Originally Posted by Joe Johnson
Anyone within 5 counties of Plymouth, MA during the Rumble at the Rock that year heard the cries of "TIMBER" and that sickening THUD as Team #88's wicked awesome tall robot hit the pavement (and I DO mean pavement, the Rumble was held in a parking lot that year). FIRST's rule against tipping mechanisms is a direct result of the Rhode Warrior 1997 robot.
Can we PLEASE put this certain little urban myth to rest? Yes, the Rhode Warriors had a very effective robot flipper on their 1997 robot. But so did a lot of other machines (Team 118's wicked little corner flippers come to mind as well). Flippers were not a unique feature to this one team. And I can say with absolute certainty that the "no tipping" rule that started in 1998 was NOT directed at just this one team. It was a response to the feedback from many teams about having their 6-weeks-worth-of-sweat-and-tears-labor-of-love flipped over in the first 15 seconds of the match by any of a number of robots that developed a strategy of taking out the competition to clear the field and then score.
The reason that I am making this point is that I have seen many similar comments over the past years (frequently by some very senior mentors that should know better). A certain new feature or method of play pops up one year. The next year there is a new rule prohibiting or enhancing that new thing. Many teams may be utilizing the feature or style of play. But often one particular team will stand out because they are already well known, or they compete frequently and well, or they advertise the particular feature, etc. That one team, because they were notable, may be the only one that people remember the next year when a rule is issued in response to the feature or tactic. But it must be remembered that they were one in a group of many. Yet suddenly everyone is commenting on the "new rule targeted against Team xxx." Simply put, this just isn't true.
To the best of my recollection, in the entire time that I have been involved with the game design process there has never been an instance of a rule being developed in response to the actions of a single team. Only once has something been done in response to a single action by an alliance of teams. In every case that I can recall, rules have been created when it is perceived that multiple teams are adopting practices or technologies that affect the outcomes of the game, or philosophical directions defined by FIRST. The resulting rules may either prohibit or promote those practices or technologies, based on their impact.
For example, the "no flopping robots" rule of last year was NOT a rule specifically targeted at the HOT robot of the year before. It was a general response to the many flopping robots that had been seen in previous years, and an issue about how they would impact the game play of that particular year. HOT was one of the most widely known team that had used this design, but by no means were they the only ones, and the rule was never targeted just in response to their design.