The Game Reveal: Block Party

It’s official! The new game for this season is called Block Party and it’s adding up to be an exciting challenge. Teams across the world are busily analyzing how to score the most point in the time provided, and beginning the process of building their new robot. What a wonderful time of year it is.

This past Saturday, a mixed group of veteran members and new recruits met up to go to a local high school where the state was hosting the early reveal celebration. The place was really amped up to see the new game, and the discussions between teams were open and informative. Team 3550 Beta hosted a number of learning workshops to help out inexperienced teams, and team members. Although I myself did not need the full extent of the classes, many of our new members hopefully benefitted. Beta was not alone in this endeavor. Team 4150 Dark Matter, whose members have been particularly inspiring to me in the past, hosted at least one workshop of their own.

Team Dark Matter's workshop

Team Dark Matter’s workshop

The workshop of theirs in which I attended, was devoted to a less conventional event. Apparently, Dark Matter has been working with a number of different companies (National Instruments, John Deer, Iowa State University, and possibly Intermec) who are lining up an opportunity for teams to have a sponsor interview with said companies. The purpose of the interview is to help teams practice their interviewing skills; both as a team, and also as individuals, so that team members feel prepared for competition and for job interviews later in life. The details have yet to be straightened out, but during Dark Matter’s presentation, we along with two other teams suck out necks out to be a part of the beta testing. I hope to write more on this in a later post, when I know more of the details.

The reveal of the game was, in my opinion, much cooler than last year’s. The stage was bigger, the seating was better, and (not to dis the governor) we did not have to sit through any boring speeches. Linn-Marr has much larger auditorium than Kennedy does and it dwarfs the small seating area at the Iowa Memorial Union. While yes, the stage where they had the field set up was entirely too small to have everyone view it, I still felt that this year’s reveal was more exciting and more to the point.

Jerry is saying hi to everyone Hi Jerry!

Jerry is saying hi to everyone
Hi Jerry!

As for the game itself, I’m incredibly excited to see how this plays out. The center console is shorter, but takes up more field area than last year’s. This means that blocking may be more effective this year. Naturally, this would lead me to want a larger heavier robot to prevent being pushed around. However, since the main tele-op scoring method is based on the rapid scoring of low point blocks, the robot will need to be fast and agile. My thinking is as it was last year, to build a medium weight robot capable of holding its own against most, while being competitively quick. If our robot ends up being between 25-35lbs, I’ll be happy. Danny and I were two of the four most influential people when it came to robot design last year, and we agree that FWD/AWD drive is essential. This addition was helpful last year to prevent bottoming out on the lip of the center console; this year I believe it will be an unwritten rule. Although we have not built our field yet, the ramp in the center, and the need for speed and torque will require power.

my first glimpse of the new field

my first glimpse of the new field

The method of scoring will be very important in this game due to the low point value of the yellow bricks. Is balancing the pendulum worth the bonus? Depends on how many bricks, and how easy that is to do. Does the autonomous brick count in the brick score? Will it be taken out when tele-op starts?; if not, balance may be more difficult. These may be good forum questions. Overall, this game is bound to be a worthy challenge.


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