General Feedback on 2011 Worlds

I wanted to start a thread as general feed back relating to the World Championships just gone by.

Much has been (and is being) said about perceived technical issues with Vexnet, people’s robots not working how they expect, etc, so I won’t go into that, other than just to say that there didn’t seem to be similar such issues when I attended Worlds two years ago (wasn’t there last year so no comment).

Overall I thought the event was fantastic.

The increase in number of qualifying matches from 6 to 9 was an excellent move. It was a bit of a shame to spend so much money to get to the event (I can’t imagine what it is like for overseas teams) and only get 6. If I were an accountant I would probably offer the analysis that it used to cost us thousands of dollars per game to compete, now it is down into the hundreds.

The closing ceremonies and finals all bundled together worked really well, I thought. Two years ago felt like a really awkward wrap up, which didn’t seem as well attended as it should have been. This year, the back and forth between awards/announcements/entertainment and matches, I didn’t mind at all. Many groups were able to be recognized in a rather efficient manner. To make a slight improvement on how it went this year, it would be worthwhile to alert awards recipients ahead of time so that they can at least be in the building, if not in a reserved section at the front. They don’t need to be told which award they will be receiving, just that they will be receiving an award.

During opening ceremonies I think the entire pit area, and especially the practice fields should be closed down. We had a parent who traveled to the competition with us who went for a wander during the opening ceremonies and said there were many teams in the pits and on the practice fields during that time. It was hard not to feel like they were getting an unfair advantage. I noticed also that many teams in the area where we were sitting got up and left before the ceremonies were finished, and it is a fair assumption they went to the pits/practice fields to start working. The building didn’t actually need to be locked, but there were plenty of ushers on hand in the building to be able to direct team members out the door. Or maybe just locking the building is would be the easy answer. One thing I really like about the regular competitions that happen in my region is that everyone is forced out of the pit area during opening ceremonies, and if the pits are somewhere out of site, a few sets of trustworthy eyes are left behind to watch over all the equipment and computers.

It would also have been nice to get hold of a division list earlier than was the case. We received a practice schedule and then eventually a Q match schedule but the actual list of division members, sequentially ordered, came only after requesting it and waiting some time.

During the closing ceremonies, I am not sure if it was accidental or not, but that big pyrotechnic bang was way too loud. It wasn’t clear if it was supposed to have gone off like that, or was an accident, but it felt dangerously loud for indoors. The ones on the playing field seemed a little loud also during the opening ceremonies. Also, I found the volume of music and other audio components of the closing ceremonies especially, but regular match announcements also, louder than they needed to be. You kind of wanted to make sure your head was down when you passed by in front of the speakers.

Anyways, as I say above, I think overall the event was fantastic. My criticisms should not be seen as misgivings, but rather suggestions for how to make a top notch event even better. The students that I brought all had a fantastic time, and most importantly left with incredible motivation for next year. That motivation not only drives them, but more importantly, drives the rest of our club, as our students want to make it to this mystery event that they have only heard of second hand.

Nice work everyone.

I would like to first state that this was my first Worlds.

My overall opinion of it was positive. I loved what they did with the controllers, having them run off an alternative source worked great. As for VEXnet issues my team had none, but another team from my school couldn’t get it to connect only once. I loved what they did to regulate the teams in the practice fields so everyone could practice. Finding your pit was easy aside from there being two buildings. Tech support was amazing helping explain and teaching me to use new code such as RepeatingTimers. The sponsors were also great just talking to them, very attentive, helpful, and full of resources.

Also since this was my first year I had no prior knowledge of the divisions and was completely confused. I would ask that they announce what division you are in ahead of time. If they were to do so you would understand the map ahead of time (my mom and I studied it for about ten minutes trying to interpret it) and when you arrive the staff know where the division pits are so they could direct you to your pit area. Thankfully this is a onetime issue and all the teams quickly explained it and guided my team.

Everything else went as expected for my team. No real issues just confusion mainly with the divisions. Lastly I heard there was a party last year, and I enjoyed the one at Nationals which leads me to ask if we were at Disney World why no party? No complaints about no party, but one would be nice.

We believed that because we were at Disney World, and that for more than 400 teams the competition was over at around noon on Saturday that a lot of people would leave the venue and head out to an amusement park. Honestly, although we thought we had planned an incredible afternoon of competition and entertainment, we were concerned that the audience would be largely gone by mid-afternoon and hardly anyone would come to a post-event party at ESPN. Boy, were we wrong. The stands were packed right up to the final awards ceremony and our teams were clearly more interested in the Championship than amusement parks.

You must have been in the Technology and Science tent. Over in Engineering/Math, the practice fields were a complete mess. There were periods where I would go over to the fields and see a team that was still on the field after two hours. There was no support to keep people moving and it quickly became whoever could find enough space to put a robot down got the field. Finding an empty starting position was even more difficult as I’m fairly certain there were a few teams that spent their time sitting on the field, laptops open, and writing their entire autonomous program, instead of just testing and running brief snippets of code like we planned on doing. I’m a programmer and I understand it takes time, but when you’re spending more than 30 minutes on a field, it becomes incredibly frustrating to everyone else. You can get a feel for the program, write it somewhere else, then test the values. I know this is possible and works fairly well because our team doesn’t have a field and it’s what I have to do on a regular basis.

The practice fields are what I disliked the most about this year’s event. There was virtually no organization of the fields that were set up, once again in Engineering/Math, and teams could stay for as long as they wanted. There was not really any room for a line if one was to form anyways. The spaces were incredibly tight, and with teams carrying about 18x18 robots, it became difficult to fit anyone in the area. It took a couple hours before we could find someone willing to help, and all that did was set up some signs to try and limit people to ten minutes or so, which didn’t particularly work. I understand that it’s rough to get volunteers, but if the other building was organized, I don’t like how ours was not.

The Dallas set up was a dream compared to this years. Of course, that involved practice fields for the entire tournament instead of divisions. Hopefully in Anaheim, a similar set up will be used, allowing for proper regulation of practice field use.

The competition was definitely entertaining as I was there to the finals. Yes we were at an amusement park but it was very pricey for the short time we would have been there. I am not interested in going to the amusement park as a party but I would be interested in one like Nationals. After a long day competing you could relax, sit down, eat, go swimming, hang out, and connect with other teams. I thought it was a great way to end the event. At worlds when the finals ended you had to rush back and pack if you weren’t already and then leave.

This is simply my opinion and I understand you have reasons for how things were organized and I respect your final decisions regardless of mine.

It seems like the practice field problem could be solved quite easily. It shouldn’t be too difficult to position one person at the practice field to monitor what goes on there. Rather than red or blue flags, maybe yellow flags could be made up with numbers on them, and people could line up and and get the flag to go onto the field for their 10 minutes. Keeping track of the time shouldn’t be too difficult, as there were only 3 practice fields (at the Engineering division at least), and you wouldn’t want more than 4 robots on the field at one time, so that would be a total of 12 flags (or maybe 16 to allow for some slack). If the practice field monitor had a chart with team numbers they could keep track rather easily of the comings and goings of the yellow flags. Clearly if someone was on the field without a yellow flag, it would be easy for everyone else standing around to identify them as not rightfully being on the field. If you are rightfully on the field, when the monitor calls time for you, you have to remove your robot from the field and hand the flag back in. The monitor could even give a 2 minute warning maybe.

It is a bit unfortunate that people aren’t doing a very good job of self-monitoring, and this seems to be the root cause as well of the problem with people being in the pit area and on the practice field during opening ceremonies. But unfortunately when things grow to a certain scale, self-monitoring doesn’t seem to hold out any more and measures need to be put into place. I am definitely in favour of seeing the playing fields brought under some sort of management system for next year, as it is giving an unfair advantage to those who don’t mind taking more than their fair share.

On the college side I had a great time. We had a bit of a rules hickup, but otherwise things went very smoothly. The practice field was generally a bit of a mess with people leaving their robots on the field while they programmed them, but thats understandable if they don’t have access to a field on a regular basis.

Looking forward to next year.

We as a team had a good time at Worlds this year. We had stayed to watch the finals even though our robot wasn’t in it, for the sake of watching some great teams compete. I suppose we were quite lucky too, because just like last year, it was somehow worked out that it would be cheaper for us to leave on Monday than immediately after, so we got in a day at Disney as well. I think we would’ve stayed for a wrap-up party as well, as it was quite fun last year.

As for the organization in the pits, I wasn’t in there much, so I can’t say. But some of my teammates did report that it took quite a long time to go on the practice fields, and they had to sign up hours in advance to get any practice time, and that was in the Technology division.

Venue-wise, I found the centre too big, and rather preferred the localized building from last year. It was easier to get around, but with the increase of participating teams, probably would’ve been crowded. Also compared to last year, it was nicer to have a big auditorium with a big audience stand, rather than having everyone crowd the bleachers of one division.

Overall, it was fun. I do look forward to next year in California though, but the new game does seem a lot more challenging.

Nitpick: Fair = everything being the same. You had the same opportunity, therefore it was fair. (BTW: I understand what you mean. ;))
I would like to point out, though, that not all of the early leaving teams left because they wanted to practice/work. We left because we thought that matches would start immediately afterward, and we got our robot ready to go. (We were in the first match)

Feedback:

  • Overall: GREAT JOB! :smiley: I loved being there! Matches ran very smoothly, and didn’t get too far behind. I really enjoyed seeing teams from around the world compete. The fireworks at awards were awesome, and I left feeling pumped and ready for next year. :slight_smile:

  • Alert/queuing texts weren’t working for me… did anyone else have a problem with this, or was this something wrong with me specifically?

  • I don’t know what VEX/RECF wants to emphasize more - the Excellence award or the Tournament Champion award. For being the “highest award presented in the VEX Robotics Competition,” it was announced and presented pretty quickly. To me it seemed that the Champion award was emphasized more (fireworks, streamers, etc.) than the Excellence award.

  • We didn’t know that awards would be given out throughout the eliminations - communication of when the awards will be given out would be helpful.

  • The BEST teams were on a different schedule than VRC, and they were cheering for their teams during the time that the Congressman was speaking over the simulcast. The Math division could barely hear what was being said. Maybe next year the BEST teams could be in a building/room to themselves (or at least distanced from VRC), or further away?
    NOTE: I don’t want this to be construed to say that BEST was behaving poorly - I’m all for cheering for teams! :slight_smile: However, because of the timing, it was slightly disruptive to the Math division.

  • Lunch pre-orders worked really well - we really liked having our lunch ready and able to be taken to the pit without waiting in an extremely long line!

  • VEX via worked really well - great job! I suggest adding a schedule of events (not just match schedule). (i.e. Opening Ceremonies alert, Awards times, Game unveil times, etc.)

  • I’d like to see more colleges/employers there - we are the engineers (and other career paths, but mainly engineers) of tomorrow, so shouldn’t employers and colleges be there to see us compete? Besides - if they see what we do, they’re more likely to sponsor us! :smiley:

Looking forward to next year!

Andrew

Its not just BEST, its any two divisions on different schedules that are adjacent. For example, the nationalists and their anthems and instruments and noisemakers, drowning out presentation of awards on adjacent fields in the HP fieldhouse while waiting on the finals to start.

So my general response to the competition was YEAH!!! It was great, amazing, fantastic, really cool, totally sweet, and completely worth it.

Could things be improved? Sure. I’ve helped at more than my fair share of competitions and conventions, and none of them go off completely straight. Something always goes wrong, someone doesn’t show up, a wire isn’t connected, etc…

So here is my short list of things to improve:

  1. I’m not sure what the venue will be like out in Anaheim, but personally, I like having all the teams together. Thankfully, they didn’t separate families of teams between the buildings, but I would have liked it if all four divisions were in the same area… Last year worked really well, with the playing fields in the corners…

  2. The music was a bit loud, but the fireworks were awesome! I loved all of the pyrotechnics, even the loud ones.

  3. The cell-phone alerts need work. It’s a great idea, and I love having that ability… Not to mention saving many valuable volunteers, but it would have been nice to have them work better, and not receive texts at 2 in the morning… :confused:

  4. VexNET! Make it work properly, and if it doesn’t work, replay the match! I know it’s a big pain (believe me, I know!!) to replay matches, but you owe it to the teams who have earned their way to Worlds… Also, please allow the power adapters to be used on the fields next year! I can’t tell you how many AAAs you can go through… Or how often you have to recharge them…

  5. Keep the prices low! The registration costs are going up, and for new teams, it’s really a struggle. For the returning teams, it’s not that bad, but some of the teams (like mine) have trouble getting sponsors, and with rising costs, especially since we’ll have to travel across the country, lower costs would be much appreciated! (Maybe some better hotel deals as well?)

  6. Maybe this isn’t a good idea, but I’d really like to see some individual student awards. In FIRST, students can be nominated for the Dean’s List, and if you are a finalist, you are given literally thousands of dollars of free things. It’s just a nice way to show some of the team members who dedicate their lives that they are appreciated. I’d like to see something like this in VEX…

So some of those weren’t Worlds related, but they could be!

Keep up the good work!

I wasn’t able to attend the worlds this year unfortunaltely, so I can’t speak for the teams who were there. However I was disappointed by the webcast. The sound was having issues all weekend, and the video in one division kept cutting out randomly. Also, there was no shortage of ads being played in the middle of matches, it would be nice if the ads were played during setup time in between matches, instead of letting us watch them place the robots on the fields, then taking us to ads as soon as driver control starts.
I will say that the final day seemed better than the others for the above comments, not sure if this was intentional or coincidental.
The stream also had a tendancy to lag very frequently (tested on multiple computers and internet connections) and then sometimes skipped a lot to catch up. Never noticed an issue like this the past two years.

All that aside, I liked being able to watch my friends, as well as see the score updates on the match list underneath (not sure about last year, but never saw that capability during elevation season)
Thanks for the effort everyone put in :slight_smile:

Were you with 2190D at the competition? I looked at the registration system and there are no phone numbers entered for that team. If you’re sure you signed up, then the person who took your information may not have saved it properly. Did you stop by volunteer check-in? They should have been able to fix it for you. Either way, thanks for the feedback.

I spent part of each day walking the queue line and asking teams who were there if they received the texts. Everyone I talked to did and many teams commented that they really liked the system. For anyone who’s curious, we sent out over 18,000 text messages over the 3 days of the event.

I can guarantee you we did not send out any alerts at 2AM. I’ve double-checked all the logs. If you received alerts at that time in the morning, it was because your cell phone carrier took that long to get them to your phone (I’m sure you’ve had that happen yourself at times - you send a text to someone but they don’t get it until much later or even the next day). Unfortunately we don’t have any control over what your carrier does with the text messages once they receive them from us.

If you don’t mind, send an email to us at “[email protected]” and let me know the name of your cellular carrier and any other issues you saw, and we’ll see what we can do to look into them. We appreciate any feedback that you have.

My understanding from the agenda was that the divisional awards would be distributed at the beginning of the day, not in between elim matches… :confused:

Yes, I was with 2190D. When we registered, the system was “down,” so they wrote the numbers on paper to enter later… However, we got a test text, so I was a little confused. I did not stop by check-in to correct the issue. (By the time I had remembered about it, time was short…)

I was the “scoring operator” for the Technology Division on Friday and Saturday PM and the web console for that division was next to me.

At the start of the match I would switch to the “match template” that should have shown you the match video and the bar across the bottom with the four team numbers and the match number (and who won Auto mode). At the end of the match I put up the score from the prior match. (match 88 ends, see the scores for match 87, move on to match 89). If there was a delay on the field then I’d put up the standings list.

The video team fed commercials until the game started, fed the game, and then at the final buzzer fed commercials.

The only times the commercials played if there was a break in the action and I did not put up the rankings or last match score, so you would see the commercial with the match bar at the bottom.

I’m not sure why you would have seen commercials during the matches. Did you watch the Technology field on Friday/Sat and did they have that problem?

As far as awards went this year, did the division finalists and division winner get a torphie? I never saw them recieve any torphie or award in the engineering division? :frowning:

I was only watching the Eng. and Math divisions, and never had a problem with the Eng. one (except occasionally with scores). as i said it was better on saturday, but the first day and a half-ish we’d often be in the middle of watching a match and the commercials would start, a few people i was talking to as we watched said they had the same thing and it was getting frustrating at times.

It was our first time at Worlds, middle school division. Below are some things that we thought could use improvement.

#1) It would have been nice to have practice fields for the programming side challenge. We traveled a long distance and would have liked to do a practice run before actually going on the field.

#2) We also experienced unexplainable technical issues, and also heard many others talking about the same thing.

#3) The playing field areas and portable bleachers were very congested, not enough room.

Everything else was fine, volunteers were very nice and helpful. Everything seemed to move along smoothly. Other teams were easy to work with and respected one another. The parade of flags and teams were awesome.
We were glad that we were able to attend Worlds, it’s something that we will never forget. Hope to see everyone again next year!

Definitely! I really liked for being closer to the fields in the final rounds, which was a change from last year, but it would be nice to have more space… Especially for the game unveiling, it was really packed, and it was very hard to find space to even see the screen.

Hopefully next year, because we are in a convention center, we can have all these wonderful things!