EDFs

A discussion forum for proposed changes to the AWS rules (2014)

Moderators: petec, administrator, BeligerAnt

Forum rules
* Only one rule per thread. Any deviation will be moved by the moderators.
* Keep the discussions on-topic, relevant and polite. Anything else WILL be removed by the moderators.
* If you start a new thread (to discuss a different rule) quote the existing rule in the first post so everyone knows what you're talking about.
* The existing rules (version 4.2) can be found here: http://robotwars101.org/ants/rules.htm
User avatar
EpicentrE
Posts: 1079
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Coventry
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by EpicentrE » Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:08 pm

This is a hobby. It's also a competition. Maybe some of us want to enjoy the hobby, but also want to win. Maybe we turn up to events to have fun, but equally want a fair and balanced competition in which to compete. Maybe we love building robots and fighting them whether we win or lose, but we don't want to lose because of what we feel are unfair designs or inadequate rules. Is that such a hard concept to comprehend?

If you are not at all interested in the competitive side of the hobby that's fine, but it really feels like it's impossible to ever have any discussions on making progress towards what I deem to be a reasonable goal of ensuring equality for as many different robot types as possible and a rule set which encourages innovation and intelligent design decisions. Because every time we start the discussion, people post "It's just for fun! Build what you want!". I can't build what I want because I want to win. I can't beat ALBOF or a similar robot driven by a similarly skilled driver with a robot without a spinning weapon without also putting an EDF in it. That is not fun to me, it does not inspire innovation, it does not make me feel like there is equality amongst designs if I feel that I am required to have something very specific in order to beat another class of machine.

There are no other examples of this in our hobby, as far as I know. There are no situations where, assuming similar design finesse, build quality and driver skill, a certain type of robot automatically has an almost absolute advantage over a whole swathe of other types of robots in a way that they cannot counter through intelligence of their own designs. As I have said, robot combat is always a bit rock-paper-scissors, but only in a way that skews the fight in the favour of one machine. Not in a way that makes fighting a type of robot almost insurmountable if you don't have the specific thing you need to counter it.

Yes, a good spinner could beat ALBOF. Yes, a good Axe or crusher could beat ALBOF. Oh, you didn't build one of those and you got drawn against it? Then you've almost no hope of winning. Bad luck. How is that fun for anyone involved?
Scott Fyfe-Jamieson, Captain of Epic Robotics. Champion of AWS38/41/42.
http://www.epicrobotics.co.uk

User avatar
Remote-Controlled Dave
Posts: 3716
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 5:30 pm
Location: Antrim, Northern Ireland
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by Remote-Controlled Dave » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:00 am

Like I said Scott, the problem isn't EDFs, the problem is ALBOF.

And, forgive me on a rather flippant point, but I think a lot of us gave up trying to win because of you, Andy and Alex. If you're talking about the have fun vs competition debate, ALBOF isn't the only robot that skews the field. The results show it. When is the last time a new robot went top 3 that wasn't built by one of you guys? Its very easy to state that we should want to win as much as you do when we cant build robots that can. Any wonder we revert to "lets just have fun" instead? Or "I may as well pay someone else to build my machine"? Like I said, I can beat, say, Void, but only if I build specifically, and have 4 versions of Kellog's Corn Snake on my team, but I don't want to feel I have to just to win. Isn't that the same as you say about ALBOF? The only difference is I love Void and you hate ALBOF, so it seems like an easier pill to swallow, but the 'issue' is still there.

The only way to counteract that would be something like if the same robot wins, say, 3 AWSs in a row then the builder has to retire it and build something else. That way no one robot will ever become overwhelmingly successful. But I fear this conversation isn't really about EDFs. I was talking to Will about the difficulty that newcomers have making an effect on the field nowadays and how the top 3, even the top 4 or 5 at all AWSs now is becoming the same few faces no matter what the competition. That's not as much fun for the rest of us as you imagine, so we get by in other ways. We shift our focus from winning to innovation or silliness or enjoyment. We have to, as the alternative is going off in a huff because we can never win the competition. Maybe that's a bit sad but its true. And no alteration of the rules will change that.
Die Gracefully Robotics
Winner - AWS 39

User avatar
Shakey
Posts: 1047
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:38 pm
Location: Reading

Re: EDFs

Post by Shakey » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:35 am

I feel I'm coming under some flak here so I'm going to explain why I do this and my aims for each robot. Contrary to popular belief winning AWSs isn't my actual goal.

Every robot I make has 2 goals, one to be fun for me to fight. This first goal is why robots like ROFLSTOMP came into existence and how Carbon stayed on my team for so long despite repeated disappointing performance. If I was trying to be ultra competitive hexa-chopper would have never existed as I knew from the start that that robot was a nightmare but I built him anyway. The second goal is each robot of mine is expected to get out the groups, a failure to do so indicates poor design or driving. Yes this second goal has a competitive edge but getting out the groups just tells me my robot is good. This brings me to one of the main reasons I'm in this hobby. I love building different robots and fine tuning them to be the best they can be while making them fun for me, it's why I build robots for other people because I enjoy it and the challenges of each one. However the benchmark for the performance of a robot is how well it does.

Now many people complain about one type of design being more effective then others and we've been through this with Stanley and pushers and tried changing the arena to counter this. But the interesting thing is in all these debates I only felt like (not trying to drag anyone else into this, just saying what I felt) Andy, Rory or Scott tried to beat it in the arena rather than with the arena or the rules book. So this is what I'm doing, I'm constantly evolving my robots and they will evolve further to overcome the obstacle of void and ALBOF. I have an entry cooked up that should give any pusher a run for their money, by extension it'll be a good counter to a wide range of bots and no doubt I'll fight it and if it wins you'll all boo (seriously though joke is old), but I'll know I'm trying my best to overcome challenges. ICBINS went through its redesign to aid in fighting many of the top entries by extension it is going to deal with other robots well. But the one thing I wont ever be doing is building intentionally poor robots to keep everyone else happy. You (general you not targeted at anyone) have to ask yourself if your aim is to get to the end field are you actually putting in the effort and innovating and refining new ideas and practising them. Or are you rehashing the same concepts the same way you have always built them in the hope that this time it is different? Because I know I'm standing at the side watching your fights and if your robot is a threat the next design of my bot will already be in mind with a counter for it.

I kinda lost track of what I started writing this post and I know it's going to rub some people up the wrong way because the short of it is 'try harder'. Just remember to keep all discussion civil.

EDIT: Spelling.
Last edited by Shakey on Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
Nuts And Bots - For all your components and ready built antweights!

Alex Shakespeare - Team Shakey / Nuts And Bots / Team Nuts:
AWS 44, 45, 49, 51 & 55 Winner - Far too many robots!

User avatar
EpicentrE
Posts: 1079
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Coventry
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by EpicentrE » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:58 am

We were all newcomers once; some of us found success quickly, some of us took many, many years before we got there. Yes, I find a lot of success now, but it took me 9 years to get my first AWS win. There was a large period of time where I barely ever even made it out of groups. I would never want to discourage newcomers; I would hope that my experiences as someone who had very mediocre performance for a very long time but kept trying to improve will inspire newcomers, not put them off.

My goals generally align with Alex's. Void is the machine I want to win the competition with, and the design decisions reflect that. I could build 3 of them if all I cared about was winning. Everything else I build is built because it's a fun concept or an engineering challenge. Yes, I want them to perform well in the arena and win some fights, but I don't expect them to go all the way.

Anyway, we're getting massively off-topic here. On the subject of EDFs, opinion seems to be split about 50/50. As Andy has said he won't be entering ALBOF in the next competition, I also have no intention of entering anything with one on either. The next Void will have improvements which I believe will make it fare better against EDF bots in the future, but I still believe they're problematic.

I also feel it's worth mentioning that I never stated that EDFs should be banned/restricted because they're "boring" or because "I don't like them". Those were definitely things I said, but the meat of the points I've been trying to get across are what I deem to be issues with balance, fairness, and competitiveness caused by them, which I attempted to get across in the most logical way possible, without personal bias. I probably failed because I get pretty passionate about this stuff, but that was my aim. I find it personally hurtful that anyone would suggest that I would want to ban something because I personally didn't like it. Not only do I have more integrity than that, but I care to much about this hobby to allow my own personal feelings or bias to risk damaging it.
Scott Fyfe-Jamieson, Captain of Epic Robotics. Champion of AWS38/41/42.
http://www.epicrobotics.co.uk

User avatar
peterwaller
Posts: 3628
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Aylesbury Bucks
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by peterwaller » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:59 am

Right here is my three pennyworth.
First I must admit EDF robots are not my favorites but unless someone comes up with a really good reason (which I havent heard yet) to ban them I think they should stay.
I think that the Antweight competition has been dominated by 3 divers recently but that has as much to do with their driving skills as their great robot design especially when you consider they all drive different types of robot.
I would like to win again but unless I get some practice and a lot of luck that is unlikly so I spend more time initially on the Fleas and now the Nanos in the search for success.
Win or lose I get great fun out of designing and building robots winning would be the iceing on the cake.

User avatar
razerdave
Posts: 1509
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:40 pm
Location: Carterton, Oxfordshire
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by razerdave » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:32 am

Ill get back to this when I am not at work, I've got a lot to say about the points above.

I will say as a short thing: Don't ban EDF's...beat them. One way or another, they can be.

User avatar
razerdave
Posts: 1509
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:40 pm
Location: Carterton, Oxfordshire
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by razerdave » Tue Jul 07, 2015 11:30 am

Ok, so here goes nothing:

First off: EDF's; don't ban them, beat them. We as a community seem to be getting complacent (I'm very guilty of that). I don't like EDF's either but they can be beaten, probably by someone with better driving skills than me.

Secondly: The top 3 of the last few events have been Scott, Andy and Alex for 1 reason above all others: They can drive! Alex has the luxury of a practise partner Rory, who came 4th incidentally), and Scott and Andy both have many years experience and have now hit upon quite possibly their best controllable robot, so it's little wonder they've been handing our collective rear ends to is for the last 3 or 4 events. We need to improve (controllability is high on my list of things to change now Stewie and Baphomet are getting a rebuild and Baby Hell is getting retired for something new).

As for changing the arena to discourage the EDF's, a lip round the edge of the arena (about 6mm high) would help due to their floor hugging nature (gives machines a chance to drive over or away from them), and it should also help with accidental drive offs (Damn you Lemmings!!! ;) ).

User avatar
Remote-Controlled Dave
Posts: 3716
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 5:30 pm
Location: Antrim, Northern Ireland
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by Remote-Controlled Dave » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:39 pm

The point I made wasn't a criticism, nor was it about "flack". It was just what I perceive to be true and, actually, Alex's speech about his reasons for building echo what I was saying. I wasn't stating we should all build purposely poor robots just so someone else wins. Its just more what Dave said - experiments and designs from better builders and drivers will often consistently triumph over those of us who cant build as well as them. I was just pointing out that that's not really a reason to want to ban stuff, and I don't see much difference between that and what's happening here with EDFs, even with all the further comments. I don't see how anything I said wasn't "civil" either. If it was because I mentioned names, what was I supposed to say, "the same three builders keep winning"? All I meant was this is what happens in sports - the cream rises to the top and, for the rest of us, it isn't always about trying to win. We all have different reasons for continuing to take part and I would carry on even if ALBOF won every event from here til doomsday, as would all of you passionate people. But my reasons for entering are very different from Alex and Scott's ones.

As for Andy not entering ALBOF at the next one, he's reigning champion, so he should enter it. Don't think we've had an AWS where the champ has failed to turn up to fight for their crown.
Die Gracefully Robotics
Winner - AWS 39

User avatar
Shakey
Posts: 1047
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:38 pm
Location: Reading

Re: EDFs

Post by Shakey » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:51 pm

Oh I wasn't saying you weren't civil at all Dave, just trying to ensure the convo doesn't tend that way. The flack isn't necessarily from what you said in you post, I know you don't mean any malice. :) I just got the feeling that people may think I'm in this for different reasons to everyone else (for the fun) and wanted to clear that up rather than being some person who does well because their one aim is to win AWSs regardless of the experience of themselves and others.
Nuts And Bots - For all your components and ready built antweights!

Alex Shakespeare - Team Shakey / Nuts And Bots / Team Nuts:
AWS 44, 45, 49, 51 & 55 Winner - Far too many robots!

User avatar
Remote-Controlled Dave
Posts: 3716
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2005 5:30 pm
Location: Antrim, Northern Ireland
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by Remote-Controlled Dave » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:59 pm

I don't believe for one minute that anyone does this without having fun (well, maybe Gemma sometimes...). I just mean our fun comes from different places.
Die Gracefully Robotics
Winner - AWS 39

User avatar
Rapidrory
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:54 pm

Re: EDFs

Post by Rapidrory » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:08 pm

I'll be sad if Andy retires ALBOF before the next AWS; It would be much more fun to see it legitimately beaten/ smashed to bits :L
Rory Mangles - Team Nuts

Robots: Nuts 2 and many more...

NanoTwo Motor Controllers: https://nutsandbots.co.uk/product/nanotwodualesc

Occashokka
Posts: 433
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:34 pm
Location: Stroud,Gloucestershire

Re: EDFs

Post by Occashokka » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:12 am

I don't think it's faced one of pete's under cutters yet I'm sure they could cause it some issues
Team Badger
Has a 3d printer now yay
-£4.82+VAT (intact)
-cool modulated printed thingy
-not yet built nasty mean spinnt thingy

I'm gonna build something huge and stupid, try and stop me :P

User avatar
EpicentrE
Posts: 1079
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Coventry
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by EpicentrE » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:29 am

If people disagree with me on this, that is honestly fine. I didn't make this thread so I could say "BAN ALL EDFS BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE THEM". I made the thread to start a discussion. My issue is that people seem to either be misunderstanding or ignoring the points that I actually raise, and instead responding either with hyperbole or things that aren't relevant to my arguments. So let's try again.

All examples refer to two machines fighting that are equally well designed, well engineered, and well driven.

Yes, spinners, axes, crushers, and obviously any anti-EDF weapon systems that people come up with are going to cause EDFs issues.
Yes, there are other instances in the hobby where a certain type of robot has a natural advantage over another type of robot.

In the first instance, unless you have one of those weapons that is a counter to an EDF, you have very little chance of beating it, as the control of the battle afforded by being able to consistently get under your opponent and being almost impossible to push is enormous.
In the second instance, the match-up becomes harder, but is not insurmountable.

An example of the first instance would be Void or Stanley vs ALBOF. Neither Void nor Stanley have anything that is a counter to EDFs, and as such the battle becomes incredibly difficult.
An example of the second would be Void vs Stanley. Void historically has poor performance against 4wd pushers, however the battle is still winnable depending on who is better on the day.

I believe the first example is unhealthy; it increases the effect which luck has on the competition, as the way the draw plays out has a much bigger effect. Had ALBOF been drawn against some spinners, axes, or any other weapon which counters it, it's likely someone else would have won the competition. As it did not, it was undefeated. It also makes people feel the need to build something specifically to counter one other type of bot (something we've already seen starting), which again I think is unhealthy, as whether your design is effective or not is once again left up to the bracket to decide.
I believe the second example is healthy; finding that your robot or type of robot has a disadvantage against something else encourages you to find ways to minimise that, whether that be through design or driving. As already mentioned, Void historically has issues with 4wd pushers, however with each new version I adjust and improve aspects of the design to try to minimise those issues.

A robot has very little chance of beating an equally well designed/engineered/driven EDF if it does not specifically have the weaponry/design to counter it.
A robot has varying chances of beating other types of robot dependant on their weaponry, but it is achievable without needing to change your weaponry/design completely.

I hope that my argument is clear now.

Disclaimer: I am aware that there are still some instances where certain types of robots have a much larger advantage against others, such as horizontal spinners vs. heavily armoured wedges/flippers, but I think these are going to get more balanced in the future as our changing arena designs increases the effectiveness of spinners and makes people want to build them more. The EDF issue I believe is not affected by arena design.
Scott Fyfe-Jamieson, Captain of Epic Robotics. Champion of AWS38/41/42.
http://www.epicrobotics.co.uk

User avatar
razerdave
Posts: 1509
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:40 pm
Location: Carterton, Oxfordshire
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by razerdave » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:28 am

Just a small point Scott: EDF's are basically pushers. Given our previous discussion about the dominance of pushers (and subsequent arena change), arena design would affect them (the lip I mentioned for example would help).

User avatar
EpicentrE
Posts: 1079
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Coventry
Contact:

Re: EDFs

Post by EpicentrE » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:30 am

Yeah Dave, I realise that, but as we've already been looking at changing arena designs to balance things out (which I think has been successful, although we could still go further) I didn't want to include that in this discussion. We've only seen EDFs in pushers so far, but there's no reason you couldn't build one into another type of bot, and the advantages gained by doing so would be the same.
Scott Fyfe-Jamieson, Captain of Epic Robotics. Champion of AWS38/41/42.
http://www.epicrobotics.co.uk

Post Reply