Here is a thought and yes, I know we are opening ourselves up for criticism.
In an effort to balance the playing field among robotic teams and to keep students interested, what if VEX were to release the game for the following year right after everyone has completed their state contests? The teams who don’t qualify for Worlds or somewhere else would now have a jumpstart building their robots?
Yet those who have qualified for the World Championship will have to focus their efforts on preparing for that competition, diverting time away from the new game (which already might detract attention from the World Championship).
Honestly I fail to see how this would level the playing field when the current setup currently makes the playing field as level as it possibly can be.
I can see how that would keep people interested, but that seems kind of unfair to people going to worlds. People will have fun at worlds, but I feel like they would try to sketch out their design early for the (early released) game, while also preparing for worlds, sounds stressful. And I don’t think it would be fair that the teams that didn’t make it get a head start, when teams who did make it are trying their hardest for worlds.
Here’s some more ideas for the “off season” that will reap benefits when you start the new robot design:
• Build a simple drive base, perhaps even the Clawbot (if you have the Clawbot kit) as a test platform, or use your current drive base if it works and then get some of the new sensors (vision, GPS, inertial, rotational, etc) and learn how to program them.
• Learn how to use and program pneumatics.
• Try out various drive: mecanun, X-drive, holonomic, “kiwi” “H-drive” or any of the myriad of names that different drive systems get. Set up a criteria to make comparisons of the different drives.
• Ambitious? Learn PROS. Also, download and learn any (or all) of the good CAD software that is available with free student licenses, like SolidWorks, OnShape, Inventor, etc.
• Learn about schedule tools, like the Gnantt chart, for next year’s notebook
• Learn about decision-making tools for next year’s notebook.
These are some really good things to also put in a notebook during early early season preparations. Judges really like seeing gantt charts and decision matrices go into the design process for that season, in my experience including those has done well for my teams winning judged awards.
Let me float a popular idea with mentors. Schedule the release for the end of August. This will give mentors a 4 month break from robots. No more twice a week build sessions. No messing with trying to order parts. A break. A chance to recharge. A chance to do a deep clean of the robot lab (where do all of those Dorito crumbs come from?) Re-meet my family. Spend time with them.
If you go and look the forum is plugged with posts for the 2 weeks after the reveal. Then it slows, a peak after the partners meeting then a slump and then back up once US schools start.
So my recommendation would be to reschedule the Partner - Mentor - Coaches meeting for later in August and do the release then. That way it moves off of Dan’s vacation week. Partners get a chance to talk about issues (exactly how do we load 1,800 gallons of water) for the game. Plus not Dallas in the middle of summer.
Unfortunately it’s become evident that the summer months are desperately needed in order to iron out most of the glaring issues with the rulebook. For an August game release to work, the GDC would have to become drastically more responsive to rules clarifications and changes, which I don’t see happening anytime soon.
Secondarily, VAIC teams need all the time they can get, and they not only have to build top tier VEXU robots, but they also have to “build” a top tier VEXU driver.
I don’t think an August release schedule is going to happen anytime soon.
Wow, a real “off season”! Sounds like a great idea to me! With Covid, being locked out of our workspace for a year and half our teams working remote, I actually have no idea what our current status of electronics and parts is, I just order stuff as our teams ask me for things. I’d love a chance where all our teams turn in all their stuff for repair/update/replacement, then re-issue new supplies to all. But I think we could only afford about 4 weeks of off-season, because we host our first events in August at the Monroe County Fair.
I really like being able to build over the summer. As an AP student, I am very busy during the school year. Without 2 months to build the robot over the summer, I definitely would have the same quality bot I have now.