Game design

I’m not involved with FRC, perhaps one day when my last high-schooler leaves for college I will find a local team to adopt me if I have time. However, I do read the FRC forums and occasionally see something that is just as applicable to VEX as FRC, so I cross post it here. A question was asked about game design and whether last years game (frisbees and robots climbing pyramids) was too complex, too specialized or too easy. This is an excerpt from Frank Merrick’s response that could just as easily be applied to the VEX GDC

The whole thread is here.

(also look for mention of our own GDC chairman)

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I competed in that game, as a rookie team and went on to win Rookie All-Star in our Division at Worlds and I can say that I did like that they’re were multiple different tasks available for teams to embark on. Being a new team we knew we wouldn’t be able to climb to the top of the pyramid; instead we focused on doing a stationary 10-point hang just by using an inclined plane, and building a decent shooter that could shoot from half court.

Honestly I think this year’s VEX Game is similar; you have 3-4 main ways to play and it is unlikely that any team (except a few) will accomplish all of them at a truly world-class level; instead teams that focus on doing one or two things well will come out on top.

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I know some of the people on the FTC GDC and it’s been interesting to talk to them about how they design and the levels they design for. They have the same level of thought rookie teams vs seasoned pros. They have an additional interesting problem. They don’t sell field kits, so all the elements need to be things a team can source locally and go from there. I’ve built a few games and while it’s lots easier to say "Yes, and the VISA number is … " something to be said for being able to build your own.

We just did a summer build season for a number of “new to robotics” teams. We played “Round Up” and started with robots that could score in the corners and then moved on to scoring in the goals (low goal first then the high goals) It let them build bases that could score and get instant gratification and then move on.

I’ve always liked how a good dozer-bot, or a claw-bot (all hail the claw-bot!) can play the game. They are not going to win the tournament (well maybe as the 3rd pick) but they can score points and help the alliance. Locally one claw-bot that could stack the high goal with golds. And reach around and snag them off the other side. So they were good for 30+ points a game

It would be cool to hear from the VEX GDC on the design process for prior games. Karthik is an amazing speaker, maybe at All Star or Worlds he can do a talk on “How the GDC gets inside your heads”

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This is a great idea, I would love to hear about games that did not make the cut or how a game evolved from its initial concept to the final version that was played.

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