3 YEAR FRC CYCLE ? - The PRO's

The FIRST booklet in the Popular Mechanics magazine mentions going to a 3 year cycle, where the game would stay the same for 3 seasons, and then a new game announced. With ths cycle, all 4 year students would see 2 games, and most other students would see either 1 or 2 games depending on the cycle.

I can think of many positives and negatives to such a system - what do you think?

This thread is for the POSITIVES ONLY! A separate thread is for the negatives.

EDIT - THIS IS IN THE “RUMOR MILL” BECAUSE IT IS BREIFLY MENTIONED IN THE SUPPLEMENT TO THE PM MAGAZINE. I DO NOT KNOW WHERE THE IDEA CAME FROM OR EVEN IF IT IS BEING CONSIDERED AT FIRST. IT IS AN INTERESTING IDEA, SO I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE GOOD TO SEE WHAT THE CD COMMUNITY THOUGHT.

Positive:

More elaborate games
Potentially less registration costs
More events
Insanely cool and complex robots
Iteration to the max

That’s all I got for now.

Thanks for making separate threads for positives and negatives!

Allow for iterative design…

Positives -

Rookies could be more successful since they could review and learn from proven designs.

Rookies could be more successful since veteran teams in the area could devote more time to them during the build season.

Mentor burn-out could be reduced since the most hectic “new game” activities would only occur every three years.

Veteran robots would get better and better, really pushing the capabilities of the students, mentors and machines.

There could be significant cost savings with $10K+ robots being used for three seasons instead of one.

I guess one could make the argument that this would be more realistic in terms of what happens in industry. Sure, you have a deadline for projects, but that usually will not be the final iteration of the product. If it were, cars would be the same every year and everyone would still be using big, clunky cell phones. It allows teams to take their robots and update them with new technologies (providing the rules allow this), just as you would do in a real setting.

It would also allow teams who can only afford one regional to have another shot at winning. Teams that attend 2-3 regional/district events each year usually make improvements between events in order to better compete at the next one. Heck, we even change things for off-season events! As I said, however, all teams are not afforded this opportunity. Implementing a 3 year cycle would give them this chance.

Referee and inspector consistency should improve in years 2 and 3 of the cycle.

I would support it for all the reasons mentioned above…plus…

The level of competition would be greatly increased at the start of the season.

More robots on the field doing the intended activities…not just driving about.

Auton could possibly be longer and more complex as well.

PRO: The Vex Robotics Competition would experience an influx of excited teams and mentors.

Pros:
-Iterative design. Teams would be able to review robot design successes and failures and build on them for next season.

-Public consistency. It is much easier to sell the same game every year, if the game is good. Plus, robots would get better every year, and a more competitive field makes FIRST look better.

This is best.

If done correctly (I.E. set up to prevent Year 2/3 Week 1 completes…), it could become a process of reverse engineering and problem solving; more-so than now.

EX: Year 1 of 3: Logomotion Presented. Team XXXX develops a typical arm design to tackle the challenge and comes dead last at their regional. Team XXXX returns to their home base and keeps an eye on other regionals and robots. They decide to attempt a roller claw, which 4 of the top 6 robots at their event possessed, for next year.

Year 2 of 3: Team XXXX implements their roller claw, and to their horror, it fails utterly during testing, and they have to revert to their original claw design. With experience from last year, they understand both the strengths and weaknesses of their robot and drive team and take seed 3 and win the regional.

In between Year 2 and 3: Team XXXX figures out what failed catastrophically in their roller claw testing, and decides to use it for Year 3.

Year 3 of 3: Team XXXX implements their (revised) roller claw in record time and are comfortable with its performance by week 3. With time on their side, they decide to attempt to make a mechanum drive to increase their scoring ability. With minutes to to spare, they complete their somewhat shaky mechanum drive. At their event, Team XXXX takes a mid-range qualifications finish and are selected by the number 7 seed and are eliminated in the semi-finals versus the regional winner.

If done correctly, situations like this will be common in my opinion. It will increase the envelope with new ideas and untested plans. If a team is comfortable, they may try something new and fall way below where they usually were before the cycle. Some teams may struggle the whole build and walk away from their event Champions, and their alliance captain to boot.

More thoughts about the cons and situations that lend themselves to the cons in the other thread.

Some questions I have about the proposal:

Would the game be identical each year, or would there be a “base game” (Y1) followed by twists/additions to the “base game” (Y2, Y3)?

How would this affect the build season as we know it? Would it change to a more VEX-like arrangement where teams have practically the full year to strategize and build, or would there be a hands-off policy for the not-build-or-competition season? How would the pre-fabricated components section of the rules be affected? Would the teams use the same robot for all three years, or would they redesign/rebuild each year?

If this idea was paired with an expanded competition season and a more pervasive and complete district competition model, it may be something I could get behind. If FIRST truly wants to adapt the sports model, this would be a better analogue.

if this were to happen the game would have to be one of the best FIRST games to date. i’d hate to be stuck playing Lunacy for 3 years :yikes:

but if they slightly change the game year to year to improve game play or add/remove elements, that could be a really fun system.

One of the main points brought up in the booklet article is the notion of leaving the game alone to promote spectator familiarity.

They don’t completely reinvent the rules of popular televised American sports every year, and that is one of the main reasons such sports maintain the public’s interest.

A 3 year game cycle would help the public grow attached to and fully understand and appreciate a particular game for a year or two before reinventing it for the next cycle.

I’m also going to post this in the cons thread…

But this isn’t the first time this idea has come up. Back in 2005, the following thread proposed a replayed game: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=37726

Of course, it did have a few other proposed tweaks, but we’ll assume those are completely forgotten about.

Response to that here.

Probably including this team.

I like this line of thought. Games played over multiple years could have significantly more complex cooperative game objectives (ie. tasks that require 2 or 3 robots with potentially unique designs to accomplish). In prior games that I have participated in, cooperative objectives have been fairly “simple” (ie. robot elevation in 2007, suspending from another robot in 2010). In the first year, teams would initially focus on optimizing for the single robot objectives within the game while advanced teams would also start to incorporate capabilities for objectives requiring 2-3 robots to complete. Because the density of robots capable of cooperating at competitions would be low, these events would be rare in year one. In years 2-3, these events would become more common as teams master single robot objectives and move on to the cooperative objectives. Assuming that three unique designs are required to obtain a single game objective, then we could see designs that specialize in one, two, and possibly all three and the combinatorial design possibilities are interesting to me. The trick would be in carefully balancing the points between the layers of cooperation.

  1. Attendance in Off-Season events will increase. The ability to use an Off Season event to test out and try new concepts on a robot would be a welcome tool. Why waste your time on a prototype that you aren’t sure is going to work during a regional event? Test it out between years in off season events and get it working to perfection or drop it and try a new direction before the real competition returns.

and that’s all I have. I find more cons to this than pros.

Kit costs could be reduced, significantly, perhaps with a corresponding decrease in registration fees. It would also reduce the FIRST’s field cost, as relatively minor as that may be.

Likewise outlays for robot materials would average out much lower over the course of three years.