The crowd is much like any other crowd at a packed game competition − buzzing with nervous excitement and cheering profusely for their favorite alliance. Like most games, this one involves focusing on scoring the most points. The players are just as competitive, weaving around each other in aggressive fervor. When things get intense, throat−clenching silence sweeps over the audience. This year, the game will be even more zealous, involving throwing Frisbees, climbing pyramids, and utilizing strategy to clear the path to a victorious triumph. This is a FIRST competition.
At a FIRST FRC competition, teams take part in whatever competition the FIRST committee developed and announced in early January of each season. These games involve robots racing in circles, throwing Frisbees, scoring points, and other tasks set forth by FIRST. Drivers control the robots during Teleop from the sidelines after the Autonomous period.
The pits are opposite to the field of play, divided by a curtain. Here, teams maintain their robots, duct-taping cracked welds and mourning snapped shafts. Judges walk about the pits, speaking to teams about their designs. Occasionally, VIPs, including politicians and high-ranking corporate representatives, will browse the pits, observing and fawning over the robots.
The competition concludes with an elaborate award ceremony. Awards are given to the winning robot alliance, as well as several other teams for various awards, such as Design Excellence and Gracious Professionalism. The ceremony concludes with the Engineering Inspiration and Chairman's awards, the highest awards attainable in FRC Competition.
The game for 2013 is called Ultimate Ascent. Teams compete on three-team alliances against one other three-team alliance. The objective is to score points by launching foam plastic Frisbees into as many goals as possible.
At the beginning of the game, the robots start touching their own alliance’s pyramid, holding two Frisbees each. 10 of the Frisbees are placed around the arena and human players may supply robots with 118 more Frisbees though feeding slots. There are 6 alliance-colored disks, which are used to score at the summit of the pyramid. The first 15 seconds of the match are called the Autonomous period. During this time, robots are controlled by a preset program and goals are twice the amount of points. After the first 15 seconds elapse, the 2-minute Teleop period begins, and human players control the robots from the sidelines. For the rest of the match, the highest goal is worth three points per Frisbee, the 2 middle goals are worth two points per Frisbee, and the low goal is worth one point per Frisbee. Points can also be scored by climbing and hanging from the alliance pyramid at the end of the game.
Finally, points are awarded via fouls. Teams are penalized for various infractions such as damaging the arena or other robots, putting Frisbees in the opposite alliance’s pyramid goal, or violating other rules. Fouls are less serious than technical fouls. If a foul is given, the opposing team receives three points, and if a technical foul is given, the opposing team receives nine points.
The strategy team is given the task of assisting in the design of a robot that will be best suited for a particular strategy for the current year’s game. In order to be successful, the strategy team must become experts on the rulebook of the game and understand all details of the game inside and out. They then give recommendations to the design team after considering the pros and cons of each design and strategy. This team also manages the training of human players and drivers/backup drivers for this year’s game, holding tryouts to determine the best candidate. Later in the season, the scouting database of the strategy team becomes vital to our success as they observe the matches, in addition to the strengths and weaknesses of other teams in order to determine which teams would be best suited to work with us in an alliance.