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Raid Dynamics: What Can We Learn From A MMO?

By: Mitch Canter

It’s 8:00 Central on a Friday night. For some, the work week is done; for others, classes are out of session. As for me, my kids are in bed, and I’m settling down with a drink in front of my laptop. I put on my headphones and click the icon. Credentials set, I log-in. My autumn desktop vanishes, replaced by a landscape of snow and ice. In a few moments, Mitch will be replaced by Lucina, a high-level healer roaming the countryside of Eorzea to vanish her foes.

OK, so it’s not a totally immersive experience. On one screen I have my game fired up and ready. On the other, Slack – a communication platform that our Free Company (guild) uses for communication outside of the game.

I’m love playing video games – specifically Final Fantasy XIV. Without using too much jargon, FFXIV is a massively multiplayer online game. It has a fantastic storyline, an active community, and has lots of things to do – even for veteran players.

The “endgame” in Final Fantasy XIV (what the top tier players do) ranges from a series of boss fights (“primals”) to the storming of a giant mechanical living castle (“Alexander” and “Alexander Savage”). My Free Company, Bastion, is very casual – more about hanging out and playing together than beating the content quickly – and are currently working through the second of the major primals: Ravana.

This video shows just how mechanically challenging the fight is. One false move, one misstep, and it could spell disaster for the raid team.

Luckily, one person doesn’t have to do it all alone. Final Fantasy utilizes the “Holy Trinity” setup when it comes to its 8-player team composition:

  • 1-2 Tanks: A tank soaks the damage and keeps the enemies focused on them
  • 4-5 DPS: DPS (Damage Per Second) fight fast and hard – doing direct damage to the enemy.
  • 2 Healers: Keeps the team’s life (HP) up and mitigates damage to the team (shields, health regeneration).

As long as everyone’s doing their job, the raid group can (usually) get through the fight without a problem.

So, what can I learn from this?

Being a part of a raid team (even a more-casual one like ours), I’ve realized there are a few things that make a team stand above the rest.

Everyone has a job to do

Healers need to heal. DPS need to do damage. Trying to do something I’m not equipped for can lead to a sub-standard result (or worse, failure). I know what I’m there to do, and I need to focus on doing it to the best of my ability.

I can’t do it alone

There are 7 other people standing with me to face any given boss. If any one of them weren’t here – or if I weren’t here – the group would not function. The combined power of the team is greater than the sum of its parts.

Slacking off isn’t an option

If I show up, I have to give it 100%. I can’t slack off or shirk my responsibilities, or I let myself (and the rest of my team) down.

Team dynamics – even in a remote work environment – are important. If one person isn’t doing their job, the team suffers. Whether you’re taking down a primal or tackling a major project, it’s worth knowing that a team is only as good as the weakest link.