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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:18 PM
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Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

As most of you probably know, the 2014 Mount Olive MAR District Event took place two weekends ago as a Week 1 Competition. Though I’m sure most of you have heard about the drama that took place on the field, which was completely out of the control of the hosts, other than that it was a very well-ran event held by FRC Team 11, who actually had to hold back-to-back events with hosting the NJ FLL State Championships at their high school as well this past weekend.

Some of you may have been told that I’ve been holding back the full-field footage recorded at Mt. Olive due to an ‘issue’ I noticed. Since it has now been over a week and FIRST has yet to make any official mention of it, and it seems that they’re not going to, and now that most of the controversy from the event has died down, I figured I would take the charge of informing the FRC community, especially the MAR community, of what some may say is a pretty substantial error that occurred. Do I want to cause any more disputes from posting this? Not at all. Do I wish that FIRST would have addressed this issue publicly? Absolutely. But do I believe that the community deserves to be told about what happened? Yes,

When I got back to my dorm on the Sunday night of Mt. Olive and was uploading and reviewing the videos of the matches, I soon noticed that the videos recorded later on were shorter than those from earlier in the event. At first I thought that this was due to human or camera error on the recording side, but then realized that some of the matches were shorter than they were supposed to be. In fact, every match, both qualification and elimination, was 20 seconds too short in teleoperated mode, beginning in the reset of Qualification Match 31. (If you're wondering why the replays of matches 8, 30, and eventually 31 are also too short, that's because they were played at the end of the day on Saturday). This means that about 70% of the matches were too short: Instead of having 10 seconds of autonomous mode and 140 seconds of teleop, they had 10 seconds of autonomous and only 120 seconds of teleop. After seeing this, I immediately notified one of the refs from the event, who notified the FTA, who was going to notified FIRST. I also sent my own email to FIRST via the FRCteams email, but have not received any response, even after their ‘maximum response time of 48 hours.’

How did this happen and how did no one notice? Well, I don’t know how it happened, but I am guessing it involved something with the field clock when match 31 had to be stopped midway and then reset. What is quite odd is that not long before the error started, the FTA double-checked with one of the refs to make sure that the match length was correct, and it was. As for how did no one notice - Well, if you were at the competition, or even watching via webcast, I’m sure you know that there was A LOT going on during the eliminations. But, how did no one notice before the eliminations on Sunday or even later on during the first day of competition on Saturday? People are used to it being 120 seconds of teleop. The last time teleoperated mode wasn’t 120 seconds was way back in 2004, when matches were 120 seconds total, with a 15 second autonomous and 105 second teleop. With Mt. Olive being one of the earliest competitions of the 2014 season, I’m sure people were more concerned with other possible issues, and weren’t focused on something as simple as the length of the matches. Additionally, the schedule on Saturday was changed to go later in the evening and play 70 qualification matches so that Sunday would finish before the snow arrived. I would guess that most people just wanted the matches, and the day, to be over, and I’d also bet that some people even forgot that the matches were supposed to be longer than in past years, simply due to not being accustomed to it.

Now, what should be done about this? Well, what could be done about it? While Section T16 of the 2014 Game Manual states “If, in the judgment of the Head Referee, an “ARENA fault” occurs that affects the outcome of the MATCH, the MATCH will be replayed.”, with the blue box underneath is stating “ARENA faults include broken FIELD elements, power failure to a portion of the FIELD (tripping the ciruit breaker in the PLAYER STATION is not considered a power failure), improper activation of the FMS, errors by FIELD personnel, etc.”, it would be impossible to replay all of the matches that were affected. Could an extra 20 seconds have changed the outcome of some of the matches? Absolutely. Might some people that lost be mad that they maybe could’ve won with an extra 20 seconds? Sure. But, was missing the 20 seconds unfair to all of the teams? Eh, maybe not so much. Sure, maybe some teams had one more/less shorter qualification matches than others due to their schedule, but it’s not like one alliance had a longer time to score in a match compared to the other alliance. And, all of the elimination matches were the same (shorter) length as well. Honestly, I don’t have any suggestions of what to do, other than to say “Sorry, someone/something made a mistake somewhere”, and just to make sure it doesn’t happen again. How can people be angry at others for this happening, when they themselves didn’t even notice it?

With that, I have made all of 1676’s footage from the 2014 Mt. Olive MAR District public, and can be found in this playlist. Unfortunately, we had to switch to using a different camera for the end of the elimination matches, so we are still working on locating and uploading Semifinal matches 2-2 and 2-3, both Final matches, and the Award Ceremony. I’m doing my best to find those recordings and get them up A.S.A.P.

And lastly, to all of the people I overheard hastily saying “We won’t be attending the Mt. Olive District next year”: Really? I promise you that if you held a Week 1 Event, the same field errors could have happened to you. Did M.O.R.T. make the pedestal not light up for you? No. Did M.O.R.T. make your robot lose connection to the field? No. Did M.O.R.T. make all of the matches 20 seconds too short? No. Did M.O.R.T. have any control of what happened on the field? Not at all. But did M.O.R.T. host a great event otherwise? Yes. I got the chance to talk to 11’s head coach Mr. Bodmer very briefly towards the end of Sunday, and he was just as annoyed with the problems that were happening as I was, if not even more so (and that’s saying something, I was pretty annoyed). I would like to thank M.O.R.T. for volunteering to hold a Week 1 competition knowing that things most likely wouldn’t go perfectly, and will gladly tell anyone who decides not to attend their district next year that they’ll be missing an awesome event.

My soapbox’s worn out, so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll be attending the Clifton MAR District this coming weekend, and will be sure to keep a close eye on the field clock throughout the competition to ensure that it’s correct, and would suggest some others to do the same at your own respective events, just in case. If other people more knowledgeable than myself want to offer suggestions of what exactly might have happened or what should/could be done about it, feel free. Maybe if we all start carrying around classy pocketwatches that could fix the problem….or sundials?

Sincerely,
Ryan Hall

And as a public statement to everyone in MAR, which I unfortunately feel the need to say after some of the events that unfolded: Play Nice.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:21 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

At the Mount Olive 2014 District Event, every match after 31, and every replay (8, 30, 31) were played with a 120 second teleoperated period.

2 teams had only three correctly timed matches.
18 teams had only four correctly timed matches.
18 teams had only five correctly timed matches.

This likely occurred because the FMS allows you to change the default Autonomous and Teleoperated time in a match. During week one events, this defaulted to 15 seconds and 120 seconds respectively upon shutdown of the FMS. This required a manual override to fix.

While, I don't think there is a good way to handle this situation, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. This incident, the execution of this game, and my experiences this year leave me disillusioned with FIRST. FIRST is setting the example that mediocrity is acceptable by not doing due diligence in validating this game.

The FMS and referee tablets were not tested well.
The rule set is impossible to enforce and incentivizes bad play, the including value of penalties.
Every aspect of ball reentry from pedestal problems to G40 seems like an afterthought.
The metagame in regions where 8/24 eliminations teams cannot easily control the ball is far more focused on smashing each other to bits than assisting.

Any company that releases a product has to validate it. NASA, Boeing, and all of the other FIRST sponsors need to rigorously validate a product before they ship it. Companies would die if they delivered a product without validating it. It's just not analogous to industry.

A culture where mediocrity is acceptable is both a bad example for students and completely uninspiring.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:30 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

Thanks for being the one to make what must have been a tough post to write, Ryan.

Full disclosure, the unnamed referee mentioned in the post was me. Coming home from Mt. Olive I was already tired/stressed to begin with, so after planning on going to bed at around 8, I ended up staying up later to 'clear the air' about some of the things that happened. Then I found this out and nearly had a heart attack. I spend about an hour looking through whatever match video was up from other Week 1s in hope that this was some sort of wider issue, but it wasn't.

My personal story with this is that I truly, vividly remember initially telling the FTA that it's 120, then looking in the manual because I knew that sounded off, and then confirming that it was 140 seconds-I also vividly remember seeing 140 seconds in the input box on the scorekeeper screen.

I'm really not surprised that no one noticed-I know that in my three years of being on drive team I very rarely looked at the game clock before the final minute, and as a ref, I very rarely even looked at the clock once autonomous ended.

As to what can be done? Nothing can be done other than FIRST mentioning it on weekly volunteer calls to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

Was it fair? This is a question that I've had mixed feelings on. It kinda is fair because teams all had equal time in matches against each other, but at the same time, it also isn't fair because it could have possibly interfered with the seeding at the event, and, if the tiebreakers need to go that far, MAR points.

This isn't really something that needs to be argued over or for teams to be angry with over; it's in the past and all that needs to be done is to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

EDIT: Now that I see some more posts following mine...can this thread please not be turned into a, 'let's talk trash about the game!' thread; this issue had nothing to do with the flaws people see in the game.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:31 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

This whole year feels very rushed. The game rules looked fairly decent on paper, but as soon as it started getting played flaws started coming out. The FMS, from all the stories, seems insanely rushed, especially after hearing that the timing defaults were still set to last years times. It seems very untested, because of the auto light timing errors, and the sounds and timers not syncing up with when robots are enabled, which I noticed and have video of here in OR as well. The tablets being laggy doesn't help this situation either.

I really hope FIRST is working on fixing as many of these issues as possible, because its just going to get worse and worse.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:32 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

This game feels very... mediocre. It's definitely not at the level we've been used to seeing in the past. The FMS has received only a small update, and we've suddenly noticed that it has awful timing accuracy for hot goal and autonomous enable/disable/ and sound effects. The referee tablets don't work, and the workaround for starting the match present in week one, proves that this system has never been tested. I'm not 100% sure, but I thought the older FMS in 2011 would reset the match length parameter between matches to prevent this sort of thing. The number of match replays is incredible, at least 10x what I've seen in the past and robots are getting bashed to bits.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:34 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

It's funny, I heard that a few practice matches were run Friday night (at HH) with the timing from last year (long auto/teleop/endgame), and was noticed and fixed before any qualifications were played. Seems like that's an easy thing to mess up/not pay attention to.

All I can really say, after having volunteered at Hatboro-Horsham, that it's a week one event, and anything is bound to happen. Week one events are usually where most of the problems happen, and it's a calculated risk for the teams that choose to go to them.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 04:42 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

This is very disappointing news on several levels. A ton of planning and hard work from volunteers goes into this event every year, and I sincerely hope teams will not be discouraged from attending the Mount Olive District Event in the future.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 05:13 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

This could have happened in any week 1 event, I for one hold nothing against MORT for mistakes made.

What should come of this is a protocol for FIRST to professionally handle mistakes they make, this isn't the first or last time something like this will happen, and protocols for similar problems to be avoided in the future.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 05:28 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

As the CSA on this event, a sponsor of Team 11, a mentor of Team 11 for programming and CNC, and an FLL Judge...
I want to say a few things about this:

1. It's a tough job setting up one of these events and made only more complicated when you host it the first week. Odds are if something is going to go wrong it's going to go wrong the first few times you do something.

2. I have to say I find it strange that FIRST has gone to great lengths to have remote access to their fields since the ill-fated Einstein for troubleshooting reasons but doesn't trap this sort of error at their central location.

3. I've worked with the FTA and FTAA in question and I want to say that generally they have been professional and responsible and as I said sometimes things happen. There is no process in place that I am aware of either locally or remote to the field to check this condition. It could happen at any time or any place. That should be addressed and if there is concern for this happening in the future someone should time the events and bring it to the attention of someone. I know no one brought it to my attention during the matches. Had they done so I wouldn't have stopped till the concern was addressed.

4. I have been critical of FIRST in the past about issues with the fields and let me say clearly I've been involved with setting up and tearing down several of them over the years (hardware, electronics and software). I have to say that there are some things with these fields that need work. I've stood up and defended the fields when I felt there wasn't adequate proof from various teams but I see issues that -will never be solved- because of the limited access to the fields. These current issues are obviously hard to resolve because of their nature. Other issues are more deeply technical. I am going to say what I essentially have said before: please FIRST understand that you can't ignore the frustration your organization creates when the culture exerts pressures like this on people. This field system needs work and whatever is going on with the 2015 RoboRIO and the radios I hope that it won't take several years and random people stumbling on things before any bugs are acknowledged or even recorded. When a team - any team - raises a concern they can't solve themselves it ought to be at least recorded somewhere and I too often feel it gets quietly lost in word of mouth.

5. I also want to add and I've said this before with people from MAR: when I am the CSA or any other volunteer position at any event it doesn't matter to me that I am mentor or sponsor of Team 11. I have an ethical obligation to not allow my affiliation with Team 11 to alter my actions negatively in that role and I take my ethics *very* seriously. To hold the professional obligations I have means that I can't lower myself into that sort of situation because it would reflect on me elsewhere. To my knowledge - no one on Team 11 has ever allowed their team affiliation to alter their duty as a FIRST volunteer. In short even if someone, somewhere feels that because this event was hosted by the home school of Team 11: Team 11's standing during this year at that event ought to demonstrate that we are not influencing anything intentionally. Unfortunate situations like this cut us all. No matter the perceived rivalry with Team 11 I am there to provide good clean competition and anyone that has watched me work knows that I will spend hours and my own money if that's what it takes to make that happen.

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Unread 03-11-2014, 06:02 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

I agree with everyone that MORT is not to blame. They hold a top notch event.

Clearly replaying these matches is not possible, but I would like to disagree that no harm has been done to teams that attended this event.

While checking the stats on SPIDER after week one, and again after week two I noticed that the Mount Olive District had the lowest average match scores of all events. This seemed curious to me, but now it is clear why this is so. Of course the averages would be lower because the matches were short by 20 seconds and it is possible to score a lot of points in that amount of time.

So the harm to teams.......OPR.

This number will be skewed negatively for all those teams that competed at MO. This is a lasting effect that will follow these teams until Champs. Not sure how to deal with this fact.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 06:21 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

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Originally Posted by Robotmmm View Post
I agree with everyone that MORT is not to blame. They hold a top notch event.

Clearly replaying these matches is not possible, but I would like to disagree that no harm has been done to teams that attended this event.

While checking the stats on SPIDER after week one, and again after week two I noticed that the Mount Olive District had the lowest average match scores of all events. This seemed curious to me, but now it is clear why this is so. Of course the averages would be lower because the matches were short by 20 seconds and it is possible to score a lot of points in that amount of time.

So the harm to teams.......OPR.

This number will be skewed negatively for all those teams that competed at MO. This is a lasting effect that will follow these teams until Champs. Not sure how to deal with this fact.
OPR is a terrible metric in this year's game, and a low one should not be considered as a harm to the teams attended.

Back on this, major thanks Ryan for posting this, it's a very touchy subject and it takes a special type of person to speak about it. FIRST has had more technical issues this year than I've ever seen; here's to learning from our mistakes and fixing them as this season goes on.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 06:24 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

[quote=jlmcmchl;1357605]OPR is a terrible metric in this year's game, and a low one should not be considered as a harm to the teams attended.

I agree. But that does not mean that the metric will not be used by many teams.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 06:26 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

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I agree. But that does not mean that the metric will not be used by many teams.
If a team is using OPR from different events to make comparisons, then that team is not using OPR correctly.
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Unread 03-11-2014, 06:47 PM
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

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If a team is using OPR from different events to make comparisons, then that team is not using OPR correctly.
And they're not a team you want to be picked by.
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What are nationals? Sounds like a fun American party, can we Canadians come?
“For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.” -Jean Dubuffet
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -Albert Einstein
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Unread 03-11-2014, 08:19 PM
bduddy bduddy is offline
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Re: Mt. Olive 2014 Footage and Match Length Issue

Does this really have to turn into another silly OPR argument?

This is a huge issue that (of course) has gone entirely unaddressed by FIRST before its public unveiling. Expect an apologetic blog post in the near future and no real changes.
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Last edited by bduddy : 03-11-2014 at 09:58 PM.
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