Unusual, potential game pieces

I love speculating about future games, and surprisingly I haven’t found an old thread talking about game pieces in particular. So I thought we’d talk about what would make a good game piece so that we might be able to identify the beginnings of a future game.

IMO, a good game piece:

  • is durable
  • is cheap and abundant
  • is relatively light
  • won’t cause injury
  • is fun to toss around, and looks good on camera
  • hasn’t been used before (though we can let this slide if the game uses an old piece in a way that requires new designs)
  • is reasonably consistent between manufacturing batches (edit, as suggested)

Thinking about what fits those criteria, and hasn’t yet been used I’ve come up with a few candidates:

  • football or nerf footballs (oblig.)
  • badminton birdies
  • cheese wheels (or perhaps a rubber tire)
  • batons or javelins (perhaps from pvc pipe)
  • Ringette rings
  • Bean Bags
  • Bowling Pins (hollow)
  • Ball on Ropes (dog toy)
  • Flutterboards
  • Great big or heavy pieces that can’t be lifted, only pushed (perhaps tethered to the field)
  • the beach ball I had as a kid that had a weight to one side so it flew crazily (can’t find anything similar online though)

What do you think? Have I missed any good candidates? Are there other criteria for what makes a good gamepiece? Do any of these spark some ideas for game rules?

I’m still holding out for FIRST using thesefor game pieces.

Oh that would be cool. i would love an ‘wierd shape/hard to grab’ gamepiece. Only 135 more days:yikes: .

Several years ago someone posted a picture of Dave Lavery holding a ~10 inch long piece of 3" sched 40 PVC pipe, capped at both ends. The thing resembled a giant drug capsule, suitable for medicating a blue whale or some similarly massive fictional creature.

I imagined it half full of pea gravel, to make its center of gravity shift while it is being handled so that manipulation by a robot is more challenging.

Traffic cones.

American footballs

Another “good game piece” criterium: NOT inflated.

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While I completely agree that those points can help identify a good game piece, I can’t help by come up with recent exceptions to all of them. Orbit balls, for example, were not durable or abundant. A number of game pieces, if ejected from the field, weren’t particularly safe - frisbee to the head, or a huge ball from Over Drive knocking people over. Totes aren’t particularly light weight, or cheap in the quantities needed for an off-season event. It’s incredibly difficult to find a really good game piece. Most pieces are deficient in some area.

I would add to the list that game pieces need to be accessible to teams of all skill levels. Having a game piece that some teams (especially rookies!) Can’t effectively interact with is pretty bad, in my opinion!

Most of the bad things about frisbees and trackballs could have been mitigated with either rule or field changes.

Orbit balls? I pretend that year never happened.

And when did we use totes in the modern era? No game has used totes.[1]

But I think the OP had a good list of what would be optimal. Obviously choosing a suboptimal game piece happens at times.

[1] Like Mini bots and Jar Jar Binks these things never happened in my mind. A significant amount of therapy was required for this, I can suggest a guy.

See Floppies from the 1999 game

Oh cool, I hadn’t seen Double Trouble before. Interestingly the Floppies really fail the “looks good on camera” test - they’re pretty lifeless.

I think some teams would have an inherent advantage with cheese wheels (looking at you, Wisconsin and 1086) :slight_smile:

Needs to also look good from the stands, so visible from 100 feet away.

Spectrum has a mock game we are working on putting the rules together for that involves used car tires and rugby balls.

I believe the game rules can either aggravate or alleviate the shortcoming that you are describing. 2015’s divided field with no robot to robot interaction beyond the can wars between alliances serves as an example of a rule set that operated to reduce the effectiveness of robots with limited game piece manipulation abilities. Having a role for limited ability robots should be a key consideration for the GDC every year imo. Unlike 2015, many games from the past have at a minimum allowed some defensive role and a lesser scoring role for these robots (examples include: defensive inbound pass-blocking and shot-blocking; offensive bridge balancing in 2012; offensive low goal and passive low climb/hang in 2013; offensive assist in 2014.

By the same token, I would not want to see another game in which the role of the limited ability robot is restricted to serving as an anchor point for a piece of string.:frowning: The performance floor for a limited ability robot should be reasonable, attainable and meaningful to the outcome of their matches.

I have been hoping for a cylindrical game piece for years. Capped and half filled would be an interesting challenge, but I would prefer to see thin walled, hollow tubes. Length, diameter, material, weight, and quantity TBD. The length-to-diameter ratio should be near 1:1. This would make it feasible to acquire the tube by several methods (grasp OD, skewer the bore, etc.) with no obviously “correct” method. Game pieces could lay on their side or stand on end, and the orientation of the robot to the game piece would affect the way the tube reacted during acquisition. There is a broad range of tasks options to challenge teams with different skills, and few robot mechanism ideas from previous games would be useful. Game piece placement options include: (easiest) move it into a defined scoring zone, (easy) place in bin, (moderate) toss it into a bin that is higher than the robot, (harder) hang it on a pin rack with more points for higher pins, or (harder yet) fit the game piece through a round hole with modest clearance to the tube OD for highest points. Color coded tubes? Different size tubes? Moveable goals? Options galore! Tubes could be cheap and readily available (PVC), robust, visible from the stands, wouldn’t require inflation, and would fit thru a door.

Bowling Ball. main rule is you can’t let it leave the ground.

American (nerf) Football. Heck, a Rugby ball would be fun too.

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That’s not too difficult. A 3" diameter game piece at 100ft is about 9 minutes of arc, which is more than large enough for even people with poor eyesight, (also fits highway sign guidelines for roman characters). That said, bigger pieces (maybe at least 6" diameter) might be easier to focus on.

Our last mock game meets most of your requirements.


I’ve always liked the idea of absurdly heavy or light game pieces (i.e. bowling balls or balloons). Really big ones (like 2001’s goals) would be cool, as well.