This weekend I have been volunteering at the first Granite State District Competition. So far for New England’s first district event it has gone well however there are several issues that I have noticed regarding game play that I feel will be detrimental to an alliance.
The two issues that I am seeing are not on the field, but off the field.
To start off with the communication between the referees and field crew who funnel balls along the sides of the field. This weekend I was volunteering as an inspector however during this afternoon when all inspections were complete, several of us were brought in to help fill in positions on the field to help move balls around the field. The concept seems very straight forward: scored blue balls get moved back to the blue drivers station and the same for red. Where things started to get crazy was when a ball exited the field. Most of the time when the ball exited the field a referee quickly moved the ball to the closet human player (as per the rules). In a few instances the ball exited the field where no referee was stationed (over the drivers station or directly in the corners of the field). In some of these moments the field crew was directed to move the ball back down to the drivers station as if the ball were scored. Now when this happened it took several seconds for someone to realize what hapened and by the time the the field crew was notified where the ball needed to go it was already brought back to the drivers station and had to be brought back around to the closest human player. Where things really got harder was when a human player zone was left unoccupied causing more confusion as to where the ball needed to go.
This is a HUGE detriment to an alliance. Typically it would take 20-30 seconds before the ball was put back where it needed to go and a lot can happen in that time (especially if it is the end of a match). It appeared that the official field crew volunteers were trained as to what the appropriate actions were, however as the day wore on and breaks were given people like myself were switched into these positions with little to no communication as to what happens to stray balls.
The second issue that came up was when an alliance had scored the last ball on the field (either the last ball leftover from autonomous or the only ball from a cycle later in the match) the pedestal did NOT light up and the assist LED indicators were still showing on the goal. Similar to the above this killed a LOT of time as the alliance was trying to get the attention of the referees but at one portion this happened with 20 seconds left in the match and the alliance never got a new ball into play. Thankfully they had won the match however if this were to happen in a tight qualification match or worse during eliminations that has the ability to sway who wins the event.
Now before I go further, the event staff and referees at GSD have been doing a fantastic job so I hope this isn’t taken out of context. GSD just happens to be the event I am attending and I’m sure this is happening elsewhere around the country. The above issues are two major flaws I see in this year’s game as a whole when it plays out not with our event specifically. It is week one of a new game that is very different compared to what we have played in the past so problems will arise, I just hope they get remedied as I would hate to hear of a team who is drastically affected by a field fault.
The volunteers who work the field need to be in sync with the referees so they know when and where to move a ball. There also needs to be a solid method of communication DURING the match so members of an alliance can quickly notify the field staff of an error or problem with the game play/ball movement.
Any thoughts from other events around the country?
First of all, thank you for volunteering. Everyone knows that FIRST would not be possible without volunteers.
I really appreciate you posting a first hand account. Other threads, Facebook, and Twitter, have all mentioned the problems you have and FIRST needs to address them.
A good solution is just to have more balls ready to go into play for each alliance. There should be field personnel with balls (2 per side) ready to hand each human player while the ball that was just shot out is being chased.
I think that G40 should be abolished completely and change G41 from a technical foul to a disable for team members that make contact with their robot like it has always been.
I’m interested to see how this game in played in Elims, we’ll have to wait and see if/when FIRST responds.
Yes this is already in place. I don’t believe we have had an issue so far where there balls weren’t returned to the alliances fast enough. The problem has more come up because the refs want to see the ball that went out of the field returned to play and not just another red ball.
I think something that isn’t helping is just the overall change in play compared to previous years. When a game element left the field in years prior not much thought was given to it. In 2010 they made sure the ball went into the zone it came from, 2008 they brought a new ball into play which was very timely but at the same time there was still another ball on the field, and in most other years the game piece was just tossed back onto the field and no one really noticed. Just due to how this game is setup it is such a change for everyone because we just aren’t used to treating a game piece that leaves the field like we are this year. The refs want to see that ball go back in play to a certain position. Couple this with the fact that the alliance only has one ball to work with the more communication that the refs/field crew need to put the ball where it needs to be is burning seconds for the alliance.
Its just so different from previous years that it can’t be approached in the same way. I just hope field crews at later events are well on top of the field status so that everyone is getting the fair shot they deserve and paid for. Like I said, the matches that I saw incidents like this happen the match was already won by the alliance that was having these issues but its a 50-50 chance that it can be the losing alliance that is trying to come back.
Brendan -Thank you for volunteering and a BIG thanks for the first person updates. I’m sure FIRST, FTA’s and Head Refs will have a lot to talk about this week in the conference calls. As a planning committee member, I want to hear more from volunteers like you so we can prep our volunteers to help the teams have a great experience at our event. Week 1 events are great pioneers for both teams and field crews. Any further updates, suggestions or insight from today’s matches will be appreciated.
Takeaway from this observation?
Do not put the ball out of bounds! Bigger consequence for it than you might have thought originally. I think I mentioned this at kickoff, but then I expect my team to ignore my thoughts on tactical strategy anyway.
The problem with this recommendation is that FIRST clearly intended the Human Players to be a big part of the game, based on the HP zone placements and the number of rules outlining their roles. A significant number of the “lost” balls I saw were simply poor quality passes to the HP.
This is an EASY problem to fix. As mentioned in another thread, there should be at least 1 “extra” ball standing by near each Human Player zone and near a field reset volunteer, ready for immediate delivery to the Human Player in that zone. Much like the approach used in most professional soccer matches.
If that HP zone is unoccupied (not sure why this might happen), maybe a rules adjustment needs to just allow for the field reset person to just toss that game piece back onto the field. This would seem to be a reasonable “penalty” for a game piece leaving the field without a HP there expecting to be receiving it!
The bigger problem I saw on day 1 of the competitions was the lengthy delay in re-lighting the pedestal at the proper completion of a cycle. This will become a killer if not corrected (this is also addressed in another thread).