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Unread 03-04-2005, 03:39 PM
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How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Does anyone remember several years ago when it seemed like FIRST was strongly focused on drawing spectators who knew nothing of the event into the action by making scoring and gameplay simple to understand? The idea was, as I remember it, that a spectator walking in off the street could sit in the stands and easily and quickly discern which alliance was winning.

I know the ins and outs of the rules for this game and, while watching this VCU Webcast, I'm having an awful time deciphering who actually wins a watch. Sure, I can quickly glance and see that there are more blue tetras than red on the goals, but that doesn't make a lick of difference because of the surprise appearance of a million points worth of penalties at the end of each match.

The announcer is doing a good job of explaining, now and again, why the penalties are assessed and their value, but it's still really frustrating to have no idea who wins until the penalties are tallied up. It's not exciting; it doesn't create anticipation; it's simply irritating.

I know that there have been discussions about how to best implement a penalty system on these forums, but it seems to me that the end result is not really useful for making the game easy to understand. Additionally, given the six weeks we've just endured, I think it's valuable to ensure that these kids feel good about their robot and the work they put in. I can imagine how frustrating it must be for them to have spent long days and nights building a functioning robot that scores no points because of penalties.

Is anyone else as irritated as I am by both the overabundance of penalties and the obscenely skewed point-values assessed for such penalties? It doesn't seem fair for teams have deducted three times as many points in penalties as they score in a match.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 03:50 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

I'll second the penalties remark. When one penalty costs more points that the majority of alliances are scoring, the game is a bit unbalanced. I understand the need for some penalties and such, but the 30-pointers seem excessive. I can understand the non-interference rule, but -30 if you accidentally bump another robot while it's getting a tetra seems extreme. Ditto -30 for an antsy teenager jumping out of his human player station during autonomous mode. Warnings seem like they would be appropriate here.

To this end, as a rookie coach with a trial by fire at GLR I will be brainwashing my drivers with light jazz in an attempt to keep them mellow.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 04:53 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

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Originally Posted by Kevin Sevcik
but the 30-pointers seem excessive. I can understand the non-interference rule, but -30 if you accidentally bump another robot while it's getting a tetra seems extreme. Ditto -30 for an antsy teenager jumping out of his human player station during autonomous mode. Warnings seem like they would be appropriate here.
Okay, consider this: This is the first year that real live human people are coming up next to the playfield *without* the Plexiglas wall. The 30 point penalty, when you think about it, is to *absolutely discourage* *ANY* pushing/shoving/ramming near where these people will be. When a 'bot is in or entering the loading zone, there's a person there or about to be there. If anyone hits that 'bot, even accidentally, that person is endangered.

The rules for our drive team are to give the opposition's loading zones a wide berth. We'll do whatever we please near the goals, but *NOT* at near the loading zones. I wouldn't want the opposition harming my students (or my wife as she works for the field crew), so I'm not going to endanger their students either.

I, for one, firmly believe the 30 point penalty is sufficient and has a *very* good reason for being so stiff. Anything less would be ignorable by high scoring alliances and would lower the overall safety of the game.

Just my $0.02 (2 cents).

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Unread 03-04-2005, 04:56 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

I would rather see face shields and hard hats than penalties.

EDIT: As a side note to how to figure scoring, I had a hard time determining alliance pairings. In the webcast, you would not even know that there were any LED lights, even when they did robot close ups.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 04:57 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ldeffenb
Okay, consider this: This is the first year that real live human people are coming up next to the playfield *without* the Plexiglas wall.
No, that is incorrect. The 1999 game, Double Trouble, also required for human players to interact with the robot by placing the scoring object -- floppies -- into or onto the machines. There was no barrier aside from the field border between the human player and robot.

There were no penalties for interference as such in 1999, to my recollection.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 05:05 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

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Originally Posted by M. Krass
No, that is incorrect. The 1999 game, Double Trouble, also required for human players to interact with the robot by placing the scoring object -- floppies -- into or onto the machines. There was no barrier beside from the field border between the human player and robot.
Going back even further, in 1996 (first year of HPs) the human player had to sit right outside the field and wear a seat-belt (!) to stay strapped to the floor. If a robot came too close to them they had very limited mobility to move out of the way, and also back then I don't remember any particular penalties like this. They did have to wear full face shields though.

And then in 97 they got rid of the seatbelts and let the HP stand, but they were still right at the edge of the field interacting with the robots (while the robots were still enabled).

{edit} Good picture of the 1996 setup here: http://www.wildstang.org/ws_pic_albu...on29.sized.jpg {/edit}
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Unread 03-05-2005, 07:05 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by M. Krass
No, that is incorrect. The 1999 game, Double Trouble, also required for human players to interact with the robot by placing the scoring object -- floppies -- into or onto the machines. There was no barrier aside from the field border between the human player and robot.

There were no penalties for interference as such in 1999, to my recollection.
Yes, there was exactly one penalty for interference in 1999: disabling of the robot. While it wasn't called frequently, it was on the books. There also was a three foot interaction zone between the human player and the actual playing field. The robot could stick into that area but not into the rest of the human player area.

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Unread 03-05-2005, 06:09 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ldeffenb
Okay, consider this: This is the first year that real live human people are coming up next to the playfield *without* the Plexiglas wall. The 30 point penalty, when you think about it, is to *absolutely discourage* *ANY* pushing/shoving/ramming near where these people will be. When a 'bot is in or entering the loading zone, there's a person there or about to be there. If anyone hits that 'bot, even accidentally, that person is endangered.

The rules for our drive team are to give the opposition's loading zones a wide berth. We'll do whatever we please near the goals, but *NOT* at near the loading zones. I wouldn't want the opposition harming my students (or my wife as she works for the field crew), so I'm not going to endanger their students either.

I, for one, firmly believe the 30 point penalty is sufficient and has a *very* good reason for being so stiff. Anything less would be ignorable by high scoring alliances and would lower the overall safety of the game.

Just my $0.02 (2 cents).

Lynn (D) - Team Voltage 386 Drive Team Coach
I have seen so far a tetra accidentally flung a few feet and almost hit the anouncer. A tetra was accidentally droped onto the player's station over the plexiglass. Robots have accidentally moved the automatic loading stations. The game is dangerous enough.
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Unread 03-05-2005, 06:31 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Y.
I have seen so far a tetra accidentally flung a few feet and almost hit the anouncer. A tetra was accidentally droped onto the player's station over the plexiglass. Robots have accidentally moved the automatic loading stations. The game is dangerous enough.
Actually...more than that has happened...On thursday, a bot got hassled in the end zonewhile someone was trying to cap the center tetra. The bot's arm got twisted torward the plexiglass, disengaging with the tetra, after it cleared the plexiglas barrier. I got hit square on my safety glasses with it, leaving a nice dent on my forehead. It's really not all that big though.
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Unread 03-05-2005, 09:50 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowKnight
Actually...more than that has happened...On thursday, a bot got hassled in the end zonewhile someone was trying to cap the center tetra. The bot's arm got twisted torward the plexiglass, disengaging with the tetra, after it cleared the plexiglas barrier. I got hit square on my safety glasses with it, leaving a nice dent on my forehead. It's really not all that big though.
An injury that would likely have been prevented had you been wearing a hard hat, or even a bicycle helmet.

I'm sorry, am I sounding like a broken record here? By the way, I did email FIRST about this issue several days ago. No response...
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Unread 03-05-2005, 06:35 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

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Undoubtedly, teams everywhere will learn from the first day's events and make adjustments so that tomorrow and in future events, they are less likely to incur penalties.
That didn't even come close to happening at the BAE regional towards the end. Teams were getting penalized for doing things that didn't even happen towards the begining of the regional. Im starting to think that the penalty system isn't going to prevent anything because it seems that the more excited/tired people got the more chance there was for injury.
Quote:
An injury that would likely have been prevented had you been wearing a hard hat, or even a bicycle helmet.
A hard hat would have done nothing if he got hit straight on the safety gogles. A full face mask would have helped but that is going overboard.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 03:55 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Yeah. In the match that was just held (VCU #50), the Blue alliance scored thirty points but lost forty points due to penalties. The Red alliance scored 27 points, incidentally.

Last year, ten-point penalties were okay because the scoring objects scored five points each (and were fairly easy to score), so each penalty essentially took two scores away. This year, each individual scoring object scores only three points if stacked, and the minimum penalties are still ten points, taking away 3 1/3 scores for each penalty. It's also a lower-scoring game than last year. Personally, I wish that the penalties could be cut by two-thirds, so each 10-point penalty would become a 3-point penalty and the 30-point penalty would become a 10-point penalty. That's not really feasible at this point, but the penalties are rather frustrating.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 04:09 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

I totally agree! I saw so many matches decided by penalties and so many 0 scores that I can't imagine how the teams must feel. The first thing I said to my captains was memorize every penalty and figure out how to avoid them. The values are completely out of whack with the scoring. It seems a penalty in this game should result in your bot being disabled for some amount of time, not reducing your alliance score to zero. With 3 bots in an alliance it must be very frustrating to have one alliance member who doesn't understand the rules destroy a round.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 04:22 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

A lot of the penalties probably come even when people do understand the rules just because they are so easy to get.

It must be really depressing to have so many zero scores.

With three robots, I was expecting better scores but I guess more robots means more penalties, not more points.
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Unread 03-04-2005, 04:33 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

The penalty points might be high, but I've also seen (on the SSTV Webcast...) that a lot of 'bot drivers think this is Battlebots. Lots of smashing and slamming. Generally, the teams which have smashers don't win, either.
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