Lessons Learned 2023 - The Positive

Now that the 2023 official season has ended it’s time to reflect and comment on things FIRST did well this past season.


I think the double elim bracket system is a roaring success that has already proven itself vital to future events. The point of FIRST has never been to find the singular “best” team or robot by some metric, but to give everyone an opportunity to be champions in a given year.

Double elims, more than any other system, balances out “good teams get advantageous scheduling and forgiveness for minor issues” with “lower seeded alliances now have a good shot at winning since they won’t get buzz sawed immediately by a 1 seed.”


+1000 Double Eliminations is a huge improvement. Made the eliminations much more exciting.


I think the integration of AprilTags suited this game well, especially on the rise of swerve. Vision-assisted auto align is so much more powerful now.

( I do think 10-12 36h11 tags is manageable for field setups and would help accuracy massively with single/double camera teams)


The sight lines on this field were great this year. It was really nice to be able to see all robots from behind the glass with ease. AprilTags are also super helpful.


I believe our team did more this year than any prior year. Although with many headaches, we made our first swerve (During build season which wasn’t a great idea) and created a CanBot. We also have many ideas for improving our seasons in coming years and are talking about new forms of outreach. I couldn’t be more excited to see this team grow and for me to grow with it.


FRC Queue is a hit and I’m hoping to see it have a bigger role in the coming years at events.

Double elims made the playoff much more interesting. Especially for the 5th to 8th seeded alliances who saw opportunities to last longer in the playoff instead of being doomed to an early exit.

Though it took away a week of touring from me stopping the regular season in week six made the season much easier on team. Especially the ones who would have had to play on week seven traditionally. You could see the results at the Championship. Well done FIRST!


Solid representation of community resources in official communication. Robot code got a lot better this year, all around.


The double elimination bracket and scheduled 15 min breaks between matches, completely eliminated teams being prevented from playing their playoff matches.

I am not aware of a single instance of a team being given a penalty (I know of a few warnings) for H301, being late to the field.

The new backup robot rules were also a success there were more backup robots called that allowed teams to fix their robots and then re-enter the tournament instead of needing to play 2v3 matches and hoping your robot is ready for the next match.


Gosh was this huge. Having longer guaranteed breaks in-between elims matches, not having to manage timeout cards, awards during the longer breaks - game changingly good for the program!

Other good things:

  • The team versions of field elements were pretty good. The Charge Station was the only one that was really finnicky, but you could spend time to make wooden charge stations fairly good.

  • The game pieces were fairly robust - the cubes scared me at the beginning of the season but popping cubes wasn’t a super-frequent thing.

  • The robot design space was fantastic- tons of different styles of robot were successful, and its a design space most of us have not explored for years.


Innovation faire being moved to the second floor was a huge win for both exhibitors and attendees. Last year when it was on the 3rd floor all the way back traffic was laughable compared to what it was this year. Every time I went by there were thousands of attendees there and many booths were packed.

(yeah, I miss VIP too but I really think this experience for so many more outweighs it and FIRST can find a better solution in the future for VIPs)


I loved how accessible this game was. A drive train could score in 1/3 of the scoring locations and perform the end game.


Cones were an awesome game piece. Durable and cheap. Fairly low skill floor (if using feeder stations and using manual alignment), but a very high skill ceiling (intaking ground cones from arbitrary orientations and using automatic alignment). They also paired well with cubes (as an even lower skill floor option), though I thought cubes left something to be desired in terms of durability and consistency.


A very minor thing, but not bothering to name the game pieces was also a personal positive for me, though I’m sure others have differing opinions.

Dropping the pretense and just saying “cones and cubes” was very helpful in explaining the game to family members and new folks.


though I thought cubes left something to be desired in terms of durability and consistency.

With how good the 2022 cargo was as a game piece being in stark contrast to how bad the 2023 cubes were durability wise, I sincerely hope this is the last year of the ‘beach ball’ style game pieces. They’ve been an issue for 15+ years in FRC and they keep going back to it.

Absolutely loved this game, 1-2 small tweaks from being the all-time accessibility king of FRC games.

Game Design Change

Not to derail this thread, but changing all scoring locations to the same point values instead of high/mid/low point tiers would have made this game extremely interesting. A floor cycler could potentially compete straight up with a robot capable of scoring the high goal. They kinda did this with supercharging, but would have been interesting if the flat scoring was available from kickoff.


I think the 2-3-5 was a good compromise from all the same (2019 all levels were the same) vs the standard 1-2-3 (2020, 2022, etc). Having the low goals be 40% of the top instead of 30% is a minor difference but an important one. The link scores being the same (all worth 5pts) also helped with this, low links being worth 11pts and top links being 20pts means the low goals were really worth over 50% of the top nodes. Teams were still encouraged and rewarded for scoring in the top row while the value of the lower levels was still important. This was also important that the top row was limited to 9 game pieces, unlike last year where the low goal became nearly meaningless as the season progressed.


There were some improvements at the Championships -
Security kept the aisles and stairways open and limited people coming into the stands on Saturday.
They also opened the exit doors to exit freely from the competition area to the lobby.
There were still flashing lights but it didn’t seem overwhelming this year.
I appreciated that most security stations didn’t mind food and water coming in.

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I loved the human player involvement this year. Many teams play styles and strategy relied on the human player which in my eyes created a better experience for the whole drive team. Last years human player involvement was pretty lacking, and I hope game designers continue with the approach they had this year in respect to human players.


They were also just called “cones” and not “energy cells” or “batteries” or anything that needed farther explanation.


Oh the joys of not having to avoid the term “balls”.