Overview of the 2009 Botball game field: What did you think?

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Jake_Hall
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This is my second year doing Botball so I have only experienced two different kinds of fields. In 2008 the opponents starting boxes were a large distance from each other and therefore not as much robot-to-robot action.

In 2009 the starting boxes were appox. 4 feet from each other and every D.E. round that had both teams robots operating, the robots ran into each other.

In my opinion this close of robot action was not as exciting considering the robots ran into each other in the first ten seconds then you had to wait for the remaining time to run down as the robots just stood there.

The questions I am asking you are what were good field designs in the past that made the game exciting and what were some designs and scoring items that made the game really bad and boring.

Suggest ideas and tasks the robots would have to do, using the basic scoring items in the past. (Trebles, water balls, clear cups, blue cups, Botguy, ect. Also possible field designs or layouts. Like having two starting boxers per team. One that is 18" x 15" (to fit the create) and one that is 12" x 12".

This topic forum is not meant to bash the Botball design committee, but to create improvements to future games making them more exciting and fun to watch.

Thanks for your ideas and input!!! <('-'<)

Jake Hall
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~Grand Valley State University Team Leader~
Beyond Botball: * Trinity College Robotics: * Mircomouse: * DARPA 2012:

matthewbot
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I'm obviously a bit biased, but when a complex robot featuring a multitude of sensors and highly refined camera algorithms designed to precisely place game items in scoring locations loses to teams strapping metal scoops to their creates and the drive-sleep method of coding, something is wrong. Our bots were far from perfect and we have a lot to improve on, but last year we lost to teams with more sophisticated and advanced designs, not less.

In essense, in seeding, way too many points are scored by bulldozing. As an example, last year you couldn't throw all of the pom piles into one of the mats (last year) or bins (two years ago) because A: the mats were small and B: the poms scored no or negative points in the wrong locations. This year, nearly everything on the board scores a small number of points in the top of the hill, but because there are many items that can all be swept quickly and easily into the massive scoring area you can actually get 150+ points with nary a manipulator in sight.

Meanwhile, in DE, the large single scoring area again wrecks the game because it can be blocked. Your opponent can actually get to your scoring area faster than you can done properly (unless you gear a lego robot to surpass the speed of a create, unlikely with the CBCv1). Last year, the bridges provided a large obstacle to crossing the board, not the least of which is that a create simply could not cross unless both teams placed the bridges, and a lego robot still had a fairly precarious task of crossing the single bridge. The year previous to that, the teams were physically separated by two PVC pipes and a large volcano, and a rule prohibited crossing this area in the first bit (30 seconds?) of the match. In all those years, the final matches featured sophisticated point scoring machines racking up huge scores, not scraps of lego attempting to block and simple bots running 12 second programs. Compared to previous years, this years final 5-0 match was almost laughable. I'll quote Wes: "There's still 30 seconds left!"

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Jake_Hall
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I agree with you Matt, future games should be designed to encourage sophisticated manipulators that involve multiple axis arms. To do this games could be designed to lift specific items to different levels and place them on "shelves" with different colors encouraging the use of a camera as well. Or taking items and putting them over a PVC wall so the common unsophisticated "bulldozer" that has been successful in the past will not be as much now.

Jake Hall
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~Grand Valley State University Team Leader~
Beyond Botball: * Trinity College Robotics: * Mircomouse: * DARPA 2012:

mcsoccer11
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@Matt, I agree, we had a complex seeding bot, but our entire DE run was done in twelve seconds, and then vs sometimes done in 4 seconds. We need to have a game that doesnt make it just set a block score a cup and your done

matthewbot
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Yeah, I mean you guys played to the game. That post is supposed to be blaming the game, if that was unclear.

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stevenrobot
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Maybe you could do something whereby there is a passage way to the opponent's side and it's fairly easy to cross, but if you are on the other team's side at the end of the round you loose the round or a fair amount of points.

akennedy
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They have to balance the game objectives to meet a lot of different age groups and experience levels. Use of sensors and cameras is definitely more challenging and should be reflected in the score. Try and think of scenarios that would force the use of sensors and still make it fun for everyone. It is quite challenging.

Alex Kennedy
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Jeremy Rand
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Agreed; the ideal Botball game would allow the less experienced teams to bulldoze and score a decent number of points, but scoring more points with a more complex bot would be difficult enough that some teams who attempt to do so will score less than the bulldozer. Designing a game that meets those criteria is harder than it sounds.

-Jeremy Rand
Senior Programmer, Team SNARC (2012-2013), Norman Advanced (2010-2011), Norman HS (2008-2009), Norman North (2005-2007), Whittier MS (2003-2004)
2012-2013 VP of Tech, 2011 President, Botball YAC (2009-2013)
Mentor, Alcott and Whittier MS

Jake_Hall
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I believe the game I designed does follow a lot of the ideas you suggested. The Botguys will be placed in a random position so yes teams can still bulldoze them. But in order for them to score in the highest value range they will need to make a multi-directional arm. The highest scoring place is completely surrounded by PVC so items can not be pushed in. Second the idea I idea I had for the placement of the scoring zones was to allow for robot-to-robot contact and blocking mechanisms. Teams can either build a robot to block the opponents zone. But they will need another complex robot to score points. Also the in order to block the highest scoring area, more complex programs and moves will be needed to navigate the field, not a 7 second program and its done. Robots will need to navigate in many directions and around obstacles and scoring items. The scoring items were placed in an area that they will have to travel a larger distance to score them and not just a forwards and backwards program.

Please keep the ideas and suggestions coming.

Jake Hall
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~Grand Valley State University Team Leader~
Beyond Botball: * Trinity College Robotics: * Mircomouse: * DARPA 2012:

stevenrobot
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I think that the people at botball found the balance between bulldozing and sorting 2008 game with the tribble stacks that had a different color base than the top tribble. Teams could bulldoze tribble piles but then they lost the benefit of scoring the top tribble on the stack. In fact the way the game was set up a red tribble in the green area and vice versus was worth less points than just leaving it alone. Teams who bulldozed could score a decent number of points, but in order to score all of the tribble points teams needed to have a good claw/arm system.

Jake_Hall
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Oops, I just realized I posted my comment above in the wrong forum topic. I wish I could edit replies and delete them.

Jake Hall
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~Grand Valley State University Team Leader~
Beyond Botball: * Trinity College Robotics: * Mircomouse: * DARPA 2012: