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Declawed games

Posted by Marc DeSchamp.

Other on team #125, someone who remembers Ramp N Roll, from Northeastern University and Textron Systems with the kids from Boston Latin School, Brookline High, and Milton Academy.

Posted on 1/12/2000 11:04 AM MST



Am I the only one out there who thinks the games have been getting increasingly wussy
as the years go by? What ever happened to the good old days of tipping, beating,
bashing, and scoring as many points as you could in two minutes?
I remember the time, during Rumble 2 (toroid terror), when Naval Undersea Warfare
picked up and dumped Johnson and Johnson. I believe that was one of the more
exciting moments in FIRST. Granted it was a bit of a shock to the Johnson and
Johnson team, but the rule (up to that point) had always been, 'go high, but be ready to
pay the price.' Well, I guess some people didn't agree, so the tipping policy was
changed to its current state, making it the first step toward a watered down version of
the game.
Then came last year, where alliances were introduced, an iteresting concept to say the
least. Then again, someone getting mangled by a peice of industrial machinery can be
interesting..... Not neccesarily *good*, but interesting..... I believe that last year's game
clearly demnstrated that there are some major kinks in the theory of alliances, the most
profound probably being disfunctional machines. There was a lot of justified griping
about people getting stiffed as far as partners go, and I don't think anyone can deny
that, while promoting the warm and fuzzy goals of unity and sportmanship, alliances
need (at least) a major overhaul. Thus making alliances step two in the journey from
robot football to robot golf.
Step three in the process (though taken out of order) is the bumpers. Who came up
with the idea of *bumpers*?! The rules have *always* stated that your machine should
be bult to withstand abuse, rugged play, and a fair amount of smaking around. Now the
rules state tha,t if you want to, you can build a rugged, solid machine, but if you don't,
you can pad your machine from abuse (heaven forbid you break a nail). What's going
to come next? No contact rules to protect the folks who don't want to wreck their paint
job? Ugh!
The final step came in this year's game, the ultimate in wussification. FIRST
succeeded in not only keeping the worst aspect of last year's game, but magnifying it!
Now, not only are you out of luck if you're teamed up with a lousy machine, you're out of
luck if you're playing *against* one too..... What on earth is the logic here? I'm all for
helping the competition, but sometimes it comes back to bite you in the (expletive).
Fine, let's be sportsmanlike, let's loan our tools in the pit, let's cheer for our opponents,
let's be all around nice guys, but let's not have to *score* for the other team! That's
preposterous! FIRST has taken the entire idea of 'let the best man/woman win,' and
flushed it down the toilet. There has always been a certain amount of luck involved in
the games, but now, it's just absurd. This year, the best machine is almost certain not
to win, I don't care who they are. We all know what they say (and I agree), that it's not
all about winning, but about the experience you have, but, all that taken into account,
noone wants to put all that hard work in, just to see their machine 'bad lucked' right out
of the game.
All in all, I think that, over the last few years, the competitions have been getting more
and more tame. This last act has simply served to completely 'declaw' the competition
as we know it. I have seen the game go from the rough and tough Ramp N Roll,
Hexagon Havoc, and Toroid Terror (note the exciting sounding names), to the softer
and cushier Ladder Logic, and Double Trouble (which soud more like events on the
Price is Right than anything else), and now this. Well, I don't know what kind of strategy
FIRST's design guys are employing, but I hope they realize soon that it stinks.


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Gracious Professionalism

Posted by Kate.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]


Engineer on team #190, Gompei, from Mass Academy of Math and Science and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Posted on 1/12/2000 11:57 AM MST


In Reply to: Declawed games posted by Marc DeSchamp on 1/12/2000 11:04 AM MST:



These forums are used to share ideas with other people. While I agree that you are sharing an idea with the group, it wasn't exactly the happiest idea in the world to share. These forums are used for constructive purposes. Not once in your message did I see anything positive about anything related to this year's game. The FIRST Code of Ethics is 'Gracious Professionalism.' This consists of Respect, Courtesy, Good Sportsmanship, and Best Behavior at ALL Times. Not only does this mean that you should be respecting all the other teams, but FIRST as well. There is a very hard working group of people that work at FIRST. They do come here and read the messages as well. If I worked for FIRST, and I saw this message, I would be really offended. These people work their hardest at all times to make things work as smoothly as possible in the time that they have. It is not an easy job to do what they do.

While I do agree that the earlier games were a lot more exciting to watch and participate in, the aura of your message was not within the Gracious Professionalism that FIRST manifests so greatly. This concept of Gracious Professionalism is something that I live by at all times, not just when doing FIRST. Since I have been doing FIRST for the last 4 years, and I am so involved and devoted (just ask anyone), I am actually rather offended by your message. FIRST is my life. Sure, sometimes FIRST doesn't make the best decisions, but it's something that you learn to live with. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is supposed to be. Granted we would all like it to be perfect, but that's impossible. FIRST has it's ups and downs. If you're involved in FIRST for the reasons it was created, then you don't worry about the downs very much. You are involved in this competition not to win. You are here to inspire the students. You are here For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. You are here to help the kids grow. Not only is this to get them into science and technology, but it's a learning experience for life. How many things were you involved in as a kid to get you ready for the 'real world?' Where else do you learn how to work on a team productively, how to meet deadlines, how to think quickly but productively, how to work with people, and in general, just how to deal with everything in your life once you hit the working world.

While I'm sure that everyone would love to win the competition, I'm sure that's not what everyone is really in it for. Everyone is given the same set of rules and restrictions. A lot of other people are going to have the same problems that you are with the competition. But everyone will need to figure out how to compensate for it and deal with the problems. Just because this year's competition might not be as great as competitions past, that doesn't mean that it isn't accomplishing the same things (with respect to the inspiration for the kids) as the older competitions.

Thank you for your time.

Kate Leach
Team 190
WPI / MAMS
Gompei


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Re: Gracious Professionalism

Posted by Greg Mills.

Engineer on team #16, Baxter Bomb Squad, from Mountain Home and Baxter Healthcare.

Posted on 1/12/2000 12:07 PM MST


In Reply to: Gracious Professionalism posted by Kate on 1/12/2000 11:57 AM MST:



:
:Thank you Kate!!

The only thing that I might disagree with is who's to say that this game will be any less exciting to watch? There will be action to the very end and alot of quick decisions to be made. I agree that I am in this not for the game and will play at whatever is given.

Thanks again,

Greg


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Re: Gracious Professionalism

Posted by Lora Knepper.

Student on team #69, HYPER, from Quincy Public Schools and The Gillette Company.

Posted on 1/12/2000 5:34 PM MST


In Reply to: Gracious Professionalism posted by Kate on 1/12/2000 11:57 AM MST:



I want to commend you Kate for expressing my feelings completely! As a student, I first thought the competition was about winning. Very quickly, however, I learned that FIRST is everything but winning. I have been inspired to follow a career in engineering (I'm would like to go to WPI =) and I hope to continue in FIRST through my college years, to share the lessons I have learned with others. FIRST is my life, it is where my heart is. For all it's ups and downs, I will forever be a part of FIRST. I find your comments to be offensive to the project I have dedicated my future to. If you truly feel this way about the game, perhaps you should step back and think about the changes in the students. Regardless of the game, it is the kids who benefit from this experience. The alliance system you hate so much, has allowed me to make friends I would have never met otherwise. You are truly missing the point of the competiton, sir, and I beg you to look in the eyes of the students on your team as they build and design in these weeks ahead. And then watch them at a competiton, watch how they cheer for their creation, the machine that they built. Is the game really that important?

Lora Knepper
Team 69 (HYPER)
(Helping Youth to Pursue Engineering and Robotics)


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multitude of opinions allowed...

Posted by Joe Johnson.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]


Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 1/12/2000 6:42 PM MST


In Reply to: Re: Gracious Professionalism posted by Lora Knepper on 1/12/2000 5:34 PM MST:



I raise my voice in support not of all the comments & opinions expressed in the openning message by Mr. DeSchamp but of the idea that they have a place on the forum.

The sign of a mature community is not that everyone is nice and happy but that differring opinions can be expressed.

If you re-read the comments, they were not always expressed in positive flowery words, but they were expressing a very important idea. He was concerned about the FUTURE of FIRST. Agree or dis-agree it was very forward looking. A trend that he would not like to see continue was worth commenting on. If he was not concerned about FIRST making it in the long run, he would not have bothered.

So... Don't everyone rush to deprive Mr. DeSchamp of his voice. I for one think that FIRST is strong enough to withstand the critics and perhaps even learn from some of them.

Joe J.


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Consructive Criticism == Good

Posted by Kate.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]


Engineer on team #190, Gompei, from Mass Academy of Math and Science and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Posted on 1/12/2000 6:53 PM MST


In Reply to: multitude of opinions allowed... posted by Joe Johnson on 1/12/2000 6:42 PM MST:



In my original response (although it may not have sounded like it at the time), I didn't really have much of a problem with Mr. DeSchamp voicing his opinion. My main disliking of the post was in the way that he expressed his ideas. Yes, I always like it when people share their ideas and point out problems with things, but what I don't like is when it's a lot of bashing. Constructive criticsm would have been a lot better way of going about voicing the opinion. Maybe I'm thinking this mainly because of posts from JJ, Mr.B, or Daniel with them using wicked good english and being able to put the thoughts in their heads into words. And they make it sound pretty. *shrugs* Like I said, I don't always agree with what FIRST decides to do, but I deal with it because I love the game and helping kids learn so much.

Kate Leach
Team 190
WPI / MAMS
Gompei


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Re: multitude of opinions allowed...Thanks for some sanity.

Posted by Justin.

Other on team Blue Lightning Alum from RWU sponsored by FIRST-A-holics Anonymous.

Posted on 1/12/2000 7:48 PM MST


In Reply to: multitude of opinions allowed... posted by Joe Johnson on 1/12/2000 6:42 PM MST:



Joe,

Thanks for some sanity. You are 100% correct. We don't always like other people's opinions. However it is important that they are all heard. The ones we don't agree with are just as valid as our own...and sometimes they are the ones we need to consider with the most attention.

I think FIRST means many different things to many different people. For some, like Kate and Lora, it is a way of life and it is about finding ways to exmplify gracious professionalism both within FIRST and thier lives. For others like myself and Marc it is a competition it's about building the best machine and competing the best. There are really two camps I think, those who view the primary purpose of FIRST to educate and inspire kids, and those who view the education and inspiration as a by-product of the competition that FIRST is.

Thank you Joe for reminding us that everyone should have a right to be heard.

-Justin


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Thank you

Posted by Marc DeSchamp.

Other on team #125, someone who remembers Ramp N Roll, from Northeastern University and Textron Systems with the kids from Boston Latin School, Brookline High, and Milton Academy.

Posted on 1/13/2000 7:43 AM MST


In Reply to: multitude of opinions allowed... posted by Joe Johnson on 1/12/2000 6:42 PM MST:



I would like to thank you Joe, for your words, I appreciate them greatly. I would also like to take a minute to explain to the pepole who don't know me (and there are quite a few of them) that my writings on this page are not meant to imply that I do not like FIRST. I have been doing FIRST since my freshman year at Plymouth North High School, and in that time I have seen quite a bit of the competition. Perhaps I didn't phrase my words in the most constructive way, but that doesn't mean I dislike the program (if it did, I wouldn't be doing it). I am in my sixth year of FIRST participation, and I intend to continue participating indefinitely. In fact, this year I took a coop job in Austin, TX and I am directing my team's animation from there, helping out with our Chairman's Award entry, and giving advice where ever it is needed. I don't think my commitment to FIRST need be questioned, and I *do* understand the ideas behind FIRST (I used to be one of those kids with the light in their eyes, as I suspect all of us still are, whether engineer, student, or teacher).
I am not all about winning, in fact in the years I have been in the competition, I have never been on a team with a winning robot. In my statement, I merely meant to criticize the recent games, and the trend they seem to be following, not the hard work and dedication of the people behind them. Perhaps I said it a little more harshly than I should have, and for *that* I am sorry. However, I maintain my opinion, and respect the opinions that others have, be they about me (whether the people know me or are just making judgments) or my views.
Marc



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Marc...I would like to say sorry

Posted by Lora Knepper.

Student on team #69, HYPER, from Quincy Public Schools and The Gillette Company.

Posted on 1/13/2000 4:30 PM MST


In Reply to: Thank you posted by Marc DeSchamp on 1/13/2000 7:43 AM MST:



Marc,

I also want to apologize to you. You had just touched a nerve, and I had to respond. I value your opinion, and everyone elses, and Joe is right, this is a place where we all should have our ideas able to be heard. I am sorry if I came across as otherwise. Though I stand behind my ideas, I can also see where you are coming from. I wish you good luck this year in competiton.

Lora Knepper
Team 69 (HYPER)
(Helping Youth Pursue Engineering and Robotics)


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Re: Gracious Professionalism

Posted by Paul Donovan.

Coach on team #296, Northern Knights, from Loyola High School and Arial Systems and Nortel Networks.

Posted on 1/12/2000 6:56 PM MST


In Reply to: Re: Gracious Professionalism posted by Lora Knepper on 1/12/2000 5:34 PM MST:



'If you truly feel this way about the game, perhaps you should step back and think about the changes in the students. Regardless of the game, it is the kids who benefit from this experience. The alliance system you hate so much, has allowed me to make friends I would have never met otherwise. You are truly missing the point of the competiton, sir, and I beg you to look in the eyes of the students on your team as they build and design in these weeks ahead. And then watch them at a competiton, watch how they cheer for their creation, the machine that they built. Is the game really that important?'

Lora, thank you for your comments, I think you have wonderful insight. This is only my second year with FIRST, and it is that ideal that keeps me involved. I coach the Senior Football team at our High School, and while I love the game, it's not the reason I coach. It's 'looking into the faces' of the players that keeps me coaching. I don't know a lot about engineering but I do know something about teams and competitions. The common goal, working toward something and overcoming hardship, discipline in the face of adversity, understanding and living within rules, personal sacrifice for the sake of others, these are the things that make a team strong, these are the things that inspire, these are the things that make FIRST a great experience - and I'm sorry for those teams that miss out on those experiences in favor of a few minutes of thrill.
Cheers, Lora and good luck in the competition!



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Re: Declawed games

Posted by Jason Leslie.

Other on team FIRST-AHOLIC from Formerly Assabet Valley RTHS (Looking for a new team in RI).

Posted on 1/12/2000 12:26 PM MST


In Reply to: Declawed games posted by Marc DeSchamp on 1/12/2000 11:04 AM MST:



All I have to say is that in a world where kis are becoming terrorist in there high schools, I belive that first made a great desision to tone down the violence in FIRST. Granted it is a robotics competition, but FIRST is to teach kids about engineering and how to apply math and science in a fun and practical way.

Now for you and all the other teams and idividuals out there in the game of FIRST that think that this should be an all out war go compete in something like 'The Robot Wars' and when and if you lose you'll becoming home with a 'bot that is in peices, one that have been cut in half by its opponent.

And as for flipping remember after torriod terror Navel Undersea said themselves NO FLIPPER.
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maybe, maybe not.

Posted by Daniel.

Coach on team BORG (Berkeley Operational Robotics Group) from Berkeley High School sponsored by (working on the sponsor, too).

Posted on 1/12/2000 1:22 PM MST


In Reply to: Declawed games posted by Marc DeSchamp on 1/12/2000 11:04 AM MST:



In some ways I agree with you. It has come to a point where even if you're not specifically trying to tip someone over, but getting lost and excited you tap another robot while it's fully extended and are DQed on the spot. The more rules they have about violence, the more mistakes they're setting themselves up to make in their calls. You have to make a deliberate effort to back off most of the time.

BUT...

Taking this for granted, I really LOVE this year's game. Here's why: it's so hard to win! It's always about control, and with all that will be going on during these matches, it's near impossible to get out there with one robot and really control the match. I think a lot of the deciding factors will surface right at the beginning, with a few robots fighting for that bar. Remember, robot shoving is encouraged and should be expected to be quite common. This WILL be a battle. Also, FIRST got rid of most of the reasons to be fully extended for an extended (pardon the repetition) period of time, so most cases where robots tip over, it will be obvious that their CG was bad and it wont be called. You just can't go out and TRY to tip them.

Oh and about those bumpers, I'd like to see you try to get away with a wussy robot hiding away in that bumper. It's NOT going to protect you. You'll come home with a bucket of pieces like you would from robowars...

...but I guess that's what you want, anyway ;-)


-DL
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Re: Declawed games

Posted by Steve Goldberg.

Engineer on team #157, Aztechs, from Assabet Valley RTHS and EMC/Simplex/Intel MA/Others.

Posted on 1/12/2000 1:32 PM MST


In Reply to: Declawed games posted by Marc DeSchamp on 1/12/2000 11:04 AM MST:



Since everyone else seemed to be disagreeing here I thought I'd add that I mostly agree with you.
I think FIRST has been toning down the competitions over the years (I have been involved since 1993)
Although I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing I think there are a few rules that take away some 'reality' from the contest.
Part of FIRST's mission is to show students how real life engineering works. Well, in there real world there are no rules that say the competition can't do underhanded tricky things to you. FIRST has chosen to remove things such as tipping. Instead why didn't they make it a point that teams should design a robot that is capable of recovering from such an occurance or one that would not be able to be tipped over. I feel that FIRST took away some important engineering possiblities by instituting this rule.
As for bumpers, I agree... Again, instead of adding a rule for a predefined bumper why don't they just encourage proper design that would account for getting hit a bit in competition.
They have also added alliances, which in my humble opinion are a good thing, if they were to be reworked a bit. The problem I have with the way the competitions are run nowadays is that there is too much reliance on luck. By having alliances FIRST took away the ability to engineer a winning robot. Now you could have a fantastically designed and built robot but still lose a good deal of your matches simply by the luck of the draw. Again, I think the idea behind the alliances is admirable but the implementation leaves a bit to be desired.

As a final note, I'd like to bring up the point of easy scoring. Part of each FIRST competition is to gather more interest in FIRST. The problem is that if average people who are seeing the contest for the first time can't figure out who is winning easily then they won't be as interested in the competition.
Most of the games that FIRST has come up with have used what I will call a 'cumulative' scoring system. (People but objects in a specific place and each object has a point value associated with it)
Well, Dean keeps saying that he wants FIRST to be like the NFL. If we look at most major sports, none of them use a 'cumulative' scoring system. Instead most use what I will call an 'additive' scoring system. Score a touchdown, add 6 points. Touch home plate, score 1 run. In each case the audience knows exactly when the scoring has occured and it can not be reversed or removed. This is simplicity in scoring, not this ball is 1 point this one is 5, stop here get 5 more points, hang here get 10, lift the other robot get 10 but not your opponent because that is illegal. This is not simple, it is complex.

Anyway, I still think FIRST is a great competition, I just think that recently the competitions have been discouraging some of the engineering that it meant to foster.


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Addative scoring

Posted by Marc DeSchamp.

Other on team #125, someone who remembers Ramp N Roll, from Northeastern University and Textron Systems with the kids from Boston Latin School, Brookline High, and Milton Academy.

Posted on 1/12/2000 2:44 PM MST


In Reply to: Re: Declawed games posted by Steve Goldberg on 1/12/2000 1:32 PM MST:



I have been saying the exact same thing about addative scoring for years. I'm glad to hear that other people feel the same way. In addition to making the scoring simpler, it also reduces the luck aspect somewhat by lowering the chances that a team will accidentaly take away thirty points from you in the last several seconds, or that you lose a doubler or two when your machine loses power at the end of a match.....



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true, but I dunno...

Posted by Daniel.

Coach on team BORG (Berkeley Operational Robotics Group) from Berkeley High School sponsored by (working on the sponsor, too).

Posted on 1/12/2000 2:53 PM MST


In Reply to: Addative scoring posted by Marc DeSchamp on 1/12/2000 2:44 PM MST:



I kind of like the way it can all come crashing down at the end. It really maintains the intensity for the full 2 minutes. Have you ever watched a sports game where you just had to turn off the TV because your favorite team was getting beaten so bad?

Say you’re a driver. You spend the first 30 seconds of the match getting far behind and the next 1:30 wishing you could just disappear. I like the way there's always that fleeting chance. Maybe it's just me?

-DL

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PS - that doesn't mean I like how hard this game is to tell who's winning. I think there's a happy middle ground somewhere here.


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