Colors, Themes, and Mimic Bots!

Colors, Themes, and Mimic Bots!

If you’ve been checking out the FIRST® Global RoboCo Challenge, you’ve probably noticed that robots in RoboCo can now have user-defined colors! This is very exciting for us on the development team. Seeing the new robot colors come in and the variety they have added, we feel like Dorothy entering Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz.

We’ve always wanted custom color, so back in RoboCo’s earliest prototype days, we added a handful of 1x1x1 colored blocks as the simplest thing to do. You’ve probably seen them used in whimsical creations like this. As the only colored blocks we provided were cube-shaped, this unfortunately tended to discourage players from using other structural shapes like wedges or curved ramps that were only available in the default grey.

The 1x1x1 colored blocks were only meant to be a temporary placeholder for an actual color painting system that would offer a wider variety of colors and could be applied to all the different parts in the game: blocks, motors, gears, cosmetics… you name it. As development continued, we had to focus on other more gameplay-critical features, so the painting system had to be deferred pending more investment, and the placeholder colored blocks stuck around a lot longer than we had imagined.

With the FIRST® Global RoboCo Challenge (FGRC), that began to change. The build that participants used for the FGRC was limited to a partial implementation of our intended design, as we knew we would not have time to implement and test the full system before the challenge began. But we’re happy to say we now have pretty much the full color painting system in place for internal use and future user tests.

Here’s a glimpse of the tools that players will have available…

Color Themes

To make it easy to keep your robot looking color-coordinated across numerous parts, we built the foundations of RoboCo’s paint system around the notion of color themes. You can create, edit, and apply color themes from the theme management panel.

Paint Tool: Theme Mode

But theme management is so… managerial. What if you’re the type of artist who likes to get paint all over your hands as you work directly with your masterpiece? That’s where the paint tool comes in. It has three modes: theme, fill, and detail.

If you want to apply themes to parts, you could select them and use the theme management panel, but you can also use the paint tool in theme mode. This of course helps to switch between any multi-colored themes you may have in mind, like mint-chocolate or candy cane. But even if you want to paint something all red, you may bear in mind that parts consist of multiple facets, so it can be helpful to apply a theme with multiple shades of red so the part has more nuance and looks extra slick.

You can click the paint tool on parts one by one to make targeted color changes or hold down the mouse button to spray-paint multiple parts as your cursor moves over them.

Paint Tool: Fill Mode

You can quickly make all facets of a part the same color using fill mode. Because why have only some purple, when you could have ALL THE PURPLE. Filled-in colors override the theme.

Paint Tool: Detail Mode

And if you want everything just right, you can change the facets of a part using detail mode. Detail colors also override the theme.

One last fun thing to share.… It didn’t take long for our UX designer Joe to discover the best part of the new robot colors: you can make mimic bots!

We hope you’ll find as much delight and creative expression in the new color painting system as we have! An early working title we had internally for our RoboCo game was RoboEngineers, so sometimes we still refer to our dev team and players as RoboEngineers. Now it’s time for RoboArtists to have their day as well!

And that’s it for this week’s devblog! Which of your robots are you most excited to color? Let us know in the comments below! Happy painting!

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