Originally written on: Jan 7, 2009
As with all of my game ideas, I would only want elements included if they work well and don't break the game in any way. All ideas would be tested to make sure that everything is done right. This is a concept of what could be the first AAA console Pokémon game ever seen that actually compares with the handhelds.
Title: Pokémon Revolution
System: Wii U
Players: 1-16 online
There's no wave of darkness turning Pokémon evil. There's no duo of high school-dropout Team Rocket rejects trying to capture a common Pikachu. There is a deep storyline that includes elements of conspiracy, but let's save that for later.
The game begins with you customizing a character. It can be male or female, and you can change everything from hair and skin color to height and weight. You can even customize clothing. You will unlock more options in-game; this means that you can change your character's look as often as you want.
Next, you get to choose a primary (physical) and a secondary (occupation) class. This is first and foremost one of the biggest new additions to the franchise. Primary classes determine the overall look of the character but also grant a unique ability or property that is due to the class's physical state or appearance. These abilities can be performed without Pokémon, but this class is permanent once the game begins. After choosing a class, players can continue to customize options such as hair style and eye color or simply continue onto the secondary class.
Secondary classes can be changed unlike the primary class. The default is Pokémon Trainer; this class has the ability to challenge Gym Leaders for badges that grant special abilities. Anyone can enter the Pokémon League, but remember that eight badges are required to battle. Other secondary classes include everything from a breeder to a student, which is a suggested class for players new to the world of Pokémon. More options become available during the game's plot.
Whichever combination of classes you choose determines not only your character's abilities at the start (such as swimming without Pokémon) but also their background and how the game starts. Youngsters (who can fit in small places) start at home, Hikers start on a mountain, and so on. Each of these classes has its own story that introduces the concepts of the game. This is done by almost every single NPC reacting differently to each secondary class. I know this would require several times more dialogue than if the same lines were said no matter what without change, but this would add depth and replay value to the game. Some NPCs might barely react to most classes, but one woman might be the wife of a Hiker should a character choose that class, or perhaps the mother of a Youngster. To recap, the primary class determines the starting location, and the secondary class chosen at the beginning determines the character's background.
One aspect of how the game begins differently is what first Pokémon are available; Youngsters who begin as Trainers, for example, may be limited in secondary classes but follow the tradition of being given a starter Pokémon, which are otherwise rare in the wild. On the other Hand, a Hiker might start with a preset Pokémon or may have to catch one on his or her own using only Poké Balls.
At the start of the game, only certain secondary classes are available. However, it will be discovered that there are many other options as well. At one point, for example, players will run into one of several criminal organizations such as a sophisticated Team Rocket. They might invite the player to join, and the player actually has the option to accept or decline. If the player accepts, their secondary class will become Rocket Grunt, which is promotable. As a Rocket member, players have the exclusive ability to capture in-game trainers' Pokémon with Poké Balls. Team Rocket is the only organization with this ability. Others have their own abilities as well. Remember that NPCs react differently to each class, though. The game is actually more difficult to play as a bad guy since almost all NPCs will look down upon such a class and may even attack them and refuse assistance. Non-criminal players eventually have the option to become more advanced classes that require experience. These include Gym Leader where players actually open up their own gym and accept battles, Nurse where players heal Pokémon, Officer where players enforce peace and fight criminals, and others. Remember that secondary classes are independent of the primary class and that clothing is changeable; you will see Hikers and Swimmers with varying genders, skin colors, heights, weights, and other features with a police officer's uniform, a Team Rocket uniform, or whatever that player or NPC character has chosen for their secondary class.
As for the audio, I'm hoping for fully orchestrated music that fits the mood for each area, possibly also based on the character. I'm sure that a Team Rocket member running from the police in the rain wouldn't go well with happy, upbeat music. Also, there will be an option for Pokémon sounds. By default they will make grunts, chirps, and other noises; but players also have the option of switching this to well-done anime voices. There is also a third option for the classic MIDI sounds from the handhelds either in their original format or in an enhanced digital format.
Primary classes determine the overall look of your character. You can still choose hair, skin color, eye color, facial features, and clothing and have some control over height and weight. This class grants an ability that you can do without a Pokémon, but this class is permanent.
Shop in certain places with discounted prices.
Have access to motorcycles for the fastest possible ground transportation.
Break objects such as weak rocks and other physical structures.
Have access to the best fishing equipment in the game and have higher rates of success when fishing.
Climb steep areas that are otherwise inaccessible without flying, some of which can only be reached in this manner.
Swim without the use of a Pokémon.
Youngster/Lass (male/female respectively)
Enter confined areas that larger characters are unable to. Cannot be a Breeder, Gym Leader, Nurse, Officer, Rocket Executive, or Teacher.
An alternative to this is a Skyrim-like approach where all skills are available but the primary class determines which skills have a head start and perhaps which skills can be leveled past a certain amount, granting those unique abilities.
These classes can be switched at will. Progress is saved, so returning to a previous class allows players to continue where they left off. Some classes require certain clothing, though other features such as hair style and color remain unchanged. All of these roles can be assumed by both male and female characters, but some have restrictions such as minimum reputation. Note: these may eventually be called Occupations instead.
Get a taste of various secondary classes without effects on reputation or other risks.
Trainers will pay you to level up their Pokémon through training and other activities. Take care of any eggs that may be produced.
Allows you to enter locked doors, but doing so lowers your reputation.
Promotion of Pokémon Trainer obtained after defeating the previous Champion. Reputation increases. You must attend every Elite Four event; one is held weekly (every seven game days). If you are defeated, the challenger becomes the new Champion.
Collect Pokémon for others to buy or trade. Some Trainers will pay well for rare species, but watch out for Team Rocket.
Promotion of Gym Leader, but there are only four openings in each region. A previous member must step down before an opening is available.
If certain conditions are met, you have the option of opening up your own gym or replacing a previous Leader that steps down. Trainers will come daily; victors are awarded badges. Must use specific Pokémon types within a certain level range and are restricted from switching in battle.
Tend to injured or sick Pokémon using various techniques. Use knowledge of individual species to help in examinations.
Keep the streets clean. Must have never been a Burglar or Rocket member. Catch criminals and call for backup when necessary. Pokémon are provided.
Take pictures of Pokémon. Earn better equipment as you progress. Use bait and remain hidden for the best shots. Receive more money for better pictures.
Promotion of Champion obtained by having owned at least 2/3 of the game's species and being the Champion. Grants the ability to switch party Pokémon at any time out of battle via a rare device. There will be a new Champion, but you will be challenged by the toughest opponents in the game.
Promotion of Teacher. Conduct research with advanced equipment and helpful staff. Catch starter Pokémon and select from those to be offered to new Trainers. Hold classes for adult Students.
Promotion from Rocket Grunt. Allows you to organize Grunts; plan the next move, decide what Pokémon Grunts will use, and try to please the Boss.
Allow you to steal others' Pokémon, though doing so sharply reduces reputation. Officers will often attack, sometimes without warning.
Learn the ways of Pokémon by attending classes that teach the basics. Borrow Pokémon and learn about types, battling, and more.
Hold classes for the secondary class of your choice that teach the basics of Pokémon. Decide how classes will be held, and offer tips on how students can improve with practice battles.
Collect badges with various effects and then challenge the Elite Four and Champion. Seek to become a Pokémon Master.
Now, onto the gameplay. First of all, this is a living, breathing world with a real-time day/night cycle and random weather effects. Like in Final Fantasy XII and many other RPGs, you actually see wild Pokémon walking, flying, and swimming around. You see NPCs battle as you walk by and can even stop and watch if you'd like; there's a random factor so that battles aren't the same all the time. Every NPC should look unique and have his or her own voice, although one can still determine the NPC's primary and secondary class without too much effort. As you walk by, you hear NPC dialogue that is not repeated every time.
Secondly, most of the game scales according to your progress level. At the start, the average trainer will have low-level Pokémon just like you. However, after progressing in your secondary class's career, you'll begin to see a similar effect to what the handhelds do. What's different is that not all Pokémon (including trained ones) are magically at the same level. This includes wild Pokémon within the same area as well as trained Pokémon. Some will be lower than you, and some will be higher. This is for realism but is not overdone to keep balance and pacing. If you are defeated, you black out and are punished in some way, such as losing money. I haven't given this much thought.
Thirdly, there will be as few loading screens as possible, but I realize that a lot will be going on at once on-screen. Picture a 3-D world where you ride around on a bike and everything moves as you ride by. Yet, I consider framerate much more important than loading times, so this is only secondary.
Lastly, and perhaps the most relevant is the fact that battles are no longer strictly turn-based. Four techniques are mapped at a time, and you give orders to use an attack by selecting it. You can switch which four are mapped anytime out of battle. If you are using the GameCube remote, the A, B, X, and Y buttons are used to order an attack. The Z button calls back the Pokémon, the control stick lets you walk around as the trainer (not capitalized because I'm not referring specifically to the Trainer class), and the C-stick controls the camera. With the Wii remote, you press and hold the - button to select attacks similar to how you select visors in Metroid Prime 3 or use the D-pad. The control stick on the nunchuck controls the trainer. Perhaps with the Wii remote there could be on-screen icons for things as well. A Pokémon's speed determines the waiting time in between attacks. Controls would be fully customizable regardless of the setup.
Stats remain similar to how they currently are in DPP but should be tweaked somewhat for balance. Pokémon with lower stats should have more useful movesets, and so on. However, one stat that would be revolutionized is speed. I don't think that Venusaur should have a higher speed stat than Bulbasaur. Every species should have its stats reworked -- especially speed -- to have drawbacks to some evolutions rather than all stats increasing.
But how would battles be handled in real-time? You do walk and run around (with full pressure-sensitive analog control), and you can actually choose if any Pokémon follow you as well as how many and in what order for a personal touch. As for battle, though, anyone who has played Mass Effect will have an idea of what this looks like. As soon as you are close to a Wild Pokémon, your character automatically throws a Poké Ball which almost immediately calls out the first non-KOed Pokémon in your list of six; or, if that Pokémon is already out, the character points and the Pokémon enters a fighting stance. Fortunately, you don't have to battle, as the wild Pokémon doesn't automatically enter a fighting state as well. They continue doing their own business until they see you, and even then they choose whether or not to approach you. Of course, you can make the first move and attack them. How a wild Pokémon acts depends on its species, nature, and time of day. It might also depend on which of your Pokémon are out (if a bug-type is following you it might attract bird Pokémon that attack with little warning). You have the option to attack or continue walking, riding, etc. when your Pokémon is called out, though.
Picture the following scenario for combat: A wild level 12 Rattata appears, and you automatically send out a level 19 Pidgeotto. (The screen does not change for a battle background; your surroundings are still present.) Your Pidgeotto has the moves Sand-Attack, Gust, Quick Attack, and Whirlwind mapped to four buttons; remember that it still knows Tackle but cannot use it unless it is mapped to a current button. Rattata currently knows Tackle, Focus Energy, Quick Attack, and Bite; which four moves are mapped for it are chosen by random since it's wild. Rattata notices Pidgeotto and enters a fighting stance. You press the corresponding button for Pidgeotto's Gust. It takes a fraction of a second to register (possibly based on its speed), and then it begins flapping it wings. Quickly a small funnel of wind is created and is blown toward Rattata, who takes the hit and is spun around a bit in mid-air before landing. Rattata charges Pidgeotto attempting a Bite attack. The battle continues in this fashion, where you give commands with buttons.
The battle system, which is similar to Final Fantasy XII except that players don't control the Pokémon's movements, has been tweaked to somewhat reduce the luck factor and to prevent abuse of stat modification. Status effects, whether positive or negative, only last five turns. Each increment or decrement out of six changes the stat by 5% of the total, meaning there is a maximum of a 30% change. An attack with an accuracy of 100% cannot be reduced below 70%, although the enemy can raise evasiveness by 30% to bring the overall chance of hitting down to 40%.
Players can choose not to attack when the option is available. Waiting until just before the enemy attacks to use a relatiation move such as Counter or Mirror Coat can be an effective means of unpredictability. Additionally, players have the option of using Defend or Evade, which until the next move is available raises Defense and Special Defense or Evasiveness by 10%, respectively; this is in addition to stat modifiers, allowing a temporary total of a 40% increase. Alternatively, the battle system might allow players to time blocking/dodging between when an order is given and when the attack is about to hit, giving a temporary 5-10% increase in defense and special defense or evasiveness, during which the meter doesn't refill; perhaps defense stats determine the amount blocked and speed determines the evasiveness.
Five turns after using a stat-changing move, the stat change brought about on that turn is nullified; for example, if Attack is raised to 30% by three uses of Swords Dance, the first one will be nullifed, reducing the increase down to 20%. However, players can use stat-changing moves even when they are at maximum effect; there will be no further change, but this will allow the effects to last an extra turn.
For moves that last more than one turn such as Fly, Solarbeam, and Bide, players can choose when the attacks are launched with restrictions. With movement attacks such as Fly and Dig, players can stay airborne for a limited amount of time; attacks can be performed in the air, but only ranged attacks will be effective. To land or emerge from the ground, use the attack again. With charged moves such as Solarbeam and Sky Attack, some moves allow one different attack to be used before the charged attack is released the next turn (such as Solarbeam), but some do not (such as Sky Attack). On a side note, Sky Attack is automatic, meaning players don't input the move a second time. With moves like Bide, players can choose how many attacks are absorbed by simply not attacking; selecting Bide a second time will perform the attack.
In the game, there are automatic sleep and freeze clauses that prevent more than one Pokémon from having those status effects. Also, PP are restored after each battle. This is to prevent difficult training for Pokémon that have moves with limited PP; trainers should only have to go to a Pokémon Center to heal status effects and restore HP; always running out of PP shouldn't be a constant annoyance.
There are still double battles in the game, and while they are slightly more common than in RuSaEm, it's usually obvious when a double battle will take place but not always. Two trainers together usually means a double battle, but some may request one. This leads me to another new element: reputation. You start with 0 reputation; people don't know who you are. The more you battle, the more rep you get. If you win you get reputation, but if you lose you lose a little. You can go in the negatives. (Being a criminal puts you far in the negatives, and you will be forced in the negatives unless you change classes and work your way back to positive.) This affects how NPCs react to you as well. However, you are now given the option to accept or decline most battles. If you decline, you lose a lot of reputation. If you are attacked, though, you will automatically call out a Pokémon in defense as if you were near a wild Pokémon.
I forgot to mention this earlier, but I'd like to add that TMs and HMs are handled differently. For one thing, there are no longer HMs. Each Pokémon capable of using Strength, Surf, etc. can on their own. The level at which they can do this, though, depends on their species and level. A level 55 Machamp can lift much heavier things than a level 15 Mankey, though that Mankey could lift more than a Hiker could. This is why I somewhat doubt how this current class idea is handled; it almost makes being a Hiker useless if you can just have a Mankey do it for you. Yet, it would not only add another personal touch to your character but would also prevent you from always having to have a water-type with you to carry you across water. As for TMs, they're no longer one-time use; but they take time to learn. Since a TM is not naturally learned, a Pokémon must practice this move. I want to avoid this being a repetitive and boring mini-game or a tedious process like purifying was in the Colosseum games, but at the same time there should be some trade-off for TMs being able to be taught an unlimited number of times, especially since they're not naturally learned. I've considered letting each Pokémon have a separate stat for each attack instead of it being determined by levels and attack stats, but this would require more time and thought to consider. For now, assume that the traditional stats method stays.
One possibility of handling attacks that tackles both luck and a tradeoff for unlimited TM use is the addition of individual attack mastery levels. Let's say that a Pokémon naturally learns Mud Slap. Upon using it for the first time, its power and accuracy are lower than normal, and it takes longer than other moves to recharge. After a few uses (maybe 15-20 to avoid it being tedious) the move will be considered mastered and will have its full potential. Base accuracy remains, but accuracy increases slightly with Pokémon level, relationship with the trainer, and most of all, further mastery of the move. As for TMs, they take slightly longer to master, and only one Pokémon in the player's party can work on a TM at any given time before it can be taught to another Pokémon. In order for it to be used again, the Pokémon learning it must be stored in the PC, or the move must be mastered; replacing a TM that's in the process of being learned with another move will reset the move since it's not mastered enough to be remembered. This is to balance the ability to reuse TMs as often as desired. The higher a Pokémon's level, the quicker the learning process becomes, and moves that are the same type as the Pokémon are even faster to learn. A level 100 Blastoise with the highest relationship could master a TM with Brine in 5 or so uses, while a level 5 Squirtle with a neutral relationship attempting the same move might take 25-30 uses. This is for basic mastery, which allows a move to be used to its full potential. Further mastery to increase accuracy and effect possibility generally takes a bit more uses than basic mastery.
Here I'll quickly name off a few ideas without going into too much depth. You can ride different Pokémon depending on your weight. For example, you can ride an Arcanine or Ponyta to travel even more quickly than if you were on a bike. You can have a bird Pokémon fly you, and you can control where exactly you are taken and where you land. There is dynamic lighting in the game so that you can use Pokémon to see (by using fire or Flash to light an area). Attacks have more out-of-battle uses such as using a high-level Ice Beam to freeze parts of water or using Vine Whip to reach high items such as berries on a tree. You cannot just jump into a battle and spray a Potion on a Pokémon; this must now be done out of battle. All species of Pokémon are obtainable in-game without trading or uploading from handhelds, but this is by no means an easy task and requires much dedication and trading with NPCs; also the game may only have enough memory for the first two generations, but it would be nice if all generations could be included. There are no random encounters since you see Pokémon in the wild, but some are very hard to avoid since you can be attacked both by wild Pokémon and by others (Rocket members or by Officers if you are a criminal). Wild Pokémon are in the wild at different times of day, but rather than loading when it changes time, wild Pokémon are seen going in and out of habitats, such as Sandshrew digging back into the ground when their cycle is up for that day. Normally harm does not come to the main player, but if it does (such as losing against an attack or staying underwater for too long), a character will black out as if losing a battle, but reputation will not be affected. You can have up to two other NPCs (or humans in co-op) in your party if you choose to, but things like gym battles must be done alone, though the others can watch. Lastly, I believe it would be best if IVs and EVs were removed; though breeding would stay with egg moves and everything else intact.
There should be a better way of leveling up Pokémon. Too often wild Pokémon are too weak, and to make things worse almost all of them have some annoying attack such as Whirlwind, Sand Attack, Confuse Ray, Sleep Powder, etc. It should be less tedious than this. I think that wild Pokémon should scale based on the highest-level one in your party to be roughly that level or lower. Take out the frustrating attacks and constant repetitive species that offer little experience points (Zubat) and it will make for a better experience. IVs and EVs should also both go, especially IVs.
Remember how a Rocket Grunt can be promoted, such as to an Executive (which lets you actually tell Grunts what to do)? Certain other classes also have promotions or upgrades. Remember that you can change primary classes, but know that your progress (such as promotions) in each class is saved should you return. For example, a Trainer might want to become a Breeder for a while (no longer having the benefits of badges) but later go back to being a Trainer with nothing changed. Reputation, however, does stay. Many of the class upgrades are well-worth it, however, as they provide game-changing abilities. Gym Leaders get to select a type to use, choose how their gym is laid out, and where their gym is; Trainers that challenge a Leader will have more Pokémon at a slightly lower overall level than the Leader. Heads of criminal organizations will choose where the organization goes and what missions to take on and can even make decisions of how their underlings perform (such as which Pokémon to use and such).
One secondary class that can illustrate the variety of gameplay is the Photographer. In this class, you progress by taking pictures and obtain better equipment along the way. Inspired by Pokémon Snap, this class would also have the ability to submit pictures online where friends can view them; in the game will be a museum where, if the Wii is connected to the internet, the best ones will be shown along with who took them.
As an added bonus to reduce tediousness, after progressing far enough in any secondary class, the player should be able to directly transfer Pokémon to and from that save file. This rewards multiple playthroughs by allowing every species to be obtainable without trading with other players.
Various locations in the game world such as museums, battle towers, beauty contests, and so on allow for many things to do in addition to progressing a class. Specific battle areas offer turn-based battles, for example, while others offer rental Pokémon.
Regardless of the class, there would also be many side-quests. There would be class-specific ones as well as quests any class can do. More are unlocked as you progress, and some completed ones might even be updated. I'd like for your actions to actually affect the world in various ways, but I realize that this might not be possible, especially this generation.
At any time you can choose to let a Pokémon (or more than one) out of its ball to follow you. This can also be used to choose which Pokémon is called out (such as at the beginning of a normal battle) rather than always sending out the first one; however, when surprise-attacked (even by a wild Pokémon), the first one will be automatically sent out. It should be noted that a Pokémon must be out of its ball for abilities to be in effect, such as Intimidate warding off wild Pokémon. Obviously, a Pokémon must be out of its ball to use an HM move; remember that these are naturally known rather than taught with a machine, though you may or may not still need a badge to use them; this will be left up to the designers for pace and balancing reasons.
There will be options to always automatically send out the first Pokémon. There will also be options to nullify bike music; the radio will make a return, which will play continuously until it is turned off. Decorations, berries, various Poké Balls, contests, and all other successful elements of previous games will also return with enhancements. Abilities can be used in new ways, such as Magneton's Magnet Pull being used to obtain an otherwise unreachable key. Random weather effects will occur, but moves such as Rain Dance and Sandstorm can be used even out of battle to change the local weather for a minute or two.
Reduction of Luck
I feel that the handhelds are too dependent on luck. A move with 95% accuracy misses; you get hit with a critical hit and get KOed or accidentally KO a rare Pokémon you want to catch; a Poké Ball fails to catch a wild Pokémon yet again; you hurt yourself in confusion over and over; the list goes on. There should be a few changes:
1. In real-time battling, if you miss it would be because of your own error, not because of percentages.
2. Moves that hit multiple times should depend on level, not on chance. If each move has its own mastery level, then it depends on this rather than a Pokémon's overall level.
3. Hitting oneself in confusion, not attacking because of being attracted, and any other status effects I forgot to list depend on closeness to the trainer, overall level, and the strength of the opposing Pokémon's move.
4. The effectiveness of Attract should additionally depend on compatibility between Pokémon. If two species will not breed, the likelihood of not attacking would be noticeably reduced.
So, let's recap. I realize this has been a lot to take in. You create a customized character with a permanent primary class that grants you special abilities such as swimming without having to use a Pokémon. You can be a Trainer and collect badges if you'd like, but there are even more options to choose from, especially for those that might want a break from battling all the time. I didn't mention this, but there are also events in the game world similar to how mini-games were done in Stadium 2 but much more in-depth; these include races on horse Pokémon, the beauty contests with extra flare not possible on handhelds, and much more. You even have the options to reject battles and join a criminal organization, but doing so negatively affects your rep, which counts even more than your secondary class when interacting with NPCs. You can play online with up to 16 players in the interactive world and take parts in events such as mini-games, contests, battles, and trade centers. The ability to play as different classes and countless things to discover and do even online give this game near-infinite replay value.
I've considered one last thing but realize that the game as planned is probably already several times to big for a single disc, even if it were to be attempted on the PS3. Yet, I feel it is worth mentioning. I chose the developer to be BioWare for a reason. Their last few games have been famous for having a conversation wheel (or options) that allow you to choose what to say. This game would have voice acting but would have a deep system allowing you to choose what you say, and this does affect what happens. You can possibly avoid a huge battle by talking your way out of it as well as influence NPC characters. What you say can also have minor effects on reputation.
For fans that are worried that these changes will drastically change the formula to the point where it won't even feel like a Pokémon game, these feelings are somewhat expected, though the intent of this game is to offer a new experience for how Pokémon is played. It is a standalone game that does not interact with other Pokémon games mostly to avoid having to trade between eight or so games to collect 'em all, but this idea is created with the intent of making a new take on the franchise while preserving its roots. There are of course still type advantages and disadvantages, abilities, natures, gender differences, physical and non-physical attacks, and everything else the series has been known for. The only drastic change to the formula is real-time battling. Also, TMs and HMs have been changed for a more realistic solution; I should not have to give my Lapras an HM for it to carry me on its back or likewise for my Machamp to lift something or my Pidgeot to fly.
This idea was created with the intent of envisioning a Pokémon experience like no other that truly immerses the player and possibly revolutionizes the franchise. Yet, unfortunately I realize that the game as-is would be several times too big to fit on one disc, even if it were to be made on a PS3 disc. It would probably also fry the Wii's RAM with so much info being calculated at once, such as specific damage for how long a Flamethrower is held especially if there's another battle or two happening at the same time between NPCs or other players in the same game world.