How would you personally handle a large Party size?

Bernkastelwitch

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This has always been a thing in my head for a while now, especially since one of the inspirations for my current project(s) is Suikoden. My roster size isn't going to be as crazy as Suikoden's 108 with the current game project having 16 party member spread throughout three time periods and the other one having 30 party members. Both games are both focusing on party customization and the characters. One is plot reasons why there's that many and the other is gameplay and character reasons. And it helps everyone has different elements in it(One or two out of twelve) so there's some niches there.

But if you were to make a large party in a game, how would you go about it? So far, all of my characters have different roles and of course, there's Quality of life features like leaked experience to help party members catch up. But what other features would you give to it? I am curious what people would do if they had to make a game with a large roster.
 
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In general, I would never have more than 6 party characters. The main, and biiiiig reason for this is because of player input...if you had 16-30 party members, imagine being the player and trying to carefully input every single one of their turn choices. It would be absolute chaos! It'd take forever to do anything in a battle, especially if you have large hoards of enemies or a really really really really tanky boss. And that doesn't even begin to mention things like everyone's stats like speed, strength, etc...It'd be madness.

As for some examples that come to the top of my head....
I remember in EarthBound a few instances where you'd have "invisible" party members like Pokey, the Flying Men, etc, and they were just sort of there to be there as gags without doing much to help the actual fight (with turns that do little to nothing at all).
In Omori, there's an instance where tons of Sprout Mole creatures join your "party" for a puzzle. (No actual battles, but just a large large laaaarge line of "party members" following the player).


Now, if I "had" to handle it somehow, I'd pretty much only use it for gag purposes. Like some kind of joke that a mob of people want to help you in one particular battle or something. That's really the only way I could ever see myself implementing that many party members in a battle setting.
 

Bernkastelwitch

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Well mine isn't going to have them all active. It'd be four-five active party members and the others inactive until you swap them out. Obviously not going some chaotic pikmin route here. Even Suikoden had you only use six out of however party members out of 108 at a time and had to switch them out.

That is what I meant here. Not like 100's of characters at once.
 

Finnuval

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Also making a game with a suikoden-esque large cast. Here is what I do :

- Make every character unique yet every party combination valid.
- Have as minimal of instances where the player is locked into a certain party choice as possible.
- give every character a good backstory and presence in the game either main story or personal quests so none appear to be waste of space.
- easy way to catch up in level (ofcourse!)
- have scenes that play out a little differently based on who is in the party.
- with a real large cast go for a 6 man party
- don't introduce new characters too quickly, let players get used/aquinted with a character.
- have some characters leave so player will need to rotate at certai points but make sure that the role of said character is not void (optional).

That's my two cents anwyay
 

HexMozart88

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I don't have too much experience with it mostly because I'm terrible story-wise at having a large cast.
But I have played games that make it work. Look at how Eternal Sonata does it. That I think was the best way to have several characters.
 

Sword_of_Dusk

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In general, I would never have more than 6 party characters. The main, and biiiiig reason for this is because of player input...if you had 16-30 party members, imagine being the player and trying to carefully input every single one of their turn choices. It would be absolute chaos! It'd take forever to do anything in a battle, especially if you have large hoards of enemies or a really really really really tanky boss. And that doesn't even begin to mention things like everyone's stats like speed,
I'm not sure who would actually give you control of so many at once. Generally, when people talk about large parties, they're merely referring to the amount of playable characters in total, not how many folks are in combat at once.
 

sugarcr4sh

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If it was me I'd go for the fire emblem route of picking a set number of party members out of an extended group? Like you have 20 people recruited but can switch out 6 to actually use in game, and then head back after battle to a large resting area where you can see the rest of the 20 you recruited hanging out.
 

Milennin

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The main appeal of having large casts is playing the characters you like, so I would make it so characters can be customised in such a way they can be made playable with anyone (to a reasonable degree, at least).

For EXP, I'd just go with a shared party level that puts everyone on the same level no matter if you've been using them from the start of the game, they've been benched for a long time or if they just joined the party for the first time. I'd want to be able to swap out characters at any time without penalty.

For regular RPG style battles, I'd never go with more than 4 characters at once. More than that, and even single turns drag out with too many choices to make and too many animations to play. Maybe some kind of character swapping or rotation mechanic could help getting more characters into battle while keeping turns limited to 4 characters.
 

Bernkastelwitch

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The main appeal of having large casts is playing the characters you like, so I would make it so characters can be customised in such a way they can be made playable with anyone (to a reasonable degree, at least).

For EXP, I'd just go with a shared party level that puts everyone on the same level no matter if you've been using them from the start of the game, they've been benched for a long time or if they just joined the party for the first time. I'd want to be able to swap out characters at any time without penalty.

For regular RPG style battles, I'd never go with more than 4 characters at once. More than that, and even single turns drag out with too many choices to make and too many animations to play. Maybe some kind of character swapping or rotation mechanic could help getting more characters into battle while keeping turns limited to 4 characters.

While I do like the earlier Suikoden games having a six character party since it brings more to the table and open up more variety to team compositions, I do feel like there can be a lot to do with having some of the characters sidelined. Some of my ideas were access to assist skills to characters not in the party, some exhaustion system to make players swap characters to someone who is sidelined or in the "back row", or if a party wipe happens, the remaining sidelined and active characters take their place.

Just some ideas how one can take advantage of a larger party like this.
 

Milennin

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I never played a Suikoden game, but hearing large cast of characters reminds me of gacha games that sometimes have over 100 playable units and offer a lot of possible team building options. FGO, for example, lets you bring 6 units into battle, but only up to 3 units are fielded at a time. Units in the back can be brought to the front through various methods, or do so automatically whenever a unit in the front dies. It's not overly complex, but it works and helps to keep turns in battle concise.
 

Bernkastelwitch

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I never played a Suikoden game, but hearing large cast of characters reminds me of gacha games that sometimes have over 100 playable units and offer a lot of possible team building options. FGO, for example, lets you bring 6 units into battle, but only up to 3 units are fielded at a time. Units in the back can be brought to the front through various methods, or do so automatically whenever a unit in the front dies. It's not overly complex, but it works and helps to keep turns in battle concise.

I play FGO and Fire Emblem: Heroes mostly for that reason. It's fun experimenting with teams and work around with new characters to see what I can do. Even though people dislike Gachas for various reasons, they are some of the few kinds of games that handle a large cast and have mechanics regarding it.
 

Mcniner

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My game is focusing on multiplayer using Alpha Net Z by Kagedesu, so the only way I could see that happening in my game is if a bunch of players team up against a boss. Even then, from the way the plugin is designed each player would wait and then choose an option for their characters, so the main problem would be players having to wait in combat for things to happen. I've looked around on the internet and the magic number seems to be 4 members for many games.
 

Sword_of_Dusk

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I never played a Suikoden game, but hearing large cast of characters reminds me of gacha games that sometimes have over 100 playable units and offer a lot of possible team building options. FGO, for example, lets you bring 6 units into battle, but only up to 3 units are fielded at a time. Units in the back can be brought to the front through various methods, or do so automatically whenever a unit in the front dies. It's not overly complex, but it works and helps to keep turns in battle concise.
Each Suikoden game has 108 characters total you can recruit, known as the Stars of Destiny. However, not all of the Stars of Destiny are used in combat. Many simply exist to unlock some other kind of function in game. For example, recruiting a private investigator would allow you to have him investigate other recruits and learn more about them.
 

Bernkastelwitch

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While my game is influenced by Suikoden, it won't have that many characters.

The current project I am working on that is in the same universe as the main game of mine, it has a total of 20-25 characters but you don't get them all. They're spread apart different parts of the games timeline. The main game has 30 party members who eventually converge together.

Still a lot but not quite as large as Suikoden, mostly because it's counting party members and not recruitable NPC's.

At least that is the best way to explain it here.
 

Shikamon

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Probably if I want to make such large party members size, I'll try listing them by their usefulness in gameplay. a strong character should only playable at middle-near end game for balance. I also probably need create some requirement to recruit them. To be fair, I'll always try to blend story with intended game play so I never make a plotline first :D.
 

Eden019

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If the game's involving different timelines / scene(s), I could make the main character always playable, and you could make the other playable characters into groups, and bring them all when you've reached the end-game. During the end-game, the players should already get used to the casts.
 

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