VFTC - Taking FIRST Robotics to the virtual

Hey all!

Here goes nothing. . . .

First of all, I am a member of a FIRST Tech Challenge team, Team 452. For those of you who are unfamiliar with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), you can visit http://www.usfirst.org/who/default.aspx?id=34.

Anyway, another team member (registered here as zjpahle) and myself have taken it upon ourselves to use Blender to create the entire FIRST Tech Challenge game, with the purpose of creating software that is distributable and cross platform. The software is to be used to aid with robot prototyping, driver training, and of course to have fun with. As this focuses on the game, I guess I should try to summarize it.

The game is played upon a 12 x 12 foot foam field, which is surrounded by 11.5 inch tall panels. On the field are four robots, with one team per robot. The teams are paired into two competing alliances. The goal of the game is to out-score the opposing alliance. There are two sections to the scoring: an autonomous period and a user control period. In both periods, points are scored by placing pucks, of which there are 72 for each team, on/in one of three goals located in the center of the field. The bottom goal is at ground level and is square. A puck on that goal scores one point. The second goal is a circular lexan (Plexiglas) goal on top of the bottom goal. This goal is 12 inches tall, and scores 3 points per puck. Finally, there is a triangular goal, also lexan, in center of the circular goal, and it is 20 inches tall. A puck here scores 5 points. For more detail regarding the game, you can see http://www.usfirst.org/uploadedFiles/Community/FTC/FTC_Documents_and_Updates/2008/2008%20FTC%20Game%20Manual%20-%20Complete%20Manual.pdf.

With that in mind, we are trying to create a duplication of this in the Blender Game Engine. This does not mean appearance wise, but physics, motion, etc,-wise. Eventually, we are hoping to have multi-player modes and network (server & clients) mode. Of course, we just have to get the single player working first.

Work worth noting so far:
A nearly dimensionally correct field
A fully textured field using GLSL materials
Realisticly moving pucks
A functional menu system
Mostly functional puck hoppers using IPO’s.

In progress:
Realistic robot movement
Tweaking of the puck hopper IPO’s
Adding a timer
Adding a scoring system

Future Goals:
Robot linked from an external .blend file
Multi-player modes

  • Server system
  • Client system
    Settings system

The most recent version of the game can be found at:
Name: VFTC v1.0.7.blend
URL: http://www.mediafire.com/?uizzjjm2jnm
Current requirements:
60.3 MB Drive space
One gamepad.
Blender 2.48a. Other versions will crash when you start the game.
GLSL compatible graphics card

Anyway, the game is a work in progress. While I am not looking for help with it, I am hoping that I can get some feedback regarding the game, and as we are new to the game engine, pointers will be greatly appreciated. Also, if you have questions regarding FIRST, the FIRST Tech Challenge game, what we are trying to work towards, my FTC team, etc, please ask, as I am trying to keep this from being too long, and I will be very happy to answer them.

From reading your post, it looks like a nice start; however, do you have any screenshots or a .blend you could show us? I would like to see a bit more of how the project looks.

EditL Sorry, I didn’t see the link for the blend. Looks good though!

Ok. First of all to clear up any possible confusion (Thank you LDS_Marine for brining this to my attention!).

As for attachments, it seems BlenderArtists is not letting use attachements (:confused:). Of course, with the game just under 60mb, that is not of significant loss. Right now there are two ways to download this. The first is an installer that will install the game as exported to a .exe: http://www.mediafire.com/?2nyzjurmmkm. The second is the actual .blend file that the .exe comes from: http://www.mediafire.com/?gyxlzlx401d. Screenshots can be seen at http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3506/3184466080_2c2ce00e4f_o_d.jpg and http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3110/3184466028_3ff5203ce5_o_d.jpg.

Anyway, between this release and the last one, while appearence-wise they are similar, mesh, IPO, and BGE logic brick wise they are quite different. We have spent a bit of time cleaning up all of the meshes and also tweaking some dimensions to be more accurate to the actual field specs. For the IPOs, we have been steadily tweaking the IPOs for the puck racks. For the BGE logic bricks, we have started fresh with the bot, and have acheived a much more realistic motion, especially with the arms. One thing to note is that we now have a strange issue with the smaller arm getting caught on the large arm.

The most major difference is the addition of a timer. This brings up a question: how do you get the value of a timer? I am using an expression allong the lines of “If ((Clock % 60) % 10) >= 0 AND ((Clock % 60) % 10) < 1)”, send this message, that the “numbers” on the clock will get, which will tell them what frame to be in on their IPO. My problem is that Blender is telling me that it can’t find “Clock” in that expression. Any advice?

Secondly is metal with GLSL materials. We have spent a significant amount of time trying to get our “aluminum” bot looking like aluminum, but so far the cheap plastic look that we have now is the best we have gotten. Any one have any experience on metal in GLSL that they could share?

I would like to write a little more, but as it is already really late, I will leave you with that.

Oh, those of you who do download and try our game, could you reply with:

  1. You systems specs (CPU, RAM, Graphics card)
  2. How well the game ran on your machine
    We are trying to figure out what the minimum system requirements should be, and this is the only way we can think of to figure it out. So far, these seem to be the minimum system requirements:
    CPU: 2.0 ghz Celeron or better
    RAM: 1gb for WinXP and 2gb for Vista (Not sure why it is so different, but it is)
    Graphics Card: ATI x1300 w/ 256mb vid ram or better

Thank you!

Looks very interesting… I looked at the screenshots, and it looks like a FIRST competition to me. Im downloading the EXE now, and will edit later to critique it.

As for FIRST, I used to be a part of it. I was on a few of the prototype teams for the LEGO mindstorms competitions over a few years. We would test the competition and see what the difficulty level would be, and if it was possible to complete the given course. I was 10 years old at the time, so most of us didnt do very well… I had ambitions of going on to the higher-ranking FIRST competitions, but I’m a terrible programmer so I quickly gave them up.

EDIT: gameplay ran slow on my machine, but the models and everything looked great. Good job, keep it up!