Ashe asks:

You mentioned a while back that if you had your way, Pokémon would have less types, and Water would be one of the types on the chopping block. Can you elaborate more about which types you’d cut and why, and what would remain in your ideal type chart?

It goes through… iterations, depending on how much wild abandon I’m feeling from day to day, and what kind of scope I’m imagining for whatever hypothetical redesign of the Pokémon games that would give me this opportunity.  The common thread of my logic is that (contrary, I think, to a lot of fans) I don’t believe more types actually make the game better. Once you have about seven or eight you’ve probably already exhausted 90% of the strategic depth they add to the battle system (compare the TCG, which originally had just seven, although it was more or less forced to expand to eleven by the introduction of new types in generations II and VI, as well as the proliferation of Dragon-types starting in generation III). Having more just makes it harder to memorise all the relationships, and makes the game harder to get into. Like, I get it because I had the bulk of it seared into my impressionable child brain when I was nine, changes in generations II and VI notwithstanding, but if I picked up my first Pokémon game today, in my late 20s, I’m not sure I’d think that was worth my time (though I admit it helps that recent games in the core series display the type effectiveness of your moves against your opponents).  There’s an argument that more types enable a wider range of creature designs, but I think you can actually achieve the same result with fewer types more broadly defined. But let’s actually take a stab at answering this question.

Sometimes I just want to get rid of types that seem thematically redundant or confusing, which means getting rid of either Normal or Ground (both of which seem to function as “miscellaneous” types) and probably Flying (because no one knows what that type means).  Other days I want to imagine a revamped battle system where terrain plays a greater role (possibly even with tactical movement à la Pokémon: Conquest), and then I’m inclined not only to merge Ground with Rock and then give a “burrow” movement type to whichever specific Pokémon seem to deserve it, and fold “Flying” into Levitate, but also to replace Water with “swimming,” and have Water’s traditional vulnerability to Electric attacks apply instead to any Pokémon that happens to be in the water (even Pokémon that are normally resistant or immune to electricity, which is part of why “Ground”-types hate water so much).  You can ditch Poison too, honestly; there’s no good reason for “Pokémon that use poison” to be a category that shares common weaknesses and resistances, and poison can still be a property of attacks that some Pokémon are immune to.  Then some days I want to think about the most parsimonious type chart you could reasonably create while still having all the existing Pokémon make sense.  The most condensed I ever got it was by having types be a property of attacks, not Pokémon, where each Pokémon has its own unique set of weaknesses and resistances, and attacks can be dual-typed.  The attack types are then “Nature” (Grass, Bug, some of Ground, a little of Fairy), “Water” (including Ice and some of Poison), “Energy” (principally Fire and Electric), “Magic” (Dragon, some of Dark, most of Fairy), “Spirit” (Psychic, Ghost, some of Fighting), and two “physical” types whose names I go back and forth on but basically represent speed/precision versus strength/power.  You could use those in a system where Pokémon have types as well, but you’d probably need to also incorporate a “typeless” or “Normal” category, as well as some of those vulnerabilities associated with movement types that I mentioned before.

So there is no “ideal,” I’m afraid, because it depends on what we’re doing and what the point of it is, but those are some possibilities.

3 thoughts on “Ashe asks:

  1. While I get where you’re coming from and that you’re simply sharing your thoughts, I also have to admit I don’t like this idea very much? As you say, there’s no ideal system.

    For me, part of the appeal of Pokemon is the diverse type chart. Sure, it can be confusing, and not all interactions between types feel logical, but I also think simplifying the type chart would make Pokemon feel a lot more like a generic JRPG. Because face it, most of those boil down to elemental energies, which all have a strength and a weakness against each other, and dark and light magic, which is strong against each other,

    And why for example remove Ground over Rock, when most rock types could also easily be either Ground or Steel? Thematically speaking that is. Rock seems to be a sortof inbetween stage of Ground and Steel

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    1. Sorry I accidentally posted before I was done

      Nosepass is a Rock type, but its main feature are its magnetic properties. With Probopass , they continue that theme and even make it part Steel, to reflect that.

      Also, many traditional JRPGs tend to use Ice as an elemental rather than Water, which is fair I think. Both are a state of the other, depending on temperature. There are definitely Ice types that are pretty much frozen water (Cryogonal, the Vanillite line, Regice), while others could function as pure Water types as well, cause the only relation to Ice they have is that their habitats are cold (Cloyster, Spheal, Dewgong).

      I also get your beef with Flying, cause it would be more logical to call it Wind by now. But It’s only Gen I that really defined it as ‘bird’. With Gen II it pretty much became ‘wind’ in definition already, with Pokemon such as Hoppip andGligar, and Mantine. And even some Gen I Flying types have very little to do with birds, so I think Flying is more of a misnomer, much like Grass and Steel.

      And while reducing the amount of types might be helpful in one way, it might actually hinder the player in another. Because, if you want many of the designs to keep functioning as they are, they’d need extra abilities and skills that might even be species specific. And remembering those for some 800 Pokemon is a lot harder I think than remember that a Pokemon is a dual-type.

      Again, I get the confusing aspect of 18 types, and we definitely don’t need more. I think it would be better for GF to make similar types more unique , be that in strengths and weaknesses or additional effects, such as Grass types being immune to powder/spore moves, and Ghost types immunity to trapping.

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      1. Sure. There’s always tradeoffs, there’s always compromises. I have to admit, I do this kind of thing *partially* just to be contrary, because I think there *is* sort of an assumption in play for a lot of the Pokémon community that adding more types is always just obviously better, and I think assumptions like that deserve challenge. I mean, you agree we don’t need *more* types, but what are the odds that 18 happens to be the optimal number for an elegant design?

        To address some specific comments and questions here though:

        – The risk of turning Pokémon’s system into a generic JRPG is why I don’t think I would support taking it down to as few as four or five types. It is made more interesting, undeniably, by the fact that the larger number means you can have relationships that don’t boil down to a simple one-directional rock-paper-scissors circle. But, like I said, I do think you can get 90% of that benefit with seven or eight types.

        – I’d get rid of Ground rather than Rock because Ground is the one that makes less sense. Rock Pokémon are almost always Rock-types because their bodies are at least partially made of rock. Ground Pokémon are Ground-types because… well, often because they dig or burrow or have abilities related to earth and soil, but some of them because they’re related to sand (which is *usually* Ground these days but *sometimes* Rock), or to mud, or even just because they live *on* the ground? But if Nidoking and Piloswine are Ground-types, then why aren’t Stoutland or Kangaskhan or any number of other Pokémon?

        – Flying as Wind doesn’t work either, because lots of Flying Pokémon still don’t have powers related to wind, including some that aren’t birds *either* – like Gligar, in fact; it gets two wind-related moves from tutors, but none by level up or even as egg moves. In fact, of the five Flying Pokémon introduced in generation VII, only one – Oricorio – has any notable wind-related abilities. I think Flying is *still*, even today, very much “Bird, except when it’s wind, but also it could be neither, and sometimes we just couldn’t use the ability slot for Levitate.”

        – Some of this stuff does end up getting offloaded onto Pokémon-specific mechanics and abilities, true. I think the difference, though, is that you don’t need to know all 800 Pokémon right away (especially not if, as seems to be the case, future games will by default not include all of them). You can meet them gradually and learn weird things about them one at a time. In fact, that’s kind of the main promise that Pokémon makes. The type chart has to be front-loaded, though, because it’s a core mechanic that affects every battle. I think core mechanics should be as simple as possible – although, of course, there’s always room for debate on what counts as “core” and how simple is “simple.”

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