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Unread 05-02-2012, 10:01 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
That's a common complaint every year -- and I couldn't agree more. I have no idea how a group of geniuses intent on making STEM exciting for the masses so consistently make the final championship games so painfully boring!

(That is to say, the matches themselves are generally great, but the speeches are so numerous and so long that the overall Einstein spectator experience is downright tedious.)
It was worse before.

In 2002 and prior when at Epcot Einstein was played through to completion, at which point there was a 2.5 hour long award ceremony in 100* heat with everyone looking forward to going to Disney as soon as the awards were over.

At least now the teams get time between matches to fix any breakdowns, let the robots cool, etc. The real problem is the content that FIRST is choosing to fill that dead space with, not the existence of it.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 10:02 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by jblay View Post
The field sketches need to be more similar to the field with parts of the field that robots react off of, or at least include some optional sketches that are closer to the actual field. So many teams couldn't lower the bridge at the start of the season and had a shooter designed for the backboard in the sketches and then missed shots that went too hard off of the backboard on the actual field.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 10:22 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

About the Q&A system...

FIRST needs to answer all questions even if they are design specific. The ONLY reason a team would ask a design specific question is because they don't know whether or not their design is legal. No team should ever have to build part of their robot (or even worse their whole robot) wondering if it is going to be ruled legal or illegal at their first event.

This year 973 was debating doing something similar to the '118' style hang off the bridge. We considered this because there was not a definition to the 'Grab, Grasp, Grapple' rule in the manual. When we looked up definitions for grab, grasp, and grapple we found multiples of each, and most of them classified 118's hanging mechanism legal. Even most of the definitions for grapple don't classify a grappling hook as something that grapples. Because of this we thought we needed clarification by the Q&A. After they failed to answer our initial question, we submitted 3 question: (1) Please define Grab. (2) Please define Grasp. (3) Please define Grapple.

The answers they gave were mediocre: "If a reasonably astute observer would define something as (insert one of the G's) then it is (that same G).

The problem with this is that 'reasonably astute observers' don't always define stuff the same. So essentially they were saying that at some events the 118 style hang is legal... and at some, it is not. This is not only unfair it degrades the image of FIRST. (It also makes for some very frustrated designers in the middle of build season.)


There's also the bridge thing, where FIRST defined the bridge as everything in the bridge assembly picture (including the ball deflector), twice in week 2 of build (which even I thought was strange cause the first thing I thought of was, hey if we go under the bridge then we're still supported by it and we still get points for it). Then in week 6 they redefined the bridge as only the moving/balancing part. So essentially this told me that, the answers in the FIRST Q&A are not official and we should not make design decisions based on Q&A answers. Again this degrades FIRST's image, and can potentially ruin a teams' season.

/end Q&A rant
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Last edited by Marc S. : 05-02-2012 at 10:55 PM.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 10:23 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Camren View Post
Funny thing about that suggestion. Team 3081 roboeagles seemed to be one of the few who considered that variable which is why we went with a catapult design.
We ended up going with a shooter, but used a force transducer to account for the variability in all but the most extreme situations. We read the force returned as the ball rolled across it and used it to modify a base speed.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 10:36 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Solidstate89 View Post
Our loader mechanism admittedly had some issues here and there with the new balls (something we just decided we had to deal with) compared to those that were used, but my problem (and also one raised by a couple others) is the fact that the balls they used in the Championships vs. at least the two regionals we attended were completely different. They weren't just new, they were a different batch entirely.
Same situation for our robot. Not a SINGLE problem with picking up balls through 2 districts and MSC. The balls introduced on Saturday before/during division elims were unbearable. Our intake jammed almost every time we tried to pick one of those up.

The new balls introduced were way different. After our last qualification match on Saturday we left the ball that jammed us in the robot. Normal balls we had used all season allowed ~1-2 inches of compression from squeezing. The ball that jammed us... 1/4 inch if we were trying...

I wish FIRST would have chosen a game piece that they have readily available for the entire season (Each object has the same consistency when new.) and will not change teams' ability to play the game as the season progresses.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 12:09 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

I missed the Web Hug
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Unread 05-03-2012, 12:19 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Marc S. View Post
About the Q&A system...

FIRST needs to answer all questions even if they are design specific. The ONLY reason a team would ask a design specific question is because they don't know whether or not their design is legal. No team should ever have to build part of their robot (or even worse their whole robot) wondering if it is going to be ruled legal or illegal at their first event.

This year 973 was debating doing something similar to the '118' style hang off the bridge. We considered this because there was not a definition to the 'Grab, Grasp, Grapple' rule in the manual. When we looked up definitions for grab, grasp, and grapple we found multiples of each, and most of them classified 118's hanging mechanism legal. Even most of the definitions for grapple don't classify a grappling hook as something that grapples. Because of this we thought we needed clarification by the Q&A. After they failed to answer our initial question, we submitted 3 question: (1) Please define Grab. (2) Please define Grasp. (3) Please define Grapple.

The answers they gave were mediocre: "If a reasonably astute observer would define something as (insert one of the G's) then it is (that same G).

The problem with this is that 'reasonably astute observers' don't always define stuff the same. So essentially they were saying that at some events the 118 style hang is legal... and at some, it is not. This is not only unfair it degrades the image of FIRST. (It also makes for some very frustrated designers in the middle of build season.)
I have to ask, what did you think they were trying to disallow when they specified grab, grasp, and grapple?
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Unread 05-03-2012, 12:31 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

I've seen a lot of problems, but the big one for me was: dedicated webcasts. We should not have to resort to a team maybe stepping up to hopefully get a stream out to people. Please get the infrastructure for that to work at all events! It was really unfortunate that I had to tell sponsors back at home that I would only be able to maybe get emails out to them since the feed was down.

FIRST, if we're trying to impress giant companies who are new to the organization, the ability for executives to watch the event when they want to is very important. At our home regional, our sponsors came out and checked out the event, but in NC, no cast at all... it was a PR nightmare that I had to find energy to deal with.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 12:39 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

Having the gamepieces made by more than one place (there were some made in one manufacturer, and some made in another. Balls we bought week 1 were drastically different from balls we bought week 8, and that is after heavy testing of both balls being freshly opened and unused).

That really messed up shooting for most teams.


Replacing balls. While one thinks it's logical to replace old balls with new ones, the new ones were again drastically different than the old ones, resulting in wheeled shooters misfiring almost every time in eliminations. I think a game piece like the balls this year had too much variability for teams to control. Game pieces like the soccer balls in 2010, the moon rocks in 2009 (for the most part), the trackballs of 2008, etc. had little to no variability between them, so going from one to another wouldn't change performance.


Coopertition bridge. Great addition to the game, worth too much. I like the idea of a coop bridge, because working with your opponents is much harder than working with your allies. Because of this, there is a reward. Plus, you have to sacrifice one of your team mates who could spend their time scoring, so the tradeoff seems good enough for the mutual benefit. The part I don't like, however, is how much it decided regionals. I understand it's supposed to be a part of the game, but to go to the point to say that you can loose and still "win" is too far. If you loose, you loose. Don't try and over-glorify winning, and cushion loosing. I think the best solution is to make the coop bridge worth 1 point. Not quite a win, but enough to benefit the winning team a little, and benefit the loosing team for putting a robot up to benefit the other team. Rankings won't be drastically affected, and coopertition will remain a part of the game.


Events. The events, while awesome, are getting too crowded. While the idea of moving to district systems is being talked about, it needs to be done soon. Teams are having trouble getting into regional events. I know personally here in CA we wanted to sign up for Sacramento, and were forced into Central Valley because Sacramento had no room. Not a terrible thing, but as FIRST expands at the exponential rate it does, I think we're going to need to be able to contain those teams as fast and efficiently as possible.


That's all my complaints. No more until next year.

Last edited by Andrew Lawrence : 05-03-2012 at 12:42 AM.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 01:18 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Gray Adams View Post
I have to ask, what did you think they were trying to disallow when they specified grab, grasp, and grapple?
That's just it, other than to prevent robots from grabbing onto the hoops and preventing field damage, we didn't know. If they had clarified it in the game manual we would have known. Maybe a rule along the line of:

R118) A robot may not be supported by the bridge in more than 1 way, AKA a robot gaining leverage on the bridge from 2 or more different parts of the bridge.

However that in itself would have cause some upsets with many balances this season. Either way there were many teams who were unclear about the grab, grasp, grapple rule.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 01:30 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Tetraman View Post
4. Official FIRST Video Recording and Archive of all Competition matches, Alliance Selection. All Competitions webcasted by official FIRST staff/volunteers.
This, obviously, will take some time but it's so needed and pretty self explanatory. Done should be the days of teams having to volunteer coverage of events, and instead it be done officially at one website for all to see.
I'm certainly not disagreeing with the need for better webcasts. My only question is... where is FIRST going to find the staff members to cover this? They're already stretched incredibly thin as it is...

Editing to add this, instead of double posting:

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Originally Posted by lemiant View Post
Kill the speeches on Einstein. After we won our division I sent the webcast link to a bunch of people and along with the field issues the sheer number of speeches made it remarkably uninteresting. If you want to make it consumable to a larger audience it has to be interesting. I recommend a separate awards ceremony and far fewer speeches.
I'm a little confused. Most of those 'speakers' were award presentations. As one of them, we're instructed: Go up, read script, come back down. They're exactly the same scripts read by the emcees at regionals. When would you rather they give the non-division-specific awards?

Yes, there are speeches from Dean/Jon/Woodie, etc, and I'm not arguing that some of those can go a little long, at all. I'm just wondering where else the regular award presentations could go.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 01:41 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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That's just it, other than to prevent robots from grabbing onto the hoops and preventing field damage, we didn't know. If they had clarified it in the game manual we would have known. Maybe a rule along the line of:

R118) A robot may not be supported by the bridge in more than 1 way, AKA a robot gaining leverage on the bridge from 2 or more different parts of the bridge.

However that in itself would have cause some upsets with many balances this season. Either way there were many teams who were unclear about the grab, grasp, grapple rule.
Even that is confusing. Would you define one "part" of the bridge to be the aluminum angle, and thus reacting against both faces of that part is still legal?

The GDC has the difficult position of creating a brand new game which has no precedent for most rules. In all other sports, questionable activity can often be justified and deemed illegal by past instances of it being attempted.

The Q&A is pretty terrible at remedying this pre-competition, but it seems like they try to stay as vague as possible to encourage as much creativity as possible. The last thing they want to do is encourage a certain strategy (which would explain the ridiculousness of all the robots in the video).

I'm not really sure what the best thing to do would be. Creating crystal clear definitions would be nice, but that's very difficult, and is still subjective. Maybe the GDC just shouldn't worry about encouraging or discouraging designs when they respond to the Q&A.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 07:58 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by SuperNerd256 View Post
Having the gamepieces made by more than one place (there were some made in one manufacturer, and some made in another. Balls we bought week 1 were drastically different from balls we bought week 8, and that is after heavy testing of both balls being freshly opened and unused).
As far as I know the balls were all from the same manufacture and the same lot. Do you have proof otherwise?
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Unread 05-03-2012, 08:36 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
That's a common complaint every year -- and I couldn't agree more. I have no idea how a group of geniuses intent on making STEM exciting for the masses so consistently make the final championship games so painfully boring!

(That is to say, the matches themselves are generally great, but the speeches are so numerous and so long that the overall Einstein spectator experience is downright tedious.)
I am pretty sure the reason they do speeches during Einstein is to give the robots a chance to cool down and for the teams to perform maintenance/battery changes on the robots between matches.

So its either speeches that are gonna be made one way or the other, or another 5 minutes of dancing to Cotton Eye Joe.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 08:55 AM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Libby K View Post
I'm certainly not disagreeing with the need for better webcasts. My only question is... where is FIRST going to find the staff members to cover this? They're already stretched incredibly thin as it is...
Doesn't FIRST Contract an AV Company for Non-District Events? Wouldn't it be as simple as asking them (and compensating them appropriately) to webcast and archive the event?

Breaking the video into individual matches would be a little more involved - but if it's something truly important to FIRST then it's probably worth hiring a person or two that manages these archived videos - even if they're only two to three month Temp employees for the competition season.
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