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Friday, July 22, 2011

Copypasta

Prevalent habit of clans on RuneScape is copying and pasting. Rank Structure on many RuneScape clans that even have it (and borderline all Stellar Dawn clans) is a flat copy-paste-edit from Wikipedia's article on the clan's theme. This is nothing wrong with highly specifically themed clans copying and pasting, but many clans pull shit out of their ass or Wikipedia without thought of what ranks mean.

Arguably the most popular is 'Private->Corporal->Sergeant...,' this started because majority of RuneScape players are American and drag whatever the US Army has into RuneScape without mind of what the fuck it all means. Moreso, that setup was given a boost when Jagex got lazy and didn't feel like inventing a creative, contextually accurate setup for the clan chats and glued a 21st Century military setup into a fiction fantasy game.

Let me explain.

Today's military rank systems are bonded to organisation and duty, not cool sounding names and General I-Do-Exactly-What-The-Soldier-Does-Because-Michael-Bay-Wants-Badass, which doesn't exist.

Most nations have enlisted ranks and officer ranks (com and non-com).

Enlisted (private, specialist) are the grunts. They ride around in camo and shoot stuff. They make up the largest, most important part of the military.

Commissioned officers (captain, colonel, lieutenant) are management, tactical and strategic specialists. They're guys who went to officer school and were trained to lead large groups on a large scale.

Non-commissioned officers (corporal, sergeant) are people not specifically trained to lead, but have some leadership skill and were likely promoted to a position of leadership for a small area of expertise, like squads.

The thing they all have in common is that the average clan ranking system copied and pasted from Wikipedia uses all of them out of context. Clans make no effort to divide the different roles from each other into clear duties and lump them all into the order Wikipedia has them placed and say, "Private is on the bottom, leader is on top, good luck," which comes down to the fact that there is no difference between Colonel and Private besides the fact that Colonel bumps the thread and shows up at events. Privileges issued to ranks are lost completely and a Colonel might be able to kick. No respect for leadership, no clear roles.

Clearly defined roles are lost in copy and paste. The same follows for others like, 'peasant->squire->knight...'. Peasants could almost never advance their standing and almost never worked in a combat capacity. They were supplies. The farmer who is the only reason you are not starving is a peasant. The blacksmith who saved your life is likely just a respected, skilled peasant on the scale. Which means, if you want a realistic setup, you will have a SHITLOAD of peasants doing zero combat, squires doing whatever the knight says and knights being the only fighters. Roles are lost again.

Developing a rank structure for your own clan which is within context and fitting of the clan's goals is a challenge that should be tackled by every leader. If The Combine used a copy and paste, we'd have about a dozen privates and 5 members somewhere in between, who got no clear recognition for their achievements short of, "This guy did wrote a bunch of crap, but has no moderation experience, so they're allowed a prettier name and can kick."

Combine Rank Structure is built to around roles. The stupid-ass one that is on its way out with the Augurs and crap is still better than the RuneScape one. There're no real clear definitions besides "This one is a bit better," and a moderating segment. It was built to the role of the Mechanised Combine, which was supposed to help a bit on the side, but be mostly normal. The ranks were there to show who you should go to for advice and who can boot your ass.

The overhauled system which includes Citations integrated as more than cosmetic features and split rank structures is an evolution of, "Do what makes sense, not what is easy."

That's why I implemented Citations.

Citations mean a universal award systems for people based on measurable merit applied to practical applications and some other fancy-ass shit.

There's an award for forum activity. For administrative writing. For Wiki contributions. It's not, "Help a bit, I'll promote you and wind up confusing people who think you're good at one thing when you actually suck at it," it's, "Help in a field, get a related award."

Citations are flexible and if someone wants qualified help and is willing to sift through the paperwork we have (hoshit, there's a lot of paperwork), they'll find exactly what they're looking for with a history of their talents. Instead of asking every Colonel about a topic only one Sergeant knows but is unacknowledged for, Citations give us a broad variety of awards for uniquely talented people who may not be any good in another field. That means the guy who sucks at bumping won't lose out on awards and the guy who bumps too often won't shoot up in rank next to the guy who helped found the clan, update the clan, was present at all events, is a great speaker and other nice junk. It's not entirely about quality over quantity, but specific quality in measurable quantities.

There's also room for the standard stuff like Moderators and Recruiters. Title packages assign a title and set of Citations granting privileges once pre-requisite Citations are met. This gives people motivation to actually do shit and makes sure only the qualified ones get the position. Someone without a clue about game mechanics could have a skillset well suited to recruitment. They (probably) won't be ignored and will be given a position related to their talents.

The current Militant Arm has exactly 4 unique ranks out of 5, all with very different roles. Members are given ranks based on their ability to perform roles and the ranks can be ordered into a hierarchy. It's not a, "I killed more people, so I'm better competition." Clearly defined roles means everyone knows their job and knows who's in charge. Organisation becomes fluid when people each have an assigned duty. Making a Colonel do work because he's higher ranked than a Sergeant because he posted more, when a Sergeant is clearly more talented means that talent is lost to a pretty title.

This shit's subjective, people.

Our new Scholarly Arm takes full advantage of universal Citations and ensures proper organisation with clear roles and proof of qualification. The criteria can be FUBAR, but the reward comes with knowing that you earned it through work in the right fields and can prove it on the Archive. Hell, maybe one day you can wave your Archive page in another clan's face and show them how good you are. They might give you priority.

The Combine has a mission and organisation within is structured to complete that mission as efficiently as possible.

Regards, IVIilitarus

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scholarly Arm Executor

When I first sent that renowned entry application into The Combine on September 2010, my only intention was t'become a basic and humble Q&A tutor that spends quite a lot of time in the Guild Houses. The guild was quite conspicuous compared t'the other available guilds that seemed t'simply try t'enlarge as quickly as possible and were military or roleplaying based. 'Twas the “betterment for the o'erall society” element of The Combine that I deemed t'be quite attractive. Not long after joining, I tried t'familiarise myself with all aspects of the guild (namely the off-campus media). I've read e'erything pertaining t'the guild t'familiarise myself with't as much as possible. I e'en searched “Stellar Dawn The Combine” into Google t'locate all of its media. Eventually, I felt as though I understood IVIilitarus and his endeavours.

After awhile, the Guild Houses were disbanded as The Combine enlarged t'seek verbal teachers. The Q&A tutors could be anyone in the chatrooms anyhow, therefore I thought that I could potentially be something else opposed t'a tutor or a teacher. When Militarus first mentioned the Ministry of Lies and Propaganda, I thought that perhaps I could assist with implementing clean guild videos (most videos regarding guilds I see aren't very well done). That would have been my initiative job anyhow.

Not much longer after, howe'er, the first wiki was released. Leader IVIilitarus seemed t'be beseeching and complaining t'the entire guild moreso than before, and I entered the wiki and began making edits within the wiki. Whilst editing the wiki, I thought that perhaps I'll simply be the general media management person. There in the wiki, I began t'truly learn of the guild. IVIilitarus's blog bestowed me with an emotional understanding, whilst the wiki bestowed me
with a further fundamental understanding (compared t'the information already present within the thread).

Along with Zephyrraeon (who I believe also understood the guild) and a few others, I began writing longish suggestions for the guild. I've written long multi-posts posts ere the suggestions, but those were, for the most part, social, and not very contributing t'the guild. Then, on June, Leader IVIilitarus requested for us t'meet privately in RuneScape. Thinking that he wished t'discuss the plans I've established, I joined with him some days later. Upon logging into RuneScape, I found that he was online and tried t'reach for him. Without e'en saying “Hello”, he abruptly tells me that I'm promoted t'Second in Command that pertains t'the Scholarly Arm (Scholarly Arm Executor). I was in shock, and soon enough I was bestowed with moderator and administrative privileges within the off-campus media (Forums, Blog, and Wiki) along with leading the Combine RuneScape Branch.

Less than a month later, IVIilitarus is off explaining t'me that the fate of The Combine lies in my hands if his family issues restrict him from leading (which he happily revealed in the previous blog post).

In brief, I join the guild intending t'be a humble basic member who contributes in the main system of teaching. Then I degrade my expectation t'be something that isn't entirely that important, which was video making. Following that, I ponder of being the general media management person, and then spontaneously I become an executor and now the fate of The Combine lies in my hands, lest the whole project collapses during IVIilitarus's absence. That truly kept me up late at night, e'en though when I was informed of this potential, 'twas already extremely late.

After some stress and contemplation, I feel as though I truly do understand what IVIilitarus meant regarding leading a guild in his second blog post: “It's really, really hard,” And I'm not e'en leading the guild! I can't imagine what he's going through, and I'm not e'en mentally built for leadership. His acrimonious complaining is truly understandable. 'Tis a relief that more individuals are beginning t'assist more than they previously had.

Oh gosh, 'thas just occurred t'me that now I'm the one who's complaining. Hopefully this doesn't develop into a habit. I suppose that this is what 'tis like t'be an executor of a highly organised guild.

Hmm...

Here's a silly animated gif of me smacking IVIilitarus numerous times with a rubber chicken ere his RuneScape retirement in an unrealistic helicopter fashion for compensation:



'Te'en possesses the CRB vexillum t'the side!

Warm regards,

Lady Dragon

SNAFU

I'm not actually that much smarter than people. Just aware of what works and doesn't. Combine that with unrivaled jackassery and you've got a recipe for great leadership.

Totally true.

One thing that bugs me is how The Combine only gets more and more complicated as we go on. Yesterday, I started a second wiki.

Who even needs 2 fucking wikis?

Us, apparently.

I call it SNAFU - Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. Acronym likely to have originated in the US military during WWII. Fits us, too, considering how no matter what happens, it gets more complicated. Better, too, but mostly complicated.

First, we had a clan that did a bit of helping on the side. Then we had a clan with more focus on helping, expanded to 2 Arms. Now it's a clan built entirely around community support and education. 2 Arms, 2 wikis. Really. I consider quitting The Combine every single day, but my ego keeps me from doing so. Somewhere down the road, The Combine's gonna make history. We're already the best organised and one of the most active and I don't want the Leaders page to read, "The Combine was founded by IVIilitarus, who resigned during the first year of its running," That's bad.

So, yeah. SNAFU. Combine's running peachy. We now need twice as many wikis as Wikia thought anyone would ever need wikis. Great job. SDComMA is running and our shiny new Paperwork Central is going to store the archive. Moreso, the application system will be reworked and blah-blah-blah.

It's nice that the workload is divided up between people. (Meetings are open on Skype, ask someone who's not me for entry into the planning. Twirl pencils and contribute)

It's nice being the only clan with long-term goals that ain't, 'kill big things, do stuff,' or a rank structure copied and pasted from Wikipedia, but sometimes management is the sucktasticest thing on Earth. Jagex and their shitty plan ain't helping, 'We fucked up pre-release but aren't good enough to own up to our mistakes, so here's a plan for you: Nothing.'

Don't even get me started on the CRB.

I'm probably gonna get my ass grounded soon, so it's gonna hold the First Reform back a bit. I've also got a massive case of writer's block so that'll slow things down. The Combine's gotten bigger than I wanted it to be and we're at the heart of this. Gotta lotta work to do before the Beta starts.

Yeah. Welcome to The Combine. We're eight thousand man-hours better than every other clan.

Regards, IVIilitarus

*IVIilitarus is founder and Leader of The Combine. When not bitching incessantly to Combine members who don't listen/care, he is gaming, writing or blogging on Railgun Fetishist.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Inaugural

Hello, I am user Valeyor, a member of the Combine. I suppose a short introduction is in order before I start my Tl;DR for you all to ignore, but I recommend reading it. It’s one of my best works.

I have been a member of the Combine for almost as long as the Combine has existed(Before the reforms) Though I am not visibly active, I visit the Combine Clan thread almost every day. On a more personal level, I am a feverish hobbyist. I have a decent collection of Lego Bionicle sets, which I enjoy building as much as playing.(And then tearing apart and building something else, and often losing pieces.) I am an amateur Level Designer who is still quite new at the trade and hope to improve my skills as much as possible. I hope to one day end up on the Bleeding edge of gaming technology, being respected for my dedication to always improving my skills and never giving up on solving problems, and perhaps one day starting my own company.(After traveling through all of the circles of Hell to get there) And I am a loyal friend who will do whatever I can to help someone in need. Though this isn’t about me, so I’ll move on.

In the hopes that this is a first post, I will be the first to say “Welcome!” Welcome to this blog. I may not be able to speak for all of us, but I myself am honored that you have read this far. It is a pleasure to know that something I write/make/do is noticed by someone, and it is one of the driving forces in my life. It is truly that, which allows this clan to exist, and that I hope will be the driving force behind this clan.

Our purpose is to guide new players onto the path that will lead them to achieve their goals, in order to remove the ambiguity of a large, persistent world that stops many players from enjoying the game, and sometimes causes them to quit, not knowing how fun a game can be. We want to share our experience, and allow players to take that and achieve what they could not do before. Think of us as guardians of knowledge, beings who will watch over the game and ensure that order is maintained through the power of knowledge. We also hope that players will take our knowledge, and use it to guide other players, and to guide themselves into new discoveries, which will allow them to share even more knowledge with the game world.
Through knowledge, we also hope to keep order in the game, to weed out those that would seek to destroy knowledge; those who would take advantage of ignorance for personal profit; those who would, through their ignorance and malice, potentially destroy the game that we may(or may not) love.

If you share our sentiment, if you care about Stellar Dawn(even though it may not be released yet), if you want to stop the ignorance that has cause problems in the past(IE, Runescape), then you can join our clan on the Stellar Dawn Forums(Quick find code: 96-97-114-92831 ) and help us in the current Reform, that will be the foundation of an institution that aspires to be a force of nature, that will make the game known as Stellar Dawn one of the best Sci-fi game communities on the internet.


Thank you for your time,
~Valeyor

(Bow to the great one, IVI! =P)


Ed: Edited minor spelling error. There's stirring, if hyperbolic introduction to The Combine by Valeyor and our Inaugural post!