There's been no shortage of threads on this topic, but with the influx of new players expressing concern about the difficulties of getting through some of the missions and quests in the game (ie. Nation rank missions/limit break quests), I thought I'd offer some tips on how to bypass a lot of the headaches associated with these tasks. How specifically to be successful in each different kind of mission is beyond the scope of this thread; this is just a general guideline on what you can do to have the people available to get you through what you need to do.
FFXI was designed from the ground up to virtually require group cooperation in order to succeed in the majority of advanced missions and quests in the game. Whether you're attempting to do a 6 person BCNM fight vs. the Dragon for your nation's rank 3 mission or assembling to take on Bahamut to advance on to Apocalypse Nigh, doing your homework and knowing what to expect in the fight does you no good unless you have the people to enter the fight with you.
I'm not going to lecture people on how to behave so they don't drive away potential friends/allies. My sense is that everyone who plays FFXI has made it through kindergarten, and whether they choose to play nice or not will not be influenced by this thread so I won't bother.
People are Busy
One of the biggest fruatrations I see are from people who log on to FFXI, decide they want to do a quest/mission that requires 6+ people, and expect to be able to simply ask their LS and be on their way in half an hour.
When I log in to FFXI, I almost always have certain things that I want to do, be it level a job, craft, or do quests/missions of my own. Having someone ask me with no notice to join them on a 2-3+ hour jaunt through Vana'diel almost always represents an inconvenience. If that same person were to show up and say, "Hey, I want to do such-and-such mission/quest; if I schedule a time in the next week or so, who would be willing to come out and help?" I'd be in a much better position to lend a hand.
Not All Shells Are Good Shells
Let's say you've tried to schedule an event with lots of advance notice, and every time you bring it up in your shell all conversation stops for several minutes while people try and pretend they aren't there. That generally means it's time to find a new group of people to associate with if you want to accomplish anything in the game. A good linkshell is a self-supporting community, where the majority of people in it know that everyone has objectives in-game, and the best way to keep everyone happy is to keep everyone progressing.
In general, the best way to find a good shell is to be sociable in your exp parties. Chat about missions you're on and see what people say. Chances are, it won't take long for you to find someone who will talk about how they have a great shell and they do missions and quests all the time. Don't ask that person for help with your quest/mission now; ask them if their shell is accepting new members. If you're lucky, you'll have a shiny new pearl in short order.
One of the best ways to alienate yourself from a new LS is to show up and start asking for help before you've even gotten to know anyone. Be patient; it takes time to build relationships, and believe me: you're better off investing a week or two in a new shell just doing your own thing and helping them out where you can so that they can get to know you before you start grinding them to assist you. A new person in a shell is usually no different to the older members in that shell than someone shouting in Jeuno. Give it time.
Statics Are Your Friend
Some of the more challenging quests and missions in the game become almost impossible when you try and jam together a pickup group and get everyone working on the same page. CoP is a fantastic example of this; when it comes to pickup groups, you never know what you'll end up with. Forming and contributing to a static group promotes accountability and cooperation. A lot of people look at pickup groups as disposable parties; it doesn't really matter how they behave, because odds are they won't be joining that same group of people again for a long time. That's where you get attitudes, tension, and ultimately, failure more than success.
An LS is a great place to find a static, but sometimes people in your LS are scattered in terms of where they are in a given mission series. Sometimes it's necessary to seek outside of your shell for people to fill out a party. The more people you can have showing up to each component of a quest/mission series, the better you'll start to function as a team. If you invite an outside person to your group who gives you trouble, don't invite them back. If you're patient and dilligent, you can assemble a group of people that will work with you to schedule future events, show up more-or-less on time, and develop that synnergy that makes tough missions a lot more pleasurable.
Everyone will have ideas as to how best to approach a given challenge. If you aren't absolutely, 100% positive that your idea is the best idea, make sure you're willing to listen to what other people have to suggest. If their idea doesn't work, at least you tried. There's nothing worse than rigidly expecting people to do things your way, especially when your way winds up not working. If you give people a voice and a say, they're a lot less likely to resent you for wasting their time. Frequently, there are a number of different strategies that can work in a given situation, and finding the one that is best suited to your particular group often involves letting people exercise their strengths, even if guide X says to do something differently.
If you've asked people to help you with a time consuming or potentially challenging mission, making them wait around while you prepare or not doing your homework around what the mission involves is a bit like a slap in the face. If you're reading this thread, you have all of the information you need for most quests/missions at your fingertips. Use that information. A quest/mission party/alliance leader ought not ever show up to an event not knowing what it involves. Unless you're one of the brave and the few who are the first to tackle a new mission as it's released in an update, there's no point reinventing the wheel if most of the people in your group just want to get the mission done.
If your party is content to experiment and explore, being flexible becomes even more important. The group should be able to discuss a plan of action and collaborate with one another with the understanding that there's almost never any guarantee of success.
Nobody likes a mooch or a leech. If you can't come up with the requisite items (ie. meds) to do a mission, don't agree to go along until you can. If your death buffer is sagging and it makes you nervous because deleveling will cause you to lose access to one of your favorite pieces of gear, don't agree to move forward with a mission series until you've given yourself a bit more of a cushion. Showing up requiring that everything go perfectly in order for you to remain jovial and reasonable is unfair to your group. Make sure you've done your preparations beforehand so that the group isn't picking up your slack. The group is what succeeds, and the group is only as good as the people who are in it. Be an asset, and that includes showing up willing to accept defeat if that's how things go. Learn from it, and move on.
Altruism is a Myth
People rarely do things selflessly. If people in your LS (or your static) are constantly going out of their way to do that little bit extra, make sure you recognize them for it and try to raise the bar for yourself to match their contribution. Nothing turns a helpful person into a resentful person faster than making them feel that nobody appreciates what they do, much less being surrounded by people who refuse to reciprocate.
People serve their communities (in game and out) because they know that sooner or later, their efforts will come back to them. If they get the sense that their efforts are going unrecognized, they'll probably move on. The same goes for you. If you are legitimately trying to maximize your contribution to your LS/static without grinding them to reciprocate, watch for people to step up and do their part. If they don't, tone down your contribution if you start to get resentful. If having you reduce your contribution to match theirs means that things grind to a halt, that's a pretty good indication that you were carrying the group. Give yourself a break; don't be a doormat.
The Game is No Fun if It's Frustrating
Frustrating victories are shallow victories. I can tell you from recent personal experience that completing a mission series with a group of people that have been with you through the long haul, worked together, ******* a bit at each other, made mistakes together, and ultimately won together, makes everything that leads up to victory that much sweeter. If your experience in FFXI is an ongoing frustration, it might be because you're associating with the wrong people. Put the relationships you form in FFXI ahead of the spoils to be had and you're on the right track. You don't have to be best buds with everyone you play with in game, but like it or not, you're part of a group from the moment you first log on until you cancel your content IDs. Try to make the most of it.
Edited, Mar 6th 2007 12:39am by AureliusSir