Pokémon Go, set to release sometime later on this year (but with no concrete release date as of yet), is a game created by Niantic Studios and Nintendo. This new release will take the real world and use it as the map for the game, taking planet Earth and transforming it into the Pokémon World. Players, using their mobile devices or tablets, will search for Pokémon, catch as many they can, battle other trainers, and trade in order to become the very best…like no one ever was.
Cue the theme song getting stuck in everyone’s head.
Since The Pokémon Company’s creation in 1995, the series has spawned a series of videogames, a trading card game that now has global tournaments, 16 seasons of a TV show as well as one spin-off, 18 films, and an almost endless amount of additional merchandising. The cultural impact the series has left on the globe is astounding and unprecedented by any other series of its kind. Whether you like Pokémon or not, if someone off the street were to ask you who Pikachu is, you would know exactly what electric mouse creature they were referring to. Now that it is being made into a massive, worldwide multiplayer game, the possibility for a more interactive experience has exploded. This kind of evolution in the series is what millions of Pokémon fans have been speculating and dreaming about for YEARS.
When I (Nerissa) first heard the announcement for Pokémon GO, my mind started reeling and I went through three different phases of reflection about the release. The first thing that hit was the nostalgia, or the “fan brain”. The first game I owned for my Gameboy Color when I was a kid was Pokémon Yellow, so the series has always held a soft spot in my heart. Seeing the announcement made me want to play again and I promptly pulled out my copy of Pokémon X a few minutes later and started another play through.
After that, the skeptic in me kicked in. How in the world could they possibly create a game like that? Mapping out every square inch of the world, programming in exactly which regions certain Pokémon would appear in and with what frequency, and more would take a massive amount of dedication to pull it off. While I wasn’t sure how they would be able to pull of something like this, I had to give a mental round of applause to the creators. While no gameplay footage had been released at the time (and I personally still haven’t seen anything along those lines), the concept alone is a revolutionary one and they were and are tackling it with full force. That alone deserved a tip of my invisible, non-existent hat.
The next phase of thought that came up was the designer and writer in me going insane. This phase lasted the longest and trumped over all the others. Currently, all of us at Wyvern are focused on developing a very fun mobile app (with more details on that to come soon!). As we continue to grow, we have talked on numerous occasions about branching out and making our stories as immersive and interactive as possible, whatever the system we happen to use. I have talked with Jonathan about this vision of ours on more than one occasion and with the games we have coming out as well as the way we are designing the website, all of these things are being taken into account. Now, with the announcement of Pokémon GO, the options of what could be done with the future of the games we want to create has expanded more than I imagined possible in my life time.
Jonathan has told me on numerous occasions that the reason he wanted to get into game design in the first place was so that instead of telling people our stories, people could live them. What better way to live in and interact with a virtual world than by using the world that exists around us as a base for it? How would it affect the player if the entire story took place in a world they could see, touch, and feel?
If I was working on the Pokémon GO team, here are a few things I would definitely put into the game (and from a writer, designer, and fan perspective, I really hope they do have things like this in it).
One of the biggest things I personally would push is making sure that certain Pokémon types are restricted to different areas in the world. The last thing I would want is for the “fourth wall”, so to speak, to be broken because a player walking across campus ran into a Tentacool that was swimming through bricks. Thankfully, this hope will actually be present in the game, as the creators have already confirmed that each Pokémon will only appear in certain parts of the world so the only real way to “Catch ‘em all” is either by trading with people you meet in your travels or by going out and doing the travelling yourself. Every Pokémon will be area restricted so that they will only be found in places that would suit their type.
It has been confirmed that there will also be some sort of Pokémon Gym system, although they haven’t given many details on how it will work. One of the biggest plot devices through the games and TV series is trainers putting their skills to the test by battling Gym Leaders. If I could have things my way, I would open up applications to be a gym leader to the public. There would be an age minimum on this, just to make sure a 4 year old isn’t trying to run a gym, and the winners of this initial lottery would actually become gym leaders. However, these players wouldn’t stay Gym Leaders forever. That just wouldn’t be fair. Instead, there would be a rotation system established. Each trainer would work their way through all of the gyms in their district to get badges and from there, they would move on to their district’s elite four. Once they beat the elite four, they would become the newest gym leader. Then, the lowest ranking leader would lose their spot.
Your rank would be dependent on your EXP in the game. The higher the EXP, the higher your rank. In the sake of fairness, there would also be different divisions of gyms and elite fours, so that there would be opportunities all over the world to be a leader or get badges. There would be lower level gyms, gyms divided by region, international-circuit-Olympic-scale-gyms, and more. Think of it like the ranking system used in league of legends. The higher your level, the higher leveled players you are matched against and once you get into playing ranked games, your rank changes based on your win ratio. This would function in a very similar fashion. Who knows, with the amount of fan populace in the Pokémon community, this game could very well become the most popular eSport the world has ever seen.
Players would all be divided into one of several jobs and classes. Your job would be what it is you do in the Pokémon world (Breeder, Trainer, Nurse, Officer, and more) and your class would be what team you affiliate yourself with (Civilian, Government or Team Rocket). As a Breeder, imagine how cool it would be to seek out trainers who are kind and talented enough to take care of the Pokémon in your party after you get the chance to raise them. Many games have PVP and this game would be no different. Those trainers aligned with the Civilian or Government teams would be able to have fair battles and matches against each other, as you would in any other Pokémon title.
Team Rocket’s functions and how people interact with TR members is where things get really interesting. As a member of Team Rocket, extra options would be available at the end of every battle you won. If a Team Rocket member defeated someone in battle, they would be given the option to leave the fight peacefully or choose to steal one of their opponent’s Pokémon. In shops, you would also be given the option to steal items rather than paying for them. However, there is a catch. If you commit a crime in game, a bounty is put on your head. The information on your bounty would become more widespread with every crime you commit, allowing more people to see it on the map, and your profile would show all the crimes you have committed. The trainers and officers in the Government Team would be given the job of taking down these Team Rocket members. If the Team Rocket member was defeated, then all of the Pokémon they had abducted would be set free and if they had stolen items, they would pay a fine for each item taken. Just picture it. What if a trainer defeated one of these criminals and one day, a civilian got a notification showing them that the Vulpix that was mercilessly stolen from them found its way home? I’m not going to lie to you, if that happened to me I think I would get seriously choked up.
Another recent development in the Pokémon series that came out with the release of X and Y was the option to play with your party and spend time with each Pokémon, which in turn gave them combat bonuses and extra resistance to status effects later on. This would, without a doubt, carry over to my ideal Pokémon GO. Just for fun and good measure, I would also probably add in the possibility of having Pokémon play dates where you could play with other trainers Pokémon. Part of me would also love if there were cute little Pokémon romances…of course, that’s not a necessary qualifier for it to be a great release. Still, it would be nice.
The thought of using a tablet or mobile device to fade away that line between digital life and reality by creating a story in a world that coexists with this one is a dream come true. I can’t wait to see if these real-world maps affect the future evolution of story based games.
–Nerissa Hart, Marketing Admin Assistant for Wyvern Interactive