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.

The Dag asks:

What are your opinions on Pokemon Reborn, and whether fanmade games could possibly find elements of themselves incorporated into future canon games?

I don’t think I have an opinion on Pokémon Reborn; I don’t know anything about it.  The second part of this question… I think might have some legal or at least moral hazard to it?  Like, if someone creating a Pokémon fan game creates a cool new mechanic, and that mechanic is later incorporated into a commercial game and the original designer is not compensated in any way… well, I don’t think that would be illegal because (as I understand it) you can’t copyright a game mechanic and it would be extremely difficult to prove that Game Freak didn’t come up with the same idea independently (unless they straight up jacked the fan game’s code, which… well, why?), but it certainly seems sleazy to me?  And, indeed, arguably more so than doing the same with a mechanic from a game that had its own profitable release and was designed by a paid developer.  I don’t know; if I worked for Game Freak I think I might avoid even looking at fan games just so I didn’t need to have that debate with myself.

The Unholy Offspring of Gigantamax Garbodor, Alolan Muk and Galarian Weezing asks:

What’s something you hope to never see in the franchise? Aside from me of course?

I dunno if there is anything… like, my first thought is “microtransactions in a core Pokémon game” but even then, well, I don’t think I’d mind that for cosmetics like trainer clothing or fancy hairstyles, which make a lot of economic sense for the developers and don’t actually hurt the experience of players who don’t buy them.

I think it’s genuinely difficult to come up with a really unsalvageable idea that is bad in all circumstances without regard to specifics.  Generally when someone suggests a hypothetical feature for a future Pokémon game to me (which is sort of a genre of question that I get here quite often), it’s possible to imagine good and bad ways it might be executed.  Maybe I don’t think it works for what I currently understand as the direction of Pokémon’s worldbuilding and ethos, but it could be great as part of a totally new creative direction.

You could imagine something really specific, like… well, some kind of fusion of Gigantamax Garbodor, Alolan Muk and Galarian Weezing… but that also seems so specific and unlikely that “hope to never see it” is… not really the right phrase? 

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:”

Ms. Guided asks:

What do you think of the original game concept of having to eventually battle the opposing Pokemon yourself should all of yours be defeated?

I think it might be…

mis-guided?

…okay, you have to let me have that one; you were asking for it.

So, I don’t think we actually know for sure that trainers were going to take part in combat.  That’s one interpretation of some of the old concept art for Red and Green and all the trainers from Generation I who use whips, but as far as I know no-one from Game Freak or Nintendo has told us “yeah, we were thinking of letting you fight them yourself.”  Regardless… I think if you include that, Pokémon has to be a fairly different game and world from what it ended up being.  Mechanically, the trainer is going to end up acting like a seventh Pokémon, but it’s one that you can’t change or do anything interesting with, which is weird and jarring in a game that’s otherwise about building a team from hundreds of choices.  So, in order for it to not be a drag, you have to build a whole bunch of new systems and options for trainer combat, or maybe systems where you can optimise your trainer for either direct combat or other things.  That sounds interesting, don’t get me wrong, and I’ve even had a bunch of ideas for different abilities that trainers might have (haven’t we all?), but it sounds like it would be a nightmare to balance, especially if you want trainer combat to be a last resort, and you probably need to devise a whole separate experience system.  And do you use any of this in battles against other trainers?   If not, then it’s going to be a minor enough part of the game that you might as well not bother (because how often do you expect players to lose their entire teams to wild Pokémon?), but if you do, then what on earth does that do to the concept of what a Pokémon battle is?  If you beat your opponent’s Pokémon after yours have already lost, do you fight your opponent hand-to-hand?  Even if you aren’t fighting other trainers one-on-one, the world clearly feels  a lot more dangerous this way; like, in the games we have, your Pokémon are knocked out and you run back to a Pokémon Centre with them, and wild Pokémon don’t pursue you at that point.  If you’re fighting a vastly more powerful opponent by yourself as a last-ditch effort, what does that imply about the stakes?  Like, I don’t know if the Pokédex quest was a thing at this point in development, but is Professor Oak sending you out into the wild to catch Pokémon, knowing full well that they will try to kill you?  Clearly this isn’t something you can just plug into Pokémon as it exists; you have to start from the beginning and I think there’s potential for the end result to turn out either better or worse.

Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:

Imagine Game Freak gave us a new set of starters in a future generation, but instead of the traditional Grass-Fire-Water scheme, it’s a trio of types that have zero interaction with one another; say, Dark, Poison, and Flying. I can only imagine how the fanbase would react upon the initial announcement…

…BUT, upon reaching their fully-evolved forms, they adopt secondary types that are – you guessed it – Grass, Fire, and Water to become Dark/Grass, Poison/Fire, and Flying/Water, thereby simultaneously doing something new with the starters while still adhering to the tried-and-tested formula (and yes, I did choose those three types specifically so that each starter would have a double weakness, and not to each other). Obviously Game Freak shouldn’t announce the final forms prior to the games’ release to maximize that surprise factor. What do you think? Sound like a fun idea?

Honestly I think the initial fanbase reaction would be positive, because “a new starter type trio, even if it makes no sense” tends to get brought up a lot as a fun way to shake up the formula (if anything I suspect some people would be disappointed by the eventual return to Grass/Fire/Water, but whatever; you can’t please everyone).  I’m… sceptical; like, of all the things you could do to change Pokémon’s formula, “change the types of the starters” seems like maybe the tamest.

Continue reading “Leo M. R. [Patreon cultist] asks:”

Anonymous asks:

So here’s a thought that occured to me; for a series titled Pokémon, many of its plots aren’t really ABOUT the Pokémon themselves, are they? At most, they’re just plot devices while the human characters get all the focus, characterization, and development. You could replace Groudon with a weather dominator Team Magma created, and nothing about Ruby’s story would really change. Even Necrozma, the most proactive Legendary I can think of, is held back until the eleventh hour, and has everything about its character told to us by other characters (who seemingly exist ONLY to provide said exposition) instead of something the player finds out for themselves. What do you think would be the best way to rectify this recurring problem, if you even think it is one?

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Big Fan Love Your Work asks:

I didn’t want to ask, but I feel like someone – if not me or your own train of thinking – was going to eventually regardless: do you have any personal feelings on the stance of this “Dexit”? It’s a pretty volatile situation so I can understand not wanting to take a side, but it’s really, uh … blown up.

You are correct, but a little bit late – it’s already happened.
https://pokemaniacal.com/2019/06/25/herald-of-opera-asks/
When we first found out about all this, I, in my usual infuriatingly contrarian way, felt that it was a relatively minor piece of news about something that was eventually inevitable, and basically stopped thinking about it until I realised that the rest of the Pokémon community was in the process of declaring a holy war over it. That post contains pretty much all I care to say about the matter; people are welcome to argue about it in the comments, but I shall ignore them.

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.

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AceTrainerAlvaro asks:

Type (re)Design 1: I doubt the logic of type differences will ever be rigorously explained in-game to satisfy veterans who grew up with the series but I am curious about tinkering with weaknesses/strengths from a design perspective. For instance, I think it’s a design flaw that Rock- and Ground-type – hardy “earthen types” if you will – have so many weaknesses in common because it that discourages these types from appearing together in future designs given how crippling a 4× weakness to both common Water- and Grass-type attacks can be. An early idea I had was to combine these types into a single Earth-type but I realize this is unlikely and would mean cancelling out some of the more interesting resistances/immunities of either Rock- and Ground-types. My other idea would be to remove Ground-type weakness to Water-type attacks (becoming 1× normal damage) and remove Rock-type weakness (also becoming 1× normal damage) to Grass-type attacks. That means the Rhyhorn and Geodude families for instance would only suffer 2× weakness to either Grass- or Water-type attacks.

Thoughts? Or is this plea overly specific?

I have… a bit of a history of badmouthing Ground as a type that doesn’t really have a point, or any thematic unity. You could get rid of it, I think, and we would manage without it. I tend to think that, all else being equal, a smaller and less complicated type chart is actually better, as long as it doesn’t restrict design space.  There is an argument that we need some variable in the game that makes Flying Pokémon immune to Dig, Earthquake and Magnitude, but every other strength and weakness of the Ground type either overlaps with Rock (as you noted – weak to Grass and Water, strong against Fire) or doesn’t actually seem flavour-essential.  Why do Ground attacks need to do extra damage to Poison-types?  Or reduced damage to Bug-types?  There are also plenty of Ground attacks that… don’t seem like Flying-types should automatically dodge them?  Drill Run, Mud Shot, Sand Tomb, Earth Power… Bonemerang, for heaven’s sake.  I think it would actually make more sense to have specific attacks flagged as “this doesn’t work on anything that flies or levitates.”