Created By: Koveras on January 8, 2014 Last Edited By: Koveras on February 1, 2014
Troped

Combatant Cooldown System

Video game combat system where each combatant is put on a cooldown of varying duration after acting.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

This is part of a YKTTW series on video game combat systems, which will be launched together. See also Turn-Based Combat and Turn-Based Strategy, Real Time Tactics.

The third option between Real Time and Turn-Based Combat: Instead of acting simultaneously or in discrete turns, each combatant (be it a Player Character or an NPC) is put on a "global" Cooldown after performing any action (and at the start of the battle). In contrast to the ordinary ability cooldowns (where only individual abilities are locked during their respective cooldowns), combatants in this setup cannot act at all while on cooldown, but have access to every ability in their arsenal as soon as their global cooldowns are over.

The length of the cooldown after each action often depends on the character's Stats (primarily Speed or equivalent) and on the type of that action: cooldowns after low-damage attacks are much shorter than after powerful blows, a simple "Wait" command imposes a shorter cooldown than "Move", etc. This creates situations where quick skirmishers can attack twice in the time that it takes for a slow hard-hitters to do so once, differentiating this system from turn-based combat (where everyone of comparable power level gets the same number of attacks per round). This setup also makes a Visual Initiative Queue a mandatory feature, in order to keep track of who goes when.

Depending on whether the game pauses when it's a Player Character's turn (letting the players give them their orders without hurry) or not, this system leans more towards the turn-based or the real time combat, respectively. Compare/contrast Real Time with Pause, where battles play out in real time but the player can pause them at any moment to give/revoke orders.

Subtrope of Cooldown, obviously.

Examples:

Game Makers
  • In the RPG Maker series of Game Makers, RPG Maker 2003 had this as the default (and only) type of battle system. Although later games in the series reverted back to Turn-Based Combat for its default battle system, it's still possible to program it using Ruby to use this type of battle system. (In fact, many do. They're often called "Active Time Battle Systems", after the battle system found in the Final Fantasy series.)
  • OHRRPGCE has a battle system in which every character has a meter that fills up according to their speed stat and lets them perform an action once it's full. More recent versions also allow for a classic Turn-Based Combat.

Role-Playing Games
  • Grandia II features twofold combatant cooldowns: each Player Character has a "Wait" cooldown and a "Command" cooldown. The duration of the Wait cooldown depends only on the character's Speed stat (and speed-enhancing buffs), and the game pauses after a PC's Wait cooldown is over, letting the player select their next action, which is carried out after the subsequent Command cooldown, whose duration depends both on the Speed stat and the type of selected action (e.g. it's shorter for basic attacks than for massive Area of Effect spells). Furthermore, as the battles basically take place in real time (except for pausing to select commands), executing the selected action also takes some time: e.g. a melee attack requires an attacker to actually run up to the target before they can strike it. After the action is completed (or canceled), the PC is placed back on Wait cooldown. Unlike the PCs, AI enemies have only a single-phase cooldown whose duration is determined by their Speed stat.
  • The Active Time Battle™ and its many derivatives from the Final Fantasy series are a variation that doesn't pause when a character's cooldown (represented by the filling of the ATB gauge) is over, and the AI enemies can act while the player selects their next action. This also means that multiple party members can be waiting for orders simultaneously, and the player is forced to give commands in the order the individual characters reached the end of the cooldown.
  • Septerra Core had this, with a slight twist: the cooldown bars were divided into three segments, more powerful abilities required more segments, and when abilities were used, partially filled segments were lost. A lot of gameplay consisted of figuring out quickly which attack you wanted to use next, and then clicking that character right as a segment filled.
  • In Dubloon, each combatant has a meter that allows them to perform an action when filled up. The game doesn't pause them when one of player characters gets their meter full, which means that it's possible for slower members to act beforehand, or to wait for some bosses to quit their Counter Attack mode.

Strategy RPG
  • Final Fantasy Tactics features a Charge Time Battle system, which leans toward turn-based combat instead of real time (like ATB of the main series). Each unit has a Charge Time meter, which is reset to zero after it acts (unless it uses the Wait command, in which case it is reset to 20), and it may only act again after their it goes back to 100. CT points are gained at different rates, so a unit with a high Speed stat may act more often than one with low Speed, which effectively acts as the cooldown duration modifier.
  • Namco × Capcom has a system similar to Final Fantasy Tactics—a unit is able to act once it has earned 10 AP, which accrues at 1 per turn for each unit on the map. The player can estimate the initiative order by looking at the numbers above each unit; whoever shows a "1" is the next to act. Different actions cost different amounts of AP, so a unit that only moves will act again sooner than a unit that moves and attacks. There are other special actions to spend and earn AP; for example, units may spend AP to reduce damage from enemy attacks and time Action Commands during enemy attacks to regain AP.

Visual Novels
  • Loren: The Amazon Princess has an implementation that leans heavily towards Turn-Based Combat: each combatant has a (slightly randomized) "initiative" score and is placed on the Visual Initiative Queue accordingly. The combatant with the lowest initiative (on top of the queue) acts first, then their old initiative score is subtracted from everyone else's, and the second-lowest gets to act, and so on. Each action resets the combatant's initiative score to zero, then adds a new number dependent on its type (strong/AOE attacks add a lot, quick but weak jabs add a little) to it, effectively acting as a global cooldown for them. The game also keeps track of "turns" for the purpose of Status Effect duration, which occur after a certain total number of initiative points has been subtracted—as a rule of thumb, each combatant can carry out one basic attack per turn.

Will go under Video Game Tropes and Role-Playing Game.
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • January 9, 2014
    DAN004
    Subtrope of Cooldown.
  • January 9, 2014
    Chabal2
    Golden Sun's Djinn system uses this. Djinn can be placed on a character, which improves their stats and abilities and changes their class. They can also be used in battle for various effects (damage, Standard Status Effects, heal...), which causes them to be "set": after they are used, the boosts they provide are cancelled (they can be restored, but this takes up a turn). Set Djinn can then be used to power summons (an extra-powerful attack), after that, the Djinn must recover, and are unusable until they are restored in the order that they were summoned in. They can also be set outside of battle in order to use summons faster.
  • January 9, 2014
    dalek955
    • Septerra Core had this, with a slight twist: the cooldown bars were divided into three segments, more powerful abilities required more segments, and when abilities were used, partially filled segments were lost. A lot of gameplay consisted of figuring out quickly which attack you wanted to use next, and then clicking that character right as a segment filled.
  • January 9, 2014
    Koveras
    @Chabal2: But as far as I understand, the character with a Djinn can still act in the capacity of the class the Djinn conferred to them even after using a summon. Wouldn't that make Djinn, abstractly speaking, just another ability of the character that is placed on a regular ability cooldown after use?

    @dalek955: Thanks, that's exactly what I'm looking for!
  • January 10, 2014
    Chabal2
    It depends on the Djinn. For example, a character of the Squire class gains a revive spell with 4 Venus (earth-elemental) Djinn, but loses it if he has less than four active Venus Djinn, making him wait for the cooldown so he can operate at full power again (and leaving the party without a reviver if things go wrong). Even worse are characters with multiple-elemental Djinn; since having one that's not the character's default class sends him to the lowest rank of the new class (meaning lower stats and only basic spells).
  • January 10, 2014
    Koveras
    But can a Squire make simple attacks/cast other magic than Revive while his Djinn are on a cooldown? The difference between regular Cooldowns and combatant cooldowns, is that in the former, the character who just used an ability cannot use the same ability (and possibly some others) for some time, while in the latter, the character cannot act at all for a certain time after attacking, moving, or using an ability.
  • January 10, 2014
    Chabal2
    Yes, but far less efficiently. Some spells are unavailable, survivability drops, damage is greatly reduced... But my point for beinging up the djinn was that they're an Equippable Ally, and have a cooldown period once they're used.
  • January 10, 2014
    Koveras
    ^ But they cannot act on their own, right?

    This is not the straightest example, but if you squint hard enough, I think it can pass. :-/
  • January 10, 2014
    KarjamP
    • In the RPG Maker series of Game Makers, RPG Maker 2003 had this as the default (and only) type of battle system. Although later games in the series reverted back to turn-based combat for its default battle system, it's still possible to program it using Ruby to use this type of battle system. (In fact, many do. They're often called "Active Time Battle Systems", after the battle system found in the Final Fantasy series.)
  • January 11, 2014
    Koveras
    ^ Yup, that's a good one, thanks. :)
  • January 11, 2014
    DAN004
    Would this count?
    • In Worms games, every units can move around but can only attack once per turn, after which it's the enemy unit's turn.
  • January 12, 2014
    Koveras
    ^ That is classic a Turn Based Combat, and the series basically falls fully under the Turn Based Tactics genre.
  • January 12, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Alrighty.
  • January 12, 2014
    Diask
    Game makers
    • OHRRPGCE has a battle system in which every character has a meter that fills up according to their speed stat and lets them perform an action once it's full. More recent versions also allow for a classic Turn Based Combat.
  • January 12, 2014
    KarjamP
    ^^^ Actually, Worms is an Artillery Game.
  • January 12, 2014
    Koveras
    ^ Didn't know we had a page for this... Well, it's a turn-based Artillery Game, then. :)
  • January 12, 2014
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Strategy RPG
    • Namco X Capcom has a system similar to Final Fantasy Tactics — a unit is able to act once it has earned 10 AP, which accrues at 1 per turn for each unit on the map. The player can estimate the initiative order by looking at the numbers above each unit; whoever shows a "1" is the next to act. Different actions cost different amounts of AP, so a unit that only moves will act again sooner than a unit that moves and attacks. There are other special actions to spend and earn AP; for example, units may spend AP to reduce damage from enemy attacks and time Action Commands during enemy attacks to regain AP.
  • January 13, 2014
    Koveras
    Good one, thanks!
  • January 18, 2014
    Diask
    • In Dubloon, each combatant has a meter that allows them to perform an action when filled up. The game doesn't pause them when one of player characters gets their meter full, which means that it's possible for slower members to act beforehand, or to wait for some bosses to quit their Counter Attack mode.
  • January 19, 2014
    Koveras
    Thank you. :)
  • January 21, 2014
    Koveras
  • January 22, 2014
    Koveras
  • January 23, 2014
    Koveras
  • January 24, 2014
    woddor
    Stop bumping. Also, don't ask for hats in the title.
  • January 24, 2014
    Koveras
    Please point me to the rule that forbids it. :)
  • January 24, 2014
    StarSword
    ^It is generally more accepted to bump by null-editing the draft instead of spamming YKTTW Bump, though.
  • January 25, 2014
    Koveras
    ^ I've been doing just that for a week or so, and nothing happened, so I figured nobody pays any attention to this YKTTW, anyway, so I wouldn't bother anyone with my bumping...
  • February 1, 2014
    Koveras
    You know what, I am tired of zero-editing this every day and receiving zero feedback, so I am gonna launch it with just two hats tomorrow. If you still see any issues with the write-up, now is your last chance to point them out.
  • February 1, 2014
    DAN004
    Sorry that I don't know too much about turn-based games. :(
  • February 1, 2014
    Koveras
    As I've tried to point out multiple times, this is not about turn-based systems but a fundamentally different concept...
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=9wp2kybknd6jea0nnlarywb2&trope=CombatantCooldownSystem