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Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:

Posted by Alan Federman at 04/11/2001 6:36 PM EST


Engineer on team #255, Odyssey, from Foothill HS, San Jose and NASA.



I've spent some time analysing the results and match standings and here is why I think this year's game was tough. Let's look at the rookies. I don't have an exact count of how many rookie teams were at the Nationals I am guessing about 70. The highest ranked rookie was #713 ranked 11th in Newton with 247 points. The following rookie played in divisional matches:

546 ranked 18th in Galileo
538 ranked 39th in Archimedes
710 ranked 44th and 573 ranked 67th in Curie
There were no rookies in the division finals at Newton
There were no rookies in any of the division championship alliances.

So while rookies were about 20% of the field, they were only 5% of the elimination rounds.

I think that this was a tough year for 1st and 2nd year teams too. Most of the winning alliances were seeded with the oldest, most experienced teams.

If you look at the teams seeded 9-12 only 6 out of these 16 'top' performers were selected for alliances.
Hard to tell team #11 ranked 9th with 293.43 qualifying points isn't good enough to be in the finals while #126 with 293.86 qualifying points is (No dis to 126 - a great team).

So here are some non-statistical conclusions - it isn't
that the top teams 71, 60, 254, 192, 75, 175, 171, the Delphi's - have more experience, they have more resources. These teams all participated in more than one regional. Some of them have full or near full size practice fields with bridge and goals built to exact specifications. In some cases they can build a duplicate
practice robot so that they have hundreds of hours of practice comming into events. At the very least they have last year's robot to work from.

The stated goal of this year's game was that 2 good robots could overcome 1 super robot. I don't think this
was achieved, and I feel the bar for rookies was terribly high.

So I guess I'd like to see a game more like '99 and '00.
I didn't think the level of smashing and bashing was particularly high. There are many ways to make a competition more like a race and less like a fight, have
specialized and general robots and still have the rookies compete so that scoring and not destruction is rewarded.



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Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:

Posted by colleen - T190 at 04/11/2001 6:52 PM EST


Engineer on team #190, Gompei, from Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science and WPI.


In Reply to: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:
Posted by Alan Federman on 04/11/2001 6:36 PM EST:



Some good thoughts...

The main reason I found this game tough was that you really couldn't control your own destiny.. either everyone worked and it happened, or it didn't.. and unless you were the team breaking down.. there wasn't much you could do to change that.. you can only push so many robots over the bridge, put up so many balls, and balance so many goals to walk away w/ minimal points..

And if you're spending the time just trying to get the basic points, many teams lose the chance to 'strut their stuff'... maybe that's isn't the 'point' but no one, not rookie to 10-year-team, spent endless hours those 6 weeks making a robot to sit on shelf on display.. we want to go out there.. show off our ingenuity, creativity..

In a nutshell.. go back to when you could control your own destiny.. because there are points in this game where it worked COMPLETELY OPPOSITE of what Dean intended.. we're a top 20 seed went out, wanted a high score.. which to the other 3 teams out there, high score meant 100 points or so.. and they were willing to 'get in the way' to prevent teams from trying to balance goals..

What's the deal?!

I think the original form of alliances was the way to go.. you respected the other teams, whether you were with them, beating them, or losing to them.. it is the game and the competition that drives society.. but also the understanding that you can't just pound your opponent, because you never know when you'll need them..

And maybe people disliked it, but I think 2k1 had the best idea w/ 3x the losers score.. it had the same effect as this years game w/ the excitement and competition needed so teams felt the need and that it was worth it to go to competition...
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Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:

Posted by Patrick Dingle at 04/11/2001 7:14 PM EST


Coach on team #639, Red B^2, from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.


In Reply to: Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:
Posted by colleen - T190 on 04/11/2001 6:52 PM EST:



For rookie teams, I think it was especially difficult. At New York City, our first round we scored 168 points. All our robot did was go over the bridge with another robot, and sit in the endzone. The Robowizards balanced 2 goals. This was the HIGHEST SCORE for a good three hours. From that point on, it was just a series of disasters that brought our ranking from 1st all the way down to 31st out of 35. Our second and third matches, our team messed up the alliance. We fell over in both of these -- once on the bridge, and once while attempting to score a big ball. During our final 8 matches, similar things happened. One robot would always screw it up for the entire alliance. In one match I remember, One of the bots tried wedging themselves under the bridge AFTER two goals were balanced, and they couldn't unwedge themselves. This turned a 320 into an 80. In another match, a coach on another team hit the red button, so we got zero. In all other matches, our allies never did what they claimed they could do "100% of the time". We designed our robot to balance a goal, but we never tried it in a match because we took other teams' words that they could do it much more reliably. It never happened. We never tried balancing a goal.

Bring back a game where teams have an opportunity to prove themselves... We sure didn't have that opportunity at our one and only regional. Sure, we had 2 matches where our robot screwed up, but we had 9 other matches where we did exactly what what asked of us. In many matches, we went to the endzone as instructed, only to wait as another robot miserably failed to clamp a goal... The same robot that could "balance 100% of the time". We then watch other teams compete, who also just go right to the enzone, who get 300 points because THEIR random ally balances two goals. This team ends up with an average 20 points higher because of this -- and they make it to elimination matches.

I agree with Colleen -- it is very difficult to control your own destiny.


: The main reason I found this game tough was that you really couldn't control your own destiny.. either everyone worked and it happened, or it didn't.. and unless you were the team breaking down.. there wasn't much you could do to change that.. you can only push so many robots over the bridge, put up so many balls, and balance so many goals to walk away w/ minimal points..


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Amen, Colleen! (EOM)

Posted by Chris Hibner at 04/12/2001 7:22 AM EST


Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.


In Reply to: Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:
Posted by colleen - T190 on 04/11/2001 6:52 PM EST:



: Some good thoughts...

: The main reason I found this game tough was that you really couldn't control your own destiny.. either everyone worked and it happened, or it didn't.. and unless you were the team breaking down.. there wasn't much you could do to change that.. you can only push so many robots over the bridge, put up so many balls, and balance so many goals to walk away w/ minimal points..

: And if you're spending the time just trying to get the basic points, many teams lose the chance to 'strut their stuff'... maybe that's isn't the 'point' but no one, not rookie to 10-year-team, spent endless hours those 6 weeks making a robot to sit on shelf on display.. we want to go out there.. show off our ingenuity, creativity..

: In a nutshell.. go back to when you could control your own destiny.. because there are points in this game where it worked COMPLETELY OPPOSITE of what Dean intended.. we're a top 20 seed went out, wanted a high score.. which to the other 3 teams out there, high score meant 100 points or so.. and they were willing to 'get in the way' to prevent teams from trying to balance goals..

: What's the deal?!

: I think the original form of alliances was the way to go.. you respected the other teams, whether you were with them, beating them, or losing to them.. it is the game and the competition that drives society.. but also the understanding that you can't just pound your opponent, because you never know when you'll need them..

: And maybe people disliked it, but I think 2k1 had the best idea w/ 3x the losers score.. it had the same effect as this years game w/ the excitement and competition needed so teams felt the need and that it was worth it to go to competition...


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Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:

Posted by Kevin at 04/12/2001 9:48 AM EST


Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monsters, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.


In Reply to: Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:
Posted by colleen - T190 on 04/11/2001 6:52 PM EST:



Colleen,

I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said.

On a side note however, I think that whatever criteria they use for determining qualifying points (e.g. they go back to the y2k game with 3x the loser's score for qualifying points), they should use the same scoring for the elimination matches so that it is effectively the same game. The y2k game had great defensive robots that could not qualify well, but were tremendous alliance partners for the elimination matches. Whatever the scoring method, it should be the same for qualifying and elimination so that a team can concentrate on one game, and one design.

: Some good thoughts...

: The main reason I found this game tough was that you really couldn't control your own destiny.. either everyone worked and it happened, or it didn't.. and unless you were the team breaking down.. there wasn't much you could do to change that.. you can only push so many robots over the bridge, put up so many balls, and balance so many goals to walk away w/ minimal points..

: And if you're spending the time just trying to get the basic points, many teams lose the chance to 'strut their stuff'... maybe that's isn't the 'point' but no one, not rookie to 10-year-team, spent endless hours those 6 weeks making a robot to sit on shelf on display.. we want to go out there.. show off our ingenuity, creativity..

: In a nutshell.. go back to when you could control your own destiny.. because there are points in this game where it worked COMPLETELY OPPOSITE of what Dean intended.. we're a top 20 seed went out, wanted a high score.. which to the other 3 teams out there, high score meant 100 points or so.. and they were willing to 'get in the way' to prevent teams from trying to balance goals..

: What's the deal?!

: I think the original form of alliances was the way to go.. you respected the other teams, whether you were with them, beating them, or losing to them.. it is the game and the competition that drives society.. but also the understanding that you can't just pound your opponent, because you never know when you'll need them..

: And maybe people disliked it, but I think 2k1 had the best idea w/ 3x the losers score.. it had the same effect as this years game w/ the excitement and competition needed so teams felt the need and that it was worth it to go to competition...


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Here's why last year's game wasn't "too violent"

Posted by Erin at 04/12/2001 2:03 PM EST


College Student on team #65, Huskie Brigade, from Pontiac Northern High School and GM Powertrain.


In Reply to: Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:
Posted by colleen - T190 on 04/11/2001 6:52 PM EST:



I liked the 2 on 2 thing as well, better to watch and play..

And I didn't see a big problem with it being too violent as long at FIRST enforced the rule:

"No damage can be done to other robots with intent to harm."

As long as that was enforced, I thought it was ok...and we still got to do the "teamwork" thing.

Oh well..

Erin


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I must disagree

Posted by Jason Morrella at 04/11/2001 8:36 PM EST


Coach on team #254, Cheesy Poofs, from Bellarmine College Prep & others and NASA Ames/Cypress Semiconductor/Unity Care.


In Reply to: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:
Posted by Alan Federman on 04/11/2001 6:36 PM EST:



Alan,

You are a little off on this one. First, I agree that the game was difficult this year - but don't go and discount rookies and 2nd year teams. Your team and ours have both (along with numerous other teams) proven that 1st, 2nd, 3rd year teams can compete with anyone.

Also - I find your reference to "more resources" leading to the success of certain teams to be a little irresponsible. I wouldn't pretend to "know" what resources those teams have, as you shouldn't. I do know that your team had more funding than our team and many others, and also enjoyed assistance from the NASA machine shop just like our team. How teams decide to spend their funding is up to them - some build parts of the field, send a "mini" team to a second regional, some build a practice robot or modify a previous years robot to help the drivers practice (which ANY returning team can do regardless of resources - you have the robot & controls from last year - it's up to you how to use them).

We didn't have a full practice field, not even close - we had a bridge, 2 goals, and only about 20 feet of space - just like a vast majority of FIRST teams built. We didn't have anything like alliance stations, or a field border, and only built half of the center barrier so that OTHER teams (like yours) could practice on our very partial field.

Our team is in the middle of the pack in terms of funding & resources - and it took us 3 years to get to this point after 2 years of struggling to send just 5 kids to Orlando. Some of the other teams you mentioned are also middle of the pack in terms of funding - not teams overflowing with money & resources. While we were a team who built a less than perfect 2nd robot to practice with - most of the teams you mentioned above DID NOT. And we didn't have a 2nd robot last year, and were virtually just as successful.

I can only comment with a limited amount of knowledge about the West Coast teams I know well. Team 192 does have a wonderful facility and resources - but it took them YEARS of hard work to build that up. And personally, I would attribute the success of the robots of teams 60,115,192, ours (254), and others to the knowledge and experience their teams have gained building robots over the past few years MUCH MORE than any resources they may have.

I also know of more than a few veteran teams with HUGE funding, great resources, annually have great teams, and went to 2 or 3 regionals who NEVER made the finals in one regional or the playoffs in Orlando. So maybe it's not resources that lead to success, but many other things like design, construction, driving, luck, and more.

Finally - when looking at the correlation of success this year, resources, and 1st / 2nd year teams - look at our partners who won the Southern California & Silicon Valley Regionals.

Team 294 only competed in one regional, has ALMOST NO resources and almost had to withdraw from Orlando - yet they are NATIONAL & REGIONAL CHAMPS.
The 3 Hawaii teams consist of a rookie and 2nd year teams who won their regional and another 2nd year team who seeded and came in third.(and again, the Hawaii teams have to struggle just to attend ONE regional)
Team 260 (again, NO resources) and won the only regional the competed in and seeded 14th in their National Division.
Team 698 - a rookie, seeded 5th, and won the SoCal Regional - the only event they could afford to enter.
And I could list MANY MORE 1st & 2nd year teams with no resources who built VERY strong robots this year.
These teams figured out the game, designed & built VERY good robots with VERY limited resources, and out performed MANY teams with more experience and more resources. GOOD FOR THEM!!!!

And one more thing about those teams you mentioned like 71 Beatty, 192 Gunn, 45 Delphi, 254 Cheesy Poofs, 60 Kingman, 175 Buzz, and others you didn't mention......like 294,260,Hawaii teams, etc...
They all had TREMENDOUS success at the VERY FIRST regional they attended, and many of them won. It wasn't due to more resources which allowed them to attend extra regionals or get extra practice - they won their FIRST regionals (and continued to do well at other reigonal and the Nationals for those able to attend) becuase they figured out this years game and designed/built great robots. That's it.

sorry to babble on - just a little more than my 2 cents.

Jason


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Re: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:

Posted by Chris Orimoto at 04/12/2001 12:50 AM EST


Student on team #368, Kika Mana, from McKinley High School and Nasa Ames/Hawaiian Electric/Weinberg Foundation.


In Reply to: Long post - this year's game was tough - here's why:
Posted by Alan Federman on 04/11/2001 6:36 PM EST:



In general, it DID seem that rookie teams had a little trouble this year. Not to create a stereotype though, because as Jason mentioned, many rookie, 2nd- and 3rd- year teams did very well. I doubt facilities had ANYTHING to do with success either...being from one of the "poor" Hawaii teams as mentioned, and struggling to pay the way for ONE regional event (that's ALL, just 1 regional), I am pretty satisfied at our performance. We built a practice bridge and practice goals, but we had about 20ft. of carpet area to work with, a small piece of the center divider, and absolutely-positively NO practice robot. Our 'bot from last year was WAY to different to practice on for this year's competition (being twice as large and 2-wheel drive compared to this year's "limbo-tractor-tank&quot.

This leads me into the next point...I have to agree that this years game DID in fact take away your control of your own destiny. With 4 robots on the field at a time, there was BOUND to be robots with identical functions. I guess one of this year's challenges was for teams to DECIDE on who gets to do it. But, what if your team is on the losing end of that again, and again, and again? Well, a counterpoint could be "That's what the working world is all about". BUT, does a scenario as this do well for the message of "gracious professionalism" employed by FIRST?

I remember in one of our matches, one team tried to convince me that they could balance 1 goal in under a minute for a 5x multiplier. I had to INSIST that we could do 2 goals in under a minute-and-a-half for an 8x multiplier. In that round, the SAME team threw a drive and couldn't make it over the bridge. We were LUCKY that they got out of the way...allowing us to grab a second goal and balance with less than 15 sec. on the clock. With one full goal and NO robots in the endzone...even with a balanced bridge, we got a WHOPPING score of 48.

In another match, a robot fell over while trying to reset the bridge (by driving backwards). We PULLED them out of the way (and got tangled up in the process). HOWEVER, the team that was still on the near side of the field (who we specifically cleared the bridge for) didn't even get to the endzone. They timed out like 5ft short.

I mean, I'm not trying to say that it was everyone else's fault. We made a careless error by not checking our drill clutch and resultingly couldn't pull the stretcher, a task we had performed in previous matches (we were with the #1 seed Cheesy Poofs in that round so the technical difficulty screwed them up as well as us). We also didn't check-balance the bridge in one round, causing it to fall after we timed out (36 secs left by the way...so there was time to check).

But those are the kind of mistakes that can be controlled in the future. However, many facets of this year's game were left uncontrollable by your own team. This did add part of the excitement, but also provided for many of the disappointments. And that's my $1.25 of the story (sorry so long).

Just my personal thoughts (as always)...

Chris, #368
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