The Cooldown Effect

What do you think of some games that have special moves with cooldowns?

I don’t really like cooldowns. Cooldowns tend to promote play based on rotations. Cooldowns tend to promote abilities that aren’t designed very interestingly. I’ve spoken on this before, how I dislike the way RTS games and the genres influenced by them tend to have “abilities” instead of “moves”. Like a move or action in a traditional game has different periods of timing, it moves through space in an interesting way. There’s startup, active, recovery. “Abilities” tend to function instantly and ignore all the physical elements of how the action could function. They don’t feel grounded.

Compare a Moba to a 2d Zelda game and how different the items and attacks feel.

The other thing is, when abilities are designed with cooldowns in mind, generally the design ignores things like drawbacks to those abilities. Think of how many cooldown abilities in various games would be broken if you could spam them over and over again. What stops you from doing the same in say bloodborne, a fighting game, a first person shooter? Recovery time, ammo limits, reloading. There’s risks associated with these actions that make you not want to perform them all the time. In “ability oriented” games with cooldowns, if you could you would mash all your abilities at once usually.

So what’s the drawback to not using an ability? If you use it now, you can’t use it later. The real cost is opportunity cost, which is sensible, but kinda lame if you ask me. This leads to rotation based play, such as seen in MMOs, because when one is cooling down, you use the next one, then the next one, then loop around to the first one as it comes off. In some cases, there’s a good order to do these in that each boost one another for maximum efficiency, so you follow the rotation. Leads to very efficiency race styled play, because there’s no drawbacks to the moves that would make them counterable.

Rising Thunder made abilities work a bit better, but also those abilities were designed like Moves, they had the solid grounding in mechanic design that abilities don’t tend to have. Notice how all the Overwatch abilities tend to function instantly, where something like say, Mirror’s Edge (to use another first person example) has a bit more kinaesthetic sensation in its moves.

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