Is <SG3> still too harsh?

<SG3> Platforms are “safe” during the endgame.
During the last thirty (30) seconds, Robots may not contact the opposing Alliance’s Platform.
a. For the purposes of this rule, contact is considered “transitive” through other Robots and Scoring Objects. For example, contacting an opposing Robot who is contacting their own Platform would be considered a violation of this rule.
b. For the purposes of this rule, <G13> supersedes rule <G14>. Any Robot which is contacting its own Platform during the last thirty (30) seconds, provided that no other rules are being violated, will automatically receive the “benefit of the doubt”. Therefore, any contact with this Robot will be considered a violation, regardless of intent.
c. Per <SG10>, using a Scoring Object to contact the opposing Alliance’s Platform during the last thirty (30) seconds would be considered a violation of this rule. Placing a Scoring Object underneath the opposing Alliance’s Platform, such that it inhibits the opposing Alliance’s ability to utilize the Platform during the last thirty (30) seconds, would also be considered a violation of this rule. Violations of this rule which do not interfere with gameplay, such as bumping into the Platform and then driving away, will result in the opposing Alliance receiving credit for one additional Elevated Robot at the end of the Match. (Alliances may still only receive points for a maximum of two Elevated Robots). Violations of this rule which do interfere with gameplay, such as preventing a Platform from becoming Balanced, will result in a Disqualification, regardless of whether the interference was Match Affecting or not.

In the finals match of the OC Robo-Bonanza yesterday, the outcome was decided by <sg3>. It was determined that in the last 30 seconds of the match, the blue alliance made non gameplay-effecting, transitive contact with the red alliance’s platform, and thus an additional 30 points was awarded to the red alliance. This changed the results of this match.

DISCLAIMER: I am not questioning the integrity of anyone at this event. I’m not accusing any referees of making incorrect calls, or any teams of malicious behavior. From viewing the livestream, this event seemed very well run to me. This topic was created for the purpose of discussing whether the penalties of <sg3> are too harsh or not.

I was watching the livestream for this event with a few friends, and none of us noticed any possible infractions during this match. it looked perfectly clean to us in the moment. The ruling came as a complete surprise, and we had to go back and watch the match multiple times to determine what had happened (a luxury not available to the referees at this event).

The only thing I saw that could have possibly been the culprit is in the interaction between 62F and the tall neutral goal which was touching the red platform, occurring briefly around the 30 second mark.

Here is 62F at 33 seconds remaining. They are clearly touching the tall goal, however this is not quite the protected time yet.
33 seconds

Here is 62F at 30 seconds remaining, the buzzer has just sounded, and they have backed away from the goal prior to that. However, when turning to leave the area, it’s possible that a part of the robot brushed one of the branches of the tall goal right after the 30 second mark. It’s very difficult to tell from the footage, and tbh it doesn’t look like definitive contact to me, but from the referee’s angle it might have looked different.
30 seconds.PNG

After this, 62F backs away, and neither robot from the blue alliances comes anywhere near the red platform for the rest of the match, so I am assuming this is the interaction that resulted in the call.

Later in the match, at around 2 seconds left, 21s plays some defense on 6627a as they’re attempting to place an alliance goal on their platform.
2 seconds.PNG
the goal isn’t making contact with the platform all the time during this interaction, and 21s isn’t touching 6627a at all times during the interaction either, so it’s possible that 21s was never touching 6627a while the alliance goal was also touching the platform.

This interaction was not penalized, so the referees must have determined no indirect contact had occurred.

Again, I’m not trying to throw shade on the referee calls and how they affected the outcome of the match, but what I am throwing shade on is the fact that the referees are expected to make these sorts of calls which have huge penalties.

We have a video we can rewatch as many times as we want, and I still can’t definitively say if indirect contact happened for either alliance or not. How is a referee supposed to determine that without this luxury, from a limited perspective and in the heat of the moment?

The possible penalties are incredibly harsh. If the interaction is determined to be non gameplay effecting, it’s a 30 point penalty to the other alliance. if it is gameplay affecting, it’s an automatic DQ, regardless of whether it was match affecting or not.

This just seems far too harsh to me, and it creates situations like the example above where an incredibly subtle interaction can result in a 30 point swing or a disqualification.

I propose that interactions which are not gameplay affecting should not be penalized at all. Can anyone give me any solid reason why they should be? especially for something like a robot that may or may not have gently brushed a goal that is contacting a platform. And I think there should also be a clause in this rule which requires the referees to be “without a doubt that an infraction occurred” in order to issue a penalty so that referees aren’t forced to decide the outcome of a match based on a subtle, brief interaction they could easily miss.

Any thoughts or insights on this?

25 Likes

I tend to agree. 30 points is often more than enough to swing a match, so the “inadvertent bump” versus “gameplay affecting” seems to be a difference without distinction, especially in elimination matches. The average margin of victory in semi-finals and finals matches is less than 20 points.

As written, SG3 makes it far too easy for the refs to determine the outcome of a match, rather than the competitors. Not fun for anyone (refs included)

The competition also appears to have featured at least 2 elimination round matches where an alliance was DQed. Would be interested to see what happened in those two as well.

14 Likes

I certainly can’t, and I completely agree with your position, especially after having been part of the FRC 2020-2021 season of Infinite Recharge where there is a similar rule.

For the FRC game Infinite Recharge, as seen in the field diagram below, there is an area in the center of the field (circled) where during the last 30 seconds, robots may hang from a bar. One half of the square is for the red alliance and the other half is for the blue (shown by the red line). During the last 30 seconds, each alliance’s respective zone is a protected area, blocking off a critical area of the field, especially for tall robots that can’t go under the trench run. The real problem however is that there is virtually no barrier between the two sides, and during the last 30 seconds if there is contact between a red and blue robot, the opposite alliance of who initiated the interaction will receive a free climb: 25 points (which gets you nearly halfway to an RP). This has definitely changed the outcome of several matches, but teams eventually got the hang of it and were very careful around that area in the endgame period of the match.

TL:DR: My overall point here is that there was a similar thing in FRC this past year, so if you were curious how it could play out, this would be a good resource to look at.

7 Likes

in quarterfinals 2 red alliance was disqualified. The event did not announce the reason as far as I can tell, and I don’t see any possible platform interactions at all. The only think I see is some particularly aggressive defense on the part of 7700p against 21s towards the end of the match, where 7700p kind of props up 21s in a manner that could be considered trapping, for more than 5 seconds. so my guess is a trapping violation.

In semis 2, 6627d tries to pick up a blue alliance goal full of rings, but drops it and spills all the rings, resulting in a disqualification.

So it appears that finals was the only elimination match where platform interactions resulted in any violations.

2 Likes

Especially with this subpoint, it feels as if they don’t even want a team to cross to the opposing side in the last 30 seconds, since you could just get pushed into the platform and DQ’d if you are deemed as the defensive robot. This is even more for a ref to judged, because they have to decide who is the offensive robot when one team got pushed into the other’s platform. Another thing to consider when looking at this part of the rule is the redbox under G13 which says

In combination with sg3 this could be literally interpreted as if you were to be in possession of an opposing alliance goal and get pushed into the platform, you could be DQ’d or give the opponents 30 point.

3 Likes

My view is that the GDC wants to scale back on “aggressive defensive play”. I think this is a reasonable goal - while the rules make mention of “vigorous defense”, I think there is a difference between GDC’s view of “vigorous defense” and some competitors’ view. I’m not sure that the GDC wants to list out specific interactions that exceed their intent.

So, while I’m sympathetic to the GDC’s viewpoint, I do believe this particular rule is not friendly to referees and competitors. In Qualification matches, if Red1 slightly nudges the Platform in the last 30 seconds that Red was winning, say 83-63, now Blue wins 93-83 (split auton, Red has 4 low goals, and Blue has 3 low goals). This penalizes Red2 with a loss. In that sense, DQing Red1 (which, for the record, I think would also be overly harsh) would almost be more fair to all 4 teams. In Elimination rounds, it almost doesn’t matter whether it’s a DQ or 30-point swing, which is a bit insane.

I watched some of the matches from China that were recently posted to the forum (I think by @Xenon27 , if not apologies for mis-attribution). I do think the GDC would rather have more matches in this style (e.g. where the robot with the tall lift is not prevented from scoring rings on the high goal).

I don’t know how the GDC would phrase it, but I do like the intent @Xenon27 proposes:

5 Likes

As of now, it seems the only way to guarantee you won’t be penalized is to stay a good 4-5 feet away from your opponents platform in the last 30 seconds.

at first this seems obvious, and a sensible thing for teams to do, but in a swing game like this, there’s often a choice between risking an <sg3> penalty by coming near the opponents platform to steal a few goals or something, or just sitting on your side for 30 seconds and doing nothing. Neither are good things to do. If <sg3> wasn’t so harsh with the penalties (no penalty for non-gameplay affecting contact, maybe only a give dq if the contact was match affecting) the game would be a lot more fun to play in the last 30 seconds, and referees would have a so much better time not having to determine the outcome of several matches based on a brief, subtle interaction.

8 Likes

This also requires co-ordination with your partner, to make sure they also stay away.

4 Likes

I feel like the GDC’s intent is similar to Tower Takeover, stay away from opponents space. I feel like you almost need to treat the other teams home zone as an outer protected zone for the last minute of a match (just to be safe).

I do feel like the penalty is too harsh for a qualification match as you can easily lose a match for your partner’s actions.

5 Likes

I feel like this rule is just missing the word “egregious”. That would make small, accidental infractions such as the one in the original post to be nothing. I think a penalty would come when a bot is actively trying to take a mogo, instead of getting tangled up with it and trying to leave.

3 Likes

I agree with Xenon.

This is “the greatest 2 minutes in robotics”.

It’s not the greatest 1 and 1/2 minutes in robotics, with 30 seconds of either chaos, nervousness, and irrational point losses or timid waiting for the inevitable verdict of a loss.

10 Likes

In Robot Events: SG(3) - further clarification of scoring objects blocking the platform , the GDC is very clear:

We would also advise Teams and Head Referees be cognizant of the risks associated 
with this type of gameplay. This means providing verbal warnings early and often to 
Teams who attempt any type of strategy involving the opponent's Platform, so that 
there is no question (within a given Match's context) once a violation has occurred.

Emphasis on: This means providing verbal warnings early and often to Teams who attempt any type of strategy involving the opponent’s Platform

So I don’t think this is an accident. I, like many posters, do not like many of the knock-on effects, but it does seem clear that the GDC intends to provide significant deterrence to play around the Platforms.

Edit: The response to Robot Events: <SG3> Clarification of "Interference" also makes clear that bump-and-runs that have no discernible impact, are 30-point violations

10 Likes

That advice: Don’t engage in that type of risky gameplay is exactly the correct advice.

The problem with the match that was cited by the OP… The Red Alliance was engaging in that type of risky gameplay, and the Blue Alliance was not… Yet the Blue Alliance was penalized for something that happened at the 29 second mark. However at 1 second left, the Red Robot 21S is definitely touching the blue robot when the mogo they are holding touches the platform, which should have been a DQ of the Red Alliance and they were not penalized.

Anyone watching this match from afar would have certainly expected the violation to be against the Red Alliance as they were engaging in the risky gameplay: Heavy defense on the Blue Robot at the end of the match.

1 Like

This is utterly useless and provides no value.

So if there is a questionable violation, then the Offensive Robot gets the ruling, and You can force an opponent into a penalty, so long as they are defending.

If you get pushed into an opponents goal because you are blocking their way, taking defensive actions, then you would earn a penalty. If you are trying to pick up a MOGO swiftly and effectively and are then rammed into the platform, you are considered offensive.

There is no way you can get points for interacting with an opponents MOGO so it is deemed to be defensive always.

If you are not in their way, and they go out of their way to force you to make contact with their platform, it is considered that they are acting defensively and G14 presides.

Furthermore, regarding stuff under the platform:

If you attempt to dislodge an already lodged goal prior to the final 30 seconds, you are not in violation, since SG3 uses the word “Placing” and not interacting with.

However, if you intentionally contact a lodged item during the last 30 seconds, it will draw a penalty.

The only weird scenario is if you are not attempting to act in a defensive capacity, but end up acting defensively, like if your robot disconnects while trying to get a mogo, and you wind up blocking an opponent from getting on their ramp, so they push you into the ramp to draw a penalty. That would be a penalty.

Yes but where’s the fun in that. If they are hoarding a yellow goal, go for it, but don’t push them into the platform. Also, you can pin them while they are getting ready to get on the platform but have not made contact with it. However you cannot touch them as soon as they make contact with their platform.

What I was trying to say by bringing up that part of the game manual is that depending on what goal you are trying to take from your a opponents affects whether you are considered offensive or defensive and how that impacts subsection b of sg3. For example

This is exactly what I was saying. In trying to de-score opposing alliance goals from their zone, you are risking getting pushed into the platform. Whereas if you are trying to recover your own alliance goal, if you are pushed into the platform you have an argument that you were the offensive robot and they forced you into a violation.

I am sorry if my point wasn’t clear in my first post, causing confusion.

2 Likes

I agree the 30 point ding for a minor interaction seems harsh, and referees are definitely put in a bind when ruling sg3 at an event where defense is prominent. What I am not certain of is whether sg3 strongly inhibiting defensive play in the last 30 seconds is not fun. Its not fun if you like defense, sure… but defense is not the only fun outcome.

Doing something challenging like balancing two robots would be fun, and very difficult if defense were given more latitude.

Having strong protection with sg3 could be leveraged to scoring match load rings on the high branches without interference… that would be exciting/fun.

If you knew you were not going to go into your opponents zone for the last 35 seconds, what strategies might you employ to maximize your score over the full match? Probably an entirely different design concept then expecting to sneak some zero-sum points at the end via defense.

9 Likes

I think that the rules could be altered so that accidental, brief, and inconsequential platform interactions result in no penalty, but intentional, defensive, or egregious ones would, allowing for the full protection for robots attempting to balance things on the platform, but without making teams risk getting disqualified or greatly penalized for insignificant interactions that are often extremely hard to spot.

8 Likes

While I agree that they both “could” and “should” be altered, it is likely they won’t. As @FRC973 mentioned (and as with Tower Takeover), I believe the GDC’s preference is to disincentivize play near the opponent’s platform, especially in the end-game. Teams will need to adjust their gameplay instead.

Assuming nothing further changes, then in tournaments that I ref, we will make sure to emphasize during both the driver meeting and (to the best of our ability) during game play that teams are at risk of serious consequence for this style of play.

15 Likes

This.

Yup. It’s a tough situation for all parties (referees and competitors). Having been a coach, a division head referee at worlds, and a chief referee at worlds, I get it. It sucks to have a match decided by a DQ or a point penalty. No one feels good about it.

However, these rules are intentionally harsh for several reasons:

  1. Balancing your robot with other robots and goals (especially tippy goals) is pretty challenging. This is what the GDC wants to see. This was one of the core dynamics of the game from the start.
  2. Keeping your opponent off their platform or unbalancing an opponent’s platform are much easier tasks than the act of balancing.
  3. Gauging intent can be very difficult. I would argue it’s actually one of the most difficult things for a referee to do. There are some intent-based rules every year, but these are fairly straight forward (detaching parts from your robot, touching game objects in the field, destruction of another robot, clamping to the field, etc). That being said, we try to avoid adding intent-based rules that are strategically nuanced. Referee certification is meant to ensure that referees understand the rules and the intent of the rules. It’s not meant to ensure that referees understand all the various gameplay strategies and their nuances.

With that in mind, SG3 was written in such a way that it incentivizes teams to balance, and not play defense near their opponent’s platform.

The logic behind it is similar to that of the autonomous line where teams have an option of doing something challenging (autonomous, balancing, balancing with things), without fear of having a simple defensive action wipe it all out.

Incidental contact can get pretty nuanced. This is why the rule only applies in the last 30 seconds, and not the entire match. Also, at one point SG3 was a DQ regardless of if it affected gameplay. This was definitely too harsh. Instead we backed it off to 30 points for contact that doesn’t affect gameplay, which is the equivalent of a robot on a balanced platform. This seemed like a fair compromise to meet the GDC’s objectives without being too heavy handed on incidental contact.

Other games like TT also had similar rules for zones the GDC didn’t want people near. This is no different. As the game manual says:

Teams partaking in any gameplay near their opponent’s Platform, especially if manipulating Scoring Objects, should be cognizant of this risk and may receive verbal warnings for doing so.

15 Likes

I understand this is a difficult balancing act. What I would say is:

  1. A significant number (about a third) of matches are decided by 30 points or fewer. Because these are close matches, there is more incentive to take risks - such as stealing a goal in the other side’s Home Zone. For these, the 30 point change is virtually no different than a DQ, though maybe it allows the offending robot to preserve an AWP that a DQ would take.

  2. The 30 point penalty hurts both teams on an Alliance, rather than the team that performed the action

On point 1, I suppose the GDC’s response would be - “There are other ways to score points, such as the Rings or elevating your own robots/goals”. Which, I suppose, is fair enough, but difficult to comprehend in the heat of the moment.

On Point 2, while a team can suggest actions their partner take or not take, they have no direct control over what the partner does.

6 Likes