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  • M02 - Solar Panel Array

    M02 - Solar Panel Array

    It seems to me that the solar panel array mission has the potential for teams to work against each other. Perhaps this is the intention, but it seems to be quite a difference from years past where the shared missions at least tried to have teams working together. Perhaps I don't fully understand the intent, and I have not built the missions yet because we haven't received our kit yet, but the scoring requirements seem clear.

    I own the west solar array. The other team owns the east array (this is from the "technically speaking"):

    "In the diagrams below, as on your practice Field, Your Solar Panel is the one on your west end of the Table."

    If I want to get the 22 + 18 score, I need to fold both arrays away from my table and toward the other table. The other team gets 22 points for this and didn't have to do anything. Can I even do that? The rules say I can't do anything that negatively affects the other team, except as specifically allowed by the mission rules, so it does seem that it is ok to manipulate the east array if wanted. R16

    "You are not allowed to negatively affect the other team except as described in a Mission."

    But, if the other team also wants the 22 + 18, they will have to fold the panels away from their table, towards mine and I then only get 22 points.

    The rules don't say I can't manipulate the east array, so it seems to be allowed. But if I manipulate one of the arrays and the other team comes behind me and also manipulates it back, we have a situation where the teams are very much working against each other.

    Also, why would the scoring conditions where each team's array is angled toward them ever happen? The 0-0 condition, third example, top row. Similarly, the 3rd and 4th conditions in the bottom row which also score 0-0 points?
    Norfolk, Virginia, USA
    FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

  • #2
    Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
    M02 - Solar Panel Array

    It seems to me that the solar panel array mission has the potential for teams to work against each other. Perhaps this is the intention, but it seems to be quite a difference from years past where the shared missions at least tried to have teams working together. Perhaps I don't fully understand the intent, and I have not built the missions yet because we haven't received our kit yet, but the scoring requirements seem clear.

    I own the west solar array. The other team owns the east array (this is from the "technically speaking"):

    "In the diagrams below, as on your practice Field, Your Solar Panel is the one on your west end of the Table."

    If I want to get the 22 + 18 score, I need to fold both arrays away from my table and toward the other table. The other team gets 22 points for this and didn't have to do anything. Can I even do that? The rules say I can't do anything that negatively affects the other team, except as specifically allowed by the mission rules, so it does seem that it is ok to manipulate the east array if wanted. R16

    "You are not allowed to negatively affect the other team except as described in a Mission."

    But, if the other team also wants the 22 + 18, they will have to fold the panels away from their table, towards mine and I then only get 22 points.

    The rules don't say I can't manipulate the east array, so it seems to be allowed. But if I manipulate one of the arrays and the other team comes behind me and also manipulates it back, we have a situation where the teams are very much working against each other.

    Also, why would the scoring conditions where each team's array is angled toward them ever happen? The 0-0 condition, third example, top row. Similarly, the 3rd and 4th conditions in the bottom row which also score 0-0 points?
    My team interpreted this mission the same way you described above. It sounds like FLL is trying a new twist with this mission with a potential to negate valuable points if the two teams don't collaborate.

    Comment


    • #3
      The Solar Panel Array mission looks like a variation on the classic "Prisoner's Dilemma".
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma

      Comment


      • #4
        Regarding the '0' score examples. Perhaps they were just trying to cover all possible combinations.

        I agree that there is some lack of clarity about whether the text of this mission creates an exception to Rule R16.
        FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tom Mosher View Post
          Regarding the '0' score examples. Perhaps they were just trying to cover all possible combinations.

          I agree that there is some lack of clarity about whether the text of this mission creates an exception to Rule R16.
          But would you be positively effecting them if you were changing their score from 18 to 22?
          FLL alumni, mentor, referee, judge

          Comment


          • #6
            Upon further review:

            FIRST has used "prisoner's dilemma" puzzles in the robot game before. If I recall correctly, the logic back then was that when teams don't actually score any points during the match, then altering a team's potential score is not Interference. There is no actual score until the match ends.

            So for example, a strategy that physically prevented the other team's robot from moving the panels would be Interference. But moving the panels is allowed by the mission, so simply moving a panel during the match is not Interference. The mission rule does not say anything about which panels teams can move, so "it doesn't matter" applies (Rule GP2).
            FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

            Comment


            • #7
              Tom,
              That is exactly how I see this. I intend to talk to my team about working with the team across the table. Figure out what their intentions are. Maybe have backup missions to manipulate the east array as well.
              Norfolk, Virginia, USA
              FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

              Comment


              • #8
                Senior Solution's Ball Game -- the team with their ball in the center got all the points, negatively affecting the other team. There were others where it was a race and the winner only got points. Just move both panels in the last seconds to give both teams 22 and your team an 18 point bonus.
                scoTT

                Comment


                • #9
                  Another perspective: my team has come to the conclusion that it's actually easier to give the other team the 40 points than take it youself. Assuming the other team can push the solar array forward, your team can pull their array back - giving the other team the 22 + 18 and taking the 22 for your own.

                  I'm keeping my mouth shut and trying not to influence their decision, but I must admit I'd be impressed if they decide to go through with this plan.

                  TeamLeader

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                  • #10
                    I have to express some frustration with the team mission in general - it always seems like it would be such a great opportunity for the teams to collaborate and show coopertition by communicating ahead of time and working together. This year I think they missed the mark again - my biggest grievance is that there's no winning combination - there is no situation where 2 top teams can get the maximum possible score of 400 at the same time on the same board. One or both of the teams will be the loser on this mission. There should always be a scenario (however difficult) where both teams can get the maximum score because they collaborated.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nagol View Post
                      I have to express some frustration with the team mission in general - it always seems like it would be such a great opportunity for the teams to collaborate and show coopertition by communicating ahead of time and working together. This year I think they missed the mark again - my biggest grievance is that there's no winning combination - there is no situation where 2 top teams can get the maximum possible score of 400 at the same time on the same board. One or both of the teams will be the loser on this mission. There should always be a scenario (however difficult) where both teams can get the maximum score because they collaborated.
                      I find it ironic to find lines like "loser on this mission" and "there's no winning combination" in a post talking about "coopertition". Coopertition is "cooperation" and "competition". Both parts are important, and the fusion is a message that the two parts do not contradict. Cooperation and competition not only can exist in harmony, but without cooperation there can be no competition.

                      If you look at how tournaments are structured it is obvious that competition is an important part of FLL. It would be easier for teams and referees and table setters if there was unfettered access to all sides of the table, yet tables are placed side by side. It would be better for traffic to spread the tables around the venue, but they are all gathered together in the same place. It would be quicker to stagger the start time for table runs, but instead we wait for all teams to be ready and start together like this was a race. All of this is done to give FLL the feel of a sporting event, and the sporting event feeling is why FLL is so successful. I've said before that without the robot game, with all the unsavory scoring and ranking that accompanies it, the FLL World Festival could be held in my basement because nobody would come.

                      While designing missions to encourage communication between teams sounds like a good idea, in practice I find that putting the robot away and kicking the team out of our pit area yields better results. The risk involved with cooperative missions causes teams to avoid them until all other missions have been solved. This means that only the highest scoring teams attempt these missions. Inexperienced teams, those that would benefit the most from communicating with other teams, derive no benefit at all. Even the teams that do "cooperate" are shorted. If I only talk to other teams for the purpose of maximizing my score I only talk to three teams, I only talk about the shared mission, and I am only talking to other teams because it benefits me. Yuck!, Yuck!! and Super Yuck!!!

                      I like the design of the solar panel mission. It is an interesting problem with many different approaches. I predict there will be many teams happy to get 22 points for doing nothing. I predict there will be teams rethinking their solution after 18 points are snatches away in the closing seconds of a match. I predict this mission will result in many moans and many cheers. I predict it will generate excitement, and teams will talk about it.
                      Last edited by Dean Hystad; 08-08-2018, 12:12 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree about the excitement - I think we'll see a lot of activity on this mission right up close to the end of the match, as the clock is counting down.

                        I don't view it as a collaborative mission, because teams can react to the status of the table in real-time. There are good options a team can decide to execute depending on what the other team has (or has not) accomplished.
                        FIRST LEGO League Mentor and Referee/Head Referee since 2011.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re-reading my post it comes across that I'm asking for the game itself to be hug fest and all about cooperation. That wasn't my intention. I'm all for the competition and I agree that the robot game is by far the most exciting part of FLL. My beef is very specific to the 'shared mission' being competitive and not cooperative. Every other mission is all about competition, but I expect the shared mission to be one of collaboration. It just seems like a mistake to have the only 'working together' part of the robot game not be an opportunity for both teams to excel if they nail it. I would like to see the shared mission require more collaboration, be harder and more valuable - making teams want to work together.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Based on our experience, 9 out of 10 teams at a qualifier and 8 out of 10 at the State Championships never attempt the joint mission.

                            I see the vast majority of the teams that do try, will focus on the west array and be happy with 18 points.

                            So if your team asks the opposite team and they say:
                            "no, we are not trying" - then you can try both arrays and get 40 points.
                            "yes, but we are only focused on the west array" - then you can point out if they don't try, and you succeed, they can get an extra 4 points (22 vice 18) for not attempting and also get the extra time for not doing the mission.

                            The only time there will be a problem is when both teams want the 40 points. I don't see that happening in 99% of the cases. When that does happen let the better team get the 40 points!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              On a separate note, does anyone have a easy of mounting a 2nd array (on the eastern portion of the field) to practice both arrays when you don't have a second table? In the past when the joint missions were attached to the wall, a dummy wall was sufficient; however I don't see that working this year.

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