OK. Here are my thoughts after being a FVC mentor, tournament committee member, and a referee.
Autonomous Mode: Separate auto mode was well received. It placed more emphasis on auto than FRC for some teams, others didn’t bother with auto at all. Perhaps a way to encourage more use of auto, would be for auto “winners” to carry some advantage onto the driver field such as bonus game pieces or additional scoring options in addition to the auto score rankings.
The only down side to separate auto matches was the need to change crystals twice, once for auto and once for tele matches. This was a chore for tournament staff to keep this running smoothly. Although, it might work fine once teams are used to the system. A crystal table adjacent to each field that teams must pass by might help.
Tele-Operated Mode: Not much to change here. All the excitement of FRC in a smaller space. Using two tele-operated fields, one running the other staging, like at Championships work VERY well. A field timer visible on the field like FRC would be nice, too.
Game Object(s): Commercially available, and READILY available, objects please. The lack of red balls this year made our team not pursue some sensor options because we couldn’t readily test our ideas. Lots of scoring objects too. It was very exciting to watch some of the center goal contests this year as teams just piled on the balls. Something other than balls like FRC.
Goals/Scoring: Multiple goals - Yes. Different scoring options - Yes. Bonus Objects or Goals (See my auto section above). Low Cost - the poly carb was a big investment this year. The corner goals could have been made entirely of plywood to save money this year. They were low and on a slope so visibility was not a problem. Although, I really liked the poly carb end walls at Championships. A raised center platform for the game to make it more visible to the audience. A balance ramp like FRC 2001 would be fun. Maze-like barriers that can be moved by robots would be interesting. Finally, mobile goals are always fun and challenging.
Tournament Structure: I’ll agree with the other posts. I think FVC should develop closer to FLL than FRC as a league.
I would like to see it develop similar to varsity sports where local teams host smaller (say 10-18 team) “home” tournaments without a lot of fluff, just competition, that could be run in an evening or on a Saturday morning or afternoon. League scoring could be posted during the “league season” with high scoring teams getting automatic berths to “official” FIRST regionals. Other teams could still register for open berths just like FRC Championships. It would be similar to FRC post season events, in reverse. I think it would be great to see rankings and box scores posted online just like the sports section of the newspaper. Teams could compete within their Division and have the option to compete in one or two “Non-Conference” meets during the season.
Each Conference or Division could supply its own “official” field(s) which could be moved around to each local event, just have FIRST supply the tournament software and field control equipment in small mobile kits. FIRST has already created regions with Regional Directors, FIRST Senior Mentors, and local staffers who could support these local conferences. It also would allow FIRST to add “official” regionals as local sponsors can be found, but would allow local conferences to be created as soon as area teams created it themselves. This local ownership should encourage teams seek out new schools in their area to join the conference, and by having a low cost, but repeatable local meets FIRST would be building excitement and energy on the road to the “official” Regionals. This building excitement and repeatability would also expose more non-FIRST schools to the program.
Kick-off could be in September, with local conference play during say November through early January, then the “official” Regionals could be during late winter/early spring like FRC.
This is probably more of a FVC big picture thread, not game design thread, but…
Who’s ready to start the Connecticut Conference of the New England Region?
Other/General Game Ideas: None at the moment. I’ll edit if I think of any.