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Group Dynamic: Competition Bubbling Beneath the Surface

September

13, 2013

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


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groupdynamic

As is the case with ROBLOX developers, we blog curators listen to our readers’ feedback and try to produce content that interests you. We’ve long been asked to better represent the world of ROBLOX Groups, and today we’re launching a series to do just that. Group Dynamic will be dedicated to reporting on and engaging with groups of all sorts and sizes. For this, the inaugural entry in the series, we’ve chosen to focus on the competition that occurs between groups–intense rivalries, training, patrols and raids that are unfolding all hours of every day. We talked with members of all sorts of groups, big and small. We participated in surprise raids and fought alongside (and in some cases, against) groups of all sizes and abilities.

Groups have always fascinated me–though in the year and a half that I’ve been here at ROBLOX, I never really participated in their affairs. Groups can be daunting at first. There are thousands. Tens of thousands. Some groups have upwards of 100,000 members. Many of them are very serious about what they do and require a lot of dedication to advance. To begin to develop this series, I had to get my feet wet. I knew of the intense competition between the military-themed groups, so I joined a few and kept an eye on my feed for announcements. Here are the results of this experiment.

Raiding Vortex Security with John’s Cobras

A couple of days ago I received a “Rally/Raid” invitation from John’s Cobras, a military themed group I had joined a few weeks prior. With no knowledge of how “Raiding” even worked and a stinging curiosity, I joined.

What an experience. I met with about 25 other members in the John’s Cobras Training Grounds, and we patiently waited for other members to join. Members of the group were friendly enough. We chatted about this and that, until the commanding officers joined the server. They were in complete control, ordering all of us to quit talking and line up. They spoke on a stage above the rest of us–seeing higher ranked members take control and speak from an elevated position really made me feel like I was taking orders from actual commanders.

The three high-ranking group members addressed their soldiers–we were to raid Vortex Security. Upon being transported in, we were to move as a unit, shoulder to shoulder, into their compound. This would be a surprise attack and defenses were expected to be low. We then branched into two squadrons–Squad A and Squad B. The commanding officer then initiated a group transport and off we went.

Keep in mind, this is the first time I have ever participated in something like this–and I found myself to be really excited. Upon arriving (and equipped with handguns and knives) we moved slowly toward the compound. You see, the goal of a Raid is to capture and hold control points within an enemy compound. Squad A was to take one path, while Squad B was to take another–each squad following their respective commanders. I was keeping an eye on my chat log to see who was saying what. The commanders started barking orders: “FLANK. Move to crates and hold. Stay together!”

I hit the deck as soon as the bullets started whizzing by

I hit the deck as soon as the bullets started whizzing by

Members patrolling Vortex noticed the chat logs, and before I knew it, we were engaged in ROBLOX warfare. Vortex soldiers were shooting at us from atop a huge ridge. “RAID” shot up on their chat log. “Get to the crates!” Some of my group was obliterated by the gunfire, while the rest of us took refuge behind a large stack of crates. We held that position, firing upwards at a fair distance at our attackers. It was madness, and unlike anything I’ve experienced on ROBLOX.

Unfortunately as minutes began passing this fierce battle didn’t seem to have any indication of slowing (as much as I’d like to battle for hours at a time, I do have a job to do) so I ducked out of the fight and went looking for some other group activities.

Training With F.E.A.R.

My first raid made it clear to me that competitive ROBLOX groups are organized and skilled. That doesn’t come out of nowhere, though–these groups hold regular “training sessions,” which is what I decided to try out next. First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) was holding a training session when I went looking for one, so I took a first-hand look.

FEAREarlyOnThere weren’t many people inside the training room, which was a relatively small and bland room with neon highlights. Some users came in and said, “school always messes these up,” though this didn’t turn out to be the case. Almost with a comical cosmic timing, people started entering. Lots. Before I knew it we were packed like sardines in this small room, and that’s when Lozlee took control, ordering us to stand along a green line to begin training.

This turned out to be one awesome experience. Using simple coding commands, Lozlee began shifting the environment in order to host a wide range of training exercises–from sword fighting to capture the flag, to obstacle courses–there was a seemingly unending number of different scenarios for us to participate in. Lozlee was communicative with the trainees participating, and each one followed orders and contributed their opinion which simulation to run next. My personal favorite was an instance of four-on-four capture the flag (all other members not in the round could watch from a distance), where we were given two minutes before the match to delegate who would guard the base, and who would attack.

CTFFEAR

During my F.E.A.R training we were given two minutes to formulate a plan of attack while standing across the map from our competition.

After what seemed to be endless obstacle courses, sword fights and more, I decided to retire, but not before having a quick conversation with Lozlee, the commanding officer who was leading the training.

I ask her what qualifies her to lead a F.E.A.R training session–she tells me more power is granted to those who are a higher rank, and earning higher ranks is based strictly on group participation.

“I became an officer by being in F.E.A.R for a very long time, and by being extremely loyal,” she tells me. “Members rank up through constantly participating in training, and defending Alianor II (F.E.A.R.’s base) as often as possible.”

She goes on to tell me that climbing the F.E.A.R military ladder takes a dramatic turn when you reach the level of Major–then, and only then, can you apply to the F.E.A.R Military Academy (FMA) in order to earn more authoritative ranks.

“You’re then questioned, tested, and put through intensive combatant training. It’s very disciplined and you have to be very patient. Those are the steps to becoming an officer.”

This just kept getting more and more interesting. From here, I wanted to make sure and take part in a Patrol session. So I checked out my Home page and ended up…

Patrolling with the ROBLOX Special Forces (RSF)

It wasn’t until I visited RSF‘s main base Fort Arvore that I really got to understand what patrolling is. When you’re in a group, any group, there is almost always a virtual base, which usually becomes the group headquarters. These bases, particularly with military groups, are under constant threat of attack from rival groups. This constant threat means there needs to be a defensive force. Eager to learn more, I jumped into Fort Arvore to join my first patrol.

RSFPatrolWhen I arrived there were about 12 people inside, swapping between “Allies” and “Enemies” in order to allow them to practice their aim and sword fighting. You see, often times during patrol group members use downtime to practice and sharpen their skills. I could tell by the chat log that these members have have established deep friendships–which is another thing that surprised me during these experiences. Members of these groups seem to know one another on a first name basis–the camaraderie is readily apparent.

I chatted with some RSF members for a while and we all decided to begin our official patrol. We split into different groups and I was instructed to follow one of the commanding officers. He explained to me that Fort Arvore falls under attack all the time, and that the key to being such a huge military presence in the world of ROBLOX groups (RSF has over 25,000 members) is to keep a constant and keen eye out for attackers.

This also comes with a sort of military temperament–the RSF has strict rules of engagement, and has developed the discipline to follow those rules. At one point a few players had joined the game as “Neutrals.” One of the RSF soldiers asked whether or not to engage them. A higher-ranked RSF member responded, “Check it out. Remember RSF rules. Only shoot Neutrals if they fire at you first,” to which the soldier responded, “Roger that.”

Then, as fate would have it, fruitbox, Leader and Commander of RSF, jumped into the game, bringing hoards of followers in tow. He used his administrative powers to transport me to him, and we chatted. He offered unique insight on groups in ROBLOX, and where RSF fits in the grand scheme of them.

RSFPatrol2

ROBLOX: I’ve been with ROBLOX for a while, but only recently decided to start engaging with groups. A lot of it is totally new to me, and it’s been a total blast. I can really see the allure.

fruitbox: A lot of RSF rests on the prestige and mindset that we can become more, and do anything that we want.

ROBLOX: I was patrolling with RSF members when you came in the game. What’s the general idea behind patrolling?

fruitbox: We’re constantly making group shouts for trainings, raids and so forth. There are always times between these events. The original idea of a main base was that it was supposed to be a regrouping center. Members of different clans would come together and socialize and such. However, over the years ROBLOX clans have become much more war-based–so much so that now, if you have a base, there is always a possibility that it can be attacked at any moment.

ROBLOX: I noticed during my patrol that a lot of people were practicing–kind of sparring with one another to hone their skills.

fruitbox: Often when a group patrols, they’re not in fact being attacked. It’s just good to have feet on the ground in case a raid happens. Patrolling is an ideal time to train–it allows many members to practice and master skills that they’ve worked on in one of our training sessions.

ROBLOX: I know it’s different per clan base, but how does one overtake Fort Arvore?

fruitbox: Fort Arvore has one capture point which we refer to as the terminal. Basically there’s a GUI at the top of the map–if you click it, a clock GUI pops up. If raiders are able to hold that terminal for 1,200 seconds, they win.

ROBLOX: Win what? What do you get for a successful raid?

fruitbox: Prestige. Honor. Respect. Bragging rights. The clan world doesn’t have physical prizes. We have war policies. When both sides obtain a certain amount of wins, they are able to officially declare that they have defeated that clan. If the wins between the two warring clans are similar, both sides can organize what’s called a Final Battle. That’s when both sides choose eight of their best fighters and fight one another in a third-party location. The winning clan officially wins the war between their rivals.

ROBLOX: That’s really intense. I’m discovering so much about groups and clans on ROBLOX that I never knew before.

fruitbox: I’d like to think that if someone mentions the “clan world” in ROBLOX, they are still referring to clans like RSF. We take pride in honor and dignity, and abide by clan systems and principles. We take this way too seriously.

This is the first of what we expect to be many articles delving into the world of groups. While competitive military-themed groups are a big component of the overall scene, there are many other groups spanning a huge number of interests–retexturing, building, pet ownership and more. Let us know of other interesting group dynamics, and we’ll consider experiencing what they do in the future.