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Pokemon Go!

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    Anybody playing Pokemon Go? I started it up yesterday to see what all the fuss is about. I have to say, I was completely underwhelmed by the design and implementation of the game, but i’m assuming it will….evolve? I’m not so far along that I’ve been able to join or create any sort of WillowWatch alliance, but I fully intend to. My username is ThaRoadWarrior (same as on XBL).

    Some core mechanics that are not great/greatly explained:
    ·No explanation for the UI anywhere.
    ·Catching wild pokemon is done by kind of flicking pokeballs in the general direction of a pokemon, which has a sort of targeting reticule on it, but no other help to let you know how far your ball will go, what you’re even supposed to do mechanically (you don’t whittle down their HP with your team, you just throw balls and try to hit them directly)
    ·They tell you that Pokestops are really important, mission critical in fact, but they don’t tell you what to do when you get to one. (you have to spin the picture it turns out, but the Pokestop screen doesn’t tell you to do that, or invite you in any way to do that)
    ·No real explanation for the leveling mechanics are given. Leveling seems to require two types of currencies: candy that may or may not be pokemon specific and some sort of stardust. How to acquire more of either is not explained
    ·Pokemon can be traded back to Professor Willow by scrolling down on a pokemon’s stat card either right at capture time or via the pokemon inventory, but there is nothing on the screen to indicate you can swipe there (such as partially visible content, arrows, etc), and the trade in messaging doesn’t indicate you will receive anything of value for doing so, but the Professor gives you pokemon candy when you do it
    ·There is really nothing at all to do that doesn’t involve physically walking around in the real world, so there is no reason to engage with it when you’re say in for the night. Some sort of mini game or a tournament mode or something would be great for people with say sleeping infants who can’t be left alone and jobs during the day that don’t allow for significant perambulatory meanderings


    Seems like a huge missed opportunity to not have tied Red/Blue to iOS/Android too, and made you trade with other device users.


    The fact that the trading feature is coming but isn’t in the game yet (even though it’s at the heart of Pokemon) would keep the Red/ Blue dynamic from being applicable.

    But yeah, I agree – they tell you nothing. And it’s not a “get good” scenario it’s like 90% of the game’s functions are outright hidden and you have to discover them, but discovery of functions/ features doesn’t appear to be part of the intention of the game.


    I’ve been having this argument with several people today who are variously claiming it is “old school” game design. It is certainly regressive in that it doesn’t feel designed on purpose at all; hidden features in a game like Candy Box make sense, and are fun, because the game is built around them. Pokemon Go! features feel partially, poorly, or not implemented at all to a degree that doesn’t feel intentional but instead rushed or half-assed.

    As a prime example of a poorly implemented feature: Catching pokemon takes you to a screen with some basic stats. This is the only screen in the game that can be scrolled, but there is no invitation to scroll past the jump (such as a few pixels of more content showing). However, in order to trade pokemon for pokemon candy you must do this. When you do get to the bottom, you get a button labeled “Transfer” that when pressed presents the message: Give this Pokemon to professor willow? You won’t get it back,” which is scary, and makes you not want to confirm the choice. What actually happens here is you exhange an extra pokemon for a pokemon candy that you need to level up and evolve pokemon of that type. this is Castlevania 2 level mis-messaging. That is bad or haphazard design, not “old school” design. Pokemon games have never suffered from this, so why this one feels it is appropriate (and people are so invested in excusing it) is interesting to me.


    The transfer button is particularly confusing because 1) it’s called transfer, implying a Poke-trade, which it’s not in the least and 2) it’s a core game mechanic but is awkwardly buried at the bottom of the pokemon’s stats which isn’t just hidden, but awkward to select because you have to try not to swipe any other part of the stats. Shit should be at the top of the stat – right next to evolve and level. No one cares WHERE you caught a pokemon on the map.


    Niantic doesn’t really have a strong history of explaining their games. Ingress has a lot of the same explanation problems. There are hidden interactions that are never explained, you either have to stumble on them by chance or find a community guide.

    The game as is is basically a more balanced less buggy version of the beta. I get the impression that someone told them to just kick it out of the door as is. It ended up being released less than a week after the beta ended.

    My best guess for the targeting reticle is that
    A) the smaller the higher the catch chance, from forums and news sites
    B) the reticle also acts as a sort of called shot. If you hit the pokemon within the shrinking circle you get an xp bonus based on the size, either Nice 10xp, Great 50xp, or Excellent 100xp. The pokemon all seem to use a sphere collider so actually hitting the pokemon within the circle is difficult. If you are more interested in xp than conserving pokeballs its sometimes useful to go for a larger circle.

    In terms of upcoming features I expect there to be a chat since ingress has a fairly robust chat system allowing you to filter by things like faction and distance. I hope there will be friends lists and battling people’s teams. People digging in the code have found evidence for pokemon natures as well as sponsored gyms, such as at mcdonalds. There will be other items as well such as additional pokestop mods and berries.

    I don’t know if anyone has gotten high enough but the beta had ultra balls and super rarely(as in I know of only one ever found) Master balls. The stories of someone missing the pokemon with a masterball entirely will be horrifying and epic.

    For evolving vs powering up you are better off evolving first. When a pokemon evolves its moves are randomly chosen. In addition its strength is proportional to its previous form, but increasing its strength costs the same amount. When you look at the portrait of your pokemon you can see an arc showing a pokemon’s percentage of max strength(max strength increases with trainer level). When you evolve the pokemon’s power stays at about that same percentage and powering him up increases the same percentage as a lower form. So you should evolve your pokemon with the strongest CP and check to see if you like his move set.

    Steam: Garayur


    It is really frustrating, because there IS a game here, it just has a terrible onboarding experience, and the GPS is haphazard at best. The Nearby Pokemon menu is arcane, and there is no in-game reason why your character shouldn’t know how to make use of that tool, but they give 0 guidance to players on what it is telling them. I’ve read a few articles talking about how they have mostly figured out how to make it work, but even then it isn’t so dialed in that they are calling the “how to use nearby pokemon” problem solved.I’m of a mind that it is probably intended to work like you expect, where you select a pokemon from the nearby list and then follow the compass to it, but it just doesn’t. In the Settings->Help Center, which sounds like a bug ticketing system, you can go out to an external web page that has pretty detailed instructions on how to do most of the things. I’m cool with certain bits being secret, like if you circle your finger on a pokeball prior to throwing, you can throw a curveball that gives you a difficulty bonus on capture (10XP, not worth the added difficulty of aiming a curving shot at all, particularly when an accurate regular shot is worth an extra 50XP), I just don’t like the core features being deliberately obfuscated from players. I’m told that trading, or at least PvP fighting is coming in an update soon. That will make a huge difference.


    In the parking lot across from my office there is a floating triangle on the map. It is right next to a pokestop. Nobody seems to know what this means, so i guess I’ll mount an expedition at lunch to investigate. Whatever it is, it is actually there in the map because other people in the office can also see it, and it is there again today.
    mystery triangle


    Update on the Mystery Triangle: it appears to be a glitch. the actual triangle is hovering over some water. there is a dock there, and you can get close, but not on top of it. the shadow roughly corresponds with a bench swing in a park, but I think it is just coincidence.

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