2015 Lessons Learned: The Negative

Suggestions (from one of the scorekeeper/field power guys on Hopper):

Champs

-Paper airplanes need to be discouraged, not encouraged (as they seemed to be at least during opening ceremonies).
-Makes the opening ceremony in the evening if possible, or else have an afternoon load in with an evening ceremony before actual qualifications.
-Announce chairmans before Einstein matches, and give the winning team field side seating like was done in the past. It feels like chairmans has been kicked down a notch.
-The audio during the first half of-of ein-ein-stien-stein was-was bad-bad and-and echo-ho-ey-ey. Didn’t somebody do a mic check, or at least have a spare mic in case there was a problem?

Game

-Bring back defense, in a 2013ish way, not a 2014ish way (2013 IMHO was the last really good game pre-IRI)
-Don’t make autonomus the game deciding (or close to it) factor; this was 2003 all over again, and I don’t just mean the use of totes as a game piece.
-Cheesecake in moderation, please. While it was consensual on both ends, I felt the amount of cheesecake was “gluttony” this year, especially during sub-division playoffs.
-Make the endgame where a new ability is added, not removed. While the committers of litter entering penalties should have known better, due to the lack of litter processing by most teams, it was a stupid rule.
-Bring back W-L-T, even if the quarters and semi’s are matched up round robin.

Other

-When making big changes to long term strategy, ASK the community, at least those who are known to be knowledgeable and/or experienced (HOF mentors, WFA’s, etc.). Sure one can’t divulge venue bids and whatnot… but the split championship concept probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day (at least in its current form) had such people been consulted before venues were being chosen in the first place.

The audio during Einstein was terrible, at least in the upper levels where I was.

Have judging start on Thursday, not Friday.

More details on the event schedule, like what was happening next during Einstein, after Einstein so people can be in the right place at the right time (show it on the screens occasionally if nothing else)

FIRST really needs standards for livestreaming. This year, they had so many technical problems, streams crashing, horrible angles, and horrible sound quality.

FIRST needs to set standards for webcasts. Some teams can record all the matches better then they can. By having better webcasts, we can help grow FIRST by getting people excited (like in the closing cerimonies)

Keeping to a schedule at CMP was a bit of a problem. I understand that a lot can offsest the schedule, but Recycle Rush had an extremely long reset time

There’s a reason why control systems is one of the toughest subjects in mechanical and electrical engineering, and why controls engineers are heavily sought after in the job marketplace. Controls is definitely not trivial. As RC said, you may not understand what “controls” means. I suggest you look at some of the code 254 and 1114 have released previously.

  1. Everything that was wrong with AA is right in this game, and everything that was right in AA is wrong is this game. I think FIRST underestimated teams’ ability to make can pullers, and they overestimated teams’ ability to make cooperative autonomous modes. I think some facets of RR came out of an overreaction to how last year’s game was played.
  2. moving to the other side of the stadium for closing ceremonies took away from the significance of the ceremony. Many people didn’t get to see the Einstein finalists and winners receive their award, and people were already leaving as the championship chairman’s award winner was announced.
  3. the paper airplanes need to end. They are nothing more than an irritation and a mess. They get stuck in the robots. They hit the people on the floor. They encourage immature, wasteful behavior, which is pretty ironic for a recycling-themed game.
  4. take the money used to get the DJ and use it to hire the PNW media people.

I don’t really want to talk about my opinion on the game because honestly, everyone has said it already. It was just awful. The tether idea is neat, but not one EVERY team just takes another team’s idea and uses it on their own robot. At least in 2014 if you were going to add something it had to be somewhat complex, not just a ramp attached by a piece of string.

The championship webcasts - What the hell were you guys thinking? 240p? Really? The footage itself was so grainy that you could feed a family of 5 cows with all of it. The sound quality was better than the video, even with that there was constant echoing and voice amplification which hurt the viewers ears. Please do **NOT **raise the the volume unexpectedly! I sat there for over 1 and a half hours waiting for Einstein, and what did I get? A sub-par viewing experience WHERE I COULDN’T EVEN SEE THE WHOLE FIELD! Half of the time the can races weren’t even being shown. But that can race in finals 2, that, was crazy.

Oh, and thanks for not telling anyone about the chairman’s award. We sat there looking at the logo for 45 minutes, bored out of our minds. Then, you cut the stream when the concert comes. I thought you wanted to give the championship experience to everyone?

If you want people to “get into robotics more” maybe have a viewing experience where I can see the whole field.

Please, don’t do round robin if there is any appreciable defense. It will only incentivize the weaker alliances to gang up against the most powerful alliance.

It might be small, but load-in was really confusing. I have no clue whether registration contributed to the lack of volunteers there. The only volunteer we found co-ordinating it was organizing buses and let 2 vehicles stay parked directly in front of a door for 2 hours. Please set up lines if you want teams to abide by them, or have more solid limits on how long a vehicle can be parked.

Thanks for the compliment; I feel like I have been hearing this a lot, but it would never work. We usually have 15 people max for one event and even then it is tough. Kids get trained on the spot and our most knowledgeable members use all their time off from school and work to attend our local events. Heck, we barely did IRI last year because so much was coming out of pocket and the adults used up vacation days.

Flaws of RR:

  1. The bins were basically a chokehold this year. This made matches at the high level pretty boring because you know, provided no one broke, who would win based on how many bins they got. I prefer 2010, where the “Unbeatable” blocking of balls could be countered, but still gave an alliance a HUGE advantage.

  2. The litter was way too powerful. Alliances could basically dominate early events with a terrible robot but amazing noodle thrower.

  3. Basic bots could barely add to an alliance due to lack of defense. I mean, they can at least play defense most years!

  4. The streams at world champs were disgusting. I had a friend interested in the program who was planning to watch it with me, but left because the quality and camera angles turned him off (FULL field view, PLEASE)

  5. The strategy this year was very basic, because of a lack of defense.

  6. The game really lacked a WOW factor, an edge-of-your-seat feel. There was no end game that could change the flow of a match, nor defense to stop scoring.

Suggestions:

  1. Make autonomous less powerful, the cans decided EVERYTHING.

  2. Make defense a thing again, PLEASE.

  3. Set up a better stream at champs, I understand this is too expensive for regionals, but champs deserves this.

I couldn’t have stated it better. Streams were horrific. In the closing they stated its our job to grow FIRST. How can we do that with crappy webcasts. We need to use webcasts as draws to FIRST. First is all about Tech, so let’s get techy.

Some teams have scouting programs (like mine). We need tools to train scouters. Such as FULL FIELD view from the stands.

I agree with a lot of whats being said except for the cans and match outcome being decided in auto.

Even when 1678 and 118 got 3/4 cans, (I believe it was in semi finals on Einstein) 987 and 2826 still pulled out the victory scoring well over 200 points. Winning the can wars definitely helps, but it doesn’t mean instant win or loss. You still have to stack them. In addition there were barely any matches this year where one alliance got all the cans off the step. (I can only recall two) And again in one of the two matches, the alliance that got all the cans only put up 4 very sub optimal stacks with cans, and was eliminated. There was only one match that I can think of the whole year, where the outcome was decided in auto. I think I can live with that.

I’m curious: which divisions were you guys watching on the stream? I watched Curie, and while the resolution was pretty bad, I generally found the camera angles and split view to be pretty nice. That said, I was generally not focused on a particular team, but rather trying to take the whole thing in as an un-invested spectator. Einstein was notably worse, with its focus on players and such (although I will say that, for those in the dome who could see the physical field as well, it may not have been as bad)

I had all of them going, on 3 monitors and a TV, so two per screen. I was not impressed at all. I hated the split. I would more rather see the whole field, the entire time.

I had octoview going.

Without getting personal here - Please, I am well aware of what controls are. I also did already see 254’s code and it isn’t very complex. There’s just a lot of it.

I want to go ahead and further clarify that I wasn’t at any point suggesting that general controls programming is easy, nor that the programming you *might *learn at FRC is not extensive.

I meant that the FRC controls are boring, and I’m speaking solely about the robot code. Especially when the common programming language for the cRIO / RoboRIO is LabVIEW (our team is C++ing, though), you don’t really learn too much when comparing, for example, to the mechanical knowledge you might gain from a good season in FRC. The only way IMHO to gain real and comprehensive knowledge with programming at FRC is to do something that is not directly related to the robot (i.e. 254’s ChessyArenais absolutly fantastic), but again - few are the teams that do such projects.
The other option IMHO is to do CV - but it didn’t get you real advantage in any of the last years games. Even last year the hot goal reflector was broken. I think this symbols how FIRST treats CV.

Also, I think I can safely presume that the code at 254 is more complicated than the code you will find on the average team (i.e. TrajectoryLib). All powerhouse teams have complex mechanics, and us such these teams have more systems to control. Programming more cylinders is exactly the same as programming a few in terms of complexity.

What do you mean? If a team loses in the finals, what do you want to happen?

+1

FIRST is a technology organization. Poor stream quality, especially if they want new people to be interested in FRC, is unacceptable.

Strike a deal with Google and YouTube or one of your other supposed sponsors and partners and get every event, but especially Championships, better streaming quality.

And for Championships, get a broadcast like the one for the Michigan State Championship going on Saturday. MSC is incredible to watch, even with this year’s game due to the incredible production value put into the event.

And hire the Roboshow guys to do interviews and help with game analysis.

As a member of a large team, I can tell you that we get to the stadium early to have good seats. That opportunity is available to all teams.