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I noticed this question, which I personally had thought was a reasonable one, has been closed:

Why does the scythe have a cooldown bar? Does it have a hidden ability?

The close reason given is:

Questions about Game Design and Development are off topic. This includes speculative questions about developer intent, with respect to both mechanics and narrative.

I would think anything that happens in a game reflects developer intent, unless it's a bug - as, granted, this might be.

Certainly "game mechanics" is something explicitly listed as being on-topic for this site.

So are there any explicit guidelines that make clear how we are to distinguish between "game mechanics" and "developer intent, with respect to...mechanics"?

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  • Why did They design it that way, anyway? cites a FAQ guideline: "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." The above question is practical and answerable. For example, the answer could be "It's a bug" or "Because all weapons are disabled, and the scythe can be used as a weapon." As I noted above, every question here can be answered with "The developer wanted it that way" unless it's a bug. – Kyralessa Apr 24 at 14:07
  • I would disagree that the question is practical, and I'm curious why you think it is. Blocking with a sword shows a cooldown timer but does not at all affect the function of a scythe, and there is no way to use the scythe to induce a cooldown timer on the sword. – Schism May 5 at 6:58
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    It might be a bug, but definite knowledge about whether something is a bug (for instance, documentation by the developer to that effect, or analysis of the code in a decompiler) is different from speculation. It makes sense to notice odd behavior in a game and want to know whether it's intended or a bug, and it doesn't make sense that such a question would be off topic in a board about games. By this standard any question about the mechanics of a game would suddenly become off-topic if the correct answer was that the specific mechanic in question was a bug. – Kyralessa May 5 at 7:33
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The question was closed incorrectly because of a slightly inaccurate title and because it asks "Why?".

Most likely, the close voters read the question as "Why did the developer decide to give the scythe a cooldown?", when it is actually "Why does using a special ability show a cooldown bar over the scythe, which does not have a special ability? Is there something I'm missing?".

The former is disallowed as developer intent, but the latter is perfectly answerable.


Interestingly, I found a different Stardew Valley question that asks "Why?", Why can I shake all the bushes and trees?, which has received no close votes at all.

Despite using a similar title, this second question additionally asks "Is this just a neat mechanic simply for vanity, or does something happen if you shake the right plant or enough times?", which helps clear the distinction between developer intent and game mechanics. If the question asks "Is this something I should care about as a player?", rather than "Why didn't the developer just do X instead?" then it is on-topic.

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  • I have edited the question to more explicitly call this out, although I know almost nothing about Stardew Valley, so it might be worth having a look over it and see if it makes sense. – Robotnik Apr 24 at 14:42
  • Yes, that's accurate. – Wrigglenite Apr 24 at 14:45
  • This is an answer to the example case mentioned, and not the question the OP asks, by the way (I only just now realized). Since the OP was obviously looking for an answer like yours, opposed to mine (which is addressing the (literal) question asked more specifically), is it okay to edit the question to reflect that? I would think not, but currently this thread is misleading. Alternatively, shouldn't it be closed as a duplicate of any of the questions that ask the same question (even though the implied question might differ)? – Joachim Apr 28 at 9:03
  • As a close voter who mulled this over for a while, I can definitely say I read it as the latter and still think it should be closed. The statement "There is no gameplay reason." does not, to me, answer "Why does it have a cooldown bar?". But that's the good thing about a democratic CV system and meta -- we can disagree and commit. – Schism May 5 at 6:59
  • @Schism I added more of my thoughts to the answer, they might be of interest to you. – Wrigglenite May 8 at 11:39
  • @Wrigglenite Thanks for adding another example that made me think a bit. I still think there's a difference -- for the bushes & trees question, it boils down to "Is there a gameplay reason to perform this in-game action?", but for the scythe question it's "Is there a gameplay reason that this animation occurs?". I think the former is cut-and-dry on-topic, and the latter is more on the fence, but probably leaning toward reasonable. Anyway, I retract my opinion that "There is no gameplay reason" doesn't answer the scythe question. Thanks. – Schism May 8 at 20:05
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There are several threads here on Meta that address this close reason.

Game Design questions are questions that can only be answered with 'because the developers designed it that way'. This means that we don't have knowledge about the reasoning behind these choices. As Wrigglenite mentions in his answer to the question you linked, "there is no gameplay reason why this happens", i.e. there is no (logical) explanation from the perspective of the game itself.

It's why we can't really answer a question that asks why some doors in a game can be opened and others not (it's designed that way, but we usually don't know why), but we can tell where to find secret doors (because they have been found before, they influence gameplay, and they're likely to be found in the same location in all playthroughs)*.

You can read more on this topic in the following threads (with answers defending and opposing this closing reason):

* We could even list all doors in a game that can be opened and those that can't be, but that seems like a silly question.

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  • I followed all these links, and all of the example questions have been deleted, so I can't see them. So, alas, this is not very helpful. I understand that we don't want questions where everybody can give an answer because they're all just opinions. But in cases like the question I linked to, there can be a definitive answer. A question that can (but need not) be answered with an opinion is different from a question that can only be answered with an opinion. A factual, sourced answer is nearly always going to get voted over a speculative opinion. – Kyralessa May 5 at 7:40

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