Pokémon GO Travel and the Global Catch Challenge

Pokémon GO players have eagerly been awaiting the announcement of a Thanksgiving event.  Earlier today Niantic announced the Pokémon GO Travel and the Global Catch Challenge.  In true Niantic fashion they’re a little short on details such as the actual start date and time or giving us a ballpark of how hard it will be to catch 3 billion Pokémon.  I don’t have any sense for how many are caught in an average week and I’m sure most players also do not have access to that information.  Nevertheless it looks to offer some potentially interesting rewards.

I don’t know what the likelihood of all of us hitting the 3 billion mark is but I suspect that no matter what it will happen.  I can’t imagine anything that would take the wind out of our nearly windless sails more than the potential for unlocking a regional exclusive and then not delivering.

Catching my first Farfetch’d would be pretty cool but the double XP and double stardust is even more appealing as I lumber slowly toward level 40.

This could keep the game interesting for another week or two but Niantic still has a lot of work to do to make this game at all compelling for most of us who play daily.

For now I’ll just enjoy these small windows of fun and hope for the eventual update that will rekindle the game for us all.

Universal Paperclips for iPhone

My weeks long obsession with Universal Paperclips had just come to a close when I learned today that the game’s developer has just made it available for mobile.  You can now get Universal Paperclips in the iTunes App Store!

That being said I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to purchase the game for the iPhone and thank Frank Lantz for his incredible game.

Playing on the iPhone is a different experience.  Tapping on the buttons (something you’ll be doing a lot of) isn’t quite as quick as on the desktop version.  Additionally I had become very adept at leaving the Paperclips window open to get the most out of the game.  This is much harder to do on a device without true multitasking.

I can’t say I’ll log the same hours on the iPhone as on a desktop.  One of the things I enjoy most about this game is doing it in spurts, then relegating it to the background while you do other things, then returning to find that you’ve built up money, Yomi, honor, or whatever the current currency in the game is.

Perhaps this just means I’ll be able to run this on my phone while I’m on my computer in the future.  At any rate I this has been the surprise game for me this year.  I’ve had more fun playing this than many others and I look forward to the future work of Frank Lantz.

The Pokémon GO Update No One Was Asking For

It’s happened, it’s here.  Sometime this evening (a few hours ago) I logged onto the game to be greeted with this latest bit of news in the app.

That’s right.  With all that Pokémon GO has been missing in the past few months, this is the update that just dropped.  We have new clothing for our avatars.

If you are keeping up with the Pokémon GO community there is a very common communication you hear from players.  We’re bored.  We want something new.  We love the game but we don’t feel like there’s any reason to play on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s a list of a few things I can think of that I’ve heard that people want:

  • Daily/weekly quests
  • A clear path toward obtaining Mewtwo
  • Releasing the remaining Gen 1 and Gen 2 legendaries
  • Releasing Gen 3
  • PvP
  • Trading
  • Dealing with spoofing
  • A battle upgrade

I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out.  However, you may notice that nowhere in there did I mention that we are looking for new hats.

Forgive me.  A new hat.  A new hat.  Apparently there is exactly this: a new pair of shoes, a new pair of shorts, a new shirt, and a new hat.  One version of each for the male avatar, one version of each for the female avatar.

Avatar customization probably wouldn’t rank even in the top fifty things I’d like to see implemented in Pokémon GO.  That being said if there were changes to be made, I can think of a lot of things I’d rather see than one of each article of clothing.  I’d much rather see facial hair, tattoos, and better customization of body type to name just a few things.

Rumors are circulating that some sort of Thanksgiving event may be on the horizon.  Perhaps even the release of Ho-Oh.  While that is somewhat interesting it is just yet another legendary raid, a part of the game that was once exciting and is now sufficiently stale.

December is going to see the release of some (or all) of Gen 3.  This will give the game a momentary boost but once our Pokédexes are filled again we will all be craving some new content and reason to play.  Let’s hope Niantic hears our pleas and doesn’t give us a Slaking T-shirt instead.

The Shiny Shuppet Showdown

 

As the Pokémon Go Halloween event draws to a close we currently have shiny versions of two of the Pokémon familes available.  The running theory is that Shiny Shuppet should should be showing up any moment now in the game.  With Sableye being released initially followed by Duskull a few days later, it seems that Shuppet should show up any time now.

This is somewhat exciting as we now have five available shiny Pokémon in the game where we only had two a little over a week ago.  However, the release of these shinies makes Pokémon GO even more of a tedious slog than it already is.

One thing last year’s Halloween event didn’t have was shinies.  I remember by the end of the event last year being quite happy with never seeing a Cubone, Meowth, or Gastly ever again.  This year I feel the same way about Duskull, Shuppet, and Sableye.  Unfortunately the lure of a potential shiny keeps me glued to the game in hopes of catching a rare version of even just one of the Gen 3 ghost types.

Shuppet, in particular, annoys me the most.  I find there are just some Pokémon that I find I always hate catching.  Shuppet falls into that category.  Duskull, while getting old, never seems like such a bother.

I can’t complain.  I’d rather catch 5,000 more Shuppets than just one single Venonat.  Venonats make me wish there was an option to switch to Wolfenstein mode and dispatch of them with a Chain Gun.

Making Your Own Quests in Pokémon GO

Once of the most sought after features missing in Pokémon GO is quests.  With that feature missing I know a lot of long time players, myself included, have taken to creating our own.

At the start of the new Halloween Event, not quite a week old, I made it my personal quest to try to catch all five of the newly released Gen 3 Pokémon in the wild — no evolutions.  I just completed this quest this morning.  While it doesn’t give me any sort of in game reward it gives me a goal to shoot for and something beyond the monotonous grind of the normal game.

Usually events give a little boost of excitement but this time it falls a little flat.  Double candy is awesome but when you have every available Pokémon in the game it really loses a lot of its impact.  Last year I was excitedly walking and catching to finish off the last ten or so Pokémon I had left to evolve.  This year the most exciting thing is finding a Pidgey or a Weedle just for pure grinding and evolution.

My next quests are getting the Pikachu Fan gold medal, the Tiny Rattata gold medal, and the Big Magikarp medal.  Additionally I’m looking for any shinies besides the one Pikachu that I have at the moment.

I’m in this game for the long haul but I can understand why anyone would bail or already has.  There just isn’t enough compelling content to keep the game interesting at this point.  The most compulsive of us will keep playing.  Many people are looking forward to the full Gen 3 release which may come in full or in part this December.  Personally, I would like to see more reason to log into the game other than catching the new Pokémon.

Simple quests and rewards for those quests would be a much better long term strategy for Niantic.   Until then I’ll keep making my own.

Pokémon GO EX Raid Pass Changes?

One of the most complained about “features” of Pokémon GO has been the somewhat recent inclusion of the EX Raid Pass Invitation system.  That’s saying a lot because if there’s one thing that Pokémon GO players like to do it’s complain.

I’m no exception.

There is a lot to complain about with the game.  The important thing that I hope Niantic understands is that while a lot of this can be viewed as whining and people being ungrateful we complain because we love the game and we want to see it live up to its potential.

Last night Niantic tweeted this: “Trainers, thank you for your feedback on EX Raid Battles.  We’re working to improve the invitation system based on what we heard from you.”

This is promising, however, I’d like to see the system just go away.  EX Raids have made me actually raid less.  I live about 45 minutes from where I work.  I used to do a raid or two on my way too and from work, sometimes on my break.  I no longer do this.  Why?  Because my fear is getting a raid pass for my work area on a day off or my home area while I’m at work.  Now I only raid around my home in hopes of getting an EX pass there.  I also work an erratic schedule so the likelihood of my not being able to participate in a potential EX Raid Battle is fairly high.

I also just went on a trip about 1,000 miles away.  Of course I didn’t participate in any raids there even though I wanted to as I didn’t want to run the risk of getting an EX pass there either.

Mewtwo is one of the most coveted Pokémon in Pokémon GO.  I know some people who have two or three.  I really feel like it would make much more sense to limit it to one per trainer and have a quest involved.  Quests are something I’ve wanted to see in the game since day one and even something that Draconius GO seems to have figured out.

Here are an example of some potential quest ideas.  You could say complete any 5 or any 10 of these.  Maybe you’d need to complete all of the quests listed below.  This is just me brainstorming about some things that would make me want to keep playing the game and repeating some of the aspects of the game that have gotten quite stale over the last fifteen months or so.

Quest Ideas:

  • Achieve level 30
  • Hatch 100 eggs
  • Win 500 gym battles
  • Get a gold gym badge in five gyms
  • Evolve 1,000 Pokémon
  • Catch 5,000 Pokémon
  • Collect 200 Pokédex entries
  • Defend Gyms for 2,000 hours
  • Collect gold level in 12 different Pokémon types
  • Walk over 1,000 kilometers
  • Do 100 raid battles

After completing all of these a number of things could happen.  You could receive a 50km egg and have to walk it to hatch a Mewtwo.  You could have to battle Mewtwo a number of times and weaken him to try to catch him.  You could have to battle some sort of NPC a number of times then get a Mewtwo.

Alternately they could make it much more challenging and have the quest be to catch a Weedle with an excellent throw.  After that I think they could just hand you a Mewtwo and you would have earned it.

What Draconius Go Needs to Succeed

The week that Pokémon GO came out I was pretty much at home the entire weekend hanging out with family for my kids’ birthday party.  I was lucky that my house happens to be a frequent spawn point for wild Pokémon so I was able to log on every so often, catch a few, then return to what I was doing.  Upon returning to work I found the same was true.  The existence of plentiful spawns even while remaining stationary was what kept me logging in and, eventually, becoming a very serious player.

So far Draconius Go is not sucking me in and it’s only for the reason that it does not share this in common with Pokémon GO.

Draconius Go does an amazing job of solving the Pokéstop and gym problem that Pokemon Go has in rural areas by scattering them all over the place.  If it could do this same thing with spawns I think I would have leveled up a bit by now.  However, at my current spot in the game, I’m teetering on the edge of continuing to play and just abandoning the game all together.

Overall I’m much more impressed with this obvious clone than I thought I would be.  I thought I’d play it for five minutes then never touch it again.  I was surprised to find out that it brings a lot of elements to the table that Pokémon GO was (and still is) sorely missing.

I’m not sure I’ll put anywhere near the time into this game that I’ve put into Pokémon GO but it would be a pretty quick fix to get some more casual players more interested.

 

Is the Pokemon Go Halloween Event Already Over?

Finally, the long awaited Pokemon Go Halloween event is upon us.  Many fondly remember last year’s Halloween event as it was the first time any of us got a chance at bonuses.  Once again we are graced with 2x candy.  This time we also get special boxes in the shop.

The most anticipated part of this event, however, is the first chance at catching Gen 3 Pokemon.  There really is no more exciting aspect of the game than tracking down and collecting new Pokemon.

The downside to last year’s event was that by the end of the event we were all so sick of catching Cubones and Gastlys that we were glad when it ended.  This year’s event threatens a similar ending and we could potentially reach that point much, much sooner.

I’m currently traveling and staying in a spot where there are zero wild Pokemon spawns.  Despite that obstacle I was able to catch enough Gen 3 Pokemon to effectively complete my Gen 3 Pokedex within a matter of hours, casually playing while being driven from one destination to another.  I also caught two of the witch hat Pikachu.

So what does that leave for the rest of the event?  I can grind candies for XP which is always nice, but with no available Pokemon needed for my Pokedex there’s not a ton of incentive to play all that much.  Last year I remember swapping my buddy Pokemon to evolve some of my last Gen 1 Pokemon needed: Omastar, Kabutops, Dragonite, Machamp.  This year I guess I can focus on getting candies for my seventh Tyranitar or fourth Dragonite.

The bonus boxes are okay but the items aren’t really needed.  Super Incubators: what incentive is there to hatch eggs right now?  Raid Passes: it’s difficult to find a group to raid with these days and I’m not going to raid when I’m out of town for fear of getting an EX pass after I return home.  Incense: please.  Pinap Berries: I have about 150 already.

A lot of the problems with this event — and all events — could be solved with one thing: quests.  Give us quests to do in the regular game, and special quests with good bonuses for events.  This is not much more than last year’s Halloween event and last year the game was completely different.  Give us an incentive to battle gyms, do raids, hatch eggs, besides the double candy.  They’re even missing an obvious reward for quests or anything during the Halloween event: rare candy.  This would be the perfect opportunity to dish out some rare candy, something that has been very hard to come by after they reworked raid rewards.

Overall Pokemon Go events are always fun, always a reason to get playing a bit more and have fun.  Releasing all of Gen 3 with the double candies may not have been a good idea for this event but I doubt that dribbling them out like this is going to get anywhere near the traffic as last year.

What Pokemon Go Could Learn from Draconious Go

On the surface Draconious Go seems like a blatant Pokemon Go ripoff.  Don’t get me wrong, it is, but the astonishing thing is in noticing what this obvious clone does right that Pokemon Go sadly fails to deliver on.  Despite being one of the most popular mobile games of all time and being out for well over a year Pokemon Go is still lacking in many areas to give the game more depth.

The design is not bad for what it is.  The throw mechanics are absolutely awful but the design is surprisingly good for what it is.  The monsters you catch even look pretty cool.  It’s nowhere near what I was expecting from a game that is so obviously derivative.

While I’ve only played for probably about 30 minutes here’s what I’ve quickly gauged as being some obvious things that Pokemon Go could implement to make their game have more appeal in between their monthly events.

Pillars of abundance, their hilariously named take on Pokestops, offer a more wide range of items including random XP.  Additionally you’ll find them everywhere.  They seem to have solved the rural player dilemma by simply placing pillars all over the place and, honestly, it makes the game more fun not having to suffer in rural areas.  Yes, the real world landmark of Pokestops is nice, but the pillars just being there by themselves get he job done much better.

On top of that you just find random treasure boxes in the wild sometimes, the way you find monsters.

There are items you can find and equip your player with to give them special abilities.  It would be great to see something like this in Pokemon Go.  The ability to equip items to increase stardust yield, decrease buddy walking distance, or increase the visibility of wild Pokemon would only help in getting more people to play more often.

One of the most frustrating things about Pokemon Go is trying to figure out your Pokemon’s IVs or stats.  This game just comes right out and tells you.  What a concept.  In Pokemon Go you need to rely on third party apps (which are technically against the game’s terms of service) to decipher an enigmatic appraisal from your team trainer to understand how powerful your Pokemon is.  I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable a similar feature would make Pokemon Go.

One area where Draconious Go absolutely beats Pokemon Go is that it has quests. I and many other Pokemon Go players have been hoping, wishing that somehow quests would be implemented.  Daily quests, weekly quests, special quests, anything would be a huge boost to the game.  It could start out small and then evolve the higher level you got.  They could (and probably should) have used quests as a way to get a chance at getting legendary Pokemon.  Right now to get Mewtwo you need to just wait for dumb luck on the chance you’ll be chosen to get an EX Raid Pass.  Wouldn’t it be more fun if you had to perform a series of quests to unlock the most powerful Pokemon in the game?

Additionally they have even implemented a PvP mode, something Pokemon Go fans have been screaming for since day one.  While I’m not high level enough to participate in it yet it seems pretty cool.

I’m sure there are dozens of other improvements in this game but after thirty minutes these are some obvious improvements I’ve noticed.  Do I think I’m going to log the number of hours in Draconious Go as I have in Pokemon Go? No.  It does a lot of things right but mostly I hope the folks at Niantic are paying attention to how much more their game could be.  With the billions they’ve made on Pokemon Go I see no reason they couldn’t implement some of these features more quickly and make Pokemon Go much more than it currently is.

Universal Paperclips

Universal Paperclips is the first game in over 15 months to divert my attention from Pokemon Go with any significance.  While this obsession only lasted about 36 hours it is promising to learn that there different more obsessive compulsive games out there to consume my attention even if for a fleeting moment.

Play Paperclips here!