Trading is Coming to Pokémon GO

I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of trading.  I think this puts me in the minority but I always envisioned this being something that could so easily be exploited by spoofers.  It could be something that created a black market within the game.  It could even propose real world safety concerns, meeting fellow trainers in some dark alley to do the deal.

I’m happy to say that earlier this morning trading was announced and it seems on the face of it they’ve addressed a lot of these concerns.  It’s not a perfect system at first glance but, honestly, it takes a concept that could break the game for many players and just layers in a nice new feature.

Firstly, the main thing that is being introduced, of which trading is just one part, is the new friendship system.  This is something I’d been hoping would exist in the game for a long time though I wasn’t really sure what it would look like.  Now we know.

I’ve met so many people at raids and playing the game in the general that just the idea of being able to keep in touch with them is a really cool feature.  There is now also the added feature of getting extra attack bonus and premier balls meaning that it will be easier to do raids with smaller, tighter groups.  This is huge particularly in more rural areas.

There is also a new feature which allows you to obtain gifts from Pokéstops.  Giving these gifts to friends increases their friend level.

Trading is a cool aspect though I wonder if it will really help me complete my Pokédex.  World travelers and spoofers may be willing to trade their regional exclusives with me but most people thought those regional exclusives would net them some high IV Pokémon in return.  With this update they have announced that stats would be re-rolled upon trading meaning that it would be impossible to get a 100% IV Pokémon in return for anything.  This is a good thing in many ways but I wonder what someone who traveled (or spoofed) will really want in return for their region exclusive.  Obviously one would want to trade for something that they really want.  I guess one could only hope they missed a particular legendary or are looking for a shiny variant of something.

The above screen shot has many people scared.  Many are wondering if this is just a mock up or if there will really be trades that cost 1,000,000 stardust.  A subsequent screen shows that getting “Best Friend” status with someone would bring this same trade down to 40,000 stardust.  That is totally acceptable but at 1,000,000 stardust I can’t think of anything I’d want that bad, never mind the Pokémon I’d have to offer up in return.

Overall I’m pretty excited about this feature.  It has the potential to be the biggest and potentially best change to the game of the year.  While research has added a new aspect to the game it has ultimately gotten stale pretty quick.  I’m hoping Friendship can have a more sustained impact on the game.

A little over a year ago there was little reason to open the game and play for more than five minutes a day.  Now with continuous events and updates there’s more reason to play than ever.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t be able to get every new shiny form that is released even if I spend hours a day trying.

This is what they game has needed for a long time, a reason to tap every Pokémon, and more features to keep things interesting.

Looking forward to many new friendships and looking forward to an action packed summer!

The Well Tempered NES

 

In past 8-bit albums I’ve tried to make it as close as possible to sounds produced by the original NES. Here I’m trying to explore more of the tweaked NES instruments created by @AfroDJMac‘s pack. For the preludes I’m keeping it pretty simple then expanding to more complex patches for the fugues. I’m hardly a Bach scholar but “The Well Tempered Clavier” made an early impression on me as one of my first music teachers made me learn the bass parts on my old Aria Pro II bass, The action on that bass was so bad that I could put my fingers between the strings and the fret board. That bass was a pain in the butt but it worked up such strong fingers that when my teacher brought in an upright bass for me to practice he was a little surprised when I told him how easy it was to play.

Click above to listen on YouTube or .  . .

Download “The Well Tempered NES” on Google Play

Pokémon GO Fest Was Almost Pokémon NO Fest

When it was announced earlier this week that GO Fest was returning to Chicago this year I wasn’t sure or not if I’d be able to go. In fact, I’m still not entirely sure.  Regardless I waited by the computer for the countdown and dove right in to buy tickets.

Last year I was fortunate enough to get my tickets within about five minutes.  This year it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

There were numerous errors but after forty-five minutes I was able to secure my tickets for the 2018 version of Pokémon GO Fest.  Given the backlash last year I am pretty confident that they’ll have worked out a lot of the kinks for a smoother event this year.

What they’ll need to do this year to ensure a smoother experience:

1.) Figure out the lines.  The two hour wait was a little crazy.  On top of that the line just snaked around endlessly.  Despite getting there two hours ahead of the event we still had an additional two hour wait and it was four hours until we were able to start playing, albeit intermittently.  Two entrances should help some of this but, honestly, I don’t understand why there needs to be a line at all.  Letting people just check themselves in whenever or wherever they want seems like it would be much more efficient.

2.) Figure out the cell service.  This was the main issue with last year’s event.  There were too many people in too small a space calling on too much data from cell providers.  Hopefully with the event being much more spread out this year it won’t be as much of an issue.  Lincoln Park appears to be about 5-6 times the size of Grant Park so I’m hoping that keeps things running.  Luckily with the lessons learned last year I know that Niantic knows what to do if things fall apart.  Hopefully they’ll do it a little earlier this time.

3.) More diverse spawns.  I’ve seen screenshots of the Safari events in Europe with several Chansey and Larvitar on every screen.  I’d really like to see rare spawns and have the opportunity to catch stuff I don’t see every day.

4.) Exclusive Shiny Pokémon.  I haven’t seen a single Unown since last year’s GO Fest and I’m assuming we’ll be seeing a return this year.  Shiny Unown would be a great start.

5.) Go Fest Research Quests.  Having some specific quests to accomplish, rather than just wandering aimlessly through the park, would be great in having the event be a success.

6.) Mystery content release.  It would be great if some brand new feature would see a debut at, or slightly before, GO Fest.

The idea of what they are doing with habitats sounds like fun.  It would be great to be able to pick certain habitats to explore and stock up on Pokémon and candy we’re missing.

The challenges last year were worldwide but this did not work out in anything approaching the grand fashion Niantic had planned.  It would be great to see something like this pulled off properly even with in game notifications.

Research and weather are the two major new features since last year.  It will be interesting to see how they play into this year’s event.

And then there’s photo ops.  Personally, I’ll trade my photo ops for a Chansey with 93% or higher IVs.

I definitely feel the same feeling I felt in the lead up to last year’s event.  Last year I had this curious feeling about what a live Pokémon GO event could be like.  This year I have the same curiosity about what will be different paired with a hope that it doesn’t have the disastrous start hat last year did.

Pokémon GO Fest 2018 and Pokémon GO Safari Zone!

Last year I was so psyched to get tickets to Pokémon GO Fest.  I had imagined what it would be like.  The event ended up being nothing like what I, or anyone else, imagined.  The day started with about 6-8 hours of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had and concluded with about 6-8 hours of the most fun game play I’ve ever had in the game.

It’s looking like Niantic has really learned from the mistakes it made in 2017 and that this event should go off much more smoothly.  Eliminating the two-hour line (hopefully) and expanding the radius of the event should drastically reduce the frustrations from last year.

Last year began with the two-hour wait in line, but the promise of the day ahead made it seem like it was going to be worth it.

The excitement of approaching those GO Fest Pokéstops made it seem like something major was about to happen.

Everyone was absolutely packed into the park, ready to play.

This is what most of those in the picture where looking at on their phones.

As you can see by the timestamp on this screenshot, I got the badge for successfully entering my QR code, four hours after arrival at the start of the line.

This is one of the four Pokémon I caught in Grant Park during the event.

Hours later the event spilled out onto the streets and Lugia and Articuno made their first appearance in the game.  This was nearly twelve hours after arriving and it was a pretty exciting moment for the game.

Here’s some brief footage I took of the first ever Lugia raid in Chicago.  I’m not sure, a year later, if they can recapture this participation and excitement but I’m really looking forward to seeing.

I’m hoping there are some other cool items this year, such as the regional they brought in last year.  At this point there is only one available Pokemon in the came that I do not have, Cradily, and that will almost certainly be not true by GO Fest.  With special events I’m sitting on thousands of candies for all the most useful Pokémon in the game.  Aside from ultra rare spawns, really only Chansey and Snorlax, there aren’t really any candies I need.

Here’s a brief wish list for what I’d like to see this year:

  • Ultra rare spawns
  • High IV Pokémon
  • New shiny release(s)
  • Rare candy rewards
  • Limited edition movesets
  • New Unown letters
  • BIG Margikarp
  • Increased overall shiny spawns
  • Bonus (Double XP, Double Candy)
  • Reduced km for hatches and buddy
  • Include rare raids
  • Something to do in gyms to make them relevant
  • Beginnings of Gen 4
  • Quests specifically for GO Fest
  • Quests for region exclusives

That’s an awful lot, but at this point at level 40 with my Pokédex missing only one of 362 Pokémon available to me, there needs to be something great at GO Fest this year.  I’ll be at 362 by the time GO Fest comes so I’d really like something exciting to keep me interested.

Just looking through my screen shots from last year it looks like a totally different game.  Niantic continually tweaks and improves this game so who knows what surprises are in store for us in the lead up to July.

 

Pokémon GO Special Battle Showdown

Wow.

After nearly two years it seems that Niantic has finally discovered a way to make events a surprise.  Out of nowhere Niantic announced this morning that they’ll be launching another event, a mere 24 hours after the previous one ended.  Just when I thought I’d be able to build my Pokéball inventory back up it looks like I’m still destined to have my item storage depleted.

Here’s the official announcement:

Trainers,

It’s time to test the strength of your Pokémon during a special battle event! Fighting-type Pokémon, such as Machop and Makuhita, will appear more frequently in the wild starting May 1 at 1:00 p.m. PDT.

But what’s a battle celebration without some competition at your nearby Gym? Until May 14, you’ll receive 2× bonus XP for Gym Battles and Raid Battles. Plus, Raid Battles will also award a guaranteed 3,000 Stardust for participating—and at least one Rare Candy if you win!

Several actions at Gyms will yield bonuses, including a 2× Badge multiplier, so you can receive even more benefits at a Gym you visit frequently. Just stopping by? Spinning the Photo Disc at Gyms will also yield more items!

Our Battle Showdown is sure to pack a punch, so don’t miss it!

—The Pokémon GO team

I feel like we were inundated with Machop during the Kanto event but this seems to be a very good way for newer or more casual players to earn their Gold Black Belt badge and earn some vital Pokédex entries.

The most interesting part of this event is that it focuses around gyms.  Battling will earn extra XP, raids will earn extra XP and guarntee rare candy, and there’s even a multiplier on gym badges.  To the best of my knowledge this is the first time I’ve seen gym badges be relevant in the game since being launched nearly a year ago.  It would be great to see some future research surrounding gyms and gym badges.

Additionally, with hundreds of shiny sprites added to the game we can no longer predict when or if a specific shiny variant will be added to the game.  It is very possible that we’ll see shiny Machop or even several shiny fighting types added with this event.

In a stark contrast to where this game was at this point last year, Niantic is giving us nothing but reasons to make sure we play this game every day.

Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (8-bit Cover Album)

 

As a kid I didn’t know much about Elton John other than that video he released for “Candle in the Wind.”  For some reason I lumped it together with other songs I really despised at the time no real reason.  I had no idea it was part of an incredible album from 1973, I thought it was just some weird guy who liked to dress like a French aristocrat from the 1700s.  I would later gain appreciation for this song, particularly in the greater context of the album as a whole.

Click above to listen on YouTube  or .  . .

Download “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (8-bit Cover Album) on Google Play 

The Problem with Research in Pokémon GO

I have been a huge booster of quest and research in Pokémon GO.  It’s the feature I was looking forward to for the longest.  Overall I’m happy with this addition but it doesn’t bring as much to the game as I had been hoping.

The pace with which new features and events have been coming to the game has been crazy over the past couple of months and that’s a very good thing.  At this time last year the game was so boring I was only playing for 5-10 minutes a day.  Now it’s hard to go an hour without checking in on the game to see what is happening.

Research added a great new element to the game.  The quest for Mew was cool but just too easy.  I completed it in a little over a week, doing it at a very leisurely pace.  Others completed it the day it was released.  The reason it was so easy is that for people who have been playing since day one most of the objectives were automatically accomplished.  The other ones, like transferring or evolving a few Pokémon, were incredibly easy.  Catching Ditto was probably the hardest part of the quest and that was more annoying than anything given it didn’t require anything other than dumb luck.

Some parts of in the special research would have been great had this feature existed since day one.  As a daily player for nearly two years it was a little disappointing.  If they make an element of quests be getting a gold Sinnoh medal, or evolving some rare Sinnoh region Pokémon then that will definitely seem like much more of a challenge.

I am currently sitting on 96 Lotad candies, and not a decent Lotad to evolve.  I’m excited any time I see one.  Imagine if I also knew that evolving Lotad would bring me one step closer to completing a special research assignment.

I’m also not sure if laying everything out in 8 segments is the best way to do it either.  Just having a complete checklist seems like it would work much better.  As it stands everyone is worried about evolving anything at this point as that evolution may be necessary to complete the next research project.

Field research has its own problems as well.  Since you can complete field research it’s really easy to just sit on three completed research projects then just use them daily.  Prior to research all we needed to do every day was catch a single Pokémon and spin a Pokémon and our mission for the day was complete.  During those boring days of the game last year a lot of days I’d open the game in the morning, do both of those things and then be done for the day in a matter of a minute.  Now I feel like my morning ritual also includes claiming a reward and that only adds a few seconds.

Including some sort of tracker to measure how many of each task you’d completed and maybe giving additional rewards for doing that task 5, 10, or 100 times would spice things up a bit.

Research is a great addition to the game but in the absence of an ongoing event it just becomes another task to perform to keep a streak alive.

The 7 day reward for Poké Stops is getting an evolution item, something almost completely unnecessary in the game at this point.  These are for Gen 2 evolutions and none of them are particularly useful evolutions at that.  So we’re all sitting on dozens of evolution items that we do not need.

The 7 day reward for research is a legendary encounter.  This sounded really cool at first but so far we have had four straight weeks of Moltres encounters.  This seemed like a really good solution for rural players who have no real options to get legendaries.  Imagine how stoked rural players must have been to have learned of this feature only to find out it would be the same encounter four weeks in a row.  On the one side you get four shots at getting something with decent IVs and you can get at least 12 candies for power ups.  The downside is at this rate you’ll need over a year to complete your legendary Pokédex, and that’s assuming that no additional legendaries are released.

Something about this needs to change.

It would be great if you could voluntarily select quests for the legendary Pokémon you need.  Long, hard quests that would result in a standard level 20 encounter.  There could be varying quest for each one and trainers could do them all simultaneously if they chose.  They could easily make the 7 day reward for research be something else like increasing an attack, defense, or stamina stat by one point, item rewards, or a number of other options.

Overall this has been a great addition and a solid test run of this new system.  Now, some tweaks are needed to add some more challenge to the game for hardcore players, and a little more incentive for rural players to want to continue to participate.

Pokémon GO’s Kanto Event Starts in a Matter of Hours

It’s official!  After my speculation the Kanto event begins later today, in just a few short hours.  Here’s the official announcement.

Trainers,

The appearance of the Mythical Pokémon Mew has attracted Pokémon that were originally discovered in the Kanto region. These classic Pokémon will be seen more frequently starting April 10 at 1 P.M. PDT, so you’ll have the perfect opportunity to earn a gold Kanto medal and even complete your Kanto Pokédex!

What’s more, certain Pokémon such as Aerodactyl and Snorlax will be featured in Raid Battles across the world. Keep an eye out for one you haven’t encountered yet!

As you encounter and catch more Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region, all actions will be rewarded with double Candy. So, not only will you be able to catch Pokémon you might not frequently see, but you may also get the chance to register their evolved forms in your Pokédex as well.

During this event, there will also be special boxes containing Raid Passes! These boxes will give you an opportunity to challenge many powerful Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region.

This special celebration ends on April 17, so get out there and make some more discoveries. If all goes well, you may be able to finish your first Special Research request and encounter Mew!

—The Pokémon GO team

It’s not quite the shiny extravaganza everyone was hoping for but the double candy will be enough to get me to transfer several hundred rare Pokémon and clear out some slots for Sunday’s Community Day Event.  I may also be rewarded with double candy if I’m fortunate enough to catch Mewtwo on Saturday.

We may still get surprised with shinies.  An interesting theory I’ve seen is that they’ve released all the shiny sprites just so they can surprise people instead of everyone always being able to predict what’s coming next.

Honestly I’d be happy to finally find a shiny Magikarp at this point.  Shinies are rare enough that I have a lot more hunting to do before I even collect half of the currently available ones in the game.

Who knows?  Shiny Pidgey may be mere hours away.

 

Catching Mew in Pokémon GO

Now that we’ve had a little over a week to fully explore research in Pokémon GO, I am pretty happy with the update.  The only thing that has me feeling a little let down is the fact that now that I’ve completed the quest for Mew and there’s no event going on it doesn’t feel like there’s anything to do in the game at present.

I stumbled upon a shiny Murkrow, the April Fool’s joke that they added to the came last week.  I hadn’t tapped on a Murkrow since I was trying to get my gold Delinquent medal.  I’m happy to not have to tap on any Murkrow again moving forward barring any necessary field research assignments.

Niantic also announced a cool Earth Day Cleanup event which I thought sounded like it could be fun.

Upon perusing the North American map of event locations my excitement faded pretty quickly.  I’m all for the premise but I don’t know that I can travel 1200 miles to clean up a beach.

I was able to complete my week of field research which unlocked the first field research reward.

It’s a really great additional that they’re adding legendary Pokémon through the research rewards but the surprise was spoiled by hundreds of people on Twitter who live in time zones ahead of mine.  Still, it’s a great addition to the game.

I completed the more difficult task for the Mew quest and that lead me to the final stage which, quite honestly, was supremely easy.  Catching a Ditto was the only difficult part of the entire quest which I was able to do at the very leisurely pace of about a week.  Honestly, for the final stage catching Pokémon with berries was very easy and did it mostly from my house by just opening the app once or twice and hour.  It was a little tedious but not really that challenging.  I made the single excellent throw on my first throw after the research was assigned and I got the gold Kanto medal about eighteen months ago.

When the quest was complete it was extremely confusing as to what was going on as I didn’t realize I’d be forced to catch Mew in AR mode with no choice of balls or berries.  After a few tosses I picked him up pretty easily.

The whole thing was a little anti-climactic as my Mew ended up having almost the worst IVs possible from a Mew catch.  I think the lowest possible IVs are around 73%.  I would have been pretty happy with at least 80% but since I’m probably not going to end up actually doing anything with this other than holding it as a trophy I guess it doesn’t really matter.

The more exciting news of the day was later that earlier that afternoon I finally got my first ever EX Raid pass.  What’s even more exciting is that it is at a time I was not scheduled to work or previously engaged.  Finally, I will get a shot at attempting to catch Mewtwo, something that most of the people I raid with have already done multiple times.

Overall the Mew Quest was pretty fun but my main gripe would be that this feature should have been available to the game from launch.  I remember how long it took me to evolve my first Gyarados which I powered up to be my first Pokémon over 2000 CP.  I remember how long it seemed to take to hit level 25 and how long it took me to register 100 Kanto region Pokémon in my Pokédex.  All of these things were instantly checked off my lists.  How much more exciting would it have been to have been working towards the greater goal of catching Mew while I was doing all that.  Evolving my fifth Gyarados, which I didn’t need, sitting on 2300 Magikarp candies wasn’t quite as exciting.  Actually I was a little annoyed because I didn’t need it and was hoarding the candies.  Catching my 98th Ditto wasn’t quite as exciting as it was catching my first.  Generally I’m annoyed when I ever see Ditto these days.

It was nice to have things to shoot for though.  I could have easily knocked this quest out in a day or two (you know, if I didn’t have a family or a job) but I took my time with it and it made the game more interesting.  I’m hoping future quests will have some slightly more challenging elements to them.

Even with how quick this quest could be knocked out I saw plenty of players on Twitter tweeting coordinates to Gastly nests so that people could spoof to the location and catch ten ghost Pokémon within minutes.  I can’t even imagine how that could fun for anyone, knocking this quest out in hours rather than enjoying it.  I was disappointed that I was able to catch my ghost Pokémon in one morning of casual play.

In the never-ending onslaught of recent developments in the game has been that there’s rumor of an event starting on April 10, this coming Tuesday.  The only information is that the event will focus on the Pokémon of the Kanto region.  However, recently, shiny sprites for over 100 Pokémon have been detected which means that the quest for shinies may be about to get crazy this week.

This event is likely to be announced tomorrow so we’ll see shortly what it’s all about.  One thing I’m eager for is another double candy event as I have over 200 Bulbasur and Dratini to transfer.

Even with nothing else my week will end with a Mewtwo raid and the Community Day Event.  It’s going to be very exciting to see what other surprise gets thrown into the mix.

 

 

Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” (8-bit Cover Album)

 

Written between 1935 and 1936, Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata based on a book of medieval poetry.  This was a hugely important piece of music to me growing up.  I’d like to say that it wasn’t Ozzy Osbourne using O Fortuna as his entry music while playing live that got me interested in this piece of work, however, I would be lying if I said that.

Later in life I would see this performed live at the Lincoln Center in New York City which would rekindle my interest in this piece of music and allow me to explore the other two works of this musical trilogy: Catulli Carmina and Trionfo di Afrodite.

Working with large orchestral works tends to make the sounds of the NES resemble the sound of organs.  Layering all the tracks over one another is often reminiscent of a work heavy with synths.  I tried to keep these as 8-bit as possible but there’s so much going on with the layering and the dynamics that either I am desensitized to the 8-bit sounds or it loses a little of that NES feel to it.

Click above to listen on YouTube or .  . .

Download “Carmina Burana” (8-bit Cover Album) on Google Play