I think there could be potential here but technical aspects aside for now (though I do have some more critical opinions on those in a moment), I would be interested in what the concrete concept for the gameplay is, if there exists one yet.
In general the best tip for any fan game would be to distance yourself, in terms of gameplay, as far as possible from any officially released Digimon title that's out there. Because right now we're living in a time where there are 3D Digimon RPGs officially localized in english that are generally regarded as "good" and there is nothing that would make the average gamer turn off a fan game faster than the realization that there's a more polished official game out there that does the same thing.
However if the game presents something truly unique people won't jump ship as easily because there'd be no similar ships to jump to. Of course that could be used as somewhat of an excuse but I'd say it's more along the lines of an insurance...
On the topic of models, generally the newer models used in Cyber Sleuth, Next 0rder and Linkz are far higher quality than what Digimon Masters churns out and could provide a better basis in general... however since Dracomon isn't part of their roster it's no help in this particular case.
I wholeheartedly agree with this point. It's quite a disservice to the multitude of awesome Digimon Design concept to be eternally squashed into flat anime style (in fact I would say that it is a weakness of the JRPG and anime based games scene in general to be unable to open their eyes past "2D" aesthetics) having something that introduces, maybe not exact photo realism but rather something along the lines of "material realism" for Digimon would be incredible.
Originally Posted by Master-Element
Personally I only know about 2 official attempts to portray Digimon with somewhat realistic materials the first being the animatronics for early V-pet commercials and the second far more relevant case being the giant Examon boss in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. As they needed a boss that looked impressive while covering the entire screen they ditched the "drawn on" textures with more realistic materials. within the game there are still the glistening shader effects and the "staggered" cel shaded lighting however, rendering the model out in a neutral environment with a bit more complex lighting shows the true density of detail on the textures:
(The texture or mesh detail wasn't changed in any way from the files in the game)
That's what I'd call a realistically textured Digimon and I don't want to be too mean but that's not an easy effect to achieve and your Dracomon doesn't even come close. As stated before I believe that a properly executed realistic style would be way above any stylised cartoon aesthetic but at the same time most stylized art will end up looking better than an unconvincing attempt at realism. Because realism has to be on point to a certain degree, even being just off by a few degrees on detail or shady would produce alienating and uncanny results.
...But let's try to be productive and see what exactly that examon does better than Dracomon: Obviously there is far more detail. The base texture your dracomon is still nothing more than flat colors. there needs to be more there, more highlights, skin folds, little details.
Below you can see the texture for the normal Cyber Sleuth Examon compared to the boss texture:
That's quite a skip in detail and right now even the individual details on the normal texture are quite numerous even if they are more obviously "drawn". And that's one the problems with your scale texture. It doesn't seem like it belongs to the body at all. It doesn't follow the curvature and details of the anatomy, it's just an uniform repeating pattern plastered all over. There need to be more noticeable differences in scale patterns on different parts of the body, more recognizeable irregularities to make it look more natural. The scales should also be aligned to the UV which right now they don't seem to be. There are parts on the model where there's two patterns going in different directions and they meat with a clean "divide" between them. That's especially apparent on the feet, so important how which parts of the mesh have been unwrapped where on the texture and that's what the "flow" of the scales should be oriented on.
Then there's the issue that the scales have no sense of depth whatsoever. They are completely flat projections. Less a texture of the skin than simply the normal flat "cartoony" skin but at night someone got some roller stamp and stamped a pattern with ink all over Dracomon while he was sleeping.
In other words the problem that the texture is solely utilizing the color channel and nothing else. That limits things because right now the scale pattern only consists of "shadows", when depending on the angle of the lighting it should also result in highlights. This cannot reliably be done with just color. So while there indeed needs to be more detail on the general texture, it should be more the chromatic part of it, keeping the shadows out of the normal texture. The actual shapes that have to interact with the lighting, produce the illusion of an texture engraved on the skin should be done in greyscale and then put in a bump map, which is the easiest way to have a less flat style.
The Examon model (again) does something more advanced by adding detail using a normal map:
While bump map can only calculate depth on a single axis a normal map emulates "correct" three dimensional geometry by overlaying 3 bump maps, one on each color channel, and each of them defines geometry on a different axis. Not really something that can be drawn by hand and most likely outside of the scope for this game... but for just standard skin and scale textures bump maps should suffice.
...that's about as far as my knowledge goes for techniques that are applicable to games. It would take a bit to actually make "photo realism" happen on that Dracomon and while it would be awesome it might simply not be the most efficient approach for a solo project.
By the way, I don't think that Dracomon's horns were supposed to be actually round.