We are very interested in any thoughts you have about this year’s Online Challenges, especially the changes we have made since last year.

We expect most entries to come in just before the deadline since you are taking time to work on them, and don’t want other entrants to see your work too soon, so it’s been pretty quiet on this forum.

And you all know that entering the Online Challenges is one criteria for judging the Excellence Award winner at Worlds, right? And that winning most of the Online Challenges can qualify a team for Worlds?

2011 Online Challenges are here:
Where are 2010 Online Challenges archived for comparison?

Feedback: Thanks to Vex for sponsoring prizes of 6x$1500 !
It might be nice to have additional appropriate prizes; ideas:

  • Physical objects of the CAD models in the “design a game animation”
  • Some sw from Autodesk for digital prototyping
  • Interview with animation school for game design

Is Excellence at Worlds credit enough to get teams to contribute?
Do visible on-line entries contribute toward any awards at pre-world events?
Should entries be sealed-bid, rather than public?
How to prevent sniping, or copying and doing it just a little bit better?
Maybe harder contests should have bigger awards?

**Predictions:**Without more advertising and push, there won’t be many entries. That means it is easier for low-quality/ low time-commitment entries to get prizes, at least once, until more people start contributing.
I expect this order of competitiveness: Hi (Website, Future, Promote)
Med: (Essay, RECF ed vid, Dig Proto)
Low number of entries: (Game design animation), because example standards are high and it is more work than the value of the award; If there are only 3 entries, they all win something.
But my expectations may be way off…

Ideas for minimalist entry into every category:

  • Autodesk Prototyping: digital prototype of squarebot for “exploration”

  • VRC Promote: 90sec limit video, edit down from video of club activites, with voiceover. Similar to BEST youtube promotional entries (but shorter).

  • Game Design: 3 minute voice over describing a game with a specific piece, for minimal entry, just show the field and game piece, and move piece from place to place for scoring.

  • Future design: similar to last year, build something fun, do 90sec video

  • Website: easy if you already have a website. Just make sure your website has all the checklist. I know some BEST teams have some great websites that just need some checklist items (who, where, what, etc) listed explicitly.

  • Essay: Good Practice for college entry essays, may get you $50 at Vex, (but not qualify you for worlds) less than 250 words

  • RECF Education video: Explain a part of your robot. 2 minutes, 500w

As always, see all the nit-picky detailed fineprint, before you invest much time into it.

Where are 2010 Online Challenges archived for comparison?

Check here: [

We worked very hard to keep the contest rules simple. Compare the rules for the online challenges even to VRC (which has pretty simple rules for a robotics game) to see what I mean. If you think any rules are too complex or unnecessary, please let us know. We have already clarified the rules in one challenge this year based on contestant feedback.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.


Thanks for the pointer to all competitions.
There are zero entries shown for “Future Foundation product design”, but clicking the link shows some entries.

Sniping/visibility/advertising brainstorms:

  • showing that other people have entered, and who, builds excitement
  • not making their entries viewable until judging time prevents snipe/steal
  • allow a public comment/vote period after all entries are in
    The above tradeoff is in favor of anti-snipe, but builds more excitement than completely private entries.
    The opposite tradeoff is public sharing, and youtube type “this is team X response to team Y entry” could be a cool competition. If that is what you are aiming for, its not working that well. To aid the back-and-forth, you’ll need to allow a team to update its entry during the year. That is more like the robot competition itself, since there is one robot per team rule, but you can upgrade your robot during the season.

Scale prizes by number of entries last year, for obviously difficult contests?
With every prize the same, teams will pick the easy/fun ones.
If you make the prizes all different, even if not really significantly, teams could think more about it. For easy/fun/competitive contests that have a history of being useful, have higher number of slightly more equal prizes 500,400,400,250,250?

Re Rule complexity:
For RECF Ed Vid, I get different ideas from reading the Summary, vs the Requirements, and the grading rubric adds new adjectives as well.

My advice to “read the picky details” is just meant to point to the grading rubric. As a BEST Notebook judge, I’m continually surprised to see that teams don’t use the grading rubric as an outline of their Notebook. If you get 50 points for X and 10 points for Y, to get a high score you need to remember to do both X and Y, and it is a good idea to speed 5x more effort on the X part because it is worth more points.
So even for teams competing at the simplest level: “just talk about part of your robot”, if you read the scoring rubric and use all the applicable buzzwords, it makes it easier for the judges to score you highly.
Example buzzwords from the rubric: real solutions, new programs, informational goals, documents complement video.

I have been to busy this year to update our website much so I don’t know if I’m entering again, but I think the versions of these browser that need to be supported should be more specific. I hope you don’t expect everybody to support IE6 :eek:

Regarding the online challenges website, it would be nice to receive email updates when new comments are added - otherwise I have to go on to all my entries separately every day to check for them :smiley:

Also, this is not so important but last year I had an entry form almost filled out, but when I finally submitted it, even though officially entries had closed (the link to the entry form was removed) the site still accepted the entry (for anyone else reading this, I checked with vex to make sure it was alright).
I also found out that the entry forms for all the challenges were still accessible after the due date if you new the url. It would be simple to deny access to the forms after the due date and also check the time and date before entering any data into your database.

A lot of people have stopped showing photos and videos of their current seasons robots on their websites - I believe that copying other robots is the best way to learn. The teams who made the original design just have to learn to keep improving the robots so they are always one step ahead of any people who are copying the robot. Some way of encouraging this sharing throughout the year would be a good addition to the website challenge.

Overall, I like the changes made this year to the challenges. I especially like the introduction of the Team Educational Video.

My question is this: how are the winners of the essays picked? is it just based on how many votes they get?

In years past my team has tried to submit for the design a game, and every year up until now we had no real guide lines except the time constraints but this year mandating game elements that have to be used don’t really make much sense. Why would we design a game where there are tops on the field that really only make sense if they spin but how hard is it to a) design a goal or field to revolve around a to and b) get a robot to spin a top. Along the lines of the jack there was another off season competition that used jacks and they were discovered no to be as easy as one would think.

I dont think this was a good move to mandate a game element into a challenge that is supposed to be free range. All the other online challenges are free range for the most part there are just loose guide lines which is how any challenge is run.

Is anyone else entering the FUTURE Foundation design competition? What happens if there is only one or two entries? Will prizes still be given out?
its my first year, so I cant give much feedback but from what iv seen so far, it looks like people like to keep their projects secret because there are hardly an entries, also the prizes are good and thanks to everyone that sponsored them. Great work, hope to be see plenty of entries!

Thank you for your feedback. In the past, the game guidelines were very wide open, and the games were radically different from one another. We thought that introducing at least one mandatory item – in this case choosing one or all of a set of standard pieces – might show some creative approaches. After this year, we will take a look at the results and decide what to do next time.

The prizes will be awarded regardless of the number of entries.

Good to hear that this will be taken into account for next years challenge. This was a new way to design the game and the challenge was one worth taking but was to limiting to those of us who desire to become a part of a GDC, which has been a dream of mine for years and in years past I have designed games that are layered in complexity letting not only veteran teams win but giving the rookie teams a fighting chance which is key to any robotics game and competition, Right?

I like the new educational video award, especially with how popular the promote award seems to be, although i’m curious about the reasoning behind the halved time limit for promote - is this just to save time for the judges watching them?

There were three reasons. We felt that if large companies could get their corporate message across in a 60-second television commercial that VRC teams could say what they have to say in 90, and we were also interested in reducing the workload on the judges. From experience I can report that judging video is very time consuming. We also believe that shorter videos will be more useful to the teams in the long run, as longer ones are less likely to be viewed on the Internet.

What do you think of the 90-second promotional video length?

No need to support a browser that was replaced more than four years ago…

I’ll have a word with the software dev team and see what they can do.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Hmm, I couldn’t agree more. This problem was what led to the new Inspire Award, which is pretty much intended to go to the team which was the most open about their design process and robot.

The visibility problem is a tricky one. BEFORE a tournament, most teams don’t want anyone to know what they are doing. DURING a tournament, everyone is promoting their design as the best ever, to secure a good spot in eliminations. I just don’t know…