Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Introduction to Competitive Pokémon Battling

So you want to be the very best like no one ever was? Getting 8 badges and defeating the Elite Four was only the beginning. There's a whole new challenge out there: Competitive Battling. The Pokémon metagame is one of the largest in the world, with thousands of players worldwide, with National and World Championships held each year. Think this is a challenge you want to take? Then read on, this article will teach you how to get in there and get on your way to winning.

1) Know the Game- They may use the same battle system, but the style of battling in the Pokémon video games and in competitive circles couldn't be more different. Competitive battling is leagues more complex, and must be treated as a different beast. The single best resource for Pokémon battling on the internet is Smogon University, a community with thousands of members all over the world. The website provides moveset suggestions for Pokémon, articles about various techniques and strategies, and much, much more. Study the game, learn the terminology. Knowing is half the battle.

2) Use the Community- Hundreds of Pokémon communities exist on the internet. Any respectable community usually has a forum dedicated to competitive battling. Members will disuss strategies, request critiques on their teams and movesets, and share stories of their own battles. Experience may be the single best way to learn a skill, but this is second best to learn from others' experiences. In addition, you can find a partner or a mentor; someone to help show you the ropes.

3) Ge Out There- As mentioned above, the best way to master something is experience. Whether it be grabbing some friend codes and fighting on WiFi, or downloading a battle simulator such as Pokémon Online or Pokémon Laboratory jump in and start fighting. The battles will be tough at first, and there will be many losses, but every battle is a learning experience. Persist, and before long you can be winning tournaments or burning up brackets at the National Championships.

The secret to becoming a great competitive battler is to persist and to learn. Every fight will teach you about what works, and what doesn't. Don't be discouraged, if you lose, decide what could be improved with your strategy, then hop back in and try again.

External Links
Smogon University
Pokémon Laboratory
Pokémon Online

Hayley Williams Custom Figure

The fiery redhead herself, Hayley Williams!
I thought the Marvel Universe Mary Jane toy was one of the laziest, half-assed attempts at a figure I'd ever seen, and then encountering one in a store made me realize, the hair and clothing were the perfect shape for making a custom of Hayley Williams of Paramore. I'm a huge fan, and it was an incredibly simple job to do. Just some repainting and making a microphone prop out of an old lightsaber toy, and bam!
Comments appreciated!

Hayley Williams Custom by ~GodofPH on deviantART

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pokémon Alignment Chart

Whipped this up over last night and earlier today. It's a D&D style alignment chart done with Pokémon and their Pokédex entries. I hope you like it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Looking Forward: Forever Speculating

Welcome to a new Pokémon journey.
It all leads up to Saturday. Pokémon Black and White are released this Saturday, but you already know that. You’ve followed the news each week, and even if you haven’t, you probably noticed the countdown ticking down ever closer on the Bulbapedia front page. The games won’t be released stateside until next Spring, but the information floodgates will be opened. We’ll see every single new Pokémon, we’ll know all of the new features, we’ll know the new moves. Forums everywhere will ignite with discussions, praises, and arguments about Generation V. Flame wars like we’ve never seen could be waiting to erupt and burn this side of the internet to the ground.
Some of us will take to our Japanese DSs to play the games straight out of the gate. Another group (myself included), will bore so deep into internet articles on new features we’ll be trapped in a Bulbapedia mine collapse and have to eat our fellow man to survive. Chances are we’ll know everything there is to know about the games before we rip the plastic off of the package. That brings up a question on my end: the information volcano is about to erupt, so what does that mean for a column boasting being about “Outlook and speculation”?
The imminent Japanese release of Black and White may invalidate the purpose of this column now, but that doesn’t put speculation to rest. Black and White are the beginning, not the end. I’ll bet a year’s worth of my college tuition they won’t be the only main series games ofGeneration V. Even if the speculated Ruby and Sapphire remakes never materialize, a Third Version seems as inevitable as death and taxes. Then there is the future of the fandom and the metagame. We have no idea how these games are going to affect how we view the franchise as a whole. Even after we see every new Pokémon and their move sets, we can only guess the effects they’ll have on the competitive battling community until the fights themselves begin.
This is the great thing about this franchise: it has, like the titular monsters, evolved over the years. Notice I said franchise, not just the games. It’s a constant, never ending cycle of change. The experience of being a Pokémon fan is more than playing the games. The experience comes from playing with others, taking part in fan communities, making your own thoughts and theories about it all. I’ve spent the last two months speculating about the games through this column, but I know that I can’t even begin to try to predict what the Pokémon experience as a whole will be like with the advent of Generation V. That’s the beauty of it. The excitement and payoff comes from the journey, not the destination.
So this is my farewell to this column. Originally I had planned to keep going until around the American release of Black and White, but sophomore film classes are dictating other uses of my time, so I’ve decided to end coinciding with the Japanese release date. It’s been a great experience writing for Bulbanews these past few months. I’ve loved reading the feedback, and I even am thankful for my detractors in the discussion threads each week. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bulbanews for hosting my column, and thank the readers, for, you know, reading.

Cue the sad music.
I’m not done yet though. I thought I wouldn’t end on such a somber note, so there’s one more article coming from me for this column. Stay tuned next week for the biggest flamewar inducer of them all: Top Ten Lists. YeOldeJacob and I will rank the top and bottom ten Generation V Pokémon after we’ve seen them all. Until then, farewell!
Looking Forward can also be read on Bulbanews.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Looking Forward: Tribute to the Distraction

Did you play through this? Me neither.
This week I’m paying tribute to parts of the Pokémon games that many never play. That’s right; I’m talking about the side competitions:Pokémon Contests, Pokéathlon, and the newly revealed Pokémon Musical. Many will object to the first sentence of this article, they have their fans, and even the anime pays tribute to them in spectacular fashion. At the same time though, how many players only bothered withPokéblocks and Poffin long enough to max out Feebas’s beauty stat and never touch a Dry-flavored Berry again?

We were first introduced to a new challenge aside from the Pokémon League and Pokédex completion in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire with the arrival of Pokémon Contests. This was notable because it was the first challenge in the game that didn’t involve your Pokémon committing acts of brutality against each other, and instead, focused on preening your monsters to give the best showing possible. New stat systems were introduced solely for contests, and now every move your Pokémon could learn also had a performance use as well as an in-battle use. It was a fresh idea, and deep enough to warrant diverting some time from raising monsters for war to raising them for performance. My Wailord was the most beautiful Pokémon in Hoenn, and I remain proud of that.

I feel pretty!
Flash forward to Generation IV, we had Pokémon Diamond and Pearl expand upon the Contests with Super Contests, but also had something else in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver: Pokéathlons. This competition was unlike anything else before it. The mini-games were fast paced and frantic, certainly a stand out in a franchise based around turn-based menu battles. Like Contests before it, Pokéathlons are also a great time waster, and shallow as the minigames are, it is hard not to feel the urge to clear all of the ranks and cover your Pokéathletes in medals.
Now it seems Pokémon Black and White is heading in the direction of Contests again with Pokémon Musical. Dressing up your monsters returns from Diamond and Pearl’s Super Contests, but the move exhibition rounds have been eliminated in favor of a musical performance round, not unlike rhythm games, where you control your Pokémon as they perform preset bits of music, as well as downloadable tunes from the Global Link. I’ll take this opportunity to state something: Game Freak, unless it has put this in there and not yet revealed it, is missing out on a major opportunity by not allowing custom Pokémon Musical sound tracks from say, a player’s SD card. Admit it, it would be awesome. I would play Pokémon Musical to death if I could do it to the sounds of Flyleaf.

I'm so sick/Infected with where I live...
One thing about the distractions, however, is they seem to elicit a collective “meh” from most players. Some may find them less engaging than the core battle mechanics, while others may never even touch them through their playthroughs. The argument arises, why should Game Freak devote time and resources to such diversions if that is the case? My retort to them would be this: the same generation that Pokémon Contests were introduced, the data structure for the Pokémon files was completely renovated and redone. Super Contests didn’t stop advances like the Physical/Special split in Generation IV either. The core mechanics of it all still surge forward at a great pace, even if we have these things on the side.
It boils down to this: they can be fun sidequests, and as long as some players enjoy them and the main game mechanics don’t suffer in the process, by all means play around with ideas such as this. Diversity in games always enriches the experience when done right. And really, if you don’t like the idea of Pokémon Musical, there will be plenty else in Black and White to keep you entertained.
Looking Forward can also be read on BulbaNews.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking Forward: Into the Wireless Blue Yonder

Online we go!.
One commenter on last week's article complained I don't talk enough about what Generation V is doing right enough. To those who would agree with this sentiment, this week's column is for you. I was inspired to drop the piece I'd been working on, and give a glowing praise to Game Freak for their excellent steps forward in an area the games have stumbled in so far: Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection has been one of Nintendo's biggest pushes with the Nintendo DS. Two of the most successful series to take it on have been Mario Kart DS and, of course, Pokémon. But the waters have been rough. When Pokémon Diamond and Pearl first came out of the gate, we finally had online battles and trades, even at the expense of Nintendo's unwieldy Friend Code system. The other inclusion at the start was the Global Trade Station. Excellent as it was to be able to search for any Pokémon you wanted (although you must have seen the Pokémon in your game already), it hit a stale patch when everyone demanded a Dialga or a Palkia for a Bibarel or a Honchkrow. Later advancements such as Wi-Fi Plaza and games followed, although none particularly stood out. Game Freak has really explored the potential of Wi-Fi with the forthcoming fifth generation though. Existing features like the GTS have been upgraded, now with features such as random battles against other players.
Perchance to dream.
More interesting is the recently revealed Global Link, which allows players to upload their save files to the internet to access extra features and effects on the game. The Pokémon Dream World allows players to obtain Pokémon not in the Isshu Pokédex, as well as Pokémon with abilities not normally held. Downloadable content is also accessible through the Global Link, although the only confirmed DLC features so far are new C-Gear features and songs for Pokémon Musical, although I have to give Game Freak the benefit of the doubt and think there will be more possibilities revealed.
Another feature I'd like to give passing praise to, even if it doesn't fit in with the rest because it is local wireless instead of Nintendo WFC, is the High Link. Players can interact with each other in the Isshu region, as well as engage in competitive or cooperative missions. This is another great step in the right direction for multiplayer action in the series, as players can finally interact with each other outside the confines of the Union and Wi-Fi Rooms.
I can only praise Game Freak for every advance they make in Wi-Fi and wireless features in the games. My only complaint is that they have been slow to leak out. I am of the opinion that multiplayer needs to be focused on more in the games. Series creator Satoshi Tajiri has said before one of his original concepts for Pokémon was a mental image of monsters and insects crawling along a link cable between two Game Boys. In fact, one of the original reasons for multiple versions with different Pokémon available on each (aside from breeding an immortal cash cow) was encouraging trade between players.
This brings the games forward, but at the same time, goes along to fulfilling a goal that has existed since the very beginning. Many a fan has clamored for a Pokémon massive multiplayer game, and Black and White's advances in Wi-Fi and wireless bring those dreams closer to reality. Pokémon was imagined as a social experience, and that thought is being implemented very well in the fifth generation. I'll see you online, my friends.
Looking Forward can also be read on BulbaNews.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Doctor Birch, or, How I Learned to Stop Hating On, and Love, Generation III

In this week’s Looking Forward, I saw that some at BulbaGarden’s forums had misinterpreted me as condemning Generation III within my article. I feel I should do a short piece to clarify what I meant, and my feelings on the third generation of Pokémon. I know I used the word ‘mistake’ often in the article. However, I meant that these were no mistakes in the games themselves.

With about seven years of hindsight, I view the third generation as a very important, if not perhaps the most important era of the franchise since Generation I. Originally; I was temporarily driven away from the franchise by Ruby and Sapphire. I was one of the many children bitter about having to start over, not having my beloved monsters from my Blue version I had demolished Johto with to decimate Hoenn. I was too young to know what effort values, natures, and individual values were. I looked at things from a purely aesthetic standpoint, and all my twelve-year-old eyes saw were the animations from Crystal gone, the day and night cycle eliminated, and many of my favorite Pokémon seemingly vanished from the face of the Earth.

FireRed and LeafGreen pulled me back in again, and by the time Emerald came around, I was a dedicated fan again. I came to love Generation III before it came to a close. Now, I recognize it as one of the most important eras of the franchise with understanding of its many revolutionary advancements.

Love the Generation III, my friends, love it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Looking Forward: 3:10 to Hoenn

Flame war starts in 3...2...1...
Let’s rewind to 2003: we’re set to be introduced to a new region, set far away from our old stomping grounds, filled with more new Pokémon than old, set to introduce a new battle system, and mark a new beginning for this beloved franchise. Doesn’t that sound like an ironic echo as we await the releases of Pokémon Black and White? Generation V has more than a few parallels to the last odd numbered generation and therein could lie trouble.
It’s a well known fact the days of Ruby and Sapphire were a dark time for the franchise. Sales slumped as the franchise’s hay day died out, many fans left the franchise for one reason or another, and to this day, it still remains the most controversial era to this day on message boards. Seriously, start a topic on a message board about it and watch the blood pour. The topic’s been covered on Bulbanews before. We don’t need another apology for Hoenn, but with the early emerging parallels with Black and White to Ruby and Sapphire, a look should be taken to see if Game Freak won’t make the same fandom alienating mistakes that were made then.
First, why is Generation III so controversial? Several reasons abound. Some point to the different art style of the monsters, which were more complex compared to the simpler designs of previous generations (you can even note the return to more simplistic designs when Generation IV came about), as well as bitterness towards lack of connectivity with previous generations. I remember, at twelve years old, being furious I couldn’t transfer my mighty Missingno-empowered monsters I’d had with me since Blue. To add insult to injury, many older Pokémon were unable to be obtained in Ruby and Sapphire. It felt like they had been erased from the franchise, even if we would later be able to catch them all when Colosseum, Fire Red, and Lead Green came around. Lastly, several features we had come to love in Gold and Silver (such as the day and night cycle and sprite animations) had been removed. In some superficial ways, Generation III could have been viewed as a step back.
Now, let’s look at the parallels with Generation V. Isshu has been stated to be far, far away from the previous regions in the series, just like Hoenn had no land connection to Johto and Kanto. This goes along with Game Freak’s stated goal of creating a brand new experience for old and new fans alike. Black and White also are taking an even bolder step forward by having an regional PokéDex filled entirely with new Pokémon, especially compared to Hoenn having a good amount of Pokémon from older generations accompanying the new monsters. Generation III also brought us Double Battles, set to be topped with Triple Battles.

Let us keep transferring our monsters over and hate will decrease 500%.
Game Freak seems to have learned its lessons though. Like I said, the major sticking point of Generation III hate was lack of connection with the previous games. Like Pal Park in Generation IV, Black and White will have a method of transfer from the current generation, the recently revealed PokéShifter. The day and night cycle has not only been kept, but upped in ante with rotating seasons. So that leaves one area where fans could be driven away: the new Pokémon. The new Pokémon in Black and White may ultimately be what makes or breaks the game in the eyes of the fans. As I’ve said in my first article, each new revealed Pokémon generates its own sea of praise and/or hate. Game Freak seems to be offering more complicated designs again, and while some welcome it, there will of course be detractors. In the end, I think this will be what will define Generation V in the eyes of the fandom.
Pokémon Black and White versions seem to be taking the best cues from its predecessors Ruby and Sapphire. At the same time, the developers seem to have learned what caused such a schism in the first place. Generation V is set to carve its own niche in the franchise’s history, and hopefully, it will do so without a firestorm of controversy following it.

Looking Forward can also be read on BulbaNews.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pokémon: The 3D Jump: Part 3

Fight to the Faint

This is a personal victory. I have finished something I started, and didn’t abort it halfway through gestation. First finishing a three part blog post, and eventually, maybe I’ll be able to finish something that matters. But you don’t care about my inability to focus in life; you want to read about Pokémon!
Welcome to Part 3 of my series Pokémon: The 3D Jump. Last time I discussed revamping the presence of the titular creatures in the games from sprites and stats to unique AI entities with personalities and appearances all their own. Now, I’ll put forth thoughts on how to bring the other side of the coin into the new era: the battles.

Pokémon certainly commends some respect for keeping such an old school system vibrant and lively in this age of real time battles and action-hybrid gameplay in the RPG genre. Anyone who tries to tell me otherwise should spend a few hours on Shoddy Battle and let them prove my point for me. I think there is much potential with a few cues from its brethren in the genre to make something mind-blowing and unforgettable for the franchise.

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Cue Rocky Music

There are currently two ways to train your Pokémon in level: battle experience and rare candies. To hone a specific stat, there is EV training and vitamins. Boring. As much as I dislike the anime at times, this is one area where I feel it gets something right: training can be done outside of battles, and in a variety of ways. 

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Not a total fail.

In the anime, Ash and his Pokémon often can be found practicing and perfecting moves and building speed and strength. This could be reflected in a 3D revamp of the franchise. The environments in the game could abound with training spots. For example, on a tromp through Rock Tunnel; boulders on the ground could be training fodder for your Pokémon. Send out your Machop, and build its Attack stat by destroying and lifting the boulders. Water Pokémon could increase their Speed stats with swims in rivers and lakes. Psychic Pokémon could increase their Special attack stats by practicing telekinesis on random objects in your environment.

If implemented correctly, and with a creative eye on the part of the developers, the entire in-game world could be one large gym for your Pokémon. Discovery and examination would be rewarded with new, and sometimes more efficient, ways to train.

Once a Tackle, Now a Take Down

One look at the list of Pokémon moves and similarities to other moves are noticed. Take Down is a more powerful (and dangerous) version of Tackle. Slash is a deadlier Scratch, and Psycho Cut charges it with psychic power. This brings me to my next idea: move trees instead of level up sets. A Pokémon would have a basic set of moves and techniques to battle with. 

Let’s say the Totodile you receive from Professor Elm would have basic scratch, bite, and water gun attacks. When moves are used, they are individually leveled up, and over time, they evolve into more powerful moves. Soon the scratch becomes a more powerful Slash, his biting prowess propels his Bite to a Crunch, and his water mastery takes him from Water Guns to swamping battlefields with Surf. Items or special methods of training would exist to elementally charge these attacks, such as transforming a Headbutt into a Zen Headbutt, or if your Pokémon was capable of using the Fire Element, even a flaming Headbutt attack!

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Captain Falcon shows us how it’s done.

Move practice would be extended to non-damaging moves as well. When moves are practiced to perfection, Stat Boosters would provide better powering up, and status moves could become more potent. Sleep Powder could cover a wider range, and imagine sharper, more dangerous stones coming from a perfected Stealth Rock.

Do Something Other than Attack

I’ve already elaborated in my first post that real time battles would be an excellent addition to the franchise. With that comes the realization that there is something other to do in a fight than spout of techniques. Give your trainer a set of secondary commands to issue to their Pokémon, different from techniques. 

Things like dodging, parrying, bracing for hits, etc could fill these commands. It could add new layers of strategy to battling, a split second decision on how your Pokémon should react to an attack could mean the difference between victory and defeat. An incoming Hyper Beam could be dodged, for example, but perhaps you know this Flamethrower aimed at your Aipom can’t be dodged, and all it can do is brace itself and minimize the damage taken.

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Pikachu! The horn!

These decisions would affect how battles flowed. Trainers would have to choose to command their Pokémon to react to the foe’s moves, and at the same time, you must be prepared for how your foe will react to your own moves. You could anticipate your foe’s reaction to your attack, and plan accordingly. Punish a foe who dodges with attacks too wide to avoid, or parry a Mach Punch for a quick opportunity at a point blank strike.

Disclaimer Time

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I am not claiming the current system of the games is broken and needs replacing. What I’ve proposed here could exist on the consoles while the handheld games solider on as they always have. Pokémon is such a vast franchise it has room for both approaches. Maybe a 3D redo of Mystery Dungeon too, but that’s a post for another day. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pokemon: The Fight Club Theory

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Here is a new way to look at Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver: You and your rival are one and the same.

Your character is a mild mannered, soft-spoken boy/girl trying to live their own life in New Bark Town after your father left when you were young. You live surrounded by Pokémon: strange, mysterious creatures you don’t fully trust or understand. They are everywhere, and they horrify you. They have powers that give you nightmares. And yet, you go along with it, because everyone expects you to. You have to like Pokémon, or you do not belong in this world.

One day, you are ordered by the hermit scientist Professor Elm to travel alone, on-foot to another anti-social PokéManiac in another town, with only one of those monsters for company. And then you cannot take any more. You break down, and your mind creates Silver. Silver steals Elm’s other Pokémon, and proceeds to rage through the Johto region. He abuses and hates his Pokémon, but uses to torture and tear apart everyone else’s. You continue on in the charade, claiming you love them, but Silver reflects how you truly feel.

Only when Silver learns to love and accept Pokémon do you truly learn to love them yourself. You are then, truly at peace. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pokémon: The 3D Jump: Part 2

Monster Revamping

Welcome to Part 2 of The 3D jump, my series on how Pokémon could be upgraded to provide a more modern experience on consoles, instead of cheap rehashes of the handheld RPGs. Last time, I advocated for more basic advances; such as real-time battles and spoken dialogue. You know, to have the super old school handheld RPGs catch up with many of the advances the genre had made in the last few years. But, what I described basically amounted to Mass Effect with pocket monsters. 

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Such a game would need something to set it apart from most modern RPGs, and the way to do it is how the series set itself apart in the first place: with the Pokémon themselves. The series has always been based around capturing, raising, and ultimately conquering with your partners. The RPGs have tried to expand upon this with advances such as a Pokémon’s happiness level, but I propose taking it to the next level.

Individual to Individual

Other than shinies and a few gender differences here and there, all Pokémon of a species are represented with the same little sprite. With the jump to 3D graphics, there are possibilities to get away from such limitations. No two animals in the wild of the same species look exactly the same, so why not have the same for wild Pokémon? Each species could have their own variations on their look, such as range in height, bulk, color range, etc. Pokémon such as Houndoom or Donphan could have variations in horn/tusk length, while Vileplume and Roselia could appear with different flower colors. Install an in-game creator that randomly generates these variations on the monsters when you meet them, ensuring you meet a unique looking Pokémon every time.

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He has club envy.

On this same topic, why not have regional differences in species of Pokémon? Real world animals adapt to different habitats, so why not do the same for this series? For example, Machops in the more tropical Hoenn region could be smaller and quicker, while up north in Sinnoh they would be bulkier, to compensate for the cold climate. Just an idea.

Where Eggs Come From

Hot off the heels of my idea on individual variations in Pokémon, I also advocate some changes to the daycare. Currently, a Pokémon’s father is only good for passing on moves and a few IVs. Like that one guy in your high school who was a father to many but a dad to none. Imagine though, if characteristics from both parents could be reflected in the offspring?

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A nightmare in the making.

Say, I leave a female Lucario and a male Blaziken in the Daycare. When I hatch the offspring, the baby Riolu could have a reddish tint to its fur and be slightly taller in the legs, both inherited from its father. This could have competitive potential as well, as players could breed for better features in their Pokémon to better augment their battle roles.

Personality is More than Stat Values

In Generation III, we started noticing little blurbs saying our Pokémon had personalities. Then when we dug deeper we found out they were merely variations in stat growth, crushing our childhood perceptions that our Pokémon had emotions and loved us. Sure they have happiness levels, but those are useless unless you’re working towards a Happiness evolution. Why not make them have artificial intelligence all their own?

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You don’t have a soul!

This is one aspect of the anime I’ve always wanted the games to try to reflect. In the anime, the characters bond with their Pokémon, and the monsters all have their own unique personalities. Artificial intelligence has advanced enough in games it could be taken on in this series, and to great effect if implemented well. Just as I suggested Pokémon could have random variations in appearance, they could also have different AI personalities assigned to them when generated. Hell, I’ll throw the Tourney crowd a bone and say the Natures could still have their same stat growth affects, but have an Adamant Scizor be a headstrong dolt, while your Timid Togekiss would act, you know, timid. Higher ratings in happiness would also lead to better performance in battle, giving players an incentive to bond with their monsters. 

But wait, there’s more!

I hope at this point my vision for a 3D revamp of Pokémon is starting to look unique and new, yet still faithful to the series we’ve known and loved all of these years. But there’s one part left I haven’t discussed: battling. The monsters and their battles are the main staple of these games, everything else is icing on the cake. In Part 3 of The 3D jump, I’ll discuss how to bring the battles into the modern day, and the awesome potential therein.

What do you think of how Pokémon could be redone in 3D? Let me know in a comment. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking Forward: As the Rumor Mill Turns

Despite what the rumor mill would have you think, we actually haven't seen his final evolution.
Pat Hessman: This column is subtitled “Outlook and speculation from a lifelong diehard”, but admittedly there isn’t near as much speculation presented here as what goes on in forums everywhere. This is partly because I try to limit my speculation within this column to theories based on existing facts, not unfettered imagination, but this week that’s the topic at hand: out of control rumors about the forthcoming fifth generation. One offhand comment in a forum topic can lead to a completely transparent rumor being propagated in no time.
For example, on another Pokémon forum I visit, one poster made an offhand joke about the possibility of dual-element attacks, and ten pages later, people were preaching the forthcoming extinction of Salamence and Garchomp due to an Ice/Rock attack that was surely coming with Black and White. Joining me this week is someone who’s written extensively about explosion of fan rumors, SmearglePaints, co-writer of a series of articles entitled “The PokéGods: Secrets and Rumors Explored”.
SmearglePaints: Coming from the perspective of someone with first-hand experience with the very first explosion of Pokémon-related rumors I can say that there is quite a parallel between the early PokéGod phenomenon and the fifth-gen speculation.
The resurgence of fan-theories, speculation, and hoaxes are indicative of a much deeper change in the Pokémon fandom most don't seem aware of. They are symptoms of what defined the early Pokémon fandom and mark a return to the atmosphere of the PokéGod phenomenon. For various reasons the fandom has built up to a point where it can no longer ignore the need for more.
Pat: Any current hoaxes in particular you want to discuss?

SmearglePaints: The near-monthly CoroCoro hoaxes stand out, of course. Most people simply dismiss them as attempts for attention. While this is for the most part true I have to admit hoaxers fill an important role in the fandom. No one likes being hoaxed, but there is a desire for more information. There's no patience anymore. It's more more more, gimme gimme gimme. Hoaxes satisfy this need if only for a short time. The PokéGods were themselves a naturally occurring attempt at satisfying people's need for more. The state of the Internet and fandom simply made it last longer.
Pat: One in particular that has stood out to me was this purported image of the final evolutions of the Starter Pokemon. It was originally posted on PokeStation, supposedly from a magazine called Pokekokos, a mysterious magazine no one knew anything about. The image was confirmed as fake, despite its very believable appearance.
But as I said before, aren't a lot of these over persistent fan rumors the result of misunderstandings and random speculation taken too far? I'd be a fool to say hoaxes didn't exist, but I think you're over-inflating them a bit.
SmearglePaints: For the most part this is the result of misunderstandings and random speculation. Usually someone will mention a personal opinion and a dozen pages later or in another thread or even another forum someone will parrot it without context. The original post is lost. People like to grapple onto whatever scraps of information they can find and repeat it, even if they personally know it's not true. But there's always someone that will think maybe, just maybe, it is possible. It's almost a revolving door as new opinions overtake old in an endless cycle.
Pat: It isn’t unlike the pre-release days of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, an entire subfandom sprang up around predicting the final roster of characters, and several ‘prophets’ emerged and became trusted overnight when one of their predictions would turn out to be true. In this digital era, we get everything instantly. Attention spans are demolished by information delivered in seconds. Waiting for anything is torture to this generation of fans. We want to have every single Generation V Pokémon revealed to us. We wanted the entirety of the game revealed to us as soon as Black and White were announced. We want to see every city, gym leader, villain, Elite Four, NPC, event, and feature. We wanted the entirety of the game revealed to us as soon as Black and White were announced. Arceus forbid we have to wait!

Yes, you have to wait.
SmearglePaints: Exactly. In the old days the Internet would explode with every blurry image of a new Gold and Silver Pokémon. These were few-and-far-between. People appreciated whatever information they could come across. Nowadays there's no patience. When we finally do get a new Pokemon or bit of information there a few pages of either "I like it" or "Meh" before everyone forgets and moves on to wanting more.
I have to wonder if the Pokémon fandom simply changed from what it was or if it's an entirely new fandom altogether. Are we really no longer those anxious kids that liked Pokémon for what it was despite its shortcomings and didn't needlessly criticize every aspect that didn't fit our preconceived notions of what Pokémon is "supposed" to be?
Pat: I think you gave the fandom of ten years ago too much credit, I'm sure they were just as impatient as they were now. To sum it up though, fans are never happy and never pleased. The TVTropes term Fan Dumbapplies as well to this fandom as any. Though in the end, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and sometimes, healthy disagreement and speculation are the essence that keeps a fan community alive and active.
SmearglePaints: The fandom, like any, has always been impatient. But then again we were 10-years-old back then. Most of us now are in our 20s, and yet we're still impatient. I think that says a lot about the fandom. But there's still that need for something more that the fandom itself is providing and I think that says even more.
SmearglePaints is a freelance writer that currently works for several sites, most notably RageCandyBar alongside SailorClef. RageCandyBar focuses on information the major fansites have either forgotten or chosen to ignore, such as the PokéGods, beta information, and social critique of the fandom itself.

Looking Forward can also be read on Bulbanews.