Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Faceroller

Quick Announcement:

I am changing the way I refer to people in my blog.  Initially I was using initials to designate various people but Wendy showed me a blog with a much better style:  Made up names.  As such I will be making up names like Sandbox Lady and The Philosopher for my friends and using those consistently throughout.  If you know me and them you will almost certainly be able to figure out who is who.

In internet gamer lingo Faceroller or Faceroll class are words used to describe things surrounding online gaming.  Specifically:

Faceroller:  A person who is so terrible at the game that their play is no better than smashing your face into the keyboard over and over.

Faceroll class:  A class (basically a job, like Mage or Warrior) that is so easy and powerful that you can defeat opponents simply by smashing your face into the keyboard over and over.

I do find it amusing that the first version implies being terrible and the second implies being amazing, but such is the randomness of internet memes.

Back in the day when I was in a WOW guild running 25 man raids in The Burning Crusade we had a problem, which was that it is very hard to find good people.  When you are doing challenging raids you absolutely need talented players who work hard to maximize their potential and have gaming talent and practice.  However, figuring out who has this without actually playing with them can be difficult.  In particular we found it hilarious that some classes had a rotation in raids that was truly, starkly simple yet people could truly suck at it.  For example, a spellcasting rotation for a Warlock:

Shadow Bolt.  Shadow Bolt.  Shadow Bolt.  Shadow Bolt.  Shadow Bolt.  Shadow Bolt.  Shadow Bolt.

You probably get the idea.  Despite the fact that only thing a warlock had to do was hit a single button over and over and over we regularly had people who did less than half the damage of our best warlocks.  It might seem unfathomable, but when the entire game consists of hitting one button every 2.5 seconds some people manage to do half as well as others.  Are they only pushing their buttons every 5 seconds?  What in the world is happening?  Because of all these terrible people wanting to play with us (and us recruiting them and then booting them out) we developed this thought experiment to determine if someone could join our guild:  The toddler test.

The idea is that we log in a warlock and map every single key on the keyboard for that computer to cast Shadow Bolt on whichever target our tank is hitting and then put a toddler in the seat.  Naturally the toddler will smash the keyboard regularly and when they do their character will shoot the boss.  All we do is invite the new player and tell them that there is a toddler playing a Warlock by smashing the keyboard and they have to defeat the toddler on the damage meters.  If they cannot defeat the toddler they will be instantly booted from the guild.  We never actually put this plan into practice, but it seemed like a hilarious (and potentially useful) way to weed out the complete incompetents.

A lot of people accuse my class and spec (Retribution Paladin) of being a faceroll class.  This is partly because we were overpowered at various points in the fairly near past and partly because our rotation is fairly straightforward for modern play.  These days no one has a rotation like the one listed above because all of the classes have been changed to require at least some skill and have some variety in what they do.  My rotation at the moment can be described as a simple priority system.  Each ability can only be used every so often, and whenever I can hit a button I do, and if several are available I hit the highest one on the list first.

Crusader Strike
Hammer of Wrath
Divine Storm

Blizzard (the folks who make WOW) puts out new dungeons and equipment and such regularly and the newest, bestest thing for me is my new Tier 10 armor.  What this does is changes the cooldown on Divine Storm from 10 seconds to a variable number that is usually around 6 seconds.  The interesting thing this does is makes the choice of abilities almost completely pointless.  I know this because I spent a hundred + hours building a huge spreadsheet that simulates combat and lets me test dozens of different rotations very easily.  Effectively my rotation becomes:

Hit something.  ANYTHING.  Just hit a button.
Now hit another button.  Anything will do.
A new button!  Or the same one as before, whatever.

So basically I go from a rotation that allows at least some thought and rewards good play to being a true faceroll class.  I can hit anything I want any time I want and it makes almost no difference at all.  Of course we know that in the old days there were people who were half as good as others so clearly a complicated rotation isn't everything.  It does make me a little sad that I will be reduced to grabbing my keyboard in both hands, repeatedly bashing my head into it and calling that strategy and play skill.  Perhaps next I should acquire a dipping bird and play WOW Homer Simpson style.  Note this change isn't making me bad, it just makes it a lot easier for me to play perfectly well while drunk or with a blindfold on.

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