Guildleading, Part 2

Last night, in FFXIV, we failed at winning our raid.

It was some of the most fun we’ve had raiding in a while. We were laughing and joking and while we didn’t win, we made progress. It was a stark difference from the last time we were in there, a few weeks ago. There’s been some various shakeups, what with people’s schedules being scattered, moving, etc, and so we haven’t had the team together to hit Turn 9 since the end of March. We’ve still raided every week, but haven’t quite gotten back to Turn 9.

The last time we were in there, the team was burned out. We pushed, and I think we more effectively reached later stages of the fight, but we shut down. We were more focused on perfect executions of various phases and we had irritation (though never outbursts– the team is way too good for that) at minor mistakes that led to us falling behind. The huge amount of adaptability that I think of when I think of our raid crew had given way to a steely focus on perfect execution, because we’d been working on execution for the last several weeks prior to that. Last night, by comparison, we were less focused on execution and more focused on just making it to the next phase. It’s the first significant progress we’ve made in the last 5-6 nights of fighting that boss.

(not my group, just a good picture)

I got to see the same in thing in action over this past weekend, in a much more rapid-fire scenario. The goal was to get 11 people up and over a 15-foot wall, and each of the 11 people could only help (read: make any physical contact with) a climber twice over the entire run. An “assist” was consumed only when a climber made it over the wall, but one assist was consumed for every person who helped. Some people get “bonus” assists based on height and weight, the concept being that those two factors affect how useful an assist might be– a very tall person with a lot of mass can boost someone up rather high, whereas a very short, light person isn’t going to be quite as effective at that.

On the surface, it looks like an optimization problem wherein you practice getting people up with a minimum number of assists– ideally no more than 2 per person. It’s tempting to work on this execution, trying to get people up and over the wall with fewer and fewer assists until you hit that optimum number. It’s a trap that (we were told) a lot of groups fall into, and indeed, caused some minor issues for the other group running in parallel with us (the morning team; we were the afternoon team).

Our group managed the wall in one run, simply by going and working out the details as we went. It was obvious to everyone that each person needed to go up with a minumum of assists, but it was equally obvious that fatigue was going to be a real factor. Given enough time and practice, a person might be able to get up over the wall with one or two assists, but by the time that was achieved that person might be exhausted, as will everyone else helping them. Better to use the assists when necessary and minimize fatigue, rather than becoming paralyzed trying to plan in advance and being inflexible, resetting when the “proper” execution isn’t achieved.

It’s left me considering making an executive decision for the raid, something I very rarely ever do: no more than two consecutive weeks focusing on a single boss– too much time on the same encounter and we shift from adapability and focus to tunnelvision and frustration, because we’re thinking about it too much. Rather than trying to perfect execution (a focus that led us to wipe for an entire night on the same transition of Turn 9), I want to keep us on our toes and flexible, used to working together and handling situations rather than trying to perfect a particular step-by-step process.

I’d rather get to 37% and wipe on a messy attempt than get to 47% perfectly and wipe repeatedly on the same transition because we can’t *quite* get our execution right.

It might wind up being an unpopular decision, and I can already think of a few people in the raid who are going to be tight-lipped at me about even the suggestion, we’ll see. What I know is that the last time we were in Turn 9 I was wondering when we would finish so I could do something fun, and this time I didn’t realize we were on our last attempt of the night until someone went “whoa, there’s only 11 minutes left”.

If I have any job as a team leader in a video game, it’s to do everything in my power to make every night like that latter, rather than the former.

Source: Digital Initiative
Guildleading, Part 2

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