Sometimes when we have a live show for a FIRST event, we get so caught up in setting up the studio and lining up our interviews that we don't really get a chance to truly enjoy everything that is going on around us. This year, we arranged for a little extra time before the interviews began. This gave Scott and Daniele an opportunity to discuss this years game as well as look back to previous years. We got the opportunity to speak with some of the student ambassadors about the game and exactly how it worked.
The game maintains many of the elements that we know and love about FIRST Robotics Competition. The driving stations are located where we expect on the short ends of the field. There are the same number of robots on the field, with three robots working together on each of the two teams. There are consistent stages of play, with autonomous, tele-op and the end game. We even see some familiar game elements, like a balance element in autonomous and climbing in the end game.
While the game plays similar to previous games in theory, there are some distinct differences. The biggest difference is the introduction of passive scoring. By controlling the angle of a few large scales around the board, teams can score points every second, while continuing to move around the board. Usually, once you perform an action, you receive points and move on, but not in this game. The scoring mechanisms allow for much higher scoring, but doesn't guarantee it.
Another difference is giving the human players a choice in how they interact. Usually, the players have a particular task to perform, like placing gears in the airships during Steamworks. This year, the players have a choice when receiving the blocks: they can either pass them back into play, or place them into a stack to try and score power ups later in the game. Again, this adds a fascinating dynamic, by creating additional variables for gameplay.
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