In the last segment of this series I stressed the importance of observation and communication for effective teaming in multiplayer games. In summary, paying attention to game events and making sure teammates are aware of them is crucial to robust defenses and offenses. Now we will get into some more practical applications.
One area where these actions are critical is in ensuring that team members fall into specific roles with little or no overlap. The successful team employs a variety of skills and aptitudes so that every aspect of play is covered. Aggregating into a small number of similar roles significantly reduces the ability of a team to address novelties introduced by the opposition.
In simplest terms, roles need to be spread out to handle short, medium and long range needs. Range in this regard uses a team base or secured objective as the reference point. Short range roles are the defensive positions that guard your property from enemy seizure. Medium range players are those who traverse the region between objectives ensuring that intruders are stopped from entering or exiting your territory alive. Long range tacticians are those players actively working to seize enemy objectives or perform last-mile retrieval of stolen property (flags, etc) before it can be used to the enemy’s advantage.
One behavior that severely hampers proper role allocation is the ego-driven fighting over them. You cannot have a well-balanced team if every player argues over sniper rifles, for instance. If your team has a surplus of players who are adept at one or more roles, then one fair response is to establish a rotation so that everyone has a shot (pun intended). Perhaps better still is if some players graciously concede the role to someone they recognize as highly-skilled.
Not only do roles sometimes aggregate, but so do bodies. In the last article I touched on the phenomenon of “clumping”, where several player band together in pursuit of some objective. While this behavior can have some advantage in very specific situations, such as emergency rushes, it is often disastrous for the team. A savvy enemy will use weapons of mass destruction to take out several clumped players and make use of spawn delay to seize a tactical advantage.
Effective players will create a constant stream of assault upon the enemy, distributing themselves across the field of play so as to avoid clumping but staying close enough to each other to render aid when needed. Think of the field as a conveyer of sorts, always in motion toward the enemy and carrying players forward, dispersed at fairly regular intervals. And as positions change, so do the natures of the roles. A player will start out from his or her base with short range motives but end up in enemy territory with long range goals (relative to their origin). Therefore, if the game allows bearing of multiple weapons it makes sense for the player to carry two or more with differing uses as well as to pick up weapons along the way that are related to their evolving role.
Just like the advice dispensed in the first and second articles, much of this is sheer common sense… but I see many teams who become too caught up in the heat of virtual battle to keep these fundamentals in mind. Often it’s worthwhile to take a break and regroup, even as a team is under assault, in order to get back to proper mobilization. The aggressive enemy will always count on their opponents to retreat to a purely defensive posture, but that is suicide! More on that next.