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Niantic, Inc. is the developer of Nintendo® The Pokémon Company‘s upcoming massively multiplayer online augmented reality game (“MMOARG”), Pokémon GO. It was confirmed to have been inspired and based on the most popular and successful MMOARG, Ingress. Based on this, we can predict the features that will come in Pokémon GO.

Important note: Before we begin, a fair reminder, these are all speculations based on the features in Ingress. In addition to that, ideas can not be owned, as such, the developers are free to use these ideas and/or suggestions as they see fit with or without any attribution or compensation.

Over the years, features were added to Ingress that we can assume today, was a preparation for Pokémon GO. It was more like a live test, if you will, so they have data to based on for the new MMOARG, Pokémon GO.

Unown Translation

“F” Unown Pokémon
In Ingress, when you hold the ‘hack’ button for a few seconds, the Glyph Hack feature will be activated. In glyph hack, a set of alien glyphs or alphabet is shown which the agent must correctly duplicate. Bonus rewards are given for every successful pattern.

In Pokémon, there is what we call the Unown. These are the ‘symbol’ Pokémons, twenty-eight (28) characters in total. We can expect something in GO where we have to translate Unown writings in the wild and we will get some points that we can use to purchase items in the Poké Mart or have a higher chance of getting more Poké Balls or our character attracts rare Pokémons for an X amount of minutes.

Poké Mart and the Department Store

Niantic recently launched the Ingress Store. This was no doubt a feature introduced in Ingress to gather consumer data in preparation for GO’s Poké Mart and obviously, to test it.

Master Ball
Master Ball
In the Pokémon world, there are Poké Marts located in various cities. In this store, Pokémon Trainers can buy higher type of Poké Balls, food for their Pokémon (yes, they do eat), and special items unique to each area. These items are no doubt non-game changer, meaning, items that will not put any trainer into an advantage over the others who chose not to purchase anything using real-world money.

Of course, that remains to be seen. A microtransaction or “Item Mall” as it is commonly called in MMOGs, is usually a double-edged sword in free-to-play games. Items offered start with non-game changer items, but later, new ones are introduced that some players call “pay-to-win”. Let’s cross our fingers that Poké Mart (and Ingress Store for that matter) will not travel down that path.

User-Generated Content: Gyms and Leagues

“Missions” in Ingress is a user-generated content. These are missions created by agents which other agents can take and attempt to finish. This feature can used in Pokémon GO and it will be a very interesting one if implemented correctly.

For example. A group of high-level trainers in ASEAN City decided to band together and form a Pokémon Gym called “ASEAN City Gym”. One of their trainer will create the “mission” online (via a browser) and set the following conditions:

  • Objective: Defeat these trainers in order listed
  • Defeat Trainer John
  • Defeat Trainer Lyn
  • Defeat Trainer Myst
  • Defeat Trainer Eve
  • Defeat Trainer Ulyses
  • Defeat Gym Leader Adam

Here comes Pokémon Trainer Pops in ASEAN City. He opens his Pokémon GO app and saw there’s a “mission” available. He tapped the “take mission” button to alert the Trainers listed that they have a challenger. They meet at an agreed upon location and schedule for the Pokémon battle.

Trainer Pops then issues a challenge to each ASEAN City Gym trainer. He defeats them one-by-one until he faces Gym Leader Adam. After a lengthy Pokémon battle, where Pops almost lost (and had to start from the beginning if ever), he won against Trainer Adam. The app/system detects it and he receives the “ASEAN City Gym” badge.

This “mission” feature can also be used for “Leagues”, which are bigger than “Gyms” in the Pokémon world. They could be asked to locate and capture a particular Pokémon as part of the “mission” before they advance to the next stage of the League, for example.

The possibilities are endless. As I’ve said earlier, it depends on how it will be implemented. Simply put, user-generated content is king.

Badges

Aside from the badges earned by finishing user-generated “missions”, there are also official badges. These badges range from simple achievements earned to badges earned by participating in official major events. Here are some ideas that I came up with:

  • Number of Pokémon caught – you start with copper, then bronze, silver, and so on, as you catch more Pokémon
  • Number of Trainers defeated – also a tiered badge
  • Trekker badge – kilometers walked, a tiered badge
  • Trader badge – how many Pokémons a trainer traded, a tiered badge
  • Psychic badge – you caught X number Psychic-type Pokémon, there are 18 types in the Pokémon world
  • Unown Master badge – you caught all 28 Unown Pokémon species
  • Unown Translator badge – you’ve translated X number of Unown glyphs
  • Defeat Mew-Two Event badge – if you joined the said event
  • Gym Master – you’ve defeated X number of Gyms, see user-generated content above, a tiered badge
  • Pokémon Master badge – this badge should be very hard to attain, I think it should not be made available at all!)

These badges are displayed in your Trainer profile. As a Pokémon trainer, it is your history, your achievement, your pride. I am sure you have ideas too, post them below!

Modifications or Upgrades

Or “mods” for short. In Ingress, agents can add mods to a portal they captured. It could be a shield or a turret to mention two. This can be implemented into Pokémon GO by allowing trainers to add “mods” to their Pokémons.

Perhaps an extra armor for Geodude. Or an extra water turret for Blastoise. Or say, a tinfoil hat to protect from psychic type Pokémons.

Trading

This feature is not in Ingress but is a very old suggestion for the said game. However, in Pokémon GO, as far as what we’ve been shown in the trailer (available below), it will be a feature of the game. I won’t be surprised at all if Ingress receives this feature sometime later.

Unique to Pokémon

Last but not the least, features that is unique in the Pokémon world. These are:

  • Pokédex – for those not familiar, it’s your Pokémon checklist
  • Pokémon evolution
  • Pokémon Center – you can store your extra Pokémon there, sort of like a “bank” or daycare center
  • You can only carry six (6) Pokémons at a given time. Newly caught Pokémons are automatically sent to the Pokémon Center
  • No doubt, there will be Pokémons exclusive to one location. For example, you probably won’t see wild Magikarps in land-locked countries. Then there is Vileplume, which was based on the largest flower in the world, the Rafflesia arnoldii which is rare, hard to find, and can only be found in the forests of Indonesia.

Is there a possibility that we are going to see Pokémon not in any existing games? Yes, definitely. As Pokémon GO is set on Planet Earth, Niantic and The Pokémon Company can create a totally new Pokémon ecosystem. It will all depend on the background story.

As with any story, there are questions to be answered like, were these Pokémons from the Pokémon world who crashed landed here on Earth? Or were these planted here in eons past and were only discovered today through the use of technology that detects them and sees them for what they really are? (Like a Ghostbuster scanner.) Why are they here? If they were planted, who was behind it? Was Professor Oak involved in some way?

Or maybe, the question we should ask, is Planet Earth the Pokémon world? Is the Pokémon world actually a very distant past of this planet? Could something have happened in that era that connected it to our time? Could it be Celebi/Serebii, the time-travelling Pokémon that caused it?

It all comes down to the story. Based on that story, we might see a different set of Pokémons altogether. One thing is for sure, we will see the common ones like Magikarp and Vileplume (I already have a story in mind for Vileplume!)

Closed Beta and Launch

It was confirmed by Niantic that there will be a winter closed beta. They also confirmed that the official public launch of the game will be early in 2016.

How to get into the closed beta? I’m afraid that I don’t have an answer. If ever we get invites from Niantic, we will think of a way to distribute it fairly. An early tip, we will probably require that you are at least Level 8 in Ingress. Why? Pokémon GO is a massively multiplayer online augmented reality game, to truly beta test it, a trainer has to have an experience playing MMOARGs.

Pokémon GO Communities

An MMOARG to be successful need the support of its community. Here are some communities that you can join in Google Plus, the platform that will be used and is closely tied-in to the game.

Gotta catch ’em all!

    Is a self-confessed bibliophile and technophile other than being an early adopter, an avid gamer, a geek, nerd, role-player, anime otaku, and trekker.

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