I suggested the resource mechanic of a large linear heat pool because few classes are using either of those mechanics right now.
I was just spit balling the idea of making broader use of the guard mechanic, because it's not something that the other classes are doing. Guard is guard across all 6 of the tanks, but there is some little used flexibility built into that code because of difference between guard in PvE vs. PvP. And there is a "tethered" shield animation in the game, not being used players right now. I just think it's something that could set the class apart, and introduce some interesting mechanics, without really requiring much programming or artwork.
Having a healing spec that can passively heal a single target slowly with a guard, while single target healing another from melee range, but lacks any sort of AoE heal ~ could be something really different. Such a healer would have to keep an eye on the mana or health consumed by their "guard". They might have to carefully manage when they applied it. Playing a short range single target healer could be extremely challenging.
It's definately a different strokes for different folks kind of thing, we see that from all the discussion about the classes we already have. Some DPS's would love to play with a support class that would let them tank effectively in a dps spec, that's exactly how a lot of bad dps players play. I'm not saying that the dps is actually tanking, the mitigation stats on the droid would be used ~ only damage would be deflected to the droid like the way guard works in PvP. The droid tank could then do something weird like use a short range aoe gap closer/ short range aoe to gain threat on the remaining pull. Nerf the droid tank spec by taking away it's AoE taunt. Don't redirect 100% the damage to the droid, just enough to make the load on the healer semi normal, make droids immune to the majority of the heals in the game, and give the tank spec a self heal that spends stacks generated by using a variety of attacks. Rotations would have to be tight to stay ahead of the incoming damge. Maybe.... I don't know....
Big drawback to a guard mechanic is that you can't allow the droid guard effect to be placed on another droid - or you could get this massive overhead in the game engine, as the damage bounced in a circle. So the class may have to have some hidden debuffs that made it immune to some of it's own abilities. It might be impossible to run some content with a pair of droids tanking & healing for a 4 man group.
As far as understanding how the current roster of abilites in the game work at the engine level - the output of the combat logs describes almost everything that the engine is using right now. Abilities remove or add health/ buffs/ debuffs from a target or all tagets within an area. There are debuffs that redirect health recieved by the target to the caster. There are buffs that reflect damage recieved to the source of the damage, a few that absorb damage, and some that make a target vulnerable to specific forms of attack. Buffs/debuffs include a second timer process, on top of the cd timer process. And a flag that sets whether or not they are stackable & how high. There doesn't seem to be any limitation to what effects these buffs and debuffs can apply, beyond what can be defined. Debuffs from cc & stun apply animation sequences(emotes) to other players. Boosting stats ~ relics/stims apply those buffs. Altering movement speed is done by many abilities & speeders. There are buffs & debuffs that effect mana regen or grant mana. Stuns are just debuffs that lock all abilities except the stun breaker. Procs - are just buffs that unlock an ability & the ability consumes the buff if activated. Many of the class passive abilites & spec choices are basically just buffs that never expire, and don't display icons. It's just massive volumes of very simple addition and substraction at high speed. I can't think of any attributes about toons - other than the model options picked at creation, the equipment proficiencies, & the tech tree associated with the toon, that isn't effected by a buff or debuff (with or without an icon displayed by the UI) at some point in the game.
You can break down the ability animations by the toon/ at the weapon/ icon/ AoE/ Projectiles/ and applied at target. You can see that from the way abilities have changed since launch, and how various bits and pieces of animations are recycled throughout the game. The changes to Project did away with the projectile phase of the animation completely. Some of the animations can be applied with a scale attribute that changes how much area the animation covers, or the size of the effect. Bosses use the same animations as players, even though they are generally scaled up from smaller models, so the animation effects have scale attributes. Some of the effects used "at target" can be seen applied on vertical or horizontal surfaces ~ so those effects have position & facing attributes. The runtime of any of the animations can be altered. The animations are stackable & able to be looped. Part of the animation for the trooper knockback is used by the animation for Force in balance & the Knight AoE snare. Several of the "at toon" & "at target" animations are pieces of other emotes sped up or slightly altered, or just emotes themselves.
Just an example:
Interrupt - 20 m range, 40 sec cd, no mana cost, instant cast, instant effect, interrupts current action & prevents it from being used for 8 seconds (it's just an 8 second debuff on the target with no icon ~ every cast or channeled ability in the game has a unique debuff just to make this work)
toon animation - tranquilizer dart (also used by vanguards as a taunt, scoundrels as a cc & a heal, healing comps for carbonizing spray, Pyrotechs for something, maybe HK -51 as an attack, and possibly a dozen other places.)
at the weapon - none (because it's actually an emote, and it fires from the left hand)
icon animation - none
projectile animation - none
at target - sparkle powder animation applied at size X on the center of the target hit box. (not currently used by any ability as far as I know - there may also be a "centered below hit box" location - or the effects could be applied at global coordinates from the center of the target hit box)
~that would interrupt my concentration pretty effectively~
"heat beam" is an ability being used by mobs that I'm not sure any player ability uses the projectile animations for, unless it's acutally just a few frames of "high impact bolt" looping over and over. Depending on the mob there isn't a toon animation, or it's the "hail of bolts" animation. The "at target" animation is used as part of the weld emote & in the Hyrotii scrapper speeder. But the collected animations of "heat beam" is instantly recognizable as something unique. It looks like something different eventhough it's really the same ability as "TK Throw" & "Full Auto" - you could just call it "ranged channeled damage" - but then the combat logger wouldn't make any sense & the game would be boring.