Remember that thread? [08-19-03]

Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay, but I’ve been very busy with Cal Games.

To continue the “There is a FIRST for everything” series ;-). I want to bring back another thread about something when it was first introduced to the competition… Only this week’s topic is unique for that year and that year only.

Just like the introduction of alliance, FIRST brought this format in front of everyone willing to try something bold and new for the participants. There are still arguments regarding whether or not that year was as successful as other years, but I will let you see the thread that started those argument/discussions, and let you decide for yourself. I call tell you one thing though: It was a truely diabolical game Dean brought us that year :wink: :wink: :wink: .

After some background information for the topic in the reply, I would like to hear some veteran FIRSTers talk about what they think about it, now that they are looking back at it after 2 seasons.

Without further delay, here is “Remember that thread?” #3:

Competition…or touchy feely happy bonding time? Posted by aTm, Student on team #111, Wildstang

I want to thank Mike Soukup for supplying this thread and last week’s. You can tell Mike has been around for quite a long time ;-).

Just a little background on the thread.

It was started right after kickoff at 2001, when the game Diabolical Dynamics was introduced to the teams.

The concept of that year’s competition is that there will be 4 robots on one alliance, all working together on the field to get the highest possible score under the time limit. The tricky thing is, the earlier you “finish” the match by pushing all the stop buttons, the higher a score multiplier you get. It was a rush of working with alliance partners, deciding which robot do which task on the field, and trying to get all 4 e-stop button pressed as soon as possible.

During the qualification rounds, the robots will be paired with 3 random partner, play the match and score as much as possible. It was different but similar in the finals. The way the finals worked was, 2 alliances will be competing against each other trying to score the high points to advance. So, you would see alliances coming back with a higher score after their opponents’ new high school, and go back and forth trying to top each other.

The most important debates for that year’s game were:

Is it exciting for spectators to watch?
Is it challenging for teams to participate in?
Is head to head better?

You can see some of those debates in the thread above.

That game was the first year I went to Manchester for kickoff. You may notice that in Remember that thread? #1 about the prank by Dr. Joe was posted right before that kickoff. You can imagine his face when he saw the big balls in the 01’ game, since similar balls were mentioned in his prank.

That year was also very interesting for me, because I’ve only done the 99’ and 00’ competitions, and they were both head to head competitions. The philosophy of all teams working together was new to me, and to everyone else in the competition. We didn’t know what to expect when everyone was used to having “enemies” on the field instead of all “partners”.

The hard part was, every team thinks they are best at balancing the goals on the bridge, and there were a lot of arguments on the field before the match. The fact that teams only know their partners 10 mins before the matches didn’t help at all.

At the end, I remember some positive things came out of that competition:

Both veteran and rookie teams could do well in that game.
There were a lot of varieties of machines.
Teams learn to work with other teams much better, a lot of friendships were built because of that year, and the atmosphere of collaboration grew much stronger as a result.
The game was fun to build a robot for.
The e-stop was introduced the first time that year.

What do you think? :wink:

It doesnt seem that i posted anything on that thread back in the day. I know i posted on one of thoes threads about that game. The game was ok for thoes who knew what was going on. I rember the finals at nationals seeing them balance everyone went nuts in the stands. If I were to rate the game compared to the other games that i have been in i would defineltly rank it last. But that doesnt mean it was horrible, it just means the other ones were really really good.

*Originally posted by Ken L *
**You can tell Mike has been around for quite a long time ;-). **

Not as long as you have :slight_smile: '01 was actually my first year as a mentor.

Thanks for pulling up old threads for us to read. It’s fun to look back at the history of FIRST and how people reacted to changes & events over the years.

A little more background to the thread. aTm was Tony, our driver from '99-'01. He was obviously upset with the 4v0 game because it was not as fun for the drivers. He wanted another physical game where robots battle with each other.

I’ll take a stab at the questions & positives you brought up, and maybe we can get a good discussion going here.

Is it exciting for spectators to watch?
Just like all the FIRST games, some matches are boring and some are exciting. The qualification matches seemed to drag on and for the most part weren’t very exciting. Sure there were some good matches where alliances put up high scores, or where teams showed great skill & teamwork. Unfortunately most of the qualification matches were disasters where at least one team messed up and cost the alliance a good score. Not only were these matches unorganized, but since the score was low, the crowd wasn’t excited. Unlike 2v2 matches where there’s always a winner, if the alliance does bad in a 4v0 match, no one applauds. The odd silence after many matches was not a good thing.

The eliminations were slightly more exciting because most of the alliances had a good plan & were usually capable of executing it which meant less disastrous matches. Unfortunately by the end of the season, most alliances used the same strategy of filling the near goal with ~10 small balls, adding a big ball or two, balancing two goals, and getting 3-4 robots in the end zone. Of course everyone did it because it was the best strategy. But because of the, the elims became repetitive and very predictable. Unlike 2v2 games where alliances can disrupt their opponent’s strategy, many times it was obvious which alliance would advance before the round began. For example, how many people picked Beatty to win Nationals?

Is it challenging for teams to participate in?
Most certainly yes, designing a successful robot for the game was a big challenge. Not many teams understood how important balancing two goals from the ground, being able to limbo & place big balls on the goals, or quickly grabbing a goal were. Strategy was also challenging. It was tough to assess how many points your hodge-podge of an alliance was capable of getting & even harder to coordinate all the robot movements during the round. Many of the disappointing rounds were because alliances tried for too many points or because drivers & coaches couldn’t get the job done.

Is head to head better?
Yes. There’s a reason FIRST moved back to 2v2.

Now to address some of your positives

Both veteran and rookie teams could do well in that game.
Agreed, it was pretty easy to build a robot that grabbed a goal and moved it around the field. It was even easier to build a robot that got to the other side of the field & in the end zone. But it was still difficult (and it should be) to build robots to accomplish the big tasks like balancing & placing big balls on the goals.

There were a lot of varieties of machines.
FIRST definitely did a good job in this aspect. Unlike '02 where goal dominating robots were king, and '03 where stack toppling & ramp dominating robots were king, all types of robots were needed in '01. Each alliance needed a good balancer, a couple of good big ball bots, and a good goal mover. We saw tall bots, limbo bots that moved goals, limbo bots that placed big balls, and even some ramp bots (I had to throw that in). Some robots even had multiple attachments they would use depending on who their partners were.

Teams learn to work with other teams much better, a lot of friendships were built because of that year, and the atmosphere of collaboration grew much stronger as a result.
Yes, and no, it wasn’t as smooth as some may think. We had to work with other teams, but many times the pre-match negotiations turned ugly. Since balancing was the most important task in the game, everyone fought to be the team that balanced the goals. Unfortunately this also lead to teams overstating their balancing ability, and sometimes outright lying about it. We saw times where quiet coaches were ignored while the other three teams planned the entire match strategy. When matches went bad, teams would be upset at their partners who didn’t get the job done.


The worst thing about the 2001 competition was the 12 teams, pick 4. You stood around in line for most of the time. Then, you got to find out who you were competing with, develop a strategy, and go.

This led to shouting matches, mistaken plans, hard feelings, etc.

In many ways, 2001 was the most revolutionary idea FIRST has come up with. It represented a truly different type of competition. It’s just that the implementation left somewhat to be desired.

In some respects, 2001 was a watershed moment. FIRST gave us a competition that was the antithesis of Battlebots. However, the FIRST community almost uniformly rejected this concept.

So, as the competition becomes rougher and rougher, don’t whine and complain that your paint job got scratched.

*Originally posted by Andrew *
In many ways, 2001 was the most revolutionary idea FIRST has come up with. It represented a truly different type of competition. It’s just that the implementation left somewhat to be desired.

I would definitely agree with that statement. In theory the 2001 competition seemed to represent FIRST’s ideals almost perfectly. In practice, while it eliminated robot conflict, it increased personal and driver conflict. Plus, it just wasn’t that interesting to watch. It was great to watch big 700-point matches like the ones Beatty and a few others pulled off, but the majority of the matches just weren’t fun to watch. So yes, it was a revolutionary idea, but a flawed game when you got to the details.