VRC & VIQC 20-21 - Live Remote Head-to-Head Rules Modifications

During the REC Foundation Season Contingency Town Hall Webinar on September 16th, we had the pleasure of previewing our plans for a “live remote head-to-head” gameplay platform. If you missed it, be sure to check out the video here:

Now, VRC and VIQC games are not designed for this type of “one-robot-per-field” environment! So, in parallel with the technology development, the GDC has been working on a set of rule modifications that can be applied to live remote head-to-head tournaments.

The final, official rules will be released in a supplemental Game Manual Update on October 1. However, to help you start visualizing what remote gameplay will look like, we wanted to provide some high-level previews of the changes.

Obligatory disclaimer - the information in the bullet points below are not final, not complete, subject to change, and provided as a preview only. This has not been written in formal Game Manual legalese (intentionally), there are some things still being worked on (that are not listed below), we will not answer Q&A’s about this forum post (although I’m going to stick around in this thread), etc.

VIQC Rise Above

  • One team / robot per field, two Teams per Alliance
  • New starting field layout - only six Risers of each color, instead of nine
  • In-match gameplay remains the same
  • To score Risers and Completed Rows, the two fields are “combined”. For all intents and purposes, you can picture the two Teams’ fields being stacked on top of each other and scored as one “Alliance field”.
    • For example, if Team A has scored one of the three Risers needed for a Completed Row, and Team B has scored the other two, then this would be considered a valid Completed Row for the Alliance.
  • To score a Completed Stack, the Stack must be completed by one Team on their own field.
    • For example, if Team A has one Riser in a Goal, and Team B has two Risers in the same Goal on their field, this is not considered a Completed Stack.

VRC Change Up

  • One team / robot per field, two Teams per Alliance, two Alliances playing head-to-head
  • Same starting field layout as a standard match
  • All scoring is “cumulative” between the two Teams on an Alliance. For all intents and purposes, you can picture the two Teams’ fields being stacked on top of each other and scored as one.
    • One way to visualize it would be a “Red Alliance field” and a “Blue Alliance field”.
    • The “Red Alliance field” and “Blue Alliance field” are scored independently of each other, and compared against each other to determine Ownership (more details below).
  • The rules for the Autonomous Period and Autonomous Win Point will be philosophically the same.
    • The Autonomous Win Point criteria will be calculated using the new “Ownership” scoring described below. There may be some minor verbiage tweaks to accommodate this.
    • There may be minor logistical tweaks involved with the remote environment (e.g. marking “ready” to move to Driver Control).
  • Balls of your Alliance’s color are worth 2 points when Scored in a Goal.
  • Balls of the opposing Alliance’s color are worth 1 point when Scored in a Goal.
  • Connected Rows are worth 9 points.
  • Ownership of a given Goal (for the purpose of determining Connected Rows) is given to the Alliance with more points Scored in that Goal. (example below)
  • If a Robot is contacting a Goal at the end of the Match, then all Balls in that Goal are worth double points.
    • This applies both to raw point values, and determining Ownership.
    • This applies to both Teams’ fields - i.e. the “Alliance field” receives the “doubler” on that Goal, not just that Team.
    • This rule will have many “benefit of the doubt” and “intent of the game” details to aid with referee judgment calls. (no “paper tests” over a webcam, we promise)
  • There are no Possession limits.

I know… It’s a lot to take in. Here is an example of how this will be calculated. If you look at one particular Goal on all four Teams’ fields, and they have these Balls Scored in them, then this is how you would determine Ownership:

image

If Red Team A was contacting their Goal, thus earning a “doubler”, it would be calculated as follows:

image

Let’s go play some robots!

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If Team A scores two stacks 3 risers high in a non-completed row, and Team B scores one stack 3 risers high in that same row, would that be the same amount of points as a Completed row with 3 completed stacks?
Thanks for this update, looks pretty great so far! Can’t wait to

Will each team in a match be able to see the other teams’ fields in that same match?

In the practice demo video, I see that driver control has been shortened to 1:40, was this intentional?

The demo video shows two teams from the same school, each competing from their own field. This is great to demonstrate that the system works, but this arrangement (1 field per team) will not be feasible for most multi-team organizations. So, how will the system/rules handle multiple teams that share a field?

  • Will multiple teams from the same organization be allowed to play on the same field as alliance partners or opponents?
  • Will the qualification match schedule be generated to avoid teams from the same organization having to use the field at the same time?
    • If so, what happens if two teams who are sharing a field want to pick each other in alliance selection, or if they end up as opponents in an elimination match?
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I have similar concerns as well.

Nothing against the rules (we will just adapt the design of the robots and gameplay accordingly), but it is the logistic that I am concern with.

This remote-playing basically means all participating teams will need to have their own playing field(s).
I am not sure of the situation in US, but many international teams do not even have their own playing fields, eg. In Singapore, it is common to see those teams without playing field going over to another school to use the playing field for practice and prep. But inter-school mingling is still off-limit.

I have 2 playing fields in my lab, but that only means i can only have 2 (out of my 9) teams playing at any one time.

But i do see something positive - our scrimmages or events is no longer confine to just within our region. Maybe there will be NZ or China teams that will be interested to do scrimmage with us :slight_smile:

Edit:
Just a suggestion - looking at the video of the demo, maybe there is a need to find a better angle for the placement of the camera. So that the backplates will not be blocking part of the view, etc.

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As far as I know, it depends on the organization. Some may have multiple fields; some may not have any at all. At least for mine, we have 1 field to share amongst 2 teams, but I wonder what it’s gonna be like for organizations with more teams but still only 1 field.

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I don’t know if that was said in the webinar, but for the practice matches, could there be random pairing between teams from around the World? (Like they do in video games)

Personally, I would be super excited if during a practice session I could play against teams in Texas, China, and New Zealand all at once and then chat with other students.

This would bring international friendship and exchange of ideas onto the entirely next level!

@Grant_Cox, please, tell us this is in the works!

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If all you want is to practice with these teams, then on October 1st contact them and get a practice tournament running with your favorite video calling program. Easy!

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i also have this question because normally there are 3 people allowed in the pit and those not driving are giving the driver info on the other robots and field elements, if the teams are allowed to see the other fields in the same scrimmage then will teams with more people have an advantage or will only 3 people be allowed to be “in the pit”, and if not then the drivers will be driving blind and it is essentially a skills run

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In addition to the number of fields needed issue, my other concern is being able to work with your alliance partner. If you want to talk with your alliance partner to work together to own certain goals, etc., how will that work? If you’re just talking over an open mic, the other alliance will hear your plan - which is not the case in regular live play. Will alliances have their own communication channel to avoid this?

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I think it is important to acknowledge that “Live Remote” is different than “Live In Person”. Holding “Live Remote” to provide the same experience, features, and functionality of “Live In Person” is an impossible standard, as I’m sure most roboteers have first-hand experience with the difference between live and remote learning.

So maybe think of “Live Remote” as a new thing entirely. Hopefully what has been presented so far is a rough straw-man of what will soon come. What suggestions can we make to make this better?

One area that seems most in need of improvement is to make the whole “running things at the same time” mean something. I think I saw one excellent suggestion of periodically synchronizing the 4 fields. Maybe to go along with that reducing the duration of driver control. Maybe increase the duration of auton. Maybe break apart the match into 30-second turns. Get creative!

It is easy to criticize and focus on the negative. The real challenge is making the best of a situation.

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If Team A scores two stacks 3 risers high in a non-completed row, and Team B scores one stack 3 risers high in that same row, would that be the same amount of points as a Completed row with 3 completed stacks?

Based on your description, I believe this is a correct interpretation, but we’ll make sure that these types of scenarios are explicitly clear in the formal rules.

Yep - this is one of the staples of the new remote competition environment being developed by VEX and the RECF. We envision the Drive Team Members to be made up of 3 people as they are normally, with 1-2 students driving the robot, and 1 acting as a “coach”, keeping an eye on the other 3 fields and communicating with their drivers / alliance partners.

Not intentional. Something something alpha builds…

This has been one of the most challenging subjects for the remote development team to work our heads around. Unfortunately, due to the way that the technology works, as well as the way that the rules work, all teams competing in an event will need to ensure that they have access to separate fields. This is one of the reasons why most early events will be smaller , 16-24 teams.

Think about it this way. In order to compete in an “in-person” event, registering “a team” means a robot, a driver, a controller, etc. To compete in a remote event, registering “a team” means a robot, a driver, a controller, a webcam, and a field.

This is one of the things that we have already heard great feedback on, from the early alpha testers. Discussions about setting up community-access fields, “rent-a-field” arrangements, borrowing trailers, etc. No one at VEX or the RECF thinks that teams are going to suddenly have space for 4 fields - rather, we’re looking forward to see what new collaborative and creative solutions these large organizations come up with.

Also, alongside the rules updates on October 1, we are going to be releasing documentation regarding “DIY” or lower-cost field options for teams without the resources for a full-size, official VRC field. (this was something I completely forgot to mention during the webinar…)

Honestly, I’m not sure if this post was meant to be in jest or not, but this is actually exactly the main reason we wanted to release the rules early (something that we have never done before). This way, those teams who are planning to compete remotely will have something to start practicing with!

Could not have said it better myself. The GDC is viewing “Live Remote” game development completely separately from standard game development, the remote divisions at Worlds will be separate from standard divisions, etc. We are extremely excited to see how this could potentially grow in the future.

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:smiley:

Thanks Mr. GDC, soon to be known as Mr. GDC.

The only problem I see with international competition is time zone’s and organizing it.

Also no defensive strategy which is a large part of the game

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In addition to the other issues brought up (not every organization has a field, how do you work with your alliance parter), I have one more related to the game.

Essentially, the meta for in-person games and remote head-to-head games is completely different. In an in-person game, there is no reason to build a tether-bot, but in a remote game there is: specifically a tetherbot which can contact every goal.

The issue here is that teams attending both competitions are encouraged to build two separate robots, one for remote ocmpetitions and one for in-person.

I thought the skills release this season (after June 15, at least), was excellent, as it emphasized the scoring styles necessary in match play. To me, it would make more sense to simply have more remote skills compeitions, but that’s just my opinion.

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I think that the touching goals challenge was given to teams so that they might have something more to do in their 2 minutes. I think the nature of change up means that a good robot playing the back and forth version of the game will never run out of things to do, but that same robot playing the set-scoring version will always run out of things to do. the same robot could never work well for both games, because the games are completely different in nature, even if the method of scoring is the same.

already, you would want to build a different robot. no need for descoring, so side rollers are out. all you need is a top down roller. no need for sorting balls, so that’s out too. You’ll want to make some way to lay string touching all the goals for the bonus points, so that’s a new thing to add.

perhaps it would be better if the remote competition version of change up was even less similar to change up? you already kind of should build a completely different robot, why not take that further and make the set-scoring game more difficult and fun?

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So in theory could we have a rope that clips onto all of the goals since that would be an extension of our robot and have a doubler on the whole field? (Can you have more than one goal with a doubler?)

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you can’t attach yourself to things?

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then what if it’s like a weight that you put on the base or a long arm