Author Topic: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain  (Read 4712 times)

Offline Patched Wizard

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The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« on: June 20, 2014, 07:14:07 pm »
The Philosophy of the Sky Captain

This is about leadership and its responsibilities.

In writing this I hope to help serve both new captains and experienced captains by highlighting some of the variances found in leadership styles and the positive and negative qualities associated with each style. I have been fortunate enough to have served under a vast multitude of captains, both experienced and inexperienced, and each one with their own styles and leadership qualities. I have also taken the role of captain myself and have led my own crews and teams with varying degrees of success. From these experiences I believe that thanks to cultural factors beyond the horizons of ‘Guns of Icarus’ most captains have a fundamentally flawed idea of leadership and are not operating at their fullest potential. Fortunately we are all never beyond the ability to learn, grow, and develop as individuals.

One distinction I would like to make before I continue is that the role of the pilot and captain are not mutually exclusive. The pilot is a functioning extension of the crew as much as the engineer and gunner. In most cases the captain will also take the role of the pilot, however it is possible for a pilot to not be the captain. While this is indeed rare I have observed a few good teams operating in this way for specific reasons. As for the captain, their role is to be the leader of the crew and is both a hard and soft in-game position in ‘Guns of Icarus.’ The hard definition can be qualified as possessing the captain position in the lobby that grants the player the exclusive ability to communicate with the other team captains and their ships. While the soft definition is the natural charisma that a person can have that would draw other members of a crew to listen to their instruction. I do not want to go too deep into these elements, but I do want to highlight that these factors do play a role on a ship. A crew’s effectiveness can be greatly affected by who may be the “official” captain and who may be the “unofficial” leader of the crew.

There are four dominant styles of leadership that I have noticed in the majority of captains I have flown under, with, and against. For this document I will identify them as:
1. The Silent Captain
2. The Learning Captain
3. The Independent Captain
4. The Dependent Captain

While I personally believe that most captains possess varying degrees of one or more of these styles, this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. There will always be the outliers and leadership styles that I have not observed or even considered. However, I believe that in highlighting these styles, even if they do not apply to everyone, any captain can use this information to examine their own leadership methods and in seeing their own strengths and weaknesses, improve themselves.

The first style of leadership I want to address is the Silent Captain. This is the captain who does not communicate with their crew in any way. ‘Guns of Icarus’ provides voice, text, and in-game tools to help captains communicate with their teams, but the Silent Captain avoids all of the tools that are available to them. This is the weakest of all the styles of leadership and there are no redeeming qualities to this method. A crew’s effectiveness will be sharply cut off and moral will be at the mercy to the tides of the round. ‘Guns of Icarus’ is a team based game and if a captain is unable or unwilling to communicate with their crew then they shouldn’t be putting themselves in a leadership position. If a pilot is not wanting to also bear the responsibility of being the team captain then that pilot should elect someone else to be the captain and allow that person to take command of the crew and communicate with the other team captains.

The second style I have observed is the Learning Captain. This is a captain who is still largely inexperienced with taking the role of leadership. There is nothing inherently positive or negative about this style initially. There is no such thing as a “born leader” and while some captains may have natural charisma, leadership is a skill that needs to begin somewhere and develop over time. The greatest weakness of a Learning Captain is the inability to learn from their mistakes and from the advise of other captains and experienced crew. A Learning Captain should alway seek to gain much advise as possible from a multitude of sources so they can accelerate the growth of their own skills. Watch, listen, assess, test, reassess, learn, and practise, these are all key tools for a Learning Captain and should be used frequently. The best leaders still use these tools late into their careers as captains as they know that they will never be above self improvement.

The third style that is quite prevalent in the higher tiers is the Independent Captain. An Independent Captain can be defined as a captain who takes it upon themselves to micromanage their crew. This is the captain who has preset builds that they expect each crew member to carry, preset roles for each crew member to perform, and who commands each crew member in every action they take. There are some convincing strengths to this style of leadership and so it is of little wonder that a few high ranked captains use this style whenever they take to the skies. Independent Captains have a strong knowledge of the the full range of capabilities of their ships and in turn arrange their crew to optimise their chances of success. This style of leadership can cauterise a crew together into a functioning machine of efficiency and deadly power.
However, there is a critical flaw to this method of leadership that prevents an Independent Captain from evolving even further as a leader. An Independent Captain's ship will only ever be as good as their own skill ceiling. Since the Independent Captain has absolute control over their ship and crew then that ship and crew will only operate at the same skill level as the captain as there is no flexibility to go anywhere else. These captains mistake micromanagement for leadership and forget that ‘Guns of Icarus’ is a “team game” and not a game of “solitaire.” Other people will always evaluate every encounter differently from the captain and they will have their own strategies and skills that they can contribute. But the Independent Captain misses this untapped potential as they restrict each engagement to their own limited view and understanding of the skies.

The final style of leadership is the Dependent Captain. A Dependent Captain is defined by all the members of the crew contributing and working together as a single unit. I personally hold that this is the single most difficult and and yet strongest of the leadership styles. A Dependent Captain takes initial authority and explains to their crew the function and focus of the ship and offers advice whenever it is sought. However unlike the Independent Captain, a Dependent Captain then takes a step back and allows their crew to make the final decisions in regards their own personal builds and operation styles. A Dependent Captain isn’t completely hands off either, but develops a perfect balance between instruction and silence. A captain already has a lot to consider during any engagement in the skies. They are communicating and coordinating with the team captains, they have eyes on each development on the battlefield so to react to the changes as they happen, and they must guide their crew and keep moral high as the battle wears on. To add the extra burden of micromanagement only adds redundancy to the ship, especially when the crew can easily take initiative themselves and operate at the highest levels with practise.
Initially there is plenty of room for failure, mistakes, and inefficiency, especially as this style is dependent on the collective skills of the entire crew. This weakness though is negated by time. By giving flexibility to each crew member to experiment and learn from every engagement the captain gains a more competent crew. This is a high risk, high reward leadership method when in a battle but by allowing a crew to contribute more to the strategy and listening to their advise a captain can continue to grow as a leader. As a team they are all climbing together beyond their previous skill ceilings and towards new heights.

The mistake of society is thinking that leadership is about commanding other people like they are soulless automations. That isn’t leadership but more akin to pushing buttons and pulling levers and expecting results. Instead the true mark of leadership is about recognising the crew as people, placing them first and carrying them to new levels of competence. Whenever i’m in the skies I will always be more cautious around the ship that flies with the collective harmonised experience of four people than the ship that flies with the experience of one, regardless of that “one’s” skills.

Safe Skies.

Offline Dutch Vanya

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 07:26:55 pm »
The redeeming quality of the silent captain is how beautiful it is when the crew works like a well-oiled machine without orders.

Interesting post though, enjoyed reading it and will enjoy seeing responses.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2014, 07:30:34 pm by Dutch Vanya »

Offline Celti

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2014, 11:01:43 pm »
I think that the philosophy of the Sky Captain should be conceived more like an integral concept; taking into consideration other skills apart from leadership, such as organisation, communication, problem solving, and teamwork of course. Being able to organize the crew will become easier the more matches you play ofc, but as you said, you should also be open to receiving feedback from your crew or ally pilots. Also smalls things like recognizing the efforts of your crew and reinforce those actions (good job on repairs, nice shooting, etc.) will help you in your way to make your crew collaborate with you.

It is like those occasions when you see captains that do their best and the crew stay on their ship even if they lose. These people are usually confident pilots, interested in feedback, and humble (so they won't blame their crew for their mistakes).  The thing is that even if you get things done, it's usually not enough (this is the so called task-oriented leadership). So when you win but you're not really encouraging good teamwork and creative collaboration from your crew/ally you can't really become a better captain.

There are other aspects such as unresponsive crew members or crew members that want to tell you how to fly your ship in a not very nice way. It doesn't really help if you want to work with different ship builds than the ones you are used to if other players just give you 'destructive' feedback about how silly the ship build is, for example. So the 'learning captain' should keep this in mind and learn to take all the constructive feedback they can, and be patient with the criticisms from other crew members. I don't really think there is a final style as you are always playing with different people in pub matches so you will always need to be pretty flexible and sometimes just talk about spanner to rebuild, mallet to repair and keep some micromanagement, as you call it.

Offline JaegerDelta

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2014, 11:34:00 pm »
you left out something very important.

The Drunk Captain.

Offline Spud Nick

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2014, 01:44:01 am »
you left out something very important.

The Drunk Captain.

Captains drinking the moonshine? Never happens...

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2014, 06:19:47 am »
you left out something very important.

The Drunk Captain.

Captains drinking the moonshine? Never happens...

Ummm...that captain class would be called...

The Zuka Captain, and he has a thread on here called the Codex of Zuka. Know your place peasants and never leave out Zuka!

Seriously tho...all captains are completely dependent on their crews. A high skilled pilot will be as weak as a noob if they have a troll crew or just a bad crew overall.

In 1.1 when pilots were a thing to be feared and crews a thing to be treasured, you could quickly tell who you wanted to recruit vs who wasn't worth the time of day. If a pilot could completely trust their crew to the fullest extent and be able to dogfight with a squid, then they were keepers. The level of experience and skill required from both the pilot and crew was so high, because of the high risk for reward ratio, that when it all came together it was a thing of glory. You saw so fast who really was good at the game vs who needed practice. When it didn't come together, you'd sit there floating and waiting for someone to shoot a spit wad at you and make your ship fold up in mid air.

*Sniffle* Oh for the days when this game was really fun...

Offline Sammy B. T.

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2014, 09:24:26 am »
Quote
*Sniffle* Oh for the days when this game was really fun...

Everyone knows you don't like the game any more, the only thing anyone wonders is why you still play.



Anywho, this is all from the perspective of a competitive player.

I feel like your assessment of captaining, specifically your independent vs dependent is extremely naive. That isn't the best description but I am not sure how else to put it.

I'm a Duck and we have a reputation for having assertive captains. Without fail I give out loadouts and roles to my crew and while lobby and lull time is fine for discussion about builds, targets, and/or plans , once the engagement has begun in earnest the captain's will trumps all. Calling out targets, directing focus fire, choosing how to engage (I fly junker so side is a needed call out) directing disabling fire, calling for explosive pre-fire, calling engineers to repairs and buffs; these are just some of the orders. And it doesn't matter if I am flying with the best or if I am flying with the greenest, I'm giving orders out the whole time.

Now I don't do this out of lack of respect for my crew, on the contrary I think I respect my crew far more than most. My ship isn't limited by my scope because the strength of my ship is tied to the strength of my crew and my build. No amount of synergy will make a triple light flak squid work and poor crews have ruined many a good gat mortar combination. Also I welcome any correction or suggestion from my crew, it just can't happen during an engagement. Even if I make the wrong call, there is no time for an argument and correction. If part of my crew decides to "fix" the mistake then we have an obvious major problem as we have split fire, aka the art of doing two things poorly.

Captains make the decisions because captains are the best suited to make decisions. They choose where the ship is, and where it is facing. They're coordinating with the other captain. However, most importantly, they aren't running around the ship doing repairs. There is no time for group decisions during an engagement and if one person is going to give commands, it needs to be the person most suited for the command and not running around repairing components and shooting guns, is an excellent qualification. Burden of leadership does fall heavy, however there is not another true alternative.

Offline Squidslinger Gilder

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 03:52:22 am »
Sammy piloting:


Super S!! Bwahahaha!

I'd have left if not for the VN and the joys of munker combat. Really clearing out lobbies and making ships rage quit with Zuka and B'Elanna helped fill a lot of months of disappointment in the direction this game has taken. Not much else to do. Barely any of our guys play for fun anymore, then the originals pretty much vanished when they lost hope of the game being fun again. Real life of course comes into play but your desire to return to something is always tainted if you left dissatisfied.

Offline Mezhu

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2014, 05:50:14 am »
So, your enjoyment of the game comes by either whining on how boring it's become, or 'clearing lobbies' and 'making entire ships ragequit'. Truly a jewel.

ps; here Sammy, have my salutes, have them all.

« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 05:52:00 am by Mezhu »

Offline GreyTea

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2014, 06:20:28 am »
Everyone has different tastes and what they like/ don't like, That being said Please don't derail the thread just to have a go at one another because of it, thanks.


On reading the comparisons i found it really enjoyable i am cross between dependent captain of my ship, but a learning captain to my co pilot i normally take a step back and ask for advice on builds and styles of play, Alot of people see level and think noob which is so foolish, funny it was only yesterday i was talking to orangey deadpool and lockheart about somthing similar to this, all 3 of them i would say are better pilots than me and very different play styles, I think a good thing to note is no matter the style you can always learn something new, some little shortcut or gun combo, But overall very nice read :D.

Offline Crafeksterty

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2014, 08:03:07 am »
I feel like you should add more pros and Cons to your philosophies. Im no silent Captain, but i know that alot of silent captains choose easy to fly with loadouts "Or most experienced silent captains".
Meaning that they choose a loadout that does not requier communication in pub matches. Like a metamidion for example.

Then there is the Learning Captain that wants to try something new thru that wins or fails.

Your description of the Third Style can result to something of "Learning Crew style" Because the Captain has allready learned how the crew formation can work, all he needs now is to teach the crew what he knows, forcing the crew to learn something new.


I fall in for The Dependant Captain most of the times whenever im on my Spire. Every one on my Spire should be at a limit and fully aware of what is going on for everyones sake. Therefore, instruct first, make sure everyone does their job. "Independant style" first, "Dependant Style" Right after. When flying with my clan, im just dependant as the crew allready knows my functions.

What i would like to hear, is oppinions and defining what style of pilot philosophy (I believe there could be more) fits and is requiered to what ship.
Like, i think the spire needs a Dependant style based on my experiences.
I think the squid and Goldfish fits more in the Learning Side because even experienced players can learn what the enemy is doing and meneuver around that.
Galleon is either a Dependant or Independant
While Pyramideons and Junkers can fall for Silent (Based on my description) and Independant styles.


I feel like it should be added that Silent Styles in some circumstances allready know what they do and choose loadouts that are easy to manage without instructions.
Learning should have an addition where the enemy is also a learning experience.
And maybe some more stuff that im not thinking of right now.

Offline GreyTea

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2014, 08:22:34 am »
Once i read that, i thought about all the time i haven't said more than yes/no or direction to my team mates and we have that moment of total synergy when everyone just knows what to do who the target is, the Familiarity of playing with the same people and you just click, even as crew it happens with a second engineer on a squid for example the main and second just co exist in unison knowing what the other is going to do,

I would also agree the spire is incredibly hard to crew and captain to get results with on the same level every one has to know what to do or its GG

Offline Ayetach

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2014, 01:30:45 pm »
I like this analysis. Despite the varying opinions of the pros and cons I do feel that all captains regardless of skill tend to fall into one or more of these categories during each match. How crews and co-captains mesh personality and gameplay wise can really define how each captain behaves in the matches. It certainly does for me in many games :)

Offline Dutch Vanya

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2014, 03:14:53 pm »
Once i read that, i thought about all the time i haven't said more than yes/no or direction to my team mates and we have that moment of total synergy when everyone just knows what to do who the target is, the Familiarity of playing with the same people and you just click, even as crew it happens with a second engineer on a squid for example the main and second just co exist in unison knowing what the other is going to do,

I would also agree the spire is incredibly hard to crew and captain to get results with on the same level every one has to know what to do or its GG

I still find the galleon harder to fly/crew effectively rather than the spire. But that's off-topic.

Offline HamsterIV

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Re: The Philosophy of the Sky Captain
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2014, 04:04:50 pm »
I think this thread should be in Guides so it doesn't get buried in the endless balance discussions of the Gameplay board.

The level at which one can be an Independent vs Dependent captain is limited by the crew you fly with. It is very easy to depend on your crew's judgement and respond to their advice when you trust the the player who is giving it. Unless you belong to a large clan or are very popular you can't count on a solid crew having your back. It is safer to assume a new crew member needs micromanaging until they demonstration that they don't than assume the opposite. Even mid class level (6-8) players can be remarkably ignorant of the meta.

As captain I try and feed my crew the larger tactical picture whenever possible. This includes things like when we are moving for cover, if our objective is to make a kill or disable the enemy long enough for our ally to recover, and which ship components I am damaging with pilot tools. While this behavior can be seen as micro management, even the best players can loose track of what is happening outside of their area of responsibility.