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  • Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

    Often used abbreviations: SL=Squad Leader SM=Squad Member and VOIP= in game voice

    I had heard VOIP used in bf2 only once before coming across the Tactical Gamer Point of Existence 2 server in 2006.
    My first squad leader was LuckyShot from the old 5th In House Squad and then Exploding_Silver from the retired E1st IHS. Both solid SLs, and wow what a refreshing approach to a game I had played for years.
    Neither are active in TG BF these days, that can be said for the majority of past regulars... for a healthy and active gaming community we need a constant influx of new faces, players to not only to populate the server but also to fill these leadership roles.

    Early on I recommended the Tactical Gamer server to people I knew personally with the belief that if they read the primer and followed the rules they could find any TG tagged squad leader and have an similar initial experience as I did.
    Instead I quickly learned how inconsistent it could be and how over the map new players might be treated by tagged players. It was a learning experience for me and I soon came to the understanding that only a subset of any gaming community is actually doing proactive "community building" at any given time.

    In older battlefield games TG players demonstrated community building by naming squads LEARN TG; giving new players a clear location to learn our ruleset and playstyle. Not possible in BF4! This combined with auto creation of squad leaders has made the task of putting down a welcome/training mat much more difficult; below are some behaviors I personally think help new players move along the path of increased server involvement.

    Random join->Server Regular->Tagged TG->IHS squad member

    As a Squad Leader

    Speak Up
    This sounds basic but the squad leader sets the pacing of VOIP use. Say nothing and it's rare to have anyone talking, verbally give
    orders and spot targets consistently and next thing you know new players are joining in to call out approaching armor or enemy locations.
    From my personal experience there's actually good communicators on the server nightly, they just take a while to warm up to VOIP. I didn't start out using a mic in battlefield, at the time I found TG I didn't even own one! But through some encouragement from players on the server at the time I went and got one. Being inclusive to random players like that is a simple way to keep the battlefield server going strong.

    Suggest Kit Selection
    Some players that have been around awhile might ask "What kit do you need?" Doesn't happen as much these days...
    Ask your squad to have a range of kits based on the task at hand, this results in squad members having responsibilities that extend beyond attacking or defending a flag. Allow them space to step up and fill the roles of the classes and in the process cause a higher level of squad interdependency. This brings out more opportunities for teamwork and communication that a squad of five medics misses out on.

    Enter Stage Right
    Try entering the server at the beginning of a round, leaving at the end of a round.
    You'll have the best bet of filling a squad with new faces at the start of a round. If you do start a squad mid way through use team chat to try and pull in like minded players, I use "Working as a squad, still have space." Or "Any new players that want to work together? Join squad Delta." You can also use this to top off a 4 person squad if someone leaves part way through. This also has the bonus of having something in team chat that isn't complaining!

    We also have a new chat command called !invite PlayerName, this seems especially useful when we have players asking in team chat if anyone is using VOIP or working together.

    Tagged
    Encourage the use of TG tags for solid teamplayers, speaking from my own experience it helps to have regulars explain the community aspect and how that can differ
    from a more closed clan structure where you have to be recruited and attain a certain skill level in game.

    Meet and Greet
    Greet a new player like you might a regular, use their name.
    Doing so when they enter your squad is an easy way to see if they're using VOIP and can hear you.

    Lines of Communication
    Encourage the use of contact reports, by using consistent language when dealing with locations on the map. For example this can be encouraged by asking a player the status of a flag they have eyes on before you do. "How's C flag looking KillBlender?"

    After giving verbal orders and marking the objective, sometimes a player is still unresponsive. Before reporting/removing the player try in squad chat, for example: "FullMetalSweater join the squad on B we're defending." I'm surprised how often I get responses when nothing else worked and it's reminder how many players are setting in game sounds so loud VOIP is rendered a background murmur. It's up to you personally how much time or tries you want to put into someone, when I remove players I try to tell them why, often along the lines of: "BlimpMaster you aren't following orders I'm removing you from the squad" Sometimes they'll come back in and start towing the line...

    As a Server Regular

    Separate the Wheat from the Chaff

    All players are responsible to coordinate and make reports to admin team to support compliance with server rules and maintain our play style.
    - BF4 - Server Rules Post

    Leaving the inactive SLs to collect a full squad to aimlessly wander the battlefield isn't productive. As regulars we can help the hard working admin team by poking around those small squads and determine if they're functioning to TacticalGamer standards.
    One method is when joining the server, stay in that initial squad, ask for orders, use the name of the squad leader. "Where to Sniper4Lyfe?" For the community to be successful we have to be pushing out people at the same time we pull in others. Like minded players attract like minded players.

    Handling New Squad Leaders
    So the TG SL crashes to desktop, an unknown player gets promoted. Do you leave or stay in the squad? Try supporting the SL but set expectations early on. Do they have VOIP? Do they even know they're the SL? You'll know pretty quick if it's going to work or not. If the SL is unresponsive report them, using something like "!admin reporting unresponsive SL PlayerName" or tell an admin in TS. They will usually send a warning to said player. This sometimes knocks them loose, try encouraging them to step down if they are not doing so well, alot of players see the role as added pressure or get overwhelmed to the point of inaction. It's important to keep in mind that even if the SL is a total write off you might have 3 other players in the squad that you can show through example that we expect squad leaders to lead and communicate.

    Chain of Command
    Resist the urge to argue about the tactical validity of orders. My term for this is "back seat squad leading"
    It isn't helpful long term when done to a beginning SL, who is actually trying to lead a squad. The result is quickly another player who avoids stepping up because his experienced squadmates fight basic orders.
    This might take the form of "Guys we need to go to B" and SM takes off, all the while the SL has a defend marker on A.
    Instead of ignoring orders and supplying your own, try giving the SL intel "We're loosing B" Ask if the order is still valid, "You still want us to defend Alpha?"
    Unfortunately it doesn't take much to discourage a new SL, it's something many regulars won't do so we should give a baseline respect to the players that are even attempting it to begin with. You always have the option to leave a squad and start your own.

    Reinforce the Chain of Command
    As a SM you can callout fellow SM with lines like "Stick with the squad MonkeyButt" or reinforce orders by saying "Copy moving to Alpha". Not all new SLs are going to feel comfortable repeating themselves to other players especially TG tagged ones. Set an example and help them out in the process.

    Close The Feedback Loop
    If you're an experienced member of the server you set an example for the level of communication, ask for and acknowledge orders. Do so either verbally or using the commo rose.
    If new VOIP users are unsure they're heard, it's not uncommon for them to stop talking. If you see the mic icon lighting up but you can't hear anything let them know; accidentally muted mics are not uncommon. Same for low volume, "Your mic is really low C47u5r4p3r"

    Musical Chairs
    One big thing tagged players can do to improve the server in general is accepting the SL position when the server gives it to you (At least for a round!). Might mean the SL BSODs and you get that battlefield promotion!
    It's doubly important for supporting members to be able to step up into the SL position; you may have bumped a squad leader coming into the server mid round, the least you can do is replace them.
    Admittedly BF4 does the worst job to date in auto assigning squad leaders whether they wanted it or not, but the amount of "not me!", "oh hell no!" from regulars can sometimes reach comical levels...

    Recently we have been given a chat command !givelead PlayerName, I would suggest using this if you won't be squad leading; try and give the slot to a player that's likely to stay it in.

    Split Large TG Squads
    Over several rounds its not uncommon for a squad that started with say 2 TG and 3 visitors to become full TG, simply because the non supporting kick will with enough time clear out visitors and replace them with a TG player who then sees a slot in the squad and fills it. As mentioned above this needs to happen at the start or very end of a round, mid round the server is full and it will be hard to build a squad up beyond 2-3.

    One way I work this if I'm on for several maps is breaking for an entire round if I need to pull a fresh squad. That or BF4 crashes, often with the same result.;)

    Rule Follower

    Rules come best from teammates
    If you see teammates doing something against the rules or primer, take a minute and communicate that to them. It is much harder to dismiss as the other team being jealous or an order from the "man". It's also another opportunity to open up lines of communication with unknown players.
    I start with an educational tone versus a punitive one, directing them to use @rules. For better or worse most players learn of a rule after being warned about it.

    Further Outreach

    Friend List Origin
    As it's been mentioned before in the forums utilizing the friend list can be an effective recruiting/outreach tool. If you had a player in your squad using VOIP and following orders, that's a player we'd like back. I remove players who haven't been active in the last six months in BF4 from my friends list. Doing so will free up plenty of slots. Use the battlelog round reports to look up the names and send friend invites out. For example the other day I had an unknown SL, the player was using VOIP and sounded like a seasoned TG player! Friend request sent.
    Honestly the conversion from that to a regular server visitor isn't huge... only a percentage of players to begin with game enough to be on half of the weeknights, but the more we can encourage return visits, the faster the server will seed each night and the more active players we'll have that know the ruleset. If they fail to become a regular, remove them and make room for another.:)

    Calling it a night
    Doesn't hurt to tell a squad that's done well that your taking off as SL. It's a good point to plug the forums, or suggest favoriting the server.



    I would be interested to hear how other TG members approach this subject, whats worked and what hasn't. Additionally players personal experiences in finding the battlefield server and becoming a regular, what helped that, what would have been useful as a new player that didn't take place?
    Last edited by Squinty; 03-11-2015, 02:38 AM. Reason: spacing issues


  • #2
    Re: Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

    ^This man is wise and clearly speaks from experience. Such a great post.

    I am sure each of us can look back at how we got into TG and the common threads would be open doors, friendly banter/encouragement and helpful guidance toward what our rules are and why they exist. We absolutely need more of that from everyone.
    |TG-12th|mantis

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    • #3
      Re: Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

      This is how it worked when I found TG back in the 2142 days. Lets use Squintys post as a steppingstone to make it happen more often in BF4 and beyond.
      sigpic


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      • #4
        Re: Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

        Great thread and some great points and tips on several levels.

        We all look for TG squads at times but a good many times I find myself, especially as I just join in the server, with newer players I may have seen only once or twice or never before. This is the time I most often run into SL's who are barely leading or not at all. I'll remind them we need orders or that server rules require leaders to lead and then ask them to drop then join back so someone else can lead. That works a lot of the time.

        If this doesn't work Ill typically start my own squad and before leaving invite the others to join in. As the group comes together I'll just give a gentle reminder to stay with the squad and play the objectives. Alot of times you'll have someone in a jet or other vehicle off on another objective. I'll ask them to join us when they are done in the vehicle or bring the vehicle to support position. A little patience goes a long way here. Most vehicles don't last more than a few minutes and allowing them to complete their turn rather than going off on them I think helps promote cohesion. Someone taking a vehicle while in squad and not supporting the squad typically hears from me that I need troops on the ground for this squad and I'll tell them flying is great but I'm running an infantry squad. Join on me if you want iin or please start your own squad if you really want to pilot. I think this comes as a real surprise for those who are new on the server. In most other servers you don't get alot of people really caring what you do and don't do.

        As a SL,especially with a new face, I'll always say good job when we are being effective and lets keep it up if we are struggling. At the end of the round I'll complement scores or teamwork that stood out.

        Also at the end I'll type out something in chat about "if you like our teamwork check out our forums at tacticalgamer.com. It's contagious...it really does catch on.
        sigpic
        |TG-1st|Grunt
        ARMA Admin (retired)
        Pathfinder-Spartan 5

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

          Excellent post, Squinty. I honestly don't remember how I initially found the TG server back in the 2142 days. I'm pretty sure I saw Exploding Silver's videos on youtube and was mesmerized at the level of squadplay he had in those videos.

          One of the first times I joined the TG I broke one of the rules, or did something that was frowned upon. One of the TG guys (Zhohar, I think it was) told me what I did, being nice about it, and carried on. The fact that I wasn't just yelled at was definitely nice. At this point I didn't have a mic, so I would run with the comm-rose and type frantically if I had to. Eventually I'd SL with a full TG squad, with no mic, and they would all be supportive of me doing what I could. When I finally got a mic, I was in TG and it was due to everyone's attitudes on the server that I wanted to be there. It was always good gameplay, there were cool guys to play with and just enjoy a great game.

          Moving on from cherished memories, when I join up on the server mid-round, I'll check the squads that are open, see what they're up to. Often times I'll just start a new squad up and get going and see who joins. I definitely think that people who have see the TG tags on a squad leader will be more inclined to join it. If someone hops into the squad they'll get something "hey so-and-so, whats up?" sometimes there's an answer, sometimes not. Most cases though as I've found, they'll join up and follow the orders and fit right in. Eventually one or two TG guys will jump in the squad, and we'll be rockin'. And if that is the case, if we get Ace squad or we do well on our flag, congratulations are in order for everyone on a job well done.

          It's always a good feeling when you start up a squad in the middle of one round, then by the start of next round you've got yourself, one or two other TG buddies, and a couple pubbies and your squad dominates a flag. It's especially rewarding when your squad has all five guys top 10 on the team pulling ace squad for a few rounds.

          Even after doing really well as a squad though, it is important to know when to call it a night. I've had nights where my team has won 4-5 straight and my squad's pulled Ace squad 3-4 rounds in a row. At the end of a round, just go up in Voip "nice games guys, good work as a squad, I'm off for the night, see you all later" and head out.
          |TG6|Flarionice
          Former Irregular, Former member of TG 3rd Special Forces Detachment

          Please don't call me Florence.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

            Solid post, thanks Squinty!

            Everyone should read this over and try out some of these tips the next time you're on the server. See the response from guests and regulars alike. We can all do more to help foster the awesome TG environment that brought each of us here!
            |TG-6th|CorpDuty

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

              Originally posted by Grunt 70 View Post
              Great thread and some great points and tips on several levels.

              We all look for TG squads at times but a good many times I find myself, especially as I just join in the server, with newer players I may have seen only once or twice or never before. This is the time I most often run into SL's who are barely leading or not at all. I'll remind them we need orders or that server rules require leaders to lead and then ask them to drop then join back so someone else can lead. That works a lot of the time.

              If this doesn't work Ill typically start my own squad and before leaving invite the others to join in. As the group comes together I'll just give a gentle reminder to stay with the squad and play the objectives. Alot of times you'll have someone in a jet or other vehicle off on another objective. I'll ask them to join us when they are done in the vehicle or bring the vehicle to support position. A little patience goes a long way here. Most vehicles don't last more than a few minutes and allowing them to complete their turn rather than going off on them I think helps promote cohesion. Someone taking a vehicle while in squad and not supporting the squad typically hears from me that I need troops on the ground for this squad and I'll tell them flying is great but I'm running an infantry squad. Join on me if you want iin or please start your own squad if you really want to pilot. I think this comes as a real surprise for those who are new on the server. In most other servers you don't get alot of people really caring what you do and don't do.

              As a SL,especially with a new face, I'll always say good job when we are being effective and lets keep it up if we are struggling. At the end of the round I'll complement scores or teamwork that stood out.

              Also at the end I'll type out something in chat about "if you like our teamwork check out our forums at tacticalgamer.com. It's contagious...it really does catch on.
              That's how I found you guys. It was the actions mentioned in the quote above and in the OP that produced a much more rewarding experience. All though we lost all 3 rounds I played, the sense of purpose that the SL instilled with clear direction is why I will be returning to your server.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Basic Community Building in Battlefield 4

                Originally posted by Patches View Post
                That's how I found you guys. It was the actions mentioned in the quote above and in the OP that produced a much more rewarding experience. All though we lost all 3 rounds I played, the sense of purpose that the SL instilled with clear direction is why I will be returning to your server.
                Thanks for the feedback Patches, glad to hear that was your experience on the server last night. Feel free to squad up with me as well in the future.

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