By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Ever since PokémonGO officially released July 17th in Canada, it has nearly taken me away from the movie theatres and television. I have played the game for at least three hours a day, wiping out my previous data plan and upgrading to the next package, only to realize that moderation is required to stretch out play over the month until the cycle resets. There’s a portion of cellphone users using unlimited and while they are getting the most out of this game, others are playing this game on a casual basis and not levelling up as fast. In the part of the game that’s fully enjoyable is to be rid of the indoor life and to be interacting with fellow players outdoors. Some folks are more friendly than others. Where this game really succeeds is in finding new people to hang with — as long as folks are sociable and cool with sharing tricks. The competitive play can get a few players aggressive with trying to keep a Pokémon Gym under their control.
When compared to other Pokémon games, there’s a missing element that will be addressed in a future update. Trading is coming. As for how I feel it should be implemented is through in-person contact. I feel real-time player vs olayer battles are needed too. With another mobile type game, I almost stopped obsessively playing Pokémon Shuffle where I was mostly grinding for coins and waiting for the next set of Pokemon to be added into the game so I can continue my quest to catch them all. Honestly, this Nintendo 3DS game is safer without spending real world money when compared to the micro-transaction game where you really have to spend some amount of real world money to get Lures, Incense or upgrades to the virtual backpack I’m carrying to contain them all. The game does offer opportunities to get the coinage during play, but I feel the parameters are lopsided.
To fight in gyms and stay there for the required 20 hours to gain money, prestige and stardust (items to allow for evolutions and powering up Pokémon) is tough. In a heavily trafficked area where control can change in less than an hour, no gains are offered! This part of the game is essentially King of the Hill, and just how long any player or team can stay there is a question of how tough that Pokémon stationed there can last. Some people are playing it for the fun of trying to catch them all, but the competitive play part is grating. The current system rewards experience points for the fights, but the really good stuff (stardust and coins) are offered if the player keeps that tower of power for a really long time. Even small rewards to all players will keep people like me from playing. If conquering them is nigh impossible, which is half the game, I might as well return to playing Shuffle.
By rewarding any player who have placed a Pokémon at a gym and it can stay for at least an hour with tiny gains, I will continue playing. In the ten days I have been regularly playing this game (either for 10 mins at a time or having a picnic at the park) levelling up my avatar can come pretty quick. This game no doubt needs fine tuning. The tracker is broken but the compass works. At least I can look in the right direction for the desired pocket monster. But just how far it is and how close remains problematical since, again, the AR is not perfect. News reports of people going into dangerous places are out there.
Also, not everyone has a cellphone with all the features needed to make this game really shine. The augmented reality (AR) aspect of this game (seeing Pokémon in real environments) is flawed. Sometimes, they do not appear in the right scale in relation to the terrain and objects there. That Onyx I have been hunting for should realistically be towering over everything and those other creatures should be aware of its surroundings. If they are meant to be hiding behind cars, then the program has to recognize the difference between the ground, items on the ground and walls. The software does a reasonable job at placing the Pokémon on a surface or sitting on an edge, but to have it peeking from behind a tree or a wall it does not. I tried playing this game on an iPod Touch and while it works to a limited degree with Location Services, the GPS from the iPhone is really needed. I wish I could attach an add-on to my iPad, but Niantic’s program does not work that way. It’s programmed to look at the built-in coordinate tracker than to see if third-party extensions are on the device. A revision of the code would be required to make this game work with tablets, since even these pads are not made equally. I have an old enough Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10″ which has all the hardware features required for this game, but it won’t upgrade beyond Android 4.1
Will I get a new mobile? I most likely will next year for a better GPS chip and have the much-needed gyroscope so I can also use it for VR. There’s a future for this game to be truly VR than AR where gamers are walking around with those massive headsets and a Bluetooth glove to throw virtual Pokéballs around like baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan — as demonstrated in the marketing videos.
But in the meantime, I propose to Niantic or Nintendo to make a version for the New Nintendo 3DS and access is through Nintendo Zones which can be additional Poké Stops. I like to see the game make use of these areas so Wifi can be used over precious data. I can see the upper screen peer to the real world (if players so desire) and the bottom used to toss those Poké balls with a stylus. The controllers and buttons offer better options to fight in Poké Gyms instead of the furious fighting style of rapid screen tapping. For mobiles, there are controllers that can be paired with it to allow for the same thing. Moving around with the analogue controller will make those gym battles be all the more realistic. The 3DS has a built-in pedometer so hatching eggs are possible. With a proper interface, user controlled Pokémon can navigate in a true 3D environment, something this game puts the player in instead of the cute monster itself.
One thought on “Ed’s Pokémon GO Journals — Getting Down to the Gastly Mechanics of It All”
Great write-up! Never thought of bringing Pokemon GO to 3DS, but I think that would take away from the charm. Plus, I don’t think 3DS has the technology to track your location.
I’m actually the Community Content Manager for NowLoading.co, and I would be thrilled if you considered cross posting your stuff to our platform.