General Post MARC discussion

So, what did you think of MARC this year? Any suprises, or just something that needs to be said.

Thank you teams 3096, 830, and 1023!! We really gave them a run for their money and you guys were a great alliance!!

Thank you teams 3096, 830, and 1023!! We really gave them a run for their money and you guys were a great alliance!!

Agreed! I was keeping score for you guys the last match as a volunteer, but I am a part of 830 myself. The finals were darn close…
but hey, being a finalist is still cool :). Congrats 1528, and… the other teams I forgot. Oops.

Besides the energy sapping heat and humidity in the gym my only complaint would probably be the length. I don’t think 13 matches is really needed. I think 10 would do fine to shake out who’s who. Problems that I had with the event last year (lack of other quers, the bars in the doorway that impeded robot traffic, feeding the volunteers) we’re all handled brilliantly.
Otherwise the event was very very well done and solid.
Thumbs up folks!

Definitely can agree that heat was an issue, but I don’t know if there is all that much more that can be done. I’m not sure about the length, it felt long but I was at the side of the field the whole day so it would seem longer. I suppose it depends how the teams felt about it.

I would suggest, however, that we cut the mentor rounds down to four teams of three. I think it was a bit much at the end of quals on Friday to sit through that many mentor rounds, and I noticed many people left to go to the pig roast anyways. I think cutting some of the mentor matches would free up a bit more time for socializing.

I think those are the only real negatives I could think of. The teams were fantastic, the volunteers were generally on the ball, and Chris did a great job as head ref, and both of our announcers were great. Grant did a particularly good job keeping the energy going even with delays, and made sure the crowd was never bored.

Thanks so much to Steve and his crew for getting this whole thing running smoothly. So far every year MARC has grown, but managed to still be a smoothly run event, and has been a blast each year. I’m sure it will be even better next year.

I just got to chuckle and smile," to many matches". Michigan, in or off season,you better build your bots to last. The only problem i saw was with the four teams to an alliance. It makes it very hard to come up with a name.Freezer burned red tailed martians. It just doesn’t flow.

The number of rounds were perfect, in my book. Yeah it was rather hot, but definately not as bad as last year. All around a great event, great food, great competition, great… well I would say robots but ours apparently doesn’t like fridays all that much, I think we ran 2 matches that is didn’t break…and then the mentors drove it and it “magically” worked :stuck_out_tongue: the rest of the time. But all in all, the organizers definatly need to take a bow for this great off-season competition.

I think the event was very well done for the price.

Here are the positives and negatives. Please note that the negatives are not complaints and in many cases not a big deal, treat them as areas that can be improved.

Positives (in no particular order)

  1. There are 13 matches to allow teams to rotate their drivers, whether they want to use it to evaluate their potential drivers for next year or just let everybody have a chance to drive the robot and have fun since not everybody got to drive it during regular season.

  2. The mentors match was fun with 8 alliances and 24 teams. We won it with Team 47 and Team 1718. I truly appreciate how difficult it is to drive the robot to exactly where you want it. The matches were low scoring and the field was filled with missed throws and dumps/shots by robots. I would say keep it. A suggestion is to make it into part of the fundraising event and charge a small fee $10 to enter. This may reduce the number of alliances down to 4 and not take up as much time. However I don’t think it was too much of a problem. Most teams went to the pig roast after their mentor matches were done. It actually is a good way to avoid a very long line if everybody goes at the same time.

  3. The door jambs were removed to allow easier flow of traffic. The pit layout is better than last year even with more teams.

  4. There are teams from Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio which was great. I hope they tell other teams in their area to come next year. Because of the Michigan district model, teams in Michigan do not get too many chances to meet teams from outside of Michigan.

Negatives (in no particular order)

  1. I think 12 matches just like the regular season would be enough. It will cut down on the length a little.

  2. One restroom is not adequate for the number of people there. There is only one stall in the men’s room and people were standing outside waiting quite a bit. If the school will not open up another one, you will need to bring in portable ones.

  3. There was no list of teams or pit maps. It was very difficult to find teams. A piece on paper on the table got covered very easily. There should either be a stand at each pit, a pit map for every team or at least one posted on the wall. Even the pit administration do not know where teams are.

  4. The heat was a problem in the gym but the pit area was nice and cool.

  5. Four teams to an alliance in the elimination round does not work. I understand the inclusive part of it. This has been discussed many times on CD. Do you want the best robots in the elimination round to make it an exciting sporting event like the Michigan State Championship to attract more good teams to come like IRI or do you want to let everybody plays? The qualifying rounds served no purpose.

I would like to thank everyone that came to this event and made it so much fun for me. I enjoy watching everyone have such a good time and the competitiveness/socialism mixture the goes on between the teams.

I would like to thank;
**Lisa Perez: **for coordinating the volunteers (excellent work)
**Ann Kowalczyk: **for helping me run the event
Ronnie Tront/Keith Jones: Excellent work keeping the field up and running
Chris Hunt: Thank you so much for accepting the responsibility of the bad guy role. You did an excellent job handling the toughest job at any event.
Announcers: excellent job keeping the excitement of the game flowwing
Volunteers: THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your hard work and dedication to making MARC a success. Because of your committment MARC is what it is today.

Comments that I have been hearing:

The gym is smoking hot and needs to be addressed. Trust me, I know and felt this (as I passed-out friday afternoon and hit my head on the bathroom floor). Still trying to clear my head after that one. Currently, this is an item before our school board to have A/C installed in the gym. If that doesn’t work, then next year we are going to try and get some rental AC’s for the gym.

Mentor rounds are to long: I agree that it was to much and next year we are going to limit it to the first twelve teams. We might do a charity thing like IRI and charge a fee ($25-$50) per team and give the money to the winning alliance charity of choice.

Pig roast was awesome: I think the pig roast was great and we are definately going to make this a yearly part of MARC. However, with everything new you learn from some mistakes. I am sorry for those people that were not able to get some of Wilbur and had to wait for the pulled pork. It was brought to my attention that people went back for seconds/thirds before everyone got some food. For this I apologize. Next year, each team will have to sign-up for the pig roast ahead of time and pay $1 per person (wil be part of registration) and tickets will be given to the team at registration. This will help us know how many people we will need to feed. After everyone has had their meal, then we will open the line for second/thirds. The $1 per person fee will just go towards our event charity.

The event was absolutely wonderful. Too many positives to list. The pig roast was awesome, the volunteers were incredible, I couldn’t stop laughing when Mr. MC brought out is phone to start reading trivia questions… it was great!

I’m not sure how anyone can think that the mentor rounds were too long (unless perhaps they were people not actually playing in them?). The ONE time a year the mentors get to go let it hang out - please don’t begrudge us folks who can’t go to IRI our little bit of fun. Heck, I’d happily pay the money to do it… but too long? Hardly.

Do the pig roast and the mentor rounds at the same time. But don’t exclude mentors from participating. It should be a good clue that these are a GREAT idea when 24 of the 32 teams signed up for them!!!

Negatives:

  1. Teams. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE UNTIL THE AWARDS ARE OVER. 32 teams and I think you could count the teams in the stands for the final awards on 2 hands. That’s disappointing to say the least. 30 minutes is not going to kill you. There’s really not much of an excuse for skipping the awards ceremony other than laziness.

  2. Non-serpentine draft and 4 team alliances. The 4 team alliances added a lot of extra un-needed confusion during the playoffs. The non-serpentine draft makes it even more difficult for teams 4-8 to compete. Use the standard FIRST model. I found it interesting when the non-serpentine draft was announced and the stands went nearly silent - I’m not sure if that was shock or uncertainty. Or, if you insist on using the non-serpentine draft, then make it so the top 8 can’t pick one another.

  3. Bathrooms. 1 stall for all the males there. Yikes. I don’t need to tell you how pleasant that bathroom was by the end of the day…

  4. Heat. It wasn’t REALLY that bad. It was warm, but not earth-shatteringly so. Last year was much worse.

You needed two hands to count them?!? Yes, I agree though. All the teams left right after their final matches. This seems very un-gracious-professionalist. As a volunteer/staff, it can feel like an insult when everybody is running out of the place. However, it was (a little) better than last year.

I understand what is being said about staying to the end, and I thing our team stayed.(And I agree) But, to be fair to some that left I had people asking me (who had no clue) if I knew “is the event was over”? I think that some award were handed out before the finals and some after. Maybe if all the awards were handed out after the finals more teams would stay. Over all I really had a great time this week and would like to thank Steve and the hosts teams. I think you have a great event and I look forward to next year.

jim schaddelee
Team 107

Tom, Norm and Jim of the 8 people we had, one of the adults and his son had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment and as they were my ride, i went with them, however i cannot give any excuses for the rest of my team. since we(the 3 of us) were leaving right after our alliance lost in the elims we cleaned up and i assumed the rest of the team stayed. i’m guessing they didn’t. I apologize on behalf of my team.
As for the rest of the event, 13 matches was perfectly fine for larger teams who rotated drivers however it was a bit excessive for us as we only had 3 kids friday and 4 saturday, though we didn’t really mind rotating the three/four of us.
The pig was really good.
I didn’t have a problem with the bathrooms and i didn’t hear of anyone else on my team having a problem.
Our mentors loved the mentor matches friday.
Even though we wouldn’t have participated in the finals, i also think the 4 team alliance was unnecessary. Our robot was severely broken earlier in the day and we’re little more than a hinderance to our alliance in the match we played. thats not to say the other 7 fourth teams felt the same. just me probably.
The temperature and queing/pit layout were definately improved this year.

  1. Four teams to an alliance in the elimination round does not work. I understand the inclusive part of it. This has been discussed many times on CD. Do you want the best robots in the elimination round to make it an exciting sporting event like the Michigan State Championship to attract more good teams to come like IRI or do you want to let everybody plays? The qualifying rounds served no purpose.

I don’t think MARC wants to become IRI_in_Michigan. Nor do I think they expect to become a rematch of the State Championship. I have the impression that they’re delighted to have us check our egos at the door.

The MARC organizers have the ear of FiM, and vise versa. FiM is encouraging the off season events to experiment with the alliance selection process, which is why the IGVC Invitational went with fixed seeding (I.E. no draft) and a double elimination finals and why MARC tried the 32 team eliminations with a 1-8, 1-8, 8-1 draft.

In my opinion, both the IGVC and MARC processes made the eliminations even more exciting than the usual, which usually has the two best in the building (with a third) blowing away the rest. The excitement at MARC came from seeing how well the alliance captains used that third and fourth robot. I don’t agree that the qualifying rounds served no purpose at MARC, but if they did, then I prefer that to having the eliminations serve no purpose.

The reason for the experiments is that the current FIRST alliance selection process makes a mess out of the FiM team rankings. The serpentine draft assures that the 16th pick ends up on the #1 alliance and the 15th on #2, which gives either of them an excellent chance to get carried into a ranking point bonanza.

As IKE has noted, the top and bottom of the rankings are not important; it’s the cut line that matters. No offence to the all the 15th and 16th picks, we know they tried their best, but their best under different circumstances probably would not get them into the State Championship. If we really want to have the best robots earn their way into the championship event, then something needs to change.

Overall, I thought MARC was a great experience for our team. We had a large, core group of seniors graduate in 2009 and this was a perfect opportunity for the new team and new leaders to step forward. It was also great to give new drivers and human players an opportunity to drive the robot they worked so hard to build way back in January.

Some positives include:

A ton of matches - this was especially nice for us since we were using a totally new drive team. I don’t think we put the same group of 3 on the field in the same positions once during the entire competition and really got to see who would step up for next year. And, while the robot control will undoubtedly change next year and require new skills for the drivers, the ability to see how students handle the competitive atmosphere will be a large part of our decision on future drivers.

Up close action - you’d think that having been a human player for 2 years, and an MC and Game Announcer since 2005 that I’d be used to being so close to the action during the matches. Quite the contrary. It was a totally different atmosphere being SO CLOSE to the matches. It really makes you feel like FIRST was meant to be played in HS gyms. Sure, places like the Georgia Dome leave you in awe because of their size, but I have a feeling “outsiders” would be much more impressed being able to sit so close to the field instead of 500+ feet away in Atlanta.

The mentor matches - I critiqued our HP and drivers all year and finally got a chance to step back into their shoes. Nothing beats our student coach walking off the field after our first round defeat and telling our mentor driver that he “wasn’t a very good listener”. I love the mentor matches. Yes, I would pay to play. Also, I liked how it was set up where once you were done competing, you could go eat dinner. I think this helped keep the line manageable (there will always be a line). Speaking of dinner…

Wilbur, we hardly knew yee - Fortunately, I was able to get through the line before Wilbur ran out of meat, but I thought he was delicious. Pork + cole slaw + Pepsi. MMMMMMM. It just goes to show you that even a simple meal, when shared between friends, can be really great.

The competition - I’m not sure if I should be glad I’m not in Michigan or not. On one hand, it would have been great to compete against SO MANY good robots for a whole season. On the other, man would that be tough. It seemed like every match I was leaning over to the people sitting around me saying, “Man, an alliance like Red/Blue has right now could probably win this thing…” Part of that has to do with the size of the event and so many matches per team, but a larger part, IMO, was that a majority of the robots were REALLY solid. Every match seemed close. Evidence of this is that the first #1 vs #8 semifinal match tied, and the first #4 vs #5 sf match was won by #5 by 1 point on a super cell.


My one change that I would propose you think about next year is timing. I would try to start matches around noon on Friday and only run them until around 5 (then mentor matches and eating). Then run them from 9-12 Saturday and try to stick to an FRC-like schedule (alliance selection at 12:15, finals start at 1:15, or something like that). With a 40 team field and running 7 minute matches, everyone still would get 10 matches. Granted, this will cut into practice time, but this is an off-season event…come ready to play.

We were one of the teams that left early. When we were eliminated in the quarter finals, we packed up the trailer and left. Why? It was 6 PM and we had a five-hour drive home (with mentors driving who had been sitting in the heat all day). I wish it would have made sense to stay, because I really wanted to see who won, but it just didn’t for us. By starting things a little earlier on Friday, you can get more in, then finish up Saturday at a reasonable time. In my opinion, if you want more teams from a little further away (Indiana, Ohio, etc), ending Saturday earlier would be a huge bonus.


In the end, I thought it was a great event and I’m really glad the team went. A huge thanks to the planners of MARC and to ALL of the volunteers for their hard work. Cyber Blue 234 had a great time and will work hard to be back next year.

I think this was a very well run event. Thanks and congratulations to all involved - including Wilbur.

Regarding the positives and negatives, it is good to remember that this is a “post-season” event, and the results really don’t matter (or should I say, that the results matter even less than they do during the “regular season”). Post season events provide an opportunity to do things that don’t always happen in the regular season:

  1. Let everybody on the team play. The large number of matches was great for this.
  2. All teams get a chance to play in the eliminations. Having missed out on the eliminations for our first three years of existence, we know how discouraging it is to watch from the sidelines. I’m not sure how many teams here benefitted from this (3096 hadn’t been in elims before, but they earned a captain slot at MARC), but I think it is great for post season events. The qualification seedings still reward good performance, but fear of missing the elim’s won’t keep you from letting everybody play, either. I would like to see this done at fall “pre-season” events, too. It really helps when the students to get this experience.
  3. The mentor matches were a lot of fun - and humbling, too. I would be willing to pay (charity fundraiser) to do it again, and it did help spread out the line for the pig roast.
  4. I don’t fault teams for leaving early. We had a long drive ahead of us, and left shortly after we finished, too (haha).

Thanks again to all involved.

I know this is going way off topic, but what would have happened if a team not in the top 8 had declined??? They still would have to play, since there were only 32 teams. Just some food for thought.

the answer to that, josh, is why would they decline? everybody has to play in a 8 alliances of 4 set up, even if teams such as us had broken bots. we could drive and our HP could score but thats it. I don’t know if you saw our bot, but it was 95% dead. if we had chose to decline in order to prevent destroying the last 5% of the bot, we would have left the 1st alliance without a 4th partner. we enjoyed playing with you guys instead of declining.
i’m betting the response to declining would be the verbal equivilant of LOLwut??

But you see, based on how the picking works the 1st alliance needs a 4th partner, so they would need to play with you. That or they get the advantage of never needing to rotate to their 4th member. So either you get placed in the #1 alliance or they get an advantage. It is a legitamate problem.

thats what i meant by saying the first allinace wouldn’t have had a 4th partner, they’d be at an advange. they probably would have said we had to play.