With no game profile to post this on, and a desire to gather commentary, why not post this here? [comments]

Thoughts by section:

Gameplay Goals

Prediction on skill) I've always thought that Suikoden handled it best with scaling experience. If each level is out of some set number, like 1000, then it's easier to get a feel for how much experience is scaling and how much you're actually getting per level. "I'm gaining 95 experience and need 1000" is much simpler than "I'm gaining 3212 and need 34000," even if they're both eleven battles.

I dislike level systems. Primarily, they serve as a kind of psychological reward, providing a smaller progression marker than the larger scale of bosses and dungeons. On the other hand, you generally only notice your level when it's insufficient. While keeping a player motivated and engaged is important, this compromises your ability to offer the player a fair challenge. You make assumptions as to what resources the player has based upon their assumed level and what items you expect them to have picked up. If they're too high-level, they have more than you expect; if they're too low-level, then they have less. Levels allow you to be wrong. If you eliminate levels from consideration and tie player strength strictly to story progression, then you have a much better idea of what they'll have available at any given point.

Levels do allow players to grind past parts that aren't well-adjusted to player strength, but if that's the case, why not allow players a certain ability to 'dial up' their expected strength themselves? It accomplishes the same thing with less irritation. Ditto if a player wants to avoid being overleveled; there's no need to run from encounters if there's no permanent effect on your options. This also provides players the choice to "dial down" if they want, providing a natural difficulty setting. Dial-Up is easy, Dial-Down is Hard.

(I realize I'm in entirely the wrong genre if I'm complaining about something as fundamental as levels! I find it irritating regardless.)

Convenience of names) I'm not that familiar with the icon options in the ability menus (it's been ages since I've used an RPGMaker for anything other than playing), but it strikes me that if naming simplicity is your goal, it'd be easy to use standardized names and icons as a kind of keyword system. This icon means "fire elemental magic," this name means "second level of intensity." The result is Fire 2. Change the icon to "ice elemental magic" and you have Ice 2. Or reverse which part means effect and which means intensity; the idea is the same. Or make it so "fire elemental" and "magic attack" are separate parts of the icon, which sets you change the "magic attack" part to "magic shield" and get NulBlaze.

Less immediately intuitive, more ultimately intuitive. Or so the theory goes, anyway. You'd have to experiment with it.

Predictable schedule) This is why even games with "save everywhere" features should have save points or some close equivalent. Regardless of shape or what other options come attached to it, I've yet to find a clearer means of communicating that "something starts or ends here" than a save point.

Battle set-up) Movement is fine so long as it doesn't obscure information.

Intelligent foes) As a random observation: It's problematic when enemies start to focus fire. There are essentially two settings for focus fire: 1) too powerful (kills / irresolvably outstrips healing) and 2) insufficient (cannot kill / outstripped by healing). This is why "focus your fire and take them down one-by-one" is very, very rarely deviated from as a strategy. Meanwhile, forcing some degree of dispersal of enemy aim creates more of a "putting out fires" triage mentality, more prone to sudden unplanned events or exploitation of ill-preparedness.

Also, if "Run" works 100% of the time, I will like your game more. I hate unreliable Run commands. Sometimes I just don't want the fight right at that moment!

Narrative goals:
Organic characterization) Good.

Serve small and frequent helpings) If you're incorporating a logbook with scene replay, you could just have all scenes go to the logbook with a "new scene, view now?" notification. Mark some as more important, mark some as less, and have a "current objective" area in the menu for those that don't care about the story or want to read it later.

Characters over events) I'd say this is the wrong way of putting it. Rather, I'd say "events should be made to serve and drive characterization." It should be equally true the other way, though. The divide between the two should be a thin one.

Multiple arcs) Good. There should always be a single greater plot arc. If it's resolved, the story is over.

Integration with the experience) Good.

One thing I'd recommend for Narrative Goals: "Have a central theme." The story needs to be fundamentally about something, and that theme should play into it at multiple levels. It should be explored at a variety of depths, from shallow to deep, and through a variety of characters. In a sense, it's the thematic equivalent of the greater plot arc.

Aesthetic goals section is all good.

Random thoughts. Good luck with your project.
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