Completely agreed. And it is interesting to bring up cheesecake in the context of the bag discussion, because of a hypothetical scenario that has been bothering me for a while.
Most years, “cheesecaking” consists of relatively minor, relatively low tech additions dreamed up on the spot, in a collaborative effort between teams. Alliances are largely selected on the base competency of the robot a team showed up at the event with, and cheesecake provides minor enhancements. In 2015, we had a game uniquely suited to cheesecaking, largely because of just how completely the vital canburgling task could be completed via a self-contained, sub 30 pound mechanism, developed and brought in entirely by another team, and how few less than elite teams put any effort whatsoever into this task, or developed systems with a prayer of being competitive at it. As a result, we started to see some teams picked more on their willingness to abandon elements of the robot they brought in. And at the end of the season, cheesecake and its possibilities being in people’s minds lead to us seeing a new robot built from the ground up at an event, based largely on design work done by another team prior to the event.
The debates over whether or not this was a positive thing have been beaten to death. But one indisputible fact about the experience remains: the harpoon build was a monumentally difficult feat for all teams involved. It required an unprecedented level of coordination, pre-planning, and engineering skill. We’ve only seen it once, and I don’t know that we’ll ever see anything quite like it again. If we do, it’ll be hard not to be in awe of the teams that pull it off, and the amazing accomplishment will once again overshadow any sourness about the ethics of attempting it. One can say similar things about teams that manage to pull off mid-season full-bot rebuilds under the bag system, and arguments about design convergence.
However, the difficulty of this feat was almost 100% artificially generated, through the bag rules and withholding rules. Getting rid of bag and tag would presumably also erase poundage limits on fabricated items that a team can bring to competition with them.
Which brings up the logical questions: What stops teams, many of whom are already building multiple robots, from bringing in pre-built “Cake-bots,” ready to roll as-is with different team numbers slapped on (or Cake-tops that can bolt on top of a kitbot, if FIRST adopts VRC-style definition of a robot)? Would the hypothetical gains in performance of the average team be enough to erase an elite team’s motivation to do this? Would the sense of collaboration and involvement by all teams so often quoted regarding past extreme cheesecake endeavours always be maintained? Would we want to stop this at all, or would it be a positive thing to a degree?
EDIT: To be clear, I don’t anticipate this ever becoming a widespread thing, nor do I mean to suggest that certain teams are ready and waiting to do this, only held back by the current ruleset. But the door does open up if we aren’t careful.