Leading Online Gaming Squads For Neither Fun Or Profit

All the fun and excitement of being in a 'war' or 'police action' or maybe even an 'excursion in South Central' can be yours minus the bleeding out part that eventually sometimes occurs when you visit far off lands, also Detroit.

You need to battle your own need to scream first

Your duty is not to go batshit trying to lead a squad

but it has the word Team in it.. and why am I so distracted?

Just The Facts

  1. Playing anything is more fun with the more people you have. Except for masturbating which is just awkward the next morning after the jamboree.
  2. Trying to get people to organize to do anything is like telling kids to stop texting in a theater.
  3. You should buy stock in headsets as they are being smashed at the rate of several per minute worldwide I'm guessing.

Zen & the Art of Virtual Squad Management or How Do You Command People You Have No Real Power Over?

I'm already assuming anyone who actually lives in the real world (that being the one outside your mom's basement door with the big orange ball hanging in the sky. Go into the light Carol Ann, all are welcome.) has long since departed this odd topic and moved on to the six things you didn't realize you were possibly eating at your favorite fast food franchise. This is about the VERY niche market of managing and maintaining online squads and the downside to your social life, family, and lack of friends. Not to mention possible health and hygiene issues.

Ok, you are in command of a squad in one of the dozen games where they need a commander. Yay. You have managed to cobble together some future fodder for your previously untested commanding abilities and march them off to certain death. Do these people have any motivation to do what you tell them to? Nope, they just signed on for the XP bump and are not interested in your 'grand strategy' that you spent all night working on building maps instead of being with a girl.

the letter no fake game commander want's to send

When you hire someone for a job out here in Meat World you are paying them money to do the shit job you need done. Either that or they are a) really nice b) someone who owes you c) friends in RL or your own clan or d) community service. So unless you have a shit ton of coin to spend on in game goodies you will hand out to a squad for a job well done. (in which case I'll totally sign up for your squad, that's Kidd with TWO D's) then you need to figure out some sort of reward structure to keep people on board. The only currency you have to work with is offering them plenty of XP (experience points for the 5 people still reading this who don't know what that is) or a really fun time, or pussy.

People buy these games thinking there will be a team of players all working towards a common goal. Unfortunately, the most common goal is 'How can advance my own personal adgenda.' As a commander you need to have an 'end game' ready when everything goes to shit and you get your squad shot out from under you... again. You need to know the point structure of the game so you can keep squad members around long enough for you to get the job done. The game can't become a simple level grind though because when it does, you might as well go put on some elf ears and play the other games that can do that for you. This is FPS people (spoken as Apone from Aliens where all nerds learn anything remotely military. Well, that and Full Metal Jacket) that's First Person Shooter, where we attempt to shoot things.

You need to keep the squad together. Good fucking luck with that. You can only guide those who want to be guided. IF you are lucky enough to have HALF of them working towards a common goal then you are ahead of the game, even if it's 'My Little Pony Bloodbath II: Killfest in the Meadow'. It's tough but you need to think of the squad first, then everything else.

'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (dramatic pause) or the one.'

That's my commemorative Star Trek Plate from the Franklin Mint on my mantle.. if I were to actually remove it from the box. It's right next to my Babylon Five coaster set and my authentic reproduction of Jayne's hat from Firefly

Sun Tzu (gesundheit) says that a commander knows which battles to fight and which ones, blah blah blah. He was writing about REAL fighting and not things you can do with a full bag of Doritos within hovering distance of your left hand and a Big Gulp of Mt. Dew on your right. Lead the squad to places where they can score big XP and have fun doing it. If you march them up to the big boss on the first mission and expect anything less than Texas Chainsaw Massacre IV to go down you'll need to pick your team with the consideration of a fourth grade dodgeball game in gym class.

sometimes you need to be REALLY discerning

A Study of Squad Dynamics or How Not to be a Dick

A quick word about the maggots in your squad...

They are usually not very squad like. They will rarely follow orders and are usually all off doing their own things. It's like having kids, retarded kids, and not the funny ones either. What kind of soldier are you looking for and what do you eventually get?

  • The Lone Wolf: This guy will always be off doing something totally opposite to the rest of the squad. If your squad is at the Dairy Queen in the Mall, he's most likely over at Spencer's (Spencer's BTW is the basis for the land of misfit toys).

  • The Backseat Leader: This is the guy who knows everything and is not afraid to talk about it on coms... constantly. They don't seem to figure out they can go make their own fucking squad, they prefer to ruin yours.

  • The Usual Idiot: This is the guy who either just bought the game and does not know the keys yet, or is 12 years old (or Dear Lord, both). Thankfully they don't know how to get voice coms working so the silence is sweet.

  • The Hotshot. This guy is awesome! He's the best player not just in your squad, but the whole server! Now things are gonna... HEY WAIT... WHERE ARE YOU GOING? The hotshot is a lot like the lone wolf, but he gets shit done. You will win the match with him, except it's not really your squad doing it. It's him and you just tag along, which is cool... for a while... until it's not.

  • The Chatterbox: this deserves the rest of the article about this motherfucker

What is the biggest obstacle to an organized squad? What's the one thing that, WITHOUT FAIL, will derail it and effectively shut down it's ability to properly maintain itself in the field? Is it an entrenched enemy, possibly with vastly superior weapons and or tactics? Is it the squad's inability to function as a cohesive team? Outnumbered? Just plain stupidity and can't follow orders if they were spelled out on a Light Bright as kids and forced to read it every day of their lives up until this very moment when they would ignore it? Nope, none of the above.

The biggest obstacle to an organized squad is someone who is being a dick

One of the mottoes of the entertainment industry I've been told is the following...

That's the big secret to being a squad member, and recruting them to your team as well. If you can master the fine art of 'not being an asshole' then congratulations, you are one of the better team players out there. Most people don't think they're jerks. They think they're pretty cool and the shit they say is really important and everyone needs to hear it. Stuff like the dump they just shat or the ramblings of what went on in the office that day... you know IMPORTANT SHIT. Sometimes though, it's important to be quiet. You do not, for example, tell your boss what you actually think of him when he takes your Swingline stapler away and that you'll burn the fucking building down. You just mumble it to yourself and come back later with a can of gasoline.

I heard a story once that Harrison Ford was hanging cabinets over in George Lucas' house and was not an asshole (I do not, in fact, know if this is a true story or not, but it is an AWESOME one and I would never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Quite honestly I have not found much of Mr. Ford's cinimatic choices to be of decent caliber since he shacked up with Allie McBeal and been too busy fucking on top of a large pile of money to properly review his scripts. I mean, Cowboys & Aliens?)

only two things sucked in that movie.. one was the cowboys.....

Not being an ass is the single most important thing you can do for your squad, or family, or mankind in general. If you've got 9 people organized together, and the 10th is a mouthy asshole (cause they always are) it slows everything down. True a-holes are seldom quiet, they are more frequently louder than anyone else on the team. They often have a callous on their push to talk finger and gripe about how everyone else is hacking... even in a single player game. The team has to use part of their brain to filter out the distraction. Sometimes a guy can be fine one day and next, like the cyles of the moon or your old lady, it can change like that big wheel in Thunderdome (two men enter... one man leaves I believe is how it works in Barter Town) Let's see what turns your buddy into an ass.

  • Let's say Richard's alarm does not go off and he is late for work.

  • Gets a glare from the boss, his desk is piled with paperwork.

  • Fights traffic on the way home.

  • Either dinner is not ready, or he eats basically dog food out of a can with some smiling chef on it looking at you as if you were going to love it (which, I confess, I do).

  • Then he starts drinking. Drinking as if it were the elixir of life and/or liquid bacon

  • Then he logs on...

How do you think he's going to be. Either "Thank god the day is over and I'm so glad to be hanging with you guys." I can't wait to get started'

Or will he be a Dick?

Will Wheaton himself actually has his own law.. Wheaton's Law, that states "Don't be a dick!"

Don't be a Dick. If you enter the game with an attitude and frame of mind to ruin it for other people, then you might as well be working for the other side. And if you ARE being that guy and someone calls you out on it, for God's sake don't go all Mary and get sand in your vagina about it. Suck it up and either a) calm down Francis, or b) log off. But don't hold it against the guy who points out that you have diarrhea of the mouth because (and this is important) they are TRYING TO HELP YOU not be so much of an asshole. It's the equivalent of pointing out a piece of spinach in your teeth, or some toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or the fact that you reek of your 'special cigarettes' before you are about to meet your date's father. They're doing you a favor, man.

I would like to offer up my apologies and hope that this piece was not too mean but it would be insincere. Over my 18 years of leading online squads, and 35 years of gaming since I damn near made love to my ATARI 2600 (funny story...) it has been THE bane of my existance. If we, as a species, could stomp it out, I mean fuck, world peace must be close behind right? It has given me more gray hair than anything else (this is in fact a lie as I have a daughter who will turn 13 next year and I will most likely buy a gun). So please when leading squads or a member of one make sure you're working for the team.

To quote Rick from the Walking Dead speaking to his son Carl (Whom, by the way, seems to be allowed to wander alone through a zombie infested wasteland with the freedom not unlike your mom sending you down to the 7-11 for a pack of smokes) "Think first... then speak... think.. speak, not the other way around." So even in the coming Zombie Apocalypse proper eiquette can be your friend.

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