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Default Gamasutra - Why I Hate Cooldowns

May 5th, 2012, 22:43
Well even in MMOs you don't necesarily need cooldowns on your regular damaging attacks/spells. If you look at World of Warcraft, most (or maybe all) classes don't have cooldowns on any of their normal damage dealing abilities. The use a different method of getting you to vary your single target attacks, by having attacks that provide dots, attacks that make your target weaker to other attacks, attacks that generate resources used by other attacks, and even classes with as many as 4 different resource bars to manage.

Where WoW does have cooldowns, and where cooldowns are most useful in general, are on it's big dramatic abilities. Abilities that summon an army or an overpowered demon to fight for you, which stun or knock back all your enemies, which heal all your allies or make you invulnerable for a time. These are the types of abilities where cooldowns are useful, because it allows you have a really big, dramatic, fun effect while still being balanced. If you were to balance these abilities around not having a cooldown, you'd have to weaken them so much that they would no longer have that epically powerful feeling when you use them.

Finally the concept of long cooldowns on spells shouldn't be too alien to anyone who grew up playing D&D or computer games based on D&D (From Pool of Radiance to Baldur's Gate). Back then all of your spells had a cooldown of one day. These were the games that really pioneered the use of long cooldown times to balance out dramatic effects.
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May 5th, 2012, 22:58
I think cooldowns are fine. Xenoblade: Chronicles uses them and I think it works great. It makes battle interesting because you can't just use the same abilities over and over again. I don't see what the problem with that is. They're simply a game mechanic that is meant to make things more interesting by having you manage which skills you can and can't use at a given time. Hating on cooldowns is like hating on hit points or something. It doesn't make any sense to me.

The most compelling of which are probably the aforementioned riskvreward systems, like allowing you to spam abilities at the risk of breaking some necessary item, or at risk of putting yourself in a vulnerable state, or (perhaps ideally) at risk of having the enemies develop defenses to your methods.
Spam abilities at the risk of breaking a necessary item? That would be terrible, I'm sorry, but why would you want that? Say you break the item, then what happens? Terrible idea.
The risk of putting yourself in a vulnerable state? Cooldowns put you in a vulnerable state. They make it so you can't use your abilities, so you are more vulnerable because of it.
And having the enemies develop defenses for your fireball attack doesn't make any sense. How is a goblin suddenly going to be able to defend against your best attacks?

And if you really need a lore explanation for the cooldown, just use your imagination. It takes time for the chi energy to build up in your body in order to execute a powerful attack. It takes time for the magic to build up in order to cast your magic. It's easy to come up with reasons for there being cooldowns, if that's what you really need to have more fun with the game.
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May 6th, 2012, 06:57
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
And if you really need a lore explanation for the cooldown, just use your imagination. It takes time for the chi energy to build up in your body in order to execute a powerful attack. It takes time for the magic to build up in order to cast your magic. It's easy to come up with reasons for there being cooldowns, if that's what you really need to have more fun with the game.
Exactly, I like cooldowns, prefer it to other systems that just mean you have a few attacks and spam them. It's immersive to me as it provides a good abstraction. I'd rather have that than "lightning bolt! lightning bolt!" like in … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekugPKqFw
Last edited by wolfing; May 7th, 2012 at 12:52.
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May 6th, 2012, 20:38
Originally Posted by fadedc View Post
Finally the concept of long cooldowns on spells shouldn't be too alien to anyone who grew up playing D&D or computer games based on D&D (From Pool of Radiance to Baldur's Gate). Back then all of your spells had a cooldown of one day. These were the games that really pioneered the use of long cooldown times to balance out dramatic effects.
Not to drag this debate out too far, but this dnd mechanic shouldn't be equated with cooldown, really. It seems similar if you get really macro on the issue, but the practical strategies are different. You choose your spells in advance, carefully, because you have a limited set of spell slots. You use those spells carefully, because you're not sure if resting will work (or if it's too trying to run back to the tavern). There's not usually any way to kite the enemy until your timer resets. In practice, the traditional dnd method is much more intriguing than cooldowns.

That said, I like your point about WoW epic powers. It sounds like a reasonable use of cooldowns. There are other ways to do it, but it's very fitting in an MMO, where everyone is interacting in "realtime"; there's a more strategic element to timing your cooldowns in a cooperative group.
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May 6th, 2012, 21:11
It's definitely not a perfect anology, but the basic concept was the same. Many D&D spells had big, dramatic effects that were too overpowered to allow unlimited use of. So instead they were only usable once before you rested. The overall effect was a cooldown on the ability of a variable number of encounters, depending on the campaign or the computer game. Haing to wait a number of fights before you could use that ability again isn't all that different from a 10 minute cooldown in a more action based real time game.

The place where the anology really breaks down is that in pre fourth edition D&D you could memorize multiple copies of the same spell. So you could cast that fireball 5 times in a row, if you prepared it that way, but then you'd be out of fireballs for the rest of the day. And of course D&D had much more lore explaining that limitation, but of course you would expect a P&P RPG to have much more magic system lore then a computer game.

Originally Posted by qpqpqp View Post
Not to drag this debate out too far, but this dnd mechanic shouldn't be equated with cooldown, really. It seems similar if you get really macro on the issue, but the practical strategies are different. You choose your spells in advance, carefully, because you have a limited set of spell slots. You use those spells carefully, because you're not sure if resting will work (or if it's too trying to run back to the tavern). There's not usually any way to kite the enemy until your timer resets. In practice, the traditional dnd method is much more intriguing than cooldowns.
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May 7th, 2012, 05:22
Actually what I was thinking when it comes to cooldowns would make an alteration to how they work currently. When you use a spell it would increase the cooldown of all other spells by an amount based on the power of the spell you used to simulate that you have lost some of the built up magical energy which would make it take longer to use your other spells. This cooldown increase wouldn't effect spells significantly weaker then the one cast.
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