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A pokemon game concept idea.

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1 A pokemon game concept idea. on Mon Jul 25, 2016 5:13 pm

Do you like speculating in a vacuum? In case you do, I have little itty bit of spitting at the ceiling here that might tickle your fancy.

XXX

A foreword of sorts:

Spoiler:
There has been a lot of stuff for the Pokemon franchise done in various media over  the years, but the main game series has not strayed from what it had first started out all  that far in a number of ways. Perhaps the most notable being the general premise.

Not to say there was no progress on that part - they've made pokemon games that didn't, in  fact, have the protagonist's rival be a complete bag of dicks. Not requiring the airquotes  around the friendly part of the 'friendly rival' designation, as it were.

But, as it was noted recently during the discussion of the Pokemon live action movie  announcement, all canon Pokemon stories ever do is the same basic storyline. Which may or may  not work satisfactory (depending on your opinion) with the 'gameplay first' approach the game  series had been using so far, but would most probably not translate well into other formats.  And make the storyline itself into 'mash A to progress, you've read this all six times  already' besides. Something that, I think, could've been done... if not 'better', then at  least differently.

Since this stuff here below is going to involve discussing the characterization, setting,  themes, etc, etc, I feel it should be noted that I do not want to challenge anyone's personal  interpretations of the Pokemon world in general and how the life is in the regions the game cover in particular. We already did that numerous times during streams and whatnot. That is not the point of this thread.

Instead, this is a collection of things I think I would've liked to see in a Pokemon game,  but, given the history of the franchise so far, will probably never live to see done in practice.
XXX

Onto the actual 'meat':

A protagonist of toggleable gender, user input name and minimalistic characterization would  start off the game, with the option that was not chosen becoming one of the NPCs they have  known for some time before the story starts, as is the usual for the series by now.

They would not be, however, a schoolkid of not quite determined age, starting off on a  journey of self-discovery (that just so happens to include tearing everybody who thought they knew something about being a pokemon trainer a new one in record time).

Instead, they are somewhere in between 'young adult' and 'midlife crisis' - gotta love that  ambiguous stylized visual presentation - in age, busy with all the day-to-day problems of  their life, going nowhere fast. And, most importantly, they are not a pokemon trainer.

While I certainly would've liked to weld KOTOR 2 style dialogue trees onto as much videogames  as possible, I am not fully sure deviating from the silent protagonist norm would do more  good than harm here. So, in case of variable or unexplained backstory, maybe they have  entertained dreams, hopes, plans in regards to becoming one sometime earlier in their lives,  but couldn't quite make it. Or maybe they didn't. A life of a pokemon trainer is not for  everyone, after all.

It is not like the story is supposed to be happening in a wholly different continuity. Or that nobody have heard of either pokemon or pokemon trainers and associated paraphernalia  outside of the places the games have covered previously.

It's just... the protagonist happens to live in a part of the world that is not particularly well off. The know-how required of a pokemon trainer to do what they do without getting maimed or killed is not as common as it may be elsewhere. Neither is the tech base, the supplies required to keep the pokemon tame, happy, fed and healthy on the go. Pokeballs are  not a common sight. There is no handy pokemon center in the region the game starts in.

There are a number of pokemon co-existing along humans within the population centers without  too much danger to either side. There are pokemon roughly equivalent to domesticated  livestock and household pets.

But a loyal comrade at your side, ready and capable of defending you from nasty critters  prowling outside of major populated areas - or even inside your house, in case one of them  decides to eat your car's battery or something - is not the norm. It is a commodity. Which  you do not have.

And so, faced with the everyday dangers of running across a wild pokemon that doesn't like  the look of them without a pokemon of their own to help out, the main character is forced to  improvise.

The situations they will have to face during the starting part of the game would be something  like:

- Your usual source of potable water is out for an indeterminable amout of time. You have a reserve for just such an occasion, but you need to get more in case that turns out to  be not enough to tide you over. So you grab your bike, a couple of empty canisters and cycle to the nearest place you can get some. Problem is, on your return trip you are weighed down by forty or so kilograms of water and so you have to walk your bike home, thus not having  access to shortcuts you could use on the previous leg of your quest or being able to just push the pedals and outrun your pursuit...

- You are moving. You have to clear out a place where you will build your new home in or a  previously existing refuge built by somebody else from the various creepy crawlies that have  already settled there.

- The plantation you are working on is suffering a seasonal deluge of bug pokemon. The owners' household has a pokemon or a few of their own to help repel them, but it will definitely be not enough. So you and other workers will have to scramble hard in order to prevent your collective livelihood getting munched on.

XXX

Narrative would start off with showing a little bit of how the main character and the people  around them live. Their family, their neighbours, co-workers - just to get a feel of how the life normally is around those parts. Show some things getting worse over time, some things getting better. Their lives chugging on.

The catalyst of the plot would be some kind of irreversible change. One poor harvest too many, perhaps, due to change in climate and/or wild pokemon migration. Maybe the mine that was supporting the town's development is closed down. Maybe some natural disaster that wrecks whatever infrastructure they have going too much to maintain living conditions over the long term. Or maybe it's just organised crime moving in and making things worse for  everybody. Whatever the reason, the protagonist's family and some of the neighbours either decide to risk a move or are left with no choice but to do so by the circumstances.

Somewhere along the road, either because of them moving closer to major population centers in  their attempts to find a new place to live in or because of all those pokemon professors' efforts to spread it, or a combination of both, the protagonist meets an actual certified trainer. With the knowledge and equipment to show for it. And they get a bit of a master class on this whole 'bonding with the beasties to become an ironclad team of whoopass  dispensation' thing. (And, perhaps with some surprise, discover that with all their previous experience with pokemon they were more than halfway there already.)

It wouldn't be the first time they've cooperated with a pokemon, including during a life- threatening emergency. They may have one with them already, a stray of some description that  have decided to follow them during all the chaos of the plot kicking off. But this encounter with a trainer teaches them how to go out there, attempt to find rapport with a creature  you've never met before and succeed. (Spoiler: pokeballs don't do everything for you.)

Gameplay-wise, that would be the point at which the game would open up the 'find, capture and  nurture a killteam of your dreams' aspect of it, if with less emphasis on the 'gotta catch 'em all' and 'gotta beat the best there is' angles.

The plot could go several directions from there. Maybe the first stop they've settled in doesn't allow to put the roots down permanently for some reason or another, and they end up  moving several times more at irregular intervals in search for a better life. Maybe the rest  of the family does score a lucky strike, but the main character... discover a taste for  wanderlust. Or maybe they don't, but are still good at operating pokemon-inhabited areas in  both the countryside and within cities and have to do it anyway in order to find employment.

Plotlines concerning changes to climate, pokemon populations, natural disasters and criminal  groups making use of pokemon to further their interests may go along with it to help flesh  the world out.

They also get to meet a lot of other trainers along the way. And discover that their opinion  of what a trainer is and what is it they do - doubtlessly affected by their first meeting  with one - can vary rather wildly from other people's. Apparently, their ad hoc teacher was on the wholesome side when compared to the rest of them, even if he/she didn't look the part at the time. (For bonus points, make that character a main character of some of the previous  games. Ideally, Red himself some 20+ years into the future.)

Although neither filling out the  pokemon database or beating everybody is ever stated as an explicit goal, there are people  out there who do strive for those. And the main character gets to see them from an outside perspective.

XXX

Which kind of sounds like the same story all over again, if with some accents moved around.

I suppose that would be the point though. 'Darker and Edgier' is reviled and made fun of not without reason, and I definitely wouldn't want to stray into that territory. But I still  wonder what it would be like if the series chose a bit of a... different perspective on the same basic stuff. A little more focus on the people's lives instead of kicking ass and taking names. Few choose to live on the road, and it's not all rainbows and roses even for those  that do.

And I seriously doubt canon pokemon games ever gonna have the party travel via a monster truck. Very Happy

XXX

The already existing take on enemy encounters is certainly workable as is, and is slowly added to with each 'generation' of pokemon games. But the way it handles landscape, weather,  positioning, uneven encounters is, IMHO, in need of a rehaul. And it would be flat out  insufficient for the purposes of this hypothetical game idea. What would be, though?

- Visible encounters. To make avoiding undesirable fights something more involved than 'do you have your repel on, Y/N?', the game would have to be able to show those roaming nasties  before you run into them. Some would be less obvious than others, making knowledge of pokemon  habitats and behaviour directly relevant in gameplay.

- Seamless transfer between out-of-combat free movement and in-combat turn-based on-a-grid  mode. I am not saying that every game should take cues from Tactics Ogre in everything, but  having different elevations, different kinds of tiles, different movement ranges and types, obstacles, facing, different aoe ranges and templates, more involved weather effects, etc, matter would allow for combat encounters to be... more. Especially since 'beat everything  that moves into submission' doesn't necessarily have to be the only victory condition.

- The player character themselves would have to participate in gameplay more directly. In  case of official competitions or friendly matches, pokemon trainers would not come under fire  normally. But ticked off wildlife wouldn't care about such things. As well as some sore losers. Much less somebody trying to outright mug you.

I don't think that lowering the player character's hp to 0 should be an instant game over. Or instantly win you the encounter if you  manage to do it to your opposition. But deployed pokemon should be less efficient in such a  situation somehow, unless they happen to really know what they are doing. Maybe not remove direct control of them or plain debuff them, but some kind of reduction should probably be in order. A variety of items and passive and active abilities that only the human part of the  team has access to?

- Speaking of which, human party members. With their own pokemon cohorts. They don't need to  be computer controlled 'guests' either. The degree of cooperation and interchangability you can achieve would be limited at first, but as you get to know each other better, both humans  and pokemon can learn to swap smoothly between teams and enhance each other's perfomance  further. 'More than the sum of its parts,' and all that.

- Lures and repels would have to be seriously expanded upon. Even if limited to just quest  objectives, having to cook up the solution to the problem out of what is available when the  prepackaged purchased chemical can't do the job or is simply not there to make use of has to be in the game.

I dunno about you, but I'd very much like to hose down some of those backbiting buggers with a pressurized stream of cold water. (Which could probably serve as a treat or a distraction instead of something unpleasant for some others.)

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2 Re: A pokemon game concept idea. on Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:53 pm

I really like the story concept. It's always bothered me that so many people make their livelihood as participants in a sport that seems to be minimally monitized (how many public tournaments are there a year in a given region? Are there sponsors?). Featuring a low-budget 'casual' trainer not only addresses this but expands the setting in a way that has a lot of potential. But what you described sounds more like a slice-of-life story better suited for an episodic presentation like an anime. I'm not sure it would work as well in a traditional Pokemon game. What would you think of a more sandboxy approach, like a Pokemon version of Harvest Moon? There would still be events like you described that you would have to deal with, but you'd have more options with differing consequences. You'd have at least one ad-hoc day job you could go to whenever you needed money to fund your Pokemon hobby, but other income options would be available (maybe getting into the breeding side of the sport rather than the battling, or working at a gym). You'd have relationships with family and other contacts to build and maintain, but you'd be free to travel to other towns and establish yourself there while you improve your skills, meet new trainers, learn about new Pokemon. Maybe forming a party of other trainers would still be an option, since I haven't seen that in a Harvest Moon style game (even in a regular Pokemon game it would be an awesome change-up). Winning the big tournament would still be an obvious goal, but not necessarily the only goal, and certainly not the only available ending.

My idea back in the day was a Pokemon FPS in an RPG framework (Metroid Prime with towns and shops). Having such a HUGE variety of enemies in a shooter, with equally varied weapons and the ability to deploy your own Pokemon to assist on the field, would be a worthy expansion of the genre. I hadn't thought out the plot too much, but I pictured the player as a soldier in a guerilla army opposing the latest incarnation of Team Rocket, which have already succeed in conquering the world and transforming it into a police state. But not the cartoonishly evil kind - there'd be entire towns of people who are perfectly happy with the way things are, oblivious to the more sinister activities of their new government, in which you'd have to operate undercover, while other towns closer to home would be more sympathetic to your cause. Weaponized Pokemon would be a major component of its military might, while citizens are forbidden from owning Pokemon of any sort and access to related technologies is tightly controlled (the player would find Pokeballs to be in very short supply). You'd be given missions by your commanding officer that would eventually culminate in raiding the capital, but most of the time you'd be free to roam the world autonomously. Trekking through the wilderness over the course of the game would also involve frequent encounters with wild Pokemon, which would actually display the behaviors and properties mentioned in the flavor text of the Pokedex and could be captured. However, many of the higher level ones would be impossible to control (because nobody has much experience as a trainer anymore) so they would be used almost like grenades or a swarm of bees, unleashed in the general direction of the enemy while you try not to get caught in the destruction yourself. A host of offensive and defensive items would become available as you progress to give you a fighting chance against some of the crazier ones (for example, if you went up against a psychic type without proper protection you wouldn't live very long).

I think it would print money, but shooting a weaponized Pikachu in the face probably rubs a bit too hard against the grain of the franchise branding.

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3 Re: A pokemon game concept idea. on Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:29 am

I dunno. There is nothing in 'slice-of-life' that can't be done in a continuous RPG narrative, IMHO.

I was thinking of the usual 'hub' structure, in terms of how the game would handle it. The first area the game would start in would have some space to roam around in, to search for secrets and trouble for your rear end. The story would progress via the standart way of quests, some sequential, some with variable completion order, some mandatory, some optional. But it will be limited until you unlock the way to the next 'hub' by progressing the main storyline.

It may be done by the most often used fencing off with terrain, be it just blatant movement block tile placement, or with some attention to explaining it in-universe as well: your community may be living on an island or on a mountain or in a gorge of some kind. Or maybe you could run into good ol' invisible walls some way before running into the actual map limits with your character saying something along the lines of 'can't stray that far from home on my own'. Or be run into the ground by a wall of enemy encounters you can't feasibly beat or get past as you are.

The next hub would be either unlocked through something tried and true like 'the road through the mountain pass that was previously blocked off by a huge landslide is now cleared' or just be plain transferred into because you got a seat on some transport of some description. There could be a separate section dedicated to the journey itself, if a bit lacking in exploration options, or the player may just warped into a new locale via a timeskip. And then you'll be in another 'hub'.

So, in other words, nothing new or particularly experimental, besides maybe the engine that handles big, seamless locations of broken up difficult tiled terrain and combat that happens on them. All games that I've seen do the thing I am talking about had their action limited to rather small maps for each separate encounter.

XXX

But if the goal is to move whatever resource management that happens in the purview of quests and story towards gameplay, in addition to party maintenance and customization that is the norm for RPGs, then sure, you can make a game out of that. With a bunch of 'random' events the game would draw from a pile of possibilities (or maybe even procedurely generate some or all of it) in addition to story events, you could even make a roguelike -lite pokemon game.

If it is specifically about mishaps on the road, then it could be something a bit like FTL or Convoy. (Which are about traveling on a cool ship in SPACE and a cool ground vehicle caravan in a Mad Max style setting respectively; but there is no reason the way FTL does getting stranded without fuel with your SOS signal on couldn't work with something like hitchhiking in the Pokemon world.)

XXX

As for the shooter idea... Besides potential issues with the general tone, as you've already noted, there is the matter of handling pokemon battles in real time. I am sure that some kind of 'real time with pause on demand' solution could be done, with initiative and moves working with seconds instead of turns, it would probably not jive with the first person view very well.

Would you have to leave the decision making to pokemon' AI? Or maybe some kind of indirect control method where your character yells and points about what and where should be done and then the pokemon attempt(s) to do it? (I am now picturing the Overlord games. Very Happy ) Only full on automation of computer controlled party members in an RPG I've seen myself was the Gambit system in FFXII. While not without its downsides, that'd be the only kind of automation I'd trust to not screw up constantly.

I am not sure about introducing what is usually referred to as FPS to Pokemon - that would raise the question of why do you need the pokemon part of it in the first place - but then again there are such things as Portal, which are technically FPS, but not really. And could be used in a first person or a third person view RPG to add something to the gameplay.

Something like having to throw those repels and lures (in forms of sound emitters or gas canisters containing strong odors tailored to affect certain beasties in certain ways) and pokeballs. Negotiating terrain, setting and springing traps, spraying water or chemicals in the air, on the ground or directly on a beastie. Fishing in real time. Chasing away or luring something to you with a flashlight. There is quite a lot that could be done with the 'Shooting' part of 'FPS' without resorting to direct applications of bullets, lazors and explosives to the face.

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4 Re: A pokemon game concept idea. on Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:43 pm

Maybe I'm just not picturing it right, but from what I've gathered it sounds like your protagonist doesn't have a particular goal. You mentioned the possibilities of moving with your community at irregular intervals in search of a better life or following your wanderlust, but both are essentially just the character living their life while training Pokemon as a hobby. You deal with quests as they come, but there's no overarching sense of direction. Or, to put it another way, the story is more of an odyssey than a journey. I would be fine playing though something like that, but I feel like most Pokemon players expect to be given their motivation early on, whether it's "be the best," "save the world," or "find your dad," and that the lack of something like this would take away from the experience for many of them. That's why I say it might be better suited for another medium.

I think that handling Pokemon in a real-time 3d environment is the most attractive part of doing a shooter. The only time we've seen that in a game was Pokemon Snap, right? It would be really interesting to see them in their natural habitat rather than on a battle screen and to face them with full freedom of movement instead of through a menu, learning to deal with their unique move sets and take advantage of their little behavioral patterns. I pictured whatever long-term Pokemon buddies you have being AI partners, sort of like Tales of Symphonia. You could give them basic commands like full frontal, retreat, flank, attack from distance, etc, and maybe some kind of mechanic where you can set a target reticle for AOE attacks or a quick menu to call for particular moves. Otherwise it would be Metroid Prime x Monster Hunter: no pauses, no turns, and probably no exp.

A NON-shooter first person Pokemon game would be at least as exciting and much more feasible. You still get all the fun of seeing them in the wild (and maybe of having to dodge attacks yourself and manually throw the pokeball while your Pokemon try to weaken it). I've just always wanted to see a more realistic take on how humans would fight against Pokemon if they had no (or very few) Pokemon of their own, and to explore in greater depth what a Team Rocket would do with them militarily given enough time and resources.

Takoita wrote:jive
Jibe. Someone corrected me just the other day, so I figured I'd pass it on.

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5 Re: A pokemon game concept idea. on Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:55 am

I see your points, Takoita, and I like those points. However, it seems like you have everything you want figured out in terms of gameplay, but not story, which I definitely need. I need my player character's goals to be known to me, they are explained in some manner, that's how it goes. But what your original point is "would this be cool?" And yes, yes it would be cool.

And I am totally onboard as far as it concerns Tactics Ogre. If you were alluding to any management of scarce resources, not so much.

for ze nazis:
The reason for enforcing a specific pronunciation or a word in a given context should only be to avoid confusion or miscommunication. I've looked them up, and I've decided that jibe and jive for the usage of "being in accord with" may as well be like the difference in pronunciation for tomato and potato, in spite of what it says is correct. Even if in error, jive's definition works just fine for a lot of people. It's not difficult to understand what someone's saying when they say jive improperly if you consider how/when they decide to use it; the context is so narrow that it shouldn't ever be confusing.

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6 Re: A pokemon game concept idea. on Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:09 pm

Goals? This game idea doesn't have overall goals.

There are short-term goals in the terms of quests you have to complete in order to progress, but there is no overarching antagonist the player character have to beat in order to see the end credits roll. There is no mortal threat they have to overcome to prevent something catastrophic from happening. They don't need to catch everything that moves or beat every trainer they can find. If there absolutely needs to be some kind of objective permanently up on the quest log list, then it would be:

[ ] Survive.
    [ ] Find a new home.

Why?

There is a lot of talk about 'character focused storytelling in videogames', inlcuding on Arche's own channel. But I don't think I've ever seen it actually done in practice. There are games with varying attention devoted to plot, characterization and character growth, there are games that don't tell what they are gonna be about for quite some time longer than one would expect. But I don't remember a game story that just flat out goes: 'That thing that just happened? It doesn't matter why or how it did so. What matters is that you get out of there and keep your folks safe.'

Over the course of the game things would still happen, smaller story threads would still exist. But at no point in time the protagonist will come out and say that they need to do this particular thing, that they aim to achieve something above all else. It would be just a story about... people. About a portion of their lives, however fantastic their setting and situation may be in relation to our own.

There would have to be a definite terminal point in the game, of course. In this case it would be when the main character finally finds a place where their family can live in relative peace for the forseeable future at the end of all these 'hubs'. The game would then go through a brief description where every significant character the story had started off with or met along the way ended up at that time, and that would be it.

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7 Re: A pokemon game concept idea. on Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:12 pm

If there's a focus on these characters, sure I'd like to see them grow and interact with the player's decisions. Would there be any tension or strife between them, disagreements, etc? Cuz if this is a focus on the characters, then there is where the problems must be, or the conflict, or the tension. The not-good things.

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