle that Dean is so good at creating :slight_smile:


I’ve always liked the idea of having two different mobility modes. I loved the robots in 2000 that could move along the central bar, and I think that sort of thing is a lot of fun to build and watch. It would be neat to have a couple of ramps, maybe a foot high, separated by about 4 feet of space, with a bar about five feet above them (imagine the 2000 field, but cut widthwise across the ramp, move the two halves apart, and rotate the overhead bar 90 degrees). That way, teams could choose to either traverse the bar to get across the gap or somehow climb up and over a one-foot vertical wall. That’s probably complex enough, but if you really want to get ambitious you could have a monkey-bar type lattice of metal pipe that robots could climb on.

As for the field surface, I think carpet is pretty good…plywood lends itself to becoming dusty and slippery, and I shudder to think what sand and dirt could do if it got inside the motors, gears, sensors, and speed controllers (and it inevitably will get inside). If FIRST used a surface that allowed more traction, there would probably be a lot more teams that would stall and blow their motors.

-Ian Mackenzie
Woburn Robotics

I want a game with more parts to be played… this year we had goal, ball, and hybred robots- I WANT MORE :slight_smile:

I think the game should have difficulty levels. A simple task should be at the heart of it, something even the rookiest of teams can do (like push a goal around). Then maybe something most teams will be able to do (balls maybe). Then I want something nearly impossible! For instance, instead of sitting in your endzone for points maybe you should climb stairs or a ladder onto a raised platform.

Imagine this year, goals are worth 20 points when lifted into a foot high platform, of course some sort of ramp would be needed to get them back down (and the goals would be exposed to danger) but wow, the design challenge.

I’m a fan of 2 v 2, otherwise the fields will become to large. I like the playing field and robot sizes now (a bit bigger on the field side wouldn’t hurt).

I also like lifting balls onto high goals.

Here is my idea:

same playing field, 10 feet longer (all carpeted, maybe tile or something smooth). The extra 5 feet on each side of the field will be reserved for a platform- a platform with 2 levels, first level is half a foot off the ground, second a foot above that. Robots will start at ground level in front of these platforms. The game is played for 2 mins, ending on top of the first platform is worth 10 points, the second one is worth 25 points.

There are 2 goals same as this year with something on top of the center pvc to allow a 2001 big ball to sit on it. There is 1 line down the middle of the field, each goal entirely on your side of the field is worth 10 points. There are footballs along the sides of the field. Every football in a goal on your side of the field is worth 2 points. There are 4 big balls in the corners, on the high platform 5 feet away from where the robots start. These balls are color coded! Red balls start on the blue side, vice-versa. Each one of these balls your teams color scored on the thing on top of the goal is worth 15 points, each big ball somehow otherwise supported by the goal is worth 5 points.

Qualification points: the winner recieves thier score plus 2 times the losers score.
Elimination: 2 or 3 matches are played, the team with the highest qualification points is the winner.

That game is way to complecated but wouldn’t it be fun to play? :slight_smile:


My thoughts on designing a new game are all over the place and way too incoherent. So instead of putting an entire game together here’s my outline on some specific things that need to be addressed.

Ready for TV
I think this should be FIRST’s number one priority. FIRST’s goal is to get their message across to as many people as possible. If they really want to change the culture of America they need their product to reach more people. Television is the natural medium for this.

I was watching CNN the other day, and they were showing a story on a FIRST team. It was a great piece, but they never explained this year’s game, saying that it was too complicated. This is not good.

Now here’s the challenge, designing a game that is simple enough for a TV audience to figure out in 30 seconds, but strategically complicated enough to challenge all the teams. I mean, if FIRST made next year’s game a race it’d be easy to understand, but most strategy would be taken out of the game.

What I would like to see is game similar in nature to that of 1999, back when we had the puck and the floppies. From most people I’ve talked to, it seems that was the game that was easiest for a non-FIRST person to understand. The “king of the hill” idea is simple and very visual.

The Playing Field

After two years of flat fields I think it’s time that we change things up a bit. I loved the ramp in 2000, and the puck in '99. I think that it’d be really exciting and challenging if then field had various types of obstacles (such as ramps and ditches). There’s been talk about using dirt or water for the playing field. I know this idea sounds exciting, but I don’t think it’s very feasible. Try getting a rookie team to build a swimming pool to practice in. =)

The Playing Pieces

I think it’s time to take a break from balls. Don’t remove them from the game completely, rather make them the “easy” pieces. For example make balls worth 1 point, and another piece, say a donut worth 5 pts.

The Scoring System

This goes back to the TV point. The scoring system must be made simple and clear. It would be great if we could finally have a real time scoring system. People just have a hard time adjusting to FIRST’s end game scoring system. It goes against what they’re used to.

Also, I think it’s neccessary to provide more uniformity between qualifying and elimination matches. In both 2000 and 2002, the qualifying and elimnation matches have been two totally different games. This is a result of the “three times your opponents score” rule. Personally, I like this rule. I think it keeps things exciting. Unfortunately it’s hard to the two rounds in synch while using it. Seeding the teams based on winning percentage may alleviate this problem. This way you’re rewarded in the prelims on what your rewarded for in the elims, winning. All ties would be broken by QP’s. Since their would be many teams with the same record, QP’s would still be very important.

The Final Picture

OK, here’s what I’ve come up with. I hope it makes sense. The diagram I tossed in should help.

There are two types of scoring pieces in the game. 1 pt. balls (size undetermined) and 10 pt. donuts. The balls are scored by placing them in the 6 ft. high baskets at the corners of the field, while the donuts are scored by placing them over the 6ft. high poles. Each alliance has their own basket and pole which is on the opposite side of the field from their starting position (not mentioned on the diagram).

The donuts are found in a 1 ft. deep ditch in the field.

At the centre of the field there is a 2ft. ramp leading up to a platform. The platform has room for one robot. If a robot finishes the match on top of the platform the alliance’s score is tripled. If a robot finishes the match on the ramp, then alliance’s score is doubled.

This game is not as simple to understand as I planned. I guess I just completely contradicted by whole simple for TV speech. Whoops. This game has a bunch of problems, mainly the centre platform being to dangerous (i.e. robots falling off), and the ditch being too hard to construct.

Oh well, it’s a start.

Comments, Suggestions, Flames… Send them my way.

  • Karthik

I opine main focus for next year’s game should be speed and precision with opportunities for robot autonomy. This year’s game put too much emphasis on traction, remove that emphasis and various other surfaces become viable. Maybe something really slick that allows only minimal traction. Then rules of mass and inertia become important.

The game should be one of scoring objects, such that once objects scored they cannot be unscored. This would put the emphasis on the speed and precision. There should be rules for contact, maybe like contact is regulated in basketball.

Make it spectator friendly.