I know you don’t like to speculate, but what would your opinion be on Sun and Moon bringing in facets of the Ranger games / mentality into the main series (as some people apparently think due to similarities between the ranger regions and alola)? It’s pretty unlikely, but what do you think such a thing could add to world-fleshing-outness, conflict, story, et cetera?
Well, I think you’re right about it being unlikely – the fact that Alola is an island region (if that’s what we’re getting at? Not sure what else there is) seems like a pretty flimsy reason to make a prediction like that to me. But having said that, I don’t think it would necessarily be a bad idea to, say, replace HMs for field moves with a minigame where you convince a wild Pokémon to temporarily join you and help you to clear an obstacle. HM moves are a pain, and you can potentially get a nice sense of negotiation with the wild Pokémon, show how they fit into their environment, and emphasise that wild areas really belong to them. Other parts of the Ranger philosophy, like having only one partner Pokémon rather than large teams, seem incompatible with the basic assumptions of the gameplay; you could have characters who live with Pokémon in that way, but I suspect that much of the significance of that would be lost if the player wasn’t the one doing it. If you don’t actually play from the Rangers’ perspective, they probably just seem from the outside like trainers who only have one Pokémon. You can’t really make the Rangers the villains either, for obvious reasons, although a faction like that certainly would have been an interesting presence in a story like that of Black and White, just to make things more complicated for everyone – what would they have thought of Ghetsis’ rhetoric of Pokémon liberation? It would be also interesting to introduce some new mechanics that emphasise the uniqueness of the player’s relationship with the starter Pokémon in the same way as the Ranger games do, but that’s probably something you have to build from scratch to serve the very different gameplay of the core series.