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[Merged] Cooldown Thread

cooldowns vancian mana exhaustion resting magic improvements discussion spells cooldown

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#1
Ieo

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I'm neutral because I adapted fine to all the magic mechanics I've come across. Instead of bemoaning Obsidian's basic decision on spell/ability cooldowns, let's have some constructive discussion on what can be done right with them.

From Kickstarter comments Q&A (linked from Known Information sticky):

Q: In the last Tim Cain update, something he said could be interpreted as that there will be per-ability cool-downs a la WoW. Could you confirm/deny this? I personally feel they are bad design, and just a cheap way to nerf overpowered skills.

A: What we are moving forward with right now is a system that does not require a pure round system. In the IE games, each person was running their own six second round and spells were based on whether they were memorzied. How we look at it, rather than going with a memorization system for spells, in particular, we can use a cool down system. It's a similar balancing system without requireing the whole resting for spells. As for ablities being on that timer, D&D also had certain abilities that could only be used a certain number of times per day - again we want to mimic that with a cool down system.


Q: Cool-downs are not real disadvantages that you take into account when deciding what to do next. They are artificial limitations. Each ability should come with real disadvantages (long execution time while you're locked in place, huge mana cost, etc).

A: Gotcha. Personally, I think that cool downs can be used for both good and evil. We would try to stay on the path of good.


Josh comments:

Quote

I'm not going to rule out cooldowns and I'm not going to design the entire magic system on the fly over the course of three weeks. Both Tim and I want the magic system to feel expansive, powerful, and flexible. We want the player to have to make prep choices when selecting spells for active use. These things do not require a Vancian system, nor do they require the absence of cooldowns as a mechanic. As I wrote in one of the class threads, our goal with class design is not to limit the role of classes but to ensure that every class does have at least one combat role they can clearly excel in. This does not mean that wizards won't be able to cast protective spells, transformative spells, etc. It is likely that they will not be able to select from all of those things in the moment but unlikely that we will require the player to rest to change what he or she has access to.


Quote

In tabletop games, the "Vancian" systems do make strategic gameplay more important, but a lot of that is lost in a game with reloading. Especially if the choice of spells has a dramatic effect on efficacy (e.g. did you memorize dimensional anchor before fighting creatures that are constantly teleporting all over the battlefield), failure to select the "right" ones can result in catastrophic failure. In the absence of information required to make informed decisions, those choices aren't strategic; they're just guesses. After a reload, they're meta-strategic, but I doubt most players feel clever for making a retrospectively obvious choice.


Quote

I think it's possible to still make prep meaningful by allowing the player to switch between pre-built (by the player) suites of spells at a frequency that is less than "per rest". I.e. if the player can only use a subset of spells at any given time, but can switch between those subsets with a time penalty (or only outside of combat), that still makes the choices important without the system strictly being Vancian.


(Geez, it's a fair bit of work to quote things when a thread is locked. :p)

Edited by Ieo, 01 October 2012 - 07:16 PM.

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#2
Wirdjos

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Hate to muck up the first post, but has Obsidian declared themselves on the side of cooldowns as we've all come to know them yet? It seems like a good idea to at least port over the Sawyer posts to the new thread.

#3
Jaesun

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There is nothing challenging or GOOD about them. PERIOD.

Also there was None of this terrible terrible wow crap in the original BG games. They required you to think and use information to plan your battles. As well as deal with situations when you did not have certain spells memorized. Cool-downs are just a spam fest.

There is no challenge or having to deal with unexpected encounters without access to certain spells. Which the IE game excelled in.
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#4
Ieo

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Hate to muck up the first post, but has Obsidian declared themselves on the side of cooldowns as we've all come to know them yet? It seems like a good idea to at least port over the Sawyer posts to the new thread.


Excellent point. Porting now... hopefully my edit window is long enough.

#5
mikayel

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If it is not like WoW where you are spamming multiple hot-keys to a the rhythm of the war drums (cool downs) similar to ridiculous game of guitar hero (keyboard hero?) then I guess it might be ... playable.

I'd rather not even try to go down that route... but it seems that their minds are already made up. This is... disappointing, unless we are misinterpreting what those posts regarding cooldowns have been about.

Then again, the devs are very cryptic with how the game will actually function -- sure, it's still being developed but... surely there is something they can show in regards to how an example encounter might go? I mean... they'd have to have at least a decently solidified idea before they started asking for money. Right?


... right?

Edited by mikayel, 01 October 2012 - 07:13 PM.


#6
Hypevosa

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simple cool down system - instead of requiring rest to regain spells, have spells slowly be regained, starting with the lowest levels which "recharge" the fastest, and the higher spells taking longer to recharge, and only recharging after the earlier ones have charged.

This way the spells maintain potency and diversity so they're key strategy pieces like the vancian system, but you aren't forced to rest to regain them.
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#7
lychee26

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simple cool down system - instead of requiring rest to regain spells, have spells slowly be regained, starting with the lowest levels which "recharge" the fastest, and the higher spells taking longer to recharge, and only recharging after the earlier ones have charged.

This way the spells maintain potency and diversity so they're key strategy pieces like the vancian system, but you aren't forced to rest to regain them.


That's what I was thinking of as well, still keeping the old system, but just changing the part that didn't work as well... hopefully it's something close to this

#8
Elthosian

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They could base cooldowns in the amount of soul energy the environment has, so, in this one cave it would be harder to use your high level magicz, while maybe in that god's palace the energy would be so much that not only you, but the enemy mages would be able to cast spells like there is no tomorrow, making such encounters radically different and in some cases even more challenging despite being able of using more spells, that way you make cooldowns not only positive for the gameplay, but also coherent within the world's lore.

Also, if they take difficulty in account they could make something much better than the vancian system, with rest restrictions and spells that take up to one or two hours of real time to cooldown in the hard difficulty, something a bit more forgiving in easy, and much harder in the special hardcore modes, while still taking zone modifiers in account.

In the end it all depends on implementation, of course, if they go down the "everything recharges at max five minutes" route we are pretty much f***ed.
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#9
Ieo

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They could base cooldowns in the amount of soul energy the environment has, so, in this one cave it would be harder to use your high level magicz, while maybe in that god's palace the energy would be so much that not only you, but the enemy mages would be able to cast spells like there is no tomorrow, making such encounters radically different and in some cases even more challenging despite being able of using more spells, that way you make cooldowns not only positive for the gameplay, but also coherent within the world's lore.

Also, if they take difficulty in account they could make something much better than the vancian system, with rest restrictions and spells that take up to one or two hours of real time to cooldown in the hard difficulty, something a bit more forgiving in easy, and much harder in the special hardcore modes, while still taking zone modifiers in account.

In the end it all depends on implementation, of course, if they go down the "everything recharges at max five minutes" route we are pretty much f***ed.


I'm not sure they have all the particular mechanical details hammered out despite the decision, so that's why this thread is good to air ideas that can counter a lot of the perceived problems about it.

The big mystery still is, indeed, how souls factor into everything. I'd love to see some dev input here too, if possible...

#10
RosesandAshes

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simple cool down system - instead of requiring rest to regain spells, have spells slowly be regained, starting with the lowest levels which "recharge" the fastest, and the higher spells taking longer to recharge, and only recharging after the earlier ones have charged.

This way the spells maintain potency and diversity so they're key strategy pieces like the vancian system, but you aren't forced to rest to regain them.


I like this idea! I like to save my strong spells for bosses, so this way there would be more incentive for me to save my stronger spells/use spells sparingly.

#11
Elthosian

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They could base cooldowns in the amount of soul energy the environment has, so, in this one cave it would be harder to use your high level magicz, while maybe in that god's palace the energy would be so much that not only you, but the enemy mages would be able to cast spells like there is no tomorrow, making such encounters radically different and in some cases even more challenging despite being able of using more spells, that way you make cooldowns not only positive for the gameplay, but also coherent within the world's lore.

Also, if they take difficulty in account they could make something much better than the vancian system, with rest restrictions and spells that take up to one or two hours of real time to cooldown in the hard difficulty, something a bit more forgiving in easy, and much harder in the special hardcore modes, while still taking zone modifiers in account.

In the end it all depends on implementation, of course, if they go down the "everything recharges at max five minutes" route we are pretty much f***ed.


I'm not sure they have all the particular mechanical details hammered out despite the decision, so that's why this thread is good to air ideas that can counter a lot of the perceived problems about it.

The big mystery still is, indeed, how souls factor into everything. I'd love to see some dev input here too, if possible...


I remember reading in the "Souls and technology" update that the soul-energy-thingie was something that living beings drew from constantly, so it's likely that it will have some role in the overall spell system.

But yeah, they should really get into detail with the cooldown stuff, and soon, the backslash is there and it won't help the project at all if they just ignore it.

Edited by Elthosian, 01 October 2012 - 07:39 PM.


#12
Crusty

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Where memorization systems (such as Vancian Magic) fail in video games is in it's regeneration.

i.e rest spamming.

If cooldowns address that issue, while still being tied to memorization and limits, then it's not so bad.

You could link the mechanic to the state of your soul and current environment. The weaker you are, the slower it regenerates. While if you're in good heath, it regenerates more quickly. Being in a forest helps nature magic regenerate quicker. Weaker spells regenerate quickest was while the strongest ones would regenerate 1 use every hour or so. That would help emulate what resting did through cooldowns.

OTOH, if we're talking about cooldowns as the primary mechanic, then that's awful. What cooldowns do is eliminate the strategic element of preparation as far as spells (and abilities) are concerned. That's where memorization types excelled. It rewarded strategic thinking as well as tactical, by choosing which spells to take and when to use them. Even if that meant you were ill-prepared. Scraping together a win in circumstances where you're unprepared is fun.

Cooldowns however, shifts more focus from strategic to "tactical". The problem with this is that the tactical dimension they add here is that of micromanagement. Whether it be spells, abilities or potion spam.

In cases where cooldowns are arbitrary timers, it struggles to fun in an RTwP environment because your entire mindset is based not on tactical or strategic considerations, but based entirely on when the cooldowns for your spells/abilities/potions are up.

i.e MMOs.

Edited by Crusty, 01 October 2012 - 07:42 PM.


#13
Shevek

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Personally, I think its easier to limit the evils of the Vancian system by limiting rest (as any good DM should limit abuse of resting). In my view, both saving and resting should limited to specific areas.

Limiting cooldowns is not so easy. Still, it seems they have married themselves to the mechanic. It will be interesting to see if they can make it work. To be honest, I think the mage battles with spell sequencers, spell protections, breaches and the tactical depth that went along with that stuff is likely gone if they set up a bunch of cooldowns and give you a small slate of prepared spells. We shall see I guess...

I have been 100% excited thus far but, seriously, this just took alot of the wind out of my sails. I am hoping that a month or two down the line they can release some information on how this system will not sacrifice spell variety or tactical/strategic depth.

#14
Metabot

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"Cooldowns however, shifts more focus from strategic to "tactical". The problem with this is that the tactical dimension they add here is that of micromanagement. Whether it be spells, abilities or potion spam."

You still have to decide when to use certain abilities and which enemy to use it on and have to weigh that against how long the cooldown is. Micromanagement is a part of any kind of strategy and tactics so that's a silly criticism.

#15
Director

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Josh and Tim both have a lot of experience in creating game mechanics - so totally cool with whatever they come up with.

The Vancian system doesn't make sense for thematic reasons as well:

1. Characters are drawing on Soul-Power™ to cast spells - not memorising spells.
2. All Characters will likely have Spell-Like powers, it doesn't make a great deal of sense that the Fighter and Rogue would have to memorise all the Soul-Powers they want to use in a day.

#16
Archmage Silver

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Personally I'd welcome a mana-based system like they had in Arcanum - Tim would certainly know how to implement it.

#17
Director

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Personally I'd welcome a mana-based system like they had in Arcanum - Tim would certainly know how to implement it.


Did Arcanum have cooldowns? I don't recall.

#18
Gurkog

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Last time I played WoW, in WotLK, classes like Druids and Shaman had a lot skills that would randomly trigger bonuses to others. This made it so using a cooldown willy-nilly would be less effective that waiting for the opportunity to gain full benefit from their awesomness. There were also situations that called for the use of cooldowns and budgeting when to use them could be the difference between success and a raid wipe. (battle res, tranquility, innervate, shaman group rage buff, etc...). It was not so simple as just 'spam cooldowns in succession'. WoW may be different now though because I saw they really gutted talent trees.

I always played a rogue, which was probably the easiest class, and it had very few cooldowns. The only ones used regularly were: feint and cloak of shadows to avoid aoe damage. The big ones like adrenaline rush, blade flurry, killing spree, blind, vanish were all used sparingly. I did play a Laser Chicken for a while... and it also had only 2 offensive cooldowns that were both mainly for attacking multiple, spread targets - and 3 support cooldowns used to help others in 'oh, ****!' moments. I guess I never played the classes that had the cooldown 'whackamole' play style.

Dragon Age had a horrible cooldown system. Waiting on timers for every spell AND using mana? What bull****. I could see doing one, the other, or a scattered mix, but not both at ALL times.

Torchlight 2 has decent cooldowns that, if specialized right, will be available when needed. They aren't necessary to use all the time, but they help a lot when overwhelmed. Engineer barrier shield and robots, berserker wolves, and whatever the other classes use. That game has an ebb and flow of intensity that the cooldowns tend to sync with. The timers usually refresh by the time you need to even the odds again.

I guess it all comes down to implementation. Depending too much on them for general use or making them so long that they are hoarded and never used are the negative extremes. Make it so they are more effective when used in conjuction withother skills and situations.

#19
Gatt9

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Cooldowns introduce a number of major problems...

-First, and foremost, they break the Mage character. The intent of the Mage character is that while he is weak, and his damage is less frequent than a Warrior, his damage is tide-turning. A single spell can change the entire course of a battle. Cooldowns break that, since now the mage can fire off spells at will, without any need to worry about resources, his damage must be reduced and he can no longer sway the tide of battle. The alternative is to let him retain his power, in which case you get Dragon Age Origins. Everyone stands around and watches while the mage casts a spell or two and kills everything.

-Second, the fundamental reason for the switch to cooldowns, "Rest-spamming or reloading", is flawed. It's removing a perfectly functioning system because some subset of players are not willing to use their spells judiciously. This is a Player problem, not a game mechanics problem. Too many times concessions are made because some subset of player abuse a system to bypass RPG mechanics. First it was Character death, then random ability rolls, now it's magic resources. If some portion of the people choose to ignore the checks and balances in RPG's, that's their problem, it doesn't mean the RPG system has a problem.

-Third, it introduces something that takes the Player out of the game. Instead of keeping the Player's focus on what's happening in the game, it makes the Player pay more attention to the UI. The player ceases to be fully invested in combat, and becomes partially invested in watching a GUI element.

-Fourth, it's a fundamentally broken system. It always boils down to "What spell has the most damage for the shortest cooldown, and what spell can be cast during that cooldown", resulting in a system that pretty much always consists of casting the spell 2-3 spells over and over exclusively. It introduces Time as the primary resource, and relegates Damage to the secondary resource. Spells cease to be about what's the most appropriate, or even what's cool, and becomes all about "What has the shortest cooldowns".

IMO, this is a very bad design decision.
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#20
nikolokolus

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Basically it boils down to this: If cooldowns occur in a matter of seconds then they usually suck. If they occur in minutes or tens of minutes, then they can work. The key is timing them so that certain abilities are essentially usable once per encounter, which mimics the x uses/day feature in the IE games.

When people spam rest in those old IE games, that is basically no different than a cooldown if you think about it.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: cooldowns, vancian, mana, exhaustion, resting, magic, improvements, discussion, spells, cooldown

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