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What's an ideal skill rotation? Where's that sweet, balanced spot in terms of complexity?

Suddenly wondered what would a typical skill rotation in Ashes be like, and also,
What makes a skill rotation / combination FUN to play?

I've been through several mmorpgs myself and have experienced dozens of classes with various skill combo mechanics, ranging from:
- mindless button smashing or autoattacks (Ragnarok Online) or single spell spamming (mages in vanilla wow),
- to keep-all-dots-up frenzy (affliction warlocks, who need to manage an ever increasing number of dots & debuffs as more expansions were released),
- to whack-a-mole minigames (smash the next spell that has proc-ed, or the next that came off cooldown),
- to crazy-kit-switching (Pre-holosmith engineer in GW2, when "max dps" meant constantly switching between your main weapon & bomb/grenade/elixir-gun kits and use certain skills as soon as they're off cooldown),
- to sequenced-dancing (I remember in FF14, some classes' (monk? dragoon?) skills need to be used in sequence, and your position relative to the mob affects your damage -- some had a flanking bonus, some had a backstab bonus, as a result you had to dance around the mob as you execute your skill sequences).

The one which I enjoyed the most was:
- Black mages in FF14. Basically you rotate between frost & fire spells to balance dps and mana consumption. You could temporarily bias your rotation towards either side for burst dps or max mana regen.

The ones I felt the most comfortable playing were:
- WotLK-era arcane & fire mages. You had 1~2 procs to watch for, 1~2 buffs or debuffs to maintain, and a total of 3~4 spells commonly used in your rotations.

The ones I played and hated:
- Later versions of affliction warlocks. Simply too many dots & debuffs & cooldowns to manage.
- Bomb/grenade/elixir engineer (GW2). Simply too busy. And the worst part being having to manage multiple invisible cooldowns (skills not on your currently activated kit).



What are you guys' thoughts & experience with skill rotations in previous games? Which classes did you enjoy or hate?
And again, in your opinion what are the essences of a FUN skill rotation / combination / mechanics?

Comments

  • Song_WardenSong_Warden Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I believe skill rotations are undesirable. After playing BDO - I used one skill rotation for Shai, two skill rotation for Witch and 4 skill rotation for Guardian, I came to the conclusion that skill rotations are bad game design.
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  • VmanGmanVmanGman Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Neurath wrote: »
    I believe skill rotations are undesirable. After playing BDO - I used one skill rotation for Shai, two skill rotation for Witch and 4 skill rotation for Guardian, I came to the conclusion that skill rotations are bad game design.

    I'd be very curious to hear how you think you could design a game to not have skill rotations in PvE.
  • Song_WardenSong_Warden Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited February 2021
    You'd need to have cooldowns on the skills and not allow the cooldowns to be soft cooldowns without 'Skill Attributes.'

    You'd need to make all skills viable in various circumstances rather than the limitations of a skill rotation never changing despite the change of mobs.

    You'd need to enable resource pool replenishment (Such as long shot basic attacks).

    You'd need to create obstacles to damage types. I.e. mobs enrage from fire, mobs enrage from ice, mobs enrage from lightning, mobs enrage from physical damage etc.

    You'd need to create a system where one class deals with Buffs/Debuffs (Bard). Rather than all classes have a buff and a debuff which is just spammed.

    You'd need to make buffs/debuffs situational and not perfect for all occasions.

    You must create active boss mechanics which mean a person can't stand in one place to perform a rotation like a lemon.

    You'd need to prevent DPS Meters so people can pay attention to the mechanics and not the stat scores.

    Edit: Spelling mistakes.
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  • @vmangman Every ability gives you one of 9 different buffs at random. Depending on which buff you get, you'll want to use the one of the other 9 abilities as they get massively stronger thanks to said buff, while the others don't profit from it at all.

    Essentially, each time you press an ability, the game decides which ability would be best to press next at random.

    You won't ever have a static rotation with that. With that being said, the above mentioned design would be absolutely horrendous and is not desired at all. It's not a rotation though.
  • On a more serious note, you'll never get rid of a roation completely. However, you can indeed diminish the impact of rotations with:
    • lots of conditionals
    • variable strengths and weaknesses of each ability depending on the enemy type
    • variable strengths and weaknesses of each ability depending on your previously used abilities
    • instant procs
    • enemy mechanics
    • interactions / synergies with abilities of other group members
    • meaningfully balanced cooldowns and resource costs
    • as well as varriable and situational buffs.

    At some point, it becomes less like a rotation and more like an extensive decision tree, that can differ depending on your party setup and the enemy you are facing.
  • Regardless of the direction they take, I think it will be important for there to be flexibility and choice. I know some people who really like a very complex skill rotation involving reactive gameplay whereas I know that others actually much prefer using a few skills based on the situation so they can focus on the fight mechanics and enjoying the graphics of the world, rather than being focused on watching actionbars for the whole game. I prefer the latter myself. Having three or four skills that I can switch between in standard situations and a few more that I use situationally would be ideal. Very interested to see where they take this.
  • Song_WardenSong_Warden Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I think that's why I enjoy healing so much. You get to disrupt normal rotations and throw an offbeat heal. Hopefully, Bard will also get to disrupt normal rotations and throw offbeat buffs. :)
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  • maouwmaouw Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    My favourite rotations are the ones where the main cycle is building up toward something, and then coming off the climax of the cycle triggers secondary effects that synergize with other skills/abilities.

    I also like cycles that are a bit of a balancing act, and the flow of battle shakes things up and you have to use your other abilities to try to keep the cycle balanced.
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  • NoaaniNoaani Member, Intrepid Pack
    edited February 2021
    vmangman wrote: »
    Neurath wrote: »
    I believe skill rotations are undesirable. After playing BDO - I used one skill rotation for Shai, two skill rotation for Witch and 4 skill rotation for Guardian, I came to the conclusion that skill rotations are bad game design.

    I'd be very curious to hear how you think you could design a game to not have skill rotations in PvE.

    EQ2 doesn't have rotations.

    A good chunk of Ashes senior developers worked on EQ2.

    Rotations are the lazy developers path for class design, and only players that have either never played a game without rotations or that want the game to be mindlessly boring to play would want rotations to exist.
  • Cold 0ne FTBCold 0ne FTB Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Noaani wrote: »
    vmangman wrote: »
    Neurath wrote: »
    I believe skill rotations are undesirable. After playing BDO - I used one skill rotation for Shai, two skill rotation for Witch and 4 skill rotation for Guardian, I came to the conclusion that skill rotations are bad game design.

    I'd be very curious to hear how you think you could design a game to not have skill rotations in PvE.

    EQ2 doesn't have rotations.

    A good chunk of Ashes senior developers worked on EQ2.

    Rotations are the lazy developers path for class design, and only players that have either never played a game without rotations or that want the game to be mindlessly boring to play would want rotations to exist.

    Rotations aren't necessarily mindless. The trick is including random procs or add in factors that create decision points at certain key points. Like having abilities that do extra damage in conjugation with each other or having . But I do agree static rotations do get boring and are somewhat lazy.
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  • NoaaniNoaani Member, Intrepid Pack
    Noaani wrote: »
    vmangman wrote: »
    Neurath wrote: »
    I believe skill rotations are undesirable. After playing BDO - I used one skill rotation for Shai, two skill rotation for Witch and 4 skill rotation for Guardian, I came to the conclusion that skill rotations are bad game design.

    I'd be very curious to hear how you think you could design a game to not have skill rotations in PvE.

    EQ2 doesn't have rotations.

    A good chunk of Ashes senior developers worked on EQ2.

    Rotations are the lazy developers path for class design, and only players that have either never played a game without rotations or that want the game to be mindlessly boring to play would want rotations to exist.

    Rotations aren't necessarily mindless. The trick is including random procs or add in factors that create decision points at certain key points. Like having abilities that do extra damage in conjugation with each other or having . But I do agree static rotations do get boring and are somewhat lazy.
    Having abilities that deal damage in conjunction with each other still allows for rotations, as you are in the same situation every fight.

    Even if you were in a slightly different position, you would still find yourself in a position where you only need to make one change in your standard rotation. I don't consider that to be enough thinking to not constitute being mindless.

    To me, the best way top make combat interesting is to have every ability have a cooldown (no spam attacks), and have some abilities, buffs and effects that can occasionally alter the state of spell cast times, cooldowns and damage value.

    As long as these altering effects are not constant and not 100% predictable, you can't set up any kind of viable rotation if you want to perform well. When you have all of these effects working in conjunction - and even some of these effects affecting other of these effects, you have to think about every cast if you want to be at the top.

    The best part of this is that if a poor player plays a class like this, they may find themselves at times with literally every ability they have on cooldown - a good class should - imo - have that as a possibility if you are not paying attention.

    All that said, while I fully believe Ashes should have builds that are as above, I also believe they should have builds that are able to be played via basic, mindless rotation play. There should absolutely be a measurable difference in the outcome, but both should exist imo.
  • spladianspladian Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Rotations are one way to do it, but reactive combat will always be more interesting. I think the perfect Monk opener, last time I checked, in FFXIV was 65 skills. Personally, that's not my cup of tea. I think Lost Ark did really well for having a selection of skills and being able to choose a set number of them to use at any given time.
  • I'll admit I haven't played EQ2. I've done RO, WoW, GW2, FF14, and Eve Online. For me RO was pure button smash, wow gw2 ff14 were rotation based, and Eve's in its own category. So I've always been under an impression that during long fights, it's inevitable that you'll end up using several main skills repeatedly, with various limitations & conditions (cooldowns, resource consumption / regen, procs, buff/debuff, combo points etc.) and you usually end up with a rotation of some form.

    Can you guys describe how did boss fights / long PvE fights work in EQ2?

    btw I'm not a fan of static rotations either. e.g. If 3 skills need to be used in a static sequence (usually happens with "monk"ish classes), I'd rather see them chained together as an autoattack (e.g. skill 1 for all weapons in GW2)
  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    For AOC or in general?

    For AOC, none because that is what the DEVs said they want. The said they want to promote gameplay that uses the right skill for the right time. Also it allows for more customization with classes. If rotations are a thing than you have to build your character to the rotation, and that is very limiting.

    In General?

    Any rotation that doesn't rely on procs. I don't like feeling like I am playing a slot machine waiting for the DPS stars to align.
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  • NoaaniNoaani Member, Intrepid Pack

    Can you guys describe how did boss fights / long PvE fights work in EQ2?

    This is a *very* basic outline I typed up a few weeks ago of a few aspects of the fight from the perspective of one class, Wizard. It sould at least give you an idea of what I am talking about.
    Noaani wrote: »
    Something I think ashes should consider is implementing a system of dynamic rotations. Dynamic rotations are rotations that change and are different everytime. A really good example is a magsorc from eso. Magsorcs have an ability that has a 20% chance of getting enhanced everytime you cast another ability. This enhanced version is significantly better than the non enhanced and essentially you want to cast this ability enhanced as much as you can and ideally never cast unenhanced.
    This is the basics of how a spell priority system breaks away from being a spell rotation system, except a good system will have up to a half dozen such things going on, rather than just one.

    An example of this is the oft referenced (by me, at least) EQ2.

    As a wizard, I had a few major spells, a few abilities to maximize damage from spells, and a few short duration buffs from other classes to even further maximize spells.

    Of my two major spells, one had a standard 45 second cooldown (able to be reduced to 22.5 seconds) and the other had a 180 second recast timer (able to be reduced to 90). The short cooldown ability was single target, the longer one was an AoE of sorts that fired in a cone shape, but only had a 5 meter range from the caster, and could only hit 3 targets max - but it did a lot of damage to all targets.

    To play the class well, you had to try to always use the abilities to enhance spells with these two specific spells, but you also needed to try and have both (ideally) ready to cast when you were about to get that short duration buff from a raid member. But, in order to not be shit, you still had to use these abilities all the time - it wasn't worth holding off on casting one of these abilities for more than 10 -12 seconds.

    On top of that, there were various buffs and item procs that would make spells have halve the cooldown.

    Between these two factors and the dozen or so other abilities the class had, it meant you were never able to plan more than 2 or 3 spells ahead, and you had to make decisions about spell priorities and character positioning essentially on the fly.

    Basically, a good spell priority system is ESO's Magsorc on steroids.

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