Marqaha's Guide to Harmonious Teaming

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Marqaha's Guide to Harmonious Teaming
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(As Originally Posted Marqaha on Febuary 05, 2011) “Strength through diversity. Respect and fun!” Despite what I've been saying for years there is no wrong -or right- way to play. One of the best things about City of Heroes is that it accommodates an incredibly wide spectrum of play styles. Whether you prefer soloing or teaming, theme characters or min-maxing, casual play or power-leveling, there is room in Paragon for everyone. This diversity is also what makes Adversity such a great community by providing a home for people like me, who’ve been playing since closed beta, and others who have only just recently started. With such a wide variety of expectations and priorities it can sometimes be a challenge to make it all work without stepping on each others’ toes. I’ve decided to offer some advice based on my own experience in CoH, and from my history playing in competitive FPS teams. I believe there is a simple secret to successfully integrating these disparate personality types so that we can appreciate our differences and enjoy playing together. To avoid frustration each player must be able to recognize the expectations of the individuals he or she is teaming with, and the expectations of the group as a whole. It’s critical for each of us to learn to dynamically adjust his or her own play style to find the middle ground, between the expectations and needs of the team and your own expectations and needs. The keys to this are active awareness and deliberate compromise. I’ll discuss these more in detail later. __________________ “So what’s this crap about awareness and compromise?” A common complaint I’ve often heard from our members is that some players sometimes seem unconcerned, or even oblivious, to how they might contribute to the needs of the team. This is due to conflicting expectations. One or more team members enjoys playing “fast and loose,” where one or more others believe it serves their own needs to play cautiously. Sometimes the result is that half the team runs ahead, generating agro while the other half hangs back unprepared for the ensuing rush. Some conflict may be avoided by each member clearly indicating his or her expectations at the onset of the team. Frankly, that discussion usually doesn’t occur and that's when awareness and compromise can save the day. In this example the conflict could be resolved when members of either camp recognize the needs of the other and actively adjusts their own play styles to meet in the middle. Perhaps one of the more cautious players could drop team long enough to bring in a Tank so that agro is better managed. Maybe one member of the free-and-loose camp could hang back with the rest of the group, setting up powers for team support as the others bring back the agro. Often the solution is to simply improve communication while in-game so that there are no surprises. These concepts extend beyond the in-game team. For example: In scheduling a complex event such as the Cathedral of Pain trial the event planners might have an expectation that each participant take a few minutes in advance to familiarize themselves with the mechanics of the trial so that there is no confusion or delay at the beginning of the event. A passive participant might have the expectation that such review is unnecessary as the veterans among us will “gladly” coach us through it. The vets might have an expectation that they be allowed to play instead of having to teach others and resent the imposition of mentorship. How might this go poorly? The event planner decides that the group is not prepared to complete the trial and cancels the event, the passive participant feels like he or she isn’t being helped, the veteran resents the passive participant, and all attendees are frustrated that it took an hour just to figure out that the event couldn’t proceed. Everyone feels that their time is wasted. How might the event go well? The event planner recognizes that there will always be participants who feel that they shouldn’t have to do “homework” and the planner schedules more straight forward events, the veteran anticipates confusion and posts links to easily reviewed materials, and the passive participant respects the other players’ time and comes prepared. Empathy encourages awareness, and awareness causes us to recognize the need for compromise. The key point is to realize that awareness is not a passive skill and requires active cultivation. __________________ “Sure it’s just a game, now take it seriously!” We’ve discussed ideals such as empathy, awareness, and compromise but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention respect, after all respect is featured prominently in our supergroup motto. Respect is never a passive concept. It must be actively maintained as human beings are naturally selfish jerks. We must continuously work to demonstrate that we aren’t simply fucking with each other. One example is the player who repeatedly aggros groups while the team is unprepared. It might seem like he or she is doing it on purpose, after all, no one could make that mistake a half dozen times in a single play session. Another example is the player who has the same access to patch notes as everyone else but instead logs in and barrages his or her supergroup mates with dozens of questions about new content at the same time those same players would rather experience the new content for themselves. A chorus of “RTFM” may be heard over Teamspeak because the perception is that the questioner doesn’t respect the desire of the other players to be allowed to play undisturbed on the day that new content is released. There are many opportunities to demonstrate active respect for your SG family. One example is to reform the team with characters at lower levels to accommodate an inexperienced player. This may be preferable to dragging that player around with the highbies, where they’ll gain character levels but not necessarily any new knowledge of game mechanics. Another example is to be on time for events that require certain conditions for starting or continuing, like task forces. Yet another example involves suggesting, or even scheduling new events, to allow others to benefit from your creativity and initiative. By recognizing the potential for burnout that our event planners can experience, you’re demonstrating empathy and awareness and showing respect. Each of these examples requires that you first recognize the need, and secondly take some action, such as to switching characters or setting your alarm clock on a Sunday. Should you fail to exert that effort and you might find other players are feeling resentful. These examples illustrate what I mean when I say “respect is never passive.” While City of Heroes is meant to be entertainment and escape I feel that we can never fully “turn off our brains” while playing or we risk inadvertently disrespecting each other. __________________ “What you don’t know actually can hurt you.” I mentioned earlier that Adversity is noob-friendly. I believe that it is critical to the supergroup’s survival to welcome new members who enrich our group culturally. We have a responsibility to help new players through the initial periods of confusion. What we don’t often discuss is the responsibility of newer players to absorb “training” and apply it to practical use in the game. As a person to whom the role of mentor is not a natural fit I’m often incredulous to observe a team mate repeating actions that adversely affect the group. When confronted the team mate often responds with an innocent “oops, I didn’t know.” The conflict comes when the new player repeats the negative behavior frequently. As members of a large, diverse supergroup we have to recognize that taking the time to learn how to play effectively is critical to harmonious teaming. This is another challenge where we need to take an active role to be successful. Allowing for disparate character builds and play styles is important in a group that includes diversity among one of its core values. Knowing how to build your character and taking ownership of your own understanding of game mechanics is just as important to maintain harmony within that group. __________________ “I hope he’s planned a big finish that ties all these elements together.” As our group grows and further evolves we run the risk of fracturing. This risk grows exponentially if each of us doesn't take an active role in helping to keep our melting pot fully stirred. This risk may be minimized by learning to empathize, by improving our awareness of each other’s needs and expectations, and by working to communicate and compromise to meet those needs. By treating these concepts seriously we can get back to the serious business of having fun and enjoying each other’s company. Adversity is founded on the concept that diversity makes us stronger and should be celebrated. It is also founded on the seemingly exclusive values of respect and fun. I believe an emphasis on respect will lead to an increase in fun for all of us. __________________

Edited by: marqaha on Dec 3 2012 - 9:59am
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This is the smartest thing I've ever seen posted. Smile