It looks like RPG Maker costs money; my first thought is to be wary of these kinds of game design programs. They do have a free trial, though; how possible would it be t make the game entirely within that? If not, something like Unity might be a better option.
Anyway, my own ideas:
– Shinki customization: at the very least, split each model into several different armor packs (likely head, body, arms, legs, back) and multiple weapon sets and allow Shinkis to equip them. This could be done with layered sprites (see below). Also, with the right code, we could add customizable color palettes.
– Ascetically, I think a SRW style would work best; even Pokémon adopted that style for a generation before going full 3D. It would result in chibi Shinkis, but I'm fine with that. It would also require a bit more sprite work, though at the benefit of modularity.
– As for battles, I'd like to see something a tad more complex than Pokémon or Battle Rondo; how hard would it be to make a real-time (or semi-real-time; think ATB) combat system?
– Lastly, I think Shinki should be characters in their own right, and their personalities should come out both in interactions and in combat.
My skills are more focused towards programming, but I'm willing to offer any help I can.
EDIT: CBox Ideas
- Range: The battlefield would be divided into linear sections, similar to the bending arenas in Legend of Korra or one column of a chessboard. Each turn, a Shinki can move up to a certain distance, determined by their speed and what else they do:
- Full movement: No attacks. Shinki moves up to its speed (likely around three-five spaces).
- Melee attack: Shinki moves up to half its speed, rounded up (so two spaces normally) and makes a melee attack either before or after.
- Ranged attack: Shinki moves slowly (one space only) and makes a ranged attack.
- (Maybe) Boost/Dash: Shinki moves up to double speed, but takes some form of penalty, either in stats or in available actions next turn (for example, might be forced to move at half its speed next turn, stopping it from using certain attack options).
- Going along with that are two weapon attributes: range and bulk. Melee weapons would likely have a range of one, with polearms and longer swords (think halberds or zweihander-sized swords) having two range. Guns and such would likely have significantly longer ranges. Most projectiles would be instant, but a select few (missiles, mostly) could have a maximum speed per turn, so at very long ranges they'd take multiple turns to hit. Additionally, weapons would have bulk; light weapons would add one space to the Shinki's speed when attacked with (so a Shinki with a light gun coudl move two spaces and fire), while heavy weapons would prohibit movement entirely when used (think Arnval's big cannon or Eukrante's Tempest).
- Another option for the above idea: terrain. The battlefield would be a circle, and each space could have some terrain in it. It might be as simple as cover (increased miss chance when firing at a Shinki in it) or it might be as complex as a wall with a certain number of hitpoints or even distinct mounted weapon systems (as seen in the anime).
- Unrelated to the above: weapon groups. While a Shinki can't fire all of its guns at once (at least, most can't), there's no reason a Shinki can't fire two pistols, or a rifle and a back-mounted cannon, in the same turn. If the above idea was used, this would likely restrict Shinki movement more (two light weapons equal a normal one, two normal weapons equal a heavy). This would likely be similar to MechWarrior in implementation.
- Weapon sets: many Shinki carry more weapons than they can hold at once. Using all of the above, a Shinki would have multiple sets of weapons it could switch between, at the cost of being unable to fire any swapped weapons that turn. For example, let's say a Shinki has two one-handed swords, a two-handed sword, two pistols, and a rifle. Set one is the rifle. Set two is one pistol, one short sword. Set three is two pistols. If a Shinki switched from set one to set three, it couldn't fire any hand-held weapons that round. However, if a Shinki switched from set two to set three, it could fire one pistol while switching (in addition to any back-mounted weapons). This would streamline the myriad number of weapons many of the heavier Shinki carry.
- Form changes: Many Shinki armors have multiple forms. Dynamic switching would be a neat feature. For example, if a Shinki has a Eukrante back part, leg part, rifle, two swords, and two arm parts, it can opt to combine them into bird mode, losing access to the parts in exchange for a robot companion.
Lastly, I've been thinking about having a fast-paced turn-based action-RPG system. Think ATB, but Shinki get to act once every second or two to keep things moving.