I think some people are seeing other people advocate for a change in the score balance, and immediately make a few (logical and rational) assumptions:
1: That team isn’t scoring as much and wants the robot they built to be able to win matches more.
2: That team incorrectly guessed how the game would play out and would like it to shift to their initial predictions.
3: Their motives are mostly selfish, and they are not acknowledging what a change in score balancing would do to the teams who made informed decisions based on the rules to focus on gears.
And in some cases, the people making these assumptions are exactly right. I have no doubt that some of the people advocating for the change in scoring built the wrong robot and want to see themselves succeed regardless of how fair or unfair it is to other teams.
But I think those people are in the minority, and those who wish to keep scoring the way it is aren’t recognizing the other aspect of the argument, the one that most people are sticking to: Health of the game.
What I mean by the game’s health is how well the concept is executed, how well it’s received by the players, and how well it’s received by the audience. And I think in these three ideas is where the two opposing sides of this debate find the most disconnect.
For many of the people who want to change the scoring, the change isn’t to make their robots better, but to make the game more enjoyable to experience. Many of these people believe that, without proper balance, the entirety of teleoperated mode will be focused on gear scoring, which they believe isn’t a very exciting concept to the audience. The proponents of this idea think that watching robots cycle gears is like watching them stack totes - a good challenge for those on the field, but not a task that’s extremely enjoyable to watch. It’s monotonous and relatively low risk, especially once teams get good enough to the point where 3 rotors is expected, but 4 isn’t reliably attainable yet. At that level of play you can expect the climbs to cancel out in a good match, leaving the scores mostly tied up.
“But that’s why fuel is the tie breaker - it’s not the main game”.
And you’re right, it definitely is the tie breaker, but it’s one that the current in-game incentives only allocate to autonomous, with teleoperated shots only sparingly being useful. Now if this is what FIRST intended - that’s perfectly okay - but there are 600 fuel on the field. 600. 600 little plastic balls in specially designed hoppers that are scored into large, mechanized goals with two dye rotors in each that have individual fuel counters that count kPa and illuminate a string of LEDs that traverse the open air between the driverstation walls and the airships. And these 600 balls are also recycled back onto the field. That is a lot of time, money, and effort put into the fuel aspect of the game, which is a huge waste if FIRST only intended fuel to be the small differential in points between two alliances breaking the tie at the end of the match. Out of the 13 field elements (5 hoppers, 2 airships, 2 boilers, 2 loading zones, 2 overflow zones), 9 are for fuel-related purposes. That’s almost 70% of the field. Something is inherently wrong with a game if 70% of the field is for an aspect that of the game that accounts for 0.73% of the average teleop match score and a majority of teams refer to as “useless” and “not for them”.
If fuel is really supposed to only be a small tie breaker, limit it to 200 on the field total, none recycled back after scored, no hoppers, no overflow, make the goals simple with a single, larger opening at the top with no low goal, and only make the boiler process during autonomous and the last 45 seconds of the match, that way gears can be the center and main focus of the game, and you don’t have so many wasted resources towards an aspect of the game that isn’t worth the time or effort to do exceedingly well.
If we could go back and redesign the game, I bet many people from both sides of the argument would agree on a similar setup, because the institutions of the game will change to reflect how the game is being played now.
However we cannot redesign the game. The fields are built, and time machines don’t exist. We have a field with 70% of its infrastructure going towards fuel, a large quantity of 600 balls available on the field, and a core gear cycling game that many people, myself included, think is boring to watch. The field can’t be changed, but the scoring can. This is why many people are proposing re-balancing the scores. We have a field designed for both fuel and gears and a score balance designed only for gears. We want to prevent the waste of what we have, not to benefit ourselves or fraud others, but to create a game that is enjoyable to watch and fully utilizes what FIRST Steamworks has to offer. Such a change wouldn’t devalue gear scorers - if anything making shooting a more viable option will increase the demand for good gear scorers, and give those robots a more centralized and important role on alliances.
Some say it’s unfair to those who made design decisions around the original rules. I say it’s unfair to hold back the potential of FIRST Steamworks. A re-balance in scores will make for an exciting game while still giving value to the teams who designed gear-robots. Keeping things the way they are will keep value for gear-robots, but won’t make for an exciting game. Which is really unfair?
To those who still don’t think this is a game where fuel holds weight: You’re right. But if we don’t treat it like one, it will be a boring game.