Limiting the Strategy of the Game

One thing that I have thought of in recent weeks is the effect that autonomous mode has on strategy in the game this year. In previous years, the main focus of strategy was the opening move, which is what gave you the edge in a round on many occasions. This year, however, is quite different. To me, Autonomous Period takes away from a very important and very fun aspect of the game, which used to be the strategy for the opening move in a round. Now teams will be limited to what their programmers could accomplish before and during competition time. Many rookie teams who do not have experienced members who might know the Basic programming language will be hurting in this area especially. Of course, I cannot make full judgment on how it will really turn out until after the year is over, but this is certainly a concern which may have to be addressed at the end of the year.

I am curious to see what everyone else thinks on this issue.

Good Luck All!
-Andy Grady

I agree completely with you. I believe that most things that make First and the competitions fun is the fact that the students get to actually drive the robot. I personally disagree with having an autonomous mode…for the simple fact that it takes away from the preticipation of the students. It is alot more work and effort to do and less benifits for the team itself. If your programming goes bad, as it tends to do sometimes, or you are off by one tenth of an inch in calculations…you’re a sitting duck during this time of the game. I honestly think that although it makes you think more it also takes from the game itself because of it.

What does everyone else think?

-Good luck!!-
Erin Moore…Moe 365
Excuse the poor spelling…heh

On the contrary, I believe that the autonomous mode will make it even more interesting. Seeing the different strategies that teams develop in their autonomous mode (the programming is flexible enough to do several different strategic situations at least, I think some teams will have many different combinations of strategies) will add a new dimension to the game, and doing it int he first 15 seconds of the competition will make it important enough so that the code is a major factor in the outcome of the match will make it all the more thrilling. Chances are if your code is off a mere tenth of an inch, you are very well off, but I do see your point that code that is a few degrees off could send your robot crashing into a wall. Yes, teams that do not have programmers who are strong in PBASIC will be at a disadvantage (this is not just limited to rookie teams, I am on a rookie team and am a lot more comfortable in PBASIC than quite a few programmers on non-rookie teams). However, as Dean said, it is not 100% fair. I see it as an exciting addition to the competition and a new challenge that teams need to overcome. The strategy of the opening move is FAR from removed, it is just transferred from the drivers responsibility to the robots. Now the programmers have their work cut out for them just like the mechanical and electrical team members this year. It is a good bit more effort involved but I for one am up to the challenge and find it a wonderful addition to this competition. I believe that the autonomous part of the competition adds just as much excitement, challenge and could even provide comic relief this year. I believe that the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks, IMHO

now that I’ve put in my $0.02 (from the length looks more like 4 :p) lets hear it from the rest of you guys!
(btw this is coming from the perspecitve of lead programmer on a rookie team)

I believe autonomous mode was an excellent idea. Its not like you don’t get to drive. Anyway, it is necessary for teams now to actually learn PBASIC if they don’t want to just sit there. This elevates the job of the programmers from almost unnecessary to imperative. And it is extremely fun! I get to watch my ideas form into calculations, my calculations into pseudocode, my pseudocode into code, my code into motion. Just because the opening move is not controlled by a driver doesn’t make it any less important. If you really want the equivalent of human control, make a program to “train” the robot. PBASIC isn’t that hard.

You do not like it.
So you say.
Try it! Try it!
And you may.
Try it and you may, I say.

(Apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Straight up as a strategist I don’t like it. Why cuse it gives me 15 seconds less to plan the game!!!

On the contrary, as a strategist, your responsibilities are extended because the strategy for those 15 seconds cannot be changed midway…you must plan several (many?) more strategies for those 15 seconds to give to your programmers to code…In fact I think it stretches the strategy portion of this competition (as well as the programmer portion) far beyond what it has been in previous years.

Until I see some bots in autonomous mode I’m not going to make any judgments. True many bots may just wander cluelessly for 15 seconds but others will do AMAZING things. In previous years teams have devoted 90% of there resources to the mechanicle sytems and 10% to electrical and programming. With the exception of autobalancing systems in 2001 programmers have have never gotten any “fun” jobs. So by adding an autonomous period it gives more work to programmers and lets electrical people play with sensors.

Also if you think autonomous bots will get lost imagine human drivers who can’t see there bot through a wall of boxes. If anything autonomous modes will help people out.

As for rookie teams having an unfair advantage. Rookies are normally disadvantaged. FIRST has plenty of resources to help them out including mentor teams. There are also some crude codes already posted here, Delphi, by helpful experienced teams.

On one hand I do believe that the autonomous mode is a good thing for FIRST. This goes back to the “Is FIRST really Robotics?” debate, I think that this is definitely more robot-like than previous years (although many may dispute this claim). This is what people think of when they think robotics – Large mechanical creatures moving on their own with out outside control of any kind, leaving all variables to the on-board sensors. FIRST isn’t there yet, however it is a step in the right direction. Eventually, I predict this game will turn into a fully autonomous game, however this won’t come soon.

Andy is right, this short period is confining for programmers who are given to little time and are assigned to fix every problem with the device. Honestly, we shouldn’t have problems, as our programmer is decent and has finished all but a dead reckoning system on our unfinished bot. I still do think that autonomous is horrible. It doesn’t give most programmers enough time, teams may not even have programmers, and on top of all that, veterans will be having trouble with a new programming language. (yes, i know it isn’t really a completely new language, but it may require different styles of programming to make it efficient)

First I think strategy during auto mode is going to be as nuts as everyone is worried about. Everyone is saying but they have 8 different programs and we never know what they are doing. Quess what choose the program that is most damaging to your team and combat against that. I think auto mode is going to be a huge mistake as much of the game is going to be decided not by the drivers but by a computer program. It sort of ruins the fun of the game. Oh well those of you who love this auto mode lemme know how you feel when you face teams that simply win in automode. For the champions I believe this year will win all their matches in autonomous mode because everything is up for grabs then and a good robot can wreak havoc in fifteen seconds. Well I’m done see you at the Verizon Center 36 days and counting.

I like the auto mode… of course I have three years experience with PBASIC and robots… other Rookie Robotic teams may not be as lucky as us…

More docs would have helped them :yikes:

one one hand, the auto mode gives for multiple strats, so no one can pin down a team and say, they will do this and this at the start, cause who knows what they can do…

one the other hand, rookie teams with little/no programming skillz have it hard

final comment: rookie teams can ask us for help, and the auto mode provides a new twist that might work, and might not

As a strategist, I think the autonomous mode just adds another cool twist to the mix. It takes a lot more planning and thought beforehand… not only what you’ll do in auto-mode but hey, what are you going to do at the end of those first 15 secs… there will be 15 secs less of driver control, but a lot more on the fly strategy because of that time.

I agree with what others have posted… it’s worth a try and it is a great challenge… to programmers AND strategists alike.

This may just be the best game yet. I love it.

I doubt the game will ever go fully autmated, though a combo of 2001’s kill button and auto would be interesting. 15 seconds of auto like this year then you’d get a point every second until you hit a button and went to human control.

I have doubts on this 8 progs idea, not knowing whats gonna happen. Some teams will bolt for the ramp, some will swing an arm at the boxes, others will run around looking for boxes, some will sit there and do nothing. Teams may dead reckon or line follow to the ramp but there doing the same thing. So I’d say by the second day of nationals with a little scouting you’d be able to predict to a 90% certainty what a team will do.

The key strategic thing will be how fast can you write a program to counter your opponents during finals.

I too doubt the game will ever become fully automated, for sheer complexity and slowness. 2 minutes is not nearly enough for a fully automated robot to do some of the complex games FIRST has come up with before.

As for this years autonomous- well, I believe it will be a huge challenge on the programmers of every team, as well as the builders. I can simply see our robot falling off of our plywood ramp! :ahh:
However, I will reserve judgement on the whole autonomous mode until I see how well FIRST enacts it. Afterall- we can’t have another kickoff-like accident! :rolleyes:

I think it would be even more interesting if the autonomous period lasted for 1 minute, and there were no switch inputs allowed. Then everyone would only have one program, and would have to rely on sensor inputs to have different responses.

Now, once again I can’t really pass judgment on the whole autonomous period deal until after I see the competition, because after all, I hated the idea of alliances when they first introduced them…now I can’t imagine FIRST without them. Also I understand that it does add a nice twist to the game and a pretty cool thing for programmers and so forth, however, I believe that this is going to make the game rougher on many teams…at least until we hit the national competition. How many times have you seen teams still trying to build a robot at the competition (practice day)? As you know, each robot behaves differently from another, so each robot needs to be tested for its autonomous programming, or they will be flying blindly. I can see many teams who were behind all the way to the end of the year, go into round 1 and totally flop because they have had absolutely no time to test and debug their autonomous programs on the actual working machine for this year.

From a strategic standpoint, autonomous mode does add an interesting facet that we have to focus on, however, at the same time it highly limits a teams ability to adjust to the competition. There have been many occasions in the past where a very important strategy was thought of after watching many matches and used during late rounds. Each regional is different from one another. More physical regionals in the east tend to have a whole different look and strategy than the more offensive regionals in the mid-west, or the more passive regionals in the west. By limiting teams to the number of autonomous programs that they have created and tested, this takes away from adjusting to competition style.

Like I said before…the most important move in strategy is the opening move. Now, we are limited on the number of things that we can do in that move.

I will agree with this though…this game should be alot of fun to watch and compete in, autonomous mode included.

Good Luck All,
Andy Grady

I am on a rookie team that has decent knowledge of Pbasic. and when i first saw the video for the game i remember thinking just how cool autoonomous mode was. Now that i think about it i must disagree. regardless of how good your programmers are there will be some strategy that you have no counter program for. now by making the most important part of the game where a team may know what thier robot needs to do, but can’t tell thier robot to do that is ridiculous.

Then again, We could be that team with an unexpected strategy :cool:

There is always a way to counter someone. It may not always be in the programming though. If someone can drive to the wall in 2 seconds and it takes you 6 you could program until your fingers fell off but it wouldn’t help. Instead its a mechanicle limitation. When we brainstormed about strategy part of it was killing every idea someone had. The point was to figure out weaknesses in the ideas we had so we didn’t come up with something easily countered but also figure out how to counter the other ideas.

To conclude there is always a way to counter someone. Your robot may not be able to do it physically but others teams will be able to counter them. If its a matter of programming I gaurentee the finals will be won by teams who can write prorams to work in perfect harmony and counter what the other alliance will do.

Bottom Line:

Automous(sp) mode limits posibilites because a simple processor cannot compute the same amount of information as the human mind. So, basicly, you are left with a limit on opening match strategy. This is very simple, you cannot argue it.

Also, from what I can tell all the programers like the idea and all the other people hate it.

Autonomous mode is fantastic. Like it or not, the science of robotics rests on software and electronics as much as mechanical engineering. With the addition of custom circuits last year and autonomous mode this year, FIRST has finally acknowledged that fact.

Is FIRST less like a sport than it was last year? Sure, but who cares? Autonomous mode lets FIRST robots become more whole.