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Writers Workshop General Chat Thread

Beth Pavell

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That's an interesting point. It certainly seems that since BW, the world of each region has been getting smaller. It started with Unova being a circuit. Kalos wasn't really small, but there was a lot of open space and big models just in the way. You couldn't see much of the region at any one time. Then along comes Alola where the entire game world occupies all the map, so there's no sense that behind the treeline there's some more of the region just not in the game world.

I tend to flip-flop over whether I was ambivalent about Kalos and annoyed by Alola because the games aren't aimed at me, or because there's something significantly different about them. I think it's fair to say that for all their pretensions of being darker, they're aimed squarely at young players, with the appeal of the competitive metagame existing mostly as an afterthought. I'm beginning to think that Game Freak believe repetitive Kanto-pandering will do the job of keeping the older players about. Aside from the fairly obvious problem that there's a swelling number of players for whom Hoenn or Sinnoh are nostalgic history, it misses the point that people enjoyed Kanto games for more than just Charizard
 

Nitro Indigo

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Even as a kid, I knew that White was shorter than Diamond, and I never finished the main story of White. (I regretted restarting it a lot because I lost my chance to get the Liberty Island Victini and gave it to a friend.)

It does feel like Pokémon are becoming less special, now that you mention it, @Lumilite. While I get that it's more convenient to catch a Spiritomb in a random encounter than talk to people loads of times in a multiplayer mode, especially since I rarely had the chance to play multiplayer as a kid, it ties into someone's point about how they're targeting games towards casual and competitive players at the same time, and making the world less important in the process (though back in 2014, I liked how ORAS upped the storytelling ante). Even though I hated Diamond as a kid, I'm proud that I got through such a confusing game without looking up a guide (for the most part). It seems to be a common trend in the industry in general.

The most recent game I've played where I had a feeling of "going off the beaten path" is Ever Oasis (a 2017 3DS game), where I came across a side area that I wasn't supposed to explore until later on in the game after noticing something unusual on the map. Also, your username reminds me of Lumite, the game's three Zelda-esque plot coupon crystals.

@Beth Pavell That reminds me, in the past, I've felt that Gen 1 has some je ne sais quoi, and part of that is that the marketing felt like, "There are 151 Pokémon. Which one is your favourite?" Whereas now, Gen 1 pandering is more like, "There were 151 Pokémon, and your favourite is Charizard, Pikachu, Eevee, or Mewtwo, right?"
 

unrepentantAuthor

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We too often compare Pokémon titles to previous entries in the series. Comparing them to other games reveals that they just aren't up to scratch. Just compare the visual appearance of SwSh to, say, LoZ games from now and from ten years ago. In terms of coding, I've heard tell that Game Freak code like amateurs, and do no optimisation whatsoever. Maybe they just don't have sufficient staff of any calibre these days.

I suspect Game Freak have become complacent and stagnated, and perhaps they need a shakeup. I don't think there's any demand for dynamaxing, honestly. I think there's a lot of demand for reimagining the core gameplay. Maybe their market research would prove me wrong, I don't know. I just feel like the stuff I want from the games isn't getting any attention, in favour of gimmicks like dynamaxing. And dynamaxing really takes the mickey, even compared to Z moves. Mega evolution grew on me, barely, but I don't think this will. Wake me up when pokémon looks and feels like a modern open world RPG and I actually have to do stuff like make a campfire in a cave to take shelter from a storm in order to survive my journey.

I'm rambling, and I've deleted a bunch of other things I could have said. This is the result of unfocused disappointment and wistfulness I guess.
 

Snuggle Tier List

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The other day, a gif of Honchkrow's fainting animation in Battle Revolution got onto Reddit's popular page, and one of the comments basically said that Game Freak were really phoning in their animations compared to Genius Sonority.
As the person right now doing an analysis of Genius Sonority's last "adventure" game, I have an explanation. Genius Sonority used low-poly Pokémon models taken straight from the N64's Pokémon Stadium and kept this low-poly style when creating their own Gen III models. While this might make their games uglier than Game Freak's 3D work, it also let Genius Sonority invest in detailed "skeletons", AKA "more simulated bones in each Pokémon's body". And so, like an action figure with more joints, they could fine-tune animations to a much higher degree.

Not only that, but they also invested in particle effects. Particle effects are the magician's trick of game developers; they're used for explosions, rain, lens flares, sparks, and anything else that a 3D model can't represent. And Genius Sonority incorporated those particle effects into their animations. For instance, the ring of light that engulfs a Pokémon as they faint, or this:


I looked at a Sun & Moon model rip before and it had a million times more polygons. While this might make for pretty screenshots, it requires much more joints per skeleton. Which in turn takes more development resources.

There's also Genius Sonority's animations just telling better stories. Each Pokémon's animations matched the Pokémon: Zigzagoon, for instance, always runs in zigzags. Sableye jitters around and materializes a slasher smile before attacking. Slowpoke ponders a second before carrying out an attack (and, hilariously, needs a second to realise they've fainted). Animation is a storytelling device, just like an actor in a movie moving their body, and I'd rather have an ugly actor with a great performance than someone casted for their looks.

And expanding on this; Genius Sonority knew what type of game they were making. They invested in narrative not by adding more cutscenes or dialogue, but by making their Pokémon world visually distinct (hovercars were a thing!), importing a cinematographer (Jamie Turner, who is probably not Japanese and probably American based on the battle camera aping camera shots from American Football), by adding a cheering crowd that's reacts with different levels of excitement based on different events (toss out Luvdisc and they'll cheer, toss out Kyogre and they go ballistic), by creating a soundtrack that had Colosseum's main battle theme intro via the riff from DOOM played on muted guitar before a choir of trumpets unleash...

I could go on, but my point is: if Game Freak wants to pivot towards narrative, then that needs to affect every single aspect of their design. And if they're removing the National Dex, what other option do they have?
 

Nitro Indigo

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I've heard tell that Game Freak code like amateurs, and do no optimisation whatsoever. Maybe they just don't have sufficient staff of any calibre these days.
I've always thought that Pokémon games never looked as good as other games on their systems, especially main series ones, except maybe Unova. I think a fair thing to compare the DS games (not just main ones) to would be Children of Mana, a 2006 DS game with really detailed spritework. I've particularly always thought that X and Y looked underwhelming, with a washed-out, "buttery" colour palette and stiff animations. It's also how I feel about Gates to Infinity, but I can excuse that because it seems like Chunsoft had a lower budget. I think a fair thing to compare them to would be A Link Between Worlds. I get that both of those games were made by big companies (Square Enix and core Nintendo, respectively), but since they're handheld games, they were probably made by B-teams, and Game Freak makes loads of money from their A-team property, so...
(Jamie Turner, who is probably not Japanese and probably American based on the battle camera aping camera shots from American Football)
Of no relation to James Turner?
adding a cheering crowd that's reacts with different levels of excitement based on different events (toss out Luvdisc and they'll cheer, toss out Kyogre and they go ballistic)
I never knew about this! I've never played XD, but is that in Colosseum?
 

Beth Pavell

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Mega evolution didn't bother me because it felt like it made sense in the context of what we know about Pokémon. Evolution is a staple of the worldbuilding, so a temporary evolution isn't necessarily a big leap. But then you've got the likes of Z-moves (Only really make sense by leaping from "Temporary evolution involving something sparkly") and apparently now Dynamax ... whatever reason is behind that I doubt it'll feel any more of a natural fit. These ideas play out better in a young audience - they're melodramatic and showy and look like they could be pulled from any shonen manga.
 

unrepentantAuthor

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The thing that bothers me most about dynamaxing (besides anticipating shallow gameplay, resenting the apparent the loss of half the dex for its sake, and thinking that it's bloody silly) is that it looks a lot like all dynamxed pokémon are the same size as each other, and don't retain relative dimensions to their original sizes. It bothers me to see a raichu the same size as a gyarados, regardless that they're both engorged.

That, and the orbiting... clouds? Look like weird ugly worms.

It also doesn't really fit into an attractive wider universe seeing as it's explicitly a Galar phenomenon and while I can imagine exceptional trainers unlocking dangerously powerful temporary evolutions it feels deeply odd to have numerous wild encounters and probably half the trainers in the region all unlock the power of... getting real big for three turns.

Good grief, I really don't like dynamaxing.
 

Lord Kyuubi

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Z-moves always felt very silly to me, partly for the same reasons as Beth mentioned, but also because I really don't feel they fit in very well mechanically either. Once per battle, you can just delete something you didn't want to deal with properly? I can understand why someone might get a power rush out of using it once, after that, it just feels like an unnecessary way to trivialise an obstacle I might otherwise have enjoyed playing around. Maybe this is just my lack of experience speaking, as of halway through the Sun Elite Four, I've never actually used one. It just hasn't appealed to me.

Dynamax, if anything, seems even worse to me. Do we know how big the power difference will be between a Dynamaxed and normal Pokemon yet? I kind of feel like it might go the way of 'Now you're powerful enough to beat anything, but don't worry, it's not OP, it only lasts long enough to sweep half a full team'. And even if it's not that bad, turning a Pokemon huge just doesn't sound very interesting. Why is every one of these 'special powers' less imaginative than the one from the Generation before it?
 

Lumilite

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Yeah, I'm also worried that Dynmaxing won't fit into the Pokemon world very well.

If I'd known back when XY released that Mega Evolution would lead to a gimmick-of-the-year thing taking hold, I wouldn't have liked it at all.
 

Snuggle Tier List

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I wrote a fic about size-shifting giant Pokémon, so I might be a little biased. But I'm fine with Dynmaxing in theory.

In practice, Game Freak screwed up the moment they introduced Mega Evolutions. If Dynmaxing has to exist, then that means Mega Evolutions clearly weren't "Mega" enough. Combined with Z-Moves, and it seems Game Freak — no, The Pokémon Company — doesn't have a long-term plan. This franchise started thanks to extremely tight coordination: the anime serving as the 30-minute commercial, the Pokémon: Stadium series serving as a Gen I & II high-spectacle "endgame", a plethora of spin-offs (trading card game, Pokémon: Snap, Pokémon: Pinball, Pokémon Puzzle League) so that no matter what type of gameplay you liked, there was a game for you. And now, with the spin-offs slowing, I can't see The Pokémon Company's strategy.

EDIT: Almost forgot!
I never knew about this! I've never played XD, but is that in Colosseum?
Been a hot minute since I spun up Colosseum, but I believe so! The crowd noise is a recycled asset, at least. You have "baseline crowd ambient" for when choosing moves, "new Pokémon cheer" whenever a new Pokémon emerges (there's different levels of cheer; not sure how many exact, but in general you'l get a bigger cheer for rarer/more impressive looking Pokémon), then there's a slight cheer whenever a damage-dealing move connects, and finally a moderate cheer when a Pokémon gets KO'd. I'm working off memory, though; I'll be testing it out soon enough.

Also, no relation to James Turner as far as I know, but I'll do some googling and get back to ya.
 
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Nitro Indigo

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It's not just Pokémon. It feels like every big gaming franchise is becoming homogenised. Isn't that right, Mario? (My theory was that it was Nintendo couldn't afford to take risks because the Wii U was failing, but Super Mario 3D Land always felt like the beginning of the homogenisation to me, so...)

Think about the "quirky sixth generation games" I mentioned on the Battle With Me thread. I mentioned "experimental games by big companies", and was thinking of Pikmin, Super Mario Sunshine, and The Wind Waker. The first was the last Nintendo IP to catch on until Splatoon (RIP Ever Oasis 2017 - 2017), one reviewer said that the second was better today because it's so unlike homogenised, "Toads in green fields", 8th generation Mario, and I've never thought that Zelda was getting stale because each game has a different theme and feel. I seem to have a weird rose-tinted glasses problem that applies to the first installments of anything regardless of if they were the first I experienced or not, though.
 
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InfiniteBakuphoon

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What concerns me most about Dynamaxing is how it'll fit into something like the anime... or anything that's not the games, for that matter. The games, you see, can get away with a lot in the logistics department of Dynamaxing because battles in the games are, mechanically speaking, simplistic turn-based affairs where every attack has a single, predictable result that's easily repeatable. So long as Dynamaxing fits into that existing system somehow, it'll make "sense" in that context, regardless of how much "sense" it makes in any other context (like, say, worldbuilding).

"Real life", of course, doesn't work that way, and the anime — being a "real life" universe — has always reflected that. It's never completely followed the rules and rigid turn-based structure of the games, and as such, battles there are never just two Pokémon standing in place shooting flamethrowers, lightning bolts, and water jets at each other with the occasional Tackle or Tail Whip here and there. There's an almost automatic consideration for things like the environment (is it cold? raining? stormy?), the battlefield (is a grassy field? a dirt one? an underwater one?) and how those all affect one's strategy and approach to battles, which is naturally necessary in a universe that's essentially "real life unless otherwise noted" as opposed to, well, a video game, where such factors are either abstracted into irrelevance or simply not depicted at all.

With all of the above in mind, there are some fairly obvious questions that come to mind when considering how Dynamaxing would work in "real life", including not just the anime but also the vast majority of fanfiction that will inevitably be written about it (which, even in fanfic based on the games, tends to follow "real life" rules more so than game ones). Namely:
  1. Can a Dynamaxed Pokémon curb-stomp a non-Dynamaxed one just by its sheer size advantage alone?
  2. How much strategy can you really have with a Dynamaxed Pokémon when even an absolutely massive battlefield becomes dramatically smaller, and when said Pokémon becomes so large that it can barely move or do much of anything at all in that smaller space?
  3. Given #2, would any battle between two Dynamaxed Pokémon inevitably be reduced to them hurling Max Moves at each other until one of them faints?
I'm sure that both the anime writers and fanfic writers are figuring out answers to those questions as we speak, of course; I'm just not entirely confident right now that they'll be particularly great answers. I'd love to be proven wrong, though... we'll see.
 

Ryoma Maser

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What concerns me most about Dynamaxing is how it'll fit into something like the anime... or anything that's not the games, for that matter. The games, you see, can get away with a lot in the logistics department of Dynamaxing because battles in the games are, mechanically speaking, simplistic turn-based affairs where every attack has a single, predictable result that's easily repeatable. So long as Dynamaxing fits into that existing system somehow, it'll make "sense" in that context, regardless of how much "sense" it makes in any other context (like, say, worldbuilding).

Can a Dynamaxed Pokémon curb-stomp a non-Dynamaxed one just by its sheer size advantage alone?
  1. How much strategy can you really have with a Dynamaxed Pokémon when even an absolutely massive battlefield becomes dramatically smaller, and when said Pokémon becomes so large that it can barely move or do much of anything at all in that smaller space?
  2. Given #2, would any battle between two Dynamaxed Pokémon inevitably be reduced to them hurling Max Moves at each other until one of them faints?
Looks over at Attack on Titan, and the various Power Rangers/Super Sentai seasons that do the same thing.
 

Snuggle Tier List

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Looks over at Attack on Titan, and the various Power Rangers/Super Sentai seasons that do the same thing.
From what I know of Attack on Titan, the world's having some problems with the wildlife. And is also perpetually in total war. The worldbuilding isn't exactly kid friendly.

As for Power Rangers, we're going to need a lot of conveniently empty warehouses. Which is fine for a kids show, maybe even fine for a kid's franchise. But the worldbuilding has more holes than swiss cheese. It could make a nice kids game, but there's a part of me that's disappointed Pokémon hasn't grown with its audience. Or at least given us a "adult's choice" Pokémon adventure ostensibly for kids but with serious adult themes. Then everyone would be happy, the brand can retain its kid appeal, and my novel kaiju fanfic doesn't become outdated a month after completion. Curse you, Game Freak!

Also, I'd like to share a quote from a review of CH1 of my Pokémon-as-giant-monsters fic, written before Dynmaxing's reveal:
Stylistically I would be able to tell this was a parody without anything in the introduction saying as much (I didn't read the summary in spoiler, by the way), which is a good sign. It's better than most Pokémon parodies I've seen - most of them are really just zany crackfics rather than parodies, per se. I suppose at this juncture I am rather sceptical that the joke has enough legs to last for a story.
Pokémon is playing parody bait straight. My guess: Dynmaxing will be great for all the wrong reasons.
 

Ryoma Maser

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From what I know of Attack on Titan, the world's having some problems with the wildlife. And is also perpetually in total war. The worldbuilding isn't exactly kid friendly.

As for Power Rangers, we're going to need a lot of conveniently empty warehouses. Which is fine for a kids show, maybe even fine for a kid's franchise. But the worldbuilding has more holes than swiss cheese. It could make a nice kids game, but there's a part of me that's disappointed Pokémon hasn't grown with its audience. Or at least given us a "adult's choice" Pokémon adventure ostensibly for kids but with serious adult themes. Then everyone would be happy, the brand can retain its kid appeal, and my novel kaiju fanfic doesn't become outdated a month after completion. Curse you, Game Freak!
I was specifically talking about the fighting a giant monster when your normal size which Attack on Titan and Power Ranger/Super Sentai do a lot.
 

Snuggle Tier List

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I was specifically talking about the fighting a giant monster when your normal size which Attack on Titan and Power Ranger/Super Sentai do a lot.
Ah, my bad. Though some of the slower Pokémon might be flat-out screwed when it comes to open terrain. But we're in anime logic here, so...eh. Not my problem to deal with.

I'm not very optimistic, if you can tell. I don't know if it's Dynmaxing or just another straw on a camel's back. I've noticed a lot of discussions in general chat about Pokémon's ineffective "Kanto pandering", where the franchise seems unable to understand where that nostalgia comes from. Pokémon has always been targeted at a younger audience, but I do feel how it targets that audience has changed. They're creating power fantasies when it used to be an independence fantasy. Cool shonen tropes and exploiting fan favorites when it used to be just leaving home for adventure's sake. Creating your own team, managing your own money, making your own decisions. And as story has crept more and more into the core series, the plot rails have been stripping that fantasy away. Dynmaxing is just another example of coolness winning over worldbuilding, and as fanfic readers/authors, I feel we're not the target audience anymore.

I wonder how Dynmaxing will be incorporated into fanfics. I already see the "my Pokémon is special because it can Dynmax as long as it wants!" But I don't see it much story potential beyond PokéBrittan adventure fics and parodies, at least without rejecting currently-revealed game canon. And The Great Pokémon War theorists will have to get creative. I mean, maybe if you blitzkrieg Kalos and bomb PokéLondon from a distance...yeah, parodies are incoming.

I'm rambling. Anyone think this change is good? Haven't heard from that camp yet.
 

unrepentantAuthor

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They're creating power fantasies when it used to be an independence fantasy.
This is absolutely the thing. I daydream about travelling over long distances, seeing new places, meeting new people and creatures, forming bonds with a team of intelligent superpowered creatures, helping out in local minor crises, going wherever and doing whatever I want. Stories with a personal scale.

Recent game entries seem to think I daydream about kicking ass with super special powers that make mincemeat of regular mon. Stories without personality.

I don't think anyone thinks dynamaxing is good, exactly. A lot of people are excited about having a pet kaiju, especially if they have a fave mon they want to see maxed — I'm waiting for it to sink in for those people that their faves aren't going to get to dynamax at all, necessarily. A lot of people thought it was a good gimmick because unlike megas it applies to everyone's favourite mon. Ha ha ha ha. Nah. It won't, obviously. I've not seen anybody get really excited about the concept in general.

Seconding @InfiniteBakuphoon's concerns about the anime, fanfic, and staleness. I've just straight up chosen not to include it in my personal canon whatsoever.
 

Nitro Indigo

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They're creating power fantasies when it used to be an independence fantasy.
Reminds me of Mother's Basement's review of Pokémon Adventures. At the beginning, he describes that he liked the original games because the world was more holistic and naturalistic, and later games lost that feel when they tried to emulate the anime.

I've had these feelings about Pokémon for a while, but I haven't been able to articulate them very well. I sort-of want to compile all of our opinions into a video. If I were to make it (don't hold your breath), I'm also worried that people would accuse me of being nostalgia-biased towards Gen 4, because you know what YouTube commenters are like. I bring that up because I think that Gen 3 and 4 were the golden age of spinoffs. I realised an easy example to point out how spinoffs have changed: the only Pikachu you see in Colosseum's story mode (as far as I've played) gets beaten up in one turn in a non-interactive battle. If it came out today, Pikachu would probably be the first Shadow Pokémon you capture.

Oh! I just remembered something else! The main "point" of Tamashii Hiroka's Johto review is that they were designed to be played slowly, and Game Freak decided to capitalise on the potential for optimisation when they realised it was there.
 

Lumilite

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I've also been wanting to write about the way that Pokemon has changed over time, although I never know how to start nor how to include everything I want to say. I also feel like I'm in a bit of a strange position when it comes to nostalgia and what "classic Pokemon" really means, since my first games, and proper introduction to Pokemon, were Black and White - games which are known for trying to be different and being a "soft reboot" of the franchise. I still remember finding it odd that other regions didn't have their own unique set of Pokemon when I was looking at their dexes for the first time and noticing how many they shared.
 

Nitro Indigo

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Despite being hyped for Black and White as a kid - incidentally learning about them through the Official Nintendo Magazine website, getting glimpses of Solosis on Bulbapedia through the terrible DSi browser and choosing White because of that, thinking Mincinno was the cutest thing ever, loving Lilligant and Rufflet's designs once the game I released - I don't feel that nostalgic for them, probably because of my restarting-related regrets and getting a guide with the game that spoiled everything. I just realised that another reason why I kept restarting was because I got a 3DS, and a game's wifi is locked to the system. I do feel nostalgic for White 2, though, for being one of the games that made me good at video games and being the swansong to my childhood system. The song in question is the Aspertia City music.

On a completely unrelated note, what do you think of slow burn fanfics? I first heard the term through Superheroics and the Forces of Infinite Causality, a Power Rangers fanfic that will make no sense if you don't know much about it, which has a lot of character-building, tying disconnected elements of canon together, and poking fun at the source material (there's a scene where the main character is compelled to get white clothes because he's a white ranger, but he has terrible fashion sense). I tried to emulate this with Pocket Monsters Among Men, but I'd already lost my interest in Fullmetal Alchemist (again) when I started writing it, and I envisioned Moonkind: The Wayward Butterfly as being a slow-burn adventure, before I came up with more ideas and realised that with the overarching plot I planned, it would be fairly short.
 
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