Ty asks:

So there’s a Pokemon fan game that I’ve been enjoying for quite a while now called Pokemon Rejuvenation, and while they stay pretty true to the original Pokemon games, they also have added new things on top of the old system like more complex field effects, Gym Leaders with exclusive, signature moves, and a hard level cap where your Pokemon stop getting EXP at a certain point until you get your next badge.

One of these things I’d love to hear your opinion on, which is Pokemon Crests. Crests are inspired by items like Marowak’s Thick Club and Farfetch’d’s Stick. Pokemon Crests can be held by specific Pokemon to give them advantages to help make weaker Pokemon stronger. Here are some examples that were added: [cutting this for space and moving it to the end]

There are several more Crests, but you get the picture. What are your thoughts on this concept, how you like it in comparison to other ways of strengthening weaker Pokemon that we’ve seen, and how reasonable do you think this solution is?

Continue reading “Ty asks:”

House Hightower of the Hightower asks:

Now that we’ve had the Fairy type for a while, how well do you think they achieved their conceptual goals, which ostensibly were to both nerf Dragon Pokemon and re-assert the offensive relevance of Poison and Steel types?

Pretty well, I guess?  A lot of Dragon-types are still really good, but they’re largely carried by their extremely high base stats now; the game is noticeably much less about throwing Draco Meteors and Outrages while blocking with Steel-types than it was in generations IV and V.  You can’t really make a competitive team with, like, four or five Pokémon from one of those two types and expect it to work, which… you arguably could, for a while?  You still probably wouldn’t stick a Poison attack on a non-Poison Pokémon unless you were really strapped for better options, but I guess I feel less bad about using Poison-types in offensive roles now.  Steel as an attack type often still feels redundant with other attacks that a lot of the same Pokémon tend to learn (and when do you need a type advantage against Ice, anyway?  They don’t resist anything; just hit ‘em with whatever), but Steel Pokémon are fine, obviously.

A Bucket of Water asks:

Why do you think Rotation Battles sorta just stopped being a thing?

Well… well, I want to just answer “because they were kinda dumb and gimmicky and probably not worth the effort,” but upon sober reflection that might be slightly unfair.  I don’t think alternate battle formats with different fundamental rules are in principle a bad idea; they mix up what can be a somewhat repetitive core gameplay experience, and depending on exactly what rules you change, they can be ways for otherwise useless Pokémon to get some time in the spotlight (there are quite a few that have never been good in singles, but shine in doubles because of their support skills).  I don’t know much about how rotation battles tend to play, though, because… well, because hardly anyone ever played them.  Even in generation V I don’t think there were ever many big tournaments that used rotation battles as the format, or a large competitive community.  And… well… even the games themselves sort of treat them as a gimmick.  There are so few rotation battles in the single player story that you never really get a feel for how they’re different from single or double battles, so it doesn’t feel important to learn how they work and there isn’t any case made for why anyone would want to play them.  They’re just… kind of superfluous, and to make them not superfluous they needed to have more support from the very beginning, not just be kept around for the sake of completeness.

I have also seen a suggestion that axing triple and rotation battles for Sun and Moon might have something to do with the graphical capabilities of the 3DS.  Triples and rotations in X and Y are… well, they have performance issues, put it that way, and Sun and Moon noticeably struggle to run at normal speed even with four Pokémon on screen in a double battle.  I don’t know that this was a factor in discontinuing them, but it kinda makes sense to me?  The Switch is more powerful and Sword and Shield don’t seem to have these problems, so mayyyyyyybe there’s an argument there for the return of triples and rotations in a future game?  Not sure.

Camarasaurus asks:

How would you change/better balance Ice type Pokemon, aside from making them resistant to water-type attacks?

Well… I think Ice should be bad defensively; I think that works as a type identity thing.  It doesn’t need to be as bad as it is, though.  Resistance to just one other common, strong attack type probably makes it about as good defensively as Psychic, which is a poor defensive type but not actually comical, and supports a decent variety of tank and support Pokémon.  Water… well, Water does seem like the most logical choice there; it’s not perfect, because one thing that Ice-type tanks need is a point of distinction from Water-type tanks (who both resist Ice attacks and can normally learn them).  Maybe there’s an argument there for resistance to Dragon (although at that point you probably need to give Dragon a buff somewhere else) or Ground, instead of Water.  I know you said aside from that, but I really don’t know that there needs to be much more, at least not in terms of adjustments to the type chart itself; Ice is also really strong offensively and I don’t want to risk overtuning it.  I like the more indirect buffs like the addition of new Hail synergies – Aurora Veil, Slush Rush, Ice Face – and I like the suggestion in the comments of this post that Ice-types should get a physical defence buff during hail, to parallel the special defence buff that Rock-types get during sandstorms.

Tapu Wooloo asks:

A while back, you cautiously played with the idea of replacing the physical/special split with a spectrum, where Flare Blitz would be 80% physical and 20% special for instance. You said this would probably be too radical. But what if there were just a “mixed” category of moves (50% physical and 50% special)? You could change some moves to mixed (like Rock Throw, Razor Leaf, Earthquake etc) and in exchange buff their power a bit.

then clarifies:

On second thought, “mixed” attacks wouldn’t need a power buff, since they’d be as hard to defend against as to attack with. But my question remains the same otherwise.

um

what… exactly did I say…?

Oh, here it is.

So… it’s been a while and I can’t testify with 100% certainty to my state of mind when I wrote that, but I think when I said “such a radical change I’m not even sure I’d want to do it,” I didn’t mean “this is too much of a departure and the fan base would never buy it,” so much as “I am worried this might break some important aspects of the game’s strategy in a way that isn’t immediately obvious to me and can’t be balanced out in a straightforward way.”  If you have this category of mixed moves, then the whole concept of “wall” Pokémon changes quite significantly, because it’s much less viable to focus on just one type of defence, which in turn shifts the balance of the game significantly towards offence.  That may be totally fine, but I don’t know, and I don’t really have the capacity to find out.  It’s a sufficiently foundational change to the battle system that I’m nervous about unreservedly declaring that it’s a good idea, and I’m not sure that it’s possible to work that out theoretically.  On the other hand, we do have Psyshock, a special attack that does physical damage, which hasn’t broken anything, and “mixed” attacks would be more demanding of attackers as well, who’d need to invest in both attack stats.  So maybe it’s completely fine?  I don’t know.  That’s all that means; I still don’t know.

jeffthelinguist asks:

I was wondering what your thoughts are on how Pokemon Masters handles typings. Now, I know the game is a shameless gacha cash grab so in the likely chance you haven’t touched it (and for good reason): Pokemon don’t have a type, exactly. Pokémon moves all have a type and Pokemon themselves each have one individual weakness. So while Blastoise is weak to electric, Feraligatr is weak to grass. Most Pokemon only have moves of one type which is probably the most relevant factor, though some have two move types (like Ho-Oh having fire, Overheat, and grass, Solar Beam). Now maybe having one weakness is oversimplifying, but having weaknesses depending on an individual basis and reserving typings for moves does have its own implications. Thoughts?

Well, I wanted to give Masters a try when it first came out, but the fact is, my phone is just too $#!tty to run it with anything resembling acceptable performance, and I’m not about to change my lifelong policy of carrying only the $#!ttiest phone on the market just for this game.  So I don’t really know how this works out in practice.  In general I’m in favour of simplifying Pokémon’s type system and I have in the past suggested… well, basically the elements of this system that you’re highlighting, but I think with only one weakness and two moves (potentially two moves of the same type) per Pokémon, this might be too simple to transfer well to the core games.  Masters has triple battles as its default format and focuses much more heavily on trainers’ ability to support their Pokémon, so it simply doesn’t need to place the same weight on the Pokémon themselves; it has other avenues for creating complexity.

Larry asks:

Hey, so I know you’re an utter madman and would like to eliminate types from the chart. That sounds really unnecessary but. If you got to rebalance the type chart a bit, change some of the dynamics, what would you do? How will you help the poor ice types? Will you finally stop the steel types?

I think you’ve maybe misunderstood me, because to me these are two unrelated issues.  I don’t think the 18-type chart is, in principle, impossible to balance (I do think that 900 Pokémon are, in principle, impossible to balance, but that’s another whole thing).  I don’t want to cut down the number of types because I think it would make the game more balanced (I mean, it might, but I don’t think it’s the only or best way to do that, and it wouldn’t be enough on its own).  I want to cut it down… as weird as this will sound, basically for aesthetic reasons – to whit, I think it’s an ugly, overcomplicated mess that doesn’t actually need to exist.  Beautiful or elegant game mechanics, to me, are ones where complex gameplay and strategy arise from the interactions of simple rules and principles.  The type chart means that Pokémon does this in reverse: the fundamental rules are complicated and counterintuitive, but the resulting gameplay is not particularly any more interesting than it would be using a greatly reduced system.

I will admit, having said all this, that (like many things) I say this stuff partly just to be contrary.  I’m not even all that committed to it; I just want to force everyone to think about it.  I mean, people talk all the time about what new types they’d want to add, from time to time people ask me to talk about types I’d like to add; so clearly no one thinks the type chart is sacred and can’t be changed.  Why is it so much more uncomfortable to talk about getting rid of some of it; why is anyone bothered when I say that I think that might be a good idea?  It’s an uncontroversial axiom of good design that you should leave out or trim down elements that are unnecessary or bloated, but after last year’s… invigorating discussions… about Sword and Shield, I get the impression that a good chunk of the Pokémon fan community is pretty strongly opposed to what I think is a fairly obvious principle.  I’d like people to consider, when they talk about game design in Pokémon and all the cool ideas they want to add, whether there are also things they’d like to remove – because that can also improve a game.

Anyway, to the question you actually asked… whatever, Steel should have a lot of resistances but maybe it could do with one more weakness (Water?), Grass and Bug are comically shafted and shouldn’t be resisted by so many things (maybe lose Flying for Grass and Ghost for Bug), thematically I just think it would be really neat for Normal to be strong against Fairy (it should really be strong against something)… and at that point I guess you should probably stop and playtest for a bit before tinkering any further. Something like that.

AceTrainerAlvaro asks:

IV-training and competitive battling aside, sometimes I feel training your Pokémon in battle is too straight-forward and controlled. I’d like to see a mechanic where even a wild-caught Pokémon occasionally disobeys its trainer’s command (maybe it “slacks off” or uses a different move altogether) or feels overwhelmed / flinches and returns to its Pokéball for an ally to replace it. And this becomes less likely the more trust (higher friendship value) a given Pokémon has towards its trainer until it fades away once High Friendship (value 200) is achieved. Keep in mind each Pokémon species is assigned a base friendship level when caught so disobedience could be more pronounced for certain species (which naturally feature a lower baseline friendship value when caught) than others. I’d especially like to see this play out in pseudo-legendary lines, legendary/mythical Pokémon, and maybe special versions of certain species – regardless of how many badges you have (obedience according to your number of collected badges could remain a separate mechanic specific to traded Pokémon).

Thoughts?

So, I think this changes the “vibe,” if you will, considerably.  I suspect if you just implement mechanics like this in the core Pokémon games as they currently exist, and don’t also add some kind of additional systems for developing your relationship with your Pokémon that come with associated benefits, players would unreservedly hate it.  It’s a whole extra mechanic standing between us and what we already understand to be “normal” battling, which makes the game much harder – but in a random and frustrating way, not in a way you can be strategic about.  I appreciate the goal here, making your friendships with your Pokémon something you really have to work at, but there’s got to be more to it, carrots and not just sticks, and ways of working around the disadvantages.

Having said all that, if you wanted to rebuild Pokémon to be a much more punishing and painful game all around – something in the spirit of the Nuzlocke challenge, for instance – this mechanic might be an interesting addition as it stands; something that will, from time to time, just randomly cause you to lose a Pokémon and force you to adapt to that loss. Throw in Nuzlocke staples like permanent death and limited, randomised Pokémon choice; reduce access to Pokémon Centres and sharply limit healing items (maybe lock high-quality healing behind some kind of crafting system); add some permanent debilitating conditions (so, like, less experienced Pokémon might disobey you, but more experienced Pokémon might also have picked up scars or developed phobias that give them specific weak points); remove some of the quality-of-life stuff from the last few generations like easy EV training methods… maybe then we’ve got a game on our hands. Either way, it’s got to be part of a package of mechanics with a definite theme and feel, is the point.

Mr. Rected asks:

So now that we have Mega Evolution, Z Moves, and Dyna/Gigantamaxing, if you were in charge, for Gen 9, what would be their totally unprecedented, initially controversial, yet eventually beloved battling Schtick,? Also what type of cake do you think would taste best half burned?

Well, the answer to the cake question, I know from experience, is chocolate; like, ideally you don’t ever want your cake half-burned, but I would say that, of the half-burned cakes, chocolate is the one that suffers the least.

As for the other thing… sooooooooo, I don’t just have a developed idea for one of these lying around, and I’m not sure if there is a “best” answer unless we develop the setting and story in concert (which… no; go away and leave me alone), but here’s three spitball ideas.

Continue reading “Mr. Rected asks:”

RandomAccess asks:

I recently found out that in Sword and Shield, they retconned some evolution methods, specifically the ones that require being in a certain area then leveling them up. They had Pokemon that evolve in a special magnetic field (like Charjabug to Vikavolt) evolve using a thunder stone instead, the one who evolves around a moss rock(Eevee to Leafeon) use a leaf stone instead, and the one who evolves around an ice rock(Eevee to Glaceon) use an ice stone instead. To my knowledge, this is the first time they retconned an evolution method to one that has already been used before (unlike the case of introducing a new method, like the prism scale item for Feebas to make up for not having the contest-dependent beauty stat in generation 5). I honestly think this is a good move, and really opens up the door to either making things easier for people who don’t like currently cumbersome evolution methods, or changing them in the future to make them reflect the lore better (hoping using a shelder to evolve a slowpoke can become a reality in the future) but what do you think about them suddenly becoming more open to changing long-standing mechanics that they’ve been careful not to contradict before?

It just seems like fairly straightforwardly a good thing, to me.  I mean, those weird location-based evolutions mostly exist, I think, to satisfy the rule that an old Pokémon getting a new evolution has to use a method that wasn’t previously available, to keep the games consistent.  That is a dumb rule in the first place.  Not only is it a dumb rule, though, it saddles us with a requirement that any game with Magneton in it must have an area with a weird magnetic field, and any game with Eevee in it must have a Mossy Rock and an Icy Rock, and so on.  Day/night mechanics are just standard now, but that was actually a problem in generation III because Fire Red and Leaf Green have no clock and it was impossible to evolve Eevee into Espeon or Umbreon in those games.  Even Pokémon that had unusual evolution methods when they were first introduced are kind of a drag… I mean, Inkay, for heaven’s sake; you can’t evolve Inkay if you’re playing on a big screen because there’s no way to turn it upside down.  Meltan’s evolution is tied to a completely different game that Game Freak doesn’t have direct control over.  Like… at some point, common sense has to kick in, just to keep us all from going mad… right?