Contradictory FIRST Statements

Has anyone else noticed that this year and last year, FIRST makes rules contradictory and confusing. Last year, they started off by saying that any tether type objects would always be an entanglement hazard, disqualifyable (I wish FIRST would say that once), yet tons of robots were allowed to have tethers if they didn’t actually entangle anyone. This year, the start off scoring with height of stack times number of other boxes not in highest stack. Now they’re including subtraction. In the rule book, it says you can order three custom pneumatic cylinders for free, and as many others as you want for a fee. But now on the official forums, they say you can only order the first 3.
What FIRST needs is all the game coordinators sit down and chat with a lawyer who then clearly constructs all the forum replies and team updates so that they can be no question on FIRST’s official position on any issue. Discuss.

I agree.

Sure if you are determined enought you can get/make a nuclear bomb and do something really terrible with it.

Sure there are team in FIRST who’s sole strategy is to find loopholes in the rules an make everyone else unhappy.

True that FIRST has made some mistakes along the way BUT they are soo much better this year so far then any other year.

So please give them a break they are trying really hard to make it better for all of us. They are people too and people make mistakes

Obviously, complicated rules prevents teams who don’t understand what Gracious Professionalism really is, but it is frustrating when your team has to design mechanisms based on which one of the two conflicting reports/rules are actually the one in effect. :] I don’t want to seem too harsh, because I think this game is cool, but…
I just wish every issue was settled right from the start.

In a perfect world, having a set of rules that are unambiguous would be great. I can sympathize with the Game and Rule makers as I have co-created 7 different games (we hold what is called the ChiefDelphi Invitational) and develop a new FIRST like game for it. We’ve been fairly sucessful and most of the teams have enjoyed participating. But, with each new game comes trying to develop the rules for the Game, the Kit, and the Scoring. It isn’t easy anticipating every thing that could result in a question or concern. We have had the best results when we kept the rules and the scoring simple. We have had the most problems when we try to over complicate the scoring and the game rules. The rules should be easy to understand and easy to enforce (if you need special stuff to figure either out, it gets tough - is it touching something? get the official piece of paper to see if it can slide between…) It is not good if the audience and players cannot immediately tell if it is a score or not. It is not a good idea if the audience and players cannot keep track of the score because it can change quicker than they can react - the players have no time to counter the strategy being used on them and the audience stops trying to figure out score. Even with the ability to generally see who has the most of something, if that observation can be negated (even with a complex explanation - this was touching or that doesn’t count because) it will cause problems for the audience. If the game requires the casual observer to “read the fine print” in able to understand the game it will lead to the types of problems that have occurred in recent years. Game and Rules can be designed using the KISS method and still be challenging. In fact the game should be the challenge, not trying to interpret the rules. Just my opinion.

We got very frustrated last year with some of the contradictions and unnecessary complexities in the rules, getting different answers from different people, the fact that the competition was geared towards “big-budget” teams, etc. I had the opportunity to ask Dean Kamen about this when he was in Hartford and his response was that as any organization grows it has problems with communications. FIRST has grown extraodinarily fast in recent years and I’m not sure whether their staff is equipped to handle the needs of every team. As FIRST designs its competitions it seems to be making them more and more complex, perhaps to prevent loopholes. Maybe the best strategy is for FIRST to create a simple game with simple rules and allow the teams to interpret the rules however they want.

I agree. there are too many things that just don’t quite mesh in the rule book.

Must they always do this? I think that they should stick with what they have for the whole season. No updates except to clarify rules and possibly close a loop-hole or two, but not a total rewording of the manual 15 times.

What you are seeing is what happens when a small group of very creative people try and develop something fool proof and then turn it over to 20,000 very creative fools.

The fools come up with all sorts of things the creators never anticipated. Fortunately the basic structure of the game this year is sound. I have seen nothing in the updates that fundamentally changes the way the game is played. They have changed the wording of the rules and the method of determining the score to plug some holes discovered by ingenious fools.

Remember, the rules are developed working in secret, so the developers can only have their work checked in advance by a very limited number of people, most of whom are part of the process in one way or another. This makes them the least likely people to find holes in the rules. They KNOW what is intended, so their preception of the rules tends to be that they are very clear even if they aren’t. This is just human nature. It is especially difficult to do this if you are not by nature a devious or secretive person. Which pillar of gracious professionalism supports either?

The game objectives are still the same, get boxes into your scoring zone, stack approximately half of them, run for the top of the ramp.

So lets sit down, shut up, and start building robots.

Chris said it about as well and accurate as it can be said.

I think Chris’ post should be saved, copied, pasted, and referred to in all future years when people start this same thread.

This game is not like most others. All the major sports and most of the remaining games have had years and decades to fine tune them…We do not shoot basketballs into peach baskets anymore but that’s how basketball started.

It takes a lot of effort to design a game and it takes the feedback to make it work. With the secrecy, and inherent anticipation, of our game, there will be adjustments.