Old Games, New Technology

So I was looking at some past threads about past games, and it made me wonder how they would have been played with today’s level of technology (COTS Revolution, advanced vision, etc).

Seeing how many teams were successful this year with some of the most difficult tasks to be in FRC games (traversal climbs, and as a subset of that, multi and fast traversal climbs), I’m curious how each game dynamic would change with more and more robots able to do every task better.

Imagine a shoot-on-the -fly swerve 2014 robot or 2013 matches where all 6 robots reached level 3. In 2012, 1717 was dominant with a design that at the time was unique but now seems ubiquitous.


Imagine the 2009 game Lunacy but where everyone has swerve modules controlled by Falcons :heart_eyes:


Immediately no.


This is what I do to practice CAD, actually - making bots for old games with modern COTS / rules (modernized evergreen rules mostly, eg 125 lbs, bumper rules, etc).

IMO, 2013 probably changes the most. Even 2017 would be very different, a lot more 2 rotor autos due to increased path-following abilities.


This would be basically no different than how 2009 actually played out. Motor power was a non-issue in the drivetrain - 4 CIM drives, 2 CIM drives, even drivetrains run by 2 FPs or something worked all the same. It was almost impossible to be anything but traction limited in 2009.

Because of this lack of traction, and because of the trailer, there was no real advantage to full swerve vs a crab drive that year (though crab/swerve had a moderate to substantial advantage over tank). And due to the very low forces on the wheels, side loading was barely a concern either. This meant basically any custom swerve design was strong and rigid enough. Teams that barely had any business making custom drivetrains at all were fielding useful swerve drives in 2009.

Of all the old games, 2009 would change the least with the new COTS technology we have. Now 2010 on the other hand… that’s a topic for a later post when I have time to type it out.


This actually basically did exist in 2014 (check out 2481!). The main issue is that you can’t put a 2014 shooter on a turret, so you are very sensitive to being spun which would be enough to cause the ball to miss and ruin your cycle. Given the harsh penalty for missing a shot that year (as no scoring could continue until the ball made it into the goal!), I think a lot of teams with this capability just chose not to do so. The risk was much higher, so even if they were 90% accurate on the fly, it was worth the extra second or two to get into position and hit the 100% shot against the low goal if that’s what they had.

Meanwhile JT enjoyed doing it on 16…

Sliding sideways parallel to the wall was always a nice way to avoid defense

2014 replay with COTS swerve and brushless probably just turns into BattleBots with a ball.

This almost certainly wouldn’t fly as a FIRST competition, but I would love to see this somehow happen in some form, maybe as a college-level competition.

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not with that attitude


2010 is really the most interesting game to consider redoing with all the new COTS stuff. This was before the VersaPlanetary, VersaFrame, etc. and even COTS gear selection was pretty limited. It was a game that was pretty enjoyable to watch once you had at least four great robots on the field - but there were really only a couple dozen great robots in the world, and the dropoff was very steep due to the very difficult terrain challenges and punishing ball possession rules.

With everything we have now, I think you would see way more working intakes, certainly. There are way more options to make things out of flat plate quickly, and the basic concept could even be mocked up with VersaFrame and some surgical tubing.

Kicking would be more consistent as demonstrated in 2014 when basically every team figured out a way to release stored energy using off the shelf parts. The brushless motors and tight control loops introduce more possibilities for motor driven kicking as well.

Hanging would be substantially less rare, as in general there is way more out there to help FRC teams build high-torque arms (side) or telescoping lifts (top).

Even swerve helps, despite the terrain. More teams would be willing to build small and take the tunnel if they had swerve to help them align, and swerve was a substantial advantage that year particularly when playing the back zone as you could strafe and return balls all at once.

The game would become a lot less about who is working and a lot more about game piece flow, 1-on-1 matchups, and alliance synergy. I think the game would be remembered substantially more fondly in 2022.


2006 Aim high with modern stuff would be crazy.


I think the one element you skipped in there is important: fans. Teams that eked a few pounds of thrust from all the CIMs they threw at their custom setup had a palpable advantage in pushing opposing robots around. Brushless fans and an increased willingness to generate one-year-only parts might be intriguing.

(also, conveyors would surely be better now than then)

I think modern power would help, but largely what we’ve learned about shooting balls would benefit it better. The throughput was there, as we infamously saw at IRI.

Let’s go deep cut here: 2004. FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar. Small ball collection and drop-offs in the chute, big ball handling that may be on the platform or on the mobile goal, mobile goal towing, and the climber are one of those things where all the little packaging trade-offs will drive you nuts in the best way. And by now, some 20 years later, someone darn well better score that 10-point ball more reliably.

Heck, don’t forget the smaller components these days… I swapped a compressor from then for a modern one, instant size/weight savings.



And we got to play with them in elims in Arkansas :call_me_hand:

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Revisiting old games has a bigger issue than just modern technology, its that hindsight is 20/20. Knowing how the game plays can lead to unhealthy levels of design convergence, and this is particularly troublesome in any years with exploitable game mechanics. This is enhanced further when the evolution in FRC technology and COTS solutions removes technical barriers that (sometimes inadvertently) helped balance game play.

For example - 2013 full court shooters. With the design concept fully proven now and increased quantities of high power density motors and 40A breaker slots, basically every team would have the ability to launch from distance in their back pocket. Even if they didn’t fully optimize for the full court shot (namely by placing their launcher at an unblock-able height), they would certainly have the power available to launch from full range when not defended. This would lead to a game that was substantially less exciting to watch. Even at the highest levels of play, when both alliances had effective full court shooters that were allowed to set up, matches became rather stagnant for the bulk of tele-op. Two teams launching discs across the court, and the rest of their alliance partners taking just enough discs to ensure they would deplete their supply and/or hunting out missed discs on the floor. With even more full court shooters, that issue would be exacerbated further. Having robots actually move around the field is a fairly important part of making FRC exciting to watch.

Other examples include ball deflectors in 2010, bounce-back passes in 2014, and can grabbers in 2015. And those can grabbers lead to the other natural risk - “arms race” challenges like the can race in 2015 and the minibots in 2011 (which, granted, had their own closed ecosystem of parts that FRC teams already pushed to the limit).

That being said, the one game I would be interested in re-trying with modern FRC technology would be 2005. There would have to be some modifications to the game to bring it up to modern standards (bumpers and frame perimeter extension limits at the very minimum, but likely also updates to the loading station/human player and autonomous challenges as well).

No amount of COTS or technology development would make this a likely outcome.

The COTS explosion and relaxed motor limits would undoubtedly increase the amount of teams that could reach level 2 or level 3 individually, but climbing together in 2013 was an incredibly difficult challenge beyond just the technical scope of climbing. Due to the shape of the pyramid being, well, a pyramid - there was less room at the top of the pyramid (both in terms of the length of the bars but also the interior area of the pyramid) than the bottom. That made fitting multiple robots at level 3 a logistical nightmare. And, unlike 2022’s traversal climb challenge, you had to be fully above the previous rung (and contact all the rungs in order) to be credited with a level 3 climb in 2013. So that removes the ability to use vertical spacing to fit multiple robots at the same climb level. Essentially, the only viable strategy to achieve multiple level 3 climbs in 2013 was to climb on the exterior of the pyramid, like 1114 or 118’s reveal video (a feature that didn’t make it onto their competition bot).

Exterior pyramid climbing only magnified an existing logistical challenge of the pyramid - how the heck do you test it at home? The biggest challenge of any pyramid climb beyond level 1 was figuring out how to construct and store an at-home version of the pyramid that could function to test these higher level climbs at a team’s shop. It was a large, cumbersome, and expensive field element that basically required a dedicated practice/storage space that could be used, and the team drawing version was lackluster AND didn’t provide proper simulation of the exterior of the pyramid. As you can see in both the 1114 and 118 videos, they had full-size, field-accurate, welded pyramids to develop their climbs on. That’s something that the vast majority of teams are not going to have consistent access to, even if a vendor stepped up to provide it to teams (and I don’t want to think about that cost).


A few previous threads with the same concept.



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