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7 Ways to Make Pokémon GO Fun Again
Pokémon GO has lost a ton of steam since its launch in early July 2016. Some of this can be attributed to the nature of phone apps (relevance, culture, popularity, social media, etc.) while a significant piece of blame must fall in the hands of the Niantic, the developers. For months, we were captivated by screenshots of beta tests and leaked information on gameplay and functionality. When the app finally hit the public, it did bigger numbers than anyone could've ever imagined. However, in less than a month since its release, gamers, casual fans, trend followers, and PokéManiacs are already jumping off the bandwagon. Glitches, crashes, availability, and mechanics are just some of the gripes I've not only heard from other players but have experienced myself. I've taken it upon myself to develop a list of temporary or permanent solutions that can restore the initial feeling we all shared the day PoGO hit the market.
7. Improve Character Appearance & Accessories
Upon creating your Pokémon GO account, you’re tasked with deciding what to wear, what to look like, and what gender you’d like to be. In most games/apps, this can be very time-consuming. Scrolling through numerous looks and outfits can take quite a bit of time but at the end of the process, you’re usually left with a great representation of yourself and a unique look that few others could ever duplicate.
That’s not the case with Pokémon GO. There is so little variety and absolutely nothing to emotionally tie you to your avatar. Of all the critters and capsules and eggs that pop up on your screen, the one thing that you see the most is “yourself.” In the melting pot of a world we live in today, you’d think that there’d be more emphasis on individuality and representation. Why can’t we connect our virtual selves to our actual selves? Why not allow the user to customize their clothing? Want to wear a blue t-shirt with a Charizard blowing flame on the front? How about rocking a Pikachu on one of the legs of your pants? This is something that can be fixed or adjusted with a little more effort and a much needed update.
6. Better Storylines
If you’ve ever played a Pokémon game before, you’d know that there is always a goal. The protagonist is sent out on a journey to do the unthinkable: Capture all known Pokémon and become a Pokémon Master. Those ideals have been the driving force behind the franchise for 20 years now. I guess the creators of Go didn’t get the memo.
There really is no discernible goal in Pokémon Go and users are free to do as they please. That wouldn’t be a problem if there were more to do than catch Pidgey and Rattata while holding a place in a gym for all of 5 minutes. The adventure of going outside and catching a wild Pokémon shouldn’t end when the ball stops shaking and you see a few stars. We need consistency. We need a story to follow and a true reason to catch 20 Spearow other than to fill out a virtual journal. Give us depth and watch the pool that is Pokémon Go flood with users once again.
5. An Online Community
Back in my day, if you wanted say a Machamp or a Golem, you had to make a trade. If someone looked at you funny, random punctuation would leap out at you. And if by chance you had a cell phone, you could schedule a battle with a friend on Route 12. All of these options made playing your game after the storyline was complete even more of an adventure. With the current landscape of PoGO and it’s ties to your GPS (which can be sketchy at times) it may be impossible to do anything of this nature on the app. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have these features in some form or fashion. I propose a website companion that can serve as an online community for PoGOers all over the world. This would be your space to customize your character, set your six Pokémon, voice your opinions, chat about nests and spawning, trade, and much, much, more. Other games and apps have done similar things before but with the power of Pokémon Niantic might end up breaking the internet, and the bank!
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4. Upgrade Pokédex Functions
From the very first episode of Pokémon, we learn how helpful a Pokédex truly is for an up and coming trainer. The Pokédex provides us with a bevy of information such as where to find a particular Pokémon, a Pokémon’s strengths and weaknesses, what a Pokémon sounds like, and what they like and don’t like.
Instead of trying to figure out how many virtual footsteps a Pokémon is away from us, why not be able to use your Pokédex to get a general idea? Using the GPS technology already available, Niantic can place certain Pokémon in higher or lower elevations, in parks, and near and inside the water. Weather should be more of a factor as well as days of the week. A sunrise during the work week feels like good Bulbasuar weather.
3. Change Battle Mechanics
Tap, tap, swipe, tap. That probably sounded a lot better in the minds of the creators than using the turn based system that has been in place for as long as anyone can remember. Battles in Pokémon GO are all about tapping your screen and dodging attacks. While this can work in theory, it just hasn’t been. You spend 10 minutes pounding away at the poor screen on your phone for 15 minutes of fame atop a gym your team will surely lose control of within the next 30 minutes. The concept of defending your gym as a team is brilliant but the current set up requires no strategy. Super effective attacks are more of an idea than a reality and if you have a friend with you you can take out the strongest gym in your neighborhood with little to no true effort. There is a simple fix; don’t ‘fix’ unbroken things. Let’s use a turn based RPG style battle function where braun and brain will have to work together for the ultimate prize. We can still factor in speed, size, strength, agility and types but let’s make sense of things. There’s no reason a Pidgeotto with 400 CP should stand a chance against a Jolteon with nearly 1,000 CP.
2. Quests & Team Specific Incentives
Outside of controlling gyms and what color your experience bar is, there haven’t been many incentives proven or reported for joining a specific team. Well there should be. If you’re Team Valor and evolve your Eevee, it should be more likely to become a Flareon. It would also make sense that all of your fire Pokémon gain a statistical boost. What’s the purpose of joining a team when there are no benefits to reap?
Also, we should be celebrating our bond with the Pokémon that appear in our real world. We should have quests to help and capture rare or pesky Pokémon. You can catch certain Pokémon for Professor Willow and when you transfer them to his lab, you get Pokécoins, lucky eggs, 20k eggs, or even lures for your accomplishments. The quality of a catch is better than the amount you’ve caught. Why not chase down a Primeape with a hat or a squad of Squirtle? I’m sure that would be a fun task worth the trouble.
1. Fix the Nearby Tracker
This is pretty self explanatory and goes without saying. The nearby tracker is how you know what’s around you. It’s how you gauge how close you are to a Pokémon you’re chasing. Unless Pokémon just start walking around the screen (which I would NEVER recommend) something must be done! Do you know how many Pokémon my friends and I have missed out on not knowing which direction we should go? The fact that so many people have experienced a world in which your phone can tell you how close you are to an encounter with a Dratini is an amazing feat. Having experienced such a thing makes living without it all the more difficult. This fix alone would be enough to bring back half of the trainers who left. It’s vital to the game’s future and key to the success of the app in the long haul. There were websites like Pokevision or PokeHound that helped trainers track down Pokémon but Niantic put an end to that with cease and desist orders. After the most recent update, Pokémon GO doesn’t utilize a footprint system at all anymore. At this point it’s simple mathematics. Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim.
How would YOU rate Pokémon GO?
© 2016 Earvin Allen