I hope everyone had fun at Kickoff and is hard at work on Aerial Assist. For the most part, Kickoff went great! We kept the heart of the broadcast to 30 minutes and added a closed captioned option on the web (thanks, NASA!) for those preferring it. Between the kickoff broadcast and the supplemental videos, the staff wore over 100 team shirts, and the feedback we received on this new element was very positive. We’re planning to do this again next year!
Here in New Hampshire, team mentors braving the cold – including our Chief Inspector Al Skierkiewicz, no stranger to cold weather himself - were treated to a meal at Dean’s home the night before as part of the traditional Founder’s Reception. At the New Hampshire Kickoff the next day, we were visited by two New Hampshire Governors, and one of our Senators from Washington. It was wonderful to see so much support from our government. Teams attending got a chance to check out a full official field, lights and all. I could tell by talking to the team members present that they were seeing many strategic possibilities in this year’s game.
Not all was perfect everywhere, however, as we did have some teams who did not receive a significant element of the Kickoff Kit – either a complete Black Tote, Green Tote, or AndyMark Drive Base Kit - at their Kickoffs as they expected to. I’m very sorry for the problems this caused these teams. We’re working hard to get them their missing items and put corrective actions in place to reduce the chance of this happening again. In the meantime, as compensation, we will be extending the Stop Build Date for these teams. It’s very rare for us to do this, but in this unusual case it seems to be the right thing to do. If you are one of these teams, we will be contacting you individually with details on the extension.
Secret End Game
I’ve seen the chatter on the forums. I’ll tell you the secret about the end game: there is no secret. For teams that have been around for a while, this year’s game may look very different to you than recent games. This is intentional. We’re trying some new things, one of which is not to have a unique end-of-match task. If you are considering reserving some weight on your robot because you think we’re going to spring some unexpected task on you in the middle of build season, here’s my recommendation: don’t.
Something New – Four Team Alliances at Championship
Speaking of new things, I hope everyone has had a chance to see that for the 2014 FIRST Championship we’re going to have four team alliances for the Division elimination tournaments and Einstein. This is covered in section 5.6 of the FRC Game Manual. Just to be clear, there will still be only three robots from each alliance on the field during any match, but alliances themselves will be made up of four teams. This means 32 teams from the 100 team Divisions will be selected to participate in the elimination rounds, up from the 24 in prior years
The concept is that alliances will be operating with a four team ‘bench’. Alliances select the three of their four teams they want playing in a given match, as they see fit. If one robot is not functioning, the choices are obvious. If two are not functioning, the alliance will only be fielding two robots, as no backups will be available.
Every team on the alliance earns any accolades presented to the alliance, whether they fielded a robot during elimination matches or not. This is just as in sports, where if a given team wins a championship, every member of the team has won, even individuals who never left the bench. In our case, if an alliance wins a trophy, all four teams will get trophies. Yes, this also means we’ll be giving all four teams on the alliance winning Einstein berths at the 2015 FIRST Championship! As one of our staffers pointed out, there are more ways to support your alliance than putting your robot on the field. You can do such things as assist in repairs, help scout, and help with strategy. One representative from the team not on the field can even be in the alliance station during matches.
I had asked the FRC Staff to come up with an idea that would get us down to having only four backup robots on Einstein, down from 12, in a way that was fair and would minimize any incentive to game the system. I had some ideas of my own, but they were ‘not good’ (some going beyond ‘not good’ to ‘not good at all’ and finally to ‘bad’). They came up with the four team alliance idea, eliminating backup robots completely, which I understand is similar to how IRI handles things. This, I thought, is a great idea. This idea is bacon. So we put it in place.
Be sure to read all the rules in Section 5.6 for full details!
Unfortunately, we were not able to get things together this season to have an official FRC Animation award. We will continue to work on this for the 2015 season. However, Team 116 has once again stepped in to fill the gap. Thanks, Epsilon Delta! Find out more about this community-based award here: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1323539&postcount=1