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JoeStrout
09-14-2008, 04:12 PM
I attended RoboGames for the first time this year. I was a participant in the Fire Fighting competition, and was keenly interested in seeing the humanoid events.

However, I was sorely disappointed on both fronts. Nobody seems to be talking openly about the shortcomings of RoboGames, as far as I have found, and I think maybe it's a discussion we need to have. The problem wasn't the people; all the people I met were great. The problem was the organization... as in, if you weren't doing the combat robotics, then there basicaly wasn't any.

The fire fighting competition did happen on the prescribed day, but at no particular time; the participants all just said, "OK, everybody ready? Let's begin..." The father of one of the builders acted as M.C., and did a great job under the circumstances, which were: stuck in a corner, no microphone, no cameras, and no place for onlookers to get a decent view. Those onlookers would be whoever happened to be walking by, since we didn't stick to a schedule, and there was no place for them to sit.

The situation in humanoid robotics seemed to be much the same. I wasn't a participant, but was keenly interested, so I frequently asked the participants, "when will the competitions start?" And the answer was always "I don't know." So I missed much of them, but the ones I did see going on, were in much the same sorry state of affairs conducted impromptu (as far as I could tell) on a table. The table was a problem because spectators had to stand around it, so only the innermost layer or two could see. I found a chair to stand on and managed to get a glimpse, and a few others did too, but again nobody had a microphone, and there was no schedule or visible leaderboard to point to, so most spectators said, "Hmm, wonder what that crowd is about?", rubber-necked in a vain attempt to see for a few seconds, and then continued on to the combat events, where they could see the action and hear the announcers.

(I tried suggesting that they move to a floor arena that wasn't in use, where you could have had kids sitting on the floor in the innermost layer, then a few rows of chairs around that, and people standing outside the chairs, giving everyone a decent view. But this suggestion didn't apparently make it to anyone able to make such a decision.)

I was also interested in the Lego events there were supposed to be mini-Magellan challenges and so on but despite being there every day, I somehow missed those entirely. Again, no schedule, no posters, no announcements, leaving it pretty much up to chance even for someone interested in advance.

In short, as far as I could tell, everything except the combat robots is a sideshow at RoboGames. Participants in those events would be almost as well off gathering at a library or community room for all the support and exposure they got from this event.

Now, for the Fire Fighting challenge, the answer is obvious: go to Trinity College instead of RoboGames. And indeed, that seems to be what the world as a whole has done I think I was the only participant who wasn't local to the area. All the other Fire Fighting builders in the world didn't bother with RoboGames, and I probably won't next year either.

But what about the humanoid robotics? There is no other big event for those in the U.S. And that seems a shame to me it's a major, exciting, and growing facet of the robot hobby that deserves to be more than an ill-organized sideshow.

Is it time to organize some other annual competition just for humanoid robotics, as Trinity does for fire fighting bots? Something arranged so that the crowds know when to show up, and will be able to see the action (both with their eyes and on a big screen, perhaps?), hear the M.C., and see the tournament results as they develop? Do we need to form a "American Federation of Humanoid Robotics" or some such to promote and organize the hobby, and help us here catch up with Japan and Korea?

Not to say that RoboGames should stop doing its thing it is nice to have one big cross-event gathering where builders can interact with those in other areas of robotics. But it's clear where their focus lies. I think humanoid robotics (and other non-combat events) deserves better.

What do you think?

DresnerRobotics
09-14-2008, 04:34 PM
It's also mainly organized by only Dave and Simone, who can only be so many places at once. I would hope that if you feel your event wasn't as organized as you feel it should be, step up and try to smooth things along. Talk to Dave, share your ideas an maybe take the reigns of the event you want to see improved.

I'm organizing Mech Wars for next year, and am trying to depend upon Dave as little as possible as that man is already unbelievably busy during the event. I'm holding myself responsible for how organized it is, and making the necessary preparations to make it a solid event. The combat robots are the biggest attraction there and require the most attention of the organizers, hence why most of their time is spent on that.

My advice would be to talk to your fellow participants on how you can organize and make things better next year. It's not Dave nor Simone's job to make sure every single competition runs smoothly, as that is simply impossible. It's a community event, and a community effort, so you and your peers should make it what you want it to be. And at the end of the day a lot of it IS about the people.

Just my 2 cents ;)

Matt
09-14-2008, 04:58 PM
That's good advice from Andrew. Sometimes the right person for a job is the one that sees something that needs to be done and wants to do it :) You could raise your hand. Helping an existing org rather than starting a new one might be easier.

Robot competitions are still in a very grassroots stage right now. Organization for events and time schedules is something that I've heard could use some ironing out at RG, but what has gotten built so far is a wonderful thing.

The answer to the question you raise I think is largely dependent upon the market size. Are there enough humanoid builders around the US to have 3-5-10 competitions a year in various locations? Who pays for all that promotion, space rental, work? I'm all for more competitions and more people building in this space, but I do wonder if there is enough momentum yet. I do know that I look forward to the day there are competitions in every state!

sthmck
09-14-2008, 05:34 PM
Lets face it combat robotics has been around for a really long time here in the US and as a result it has the biggest community of any robotics competition being run at present. If the combat robotics event at robogames is the smoothest running event its because lots of people participate and help out to make it that way. If you want to see other events run like that one jump in ask what needs to be done and help out. I'm sure we will need some help with mech wars if you are looking for a place to start.

JoeStrout
09-14-2008, 05:48 PM
That's good advice from Andrew. Sometimes the right person for a job is the one that sees something that needs to be done and wants to do it :) You could raise your hand.

I did, and was pretty much ignored.

I also don't think it's fair to blame this on the individual event organizers. If there were much they could do, I would expect some events to be better organized than others. That did not seem to be the case, however; all the non-combat events were similarly aimless. In my own event, all the participants except for me had been there multiple years, and knew what they were doing; they held a decent contest but it was like an informal contest at a robot club meeting, not a major national event. There were no prizes; no place for spectators; no microphone; no display hardware to show the scores or leaders; etc.

In the humanoid area it was much the same. Those participating got up to the table, and probably understood what was going on, but there was no event support to make it any better than a table in somebody's kitchen.

I don't think you can blame this on the people running the events they simply had no support, and had to do the best they could making it up as they went along with what they had on hand.


Helping an existing org rather than starting a new one might be easier.

Maybe. But maybe not, too. Compare the little corner of a warehouse given to fire fighting at RoboGames to the multiple arenas, display screen(s), bleachers, etc. at the Trinity College (http://www.trincoll.edu/events/robot/Photos/default.asp) event. You can do a lot more, and a lot more easily, when it's your event, then when you have to accept whatever scraps are thrown your way by a bigger event with a different focus. Shoot, even the little fire fighting event we held in Fort Collins (http://www.strout.net/fcrffc/) this year managed to have a big screen, prizes, good visibility for the crowd, and a clear schedule, and was enormously popular with the spectators. But I can't see any easy way to accomplish most of that at RG.


The answer to the question you raise I think is largely dependent upon the market size. Are there enough humanoid builders around the US to have 3-5-10 competitions a year in various locations?

Who's talking about 3-5-10 competitions a year, or competitions in every state? Fire fighting has two: not counting little local events like ours in Fort Collins, you have the big one at Trinity, and the side show at RG. I think humanoids could support the same: a main one focussed on humanoids once a year, and the side show at RG.

On the other hand, maybe I'm the only one bothered by the current state of affairs, in which case I'll stop complaining and just focus on our local club competitions.

Best,
- Joe

DresnerRobotics
09-14-2008, 08:46 PM
I did, and was pretty much ignored.

I also don't think it's fair to blame this on the individual event organizers. If there were much they could do, I would expect some events to be better organized than others. That did not seem to be the case, however; all the non-combat events were similarly aimless. In my own event, all the participants except for me had been there multiple years, and knew what they were doing; they held a decent contest — but it was like an informal contest at a robot club meeting, not a major national event. There were no prizes; no place for spectators; no microphone; no display hardware to show the scores or leaders; etc.

You also have to understand, you're one of 70 events being held at Robogames. Imagine the entry rates if every single event there had spectator areas, a PA, and a big screen. We'd need bigger facilities, and the cost would skyrocket. And I in no way mean this to sound condescending, but you also have to realize that combat robots has a much larger public draw than some of the smaller events. It's sort of like holding a minor league baseball game in a field next to Wrigley field and then asking why they get more attention and better amenities. A large portion of the spectators going to Robogames are going for the combot competitions, not the smaller lesser known competitions.




In the humanoid area it was much the same. Those participating got up to the table, and probably understood what was going on, but there was no event support to make it any better than a table in somebody's kitchen.

Someone's kitchen doesn't have 15,000 people rolling through their house, nor people flying in from across the globe to participate. Give it time. America knows combots because of Battlebots, it's well publicised and easy to follow.



I don't think you can blame this on the people running the events — they simply had no support, and had to do the best they could making it up as they went along with what they had on hand.


I'm sorry but what more do you need for a Robo-One event? There was an arena and a good amount of participants. They had declared winners at the end so obviously someone was keeping track of the ladder competition.



Maybe. But maybe not, too. Compare the little corner of a warehouse given to fire fighting at RoboGames to the multiple arenas, display screen(s), bleachers, etc. at the Trinity College (http://www.trincoll.edu/events/robot/Photos/default.asp) event. You can do a lot more, and a lot more easily, when it's your event, then when you have to accept whatever scraps are thrown your way by a bigger event with a different focus. Shoot, even the little fire fighting event we held in Fort Collins (http://www.strout.net/fcrffc/) this year managed to have a big screen, prizes, good visibility for the crowd, and a clear schedule, and was enormously popular with the spectators. But I can't see any easy way to accomplish most of that at RG.

Well, you're comparing a large event where the primary focus is Combots to a more private event that's primary focus is Firefighting. Again, I think it's unreasonable to expect the 60+ other events to have the same amenities as the headliner. The Combots guys also pay considerably more to participate to cover those amenities.





Who's talking about 3-5-10 competitions a year, or competitions in every state? Fire fighting has two: not counting little local events like ours in Fort Collins, you have the big one at Trinity, and the side show at RG. I think humanoids could support the same: a main one focussed on humanoids once a year, and the side show at RG.

On the other hand, maybe I'm the only one bothered by the current state of affairs, in which case I'll stop complaining and just focus on our local club competitions.

Best,
- Joe

Again no offense meant, I just think you're expecting a little bit too much for firefighting. I love robotics, I've been into it for 13 years now, and I personally have no interest in watching firefighting. You can't expect the same of the average joe showing up to RG, he's much more likely to want to watch the loud fast paced action of Combots, and hence why it has a larger setup. Dave has to invest a lot of money into making RG happen, and he has to cater to what the public demands in order to make that money back.

metaform3d
09-15-2008, 12:26 AM
I have to say I'm kind of with Joe on this. Not to criticize anyone's hard work or to detract from the overall success of the event, but as someone going to my first RoboGames I found it inhospitable. Not the people -- everyone was great -- but the event itself was opaque. Everything but the large-scale combat was sorely lacking in coherent schedules, signage, announcements, and seating. It's like there were going to be cool things happening, but I wasn't allowed to know about them.

I did stumble on some Robo-One events, but they had already started and were impossible to see until I worked my way towards the center of the ring of spectators. By the time I did that they were over. I also caught some ant-weight combat which was very cool, but it was set up in the pit area and not really visible to attendees.

So I think Joe has fair points and I hope that these issues can be resolved for next year. Part of the point of RoboGames is to be an exhibition to help expand interest in the field, so it has to be accessible to outsiders. None of the problems described are very difficult or expensive to fix, and getting the logistics right will go a long way toward making the event successful.

Adrenalynn
09-15-2008, 01:00 AM
I actually agree with everyone. I was pretty disappointed with the logistics. There were things I wanted to see that were basically "hidden" - and didn't come anywhere near the schedule. But, by the same token, I think it's the responsibility of those that want to promote their event to TAKE the reigns rather than wringing their hands. I saw any number of opportunities for those that were responsible for their own events to _force_ the issue. Seems like many I heard complain just wanted it all handed to them and were sore that it wasn't. Certainly not the spectator's job, probably legitimately is the organizers job: but given that it didn't happen, it's the responsibility of those that care to grab the ball and run. What's the worst that can happen? Someone feels like you stepped on their toes? Cool. "Lead, follow, or get the heck outta the way" is my answer to that.

If it were my sub-event that was getting ignored, I'd have run the few blocks to radio shack and grabbed myself a little $20 bullhorn. If it were my event, I'd have run the few blocks to Kinkos and had signage printed up. If it were my event, I'd have grabbed a little LED sign whilst picking up my bullhorn... "Lead, follow, or get the heck outta the way"

FryGuy
09-15-2008, 01:51 AM
As someone who has run an event at robogames before (I usually administer the antweight brackets, and this year I ran the Shooting gallery event), I kind of agree that all non-combat events are kind of shafted. Even the antweight combat event is second stage to the big robots. When we used the same frequencies, it was especially frustrating, because we could not do anything while the big robots were doing their thing, because they held exclusive lock on the frequency clips.

However, that being said, thee are some things that you can do to make your own sub-event a little more successful:
1) Talk to Dave as little as possible during the event. I know this is counter intuitive, but he's got a lot of things going on, and likely doesn't know what you need.
2) Be proactive: Post what time the event is going to happen near where the event takes place. Go to the MC and tell him to announce that your event will start 15 minutes before, and right as the event is going to start. Don't ask when you can go; just pick a time and do it.
3) Be ready to answer questions that spectators have. Common things to know: when the event is going to happen (saturday at 2pm for about 45 minutes), what the goal of the event (shoot down all of the targets using an gun that can aim and shoot by itself), etc.
4) Write down and give the results to Dave. There are award ceremonies, where the winners get badges. It's not cash, but if you're doing this to win money, then robots are not the right sport to be in.

I probably sound arrogrant, but I'm not trying to be. Yes, it would be nicer if non-combat wasn't second class citizens, and yes it would be nicer if things were more scheduled, but that's the way things are.

FryGuy
09-15-2008, 01:57 AM
I actually agree with everyone. I was pretty disappointed with the logistics. There were things I wanted to see that were basically "hidden" - and didn't come anywhere near the schedule. But, by the same token, I think it's the responsibility of those that want to promote their event to TAKE the reigns rather than wringing their hands. I saw any number of opportunities for those that were responsible for their own events to _force_ the issue. Seems like many I heard complain just wanted it all handed to them and were sore that it wasn't. Certainly not the spectator's job, probably legitimately is the organizers job: but given that it didn't happen, it's the responsibility of those that care to grab the ball and run. What's the worst that can happen? Someone feels like you stepped on their toes? Cool. "Lead, follow, or get the heck outta the way" is my answer to that.

If it were my sub-event that was getting ignored, I'd have run the few blocks to radio shack and grabbed myself a little $20 bullhorn. If it were my event, I'd have run the few blocks to Kinkos and had signage printed up. If it were my event, I'd have grabbed a little LED sign whilst picking up my bullhorn... "Lead, follow, or get the heck outta the way"

I posted my post above before reading this, but I agree. At the event, we walked across the street to Safeway and bought a posterboard and some markers and made a sign that said "Shooting gallery - Sat @ 2 pm." No bullhorn though, just loud voices.

Adrenalynn
09-15-2008, 02:39 AM
The shooting gallery event (and your awesome signage) was one of the "must attend" events for me - and attend it I did. [some impressive work, all several of you! :) Seriously - great stuff. I have my own in testing-mode for next year]. Your signage was perfectly adequate and functional. I'd have likely never found it otherwise. My friend and I are actually very prominent in the pano shot that's posted around. :cool:

But you see, that's the absolute simplest example of what I (and Tyberius) are suggesting. You did what you needed to do to announce your tiny piece of the whole massive event. And it had the desired effect. Heck, you had a pretty darned good crowd too.

metaform3d
09-15-2008, 10:47 AM
Imagine the crowd they might have had if the time and location had been printed in the program, or perhaps announced in advance on the website. I admire the entrepreneurial spirit, but for a big event like this everything goes smoother with support from the top.

Adrenalynn
09-15-2008, 10:57 AM
Actually, if I'm not mistaken, it was. At least it was on the website - that's how I knew that it was a "must attend" - I went through the list from the website and blocked-off my times.

Matt
09-15-2008, 11:27 AM
Hmm, sounds like what RG could do is just facilitate the ability for the individual events to manage themselves and publicizing schedules better. Then everyone wins. What about a huge whiteboard somewhere that lists all the different competitions and it's the job of each one to keep their section updated? People can just check in on it to see what is going on. It's low tech, but it could get the job done. (eventual it could be web based flat screens all over the venue)

Adrenalynn
09-15-2008, 11:39 AM
How about touch-screens on robots wandering the venue? :) Bonus points for slapping a PA on them and auto-announcing events.

metaform3d
09-15-2008, 11:49 AM
RE: website. OK, I stand corrected. I looked to the website to find event times and I recall finding it vague to the point of being useless. But that was just my experience and sometimes I'm just thick.

RE: whiteboard. That's exactly my point that these problems can be solved easily and inexpensively. But that's also the kind of thing that calls for top-down organization.

Several posts here have expressed an attitude of "Well, what do you expect? We're small; we're new, etc." Well, maybe I'm unreasonable but I expected better. I hope that next time the non-combot events take the initiative from the start so they don't get there to find that they are second-class citizens again.

That's all I have to say on this topic.

darkback2
09-15-2008, 12:02 PM
Ok...I can't help weighing in.

There were some aspects that I found incredibly dissorganized about robogames...but that could be said about anything. Maybe Dave could apoint a lead person for each of the categories...and then by extention the events. Perhaps that person could then get a discount on their admition fees in exchange for organizing their section. Then again since he has noticed things going on on this website, then maybe we here should take the initiative and suggest the above.

Then you have both top down and bottom up leadership involvement and buyin.

As for getting crowds, while location is a huge factor, bigger / louder / noisier / easier to follow makes for more attention. Humanoids are inherrently small and hard to see. I was thinking for mechwars, using monitors positioned around the venue would help make it so that more people could follow what is going on and decentralize the action. This could be done using three or four 27 inch TVs and an overhead camera. We could also set up a video switch so that we could tie into robot cams for first person action...

For art bots, I started handing out pictures that my robot drew. Funny thing is I had a crowd of little kids asking for pictures. Giving stuff out goes a long way.

Well...enough.

DB

ooops
09-15-2008, 12:39 PM
Sounds like RG needs a "non-combat" executive assistant.
I plan on attending this year so I am hoping they get things ironed out. That said, I tend to agree with Adrenalynn, that some participants from the non combat events need to "take possession" of their respective events much in the way Tyb has done with Mech Wars. The problem isn't finding solutions to the problems, it is finding people that care enough about their event to improvise and implement what needs to be done. In most group/club/community events 1% or 2% of the participants usually end up doing 98%-99% of what gets done. And all to often there is 1% or 2% of the 98% that complains about what the 2% are doing!

DresnerRobotics
09-15-2008, 01:35 PM
Well to be fair, Mech Wars is my brainchild. I pitched it to Dave and assumed responsibility for it's organization.

Already established events don't necessarily already have someone in charge, but I think that's where the community needs to step in.

I think Matt said it best, this is still very much a grassroots event. It is not CES, people shouldn't expect a Disney Land experience where everything is perfectly executed. I think a lot of it is done flying by the seat of our pants, and that's the way its going to stay until the hobby robotics field breaks a bit more into the mainstream. I think we're all pretty lucky that we even have an event of that size to attend and share ideas with. On a side note, I'm pretty sure that there was a schedule in the packet I received upon arrival. I didn't check it out thoroughly though and I would guess a good amount of others didn't either.

My bottom line on this is simple. It's a community effort. If you want your event to be more than it was last year, then step up and do something about it. The public attending probably isn't paying any attention to the flyers, they're drawn to the loud crashing booms of the Combots event. Fryguy had a simple solution of making a big sign for the public to read, and it worked out quite well, I recall seeing quite a crowd around that event when it kicked off.

I dunno, while constructive criticism is by all means welcome, I just don't think many realize exactly what it takes to make an event of that size go as well as it does. I guess you can't until you're in Dave and Simone's shoes.

Adrenalynn
09-15-2008, 01:57 PM
This, coincidentally, just happened to show-up in the "Random Gallery Images".. (http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=423)

JoeStrout
09-15-2008, 03:05 PM
Imagine the crowd they might have had if the time and location had been printed in the program, or perhaps announced in advance on the website.

Or even places for spectators to sit? I'm not sure what the situation was at the shooting gallery that's one I somehow managed to miss but at both the FF event and the Robo-One event, a big part of the problem was the physical space. FF was stuck in a corner, with pit area (behind a barrier) on one side, so only one side was open. It drew about as big a crowd as it could handle, which was 10 people or so at a time; any more than that couldn't see. Our little FF event in Fort Collins had the room packed with 50 people or so, and they could all see, because the room was laid out sensibly and the spectators were on risers.

The Robo-Ones were more in out in the open, only blocked off on one side, but with the action happening up on a little table with people standing around it, the usable crowd size was maybe 20 people at most. Lots more than that wanted to see, but couldn't.

I want to be clear that I'm not criticizing Dave or Simone (neither of whom I've met, but I hear they're great). Nor am I particularly upset about the fire-fighting, because that's a competition that already has a good national competition (Trinity College). My main point is, humanoid robots deserve their own good national competition too, and RoboGames isn't it.

Here's my understanding of the responses to this point so far:

1. Robo-Games is as good as it can be, given the difficulty and expense of running a huge event, etc. (Fine, so maybe we need a separate venue.)

2. Those who want better organization should step in and organize. (Maybe, but there's only so much the local event organizers can do; we can't make risers spring out of the warehouse floor, for example. But I do agree that more could be done, and in some cases, the problem may be that nobody is clearly in charge at all.)

3. You (meaning me) are just a complainer, rather than a doer. (Well, I've done local events, and this thread is all about determining what more should be done at the national level. I'm more than happy to help organize a new venue if there seems to be support for that idea.)

4. Robotics is too small and grassroots a hobby to do any better. (Sorry, I just can't buy this.)

5. It was good enough; the participants got to participate, didn't they? (Well, yes, but a public event should be about more than just the participants it should be about bringing the hobby to the public. That doesn't work if the public can't see, can't hear, or doesn't even know it's going on.)

6. I had the same impression, and I hope it's better next year. (Thanks for the support, and I hope so too, but from what I've heard it's been this way pretty much forever, so I doubt it's going to suddenly get better next year.)

Honestly, while RG probably could be better with a strong non-combat deputy organizer, that only goes so far, as several here have pointed out you couldn't have all the different subfields (Lego, humanoids, the new Mech thing, art bots, and so on) given the resources and visibility they deserve without the venue being ten times bigger. So, suppose we leave it pretty much alone, i.e., a place for robot builders to meet each other, and a place for the public to watch combat bots bash each other. But then, we consider forming other, more specialized venues to present a good show for the other subfields that don't already have one. Seems like a good solution to me.

Best,
- Joe

darkback2
09-15-2008, 08:19 PM
Hmmm...

I'm not sure we can sum things up that easily. I believe that a lot of people are agreeing with you in saying...yeah it isn't what it should be, but two things...

People are suggesting ways to make it better, and giving explanations for why it is the way it is.

The humanoid participants that I spoke to said things along the lines of "its always like this", but didn't seam to care enough to do anything about it. Its odd but the smaller sets of risers were more often then not not being used. There were banks of folding chairs that sat empty when the bigger bots were not fighting...but nobody moved them.

One majorly good thing about RG is the built in audience that comes for the big fighting robots. The humanoids just aren't big enough for people to see in a large arena format. For mech wars I plan on bringing a camera and TV screens. Not only to show the fights during the events, but also to advertise them at the trossen booth if that is ok. Not only you, but everyone can make little changes, to make RG all that it should be next year.

Don't feel attacked by the way...at least not by me. I hear you...I just differ in how to deal with the problem.

DB

FryGuy
09-15-2008, 11:49 PM
Or even places for spectators to sit? I'm not sure what the situation was at the shooting gallery that's one I somehow managed to miss but at both the FF event and the Robo-One event, a big part of the problem was the physical space. FF was stuck in a corner, with pit area (behind a barrier) on one side, so only one side was open. It drew about as big a crowd as it could handle, which was 10 people or so at a time; any more than that couldn't see. Our little FF event in Fort Collins had the room packed with 50 people or so, and they could all see, because the room was laid out sensibly and the spectators were on risers.

The Robo-Ones were more in out in the open, only blocked off on one side, but with the action happening up on a little table with people standing around it, the usable crowd size was maybe 20 people at most. Lots more than that wanted to see, but couldn't.

I want to be clear that I'm not criticizing Dave or Simone (neither of whom I've met, but I hear they're great). Nor am I particularly upset about the fire-fighting, because that's a competition that already has a good national competition (Trinity College). My main point is, humanoid robots deserve their own good national competition too, and RoboGames isn't it.

Here's my understanding of the responses to this point so far:

1. Robo-Games is as good as it can be, given the difficulty and expense of running a huge event, etc. (Fine, so maybe we need a separate venue.)

2. Those who want better organization should step in and organize. (Maybe, but there's only so much the local event organizers can do; we can't make risers spring out of the warehouse floor, for example. But I do agree that more could be done, and in some cases, the problem may be that nobody is clearly in charge at all.)

3. You (meaning me) are just a complainer, rather than a doer. (Well, I've done local events, and this thread is all about determining what more should be done at the national level. I'm more than happy to help organize a new venue if there seems to be support for that idea.)

4. Robotics is too small and grassroots a hobby to do any better. (Sorry, I just can't buy this.)

5. It was good enough; the participants got to participate, didn't they? (Well, yes, but a public event should be about more than just the participants it should be about bringing the hobby to the public. That doesn't work if the public can't see, can't hear, or doesn't even know it's going on.)

6. I had the same impression, and I hope it's better next year. (Thanks for the support, and I hope so too, but from what I've heard it's been this way pretty much forever, so I doubt it's going to suddenly get better next year.)

Honestly, while RG probably could be better with a strong non-combat deputy organizer, that only goes so far, as several here have pointed out you couldn't have all the different subfields (Lego, humanoids, the new Mech thing, art bots, and so on) given the resources and visibility they deserve without the venue being ten times bigger. So, suppose we leave it pretty much alone, i.e., a place for robot builders to meet each other, and a place for the public to watch combat bots bash each other. But then, we consider forming other, more specialized venues to present a good show for the other subfields that don't already have one. Seems like a good solution to me.

Best,
- Joe

Risers are expensive. Do you want to pay for them?

It would be better if someone organized the non-combat. Do you want to volunteer?

There are things that can be improved, but that need someone to step up to organize, or to pay for. It's similar to 20 people watching someone getting robbed, and nobody doing anything about it because someone else should do something. Mind you, I'm not trying to say that getting robbed is anything like someone having an unorganized event, but making an analogy.

Also, keep in mind that the "center" of robogames is, and likely will be for a while, combat. It's unfair to compare a dedicated event it.

darkback2
09-16-2008, 12:53 AM
Risers are expensive. Do you want to pay for them?

It would be better if someone organized the non-combat. Do you want to volunteer?

There are things that can be improved, but that need someone to step up to organize, or to pay for. It's similar to 20 people watching someone getting robbed, and nobody doing anything about it because someone else should do something. Mind you, I'm not trying to say that getting robbed is anything like someone having an unorganized event, but making an analogy.

Also, keep in mind that the "center" of robogames is, and likely will be for a while, combat. It's unfair to compare a dedicated event it.

I'm going to step in here in defense of joestrout. Joestrout pointed out something that a lot of us noted at robogames 2008, and from what I heard every robogames before that. The point is, by bringing it up Joestrout has brought it to all of our attention. I personally am hearing Joestrout's challenge, and will step up to the plate next year. I have offered to help with robogames, and will bring extra supplies to help both with artbots, and mechwars. Heck...maybe as a result of this thread, a number of people who visit this forum will step up to the plate. I know I am.

DB

Adrenalynn
09-16-2008, 01:08 AM
Really, the small events owe RoboGames a "thank you" in my opinion. Compared to "battlebots" (basically a household phrase), what's DefConBots? I doubt I'd have ever discovered its existance without reading about it on the RoboGames website. And that's what RG really provides for the lesser-known events: Traffic. Immeasurably invaluable traffic. Where else will you find ten thousand potential eyeballs in one place for a newer idea?

ooops
09-16-2008, 07:26 AM
I'm going to step in here in defense of joestrout. Joestrout pointed out something that a lot of us noted at robogames 2008, and from what I heard every robogames before that. The point is, by bringing it up Joestrout has brought it to all of our attention. I personally am hearing Joestrout's challenge, and will step up to the plate next year. I have offered to help with robogames, and will bring extra supplies to help both with artbots, and mechwars. Heck...maybe as a result of this thread, a number of people who visit this forum will step up to the plate. I know I am.
DB

DB, great post!
I don't think Joestrout needs defense, if everybody participating in non-combat event at RG goes with an attitude of "my event will only be great if I make it that way" then we will all owe him a thank you for shedding light on the problem.
By taking "possession" of your event's success, it is sure to be better this year than last. Really that is all it takes:
1) look for problems and needs - don't accept the status quo unless the status quo is great!
2) communicate with other participants to solve problems and fill needs
3) see what works and learn for next year

majortom1001
09-16-2008, 07:53 AM
I think a lot of good points have been brought up, and in time for us to try and make our event better. I think just some simple things can be done to improve the exposure, Posters and handouts would be a start, build interest. We could ask if there is a overhead page system to make announcements. As for holding our own event better wait until more people know about this type of robot competition and for more robot entries. I made some sample Poster & handouts I hand in mind, feel free to comment, Posted in image galleries.

darkback2
09-16-2008, 10:55 AM
I propose moving this discussion to a new thread...I'm not sure how to title it...but something about volunteering to lead/needs for events at RG 2009.

Cool posters by the way.

DB

JoeStrout
09-16-2008, 04:40 PM
Risers are expensive. Do you want to pay for them?

At the last event I organized, they were part of the room. (Which was part of the reason I chose that venue.)


It would be better if someone organized the non-combat. Do you want to volunteer?

I'd be happy to, if I'm needed.


Also, keep in mind that the "center" of robogames is, and likely will be for a while, combat. It's unfair to compare a dedicated event it.

Thanks, that's pretty much the point I've been trying to make.

Best,
- Joe

JoeStrout
09-16-2008, 04:59 PM
I think a lot of good points have been brought up, and in time for us to try and make our event better. I think just some simple things can be done to improve the exposure, Posters and handouts would be a start, build interest. We could ask if there is a overhead page system to make announcements. As for holding our own event better wait until more people know about this type of robot competition and for more robot entries.

OK, these are fair points (and seem to be the general consensus). I can live with that.

One final thought, though... and I suppose I should be having it over in the humanoids forum, but since this thread is where my thoughts coagulated (er... well you know what I mean):

Several people have said something to the effect that the non-combat events aren't big enough for their own national competitions, but maybe in the future, they will be. I offer two counterexamples to this idea.

1. Fire fighting. It's a very minor player at RoboGames, with half a dozen competitors, almost all local. But dozens of participants come from all over the world, and spectators fill a gymnasium, every year at Trinity College.

2. Robo-One in Japan. This didn't start as a side-show at some larger competition, and wait around until it got big enough to have its own events. Rather, a group of enthusiasts basically created humanoid robotics out of almost nothing, just by issuing the challenge and holding the annual (or semiannual!) competition, and encouraging participation with a good venue, spectators who could see, trophies for the winners, etc.

These examples suggest to me that a robo-sport becomes big by having a good national event, not the other way around.

Best,
- Joe

JoeStrout
09-18-2008, 03:40 PM
I wanted to let you all know that your thoughtful comments have been very helpful to me. I still think there may be room for more dedicated national events, but I also see that with the right attitude and some elbow grease, we each have the power (and the responsibility) to make the non-combat events at RG as good as we can.

I've already written to David Calkins and offered to help organize for next year.

Thanks again for all your insightful input.

Best,
- Joe

RKM83
09-18-2008, 09:24 PM
I for one hope RG 09 (humanoid part) is better organized as I spent that Friday waiting on humaniod actions. But, not a single event was done that Friday.

4mem8
09-19-2008, 01:43 AM
I have been keeping a close eye on this thread and have found it really interesting guys, I only wish I was a lot closer to you guys because I would be in boots an all helping you guys out at robogames. Not a lot I can do here in New Zealand half a world away.But if there is, Let me know.

milw
09-26-2008, 06:33 PM
hey 4mem8, why don't we start a company in NZ, then I can relocate and we can start a competition! I think my family should just pack it up and come on down!