View Full Version : an analysis on game mechanics

February 23rd, 2008, 02:40 PM
if this thread seems familiar to anybody, it's because I posted something similar on SPPF a while ago. Anyway, as everybody should know, Pocket Monsters originated from a video game. Even though it was a very simple program (a turn-based RPG developed for an 8-bit system, to be exact), it was (and still is) where nearly every Pokemon makes their debut, and subsequently, is where their abilities and prowess in battle are defined. Because of this, a lot of things from the games are adapted in the more realistic medium, like the anime and manga (not just the Pokemon and what attacks they're capable of performing, but also things like type-matchings). However, some things seem to go largely ignored (I am pretty agitated that the anime just makes nearly every Pokemon some hard-hitting speed demon, completely overlooking factors like how Turtwig should be a slow-moving tank). I guess you could say the portrayal of the monsters from the original games varies from medium to medium, and this goes to fan-writers as well. That said, to the writers that would like to stick true to the games, I'll present some interesting thoughts and observations that could possibly help you out.

--it's probably not necessary to get into stuff like levels and numbered stats (though, it is possible to gauge a Pokemon's strengths and convert them to numbers. It's the same with humans, really, considering we can measure grip strength and the force of one's punch), but personally, I don't think it could hurt to keep Pokemon somewhat accurate to their stats from the games. The research shouldn't be too hard, since listings of base stats are about a dime a dozen nowadays. As I mentioned earlier, the anime constantly portrays Turtwig as a speed demon, but gamewise, this is anything but true (hell, logic itself dictates it shouldn't be fast..... this is a stubby turtle we're talking about here; though, to be fair, all Pokemon in the games are capable of evading attacks, and with the exception of the first generation, evasion is unaffected by speed). So one example would be to portray such a Pokemon (or rather its evolution chain) as physically powerful and enduring, but very slow and weak when it comes to special attacks (for that matter, you don't really need to refer to the stats as they're called in the games. In a more realistic setting, you could describe "HP" as being one's endurance or vitality, "Special Attack" could refer to the strength of energy-based attacks, and "Special Defense" could be something like aura).

Now, some people may argue that the game's stats don't make much sense either. One common thing I hear is that unevolved Pokemon should be faster than their evolved counterparts. While it's true that evolved Pokemon tend to appear much bulkier than their previous forms, one should consider the larger distance they're capable of covering with their increased size, and especially their longer legs. To say that unevolved Pokemon should outrun their evolved forms is like saying a human baby can outrun an average adult, which is simply impossible. Now, I can agree that some stats are just plain wierd (for instance, Onix has an attack power equal to that of Wurmples), but if you really wanna stay accurate to the games, you can either not touch upon such oddities at all (by simply not having an Onix appear in the story, or at least not in battle), or you can get really creative (like maybe Onix uses up most of its strength holding up its heavy body.... though, this is still odd in that Onix is one of the faster Rock-types around). Admittedly, I don't think I could've been able to explain a rational way around the differences between physical and special attacks at first, but thanks to the fourth generation finally distinguishing moves as such (rather than making every move of a particular type physical or special), it makes it much easier to portray some Pokemon's offensive powers in fiction.

Just remember: even the most faithful game adapters don't need to get into every last detail. If you stick to accurate representations of base stats, you're not required to also have levels (though, differences in training should still be apparent). You probably don't need to get into details like how Charizard is faster than Pidgeot (though speed could be emphasized as being among both Pokemon's best stats), but Swellow should (Charizard's Speed is only 9 base points higher than Pidgeot's, while Swellow's is 34, which indicates the latter outranks both of them entirely). Even for the people who aren't sticking much to the game's stats, it can't hurt to portray at least the gist of them (a lot of speed demons have poor defense, and their designs alone kinda indicate this, so they should battle evasively lest they want to get wiped out in one or two hits). However, never forget how many interesting possibilities that could arise from paying attention to game stats. For example, most of the promotional legendaries (Mew, Celebi, Jirachi, etc.) are portrayed as having powerful Psychic abilities, or something which favors Special Attack. But don't forget that they have a physical attack power that's equal to their base 100 special attack, as well as every other stat, which includes their defenses and speed (high defenses are quite a contrast from the anime's portrayal of Celebi and Jirachi). Seeing a Pokemon like Shaymin (the smallest legendary Pokemon) use a physical attack actually sounds quite interesting when you think about it.

--something I've noticed about RPGs in general is that, with enough leveling, practically any character could take out something like a 10-meter rock golem with a single physical strike. Likewise, any Pokemon could probably take out, or at least do major damage, to a wild Geodude with a Normal-type attack (Geodude's high defense+type disadvantage) by a certain level that's relatively early on. In realistic terms, this would be like being able to smash solid concrete with little effort by the time the Pokemon's at level 20. Now, in spite of the subject I'm discussing, I don't highly recommend the usage of levels in fiction, but this should give you some idea of how frightening a Pokemon's power could get if it were to reach even a fraction of its maximum potential (or level 100).

This really makes me wonder how two Trainers could possibly battle in a small clearing without fear of getting disintegrated by a misfire (at least in a stadium, I could understand there being special conditions, like a bigger arena, maybe an electronically-generated forcefield, and the anime depicts Trainers commanding their Pokemon from some sort of booth). I mean, put in perspective like that, Pokemon could reach the kind of insane power levels you tend to see in most shounen manga. Common, but well-trained, Pokemon being able to go against legendary creatures that supposedly shaped continents and created the entire universe doesn't seem so hard to swallow anymore. But I have a good feeling that a lot of Pokemon simply hold back during battle to prevent complete destruction of their surroundings, otherwise Ash's Pikachu would've nuked an entire valley by now (OK, not seriously, but even the anime has displayed insane feats of strength from somewhat normal Pokemon before. In a Diamond/Pearl episode, which I think premiered in America somewhat recently, the combined effort of Pikachu, Turtwig, and Buizel was able to completely demolish what appeared to be a 50-foot tall stalagmite).

--certain attacks that suck in the games probably wouldn't be so bad in a more realistic setting. Notice that in the anime, practically any attack is capable of missing, so that 100% accuracy from Ice Beam or Flamethrower means nothing, leaving Blizzard and Fire Blast as better options. It might not hurt to still portray Hyper Beam/Giga Impact/Frenzy Plant/etc.'s recharge time, but even so, they don't seem like they'd be too bad of attacks for someone to use. If it's powerful, it's powerful, and if raw, destructive power is something your story calls for, go for it. Though, as I was saying with stats, one could also get creative if they want to keep the move accuracies faithful to the games (even though the anime constantly neglects it, and it shouldn't be too hard to dodge something like a beam, some other factors could play into account. For instance, Ice Beam or Flamethrower could be continuously fired and moved all around the area until it strikes the opponent, while Fire Blast is a massive one-shot attack which the opponent could move out of the way of before impact).

--speaking of attacks, I haven't a clue how to explain PP (but if anyone else wants to take a whack at it, be my guest). Personally, I think the MP that most RPGs use sounds like it'd make more sense, and certain attacks use up more "MP" than others. For example, attacks that only have 5 PP in the games could be extremely taxing on the Pokemon, thereby still indicating that they could be used a severely limited amount of times (likewise, attacks with a lot of PP could indicate that the Pokemon takes almost no effort to use them). But while it should be indicated as being extremely straining on the Pokemon using it, it doesn't need to be used exactly 5 times (or 8 with PP-Up).... in battle, it's possible to restore energy if one finds an opportunity to recover (and in a more dramatic alternative, some Pokemon could exhaust their energy to the point of death). Play your cards right, and you could easily go beyond the 5-8 limit in a single battle.

Anyway, that's all I have for now. Feel free to leave feedback or add onto anything I've said.

February 27th, 2008, 04:06 AM
I'm impressed you're even thinking about battle mechanics, most fanfic writers I've seen have a habit of condemming them.

Having recently been in an RP what treated game mechanics as law (even extending to the PP thing, though no-one actually ran out of PP), I've seen how excelent they can be if written well enough. They add a new layer of 'interesting' to a battle because you can have the trainers, usually just decorations on the sides of a battle screaming things, actually having to think very hard and beyond 'this is super effective' and it's fun both to read and to write. There's strategy in it.

An example with some italics:

"Tch-" Marion began, taken aback a little. Her previous opponent had chosen typings so poorly that it had taken her off guard a little having type weaknesses used against her (type weaknesses are there, of course, but they're not the only bit of thought that goes behind attacks. If anyone cares in the last round someone sent an aggron in on a marowak. Hahaha). Mismagius' physical defence, as proven by its falling from a single payback attack in the previous round, left much to be desired (...it really does). She reached for Dunsparce's pokeball. If she was quick enough she could recall Mismagius and send in Dunsparce or Fearow - a normal type would take no damage from shadow claw (More typeing). If she wasn't quick enough, though, Mismagius was down and she would have been forced to choose her next pokemon (In a 3/3 match where both opponents have 6 to choose from, having to select a second pokemon so early gives your opponent a huge advantage).

It wasn't worth the risk, not so early in the match. There was something else she could do to make sure Mismagius managed to stand the hit (Here's where game mechanics come in! Without these, Mismagius there'd be screwed!)

"Mismagius, you're faster! Use Will o' Wisp!"

The mist that surrounded Mismagius suddenly glowed orange, flickering like fire. It shot toward the oncoming Lucario in waves, burning it (bad pun time...Lucario got burned). Seconds later, Lucario's attack struck Mismagius, the ghost emitting a shrill cry but seeming relatively unharmed compared to what could have been. In addition to slowly damaging a pokemon, burns prevented them from putting full force behind thier attacks. The pain was both distracting and made movement uncomfortable and so Lucario's attack should have been reduced by at least half. (I added an explination to say why game mechanics woulld happen in this situation)I don't blame the anime for not using game mechanics. The one time Misty said 'Hit points' in that battle with kingler vs something (I can't remember what it was like 8 years ago) it was incredibly jarring. Following game mechanics in the anime and using them to strategise would change the age group that it was aimed at.

Still, fanfic doesn't have to follow the anime rules. I'd love to see more game mechanics in fanfic as long as they were dressed up a bit (don't say 'hit points', please) with explination for anything that might not make sense in game terms (STAB becomes affinity for using a certain kind of attack, for instance.)

Just don't reduce your pokemon to collections of numbers.

February 27th, 2008, 08:03 PM
Pague, I can see you're new here (love your avatar, by the way. Huge NIS fan ^^), so there's something you oughta know about me: despite being slightly prominent around here, I don't actually write fanfics. I shunned them off more than a couple years ago as a matter of fact. Instead, I am focused on creating my stories as doujinshi manga. It's still fiction-writing, but of course, you can imagine I hardly give a damn about detail and syntax and stuff.

That said, I'm kinda dealing with something that's very similar to the anime. Nothing is explained in narrative (omake pages with author notes and character bios, maybe), but rather, almost all dialog is said (or thought) by the characters themselves. However, having characters just explain everything that goes on mid-battle seems extremely awkward (it's not always realistic to explain after a battle either.... maybe if someone they're talking to is extremely curious as to how a certain death-defying trick was pulled off). Now, characters making quick observations seems alright (especially if they keep it to their thoughts... some observations are actually necessary to establish certain elements exclusive to that story's canon), but as I tend to see in a lot shounen series, some explanations are extremely long-winded. It's just completely ridiculously that opponents will just divulge information to their enemies, and even more ridiculous that the other side will just sit there and wait until the opposition is finished talking (having other characters that sit on the sidelines do absolutely nothing but explain how a fight scene's playing out, even if it's being explained to some clueless side-character, seems rather half-assed as well). It doesn't help that a number of shounen explanations seem to be rather intelligence-insulting (even to the 10-year olds it's targeted towards) and explain or flashback to things that were just clearly seen a moment ago.

I'm going for more realistic battles, personally. We just see straight-and-up action where attacks simply connect, strategies are invoked without anyone going too deep into whatever transpired, and rather light amounts of talking between characters. I am, of course, planning to stick pretty close to the game's mechanics, but even that doesn't need to be divulged on. People who aren't overly familiar with them should be well-aware that Pokemon are established as super-powerful creatures with a variety of abilities and it should be left at that (if nothing else, there are characters discussing strategic planning at points, as well as the aforementioned observations), and those who are very familiar with the games get the added bonus of having material which they could point out.

BTW, let me just say how glad I am to finally see someone posting here. Some people in the fanfic lounge said they would, but have yet to do so after half a week.