What is your "ideal" amount of party members in a standard RPG?

Shikamon

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If I have a bit customize character ( like skills, classes or anything), I will prefer just 3-4 characters that could grow together.
If my game is quite heavy story-oriented, I will take as much as story needed. for combat, maybe just 3-5 members, I feel too much characters will make battle's pace really slow.
 

Mr. Detective

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Ideal party size:

1. Self-insert MC.
2. Childhood friend who promised to marry MC.
3. Himedere rich bratty girl who lacks common sense and needs MC's guidance.
4. Yandere girl who has a crush and sticks to MC all the time.
5. Dandere delinquent yankee girl with dark skin and big breast who secretly has a soft spot for MC.
6. Airhead cousin, a bakadere, who wants to marry MC.
7. Older stepsister who is not blood related and often says "ara ara", a deredere.
8. Adopted younger sister, no blood relation, a tsundere.
9. An angel who's purpose is to protect MC, a kuudere.
10. A goddess who is 9000 years old but looks like her age has no 0s, a kamidere.
11. MC's boss lady, who is on vacation and travels with MC, a sadodere. Pays well.
12. Shundere girl who the plot revolves around, and needs MC's help.
13. MC's mom who teaches everyone to cook and/or cook for them.
14. MC's aunt who teaches them about love and that it has no limits.
15. Beast girl, like catgirl or snakegirl, moedere, who was rescued by MC and now calls MC "master".
16. Demon girl/succubus, masodere, who is interested in MC's power. And charm.

So, I would aim for a minimum of at least 16. Feel free to add more.
 
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kirbwarrior

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If I have 7 playable characters, I always feel the need to make an 8th just to keep it even, despite the fact that I'd have to come up with a whole backstory, personality, and motivation for that new character. I'm also one of those devs who absolutely must have it so that there is a 1:1 ratio of male and female characters. So in a party of 6, 3 of them MUST be male and the other 3 MUST be female, or else I just don't feel right (and I get a similar feeling when playing RPGs with lopsided gender ratios. Don't ask why, it just feels odd to me).
I have a perfect solution to both problem; nongendered characters (or other genders). Gimme my robot characters! ;)
 

Aesica

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Honestly it depends on a few factors:
  • How strategic are your battles and how diverse will everyone's kits be? Will I need to swap everyone in and out at some point?
  • Will there be a lot of temporary joining and leaving? Or will people join and stick around forever once they do so?
  • Storywise, how many people are actually necessary as party members?
Many "standard RPGs" are notorious for just letting you pick your 4 favorites to play and build constantly while all the other randoms like the dwarven blacksmith, the wolfman, and the token old guy languish on the bench from the moment they join until the game ends.

Edit: For the record, my current project has a battle party size of 4 and a total party size of 5. Number 5 joins later and by then, the player should be used to the strategic kit usage I intend to throw at them to the point where they'll be using all 5. Mid-battle party swapping and all that good stuff. :)
 

DawnStar

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To me 6 total party members works great, it is not too much nor too little, and I also like to have 3 characters in the active battle party, without locking the MC, which allows for a few party combinations.
I draw great inspiration from games like Chrono Trigger, Shadow Hearts Covenant and Xenoblade Chronicles, where every character is unique in personality as well as in gameplay gimmick, and try to come up with ways they can work together in battle, also use optional sidequests (which do require certain characters to be present) to encourage the player to try them out.
 

ave36

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My game, Legend of Terra Firma, has 3 active party member out of 8 total standard party members, 1 optional character and 2 guests. There are instances when up to three simultaneous parties are active.
 

Bernkastelwitch

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I wanna say it ultimately depends on how the game is structured. Something that is more written to be a "typical" RPG can go with 5-8 party members and work well. If you're going for a strategy RPG or something inspired by a game like Suikoden then a lot more would be nice. It also depends on the features and mechanics you have as well. Job class RPGs require fewer characters but you can bend it with a lot of characters if each character is tailored to a specific playstyle.

My main RPG I have 30 party members but it's a bit split up between different POVs before they eventually merge. And the mechanics require the extra party members. With it being war themed too, it makes sense to have that many.

The prequel project I am working on has around 20 party members but are split between different points of time for the protagonist so you don't get them all.

It does depend on the narrative and mechanics mainly and if it makes sense within an RPG. Like it wouldn't make sense for an adventure around the world to have a gang of 50+ characters but it also wouldn't make sense for there to be a huge epic war and it only having three guys playable and that's it.

It ultimately depends what you're going for. I'm one of the few people around here who personally enjoys a lot of party members for party experimentation. Not everyone will be fleshed out but in a gameplay perspective, it gives me more room for experimentation and if I don't like a character, I won't be stuck with them as a necessary evil in my party. Of course one of my absolute favorite games is Suikoden II so take that as you will.
 

Meowsticks

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Very good points about the structure and even plot of your game. The game that comes to mind is Chrono Cross with it's abnormal amount of playable characters for what the game is. I like your point about having more means you aren't required to have someone you don't want in the party, where as with smaller casts you're forced with someone like it or not, so you better hope you like them.
 

TheGentlemanLoser

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the OP is a little confusing because I feel like you're not talking about PARTY MEMBERS, you're talking about THE CAST OF CHARACTERS which is a distinct thing. like I've played FFX and unless I'm remembering it REALLY wrong you only control 3 characters at once. I'm talking about party size here, not cast size.

1 is not a good amount for standard RPGs, and I've known that for at least ten years, but nonetheless at least 60% of the games I've made have only one character controlled (at a time). Probably because the lone hero/protagonist is the most ancient and well-worn trope in not just video games but basically every kind of story telling. One of many things I find interesting about (J)RPGs is their focus on relationships and teamwork. That said, most (but not all) games have one character that is the real "main" character.

I think 3 or 4 is my personal sweet spot (a duo that plays off of each other is in my opinion kind of under-done), too much above that and I start feeling overwhelmed when there are six or more characters assuming there's any complexity in the rest of the system.

...didn't stop me from making and actually releasing a demo of an RPG Maker game where you have literally 15 party members tho lol...
 

dopan

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2-7 is a good number aslong all units are somehow unique..
doenst matter if rpg or tactical rpg
(in tbs/tactical rpg 7 would be needed i guess)

i think its better to make every unit unique with an own backstory.. and not using a ton of random units like its done in final fantasy tactics for example

i like it more small and simple ^^
 

STARFALL

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I have not read any comments and surely mine will not help much. But in my opinion the party can be to drastically increase or decrease its number throughout the history of the games, or at least in mine, but if it is a specific number. I would tell you to use at least 3 and a maximum of 5 only if there are 6 more characters. It also depends on the level of confrontation of the area or creature that you have in question when adding or adding characters. I imagine that many will mention Final Fantasy, in this post and it is a great example at least the VI. which makes use of this by dividing the characters around the world and adding temporary ones like the ghosts on the Phantom Train. You could also refer to Etrian Odyssey, or Shin Megami tensei IV, with its partner system. But in the end it is your decision.
 

kirbwarrior

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Oh, huge huge thing, I've been assuming that party change is under the player's control. Something like FFIV where the game decides what the party is at any given point in time has much more wiggle room because you have complete control over the story and why someone is in the party right now. With that in mind, you could theoretically have as many party members as you want, theoretically all npcs in the game if you're willing to fully flesh out all your npcs.
 

Thefirelion

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All That depends on the narrative of your game, for example: in mine you will only control 4 when in reality there were 5, the fifth for plot reasons, is only mentioned.
 

Aesica

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Oh, huge huge thing, I've been assuming that party change is under the player's control. Something like FFIV where the game decides what the party is at any given point in time has much more wiggle room because you have complete control over the story and why someone is in the party right now. With that in mind, you could theoretically have as many party members as you want, theoretically all npcs in the game if you're willing to fully flesh out all your npcs.
True, but I'll admit I kind of hated that about FF4, because what if I wanted someone else in my final party, like FuSoYa, Cid, Yang, or (gasp!) Edward instead of say, Edge? Never being able to use a particular party member again after they leave once you've gotten used to them is kind of a bummer, and I'm glad it wasn't really done again by any of the following sequels.
 

kirbwarrior

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True, but I'll admit I kind of hated that about FF4, because what if I wanted someone else in my final party, like FuSoYa, Cid, Yang, or (gasp!) Edward instead of say, Edge? Never being able to use a particular party member again after they leave once you've gotten used to them is kind of a bummer, and I'm glad it wasn't really done again by any of the following sequels.
Well, considering some spoilery things about the game, it makes perfect sense why you can't change your party, plus I like the feel of this tightly knit story. It's definitely odd when compared to traditional rpgs, but it makes sense when it seems first and foremost story focused with everything else moving alongside that.

But really that could also be said about any guest character. There are quite a bit of them in Four Heroes of Light but the game is definitely about the four you eventually end up with. FF2 has a rotating cast in the fourth slot. FF6 had a surprising number of them considering how many party members there are. And that's just sticking to the same series.
 

Aesica

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Well, considering some spoilery things about the game, it makes perfect sense why you can't change your party, plus I like the feel of this tightly knit story. It's definitely odd when compared to traditional rpgs, but it makes sense when it seems first and foremost story focused with everything else moving alongside that.

But really that could also be said about any guest character. There are quite a bit of them in Four Heroes of Light but the game is definitely about the four you eventually end up with. FF2 has a rotating cast in the fourth slot. FF6 had a surprising number of them considering how many party members there are. And that's just sticking to the same series.
Yeah true, I think it's a bit more forgivable when they're presented as guest characters to the player, especially if they have limited movesets. Which of course is true of all the guest characters in FF6. Not too sure about how FF2 worked since I couldn't really get into it.
 

kirbwarrior

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Yeah true, I think it's a bit more forgivable when they're presented as guest characters to the player, especially if they have limited movesets.
A lot of the characters in FFIV feel that way to me, especially in the US version where a lot of them got stripped down movesets. Even Kain has barely anything going for him.

Not too sure about how FF2 worked since I couldn't really get into it.
Talk about a game with a lot of good and cool ideas with hilariously bad execution. And terrible ideas, trapped rooms had zero reason to exist.

But the way the party system worked is that three of the four major party members are your starting party and you cycle through other characters in the fourth slot until eventually getting the fourth member (And like FFIV, there's a reason you don't get to use them).
 

Milennin

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It ultimately depends what you're going for. I'm one of the few people around here who personally enjoys a lot of party members for party experimentation. Not everyone will be fleshed out but in a gameplay perspective, it gives me more room for experimentation and if I don't like a character, I won't be stuck with them as a necessary evil in my party. Of course one of my absolute favorite games is Suikoden II so take that as you will.
I do get the appeal for party experimentation; but for my project, I'm going with a small number of characters and then letting the way their base skills branch out and equipped passives determine how each one of them can be played. Technically, each character has options to be played offensively, defensively or as a support, but in their own way.
If you want the big-muscled axe wielder to support the party from the backline, then that's a viable strategy. You want the cleric girl to nuke enemies with big damage instead, that works too. You want the characters to play their traditional roles in combat, no problem with that either.

One reason I prefer to have a set party of characters instead of choosing from a large roster is because I never really find myself switching out my main party unless I absolutely have to in games that offer the choice.
From a developer perspective, it's also the fact my combat eventing tends to become really long already with a small number of characters, with combat effects interacting with each actor. I can't imagine having to go through that for 20 or more characters.
 

Lornsteyn

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Six or eight is the best number, in my opinion.
Unless you want go the Suikoden road.
 

fizzly

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One, just one... I don't really like games where you need to control all the party.
 

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