Yeah, well, today, I wanted to expand upon it, which in the process amended some of what I had said, changing it. My perfect RPG would actually feature a few extra things I didn't have before.
First off, New Game+ is a must. Having it in Chrono Trigger was the highlight of my gaming childhood. Did you know that I spent literally three hours doing nothing but staring at the screen after first beating Final Fantasy VII waiting...and waiting...and waiting...and WAITING for some sort of save to crop up? Because I was expecting that save to be where I'd launch a New Game + from.
Imagine my dismay to learn when it didn't. Admittedly, for that matter, SaGa2/Final Fantasy Legend II and SaGa3/Final Fantasy Legend III also didn't really have NG+, butstill. I consider the ability to relive the past, only with all the non-plot things from the future, to be a critical part of replayability and frankly one of the main draws because it allows you to explore other options.
When you have NG+, you can replay the game many times and explore different character paths for the same point in the storyline. (For instance, if you have nine characters and yet three to a party, then you'd have...uhh.
...Well my math is very very very bad. But apparently eight characters with unique combos would be 40320? That seems a bit high, but sure let's go with that, and imagine it's nine instead of eight.)
When you don't...well. You just. You have to start over in order to see those same things from different character combos. Yeah, you can speedrun to get to those points, just instead of skipping the dialog, paying extra close attention to it in order to take it in (this being the whole point of the replay--alternative options/combos), but it's just not the same. It's tedious. It's extra work, extra :effort:. It's less fun, because you have to do a certain amount of grinding each time. Whereas with NG+, you can just have the freedom to play around and have fun exploring, not to mention massacring enemies which once gave you trouble.
So while I didn't mention it initially, the game MUST have a New Game+ feature, especially given the other things I'm adding/changing.
First thing: enemies can be in groups of ten, in spite of for the majority of the game (barring some special fights) the party limit being five. There is good reason for that! But more on that in a moment.
I did some worldbuilding for my perfect RPG. Specifically, I did in fact decide on adding elements to the game...but making them a central theme, a central core mechanic, not just in battle, but in the very mythos of the world. In particular? There are eight realms, each with an element:
And the initial realm the game's set in, The Rockrealm.
Each realm is a well and true, proper world: six to eight full continents to explore, with multiple locations to visit per continent and natural obstacles along with requiring various methods of transportation to get from place to place.
The realms are implied to be the same planet, just having formed in different ways. They also are explicitly able to influence one another and in fact traveling between realms is a commonality (something even necessary to access certain areas of certain realms thanks to transportation being unable to reach them thus requiring a dimensional gate).
Each realm has a bit of a lore about it.
The Ashrealm is more volcanic thanks to increased heat from the sun, and is implied that it was pulled closer to the star by the Icerealm being pushed away.
The Icerealm is more glacial thanks to decreased heat from the sun, and is implied that it was pushed further away from the star by the Ashrealm being pulled closer.
The Darkrealm exists in a system where there is no sun; the planet orbits a gas giant. Geothermal vents provide both enough heat to sustain life and enough light to prevent the world from being totally dark. It is implied that the formation of the Brightrealm's second star pulled the necessary material away from what would have been the sun for the Darkrealm.
The Brightrealm exists in a system where there is a second sun orbiting the first sun, bathing the planet in nigh-neverending light. Think akin to if Jupiter had formed as a star rather than a gas giant. It is implied that the second star formed by taking material from the Darkrealm's would-be-star.
The Floodrealm is filled with water. Water mostly stays on the ground and land is reasonably scarce.
The Stormrealm is filled with clouds that are hyperactive with lightning storms; water mostly stays in the air and land is largely parched. It is implied this is tied to the Floodrealm. (Didn't quite get as scientific with these two as the others.)
The Gasrealm exists in a system where the planet itself is gaseous, with no solid ground. Clouds provide what can be thought of as 'solid ground', able to support life. It is implied the lack of solidity is because the Rockrealm borrowed from it.
The Rockrealm exists in a system which is the closest to being our Earth: decent water (but slightly less than what we have), occasional floods/tsunamis/etc. (not as many as we suffer), some ice caps (not as much as we have), a few volcanos active and extinct (not as many as we have), plenty of storms but not nearly as many as we have, but notably, it has a couple of key characteristics. It has a lot more land, which shifts into great mountains; earthquakes are far more common than on earth. Furthermore, the air is far thinner. It is implied this is because the Rockrealm stole solids from the Gasrealm while the Gasrealm stole gasses from the Rockrealm.
The game starts in the most earthlike of them, of course, the Rockrealm.
I developed the idea of three time zones as well: past, present, and future. This would, in effect, give 24 full worlds to explore, filled with entire continents' worth of content.
The game would feature 24 characters, not the originally stated number. APPROXIMATELY one character from each zone. These characters might be native to those zones, mind you, but for the sake of having a complete party of ten relatively early into the story, they would of course be, so to speak, out of place.
Four of those characters would be guest party members, leaving in four different methods. (Three of which are spoilers. All but one you get your gear back.) However, as to not give away which four aren't around in the final stages of the game, they would be indistinguishable from others having everything they do.
What this means is that each has fleshed out, unique dialog to having them in certain areas. I'd prefer these to not be throwaway things. For instance, outside of Wutai Yuffie's not really that interesting to have as a party member in FFVII; outside of Hojo interactions, Vincent's not really that interesting to have as a party member in FFVII. I've hated that always, where characters had zones where they were focal points meant to be in the story and yet in other areas their contributions were just throwaway lines that had basically nil interaction with the other characters.
So my Perfect RPG, as much pain as it'd be, would have enough for 24 character combos.
Each character would have multiple zones where they'd be mandatory to have in the party. Some zones would even have more than one non-protagonist be mandatory.
So all having unique, interesting party dialog everywhere.
All have Leitmotifs. 24 music tunes isn't too much to handle.
All would have specific areas where having certain members in the party would unlock specific sidequests at specific times.
There would be a unique mechanic in play, however--
One character would be the team's Mission Control, existing in a hub transcending spacetime, but not directly playable.
For each realm unlocked, one character must be present at all times as an "anchor" to that realm. In other words, one person must stay behind in each realm in order to continue visiting that realm. As each realm is under constant threat, this is a further eight members when all realms are unlocked that must be on "bench" duty full-time.
One character would be the team's Manager, existing essentially to protect their investments in every realm.
There would be specific sidequests unlocking by having specific characters fill specific roles (Mission Control, Anchor, Manager) in specific locations at specific times.
You might note this leaves 10 out of the picture, and 10 in the picture. The 10 out of the picture would be on the bench, in spite of what I said earlier. They'd still gain, just not as much. The 10 in the picture would be as mentioned the primary + secondary/backup parties.
In my perfect RPG.
Eventually, there would be a "Point Of No Return".
Entering the ninth realm, the Nilrealm, where the final antagonists of the game reside.
Once inside, you can access all 20 party members.
This is not a one-off thing. Not one battle. Not one zone.
The Nilrealm is a well and true, proper, REALM. It has eight continents. It is explicitly a full world, more densely packed with content than any other realm before it, in spite of not having a past or present (more on that when I describe the Nilrealm). In total, it would make up 25-33% of the full game's content. Which is far, far, far, FAR more than can be said of most zones offering similar levels of mechanics.
In the Nilrealm, the 20 permanent characters you have will be organized in one of three ways:
1 group, divided into a primary battle group of ten (and thus, allowing you to use ALL TEN SLOTS at long last) with a backup party...
2 groups, divided into either ten each with no backup or five each with each having one backup (and thus, allowing you to choose to have all ten slots or to favor the mechanic you've used the whole game)...
...And 4 groups, divided into five each.
The Nilrealm would be large enough that there would be SIGNIFICANT number of gameplay areas for ALL THREE TYPES to be featured.
Some further pieces of lore: the characters are a specific type of individual--"Walkers". People capable of walking not only between realms, but also between times, visiting various areas and basically reshaping the eight worlds. Changes in the past effect both present and future; changes in the present effect the future; changes in one realm can affect another and yes these do in fact stack such that changes in the past of one realm can change the future of a different realm for instance.
The Nilrealm is considered the antithesis of the eight realms--whereas the eight realms represent everything, the Nilrealm represents nothing. All of space and time is implied to have drawn its existence from the Nilrealm, leaving the Nilrealm without it; in return, the Nilrealm more or less 'stole' "nothingness" from the eight realms in order to form.
The game I consider the perfect RPG would feature a Perfect Ending, achieved from a few reasonably easy goals to meet throughout the game, but also feature MANY other endings, none of them necessarily bad so much as just different.
In particular, there's one moment I love.
There's four different endings based around one incident.
I mentioned three characters leaving being a spoiler--the fourth I can share. Still technically a spoiler but since I haven't developed characters it wouldn't tell you which one does.
Basically, a character talks to the protagonist in solo and says, "I quit". As in, "I'm leaving. Permanently." And they mean it. The game makes it abundantly clear that they are going to be gone for good--their stuff is returned to you and game dialog indicates the options are:
"Let him go" (okay slight spoiler I did imagine it'd be a guy) OR:
You can choose resist without ruining the perfect ending, and it initiates solo combat between your protagonist character and the (now unarmed) leaving character. When the leaving character is near death, they will state, "I think I've made my point clear. I'm leaving. You can't stop me. So either let me go, or kill me. Because those are your options."
The default option, by the way. EVERY step of the way. At every stage. Is to just let him go. If you select "Continue fighting", then the game will give you no less than 3-5 warning screens, including one stating, "If you select this option, you are forfeiting any chance at earning the Perfect Ending". Again, every step of the way, the default choice is to go back/let him go.
The game is making it abundantly clear that if you select the "continue fighting" option, you're doing it explicitly knowing exactly what entails.
The non-perfect ending, and second ending available, is to continue fighting, kill him, and then in a case of gameplay/story integration, use a revive on his corpse to bring him back to life.
He will reiterate. "Okay. So you've made your point. But I've made mine and I stand by it. Let me go, or let me die. There is no alternative."
Again, the options will default to letting him go.
But if you choose to resist once again, "So be it." And he initiates combat again. When near death, he again will stop fighting. "I've had enough!" You can choose to let him go or to continue fighting, which will go until you kill him.
You can revive his corpse a second time.
If you choose to fight him, then you will be given one last chance to let him leave--if you kill him a third time, you're locked into the third ending, which is to just leave him dead. Because after every time you revive him, he'll no longer attempt to run; he'll go straight into combat and will not offer peace to run away.
Somewhere in there, he goes "Fine!".
And not long after, "You bastard!!!"
If you revive him five times, when entering combat, he will begin to have a mental breakdown. "You're just sick. You're demented. You're a monster!"
Six, "You're worse than every villain we've ever fought, and yet you have the depravity to call yourself a hero!"
After seven revives, he will shout, "JUST LET ME DIE ALREADY!".
After ten revives, you unlock the action which enables the fourth variant ending: he will deliberately commit suicide in a way so thorough as to leave you unable to revive his corpse anymore, killing him off for good.
Eeeevery step of the way.
You are told.
"No seriously. Don't do this."
But if you do, you unlock a variant ending which relatively speaking compared to other endings you can unlock is fairly depressing, with an ending note of "next time don't be a dick" noting exactly where things could have gone better and why you are a terrible human being for having chosen the route you did.
My perfect RPG would have plenty of small little choices like that, but that'd actually be the most major of them that I'd think of in all likelihood.
You would not believe how badly--after all the worldbuilding I did today for the setting wherein I essentially developed the first fundamental workings of characters and intimately laid out intricate details of the setting itself--I want the game to be reality now, in spite of me knowing all too well that, alas, it never will be.