What to do with leftover RPG stuff...
So right now, I'm happily working on a 3D twin stick shooter called Hot Shots. Before that, I was looking into an RPGMaker MV with 3D prerendered graphics. I stopped because RPGM just wasn't equipped to handle the level of animation quality that I wanted. Since my time with Godot has been going really well, I've been thinking about using some of my assets and writing for an RPG in Godot. But with Godot, I'm faced with a plethora of possibilities and I want to talk it through with someone.
Here's a sample of some of the sprites I finished:
There was also a lot of writing and animating that got done.
So to begin with, if I used these guys in a new game, I don't know that I would necessarily want that game to be all that RPG-like. Most of my writing could be fairly generic fantasy world stuff.
Trying to recreate an RPGM style JRPG would probably be the hardest option. I'd need a lot of completely different game engines to deal with combat, exploration, dialogs, etc. Although one of the things I like about Godot is that it's got the most intuitive GUI toolsets around, so if I make it very computer-mouse-based and not try to emulate a console game, that won't be as bad as it could be. There's also the Rakugo framework under development, which is meant for VNs, but could probably help with an RPG. For a combat engine, I'd like to do something more interesting than the traditional turn based system. ATB I think is out of fashion, but I always liked the CTB combat system that GUST's games used, especially Atelier Iris 2.
I've seen RPG-in-a-box, it doesn't strike me as what I want.
On the other side of the board, the game I'm working on now, Hot Shots is a twin stick shooter and it's going great, so what about making an RPG-like or just fantasy TSS? I love TSS games, and one of the things I love about them is their versatility. I've played plenty of RPG-like and Rogue-like TSSs and they work very well. And it doesn't even necessarily have to be all that RPG-like, just story-driven, which would be a minor novelty in the TSS market.
One of the challenges of converting to a TSS is that RPGs are about groups of characters, while TSS you really have to control one at a time. I see a couple ways to handle it though. (I should say that I imagine playing as different characters has an impact on gameplay, so it should be more than a cosmetic change)
The most obvious way would be to make your team mates as AI-controlled allies, but that's not exactly a simple thing. Even in AAA games, AI allies can be very unpredictable and bad at their jobs, which can lead to players having a bad relationship with the AI characters. If you want to describe a character's personality and interactions through a carefully written story, then having an AI controlled character can give them a completely different personality and interaction based on what the AI is doing in combat. For example, a character is supposed to be the cautious strategist in writing, but their combat AI is always jumping headfirst into danger and getting killed. I believe that a good developer should be able to craft AIs that can reflect their written personalities, but I don't know if that's something worth tackling on my own.
In a very story-driven TSS, I could tweak the story to focus on the main characters working together but alone, for example, a town is under attack by a necromancer, one character or group stays with the villagers to fighting off the horde of undead, while the other character/group goes straight to defeat the necromancer. You'd play one character's story, and then the other's.
Another thought is that extra characters could represent extra lives stack. So you'd select an order to play characters in, A, then B, then C, if A gets defeated, you switch to B, when B gets defeated you switch to C, if C gets defeated it's Game Over. There could be normal RPG stuff like potions and phoenix downs, and maybe there's a mechanic that you can switch characters before they get completely killed.
A more hands-off approach is that there's only one playable character, but other characters appear as attacks or skills. For example, you mostly play as the big hero with a sword, but if the wizard is on your team, you can press a button and the wizard appears for a moment to blast enemies with fireballs.
For a goofy gimmick approach, you could have all your characters standing in formation and wandering around all at once. I could see this working kinda like those scrolling shooter games where you get "bits" or "options" or whatever you want to call them all following you around. I could see you having the option to set up different formations as well, like a line formation where everyone is shooting forward, a wedge formation that does a fan shot or a circle formation that fires in all directions. I could also see characters having different abilities they could set up in a menu before combat, like the wizard could either have a fireball spell or a shield spell, that orc pirate could be set to either use her axe for short range slashes or her gun for long range. I think a lot of gamers prefer and expect indie games to have some kind of goofy gimmick like that, so it might be a good marketing angle. I've always wondered about making a pike-and-shot era historical or fantasy game using a formation system like that, but I don't think these characters specifically would be appropriate.
I also like the idea of a pause-heavy game for an RPG-themed TSS, like how RimWorld, FTL or Heat Signature work. This is could profoundly impact how many of these system work, like you could pause to give your AI allies commands, pause to switch out characters in your stack and use a healing potion, pause to change your formation in combat, etc.