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Unread 03-05-2005, 09:51 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

I agree -there does need to be penalty reform. In the majority of qualifiers, a penalty means a loss for an alliance. I think that the 30 point loading penalties are too severe in comparison to the amount of scoring that is going on.I see the reasons for these rules, and that is protect the humans involved in loading tetras either on the robot itself or into the loading zone. At the same time, a lot of these penalties happen by accident, or with no malicious harm meant.

An example of this is today at BAE, Buzz fell over, and while righting themselves, touched a robot in the loading zone. There was not even an attempt to block here, nor did Buzz pose any threat to the human, as their arm was a couple of inches off the ground.

Perhaps penalties should be more like the criminal justice system in the US (minus the bureaucracy). First time offenders can get off with a warning or small penalty, depending on the nature of the incident, while second time offenders get a larger penalty. Third time offenders get disabled. Just bouncing some ideas off here, and they probably won't be necessary as teams learn about these penalties quickly...it's just that so many of these calls are close.
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Unread 03-05-2005, 10:06 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

contact = fun. no one would have fun if everyone just drove around and stacked tetras. when you watch football there is offense and DEFENSE. in hockey there is offense and DEFENSE, but it seems first is becoming an offensive sissy game.

even my grandma enjoyed the contact last she. she liked teams with wedges.

and first needs to lighten up with the penalties.
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Unread 03-05-2005, 10:13 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Petey
For instance, in one match our team was involved in, Team 88 was retreating back to their end zone as time ran out. As the buzzer rang, their robot finished rolling with its arm barely touching the lowest tetra on the central back row. This discounted not only that tetra and all above it, but (if I remember correctly), two tic-tac-toes. They were in no way supporting it--just touching it!

...The fact is, it is difficult for teams to modify their style of play when the most basic requirements of successful play often result in such serious penalties.

--Petey
Touching the tetras isn't a penalty, instead it violate the basic definition of a scored tetra. The situation you describe sounds like dumb luck, not an excessive penalty.

My other observation is that none of the penalties must be violated to accomplish any part of the game as you implied. They are all easily avoidable with skilled drivers and decent strategies. If this means a shift to an all offense game as some have implied, penalties will become less significant because the scores will certainly increase. I don't see this shift in game play. All offense suggests that teams will have the full time period to score freely, and this was not the case in nearly every match.

The only result that can come from penalties is better drivers and robots from good teams, and low scores from reckless teams. They will separate the teams with the most finesse from the rest of teams. The increase in scores in the regionals to come (there always is an increase) will render penalties less decisive than they are now.

Another thought that comes to mind is that if you know a team has received a massive penalty, let them score. There's no need to cap on their goals if you know you have a 30 point advantage over them.

Last edited by Bduggan04 : 03-05-2005 at 10:16 PM. Reason: speling
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Unread 03-05-2005, 10:24 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bduggan04
Touching the tetras isn't a penalty, instead it violate the basic definition of a scored tetra. The situation you describe sounds like dumb luck, not an excessive penalty.
You're right. I've edited my post. It wasn't a penalty, but it was a situation in which a nonsensical rule was in place.
Quote:
My other observation is that none of the penalties must be violated to accomplish any part of the game as you implied. They are all easily avoidable with skilled drivers and decent strategies. If this means a shift to an all offense game as some have implied, penalties will become less significant because the scores will certainly increase. I don't see this shift in gameplay. All offense suggests that teams will have the full time period to score freely, and this was not the case in nearly every match.
Scores do not increase. I would venture a guess that the average score would be somewhere between 25 and 35 points. Highest I saw was 79 to something--lowest I saw was 3 to 0.
Quote:
The only result that can come from penalties is better drivers and robots from good teams and low scores from reckless teams. They will separate the teams with the most finese from the rest of teams. The increase in scores in the reginals to come (there always is an increase) will render penalties less decisive than they are now.
I don't agree with your assessment, because it assumes that A) the penalties will be assessed judiciously and B) all the penalties described in the manual are fair and meaningful. I'm not sure if either A nor B is true.
Quote:
Another thought that comes to mind is that if you know a team has recieved a massive penalty, let them score. There's no need to cap on their goals if you know you have a 30 point advantage over them.
But you don't know, because the assessment of penalties is so arbitrary, there are different weights to each penalty, it's impossible to see the penalty flags from the drivers station, and, overall, your point doesn't make sense because you could be assessed with a similar penalty and that would bring your score down. So that's not valid at all.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JosephM
That's the irony at VCU Andy, I saw many un-gracious teams do very bad things to robots, and not get penalized, yet other teams who just tap a robot get 30 points taken off. I understand that a team who threatens the safety of another team member should get a huge penalty, but this has not happened as many times as huge penalties have been given out.
Agreed.

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Unread 03-05-2005, 10:37 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

I don't agree with your assessment, because it assumes that A) the penalties will be assessed judiciously and B) all the penalties described in the manual are fair and meaningful. I'm not sure if either A nor B is true.
--Petey[/quote]

Both are variables out of your control. Until that fact changes the best solution is to accept it and deal with it.

My assumptions are based on the fact that in years past, both the judges/referees and the teams improved at their jobs. Not assuming that the same would be true this year would suggest that one of the parties is incapable of learning from mistakes and self improvement. I know of no teams or judges that fit this description.
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Unread 03-05-2005, 10:49 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bduggan04
Both are variables out of your control. Until that fact changes the best solution is to accept it and deal with it.

My assumptions are based on the fact that in years past, both the judges/referees and the teams improved at their jobs. Not assuming that the same would be true this year would suggest that one of the parties is incapable of learning from mistakes and self improvement. I know of no teams or judges that fit this description.
Many rules discussions on CD are out of our control for the current year. The point is to develop a source of feedback for FIRST to improve in following years
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Unread 03-05-2005, 11:24 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

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Originally Posted by Justin_302
contact = fun. no one would have fun if everyone just drove around and stacked tetras. when you watch football there is offense and DEFENSE. in hockey there is offense and DEFENSE, but it seems first is becoming an offensive sissy game.
Seriously, and no disrespect intended, if you want to see your robot hammered into an unrecognizable pile of junkyard rubble, compete in BattlebotsIQ. It's a version of Battlebots for high school teams.

Then the rest of us who prefer FIRST can get back to solving intricate engineering problems without the worry of being repeatedly whacked by an armless/towerless 14-inch high smashbot. (It might be effective, but it sure isn't technically interesting.)
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Unread 03-05-2005, 11:28 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Another thing people seem to forget is what year we are in. When I look at the 1996 picture, i see NO Plexi at all! That shows how much things have changed. Heck, today someone can sue a fast food place for making them fat. The last thing FIRST needs is some kids parents suing FIRST just because a tetra knocked there kid out.

We live in the "SUE" S. A. Consider all those warning labels on everyday products. While it may seem silly, Those labels mean someone tried to watch TV, dry or curl there hair , talk on a cell phone, and make coffee while in the shower!

/My 2cents, not worth much more than .005 cents
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Unread 03-05-2005, 11:32 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Note: I have yet only had the chance to watch through the web cast, which I believe makes things harder to understand and you are under the direction or somebody else's eyes, however...

First things first...the original point of the thread...Is the game easy to understand to the casual spectator? It seems to me that it is. I'm probably not a very good judge as I've been immersed in it for eight weeks now, however my two little brothers (ages 9 and 11) often watched over my shoulder and they had no difficulty figuring out what was going on, despite various penalties, and not having control over where they were looking (web cast). It seemed that the announcer did a fairly good job of explaining why penalties were assessed, so that probably helped.

I can't say much about the penalties yet as I haven't seen anything up close, and I try not to comment on that which I don't know. The best I can do (as coach) is learn what the penalties are, and do what I can to avoid them. The only thing that worries me is having no control over the other robots on the field (both on my alliance and the opposing one), but I shall remain opptimistic and hope that GP is enough to prevent anything too messy.
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Unread 03-05-2005, 11:36 PM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rombus
Another thing people seem to forget is what year we are in. When I look at the 1996 picture, i see NO Plexi at all! That shows how much things have changed. Heck, today someone can sue a fast food place for making them fat. The last thing FIRST needs is some kids parents suing FIRST just because a tetra knocked there kid out.

/My 2cents, not worth much more than .005 cents
That's a good point. The robots themselves have changed as well. This is due partly to kit changes, but it is also due to the fact that teams have been around for a long time now and they know how to develop a more complex robot and help others to do the same. This is not to say that there weren't complex robots then, but they weren't exactly driving themselves as they do now.
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Unread 03-06-2005, 05:01 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick TYler
Seriously, and no disrespect intended, if you want to see your robot hammered into an unrecognizable pile of junkyard rubble, compete in BattlebotsIQ. It's a version of Battlebots for high school teams.

Then the rest of us who prefer FIRST can get back to solving intricate engineering problems without the worry of being repeatedly whacked by an armless/towerless 14-inch high smashbot. (It might be effective, but it sure isn't technically interesting.)
"Repeatedly whacked?" - You would hope the referees would disable such a bot, according to the rules of the game. Change that to "aggressively pushed/blocked", and that 14-inch high brick on wheels becomes a factor you must consider, because it's a legal PART OF THE GAME. There are two ways you can account for the presence of this *pest* in your midst:

1. Take defense into account when initially designing your solution to this "intricate engineering problem". If, for some reason, you totally neglected to do this, or felt you'd rather devote most of your resources to creating the perfect "star quarterback" robot, then..........................

2. You are part of a three-member team when you're out there on the playing field. So you're the star quarterback who can score at will, huh? Well that amounts to a hill of beans if you have no offensive line who can block for you and give you time to put your amazing talents to good use. Strategize ahead of the match - if you are truly that gifted offensively, one of your teammates should be more than willing to run interference (I think that's the FIRST-chic way of saying "blocking") for you while you put on a show for the crowd. If you don't work together as a team, and you leave your star quarterback exposed, he deserves to get sacked repeatedly, and the crowd will have no pity for you whatsoever. I'm a Browns fan; believe me, I know. However, if you do take care of business and let your star work his magic, the crowd will love you and be excited and entertained all at once.

If we can find a way to merge "technically interesting" with "spectatorily interesting", then we'll have a winner. Based upon what I've read in this thread and seen during the regionals, I've modified my defensive viewpoint a bit. On the defensive side of things, if you are ever on an alliance who's hopelessly outgunned on stacking ability, I think a great way to give yourself a chance at victory is a combination of pestering the opponent's best robot (rushing the quarterback) and using what capping capability you have to eliminate their tic-tac-toe rows (playing deep in the secondary and picking them off) and creating rows of your own (taking it to da hiz-ouse for da score). I think this represents a strong compromise between *defensive* defense and *offensive* defense. The only question that remains is assigning your robot resources to fit the styles - 2 rushers and 1 row interceptor/creator, or vice versa? This mixed style of play yields the best chance at delivering an exciting game that can be won by either team on the field.

I am of the opinion that six-robot defensive slugfests should never occur. I am also of the opinion that six-robot zero-contact stacking contests are BORING and should be avoided. The only exception, I think, would be in the rare instances where you have two evenly-matched uber-offensive alliances pitted against each other. Then go to town - cap away, steal those rows, see how high the stacks and the scores can go - only then would an all-offensive battle be worth watching. But these teams gotta be careful - it just takes one robot on those alliances to cross that field and start mixing things up to topple this delicate tetra ballet and turn the match into the balanced mix of gritty offense and hard-nosed defense that's almost guaranteed to excite the crowd!
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Last edited by Travis Hoffman : 03-06-2005 at 05:19 AM.
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Unread 03-06-2005, 06:32 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoag
I can see why the human player loading station would be such a high penalty, we don't want the human player risking injury from another robot.
This is exactly right. FIRST is again mirroring real life. And in real life, when we build and design robotic and automated systems, it's safety first. Hitting a human in real life loses a lot more than 30 points.

Quote:
We corrected ourselves; however, we are afraid of these penalties, they can really hurt your score. While we may dislike the high point penalties, it's part of the game and part of the challenge.
Just as a point, our alliance had plenty of defense and plenty of bashing from our fabulous partner, Team #350. We couldn't have won without them, our unsung hero. We didn't get one penalty.

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Unread 03-06-2005, 08:40 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

I've just read through this entire thread in one sitting, and I'm getting very discouraged by some of the borderline flaming and shouting going on between many of the people involved in this discussion. There are valid points on both sides of the debate, for and against the current penalty system. With that said, the game design commitee is made up of some very smart people, and I have no doubt they took all of these concerns into account before coming up with the current penalty system. It was said very early on in the season (kickoff?) that penalties will be a big thing this year- they will be strictly enforced, and they will have an effect on gameplay. With this known early on, when teams were faced with the decision to create an offensive, tetra maniuplating robot, or a defensive "brick bot," the positives, negatives, and actions/reactions of each type of bot should have been weighed and accounted for.

As Dean said at the kickoff in Rochester, everyone is a winner. It doesn't matter if you win or loose the competition itself, because everyone involved is walking away with real world engineering experience, and the satisfaction of knowing they are capable of creating something incredibly cool. Picking up a tetra is not an easy task. I saw many elegant and creative solutions to the problem of picking up such an odd object at the Rochester regional this weekend. I also loved to see the crowd cheer and scream whenever a robot picked up a tetra and successfully dropped it on a goal, especially if there was a large stack already in place. In many ways, this has been one of the most exciting games FIRST has ever come up with. For the first time since 2000, I found myself glued to the field watching matches, unable to look away, because I wanted to see if robot X could stack one more tetra to complete the row, or break up a row, or stack that high. This year's game is no doubt an offensive challenge, and I think that was made abundantly clear in the explanation of the rules at kickoff.

Now, that does NOT mean defense doesn't have it's place in the game this year. It's still perfectly legal to disrupt a robot trying to stack a tetra (and in many cases, it's necessary to do so for the sake of winning the match). However, in general it seems the rules are designed to encourage a more offensive design, to actually tackle and solve the challenge of picking up a game object and scoring points, rather than prevent other teams from doing such. Couple that with the safety of the human player actually getting close to the robot, and it seems the penalties have a logical purpose. Think of it this way too- if all robots on the field can obtain and stack tetras without hinderance, there's no reason not to see scores in the 50's and 60's and 70's regularly, and at such high scores, the penalties seem more fair at 10 points each (as an accidental penalty is just that- accidental, and shouldn't be repeated... intentional penalties are well worth their due). The 30 point penalty for robot contact has a pair of things to keep in mind. First and foremost- safety of the human players and auto-loading field attendants. Keep in mind the power many of these robots have, the motors, the pneumatics, and high flying arms of PVC and aluminum extrusion. It only takes one quick bash to send that arm or claw flying into the skull of a human player or field attendant. Second, the robot loading the tetra clearly had the intention to stack it or drop it in a goal to score some points. It's performing it's designed function, which again, is a relatively complex task (manipulating such an unusual object, as opposed to herding small balls around). It should be rewarded for it's design and creativity, for solving such a difficult problem in such a short amount of time (6 weeks anyone?). It should be allowed to at least have the opportunity to perform it's intended task (loading a tetra), while playing the game the way it was intended to be played (no other ways to score points/win other than the 10 for having all robots in the home zone).
Bots capable of moving tetras around should be able to at least pick them up without interference. I thought it was incredible to watch 4 or 5 of the robots on the field swing tetras around 10' in the air, and gracefully drop them on any of the 9 goals on the field. There's no more exciting feeling than watching that, and I think that makes for a far more interesting game than watching 6 bots shove each other around for 2 minutes. That picture I posted of "The Ultimate Stack" is the perfect example- 229 and 217 didn't try to shove each other out of the way to prevent stacking. Instead they went back and forth trying to best each other playing the game as the rulemakers intended. (Props to both teams for such a great match by the way.)

I do agree that the penalties do make it difficult to tell what's happened in a match in terms of score, but I think they are necessary in order to maintain the integrity of the game itself. The real time scoring (if it worked...) would provide a rough idea of what's going on for raw score, but what should/could be done is introduce a "penalty" signal on the real time scoring, like they do in football. If a flag is thrown in football, a yellow tag will appear in the corner of the screen saying "Flag" or "Penalty." This way, spectators know to expect an adjusted score, and it could make the game more exciting with more anticipation to see the final score- especially in matches where the real time scores are very close.

The biggest thing to keep in mind as a driver/operator/human player is that there ARE rules, they ARE enforced, and there ARE consequences for violating the rules. If you don't understand the rules, or don't intend to follow them, with all due respect you shouldn't be driving/operating/human playing. Accidents do happen, but there should be a conscious effort to avoid them, especially with the understanding that the rules will be enforced. This year, while they may subtract from the match scores, they will ultimately add to the game by giving robots better opportunity to do what they were intended to do.
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Unread 03-06-2005, 09:00 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

No defense?
Ask Divison by Zero if there was no defense. They took a beating all weekend long. Teams weren't discouraged from playing defense. Just be smarter about it.
One team spent a whole match just pummling anotehr robot with no interest of doing anything else and they were rightly penalized for doing so. In the playoffs teams found a better way to defend was to simply get in the otehr bots way near the goal and "alter thier shot". The best defensive play of the weekend was 340 using their massive robot to sit in the other teams goal preventing them form being able to get back in their goal and score 10 points.
Every year we go through this "rough play" debate and I for one think there is room for it in FIRST but I am for the penalty. These robots are large powerful machines and as it said "It's always fun til someboday gets hurt". I don't want a competition to be tainted by a child injury of ( God forbid) death. 30 points is nothing compared to that.
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Unread 03-06-2005, 10:43 AM
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Re: How on Earth are spectators meant to easily discern who wins?

Since my team played this weekend and I was on the field for 11 of our 12 qualifying matches and all 4 of our elimination round matches, I feel compelled to add to this topic.

Koko Ed mentioned 229 getting pommeled all weekend at Finger Lakes. This was true. 229 and my team have very similar scoring devices (yes, we collaborated) and we did not get pommeled as much. 229's and 217's first match was against each other and we put up that ridiculous stack on the side goal that is posted on CD. We basically put a target on our own backs right from the start.

We were fortunate enough to have our second match after 229's second match and we saw the beatings they were taking. While waiting in the queue watching the 229 match, our alliance modified our strategy to prevent this. The "run your blockers" strategy works pretty well and the scorer can put up big numbers while the blocker is blocking. Finger Lakes had many reliable robots and many great blocking robots that were our partners and pretty much made it so we wouldn't be touched. This was exciting to be a part of and to see all the juking and pushing.

Also, defense at the goals is very exciting. Defense at the loaders would not be exciting. The penalties and their amounts are designed to keep defense away from the loading zones. Defending a goal while a scorer is trying to score is very exciting. By the way, at Finger Lakes the best goal defenders where not bashers (or pushers) they were the scorers. Teams 1507 and 237, two of the best scorers at the competition were also the best goal defenders. Our hardest time fighting against blocks was against the scorers.

With that said, I can tell you that 3 good scorers will beat pretty much any combination of other robots. If you send one robot to defend one of the other team's scorers and they score just one tetra, you are at a disadvantage. We learned that the hard way. Being a target all weekend and successfully using the "use a blocker" strategy during qualifying, I was biased to have two awesome scorers and one blocker. I was able to convince our elimination partners that this strategy was the strategy to use and I was dead wrong. Team 237 was convinced we needed three stackers and I must say they were dead on! The "one interference bot" strategy may work in the qualifying rounds, but with the quality of robots this year it will not work against a three good stacker alliance. To some this may have been obvious for a long time, but not for me. I know better now and will not make this mistake again. There is a well known quote in sports, "Offense wins games, defense wins championships." I think this year's FIRST game is the opposite. Here is my modified saying, "Defense wins qualifying rounds, offense wins championships."

Sorry for the long post,

Paul
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