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Let's have a discussion about the perception problem

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  • Let's have a discussion about the perception problem

    With the growth of the TG Squad community over the past 12-18 months and an ever increasing number of "regulars" on the server on a nightly basis, one theme has continued to surface in Discord and I feel it is time that it be addressed.

    The issue is what is normally called "stacking". This is the problem where one team's roster consists of a much larger number of TG-tagged players (or easily recognized regulars) than the opposing team. There have even been instances where all of the tags and regulars load up onto one team and the opposing team has none.

    Now, before I go any further, I think it is vital to point out that this issue consists of two parts:

    1. Reality
    2. Perception


    The reality component is this: stacked teams have lost plenty of rounds.

    Tags do not equate talent.
    Tags do not equate leadership.

    It's just a fact that we're all aware of. One team being stacked does not mean that they are automatically going to win every round. Known SLs might not actually be leading squads that round. Logi trucks, now absolutely vital to success as a team, might be mis-managed on the stacked team. Important assets might not be in "trained" hands during the round. Even something as simple as a squad that promised to execute the back caps could not follow through or have gotten rushed by the enemy team and taken out. Any scenario that you can imagine can befall a "stacked" team and cause them to lose a round, so making an assumption that the outcome of any round before it has been played is a major mistake.


    "Reputation is gained by the drop, but it is lost by the bucket."

    This is the major issue with stacked teams, and it is the point of this post.

    Our reputation in the Squad community is something that all of us should hold sacred and it needs to be protected at all costs. TG is our "home", and each of you reading this decided to make it your "home" for Squad for some very specific reasons. I'd like everyone to keep those reasons in mind each time you play on the server and strive to make TG be that place that it was when you first played here and thought "this is the place for me". If you enjoyed getting your ass kicked by a team full of TG guys and thought that you'd like to come back to the server the next so it might happen to you again, then more power to you. However, I'm pretty certain that that is not the case.

    We need to look at this problem as one of what kind of impression do we want to make on people when they play here? What can we do to try to get people who want to play like we do to keep coming back to our server? Where is the next <insert name of outstanding TG player here> going to come from if we keep turning new people away by knocking their teeth down their throats round after round?

    This has nothing to do with being "nice" to other players who are losing a round or "git gud". This is a marketing/PR issue that we all need to be aware of.

    So, what can we do?

    This isn't something that the admins alone can fix or even really effectively police, short of calling out the people that we see switching teams all the time (and we do know who they are, believe me). We'd rather go with what is laid out in the TG Primer:

    Create an environment conducive for mature gamers to enjoy the games they play without the everyday interference from the less-than-mature gamers.
    So, to us, we are a community of mature gamers. As such, we feel that everyone in TG has a stake in the continued growth of our community, and as mature players, we'll try to do what is right by the community first and put ourselves second.

    This is exactly what the admin team is doing now: asking everyone to consider the good of the community over themselves.

    We still want people to have fun. We still want people to play with their friends. We also want the community to grow and we want everyone invested in it enough to care about the reputation that we've worked hard to build so it's not lost. Once it's gone, it will be really hard to get it back.


    The admin team would like to ask everyone to just please be mindful of what the teams look like when you join and not just automatically switch over. We'd ask people to be willing to switch teams after a round when the other team is obviously struggling - it's fun to shoot your friends every once in a while. We'd also ask everyone to not get so mad when you lose a round and the teams are suffering from a "perception imbalance". No one is winning any prize money and no one is really going to die.

    Lastly, we want to see an end to complaints about distribution of tags. Let this post be the official message that we all need to be aware of the problem and that the responsibility for fixing the problem falls squarely onto each and every one of our shoulders. This isn't something that the admins can fix by themselves. This is a community problem and it can only be fixed by the community if we can all decide what is really important to us.


    This post isn't the last word. If anyone has any thoughts or comments, feel free to contribute to the conversation. Most importantly, let's all pitch in and keep making TG a place we can be proud of.

    The Admin Team

  • Paine
    I made a rather controversial PR thread about this issue in the way back, recommending a more structured competitive standard. I'm older and wiser now, though not as old as you lot, I agree with ya. It is ultimately a norm thing, and leaders set norms. Lots of leaders here. I don't think the revival of this conversation is a bad thing. It's like a ceremony; we do it to remind ourselves of what we already know, and to practice how to be.

    A couple regulars switching teams at the end of a shabby round should be and has been common. We all know that challenging games are more fun. Problem is the long term loss of challenge which results from unbalanced teams is not as obvious as the immediate joy of being with all your bros on a highly coordinated team. To resolve this, we should encourage that good-natured competitive instinct to counter the in-group instinct. Boast before you switch channels in discord, "I'm gonna eat your lunch, buddy". Ask who will join you in the challenge.

    Match this base instinct with the higher call to responsibility dispo talks about. It is a different kind of fun to have a new player say some variant of "thanks for a great game" or "I didn't know Squad could be like this" or add you on Steam. Half an hour of effort on our part, that's all it takes. Aim to mix one of those rounds in with your gameplay pattern every so often. TG, buddy.

    Leave a comment:

  • Bearjew 2995
    I personally think this will hurt the sever. A lot of people play squad with a friend and this makes playing with them a pain in the ass. people will not like having to go through a 3rd party to switch teams. No other popular server has restrictions on people switch teams.If we want to grow the community this will do the opposite. This will also hurt people trying to switch to balance teams.

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  • disposableHero
    More thoughts, observations and a bit of harsh reality.

    A good portion of the times that I hop onto the server I see one team pretty heavily loaded up in terms of tags and recognizable names compared to the other. It's been especially bad of late, culminating with a round of Gorodok last night (1/30) where - no exaggeration - when I joined I was the *only* TG tagged player or regular name on one team facing off against a team full of TG tags and regulars. Needless to say, it was a roflstomp against our team of first-time SLs and guys who relished building mortar FOBs 300m away from the closest flags.

    Here's the deal: this kind of crap is senseless and it is entirely shameful that anyone can justify it through whatever rationalization they dream up.

    Does the current player base suck? You bet they do. Squad is currently populated by two categories of player: grizzled veterans who know what they're doing, and then there's the masses with 100 hours or less who are the guys who bought it on the last sale with the release of v12. You know, the guys who are SLs without mics, guys who think mortars are the answer to every assault and defense, guys who think they can handle a tank or apc by themselves, or the guys who just like to meme all night and make everyone's life miserable.

    No one in their right mind wants anything to do with those guys - it's not worth the headache, amirite? No, I don't support TG to have to play wet-nurse to some 13-year old idiot who is going to ruin my night of fun! Screw that! Fill my squad with TG guys and let's wreck some people.

    If you think this then there's a few things I want you to seriously consider:

    1) Were you treated this way when you first came to TG and decided that you like the server and the way it was run? I'm guessing no, you weren't or you probably would have found a different server.

    2) Do you really think TG can continue to grow, finding and retaining the good squad players if all we ever let them get exposed to are the guys who super-FOB in the middle of nowhere? Or make them run in a squad with a SL with no mic, no rally and trying to get the marksman kit? To those people, TG is nothing but another garbage server, because that's all they're ever exposed to - frigging garbage.

    3) If you're in an IHS and think the reason for IHS is to be able to play in the same squad as your other IHS mates every round, every night, how is your IHS helping TG?

    So, here's the deal:

    Everyone that plays regularly on TG has ownership of this problem, supporting member or not. Being lazy or indifferent about it is only going to have one result - the server and the community are going to slowly stagnate and then die. I've said it above but I think it bears repeating:

    Your reputation is earned by the drop but lost by the bucket.

    If you disagree with this then fine - everyone is entitled to their opinion and are free to do as they see fit. I'll suggest, though, that if you feel this way then maybe TG isn't the place for you after all.

    Leave a comment:

  • Wicks
    Merely as a player I think it's important to consider ALL your actions as regards these scenarios and not jump to conclusions. As has been said you may have joined a round that is a complete turnabout from the previous as regards perceived balance/number of tags or how the actual game itself is going. The team you think are roflstomping may have just taken a helluva beating the previous round.

    I've witnessed players make a positive effort to switch when things are a bit imbalanced results wise after one round only for that team to become very powerful because a couple of unaware players joined the server and ended up on that team as well. Then someone mentions balance literally minutes into the round and we are back where we started.

    My rule of thumb in games is to look at what I'm doing first every time before looking at external factors. If I'm really concerned about the result what exactly am I doing to contribute to that victory. Am I playing smart, do I need to force myself to step up to SL if the team needs leaders, does the dsyfunctional Squad I am in need a medic instead of 3 LMG's and Marksman. Does the SL need a bit of support in herding the cats.

    That's not to deny teams don't get imbalanced, they do, but here's the thing. Sometimes teams just lose, sometimes the team just isn't doing the basics, isn't communicating. Nobody spoke and nobody is back capping. Nobody bothered to do logisitics. Everyone is just grabbing kits and running about.

    What do we do about that. Do we stop the game and have everyone shift sides. If the same players remain on the server can we guarantee that won't repeat itself to a lesser/greater extent dependent on how the numbers shake out. Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose, that's the nature of things.

    The first thing any team that is 'playing badly' needs to do is 'play better'. When that avenue has been exhausted then you look elsewhere.

    That may sound glib but that is the core truth. Taking functioning players off one team to put them on another can help in the short term and can be desirable, we all want close competitve games after all and there can be an opportunity to teach new players etc. However the core truth remains, one group of people is performing, the other is not. To truly fix the problem you need to address both, help balance where it is obvious and you are enjoying an advantage, step up when you think your team is struggling.

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  • disposableHero
    I personally like this response :)

    Life isn't fair.

    There is no solution to this because it really is more a problem of players gradually migrating from one team to another over the course of several maps than it is a mass migration at one time. A player joins the server and who immediately starts crying foul has no idea what has transpired over the past 4 or 5 maps, they only know what they see when they join as the truth; however, their view of the truth is distorted and an incomplete picture. It could be that the team they are currently on was dominating just a few maps ago.

    What's my point? Well, it's been said over and over and over: Just shut up and deal with it! There isn't a solution that is workable, and the admins aren't going to do a whole lot about it because there isn't a good way to do it. Suck it up and play, or take your ball and go home.

    While the older, wiser me still thinks this somewhat, I also think that sportsmanship should be the way, as that is the underlying theme of a good deal of the TG Primer.

    I'm now going to seemingly contradict myself with this next observation, but I think sportsmanship isn't just what "the other guy" should be doing, but it is everyone's responsibility.

    Let me expand on that:

    I've seen a lot of games over the years. I've seen a lot of complaints about stacking during that time. One constant during that time is that a lot of the players that do the complaining about team balance only do so when they're on the receiving end, and are strangely quiet when they find themselves on the loaded team that is doing the stomping. I don't notice a lot of the players that will voice frustration when they are facing seemingly overwhelming odds doing a lot of team switching to the non-stacked team when they're winning.

    So, to those that want to complain when they lose but don't do anything about it when they're winning, they're just as much a part of the problem as the guys who like to stack up the teams in the first place.

    One more point to ponder: If everyone that wore TG tags took them off and played without, would we see complaints about "stacking", and if we did, how should we address them?

    TLDR: I'm going to circle back and say that this is a community problem, and not just a problem with players who wear tags.

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  • Catraphact
    I think its kind of funny that you and I have been having the same argument for a decade:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same eh.

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  • disposableHero
    Randy - glad you made it back to the forums, although I'm guessing you haven't really left.

    Anyway, unlike PR where we had intermittent "server issues" that forced team scrambling, we don't have that same luxury in Squad. Crashing the server won't guarantee it filling back up quickly (too many server options), and as admins we do not have the ability to force a team scramble via a server command (although that has been a requested feature submitted to the devs by several server owners).

    The best way to handle this is to pay attention to the balance of a round and if it is a smash, round after round, have a few SLs switch over. To do this, it is strongly encouraged that players join the Squad discord VOIP channel and coordinate these type of shifts between rounds. Of course, that relies on a sense of fair play among the players....

    Leave a comment:

  • Catraphact
    I mean, team stacking has always been an issue in PR and Squad. Hell, I was making threads about it in 2007! It's always been a peeve of mine. Everything I said in this thread is still true today:

    You are right that sometimes stacked teams do not win. However, come on. Let us not be naive. I've been at this game for a long time and a lot of times I can tell who is going to win a round just by looking at the teams.

    If I can do it, so can you.

    As to what can be done about it, appealing to the conscience, as you have done when you ask players to "be mindful of what the teams look like," can only take you so far. Perhaps I am cynical. I don't like leaving things to people's sense of fair play.

    I prefer a more brutalistic approach: Scramble the god damn teams at the end of every round. The downsides: groups of friends will be broken up. The upside- you solve the stacking problem and the perception problem.

    If we aren't willing to make the sacrifice and tolerate the downside, I fear that appealing to people's conscience is all we will be left with and in another 11 years, I'll again make a thread pleading for a little fairness.

    Btw: I am Randy Newman in squad.

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  • BigGaayAl
    Wholeheartedly agreed with the analysis above.

    For the purpose of mitigating the team stacking perception issue, I wish to call attention to the role of discord voip in this regard. The old school guys will know this is 100% the same issue that happened with teamspeak before discord was adapted.

    I paint the scenario of what happens when the server is seeded with people being on discord chat.

    People start joining, several come in discord chat. They work together while getting ti server started. As the server fills, the players who are helping to get our servers filled, which is much appreciated, tend in this cooperation to want to play together also. Often shortly after seeding, I find 6 to 8 players on the same team, all in discord chat together. This then becomes the seed to some some that to a public player probably seem imbalanced when looking at the in-game team sheet.

    So where the discord chat is helping to strengthen the bonds and cooperation within TG, it is at the same time through people's natural tendencies watering the plant that is the teamstacking perception problem. In psychology this is studied under using the terms "in-group" and "out-group". Any subdivision of a group naturally comes with various advantages and disadvantages.

    I believe we shouldn't try to solve this issue, but we can try to be mindful of it. If you notice all discord chat people are on the same team, don't worry. But when the round is over, perhaps check if there are at least some TG guys on the other side. If not, I suggest saying so in discord voip and try to have a part of the people switch (not all plz :p).

    Merely mentioning the issue in discord voip as I've heard some consistently do, seems to go a long way in getting it sorted. It grows a culture of being mindful of the teamstacking perception issue.

    Another suggestion I have related to discord, is to consider organising a squad in text chat instead of in discord chat. Example: anyone looking to join me in a tank squad? I see various benefits to this approach.

    -Connecting more with the regulars that have the TG mindset, and are looking to join TG squads. These are the guys that are about to join TG. Giving them more opportunity to be in our most popular/best squads will make them very happy and very good guests.

    -Making better use of the players your team has. You may have an excellent tank gunner on your team. Getting him in a place that fits will be beneficial.

    -Growing our reputation. Perception is everything. Being seen by all the players of your team to be organising and inviting people into this, does wonders for how first time visitors and regulars perceive us. If they feel part of the community, they are part of the community.

    -Avoiding some of the negatives that come with use of a third party voip system.

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