On RPGS and skill --
Here are some problems with typical turn based rpg combat and how I propose "skill" (Im so tired of hearing that work in the context of games) could be thoughtfully injected into them.
Solution: Well this has nothing to do with skill but has everything to do with why people consider turn based combat tedious. If you had to do anything as frequently as you had to fight random battles in some games you'd go nuts.
2. Lack of meaningful decisions (Its almost like games are based on these, pshhh)
Solution: Remove status spells if they're not gonna work on bosses. What's the fucking point. You don't want to waste mp on average enemies (which is a problem, because if the fight is meaningless why does it exist?), so every boss fight is spam the strongest shit and heal every so often. I hate to use the word gimmick, but every boss needs something that makes them different from the other guy. If boss b is just boss a with a different sprite, you've failed on that level.
If there is an option to run away, always allow it. Inflict a penalty, maybe, but dont let the player fail and get pounded on for a free turn. All this does is trivialize a decision so that the player won't ever want to use it. The sense of risk is skewed in these games. Why is running away considered harder than running up to a dude and trying to kill him through his plate armor while he is shoving a spear towards your ass.
Maybe take inspiration from the roots of rpgs and add more interactivity with the environment. In dnd swinging from a chandelier to kick somebody is every day shit. Final Fantasy X is my ideal rpg because of a number of things. 1. Every member of your party can be used and has a role to fulfill (except that loser kimhari) so nobody gets stuck in the backseat. 2. You always know when the boss's turn is coming so you can react accordingly which is just fucking smart design. How many times have you used a heal spell on somebody and then the boss kill them so now you're healing. yourself. 3. Triggers were nifty. A step in the right direction if you ask me.
3. Lack of strategy
Solution: Like cype mentioned earlier, some way to learn about enemies. It can be at the start of the fight, or before. The fact is if you go into a random battle blind (which could happen, but shouldn't be the norm), you should have a chance to prepare for it. This sounds like it would make things easy, but you balance it out with hard decisions. As a cheap example, imagine a game where you were going to this place and you knew a lot of enemies were weak against fire. You could bring a bunch of squishy mages to shoot fireballs, but the enemies also hit hard and one shot those dudes. You have to build a composition that can stand up to this.
This allows you to craft more difficult, meaningful fights instead of wondering if the encounter is too hard or easy for the players cookie cutter party. It would promote adapting to different areas, and learning about your surroundings before venturing out. The idea of a dungeon crawler entering a sacred tomb blind is just so ridiculous to me. Read a fucking book about monsters or ask the dude at the bar with one arm what the hell was in the place.
4. Progression is broken
Solution: I don't honestly think there is a single good solution to this, but we can try to come up with one.
In odnd when your fighting-man levels up he basically gets more hp. That's because hp is an abstraction of your ability to dodge, block, and withstand blows that pierced your armor amongst other things. Getting "hit" could mean that your dude expended a lot of stamina to dodge the attack and didn't necessarily take an actual wound.
The idea is that as your guy levels up he becomes better at all of these things. Your actual attributes didn't go up at all, and you COULD come across stronger weapons but the damage increase was in really small increments.
So I would propose instead of stat increases, you gain an increase of options. You might say you already do get this since in console rpgs your character gains skills and things like that, but how many really matter? Its gonna be a more damaging spell, a new status ailment spell that doesn't work on anybody who you'd need to use on it, and stuff like that.
But consider as a character got more perceptive they'd so fixtures in the environment they never noticed before. A lead pipe that was about to come loose which could be used as a weapon or something, or a banana peel you could step on by accident.
Or if a character got stronger they could lift super heavy shit. Im not talking about weapons and stuff, but vending machines and cars crackdown style. If its a fantasy style game it could effect your ability to smash through somebody's guard or even just simply shove them to the ground. Options!
As for HOW the characters actually progress...I've never found a solution I've liked. XP is really abstract, and the do it until you get better at it style is somewhat realistic, but it also promotes grinding and possibly playing your character in a dumb way just so you can max out swimming. In an ideal game that was paced incredibly well, I'd just have the character level up after overcoming an incredible challenge. It wouldn't have to be a boss, but maybe barely surviving a 1v5 fight near the brink of death. It would be hard to make it to where you couldn't game the system though, so Idk.
I have more to say but my brain is failing