Lessons Learned - The Negative

What happened this year that FIRST could stand to improve upon?

One thing. ANIMATION!!! It was neglected this year. The autodesk booth was small, they didn’t play the audio of the animation for AVA winner. Its a serious competition that no one pays attention to.

At least give us some tables in the autodesk booth so us few animators would have a place to sit learn from eachother. Its really hard for us to swap info with seating only for Phill and Ted presentations.

[These all relate to the big screens in the pit.]

Not having the field video showing was a disappointment, and made it difficult to know how close to on schedule the matches were.

There was a sign by Pit Admin advising everyone to pay attention to the “dynamic” match schedule in order to know when to leave for queuing, but the displayed schedules always seemed to be the originally published times.

After the qualification matches were finished, it would have been better to show the alliance selection screen rather than the now-empty match schedule.

The Galileo screen had the Windows task bar hiding much of the match score information at the bottom of the screen for a while. Nobody in Pit Admin knew anything about where the displays were coming from or who could do something about the problem.

Another thing.

-If the Chairmans Award is the highest honor FIRST can bestow upon a team. Then save that award for last. If you give out the Chairmans award second, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, and the rest of the day is…blah.

They used to do that, but nearly everyone would leave right after the second (or third) finals match was over to get to the wrap party and half the people wouldn’t be there to witness the CA winner. By moving it to the beginning, they get to enjoy the rest of the competition and everyone gets to see them win.

BTW, Congratulations 236!

How about do all the awards first then run the final matches? Or is that too much buzzkill? Maybe there is no good way to run the finals and First is just searching for what works.

Doing it towards the beginning also allows the awarded team to be seated on stage and recognized by everyone throughout the remainder of the matches/awards ceremony.

I would suggest moving some of the award to the beginning of Saturday or end of Friday, instead of putting them in between Einstein matches. Have the biggest awards on Saturday, such as Chairman’s, Engineering Inspiration, and the FLL and FTC big awards (the names escape me for those.) It’s pretty annoying to watch a match, sit for a half hour, and then watch one more match, and then sit for another 45 minutes and so on.

Though I can also see the flaws in what I’ve suggested, so maybe there is indeed no good way to arrange the awards and satisfy everyone.

The camera work could be pretty bad sometimes. Showing the drive teams every once in awhile is nice and all, but sometimes the camera would hover on the driver team or human player for 5 to 10 seconds (which is a long time in one of these matches.) I’m sure it doesn’t matter up on the big screen but it is extremely frustrating to be watching the webcast and not even be seeing what’s going on half the time. This seemed to be mostly an issue during the semi-finals on Einstein, oddly enough. Finals were pretty good and the divisions were pretty good. Maybe a separate feed for the webcast could be done? It would be pretty sweet to allow people watching the webcast to choose which camera to see, or at least have the option of watching from some kind of fixed camera that sees the whole field.

Outside of Atlanta the only thing I’d do is make sure to never, ever penalize a team for doing well. G14 wasn’t too much of a big deal, thankfully, but the concept itself is just not good at all.

Now how do you deal with dead time during finals?

Here’s how I’d do it: First, have **all **the non-robot awards other than the CA on Friday at opening. That includes the Founder’s Award, Website, Animation, Autodesk, Volunteer, and WFA. (moves at least 3 to Friday AM)
Second, speed up the transition time. Slim down the intros as much as possible–the videos the last time I was watching were great for that.
Third, trim down the award/team intros if possible.

Oh, yeah, and keep speeches to a known length. Also, keep Dean from speaking (like that’ll happen).

The real buzzkill is that it goes later than it’s supposed to.

I like those 3 points.

To be able to choose camera angles may be pushing it but it’d be nice.

And a fixed camera would leave me very grateful.
It’s annoying to try and see how exactly you played out a match when your most interesting part for your team isnt visible because the cameraman is focused on something else. At least one fixed field cam would be fantastic.

And penalizing a team for doing well. I just don’t like it, it kinda hurts the game. Instead of focusing on achieving the most with your robot and aspiring to be “the best you can be” better teams are spent making sure not to get too far ahead of the opposing alliance rather than showcasing the power and ferocity of the robot they spent so much time and money on.

Agreed on both counts. The webcasts were hard to watch sometimes because of the camera work. I realize that in this game it can be tough to follow all the action, but lingering close-ups of pinned robots or drivers don’t help anyone.

As for G14… well… no… just no. Please, never again. A team should never have to worry about being “too good”. I would bet the farm that it will be among the rules to be “adjusted” for IRI. That’s usually not a good sign.

the camera work was pretty good i most of the divisions but Einstein was truly awful. it was impossible to keep track with them zooming in on random things and doing top views.

-G14. It’s my least favorite rule in six years of FRC. I don’t like the concept of teams being handicapped for success in competition–and I say that as a mentor of teams that have been whooped pretty hard in some matches over the years. Outside of the GTR finals, where 188’s absence caused them to try to double-G14 their opponents for the third match, there wasn’t any real strategy to it either. The concept might work in other sports–victory ballast in auto racing comes to mind–but not here.
-On Q&A, the only ruling (battery panic aside–it was resolved in time) that really caused me to grumble was that of the IFI Kitbot’s legality. If I’ve got an old kit part that is still commercially available and otherwise legal, let me put down the cost on the BoM and move on. It’s reminiscent of the “grip tape” versus “safety tread” debacle of 2007.
-On the pit displays, the blue alliance was a little too blue–so much so that it became hard to read the team numbers at times. A little lighter shade of blue would make it much more readable.
-At the Championship, we were a backup on Curie. We were stymied a little bit during lunch because we didn’t know to pick up pit crew badges from the scoring table before going back. Announcing that next time would help greatly–it’s not quick to get those badges back to the pits!
-The Driver’s Station woes leave me a little uneasy for the off-season. I’m sure, however, that if FIRST isn’t working on it already, they’re starting as soon as they can get the trucks unloaded and breathe for a split-second.
-I’m sure others will harp on the open-trailer-equals-death matter here, but I’m neutral about it. It’s always been hard, sometimes nearly impossible, to win a round with a dead or missing robot; this year was just more pronounced.

For the most part, I enjoyed this season. On to 2010!

A new DS system is much needed:D !!! And consistantcy on what is a field fault and a team fault. I don’t know how many times a team would be given a 2 min clock to replace a fried DS and then the next match a team was given a 5 min, because it was ruled a field fault.:ahh: :confused:

I personally hated the emphasis on the human players this year; a team could win due to an awesome human player, not a robot. To me that at a robotics competition is not right.

So let’s not ever have a missing robot on an alliance. By coincidence I was talking to an Old Respected mentor this last week on this very subject. Starting with his notion (I liberally borrow ideas but at least I don’t steal them…):

  1. In regionals, allow a “hot fix” robot to compete. This might be a team’s second robot, or maybe just a team that likes a weird challenge. During qualifying, this robot fills in every time there is a no show. It isn’t listed in the standings, but its won/loss record and other scores are recorded and made available during alliance selection. While the hot fix robot cannot be an alliance captain, it may be chosen for an eliminations alliance. During eliminations, the rules would work as they do today.

  2. In invitational tournaments (like Championships), whatever means is used to pick a team off the waiting list is used to pick the hot fix robot for each division. Since this team may or may not get a chance to compete, they get the “Rudy Ruettiger” trophy and an automatic invitation to Championships for the following year. They are eligible for selection to an eliminations alliance just like in paragraph 1.

Something like that…

After my second year of involvement with FIRST, I still have the same complaint. I understand that while COOPERTITION is way of FIRST (now trademarked and patented), this is, at its heart, a COMPETITION (otherwise, why keep score?). I understand that it’s not about winning, but teams DO want to win the competition. Besides punishing teams for doing well (G14), there is the random, or “luck” factor. If a team works hard, and makes a great robot that meets the goals of the competition better than other teams, they should be rewarded. At every regional I attended, including championships, The seedings did not reflect the ability of the robots or the teams. If FIRST wants this to be a “sport”, and be as popular as football, they need to come up with a better way to rank teams prior to alliance pairings. I have no problem with the serpentine draft and the no refusal rules, I see how that can prevent “super alliances”, and make scouting important. I do have a problem with some of the best teams not even being in the top 8. Throughout the season, I saw teams that could not score at all ranked as the number one seed, while top scoring bots were not even in the top 10. Perhaps the seeding should be done based on the scoring of the bots rather than a win-loss record.

I don’t have all the answers, but the questions remain. As many smart people as there are involved with FIRST, I am confident that they can come up with something better.

Bring the district format to Virginia :slight_smile:

What did everyone think about the new control system?

Maybe some criticism will help NI and FIRST make the system better for next year if your team ran into any problems.

Amen. Although I tend to think of this as a positive for the Michigan District format rather than a negative for the traditional regionals. The extra competitions, more matches per competition and selection process was really apparent (at least to this viewer) at the Championship. As much as I loved the DC and NASA/VCU regionals this year, I hope that Virginia follows the Michigan model soon.

Just one thing, the TV screen that shows everyones ranking and win/loss record is really hard to follow when it jumps a few lines every few seconds. As soon as you find your number it moves and you lose it. It would be easier to follow if it could smoothly scroll through the rankings.