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RoboCup SPL and Humanoid League GameController

This is the GameController further developed by the Humanoid League based on the GameController from the SPL Team B-Human

If there are any questions, please contact Please read this README carefully to avoid questions that are already answered within the document or the TCM.

For questions regarding the protocol please check the Wiki.

The sources mentioned in some sections of this document are available at

Upcoming changes (2018)

  • Removal of Illegal Defense and Illegal Attack
  • Allow Adult league to play drop in 2 vs. 2
  • Skip extra time in knockout games
  • Fix point counting on drop in challenge
  • Fix "GameController goes to extended time even in normal mode"
  • Highlight and make "current goalkeeper" changeable in UI

See CHANGELOG for more details and history.


The development was partially supported by the RoboCup Federation within the calls for Support for Projects for League Developments for 2013, 2015 and 2017.

1. Building from Source

To build it from the source code you may use Apache Ant. Just call "ant" in the main directory.

Building the source code requires the JDK 1.8 or newer.

2. GameController

Executing the Jar

Double-click GameController.jar or run


cd build/jar
java -jar GameController.jar {options}
(-h | --help)                   display help
(-t | --test)                   use test-mode - currently only disabling the
                                delayed switch to playing in SPL
(-i | --interface) <interface>  set network interface (default is a
                                connected IPv4 interface)
(-l | --league) (spl | spl_dropin | hl_kid | hl_teen | hl_adult)
                                select league (default is spl)
(-w | --window)                 select window mode (default is fullscreen)

Start Dialog

Select your league. The default can be specified as a command line parameter (see above).

Pick the two teams that are playing. They have to be different teams. If you are practicing alone, use the "Invisibles" as second team.

SPL: The GameController automatically selects the jersey colors as defined in the file "teams.cfg". The left teams jersey color is picked first regardless if it has a custom jersey or not. For both teams, the first jersey color that they have and, if picking second, that does not conflict with the jersey color of the opponent is selected in the following sequence:

  • Left team: custom 1, custom 2, blue, red
  • Right team: custom 1, custom 2, red, blue

The GameController operator can switch each teams color to their secondary color if it is necessary to distinguish the jersey colors.

You also have to select whether you play a game in the preliminaries or a play-off game. In the preliminaries the clock will continue to run during game stoppages and there will be no penalty shootout in case of a draw. In play-off games, the clock will be stopped and there may be penalty shootout.

HL: You also have to select whether you play a normal game or a knock-out game. A knock-out game will continue after a draw with two halves of extra time (if goals were scored before) and then a penalty shoot-out if necessary. You can also select whether teams exchange their colors in the halftime.

You can select whether the GameController should run in fullscreen mode or in windowed mode. Note that the fullscreen mode does not work correctly on some Linux desktops, because although they report to Java that they would support this feature, they do not.

Main Screen

The use of the main screen should be rather obvious in most cases. Therefore, we only focus on the specialties.

When ever you made a mistake, use the undo history at the bottom of the screen to correct it. You cannot correct individual decisions (except for the last one). Instead, you can only roll back to a certain state of the game. Click the oldest decision in the history you want to undo. After that all decisions that would be undone will be marked. Click the decision again to actually undo it together with all decisions that followed.

To penalize a robot, first press the penalty button, then the robot button. The only exception is the state "Set" in playoff games, in which the "Motion in Set" penalty is preselected and robots can be penalized by simply clicking on them (selecting other penalties is still possible). For unpenalizing a robot, just press the robot button. A robot can only be unpenalized, when its penalty time is over or when the game state changes (SPL only). Ten seconds before the penalty time is over, the robot's button starts flashing yellow. For regular penalties, it continues to flash until the button is pressed. Only buttons of robots that were requested for pickup stop flashing after ten seconds and simply stay yellow until they are pressed, as a reminder that the robot can return as soon as it is ready. Robots with a "Motion in Set" penalty stay on the field and will be automatically unpenalized 15 seconds after pressing the button "Play".

Before unpenalizing a robot that was taken off the field, please make sure that it was put back on the field by the assistant referees. For that reason, robots are never unpenalized automatically.

To substitute a robot, press "Substitute" and then the robot that should leave the field. Afterwards, any of the substitutes can be activated. If the robot that is replaced is already penalized, its substitute inherits the penalty. If it is not, the substitute can immediately enter the field in the HL, but gets a "request for pickup" penalty before it can enter the field in the SPL.

When pressing the big "+" (goal), "Timeout", or "Global Game Stuck", the other team gets the next kick-off.

SPL: When the referee decides that too much game time has been lost, use the thin "+" next to the clock to increase the game time in one-minute steps. This is only available during stoppages of play.

Penalty Shootout

In the penalty shootout, press "Set" and place the robots in their correct locations. Press "Play" to start a single shot. The penalty shot is ended by either pressing "+" for the penalty taker or by pressing "Finish" if the shot failed. In both cases, a penalty shot ends in the state "Finished". Press "Set" again to start the next shot.


While the GameController is running, you may use the following keys on the keyboard instead of pushing buttons:

Esc       - press it twice to close the GameController
Delete    - toggle test-mode (everything is legal, every button is visible
            and enabled)
Backspace - undo last action

only SPL

B    - out by blue
R    - out by red
Y    - out by yellow
K    - out by black
     - the new team colors implemented for RoboCup 2016 do not yet have a key

P    - pushing
L    - leaving the field
I    - fallen / inactive / local game stuck
D    - illegal defender
G    - kickoff goal 
O    - illegal ball contact
U    - request for pickup
C    - coach motion
T    - teammate pushing
S    - substitute

only Humanoid-League

B    - out by blue
R    - out by red

M    - ball manipulation
P    - physical contact
A    - illegal attack
D    - illegal defense
I    - service / incapable
S    - substitute

Adding teams to the GameController

The teams registered in the GameController are determined using the config file located at config/<league name>/teams.cfg relative the the GameController.jar. To add teams to it, lines composed of <team number>=<team name> may be added to this file. Optionally, the primary and secondary team colors may be added behind the team name, separated by commas.

Team logos lie in the same directory as the config file with the corresponding team number as the file name.

3. GameStateVisualizer

As of the 2017 RoboCup competitions, the GameStateVisualizer has been replaced by the GameStateVisualizer mode of the TeamCommunicationMonitor.

To start it, run

java -jar TeamCommunicationMonitor.jar --gsv.

4. TeamCommunicationMonitor

The TeamCommunicationMonitor (TCM) is a tool for visualizing the data communicated by robots during SPL games.

It serves two main purposes:

  1. offering diagnostic data such as which robots are communicating on which team ports and whether the data that is sent by these conforms to the SPLStandardMessage, which is the standard communication protocol in the SPL
  2. visualizing the data that was sent via SPLStandardMessages in both textual and graphical form.

For more info see TCM.

5. libgamectrl (SPL)

libgamectrl automatically provides the GameController packets in ALMemory. It also implements the return channel of the GameController. It handles the buttons and LEDs according to the rules (with a few additions).


Put the file somewhere on your NAO and add the library to your file "autoload.ini" so that NAOqi can find it. The binary provided was built for NAOqi 2.1.

It is also possible to build the library from source using Aldebaran's qibuild framework. The qiproject.xml and CMakeList.txt have been placed in libgamectrl's source folder. Just follow the instructions of the README file there.


In your NAOqi module, execute the following code at the beginning (only once):

AL::ALMemoryProxy *memory = new AL::ALMemoryProxy(pBroker);
memory->insertData("GameCtrl/teamNumber", <your team number>);
memory->insertData("GameCtrl/teamColour", <your default team color>);
memory->insertData("GameCtrl/playerNumber", <your robot's player number>);

The team number must be non-zero. Setting the team number will reset libgamectrl (i.e. go back to the initial state). libgamectrl will also set "GameCtrl/teamNumber" back to zero, so it will recognize the next time your application is started.

Setting the default team color can actually be omitted now. In that case, it is black, i.e. the corresponding foot LED is switched off.

You can receive the current GameController packet with:

RoboCupGameControlData gameCtrlData; // should probably zero it the first time it is used
AL::ALValue value = memory->getData("GameCtrl/RoboCupGameControlData");
if (value.isBinary() && value.getSize() == sizeof(RoboCupGameControlData))
    memcpy(&gameCtrlData, value, sizeof(RoboCupGameControlData));

Deviations from the Rules

The first time the chest button is pressed it is ignored, because many teams will use it to let the robot get up.

In the Initial state, it is also possible to switch between "normal", "penalty taker" (green LED), and "penalty goalkeeper" (yellow LED) by pressing the right foot bumper. The state is shown by the right foot LED, and only in the Initial state. An active GameController will overwrite these settings.

6. Coach Messages

The coach broadcasts messages as defined in SPLCoachMessage.h to the UDP port SPL_COACH_MESSAGE_PORT through the wireless network. Players are not permitted to listen to this port. The GameController will integrate the coach messages into the RoboCupGameControlData packet and forward them to the players according to the SPL rules. Since coach messages must be human readable, it is assumed that they are a zero-terminated string and all data after the first zero character is zeroed, too.

The GameStateVisualizer also displays the coach messages.

Please note that the field "team" now contains the team number, not the color.

7. Protocol

For questions regarding the protocol please check the Wiki.

8. Known Issues

There are still a number of issues left:

  • The qibuild file for libgamectrl is untested.

  • The alignment of button labels is bad if the buttons are small.

  • The GameController is not displaying properly on Windows-High-Res-Systems.


This is the official GameController used for several RoboCup competitions






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