Kickoff Analysis 2019 | Destination Deep Space


All systems go! The 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition game Destination Deep Space is here! Today, some of The Blue Alliance Blog experts had a discussion about the game and what our initial reactions are to the kickoff reveal as well as some speculation to how the game may play out. The Blue Alliance Blog experts that participated are:

Marcus Bernstein: 1836 Alumni; MKCAD Developer
Brennon Brimhall: Lead Mentor, 6844; TBA Blog Contributor
Tim Flynn: 1257 Alumni & Mentor; TBA Blog Contributor
Zach Orr: The Blue Alliance Developer; FRC Emcee; The Blue Alliance Blog Contributor
Matt Starke: Editor-In-Chief of The Blue Alliance Blog; RSN Analyst
Ruth Toomey: RSN Analyst; TBA Blog Assistant Editor; AM in the PM Producer; FRC1024 Mentor

This article will be different than many others. We took our online discussion and created a transcript of what we talked about. In other words, this article is a stream of consciousness from members of our team.

Enjoy our initial game analysis!

Matt Starke: Wow! What a cool looking game that FIRST came up with this year! I am so excited to see what teams come up with for Destination Deep Space.

Ruth Toomey: This was the most magical kick-off in my first career.

Ruth Toomey: I’ve never been so excited for a new game.

Zach Orr: The flow of the kickoff itself was really polished. I remember the days of meandering speeches – this one moved really well.

Tim Flynn: The pause for Dean’s speech was a nice touch, as was the “hold” for the “water leak”.

Ruth Toomey: The only thing I didn’t like was the shaky cam footage before the animation.

Ruth Toomey: It was pretty confusing and could have been a better executed first look at the field, no pun intended.

Tim Flynn: Blame it on the “sandstorm” I think….

Tim Flynn: Speaking of, thoughts on the driver blackout?

Marcus Bernstein: I like it a lot

Marcus Bernstein: I still expect teams to do autonomous runs

Ruth Toomey: It’s a nice call back to hybrid mode from 2008

Zach Orr: I’m all about the driver blackout – I do not like the removal of full autonomous as a requirement

Marcus Bernstein: Or perhaps have the same auto until x seconds and then they can “pivot” based on single button press

Ruth Toomey: Remember that the autonomous award (presented by Ford) is available at every event this year.

Brennon Brimhall: It’s definitely an interesting dynamic, especially after how critical auto was in 2018.

Marcus Bernstein: Say they have 3 possible paths

Zach Orr: Software feels like what makes great teams stand out from good teams. Moving from full autonomous to driver operated feels like a step backwards, as far as competition goes

Marcus Bernstein: I still expect to see many autonomous sequences during this period

Zach Orr: I don’t know who the change was for necessarily – the bar is pretty low for autonomous (most recently – you got points for just making it over a line)

Ruth Toomey: I foresee a lot of button boards with prepared actions to execute, with kill-switches

Brennon Brimhall: I’m not sure I agree with that; I’m coming from an area that traditionally has weaker programming.

Zach Orr: but I love the mechanism. The blackout shades are cool.

Brennon Brimhall: Big fan of the change.

Matt Starke: I’m not sure what to think about not requiring auto. I still thinking that many teams will use auto. Many teams will find they can “consistently” score something with an auto verses trying to drive with a webcam on their robot. I don’t think many teams have enough experience with doing quality webcam work that it will override their experience with auto.

Marcus Bernstein: ^^^strongly agreed

Tim Flynn: All I know is that I want a wide-angle webcam 🙂

Ruth Toomey: It does effectively give us the auto e-stop people were calling for last season after the Plainfield District Event

Zach Orr: Autonomous in FRC has always felt like the “hard” part for some teams. This change feels like lowering the floor (making the “auton” portion of the game easier for teams) as opposed to raising the floor (making it easier for teams to execute good autons)

Zach Orr: I would’ve rather have seen the latter happen, but I understand that’s a very tough thing to do

Ruth Toomey: 1619 and 319 worked on a public database of autons last year to try and raise the bottom, albeit artificially

Brennon Brimhall: Moving from autonomous for a bit – one other thing I would have liked to see this year is a simpler field. Very hard for lower-resource teams to put together stuff for practice.

Ruth Toomey: I like that the hatch scoring zones are at the same height

Ruth Toomey: You can effectively build one space ship

Matt Starke: The subtle no “bumper clearance” on the rocket is a nice touch to make it more difficult in some areas of the field. It allows for difference in designs.

Zach Orr: I love games with fields that have nice open areas – things feel higher action. Games like 2010, 2014, and 2016 felt slower to me because teams get physically separated on the field

Ruth Toomey: It’s definitely my favorite field since 2007

Ruth Toomey: It’s pretty open, no true vision blocking

Matt Starke: Similar to what Zach said, It’s interesting that the field is split in half where everything is on your half of the field (Like Recycle Rush), but there is no physical divider. This should allow for dynamic game play.

Ruth Toomey: The throwback to 2010 and 2006 with defensive zones is cool

Tim Flynn: I feel like the game is definitely paying homage to seasons prior, but given game piece similarity we might see homages in robot design. Any convergence you all collectively expect?

Brennon Brimhall: I think smart teams will look at 2012-era intakes for sure.

Ruth Toomey: I think the rocket ships are straight out of 2016, too

Marcus Bernstein: Teams will take inspiration from the older games in terms of endgame as well

Matt Starke: I agree with Ruth. The first old robots I thought of were 330 and 148 in 2016.

Tim Flynn: I think we’re gonna see comparisons drawn to 2013 and 2017 for the hatch covers specifically truthfully, but 2012 and 2016 will definitely see inspiration drawn from them.

Ruth Toomey: Did we see these balls somewhere in 2000-2002?

Matt Starke: 2004 had very similar balls as game objects in FIRST Frenzy.

Ruth Toomey: This is the real Recycle Rush

Tim Flynn: They recycled the towers, the platforms from 2018, and yet it feels like a brandy new game.

Zach Orr: Do we think people will prioritize climbing in their habitat during endgame? I think we can take a lot from others years and apply them to this year’s end game.

Ruth Toomey: There’s also platforms from 2006

Tim Flynn: I think we’re gonna see quite a few level 2 Habitat Climbs, but level 3 is going to be akin to double-lifts during 2007.

Ruth Toomey: There’s a maximum of 36 points in end game 😉

Matt Starke: It’s interesting that you need 15 points to get the 1 RP with climbing. That means that you need at least two robots getting the climb at the end.

Marcus Bernstein: 30″ extension and 12 points per robot make for some interesting bold ideas in the endgame

Tim Flynn: Marcus, remember, 30 inches in either direction.

Tim Flynn: We’re going to see some incredibly adventurous designs.

Ruth Toomey: And nothing about extending below the robot or not

Matt Starke: How about the ramp bots from past years? Could teams help each other to get to the top platform?

Zach Orr: That was my first thought. I think we’ll see some teams decide end game is important enough to design their robot around helping other robots scale.

Ruth Toomey: The important thing is that you can get the RP with just two robots, at level 3 and level 1

Marcus Bernstein: The collaborative lifting from Power-Up just last season gives me high hopes for teams working together in-match

Marcus Bernstein: That will provide BIG points for the highest levels of play

Ruth Toomey: Let’s talk about maximum score for a minute. I’m calculating it at a theoretical 154

Ruth Toomey: It’s 151 if you can’t fully support two robots by a single level two platform

Matt Starke: My initial reaction is I think we will see close to maximum scores this year. With 3 robots, how many “cycles” would you need to complete to get all scoring objects in place?

Ruth Toomey: I think we’re maxing out in week 3

Marcus Bernstein: You’ll see defense bring that down after a while, but we could certainly see max scores

Matt Starke: Everything being on your side of the field, fast cycle times will mean it will come down to planning on which robots are going where. So, you can slow down your opponents from doing the same sooner in the match.

Marcus Bernstein: Will those cycle times factor in robots that can pick up panels from the ground? Will robots be able to pick up cargo from the ground?

Ruth Toomey: You can only have one robot on defense which can’t extend outside the frame perimeter, and more than enough game pieces per side that starvation isn’t likely.

Matt Starke: That is a good point Ruth. I agree with Marcus that ground pickup will be interesting, especially from a defensive robot perspective.

Matt Starke: What is neat this year is that FIRST was able to incorporate a game piece that we have not seen at all in past years. The hatch panels are completely different and will need design considerations.

Marcus Bernstein: teams are drawing similarities to 2017 gears in terms of placement tactics

Marcus Bernstein: they are also reminiscent of 2013 but you can only draw intake inspiration from 2013 robots

Tim Flynn: We arrived at the same conclusion for 2017 parallels during our team talk.

Tim Flynn: I’m…. excited.

Marcus Bernstein: Strongly agree there! Lots of fun elements to this game

Matt Starke: I am really excited for this game as well. It has a huge amount of potential to be one of the best FRC games.

Matt Starke: Why don’t we conclude our conversation with a thought from everyone on what teams need to make sure they do or consider for this game. In other words, what has really stuck out to you about Destination Deep Space?

Zach Orr: The sandstorm feels like the freshest thing we’ve seen in FRC in a while. I’m interested to see the impact it will have on the game.

Ruth Toomey: Teams should take note of the increased weight limit – an extra 5 pounds can make a big impact when you’re spending resource points on your design talks. And for the love of God, put vision on your robot.

Marcus Bernstein: There are a lot of new and different challenges to overcome in this game. I am almost certain there will be teams that accomplish them all with confidence, please strongly consider if you team is one of them. Destination: Deep Space provides a lot of room for lower or medium resource teams to be successful by specialization. There will be teams who win events without ever manipulating a ball and there will be teams who win events without ever manipulating a panel. The same can be said for many games, but stay within your teams capabilities and you will have success this season!

Zach Orr: presented by the Boeing Company

Tim Flynn: I’m incredibly excited for this year and the distinct challenge it provides.  That being said, I really do think that building within your means is your best course no matter your skill or resource level.  Specialization is going to be killer, so good luck teams!

Matt Starke: I agree with what everyone has said here. Make sure to take some time this week and read the rules a few times. There are many items that are subtle differences this year from past game manuals. These differences can hurt your robot design if they are not accounted for. The first real field that everyone will interact with is Week 0 or Week 1, so you have to make sure to account for the differences now.

Matt Starke: Thank you for reading everyone! We are excited to see how Destination Deep Space turns out!

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