4/05/2012

Principles and Tenets of MMO War

We are going to discuss 12 principles and 7 tenets of war as defined in Air Force Doctrine Document 1 (AFDD 1), and apply them to the MMO setting.

These principles are accepted truths which throughout history have proven to be effective. Due to the complexity on a battlefield or in a game, these are not a checklist for victory, they instead provide for a method to evaluate different courses of action. What we hope to review in this article is an approach to structuring guild efforts towards maintaining these principles and applying them on the MMO battlefield.

Note: All italic quotes come directly from AFDD 1.

Principles

Unity of Command
Unity of command ensures concentration of effort for every objective under one responsible commander.
What this principles does is simple; it ensures a single person with authority and the capability to direct players, does so to achieve the common objective. Most if not all of us have played a game where multiple people are try to direct people. It is most of all confusing and often times very frustrating.

Unity of command is essential in all guild operations (ops), no matter the guild structure. It allows for the most effective and efficient guild ops. One person should be at the top to make final decisions. It may seem this is diluted in some guild structures, but in the end if one person makes the final call when needed, this can be achieved.

In the game, player forces should be led with a clearly defined organization that ends with one leader at the top. Mid-level leaders should be able to lead their particular force with the same unity, receiving commands from the leader at the top.

Objective
The principle of objective is to direct military operations toward a defined and attainable objective that contributes to strategic, operational, and tactical aims.
This principle does a few things. First, it holds that unity of effort is essential in guild ops across their spectrum of purpose and time. Secondly it holds that the guild's and player's goals must be complementary and clearly stated. A clear guild strategy focuses guild and player objectives. The overall guild strategy determines its priorities as well, while attempting to avoid incorrectly used player forces and fragmenting player forces to unneeded objectives.

Offensive
The purpose of an offensive action is to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative.
We want to act rather than react. Guilds should always strive "to dictate the time, place, purpose, scope, intensity, and pace of operations." When a guild or player can seize the initiative they should grab at it immediately, retain it, and exploit it.

When able, players and gamers should take the offensive because it is an acting, not reacting stature.

Mass
The purpose of mass is to concentrate the effects of combat power at the most advantageous place and time to achieve decisive results.
The concentration of a guild's forces is fundamental in all guild ops. This is not based solely on the quantity of forces, it applies effectiveness as well. "Speed, range, and flexibility" along with superior information and character items allow a guild to achieve mass faster than an opposing force.

Maneuver
Maneuver places the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power in a multidimensional combat space.
Maneuvering forces the enemy to react, which allows a guild to exploit both friendly forces and reduce their vulnerabilities, while exploiting the enemies vulnerabilities. This may mean strategically positioning specific guild forces inside the range of the enemy to deter the enemy from attacking, or positioning forces for quick strikes. Ensuring guild forces are versatile allows the guild to apply both mass and maneuver simultaneously.

Economy of Force
Economy of force is the judicious employment and distribution of forces.
A guild should apply minimal forces to "secondary efforts." To ensure overwhelming player power is available, maximal effort should be devoted to primary objectives. At no time should the secondary effort degrade the achievement of primary objectives. In this sense, players should continually maintain a broad perspective when they articulate their own objectives and priorities.

A leader on the MMO battlefield may need to establish a balance between "attack, defending, delaying, or conducting other operations...[d]epending on the importance of the area or the priority of the objective or objectives." Priorities shift rapidly in large scale gaming ops, and while overwhelming force is suggested, overkill is not. At times excessive force can diminish the legitimacy of the ops (e.g. an entire guild killing two players at a spawn point).

Security
The purpose of security is to never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage.
Forces should be protected from enemy actions that would provide them an advantage. Security "embraces physical security, operations security, and security of the information environment."

Physical security is simple; ensure players are safe from harm by the enemy through armor, defense, and being beyond the enemy's reach. Operations security mainly means the entire force is secure during their operation. Information security can mean not allowing the enemy to be able to understand the plans, strategies, and communications of the force.

Surprise
Surprise leverages the security principle by attacking the enemy at a time, place, or in a manner for which they are not prepared.
Speed and range along with flexibility and versatility should be exploited to allow the force to achieve surprise. Often times certain classes or professions in an MMO allow for surprise more effectively than others and should be exploited. Surprise is often one of the most powerful advantages. Most if not all of the of the other principles are enhanced through surprise.

Simplicity
Simplicity calls for avoiding unnecessary complexity in organizing, preparing, planning, and conducting military operations.
AFDD 1 states, "Simplicity ensures that guidance, plans, and orders are as simple and direct as the objective allows. Simple guidance allows subordinate commanders the freedom to operate creatively within their portion of the operational environment, supporting the concept of decentralized execution." Guilds must allow their leaders the freedom to make decisions on the battlefield, while at the same time complying with the principle of unity of command. When giving an order in the game, the order should simply state the command to obtain the objective, which allows the player to make the decision on how to obtain it. During the course of battle is not the time to tell a player how to play their character.

"Straightforward plans and unambiguous organizational and command relationships are central to reducing complexity as well." A guild's plans must be objective-based, and it structure must be well defined. As stated, this will reduce complexity and confusion on the game's battlefield.

Unity of Effort
Unity of effort becomes critical during interagency operations and can best be achieved through consensus building.
In games a guild's players continually interact with other players from outside of the guild. To ensure these other players help the guild's forces obtain their own objectives, consensus building through outer-guild planning and political efforts (through "ambassadors" or written agreements) are essential. Through these processes a shared understanding of the objectives is obtained and allows all involved to "better understand how they can best apply their respective capabilities and measure success."

Restraint
Restraint is the disciplined application of military force appropriate to the situation.
All guild's leaders and players should use restraint. In some cases using more than the minimum could lead to an escalation of conflict, which may result in losing the advantage. Guild leaders should develop a structure in their guild that outlines the necessary capabilities they need to employ to meet objectives as well as developing clear rules on the use of force by guild members (i.e. when or when it is not appropriate). This includes conduct and communication with enemy forces. Restraint is often more easily justified than overwhelming force, but does not preclude its use to win.

Perseverance
The principle of perseverance encompasses the patient, resolute, and persistent pursuit of [group, guild, or server] goals and objectives, for as long as necessary to achieve them.
Guilds must be prepared to engage in their objectives for the long term. Guild leaders and members alike must understand that some complex objectives take time to obtain and to not get discouraged. Often times political guild aspirations take months if not years to obtain in and outside the game itself.

Legitimacy

Legitimacy of a guild is based upon the leadership, while from eyes outside of the guild, legitimacy is based upon the actions of the guild's members. The most prominent way of promoting legitimacy for a guild is a robust and thorough public affairs operation (e.g. website, interviews, etc) as well as robust political friendships with other guilds.

Tenets

Centralized Control and Decentralized Execution

Centralized control means that one person at the highest level controls the lower aspects of the guild. This person should have a broad focus on the objectives to "direct, integrate, prioritize, plan, coordinate, and assess the use" the capabilities of the guild across the full range of the game ops. This centralized control "empowers" the guild leader to "respond to changes in the operational environment and take advantage of fleeting opportunities."

Keep in mind, "Discipline demands that senior leaders resist the temptation to get involved with execution decisions that are normally best left to subordinate commanders and forward decision makers." If a guild leader gives a command to a group's leader - take a building, the group's leader should have the ability to decide how to take the building.
Decentralized execution is the delegation of authority to designated lower-level commanders and other tactical-level decision makers to achieve effective span of control and to foster disciplined initiative and tactical flexibility.
The group leader who is taking the building in the previous example must be empowered by the overall leader, as well as allowing all subordinates to exploit situations and opportunities as they arise. This benefit is only maximized when the guild leader gives clear intent.

Both centralized control and decentralized execution allow game-wide focus while allowing flexibility to meet the overall objective. They "assure concentration of effort while maintaining economy of force."
Execution should be decentralized within a command and control architecture that exploits the ability of front-line decision makers...[t]o make on-scene decisions during complex, rapidly unfolding operations.
There may be a valid reason for a guild leader to step in and take control, but these instances should be rare. As long as a subordinate leaders decision supports the guild leaders intent, they should be allowed to take the initiative during execution.

Flexibility and Versatility

Flexibility allows a guild to "exploit mass and maneuver simultaneously." This allows guild forces to move from one objective and another in a quick and decisive manner.

Versatility is the ability of a guild to employ their forces effectively at any level, and provide a "wide variety of tasks" with other forces (e.g. another guild or group of guilds).

Synergistic Effects
The proper application of a coordinated force across multiple domains can produce effects that exceed the contributions of forces employed individually.
A guild should have as their objective the "precise, coordinated application of various elements" of their force to bring "disproportionate pressure on enemy leaders" to comply with the guild's will. A guild should always attempt to dictate the tempo and direction of the entire effort, regardless of scale.

Persistence

Guild ops may be conducted against a broad spectrum of targets. A guild should strive to be able to visit and revisit any target at will. This could mean a guild is consistently visiting player versus player and player versus environment objectives. When a guild is persistent they deny the enemy the ability to seize the initiative and disable them from completing their objectives.

Concentration

Guilds must be able to concentrate their power overwhelmingly at the right and decisive time and place. Guilds must defend against the inadvertent dilution of their forces resulting from high demand.

Priority

Guild leaders should establish clear priorities for the use of the guild's forces. Demand may exceed available resources. If a guild leader does not establish priorities, they may become ineffective. Guild leaders must assess the possible uses of the force and their strengths and capabilities to support the overall objectives. Mass, offensive, economy of force, and the tenet of concentration all apply to prioritization.

Balance

Balance is the essential guideline for leaders.
Much of the skill of [a guild leader] is reflected in the dynamic and correct balancing of the principles of war and the tenets of airpower to bring [guild] capabilities together to produce a synergistic effect.
A guild leader should balance "opportunity, necessity, effectiveness, efficiency, and the impact on accomplishing assigned objectives against the associated risk to friendly forces."

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed this post on how we can take military principles from AFDD 1 and apply them to the MMO setting. Perhaps this will broaden and inspire guild leaders at all levels to review their current guild structure and objectives to ones that can have game-wide impact and increase the enjoyment of the players in their guilds, and the guilds they associate with.

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