Cody's initial thoughts on Skyrise

Kinda going to shotgun this, it’s personal, you may not agree with everything, blah blah blah…


  • Start early
  • Maintain an open mind regarding possible designs and strategies
  • Start on paper first
  • Develop many designs
  • Design starting with the manipulator, working your way down to the drive
  • Test and iterate on your design as often as you can
  • Work with your programmers to consider sensors in your design upfront, integrating them in as the design develops
  • Reach out for help when you need it
  • Play the game as intended


  • Underestimate what a newcomer can bring to the table
  • Be afraid to get input from the community, other VEX teams, etc
  • Come into this with deep predispositions, every game is different (it’s the GDC’s job to ensure this)
  • Go off looking for that “one design that does x”
  • Try to find as many loopholes or unintended strategies as you can looking for a way to “cheat” the game

Now for a few ramblings…

Design Convergence
Is a really really REALLY big problem right now

In short, VEX has shown itself to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of design convergence. It kind of makes since, the GDC lays down a challenge each year and instantly mandates ten-thousand-some-odd people to design a robot to do essentially the exact same task. Some convergence is going to happen. However, in my opinion teams that go out looking for the winning design before actually trying to develop their own home grown strategy and design are circumventing the design process. It’s against the spirit of VEX and it only serves to limit what you can get out of this program.

My suggestion is to start fresh, turn off YouTube, grab pen and paper and a whiteboard and go at it. Use your first competition to test the waters, see if whatever you’ve come up with works, then and only then should you look around to see what others have done.

Modding PTC’s and/or Over-Volting Batteries
IE blatantly cheating

You are the scum of the Earth if you do this. And yes it is happening at all levels of the competition. You are ruining something very good and turning a trustworthy community against itself when you contribute to this problem. This year the RECF sent a clear message, ANY team caught doing this is going to pay for it dearly. The random pit inspections and the not so random field inspections yielded lots of infractions. Some teams even tried to be clever about this and were still caught.

The simple fact of the matter is, it is shockingly easy to test for these kinds of modifications. You are going to get caught. Don’t do it. And teams that think that they have to “up” their game because “everyone else is doing it,” A. Most of the community isn’t doing this, B. the RECF is cracking down, this isn’t likely to be an issue much longer and C. this game is not about winning, cheating to keep up is just plain cheating. DON’T DO IT!

The Game

Is bloody freaking awesome. I love it, Camaron loves it, lots of my friends mind’s are already spinning. It’s got some roots in previous VEX games, capping the goals in Elevation, the size and manipulation of game elements is similar to Gateway, etc.

But the overwhelmingly different thing about Skyrise is the highrise. It’s worth a lot of points, it’s an easy concept but it comes with a tough set of design requirements. In short it’s THE challenge and those who can rise up to this challenge will almost surely succeed.

I’ve never seen the RECF drop such a bombshell of a tough goal, ever. This game is going in the history books and I cannot wait to see some of the crazy robots that get built this year.

Random Details
Stuff to consider

  • The field is very open this year, lots of space to maneuver, a Holonomic’s wonderland
  • The highrise is more or less an eff-off zone. It’s protected, good to know
  • Scoring on the highrise is more valuable than anywhere else (4pts v/s 3pts for capped & 2pts for non-capped)
  • After (AND ONLY AFTER) that capping goals becomes the challenge (basically Elevation)
  • The pegs are 1.12 lbs, and seemed a little bottom heavy to me
  • The cubes are strong, I wouldn’t worry about breaking them
  • It takes three scored highrise pegs or cubes to beat an autonomous bonus, you definitely want to win the autonomous bonus
  • No real end-game, nothing particularly match upsetting in the last 30 seconds, means we can focus on playing the game until the end
  • 9 scoring elements are available to teams to pre-load in predetermined positions @ match start (7x pegs, 2x cubes) 36 pts total
  • The center stack of cubes can be plowed (forcefully randomized) just like in Gateway

Are fun

I see scissors, lots of them, with a lot of play. I see six wheels, four wheels and holonomics. I see a lot of teams potentially falling over. I see an exciting game, like Round Up where no one true design dominates. I see at least two off-the-wall designs emerging that blows everyone’s minds.

All in all I see an exciting, long, fun, hard year. Bravo GDC, RECF and VEX Robotics for yet again bringing us a new endeavour.

Good luck everyone, enjoy your summer! -Cody

Thanks for this. There were several insightful things in here that I hadn’t thought of!


You definitely understand VEX, your attitude and thoughts are exactly the point of the thread I started.

Two thumbs up!!!

Thanks a lot, Cody. These are truely objective opinions reasoned from the game. Being objective when perceiving is especially invaluable. Especially when designing a scoring machine.

Just to correct you, the 1.12lbs is how much the cubes weigh, not the skyrise sections. The skyrise sections are roughly 0.4lbs so they are much lighter than the cubes.

Great job as well, does a great job at summarizing the game and have great insight.

No need to apologize for deeply held beliefs. I do like your idea of starting with the manipulator first and drive last. I think the real difficulty here though lies in between and for that I think the solutions need be innovative and hybrid. Sure wish HS had those two extra motors. This might also be a competition where you need to pull back out your 1x5x1 35 hole C channel for stability.

I think this game is going to be interesting in small tournament play

“People” are saying I said stuff that I may or may not have said…

  • Cough *

Which I don’t mind, because lets be honest, I say lots of stuff and am regularly wrong, especially when making predictions. In fact he is right (and wrong), I did think that it would be difficult and rare to see a team build a full Skyrise with all seven segments and all seven cubes (going to assert that this IS both difficult and rare still) but I’m fairly sure that I made all my real claims here in this thread just a few days after the game was revealed. Let’s see if we can find evidence of this elusive “Cody was wrong” boson… for science!

Which got me thinking! I wonder what I did say, and how much of it was right!? Let’s find out…

Such fun, much right. :cool:


Well this is the post I was actually talking about… (for science of course)
Maybe my interpretation was incorrect?

I would also argue that the cubes break fairly easily (I’ve seen like 30+ broken ones across 2 fields) and would also argue that there is an end-game which we will hopefully see at worlds with many strong teams in one place, but I guess this thread was beside the point anyway.

I do think design convergence has decreased this year and here’s what I think the reasons are:

  1. The game is less specific this year. There are many effective ways to accomplish these tasks.
  2. Robots are much more complex, expensive, and difficult to tune than they were in Gateway or Toss Up. If you find your design isn’t quite as effective as the best ones in the world, it’s no simple matter to tear your robot apart and build a copy of theirs. Plus all the time you spent tuning your first robot would go to waste.
  3. Teams didn’t reveal as much in the early season. Last year UVM posted a big ball intake on a 6 bar and almost every robot for the entire year was based on that. This year all we saw were a couple lifts revealed and a VERY bendy REX tournament. Nothing that really made teams think “We need to do this to win.”

Sorry to be a little off topic but I thought this was a good place to put this post.

Well, there was Singapore. That competition was in June and three 8066 teams got robot skills scores that are still above the top 30 threshold.

As far as I know there was only one video of that event though, and it wasn’t up for all that long.

I’m actually prepared to be really wrong here, but I still think that seeing a field emptied is / will be an exceedingly rare event.

And if it happens, I fail to see how it’s a problem that the GDC should have considered. In fact I’ll argue that it’s quite a happy ending for at least one of the teams in question.

As for the cubes breaking, idk still haven’t actually seen one yet. Although I’m rather detached from the competition atm.

We broke a cube, but not with the robot. Two students were pulling it in opposite directions, and one of the rods broke.

In our experience, the cubes have not been very strong (we might have gotten a bad batch). We have had 3 break (part of the tube completely break off), from the robot missing a post and the cube falling onto the floor. The cubes also often come apart a bit from dropping onto a post.

I think you got a bad batch our robots catapult will shoot them onto post with a lot of momentum and it has missed and it still hasn’t broken*.

  • It landed on the tile floor.

I think the cubes are too fragile myself. We have broken 4 or 5 cubes. Granted this has been from dropping them off our scissor lift robot (so about 6 feet up) and the breaking has only occurred when dropped onto a tile or thin carpet floor. When they fall onto the actual VEX field mat they seem to hold up OK, but they do tend to start to “pop apart”.

I feel that the plastic they made the cubes out of is simply to hard. We haven’t ever had problems breaking field elements until Skyrise.