View Full Version : Playing Dirty

Adams High Man
10-27-2002, 01:29 PM
n. pl. plaˇceˇbos or plaˇceˇboes

A substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well.
An inactive substance or preparation used as a control in an experiment or test to determine the effectiveness of a medicinal drug.

The Placebo robot didnt seem too inactive when it rammed and crippled us. It wasnt inactive when it pinned us half the match.

When the Placebo switched drivers, and ranged from dirty-aggressive to passivly-resistant, it didnt seem to be a "control".

When our teammate showed up, their robot didnt work and we lost the match. When our opponent's teammate didnt show up, they got a working robot that rammed, pinned, and pushed us to death.

almost all of our matches, we were against that "Placebo". OTC, who's branch BUILT the Placebo, went against them once.

The rules of OCCRA have always been there to make everything fair. A dirty-aggressive FUNCTIONAL robot, put into a game only when a team was not there (not if their robot couldnt move), that rams, pins, and who's drivers are biased towards certain teams, is not fair.

A fair Placebo would be one that is what its name says: an inactive substance. Why didnt the team's robot show up? because it did not work! if they DID show up, there would be a motionless robot on the field. The Placebo should be just like that. A motionless hunk of material. It should not be allowed to ram, pin, and be dirty like it did.

To make future competitions FAIR, the placebo should either be replaced with a motionless box with a spinning light inside, or be taken out alltogether.

Mr. Mac
10-27-2002, 05:29 PM
The name "Placebo" was used because FIRST used that term to describe their substitute robot back in the 90's; from the start, our substitute robot was described as "The pseudo-placebo". In fact, the exact quote from this forum said:
"The OCCRA placebo will not be a true placebo; the students tell me that the robot will probably be able to score a ball in the low tower and will probably pull the cart. They are more concerned with style than substance. They're out there to entertain the fans, not to win tournaments."

Mr. Mac
10-27-2002, 06:05 PM
In spite of Adam's High Man's emotional accusations and misunderstandings about the placebo, he made some points that need to be addressed. We all know the placebo did not pin them for "half the match"; I watched the matches and I know that the refs did a good job of monitoring the 5 second pin rule; it is not considered pinning unless your robot is caught between an opponent's robot and an immovable field piece. You are not technically pinned when the opponent is pushing you and keeping you from going where you want to go.
Another misunderstanding is the role of the placebo: we said all along that the placebo was not a true placebo (see my other post on this thread where I explain the name) The placebo is suppose to supply some assistance to its alliance partner so they do not have to go 2 against 1 with anybody. The placebo will not be capable of winning patches (indeed, it could not score!) but it's whole point is to supply some support to its partner so that it's partner has a chance of winning. The real placebo is being built by students whose school is not involved with OCCRA this year. They called late Friday to say that the robot was not done yet and I had to russle up a last minute replacement; I put a sheet around an old robot we had at OSTCNE, deactivated all systems except the drive train, stuck a moose head on it, and gave it to one of the placebo builders to drive. There was only one driver of the placebo and he is from a team not competing in OCCRA. Adams High Man has some reason to think that he's "biased against certain teams". We can't have that: the placebo must be unbiased and help all its alliance partners equally. If there is any validity to this accusation of bias, I need to know it right away: please contact me ASAP. In the future, please bring complaints like this up to the officials immediately so that they can set the record straight then and there.
As far as the "dirty-aggressive" accusation, I did not see it. We had 4 impartial refs who did not see it. Perhaps the accuser needs to go back and re-read the OCCRA rules. Physical contact is certainly allowed.
At one point I thought the placebo was getting aggressive to the point where damage to another robot might occur; he was still within the rules of OCCRA and had not been warned yet by the refs, but I did not want to see it go that far; I went up to the placebo driver and reminded him (not during an OSTCNE match) that he is suppose to help his partner as much as he can but not to risk hurting any other robots. Perhaps when the switch to "passively resistant" occurred- I'm not sure. The other student sitting at the placebo driver station was not a placebo driver, but an OSTCNE student who was functioning as an OCCRA staff member and he was assigned the job of being pit crew for the placebo. Was the placebo too good? How good do you want the placebo to be when you have it as an alliance partner?

Mr. Mac
10-27-2002, 06:21 PM
The fairness of the "pseudo-placebo" robot stems from the fact that all teams have equal access to its services. All teams were represented at the pre-tournament drivers' meeting where the following info about the placebo was given:
1) If a team is unable to field a working robot for a match, they are morally bound to let their alliance partner know about it. This is the honor system; This hurts them because they can not earn any points, but it's not fair to your partner to put a 125-lb. paperweight onto the field just so you might earn a few seeding points that you really do not deserve. Teams do not always know whether or not their robot is going to move; if they know it is not, they should do the right thing and let their alliance partner know about it. The alliance partner that is going solo can then request the services of the placebo robot. The placebo driver will follow the strategy wishes of their partner but, as they are only a working chassis, they will be only able to push balls around, push or block opponents' robots, or push the cart: they will not be able to score any points.
2) All teams have equal access to the services of the so-called placebo robot, but the placebo driver will not handle any of the jobs of the human player; teams that are using the placebo as their alliance partner must furnish an additional human player if they want the placebo's human player station occupied.

10-27-2002, 07:57 PM
Mr. Mac, how about entanglement? Does it even exist in Occra? It didn't seem like it on Saturday.

10-27-2002, 10:38 PM
Levin: there is a big difference between an entangling design and an unfortunate latch.

I don't remember what team we were against when it happened but we weren't grabbed, we both snagged on eachother.

As for the placebo, it did seem a bit aggresivly driven during some matches. I didn't see any hard damage from it, but i did see a few solid intentional hits

10-28-2002, 02:42 PM
As a member of the so called abused team by the placebo robot, I would like to point out that Adams High Man was not at the match, and that the rest of the team seems to feel its just something we have to deal with. Nuff said.

10-28-2002, 10:52 PM
Basically, falls under the whole 'things happen' category.

Whether it had been poor refereeing or not, it happened, it's over. If it were to actually be poor sportsmanship than the drivers need to be looked and and spoken to. But, then again, who's to say that will actually happen?

My whole theory is that things have happened are over. Congrats to the winners, nice try to the not winners.

Mr. Mac
10-29-2002, 05:30 AM
Since this under the "Playing Dirt" thread, I assume you are talking about intentional entanglement. I did not notice any that seemed intentional, but there was occasionally some incidental entanglement. The inspectors try to catch entangling devices during inspection and the refs will call it during a match if it appears to be deliberate. With that said you've got to realize that any robot can get entangled with any robot accidently, and the refs will not attempt to separate them during a match: we don't want anybody getting hurt (even the refs!)

Jim Meyer
10-29-2002, 09:19 AM
In the one match we were against the placebo, the placebo was especially nice to us. They seemed to pretty much leave us alone until the very end. (Maybe they were trying to make up for not working when they were our partner) I also witnessed matches where it seemed to effectively harass their opponents for the entire match. As I recall it even kept them from scoring a single point. I belive there is some validity to the "dirty-aggressive to passivly-resistant" argument, but I do not agree with the terminology. The placebo was more aggressive in some matches than others, but at no point were they "dirty".

Adams High Man
10-29-2002, 05:13 PM
I am sorry if i am a little "emotional" about this, but in my opinion, the placebo was an unfair advantage. It is true that i was not at the competition, but it is also true that i watched all of the matches on video. The placebo driver was very clearly changing aggression levels between matches. As for the acual bot, it violated a core OCCRA rule.

RB1 The object is to build a robot to play the described game using the kit of parts and additional materials listed. The robots for the 2002 OCCRA competition must be built entirely during the period of time starting at Kickoff 2002 and ending at the 2002 county championships: no parts on a robot are allowed if they were fabricated before this time period. The intention is to have the students design and build the robot. Teachers and sponsors may answer questions, give instruction on scientific principles, give instruction in tool usage and safety...etc.: students must do the actual designing and building.

The entire placebo robot used was built last year. It therefore had several competitions to tweak its drive system. Also, a teacher/sponsor fixed up the robot for use, which is another violated core OCCRA rule.

Also, the semi-random match selection was invalidated. 3 out of 5 competitions, we were on the field with the placebo. The game leaned away from being about competing with other schools, and more towards competing with the placebo. Other teams, who only were against the placebo once or never, had a more diverse competition. OTC was not matched against Rochester 3 times, for example.

I agree that whats done is done, and that is not the reason why i started this debate. In my view, the placebo created an unfair situation, and i do not want it to happen again at future competitions.

Nate Smith
10-29-2002, 06:37 PM
Originally posted by Adams High Man
The entire placebo robot used was built last year. It therefore had several competitions to tweak its drive system. Also, a teacher/sponsor fixed up the robot for use, which is another violated core OCCRA rule.

As Mr. Mac has already mentioned, this is only because the actual placebo robot was not ready in time for the first event, and rather than not have the placebo at all, going against what teams had been told would be at the event, they used a pre-built(in this case, a OCCRA bot from a previous year) in which all systems except the drive had been disabled. This disabling of robot functions was the only "fixing up" by a teacher/sponsor which took place.

Originally posted by Adams High Man
Also, the semi-random match selection was invalidated. 3 out of 5 competitions, we were on the field with the placebo. The game leaned away from being about competing with other schools, and more towards competing with the placebo. Other teams, who only were against the placebo once or never, had a more diverse competition. OTC was not matched against Rochester 3 times, for example.

One thing to keep in mind here...the placebo was not paired with/against teams using the standard semi-random pairing method used for the other competing teams. Rather, as was mentioned to teams when the placebo was announced, the placebo was put into place whenever a team notified the event staff that their robot was not able to participate in a match. Therefore, the placebo team does not know when they will be competing until just a couple minutes before they play. Because of this portion of the placebo's purpose in the OCCRA competition, it is entirely possible, as well as entirely beyond the control of OCCRA, that some teams may face the placebo more than other teams.

Since the pairings method was brought up, I will expand slightly on how the pairings are done. Note that an incomplete version of this pairings logic was used at the Rochester tournament, so not all of these criteria were in place. The scoring software randomly assigns teams to matches, using the following criteria:
-Every team must play once before a team plays a second match.
-No team will have the same alliance partner more than once.

In addition, a few formulas are in place to make sure the matches are somewhat evenly weighted(i.e. not the top 2 teams vs the bottom 2). In these cases, it is the season rankings as of the beginning of the tournament that determine this formula.

Mr. Mac
10-29-2002, 09:21 PM
Adams High Man made a valid point about the uneveness of the Placebo's zeal: in the future, placebo drivers will be told to push, shove block ...etc. but not ram opponents. We definitely do not want any robot to be put out of commission by the placebo. With that said, though, the placebo was no more "dirty" in its harassment of opposing robots than a linebacker is when they make a tackle: they are simply playing the game according to its rules. The placebo will definitely be trying hard to stop its opponents from winning the match; the placebo will follow the strategy dictates of their alliance.
The placebo is a lousy name:Calling it the Pseudo-Placebo is too cumbersome. I am going to start calling it the "Substitute Robot" (or Sub-bot); it is certainly not a placebo and was never intended to be. The Sub-Bot will improve the fairness of OCCRA, not cause unfairness. If it's your bad luck to be "unfairly" allied with non-functional robots, the Sub-Bot gives you a fighting chance to pull out a victory. What's more unfair than going to a tournament and finding that you have to repeatedly go up alone against 2 robots because your partner isn't working? Everyone has an equal chance at being paired with the Sub-Bot since all match assignments are random.
The Sub-Bot from Rochester was actually built 2 years ago and won the county championship: I had to "work" on it to reduce its functionality; a student fastened on the moosehead and sheet. This does not matter, though, since the Sub-Bot is not competing for awards. The next Sub-Bot you see will be built and run by student volunteers who are doing it as a service to OCCRA (that's all of you!) Please treat them accordingly.

Jim Meyer
10-30-2002, 07:16 AM
Am I the only one who isn't crazy about having the sub-bot be a prior national champion? Even if it can't handle balls, I have no doubt that it is a much stronger pusher than most of the other robots (ourselves included). To me it seems that a working partner should be better in all regards than sub-bot. Putting a team in a position where sub-bot could help their partner more than they are capable of is in my opinion a bad thing.

Nate Smith
10-30-2002, 07:47 AM
Originally posted by Jim Meyer
Am I the only one who isn't crazy about having the sub-bot be a prior national champion?

First, a clarification...the sub-bot was not a prior national champion, but rather the county champion from the first year of OCCRA. Also, as has been mentioned several times over already, the sub-bot used at Rochester was only a temporary bot used to fill the sub-bot position due to the fact that the actual sub-bot was not yet ready. Since the role of the sub-bot is to help out an alliance member whose partner's robot can not compete, it would not have made much sense to put out a sub-bot who would not be able to run either...

Mike Martus
10-30-2002, 05:24 PM

When inspecting the inspectors look for loose wores and other items that pose a danger of entanglement to other robots. We look close for items that are designed to entangle.

During the heat of battle robots get "hooked up" often on common parts that are not a real entanglement issue. Just part of the game that encourages physical play. After all if n robot touches another robot the game would be very dull ( remember some of the FIRST games ).

Sub-Bot: Often called placebo Bot

The intent is not to allow a non functioning partner to put you into battle alone. The unit as Mac said was as sub/Sub Bot and was very good at running around and getting in the way to help their partner score. It could not directly score any ball.

Sorry that you had to face it several times. This is often called the "luck of the draw". You could have as easily been their partner.

This element ( sub-bot ) is needed since we went to two/two format. As robots get better and are improved, you will see less and less of the sub-bot. The sub-bot is not a choice at the championship.

There are four refs watching the matches applying the game rules as fair as possible. In 20 matches there was only one time pinning was even close. Open field pushing is not pinning. Only if the robot is against a non-movable game structure for 5 seconds is it considered pinning. The pinner would get a warning to back off. This was not the case as they pinned for less than 3 seconds before the pinnee was able to get free, thus not being pinned.

Thanks to all the teams that read the PRE-INSPECTION form. That really speeded up the process for the teams that had done their homework. It will be much faster next competition as you have a sticker.

Your team will be asked what is "New" or "Different". A quick safety review and a pressure check of the pneumatics is all that will be needed in addition to weight and size.

Adams High Man
10-30-2002, 07:07 PM
if it is random as you say it is, then the sub-bot isnt doing anything to make it fair. Sure, its good and all for the team who is matched up 3 times with broken robots that dont show up, but what about the other side? what about the team who is matched up against those 3 broken robots? they have to compete against the sub-bot 3 times! this sort of competition is one where you test your skills against all other teams. When the opposing team's robot doesnt work, it just means your skill is better then theirs. When you put in the sub-bot over and over, though, you are now comparing your skill to only that robot.

when you make something random, it isnt right to weight it in a certain direction just because you dont like the results.

10-30-2002, 11:07 PM
They didn't know which bot's were not going to work when the pairings were made.