Too late to change driver skills and programming challenge?

I have seen quite a number of videos involving driver skills and it seems the people that build the best pitching machines have the top scores, which, given the current parameters, makes sense. I wonder if it is too late to reconsider the rules for both skills events to make the orange balls worth significantly more to make the robots actually venture into the field a bit more and involve some more driving and programming. I am proposing the bonus balls be worth maybe 30 points to move the contest from being a human-fed, largely stationary machine into the sensor driven projects we have seen in past years. I think, if the bonus number was right, this could make both contests more about driver and programming skills and less about human loader intervention.

I am not so concern about the rules than event organisers interpreting the rules correctly.

I really think the rules are fine as it is. By next year Feb, we will be seeing top teams finishing all the matchloads before 1min is up and going out to grab the balls in the field as well. So no worries about this.

For example, I am more concern with cases like this :
https://vexforum.com/t/answered-robot-skills-loads/30741/1
(which still waiting for Karthik for clarification)

To clarify - I am putting this down not because 8059 record was broken. We have never expect our score of 254 to stay for long anyway (and officially, Pearl City and Gael Force are/were the current record holder).

I am just hoping that all event organisers will be on the same page regarding the rules. And hopefully we will not have any dispute or unhappiness over the ranking table as what happened during the Skyrise season :frowning:

I totally agree! I don’t see the point in especially programming skills if the robots are virtually stationary. There is no use of sensors, autonomous paths, and hard work into mapping the run. It is safe to say that all of the top skill records so far are just sit and shoot strategies.:smiley:

I agree, I hope Karthik finds a way to really push this message out soon. The difference for skills between standing still and alternating tiles is significant.

yes this is an issue for sure, we were told at our tournament that you only got one alliance worth of drive loads

Seriously? That’s messed up, you get 64 balls.

That doesn’t make them any less difficult, and if it’s the best available strategy then it makes sense for teams to use it.

I think it’s reasonable for games and skills challenges to test different skills in different years. In some years the game is weighted more towards autonomous (such as Skyrise), and in some years I think it’s ok for the skills challenges to be weighted more towards mechanical efficiency.

That said, I don’t think human athleticism should be a factor. Loading more than one ball per second is hard - we can fire balls faster than we can load them, and I’m sure many other teams have hit the same bottleneck as we have.

There’s a precedent for this - in the Gateway season, the programming skills rules were changed to a version with much less human interaction before Worlds because the only competitive strategy involved an amount of human repositioning that frankly made the competition into a joke. Thankfully, the GDC realised that they need to change the rules to avoid making the competition an embarrassment for participants and sponsors. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same realisation about the Vex U autonomous period until the following year.

30 point bonus balls might be good, but personally, I think the (world championship) driver and programming skills shouldn’t have any driver loads; they should just have the ten pyramids on the field. Or maybe, teams would need to wait until the field has been cleared to gain access to the driver loads. It would be like an extended version of autonomous with a bonus at the end added in :smiley:

An other option that I think could have benefited skills is to only allow the robot access the 32 balls from one side of the field, and then have to go out and collect balls from the pyramids. But I doubt that this is a viable option since the over 1500 official skills runs would have to be discounted and reset.

I personally feel driver loads killed NbN. They make the game too easy for one team to win just by sitting in one area.I can understand the four preloads, but the rest of the driver loads make the game somewhat boring. At my most recent competition, we had robots that only had two motor bases, and robots that didn’t even move because the driver load alone could destroy any alliance of in-fielders.

At a recent competition we had a robot without a base that just sat there and shot driver loads :p.

We have also found that teams do just that to qualify for states/regionals/provincials.

We also had a robot without a base here that just used a catapult to fire balls.

Skills this year honestly doesn’t feel like skills.

Keep in mind that most states/providences/etc. have been having competitions for less than a month. I can almost guarantee you that, come February, a robot in an average competition that just sits in the loading zone and shoots driver loads will lose, a lot.

There’s a precedent for this - in the Gateway season…

I think there are some great ideas in response to this query. Limiting the human loaded balls is a good suggestion. There are many other possible permutations.

Because there is such a high currency with the top 30 skills scores gaining access to worlds, it makes any change a challenge. :confused: What is sad to me is seeing so little programming in this year’s programming challenge. Programming seems such a tenet of STEM, especially the logic and ingenuity that can be uniquely identified in problem solving and one of the primary reasons VEX is so intriguing to so many students and mentors alike. Hopefully this can be amended in some way to take the skill’s loads out of human’s hands and put it back into sensor driven autonomy.

Regarding the Driver and Programming skills, I think that are structured fine – it encourages teams to shoot all of their driver loads as fast as possible and then go and clear as much of the pyramids from the field as possible. Already, I have seen multiple teams still have around 10-20 seconds left in skills after shooting from the one tile and then shifting over to the other tile. Mind you, we are only in November. There is so much more time in the season to perfect and speed up your launchers!

I predict that by the time Worlds come around, teams will have around 30 seconds left after accurately shooting all of their preloads (in Robot skills AND programming skills). I do not think that there will be a “lack of programming” this year. You will have to find a way to write a program to move your robot to the other tile in the EXACT right position, which will take immense precision, especially since there is no human interaction with your robot this year. Last year in Skyrise, you were allowed to touch and adjust your robot twice.

Regarding just shooting your preloads in a match, this strategy will win you less and less matches as the season progresses, as more teams will become better “infielders”. At the first competition that we attended, 5776T could shoot all of their preloads accurately in approximately 15-20 seconds, giving them 1:20 to score balls from the field. If you were to just shoot preloads, you could score a maximum of 150 points, and this assumes that you make every single shot. I feel that people are really underestimating the value of the balls on the field. Not only are you scoring these balls for your own team, but you are also preventing the other team from scoring those balls as well.

TL;DR: People are overvaluing driver preloads. Instead, these should just be guaranteed points that both alliances do not have to fight over. The real fight is for the balls on the field that both teams have access to.

At our first competition, the robot that won, was only able to sit in one place and shoot pre loads, the finalists could only score low goals.
In our second competition, almost everyone was able to score most of the driver pre loads. People REALLLY underestimated the need for a field robot. Besides our team, there were maybe 1 or 2 good field robots their. The points we scored, were the difference between us winning and losing.

What I don’t like about this years driver and programming challenge is that for the vast majority of teams there will be no difference in strategy for driver vs programming.

Most teams will launch balls full court from one side, then the other. The end. Times up. If they even get that far. Driver run = autonomous run. The extent of the programming will be to get the robot to drive across the field and position itself. Yippee. Lots of “programming” skills there.

Yes, some really good teams will do more. But by far, most teams will not have efficient enough robots to launch all driver control loads (both sides) and still have time left over to get balls from the field. I am already preparing myself for incredibly boring skills runs so that I am not too disappointed as the year unfolds.

It sounds like the main issue with skills this year is that there will not be any room for driver skill or strategy in skills runs. Personally, I would bet that the best teams will be spending almost half of their skills runs in the open field by the end of the season.

Also you have to remember its ROBOT skills, not DRIVER skills as it is commonly called - so a year where there is a high reliant on mechanical ability shouldn’t really be a problem, robots are still being tested to their limits. The best robots will be able to get to the point where they are planning their runs and shooting the open field. Having so many loads introduces the challenge of speed an accuracy, in a game you don’t necessarily need the speed. There is strategy in how you build the robots, trade-offs you can make. Do you speed up the fire rate and lose a bit of accuracy so you can score the open field? Do you have it reliable and hope the people who took the gamble fail and you can take the title? Does this then change between robot and programming skills? There is almost certainly more strategy involved in skills than people are giving it credit for this year in my opinion.

That being said, I did vote to knock it back to 32 balls - it would probably be more interesting this way. I really don’t see a great need to change it though.

I think we all need to accept the facts that vex is running with these rules and wait until late season where this game will be VERY awesome.