The goal of this project is to use the Fifth Gear virtual simulation, provided by Lockheed Martin, to evaluate and assess potential ways in which it could further the goals of the FIRST organization. This plan will include testing of several tournament formats at select FIRST Robotics Competition Regional and Championship events during the 2009 season. The research done at the FRC Regional events will be used to gauge the impact and success of the various tournament styles, with the leading option to be chosen for further testing at the 2009 FIRST Championship Event.
There are many potential uses being explored for the Fifth Gear Simulation, including strategy testing during build, team outreach efforts, and a competition league. In order to determine the best course of action for a virtual competition, it is necessary to try different competition formats. Over the course of the competition season, we hope to try a different format at every regional we attend, and gather data from competitors with a survey. Ideally the competitors would be surveyed at every event that 5thGear is run at. At the end of the regional season, we will decide on the best format for use at the Championships.
There are four format options for a 5thGear competition; FRC-format (having qualification and elimination rounds) with preset alliances, FRC-format with random alliances, elimination match only with set alliances, and elimination match only with random alliances.
To run a FRC-format 5thGear competition with preset alliances, participating teams register three of their team members to create an alliance. This alliance remains consistent throughout the entire competition. To run the qualification rounds, a random match is generated with each preset alliance competing against other preset alliances in every qualification round. At the end of the qualification rounds, the top eight alliances enter the elimination rounds. The elimination rounds run identically to the single-elimination tournament style used in the elimination rounds of FRC competitions, in which an alliance needs two wins to advance to the next level of the elimination ladder, with the losing alliance eliminated from the tournament ladder.
The FRC-format competition structure with random team alliances is similar. Participating FRC teams send team representative(s) to sign up before the qualification rounds. This list of participants are then filled into randomized alliances for the qualifications rounds, just as the qualification rounds in a FRC event. Teams should note that if they send multiple representatives, they won't always be on the same alliance. After the conclusion of the qualification rounds, the top eight teams either get to pick their alliance partners for the elimination rounds or have the alliances chosen for them. If the prior option is chosen by event organizers, the same rules applying those governing alliance selections at FRC events apply here as well. These top alliances then enter into the elimination rounds, which proceeds identically to the FRC-format with preset alliances listed above.
There are two options for running elimination round only tournaments: single elimination or double elimination. In a single elimination tournament, each alliance plays until it loses a match. If this happens, this alliance is eliminated from the tournament. A double elimination tournament allows two losses before an alliance is eliminated from the tournament. When an alliance loses a match in the winner's bracket, they enter loser's bracket. Here, they continue to play until they lose, in which case they are removed from the tournament. The winners from each bracket play against each other in the finals to determine the overall event winner.
In order to play a pure eliminaton tournament with set alliances, FRC teams register three players, and they compete as an alliance for the duration of the tournament. To play pure elimination with random alliances, teams register representative(s) which get entered into a random pool from which random alliances are chosen. Teams must keep in mind that if multiple participants are entered into a random alliance tournament, these participants may not be on the same alliance. Event organizers need to keep track of who has been eliminated or sent to another bracket. At the end of each round, organizers need to assign each player to a new alliance in their bracket.
To assist teams who may have had little to no previous experience playing the 5thGear simulator, practice matches open to registered participantsbefore any of the competition options would be desirable. This would help all participants become more familiar with the 5thGear simulator in a tournament setting.
Since this is a new opportunity for FIRST to continue to expand and promote science and technology, we're looking for lots of feedback from participating Regional events. Using this feedback will help us determine which of the four competition formats should be further studied and tested at the FIRST Championship Event, and recommended for usage at future events.
If you are interested in running a simulation event at your regional and WPI or Lockheed Martin representatives may not be in attendance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for support for running an event in one of these styles.
Equipment and Resources
A full setup of the Fifth Gear simulation at an event will include seven (7) laptop computers, one (1) computer projector with VGA input and corresponding projector stand and screen (or white wall), one (1) VGA laptop-to-projector cable, one (1) eight port LAN network router, seven (7) Ethernet patch cables, and sufficient 120 VAC power with a minimum of nine (9) outlets to run the aforementioned equipment. Optionally, although preferred, six (6) Xbox 360 USB controllers would also be required to assist in the control of the Fifth Gear simulator. Attached to this article is a presentation made by Lockheed Martin, which explains setup styles and ways to run your own Fifth Gear exhibition.
At the events where WPI or Lockheed Martin will be running the exhibition equipment wil be provided.
The nine (9) 120 VAC power outlets will have to be provided by the venue.
The Fifth Gear simulation will also need sufficient space (minimum 150 sq. ft) at the Regional and Championship Events to set up the testing area. Ideally, this area would be “separate” from the main competition area for various reasons, including sound overflow and security of the laptops and corresponding equipment. This testing area must include sufficient table space to hold the seven laptop computers (which can fit on a single eight foot (8’) table). To prevent the wires from becoming a tripping hazard, table skirts and/or Gaffer’s tape will be required.
To set up a simulation at a regional competition, you will first need to procure the necessary equipment. If the regional, WPI, and/or Lockheed Martin will not be able to provide equipment, any interested area teams could help set up and run the simulation event.
- On the main table, set up the seven laptop computers. There should be two groups of three computers along each side of the table, with the seventh computer set up at the head of the table. The two groups of three computers are used to represent the Red and Blue Alliances in Lunacy, and the seventh computer is the server computer.
- Once all of the computers have been plugged in and turned on, the network router also should be turned on.
- Using the Ethernet cables, connect the seven computers to the ports on the network router.
- Now plug in the projector, and connect it to the server laptop computer with the VGA cable. To activate the projector, most laptops either automatically detect it or have a [Fn] keyboard shortcut to “clone” what is displayed on the laptop screen onto what the projector shows. This way, when the server shows the game in progress, this is also displayed on the projector screen.
If the Fifth Gear software has not been installed on the laptop computers, the simulator download and installation instructions can be located here. Note: an Internet connection is not necessary to run the simulation once everything has been installed on the client and server laptops.
- To run a Lunacy match in the Fifth Gear simulator, you first need to know the IP Address of the server computer. On the server computer, press [windows]+[R] keyboard shortcut. This should bring up the Windows Run dialog box. Type in “cmd” (without the quotes) and hit enter. This will bring up the Command Prompt. Now type in “ipconfig” (again without quotes) and press enter. Among the list of data displayed on the screen is the IP Address. The IP Address is a group of four numbers separated by periods, and the one we are looking for should be in the first list, and labeled IP Address.
- Once you find this IP Address, write the number down to remember it, and you can close out of the Command Prompt Window. You only need to find the IP Address of the server computer once.
- To start a match, you first need to start the program on the server computer. Click on the start server button.
- Once the Fifth Gear server is up and running on the server laptop, you can start the software on the six client machines. Under Join Game, enter in the IP Address of the server. This tells the client software which computer is the server.
The outcome of the Regional and Championship testing will be used to help guide future development of the Fifth Gear simulator, and its potential impacts on furthering the goals of the FIRST organization. To that end, we will be providing a survey that we hope you can give to the participants of your event.