Mmmm ... self-indulgent.
Now that I've finished ranting about RPGs allow me to engage in some slight hypocrisy and share with you an idea for one. At least, I couldn't see this idea fitting into any other genre as well as it might in an RPG setting, specifically something like The Elder Scrolls. I believe that you could take out the RPG elements and still have a game, but for what I'm thinking an RPG just makes the most sense.
Now, before I go further let me assure you that this isn't going to be a regular thing here on this blog. I do realize that the very nature of posts like this one is that of self-indulgence. I'm not a game designer, nor do I think I will ever be (holy hell I'd need an actual grasp of programming and art to do that, so nope.avi). However, I see a lot of accusations thrown at the industry regarding stagnation. What I'm trying to demonstrate here, in this posting I'm hoping to demonstrate that if some smuck (e.g. myself) can come up with an intriguing concept that sounds like it would make a good game, then there's no reason that the industry filled with people whose literal job it is to do so can't. So, with that out of the way.
The game itself wouldn't be your standard save-the-world or "hey you're the chosen one" thing. If I had to classify it I'd actually call it something close to a bildungsroman, or rather a coming-of-age story. What's so special about that? Well, that would be the fact that in the game the character controlled by the player would be a dragon.
I know that there's games like Lair (ugh) where a dragon plays a central role, and yes, you are a dragon in games like the Spyro series, but what I'm aiming for is almost sort of a documentary, chronicling the life of a dragon from beginning to end, and you are that dragon. The game could be separated into multiple sections each with different goals and ideas. To establish a baseline -- and get the most bang for your buck -- let's assume that dragons in this world function much like the ones from Dungeons and Dragons: that is they are highly intelligent, can be good or evil, can shapeshift, and all that jazz.
For example, at the start of the game you've just hatched. Perhaps your mother has stuck around, or even had a clutch so you have brothers and sisters, or maybe your egg was just left somewhere with the notion that you're on your own and have to fend for yourself. At this point there isn't much of a care for morality or subtly, it's pretty much eat or be eaten. You grow up fast though, and after some stuff like learning to fly, how to fend off stuff that wants to eat you and likewise how to actually be a successful hunter yourself you're out on your own, and that's where the bulk of the gameplay really kicks in.
In this open world you choose just what kind of dragon you're going to be; are you going to terrorize the countryside and gather a massive pile of wealth that will lure heroes to their deaths? Or are you going to be aloof, deeming humans beneath you and not caring for their trifles, instead dealing with the politics of your brethren? Might you travel the world under the guise of a trickster, mentor, or tyrant, becoming legendary in your own right? Or will you simply be content to make a living for yourself somewhere you won't be bothered, perhaps finding a mate and raising a family of your own?
All of these choices are valid, and all of them have the potential to be great. What happens if, say, as a benevolent wander you fall in love with a human? What happens if your true identity is exposed and you're driven out, or idolized? Perhaps in the most epic scenarios your character can even bid to become the god of your kind, nothing is off the table.
Such an open-ended game would take a lot of work, and it would be difficult placing the player into the skin of a creature that is so different from the norm, but I believe that something like this could have tons of success if pitched to the right audience. Grow and mature through your own story and be what and who you want to be. Also, you're a frigging dragon, how badass is that?
This is just one random idea that tumbles around in my head and calls for attention from time to time. Such a thing might not be possible in such a fully realized version, but with games like Skyrim you cannot tell me that it's impossible to do, and do well at that. The real question, and the thing I'm stuck on, is why the hell haven't we heard of ideas like this? Is it really so outlandish? I don't believe it is, so what's the deal?