Lesson Learned 2016 - The Negative

What could FIRST stand to improve upon?

I was disappointed to see that the Championship Chairman’s Award was presented yet again after a long delay at a different part of the arena. If it truly is the most prestigious award in FIRST, I believe it deserves better treatment than that.

I totally agree. Our team voted not to stay around for closing ceremonies and left immediately after Einstein finals. Personally, I was looking forward to the announcement of the Chairman’s award, and was disappointed that it was presented so late.

Design a game that is easy to officiate where it is difficult to incur accidental fouls. Especially fouls that are subjective or open to significant interpretation.

I agree with this.

I would like to add the large distribution of valid places to find information. If you want to know which Einstein field your team will play on first (Mass or Energy) you need to read the tournament section of the manual, if you want to know which field (Hopper or Newton) becomes Mass you need to read Frank’s blog. If you want to know where your team is allowed to sit for these matches you need to read the A-to-Z guide. This is one example of needing to go to three different sources to find the answer to a simple question (Where should I sit?).

The music for the highest awards (Champions, Inspire, CCA) was just bizarre and also more than a little creepy. Sweet Dreams is not celebratory music.

Other than that, the Finale was actually pretty good in my opinion.

Some ongoing stuff is that we really need more transparency/a public road map for where we’re trying to go as a whole. I understand that FIRST is “everything to everybody” but it’s hard to effectively help FIRST when we don’t know where we’re trying to go.

The new website is horrible.
Difficult to navigate.
I don’t see how it appeals to the first time viewer as I think it was intended.
It is also frustrating to a long time FIRSTer like me.

Who did they survey or how did they beta test it?

I wish they’d go back to the old website. I just do not like using this one.

Pit maps should have team numbers.

Finals should not be decided by foul points.

Having divisions announced earlier would have been very nice.

High-level summary: FIRST needs to work on cleaning up the transitions during Einstein and Closing Ceremonies.

There was downtime between matches where it looked like the fields were green and ready to go, but nothing was happening. Sometimes it was filled with dance songs, but often it was filled with nothing at all. And while part of that can be attributed to technical issues with the Audience Screen from the FMS or connection issues, I would be surprised if that was the case.

If there is going to be a lot of downtime between the end of Einstein matches and Closing Ceremonies, then it would be nice if it was communicated earlier on to teams and audience members. I understand that time is needed to tear down the fields and clear things out, but if I remember correctly they didn’t give people a good idea of when that was going to be finished until about halfway through the break (and I might be wrong on that, feel free to correct me). I’m sure there are teams that left after Einstein matches finished who wanted to stay for the Champions, Inspire, and Chairman’s Award presentations but didn’t know when they were going to happen.

FIRST needs to do a better job of communicating/advertising what the closing acts are going to be during closing ceremonies. I know the names of the groups performing were briefly mentioned during Opening Ceremonies, but unless you researched those groups (I know I didn’t) you don’t know what you were missing by leaving early. And even if you stayed for part of the acts, there was no clear indication during Closing Ceremonies whether or not the act that just finished was the last act or not, causing people to at least start getting ready to leave even when there was much more to see.

I really liked the production value and introduction of all of the teams on Einstein at the beginning, but just overall it seemed to go downhill very quickly from there.

Design games where the referees aren’t also scorers.

Putting big signs saying what divisions was in what section of the pits would have been nice. I spent a good chunk of my Wednesday evening trying to figure this out so I would be ready to catch all my teams the next day.

The production quality increased for sure, but with it came a slew of problems. I saw raw FMS screens, with the magenta key, frequently, something that you never see in Indiana (because we use upstream key) and rarely in PNW (because they use downstream key). They also had horrible transitions between field views and FMS screens. I don’t know why they didn’t take down the downstream key first and then switch, but they insisted on screwing it up almost every time I looked at the scores. I know this sounds like whining, but when there are ways to make these problems go away quickly I am appalled that FIRST didn’t tell the production company to get their act together. An even more glaring problem was the Einstein Energy camera that was flickering POSSIBLY because of a taut SDI cable, I can’t be too sure. They had 24 Marshall cameras, one of them failing could easily be replaced, especially during Einstein. Districts like IN and PNW should not be the standard for AV, Champs should.

/rant

I have a few more problems, but that is what I feel was the most important.

Remove the current tie-breaker system for elimination rounds or altogether.

Remind volunteers it is about the teams. Nothing beats being yelled at by an inspector because we took our cart out of our pit to safely test something all while we had judges in our pit.

The plagues were a nice touch however they could use some refining as they weren’t the design I would have gone with if I wanted it hanging in a corporate office.

i stopped going to the FIRST website, after trying to use it for months. that makes me sad, but thank you blue alliance.

There is no saving of seats. Nothing beats being yelled at by 8 people saving 30 seats when you’re trying to find 5 together for your team that just got eliminated from Carver playoffs. Nothing beats the new black mom on your team being told “you don’t belong here” when she’s looking for a seat to watch her son in a match.

Not trying to defend FIRST or anything, just really curious on these 2 comments:

Long delay after the end of Einstein - yes I can agree to that, but it was on the main stage right behind the Einstein fields. Personally, to have all the top awards given out like that for each program along with the Founders Award felt like a proper treatment of the seriousness of the awards.

(BTW: Props to the crews/FTAs who did the tear down, the field this year was a pain in the butt to build and take apart, they made it look effortless to someone who’s done it before. Of course it helps that they were all FTAs mostly :smiley: )

There were signs hung up, maybe not the largest, but I could see them from the robot path. I wasn’t there on Wednesday, so maybe they got added over night?

To add to the list:

  1. The website is very hard to use, If it were not for links from TBA I doubt I would be able to find anything about the rankings or match info.

  2. Championship conferences: these REALLY need to be recorded if possible, I missed out on just about everything i wanted to see since I was not there Wednesday, and had to make choices between ones in the same time frame.

  3. People need to stop running in the pits! Every time the announcer shouted that i couldn’t help but think of the escalator scene in MallRats.

Audio/video production quality, specifically during Einstein. I can’t understand how they keep screwing this up. Last year was worse for sure with its constant feedback squeals, but they didn’t do too much better this time around. How do you have a soundcheck for 15 minutes then still screw up the levels? For somebody who’s in the same spot the entire time?!?! You hit the mute button, you unmute the mute button.

And don’t get me started on the issues with keying and cropping. Yeah, let’s not test this beforehand? Go ahead and resize everything live. Cool.

I’d give way more slack here if this were a regional/district, but we’re talking about the final matches of the event of the season! And you’ve been at this for the last 3 days already!!! If you can’t run this properly, it’s time to find another company. Mistakes happen even with the best of 'em, sure. But not this many, this often.

EDIT: Also, and I hate complaining about this because I know they tried and mean well, I just wasn’t feeling the commentators in between matches during Einstein. I liked that they did stats and facts, but the flow of conversation seemed forced and unnatural, and there were a lot of awkward pauses, especially after attempts at humor. I hope they either train them a bit more next year on this style of commentating, or bring in a more seasoned crew to do this job (maybe some of the GameSense/FUN people).

The theme and game had one major, glaring hole:

Even the fools in Mideval times knew that a catapult did not have to re-cross yonder mountain before launching the next rock.

I don’t even bother to navigate the new FIRST website if I am looking for something in particular to be honest… I just search it on CD and hope someone found it and linked it in their post.

Finals/Einstein still have far too much dead time. FIRST need to fill this with something awards, speeches, whatever, instead of just saying “we will be back in 5 minutes or so”.

Why can’t opening ceremonies happen before opening pits? Matches don’t need to immediately start after them…

FIRST website still needs a lot of work. Specifically it should be easier to get to VIMS and TIMS.

No tiebreakers in elims please, just do replays.

Bumpers area needs to be smaller then it was this year.

Stream & record the champ conferences and put them up on youtube and the first website.

Final score screens should have team names.

While I really loved the screen split used at champs and TX regionals, the bottom screens needed views from different angles not the sightly different ones they had. A mix of NE/PWN live actions shots at the bottom and a over view at the top would have been great.