2015 - What would you like to see in next year's point system?

  1. No change: Continue to use foul points to penalize rule breaking.
  2. Sports style: Points must be earned. Penalties will take other form (like time-based penalty in hockey, free throws in basketball, etc.)
  3. VRC style: Replace tech fouls with yellow/red card system.
  4. Others.

Share your thoughts in the poll and get your creative juices going… I have captured a few approaches discussed previously as options.

Sports style would be great, however I think it would either add more time/match or be on one extreme of the strong/weak spectrum. One way you could do it would be to add a “free throw” or something similar, but this would make matches longer. The other option would be disable fouling robots, but this would allow weak teams to commit as many fouls while punishing elite teams more. I think the best solution is the yellow/red card system because if you commit a foul, then you are penalized and not your partners. There is no reason to make a team lose a match because their alliance partner put their hand into the field or their goalie stick bent out of the six inch cylinder. These should be punished, just not to the alliance partners as well.

If you do not want people to foul, you must make it a big enough penalty for them to not want to foul. Take basketball for instance, I think that the “intentional” fouls at the end of games for time strategy reasons is kinda ridiculous.

In this game, if the robot pin and ball herding fouls were not so large it would have happened more and in fact been a large part of teams strategies. As it was, there was a lot of teams “accidentally” bumping the ball and some flagrant pins that helped them win games when refs were distracted this year because it was something you could do with relatively low risk. If it is either get caught with a questionable foul and loose the match or do it and win and possibly not get the foul, there are a lot of people who will take that chance. Even though it isn’t in the spirit of friendly competition, if strategically it works, people will do it to win. I can even hear the arguments from those people already in my head “with a sports style game the robot should be designed to overcome pinning and blocking, either maneuver or push through blocking and shooting over or around other robots; basically that the other teams just need to design and learn to drive better”.

I think the yellow/red card style is the only way you could do it fairly, but since those are currently for egregious actions, I think those should still stay that way. If we stay with a sports style of play, I think a similar system could be used for regular fouls in a way to penalize one team without penalizing the alliance. Have penalties called out with penalty points assigned to the offending team, if they add up over a certain amount during the competition, then they give a negative QP for that team. One or two incidental fouls would not affect any given team either. Could even be used as a tie breaker stat. During quals, the penalty points total and any negative QP would affect the overall standings, making people definitely not want commit fouls and would only affect one team. This could even factor through to district/regional/world rankings to have meta game implications. No one would intentionally commit fouls and would even try to avoid fouls because there would be a huge negative incentive.

This is an interesting point. Mainly the other forms of penalties. IIRC, during kickoff 2012 (when they changed penalties/fouls to be points added to the other team instead of points taken away) they likened it/drew a comparison to free throws in basketball, being that we were playing a basketball themed game.

Theoretical change to Aerial Assist in the vein of “sports style fouls”-what if some fouls were changed from point values to pedestal delays?

That cursing you just heard was almost every coach in FRC, and half of the referees that have dealt with a coach that yells about the pedestal not being lit.

Of course, for some alliances, that wouldn’t be an issue. I know I reffed at least one match where the alliance didn’t finish clearing their auto balls.

Yellow card/red card can also result in qualification point deduction for the offending team only during qualifications.

Slow down there, Satan


Some sort of “x strikes and you’re out” system might be worth exploring. Certain fouls are assigned certain point values, with yellow cards being equivalent to at least 51% of foul points rounded up to the nearest whole number, and red cards equivalent to 100% of the total foul points. When you reach x foul points, you forefit all possible points for the match, excluding the foul points you earn (this means QS and every other sorting statistic). After you “foul out” of a match, your foul-out counter is reset but the foul statistic is carried on through the competition as a sorting metric. The foul point system would reset itself for eliminations, but you gather points for whole alliances.

The biggest pro is that this system wouldn’t negatively affect alliance partners who can’t control your robot, but the biggest con is that this could result in an increase of quasi-intentional fouls as part of a strategy if not ket in check.

Maybe have fouls incorporated more heavily in ranking system by adding an additional column that would weigh down team on the amount fouls they commit ( I forget if this system is already implemented) but I think a sports foul would more appropriate for a game like this years, but it all depends on the game.

Only in eliminations, where fouls are the first tiebreaker: cleaner match wins.

Might not be a bad idea, except that a by-team ANYTHING is just about impossible in the rankings currently, so aggregate fouls would have to be used. Then you get the whole “my partners stink at clean play why do I have to suffer” debate. If used, I’d call it the 2nd tiebreaker: lowest foul points committed.

Though, if something like the sports-style penalty were to be implemented, it can’t have a irrecoverable effect. For example, in soccer, a penalty kick can easily decide a game because of the low scoring nature of the game. It does take a large infraction to initiate a PK, but still something to think about nonetheless when you aren’t able to be responsible for an alliance partner’s mistake.

First of all, I think we should make it so that the FMS requires refs to enter which team(s) commited every foul. Then, I would say that during quals, you subtract a certain ammount from the offending team’s qual score for the match. An example system for scoring would be:

+10 for a win
+5 for a tie
-1 for a foul
-3 for a tech foul

For any given match, you cannot earn a negative qual score (eliminates embarrassing negative overall scores and makes it so that you can’t ruin your chances of ranking high with 1 really bad match). For elims, go back to the current style, only subtract points from the offending team’s score. I understand that we have it add to the other team’s score to reduce scores of 0 and make teams feel less self-conscious about committing the foul, but in elims that shouldn’t be a problem, and I am annoyed of having to preface every conversation about good scores with “penalty free.” The score you get should be the score you earn.

The way games seem to be made now is that a concept is developed and then anywhere from a month to a year is spent thinking of all of the holes in the concept and “patching” those holes with penalties either too subjective to accurately predict or too objective to be flexible.

The problem needs to be dealt with earlier - use the design of the game to incentive the kind of play you wish to see. Don’t just make it a penalty to play a certain way - make playing that way a dumb idea for other reasons. Protected zones limit penalties to certain, obvious areas of the field and seem to incentivise offense effectively.

Fouls are going to be a part of any game design at this point, but putting more active thought into them throughout the process and figuring out how to make a game that just doesn’t need that many fouls is key.

The more I think about it, the more I believe this is the way to go.
I would be on board with sports-style fouls, but in most sporting models, that involves stoppage of play or extended periods after the ‘end’ of the match. I don’t think adding complexity to the timing of matches is a good thing for competitive robotics games.

All fouls which do not affect fair play should move to the yellow card / red card system. If the violation does not give a competitive advantage to the alliance then penalize the offending team only in a way that reminds them what the infraction was. Many safety violations are already handled this way like G1 and G2. Really wish G40 had been handled this same way.

Some additional candidates.
G16 - Crossing the white line too early after auto.
G21 - Robot momentarily extends outside field boundary.
G24 - Robot extending more than 20" beyond frame perimeter, especially in the instances when something on the robot breaks loose, but does not break free.
G39 - Stepping outside of the marked team areas.

I’d prefer to see a game that does not need to use fouls/penalties to ensure that it is played as envisioned by the GDC. Adding fouls to the game is a last resort for when game design, field design, and robot/inspection rules cannot adequately constrain the gameplay on the field.

Momentary “your robot/foot/hand crossed an invisible line and you gained no advantage from it” fouls should be warnings and not penalties, like Aaron pointed out.

All fouls (and hopefully there aren’t many of them) should be announced with the final scores, including the team number(s) that incurred the fouls. Always. Otherwise, it is hard to scout.

Foul points make for a really controversial first tiebreaker, and just about anything else should be more heavily weighted (since a large percentage of foul calls involve some subjectivity).

In the 2014 game all points that were not scored in matches in autonomous, with assists, or on truss activity were placed into a little bin at the end of the table for teleop goals and fouls. Foul statistics probably should be kept in any form, but I would put it at or near the bottom in the sorting order.

What happens to the alliance that lost because the other alliance broke the rules? Seems a bit unfair, don’t you think?

I’m not a fan of foul points, but if there’s no other way I agree with Jared - penalty point value alone is not enough to be a deterrent. The rules and game design have to be carefully considered to make sure fouls are a) clear-cut and b) avoidable

Take G28: “Initiating deliberate or damaging contact with an opponent ROBOT on or inside the vertical extension of its FRAME PERIMETER is not allowed” This rule fails both tests. By leaving qualifiers like “initiate”, “deliberate” and “damaging”, it is very difficult for refs to judge whether an infraction occured, and who is at fault. By the same token, drivers can’t tell whether an impending collision will result in a foul, so they aren’t able to change their behaviour to avoid one.

Imagine if G28 were instead worded “contact with an opponent Robot inside the vertical extension of its FRAME PERIMETER is not allowed”. Now it’s easy to see when a foul will be called, and who will be at fault. Had the rule been worded this way at kick-off it would have influenced teams’ designs to minimize the chance of entering an opponents frame perimeter (fewer extensions outside the frame perimeter, fast retract for any extensions there are, and the ability to perform with extensions retracted). Drivers would know not to deploy their extensions near other robots. The combined effect would have been fewer foul calls.

(Note - I’m not saying this is the way the rule should be written, and I’m certainly not saying it should have been changed mid-season, I’m just demonstrating how clearer rules will influence teams to reduce fouls.)

G12 is a similar situation. Possessing an opponents ball is reasonably a) clear-cut (at least as far as possessions of any ball were this year), but for the most part they were b) unavoidable as written. There were instances of crazy bounces or even human players causing G12 violations. Creating a new “incidental” version of G12 with a smaller penalty did not address the avoidability problem. A better version of this rule might have been “possession of an opponent’s ball for more than 2 seconds is not allowed.” This would have ensured that teams designed their bots to discharge any ball within 2 seconds, and given drivers clear boundaries on what they can and can’t do when the wrong colour ball approaches.

I agree here. Clear rules, clear fouls, and design the game so that fouls aren’t a good idea. But the specific examples you suggest, and your proposed solutions, could have been better chosen.

Take G28: “Initiating deliberate or damaging contact with an opponent ROBOT on or inside the vertical extension of its FRAME PERIMETER is not allowed” …]

Imagine if G28 were instead worded “contact with an opponent Robot inside the vertical extension of its FRAME PERIMETER is not allowed”. Now it’s easy to see when a foul will be called, and who will be at fault.
And it’s REALLY easy to get 90% of all event attendees ticked at the ref who just happened to be looking elsewhere when team X barely taps team Y, doing almost nothing to them, in a close match that team X wins. You want to stand in front of 3000 FIRSTers and announce that that sort of foul, which may or may not have affected the match play, or may or may not have been called, changed the winner, be my guest. I’ll be in the volunteer lounge until the mob goes elsewhere.

Please note that the key word for Week 1 was “deliberate” or “damaging”, not “initiating”. (This was changed after tons of fouls were dished out during that week, some apparently due to Team X running into Team Y and Team X taking damage.) It can be pretty clear when there’s deliberate contact, and definitely clear on damaging contact. (Though… I must say, in passing, that the RSLs are pretty poorly protected by most teams in a high-contact game. At least a couple of damaging calls were made during Week 1 because the RSL broke on contact.)

G12 is a similar situation. Possessing an opponents ball is reasonably a) clear-cut (at least as far as possessions of any ball were this year), but for the most part they were b) unavoidable as written. There were instances of crazy bounces or even human players causing G12 violations. Creating a new “incidental” version of G12 with a smaller penalty did not address the avoidability problem.
A problem that was designed into the game. Now, I disagree that possessions of an opponents’ ball were unavoidable; many teams managed to avoid possessing an opponents’ ball. A number of others were victims of a bad bounce. I think the HP possession cause is already dealt with by G14–intention to cause a violation of a rule. That said, I would agree with having a clause to the effect of “This penalty shall not be applied if the offending robot immediately removes the ball from their robot to the field, and assuming such removal happens in a timely manner (<X seconds)”. And, of course, the refs get some kind of signaling method to let teams and the audience know about said foul being imminent, similar to the pin count.

Yea, after thinking about my proposal I see 2 major problems:

Problem 1. It is possible to deliberately sabotage an opponent by committing fouling them relentlessly and making them lose, accepting that you and them will both recieve 0 qual points. This could be viable when you think you are going to lose a match, and you are against someone right below you in the rankings. It is also possible for a situation like GTRE 2012 to arise.

Solution 1: Include in the rules that strategic infractions will result in a yellow/red card. It is still possible to “suicide bomb” an opponent team, but isn’t it possible to do that to your partners right now? Same for accidental infractions: in this case it may be unfair that your opponents lose because of your actions, but in the current system isn’t it unfair that your partners lose because of your actions? Pick your poison.

Problem 2: It is possible to have cases where it is advantageous to foul. For example: your opponent has a ball with 8 seconds left. If they score it, they win; if not, you win. You can either pin them and get 7 qual points or don’t and get 0.

Solution 2: Same as solution 1. If it’s strategic (and this would be quite obviously strategic), you get a yellow/red card. No more incentives to do this.