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Robot Arena 2: Design and Destroy is a computer game developed by Gabriel Entertainment. It is the sequel to Robot Arena. Compared to its predecessor, it has many new features, such as the Havok physics engine, fully 3-D environments (Robots are now able to leave the ground), and the player's capability to completely design one's robot. This includes chassis design, weapon placement, mechanics, and paint, among others. The "cheatbot" code from the original returns, this time offering a Hovercraft engine, a magnet, a flamethrower, and a cannon (though an upgrade patch is required for the cheat to take effect). Weapons are completely customizable, including things such as mounting weapons on various attachments, such as poles, disks, and tri-bars. Although the original was not received well by players, this game has a very small (but dedicated) fanbase and 1 small community is still active today.
For a sequel to a game that received low ratings, Robot Arena 2 had a massive community and following. Although all but one of the original "pioneers" of Robot Arena 2 have long since moved on and the websites have gone offline or stagnant, their works are still shared among users in the communities new and old alike, on the single surviving forum, GameTechMods.[ ]
The Official Site
From the beginning days of Robot Arena, the franchise maintained a website that along with facilities for purchasing the two games and downloading patches, provided a popular forum for gamers to exchange tips and skins and to arrange online battles on. Once RA2 came along, it became more lively, with people showcasing their newly built robots and continuing to engage in the aforementioned activities. Once the breakthroughs were made so custom components and custom AI opponents could be created, a section was added for releasing them. The site continued to enjoy a high level of activity up until mid-2008, when it closed permanently. All discussion rapidly shifted to gametechmods, with all the other sites having closed beforehand.
AceUplink was a popular site and heaven for many Robot Arena 2 fans, although some people felt the administration were tyrants and blocked anyone who posted something they didn't like. It is remembered in very different veins by different people, some who viewed it with hatred, others who look back on it as the centre of the RA2 universe.
The original AI of Robot Arena 2 was less than impressive (Although arguably better than the original's), save for the exception of one Heavyweight: The dreaded flipper EMERGENCY. This led many members of AceUplink to create a special AI pack featuring some famous robots from BattleBots to increase the challenge. Over a period of months, some of the more industrious AceUplink members created custom components, weapons, motors, and chassis that, in the end, looked stunningly like their real-life counterparts. Some of the robots featured included Nightmare, Warhead, Minion, Son of Whyachi, Killerhurtz, Ziggo, Mechavore, Diesector, Hazard, Toro, Mauler 5150, Code Black, Phrisbee, Frostbite, Iceberg, Center Punch, Deathstar, T-Wrex, GoldDigger, Double Agent, Village Idiot, T-Minus, Hexy Jr. Voltronic, Garm, Final Destiny, Junkyard Dog 2.0, Herr Gepounden, Slam Job, Death By Monkeys, Wedge Of Doom, The Judge, Little Drummer Boy, The Matador, Backlash, Knee Breaker, Vladiator, Moebius, Turtle Road Kill, Techno Destructo, Surgeon General, Atomic Wedgie, and M.O.E., among others. The pack of robots was extremely difficult, many could not even be harmed save for a tiny chassis housing the Robot Control Board, which was nearly completely encompassed by very durable parts. Nevertheless, the pack livened up the game considerably. AceUplink no longer exists, but the pack can still be found on gametechmods, and a few of the robots are featured in the DSL-TC mod.
J. Andre "Radio F Software" Bardin, an ex-AceUpink staff user (see above), claimed that he could out-perform AceUplink with his own website. The first version of that website, "RFSHQ", launched on February 12, 2004 (February 12 was AceUplink's domain renewal date) and was used as a place to host the various modifications and upgrades he coded himself. The "RFS AI Pack" was included in this collection, which was an influential piece of coding because it expanded the original limits of the game to allow more features and competitors, something which had never been done before. After the release of the RFS AI Pack the code was disassembled and other users began to use the expansion code.
During its beginning months RFSHQ existed largely as an attack website against rival community AceUplink. In the very early months of the website's operation articles were written that highlighted "frauds" done by AceUplink staff members. In 2005 AceUplink went offline, not because of the quiet attacks from RFSHQ, but because of a hosting contract expiration. Because of its size, RFSHQ kept afloat by assimilating smaller websites on the verge of closing. One such site was Robot Arena Reborn which hosted a database full of every modification to date for Robot Arena 2. Once the files traded hands this database became the main attraction of RFSHQ.
RFSHQ was one of the last Robot Arena 2 communities that was active throughout the game's lifespan and was actively updated from 2004 until 2008, ranking as the second longest running Robot Arena website beaten only by AceUplink. It is worth noting after a couple of years of operation RFSHQ shifted format to a comedy website akin to Something Awful, but kept a running theme with Robot Arena 2 throughout the remainder of the website's existence. In July 2008, RFSHQ lead writer and creator J. Andre Bardin (now known under the moniker "Dracophile") retired from his position citing his interest in pursuing himself and his personal life as his reasons for his departure. RFSHQ's database remains online but is no longer updated, and at the moment, has a notable lack of activity compared to the time when it was updated with content on a whenever basis. The future of the website is currently unknown.
J. Andre Bardin is currently a game designer and consultant employed by TrackMill Games Inc, a company owned and managed by one of his friends from the Robot Arena 2 community (goose). He also is a guest writer for a few small specialty blogs pertaining to video games and video game culture.
With the deletion of the original forums, Gametechmods is now close to being the official Robot Arena 2 forums (as the robotarena.com site links to the forums). Hosted by the mysterious 'ACAMS', Gametechmods is the official home of DSL-TC total conversion mod, the most advanced modification ever, and is the new home of the (soon to be reinstated) "official robot exchange" where builders can quickly and easily upload and share their robot designs with other players. The official exchange hosted on the Robot Arena 2 website was taken down, which leaves gametechmods.com as a replacement. However, the exchange failed in 2008, and site administrator 'goose' is currently working on adding a new one with more features. While the site does contains very few of the old robots that the previous exchange held, it has amassed a substantial amount of contributors and is still growing every day. Currently, the site hots a basic exchange while goose works his magic.
Gametechmods.com is host to many modders of Robot Arena 2, some of whom have created new components, arenas, AI enemy robots, and even mods to the gme, the most notable being DSL-TC. Some notable modders have even got their own special websites on Gametechmods. They are as follows:
Starcore's website. Starcore created the Starcore AI packs, 3 versions having been released so far and a fourth in alpha stages. They are by far the most famous AI packs ever and are renowned for their difficulty. Starcore also led the original DSL Mod team.
DarkRat's site. DarkRat was a highly renowned component creator, who released 3 packs. He built the replicas for DSL-TC.
The Beetle Brothers' Website. The BeetleBros are renowned for some of the most advanced modding work in RA2 history, by creating the bulk of the DSL-TC V2 mod. They also host the most prestigious tournament, called BBEANS, and still innovate bot building even to this day. The website contains all the videos from the tournaments, and a helpful tutorial on how to make custom components.
Several other people also have websites on gametechmods, for either posting about tournaments (Sage's RAW and Gigafrost's EBLITE) or linking to downloads (Madiaba and Goose)
Several websites mentioned in the Communities section also ran tournaments of their own that would be played online between two or more users. Lag or latency in connections frequently posed problems, along with various connection issues that would prevent users from battling each other, but the majority of these negatives did not stop players from simply enjoying the spirit of the sport.
Official Robot Arena 2 tournaments - RA2T#1 + RA2T#2
A tournament was started by Jimxorb on the official Robot Arena 2 message board with approval from staff, making it the first official tournament. There have been 2 Middle Weight tournaments set up by Jimxorb (Who had previous tournament arranging experience from his Bots4Battle days) on the official website, many people entered and the robot that won the first tournament was a robot designed by Jimxorb and Be0t, using a popup spike inside a wedge design capable of 1-3 hit KOs, power that was at the time unheard of, it was called Death Port 2.
For the second and final tournament Lu-Tze made a new arena that Jimxorb designed, it had corner grinders and low walls, to allow pushers and flippers a chance of success against spinners and axe robots. The well-built arena is still the favourite arena of many players even to this day, it also had an image of Be0t's winning robot printed on the floor of the arena (Part of the prize in the original official tournament.) RA2T#2 was won by Be0t again, this time with Death Port 3 who was solely made and designed by Jimxorb this time to fit Be0t's driving style, although the robot was well built and very powerful it was now a common design. No more tournaments after the second one were ever held.
AceUplink was the home of arguably some of the most successful tournaments in terms of registration numbers. Because of their links with the official Robot Arena 2 website, AceUplink had their foot in the door early on in the life of the game. The first three tournaments were held to a single weight class, but Tournament Four included tournaments for three weight classes, including the custom "Antweight" class created by member "MiniDJBeirne". The fifth tournament which was redubbed "The Onslaught", the first tournament to use a custom arena; a feature later copied in the community. A second Onslaught tournament was organized, but did not last long as interest in the game started fading. The meticulous organization of AceUplink's rules and brackets would later end up being a centerpiece of future tournaments from many other websites. Site staffer "Omega" later contributed rankings based on the results of all completed tournaments. At the time of AceUplink's closing, Omega was #1 ranked with 43 wins and 17 losses.
- Tournament #1 - Lightweight Combat, Best 2 out of 3
- Winner: Ronin2k3 (8-0 Record)
- Tournament #2 - Middleweight Clawtop, Best 3 out of 5
- Winner: AW (12-1 Record)
- Tournament #3 - Middleweight Combat, Best 3 out of 5
- Winner: TeamMaceCo (13-2 Record)
- Tournament #4 - All Weight Combat, Best 3 out of 5, Round-robin prelim
- Antweight Winner: MiniDJBeirne (12-2 Record, 4 ringouts)
- Lightweight Winner: CARP 104 (12-2 Record, 6 ringouts)
- Middleweight Winner: Omegaforce (12-1 Record, 3 KOs, 9 ringouts)
- Tournament #5 - Onslaught (Custom Arena), Best 3 out of 5
- Lightweight Winner: Omega (12-1 Record, 11 KOs, 1 ringout)
- Middleweight Winner: CARP 104 (12-3 Record, 6 KOs, 3 ringouts)
"AW", an Administrator from AceUplink, created some unique arenas to inspire the building of robots that would perform other functions besides fighting. One such arena that was being developed was similar to many FIRST Robotics events where robots would pick up coloured balls and put them into baskets. In theory, successfully putting a ball in a basket would grant you points in the game and the ball(s) would respawn.
DSL Mod tournaments
The DSL Mod included several strange arenas in its upgrade. One such arena was built on the AceUplink ball idea; a soccer arena. The idea of the arena was similar. Robots would try and push a single soccer ball into either the Red or Blue goal to score 2000 points. Points for damage were disabled in this arena, and attacking your opponents was discouraged, and subject to disqualification. Unlike the AceUplink arena, the DSL arena was completed with minimal programming bugs. The soccer ball would respawn in the middle of the arena after a goal was scored. Entrants for the first and only soccer tournament were required to follow a strict "No Weapons" policy and instead used various sheet metal plates to design their own kickers or punters for their robots.
BBEANS (managed by the BeetleBros) was the poineer of a new form of tournament to help eliminate the lag that plagued online tournaments - the AI tournament. This is accomplished by giving AI code to every robot that is entered and running the fights on the "official" computer. Fights are then taped and displayed online for the contenders to see how their autonomous creations did in combat. Most fights are done in a "best 2 out of 3" format in the event of an accident caused due to the various physics problems in the game. With a lack of online human players, there has not been a single online tournament for a reasonable amount of time. BBEANS is renowned as the most prestigious tournament, with 5 editions completed, and a sixth currently underway.
dummy and Sovereign II made early breakthroughs into creating custom components/arenas and AI'ing bots respectively. The community as a whole seized these initiatives and now there are many modifications, some just arenas/components/AI, but some actual mods encompassing all 3 plus other edits to the interface and other features.
After Sovereign II's foray into AI, he released 2 packs but left the community soon after. Fortunately, he left instructions. Soon, RFS, Starcore and Mr. Apocalypse released their AI packs, and before long several more sprung up. AI'ing itself is very simple, thanks to some helpful tutorials, and many members are able to do it.
RFS AI Pack
Though not the first or most advanced modification, RFS AI was an innovative one. Each version of the RFS AI Pack modified a specific part of the game code for AI teams, and each version built upon the previous installment:
- Version 1.0: The original version featured 45 replacement robots (15 teams, 3 robots per team) and did not expand any game boundaries.
- Version 1.2: The follow up version built on the existing teams, allowing six robots per team instead of three, which doubled the count of available computer controlled opponents.
- Version 1.5: The third installment included entirely new teams, bringing the total count to 30 teams of 6 robots for a total of 180 robots.
- Version 1.7: v1.7 was announced, but by this time there was nothing left to expand upon. Four of the fifteen announced teams were created, but later parted off to third party developers for cameo use. Recently RFS announced the 1.7 pack would be completed.
- Version 1.0 DSL: A special AI pack created for the DSL Total Conversion modification, this included just 45 robots and future versions were planned but never developed.
After a short time on the forums, veteran coder Starcore produced his offering to the community: an AI pack. Unlike previous ones, it was not 'realistic', featuring complex spinner designs that he would become famous for. Expanding into 6 bot teams and more complicated tehniques, he would go on to release 2 more versions of the pack, each becoming more deadly. The alpha V4 is regarded as one of the toughest AI modifications to date.
Other Stock AI Modifications
Other members released AI packs, Pysclone and Infiniteinertia creating the hardest ones. Clickbeetle also released a pack containing all the bots from BBEANS 1, 3 and 5.
Other than RFS, nobody before Naryar, a top level DSL builder, had made an AI pack for the mod. He set about creating the 'Starcore of DSL', removing the replicas and adding new bots, as well as personal teams. He also accepted teams from fellow builders. There are some truly deadly robots available to fight in this pack.
There have been some very impressive mods for RA2, such as AU Battlebots AI, Ubermod and RA2:GE. The most advanced are DSL-TC and the upcoming RA2: Backlash.
In the spring of 2004, DarkRat, Starcore and Lu-Tze had reached the point where they had considered leaving RA2. DarkRat was the premier replica bot creator and parts creator, Lu-Tze the innovative parts and arena maker, and Starcore the to AIer of the community having just released the Starcore V2 pack. As a swan song Starcore brought the three of them together to do a final release. To wrap an ultimate pack around DarkRat's replicas of Real Life robots. Most of DarkRat's bots at the time were only picture bots. He with some help from ACAMS, AW and a few others populated the internals of the replicas and Starcore AIed all the replicas to be the 'Stock' bots of the DSL pack. DarkRat continued building an extensive range of parts while Lu-Tze in her final months built most all the arenas of the DSL Total Conversion Mod. The team innovated left and right and worked with the rivaling forums bringing them together to work on more realistic parts and standards for the DSL pack. It was released to critical acclaim, but Lu-Tze sadly died of a brain tumor on October 3, 2004.
goose took over from Starcore as co-ordinator for DSL 2. The BeetleBros, Clickbeetle and Firebeetle, were the main innovators, backed up by goose, Vincent, Madiaba and ACAMS. The brothers added antweight parts, new replicas, new arenas and completely revamped the original Stock AI, creating a new base DSL Stock, with 6 bot teams. They added an antweight team, a team that looked back on Robot Arena 1, and other helpful and innovative new parts. Vincent created a brand new, spectacular UI. And ACAMS, Madiaba and goose did their behind-the-scenes work as they did for DSL 1. Clickbeetle later released the 2.1 patch, fixing a few minor flaws.
Clickbeetle is currently the only person known to be working on DSL 3, which will feature upgraded replicas, SHW's, a new race mode and a few components/bug fixes. It is unknown if Firebeetle, goose or ACAMS or anybody else is helping him at this point in time, although Madiaba and Trovaner, another contributor, are always making/suggesting tweaks.
JoeBlo, a newer member to the community, quickly learnt to create components and arenas, and in October 2009, set about creating his own standalone version entitled 'RA2: Backlash' and mod that 'Amps up the damage, speed and power of motors, drive, weapons, etc. and reduces the HP and fracture of everything, thus making it really destructive.'
The mod features new game modes, AI, components, arenas, UI and more. It is currently coming up to its next beta release.
The default robots are as follows. Many of the robots have real-life counterparts, usually BattleBots and Robot Wars. These are listed in parentheses.
- Red Zone
- Lightweight: Scout (Hexy Jr.)
- Middleweight: ALARM (Rhino)
- Heavyweight: Sentinel (Vlad the Impaler, Panic Attack)
- Lightweight: Roly Poly (None)
- Middleweight: SaberTooth (Jaws of Death, Kan Opener, Big Nipper)
- Heavyweight: Grog, the Warrior (Grendel)
- The Good Ol' Boys
- Lightweight: Catfish (None)
- Middleweight: Mud Runner (Pressure Drop)
- Heavyweight: BEAR (Splinter)
- Team Dragon
- Lightweight: Ninja (Dr. Inferno Jr.)
- Middleweight: Bushido (None)
- Heavyweight: Ronin (Alien 2)
- BLACK STORM
- Lightweight: BOT-204 (Ankle Biter)
- Middleweight: Devil (Timmy)
- Heavyweight: Coal Miner (Flash Forward, Tornado)
- Team SPARK
- Lightweight: JACKPOT! (Mortis)
- Middleweight: The Boxer (Cassius Chrome)
- Heavyweight: EMERGENCY (Vlad the Impaler)
- Lightweight: M.A.D. (Hammerhead)
- Middleweight: Dementia (None)
- Heavyweight: Little Metal Friend (Jaws of Death, Kan Opener, Big Nipper)
- North Polers
- Lightweight: MiniBerg (Hammertime)
- Middleweight: Iceberg (Hammertime)
- Heavyweight: SnowJob (Frostbite, IceBerg)
- HIGH VOLTAGE
- Lightweight: Flapjack (Hexy Jr.)
- Middleweight: BackSlash (Biohazard)
- Heavyweight: Wide Load (None)
- Team HEX
- Lightweight: Flame Chopper (Shrike, Killerhurtz)
- Middleweight: LugNut (Jack Rabbit)
- Heavyweight: Hanky Panky (Bacchus)
- Team Z
- Lightweight: Berserker (Ziggo, Son of Whyachi, Megabyte)
- Middleweight: Razor (Bad Attitude)
- Heavyweight: Eye Poker (Monster, Tornado, Rammstein, T.R.A.C.I.E)
- SteelYard Dog
- Lightweight: Lil' Dog (Double Agent, The Crusher)
- Middleweight: Da Dog (Punjar, La Machine)
- Heavyweight: Big Dog (Punjar, Doom Of Babylon, La Machine)
- Lightweight: Civil Disobedience (Kill-O-Amp)
- Middleweight: REVENGE (M.O.E., Knee Breaker, Fluffy)
- Heavyweight: Raptor (Terrorhurtz, Beta)
- Lightweight: Stinger (None)
- Middleweight: Tornado (Mauler 51-50, Son of Whyachi)
- Heavyweight: DEADBEAT (The Judge, Beta)
- The Scrappers
- Lightweight: Arc Pounder (Herr Gepounden, Stinger)
- Middleweight: Ripblade (Backlash, Nightmare, S3)
- Heavyweight: Backyard Ripper (Afterthought, Bender)
There are also six example robots for the player to experiment with when they start the game:
- The Rookies
- Middleweight: C.R.U.S.H. (Killerhurtz, Deadblow)
- Lightweight: Sting Ray (Horrifica)
- Middleweight: BOT-CHOY (Diesector)
- Middleweight: Forkie (Forklift)
- Middleweight: Atom Smasher (Kan Opener, Big Nipper, Jaws of Death)
- Heavyweight: Walrus (None)
There are also three "secret" example bots that can only be seen with the "Import Robot" command.
- Team n/a
- Heavyweight: BarberShop Chop (Heavy Metal Noise)
- Middleweight: Spin Bonker (Mauler)
- Middleweight: Tailwhip (Blade Runner, GoldDigger, T-Wrex)
Havok explosions and glitches
One of the main reasons behind the game's relative commercial failure was the relative instability of the Havok physics engine. Several glitches were discovered revolving around the physics engine, and various others happened randomly. The inevitable result were "Havok Explosions", which often sent robots flying, and would often cause a robot to land upside down (Usually immobilising it) or into arena hazards, sometimes resulting in an unfair victory of the other robot. Additionally, several glitches in the game itself decreased the accuracy of the game. Examples of these glitches included "overlapping by loading or eFFe'ing", which allowed several components on a robot to take up the same space, and "the chicken glitch", which allowed extremely rapid rotation of an object. These glitches allowed complicated and powerful robots to be made, and quickly became a staple of the community.
Additionally, the advent of AAM (advanced attaching method) allowed for even more complex robots. AAM is a technique in which the .gmf file of one component temporarily replaces that of another component. The other component is then placed on a robot, and the .gmf files are returned to normal. The net effect of this is that the builder can place components where it would not normally be possible due to space restrictions. This, and other 'out of bot lab' techniques are normally frowned on by the community, as they creates robots that couldn't have been otherwise and is considered "cheating".
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/RA2wiki/index.php?title=RFS#RFSHQ
- ↑ http://beetlebros.gametechmods.com/modding.htm
- ↑ http://beetlebros.gametechmods.com/bbeans/index.htm
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/uploads/files/AI-Chart-2.3.rar
- ↑ http://rfshq.com/pafiledb/uploads/TUTORIALS/Making-AI-Robots.html
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/forums/index.php?page=page3951
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/RA2wiki/index.php?title=RFS_AI_Pack
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/forums/index.php?topic=212.0
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/forums/index.php?topic=854.0
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/forums/index.php?topic=1305.0
- ↑ http://www.robotarena.info
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/forums/index.php/topic,4717.0.html
- ↑ http://beetlebros.gametechmods.com/ra2techs.htm
- ↑ http://gametechmods.com/RA2wiki/index.php?title=Robot_Arena_2
- Official Robot Arena 2 Website
- Gametechmods, home to DSL and more)
- JoeBlo's Site, home to Backlash, Clash Cubes and other useful downloads
- RA-Reborn Download Database (now hosted on RFSHQ)
- BBEANS Tournament
- Official website of the Robot Arena 2 Gigafrost Edition Pack
- GameFAQs Guide/FAQ
- GMF Toolkit