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Old March 18th, 2016 (12:48 PM). Edited March 19th, 2016 by VisualJae.
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VisualJae VisualJae is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2015
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This is the third "Ask Me Almost Anything" (AMAA) post that I'll try to continue hosting as development on Pokémon Academy Life continues. Each time, the goal is to share some insight on what goes through our heads when we consider or implement ideas. Why did we choose to include something and not another? Why did we set up different types of content a certain way? Hopefully this series will shed some light and help you understand a little more about the game's development.

Unfortunately, I won't be answering all questions (hence the "almost" in AMAA). If you asked something and it wasn't answered, either it's impossible for us to answer without being spoilerific, it's already answered somewhere in the game details (e.g. FAQ), older AMAAs, or we simply couldn't understand it. Feel free to submit again for next month's AMAA, though!

Lastly, as there is much more content available in the current demo (v1.0.2b as of this post), some responses may contain spoilers for those who have yet to play. Your discretion is advised.

“Leaf mentions getting Pokémon from the PC. Will we be able to train other Pokémon as well as Charmander?”
submitted by ThePottedChap

Let’s start with this question because it popped up quite a few times (and will be related to the next question). But the short answer is… yes! We will include many more obtainable Pokémon on top of the scripted ones.

“Does the Pokémon that you receive from Oak have to be a Charmander? For future updates, would it be like the Professors hand out a questionnaire and you fill it out so at the end they match you with a Pokémon based on your preferences or personality?”
submitted by Josephine Content

A personality test to determine what Pokémon you obtain from Professor Oak is a nice idea, but the varying combinations are more than what we’d like to tackle. We already decided early on in development that the starter you get from Oak would be Charmander. This is just a simple reference to all the times you see Red associated with Charizard in official media.

Pokémon Red Version’s mascot is Charizard. Ash in the anime is based on Red and his top gun was—or still is—his Charizard. Red in Pokémon Origins has his signature Charizard. The Pokémon Trainer from the Super Smash Bros. series has all three Kanto starters, but his powerhouse is Charizard.

On top of that, we simply thought it would make more sense to associate the three main Kanto trainers with their associated colors/types. Red would be paired with Charmander, Blue would be paired with Squirtle, and Leaf would be paired with Bulbasaur. It also helps that Blue owns a Blastoise in Pokémon Origins and his counterpart in Gary from the original anime also owns a Blastoise.

One can argue that yes, there are other forms of media where the starters are mixed and matched, such as Red owning Venusaur in Pokémon Adventures. That’s probably the most “mainstream” one. But all in all, in most media portrayals, Red and his counterparts are associated with the Charmander line.

“Is the Pokémon we receive from Oak fixed? Or is there a possibility for us to choose or for it to be affected by the classes we choose? And for that matter, what about the Pokémon back in Pallet Town? I'm sure most of us expect it to be a Pikachu, but will there be variance with this one?”
submitted by TheMightyPotato

As answered above, Professor Oak will always give you a Charmander. However, you will be able to obtain other Pokémon that are scripted, partially scripted, or based on your own free will. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that not all 721 Pokémon (and if we fail to release the game by the end of 2016, whatever else Pokémon Sun and Moon introduce) will be available. Unfortunately we won’t be able to please everyone with their favorite Pokémon, but hopefully we match a few.

As for the Pokémon back in Pallet Town, that one is scripted, too. Most content in the beginning of a game tend to be scripted. As you go deeper and deeper and all the foundation material is set, then the opportunities to really branch out start showing up.

“How will Pokémon catching work?”
submitted by RebelOrion

We don’t have a Pokémon catching engine developed yet, but we have a solid idea on how we can implement one. The idea is to allow you free time during periodic open world opportunities to search for and catch Pokémon should you choose to do so.

However, you have limited time, so if you choose to catch Pokémon, you won’t have time to train your current party. You also won’t have time to socialize with other characters and explore other parts of the game. Likewise, this applies to other activities. It’ll be up to you how you want to allocate your time each day.

Do you want to hang out with other characters? Or do you want to bond with your current Pokémon? Or do you want to battle other trainers and level up your party? Or do you want to study for your upcoming exams? Or do you want to hit the fields and search for new Pokémon? The choice is yours.

“How will the clubs and type electives you choose affect Red?”
submitted by Ethanopia4335

Clubs and type electives will affect you on the level of how frequently you can interact with certain characters or participate in certain activities. We don’t want to make it that you’ll completely miss out on content just because of a decision you made really early in the game. That would suck!

However, we will say this right now: you will obtain Pokémon from your two type elective classes. That will be scripted and you will not get the same Pokémon from each class.

As for clubs, they are all available, though some, like the Battle Team, will be based on certain conditions. Clubs are designed to allow you to participate in more activities that will range in benefits. You can go through the game without joining one, just like you can go through school in real life without joining one.

“Will the traits system allow for different interactions that change the story in any way? Like a check for certain dialogue.”
submitted by Kalvanax

This feature is already in the current demo! For those who haven’t noticed, during Leaf’s introduction scene, you have the options to comply with her suggestion to hide in the women’s bathroom or argue against it. However, the third option to jump out of the window is only available if you’ve obtained at least one Intuition point.

Another example is when you meet Roxanne and Brawly for the first time and you have the option to ask about the student council. One of the responses isn’t available unless you have a certain number of Appeal points.

There will be many more of these in the future. Some will certainly be much more impactful than the ones shown in the demo so far.

“When you hear the ‘ding’ sound after you choose a speech option, what does it mean? Also, what will you do about uncoming characters in Pokémon Sun and Moon?”
submitted by Jake Hosking

The ‘ding’ sound (based off the sound that plays when a Pokémon levels up in the official core series games) means that you chose an answer that appeals to a female character you’re talking to. In a situation where there is more than one female character in the scene, you may have appealed to one or more of them. These points will impact your relationship with them throughout the story/game.

As for characters in the upcoming Pokémon Sun and Moon, we’ll decide what to do when the time comes. Right now that’s near the bottom of our list of concerns. We might incorporate the main characters or we might not.

“How will romance be handled? In Feb's AMAA you said that there was a point system, will it be like that?”
submitted by shadowspark2

Tying into the previous question, romance will be handled by a combination of factors. One is based on a number of hidden points (technically you’d be able to track them manually, but we intend to keep it hidden in order to prevent the game from becoming too numbers-based) you obtain from making the right decisions based on who you’re talking to. The other is based on story progression and how much of an effort you make to continuously interact with that character.

Basically, say and do the right things with the character and spend time with her. Kind of like how it’s supposed to be in real life, huh?

“Will there be a possible harem/multi-girl ending or the ability to get with multiple girls?”
submitted by eliason22

Also tying into the previous question and the part about “how it’s supposed to be in real life,” we won’t stop you from pursuing multiple girls. Whether or not that will work out in your favor is a different story. Let’s leave it at that!

“How early on in the game are the romantic options going to start? Also, I noticed a given scene for the writer recruitment was Leaf sneaking into your dorm at night to take you outside. At what point in the game is that and is that a romantic scenario for Leaf?”
submitted by Gaminaire

The whole game is a journey so we plan on taking the time to lead the game in a natural and believable fashion. Progress can be made with different characters and their respective routes early on, but diving deep into each will take time.

As for the Leaf scenario we posted for our writing recruitment campaign, that’s just a simple example we randomly came up with. We never decided if we’d include something like that in the game, but hey, if we end up with an awesome writer that comes up with an amazing scene, we can find a way to incorporate it. Or at the very least, elements of it.

See here for our writing recruitment post:

“When it comes to character development, how difficult is it to come up with the personalities? Especially for the hero/heroines since they don't show any traits in the games when you play as them.”
submitted by Azri Firman Aqil

Our lead writer preaches the art of paying attention to people in real life. For him, it’s all about putting yourself in other people’s shoes. And it really helps to have a lot of real life references to work with.

“Are the Johto, Sinnoh, and B2/W2 characters going to appear later in the game as underclassmen?”
submitted by Sarah Schumacher

They sure are. All art for characters are done. We’re not ruling out including more if and only if the story requires them. But we can confirm that Ethan, Kris, Lyra and Silver (GSC/HGSS) and Lucas, Barry and Dawn (DPP) and Nate, Rosa and Hugh (B2W2) will make appearances later in the story/game.

“Is it going to be a fixed four years that we are at the Academy or will we be able to stay for longer?”
submitted by loganxjanke

It is actually three years at Kobukan Academy. It’s worth mentioning that we use various school system elements from various cultures, so it’s not an American school or similar system that goes from ninth to twelfth grades. That’s why we usually use the terms “first year,” “second year” and “third year” when talking about student grades.

As for staying longer? Nope. The game will not last beyond three years.

“Are elective classes taught twice every day? Because if some of the type electives are taught only at 10:00 AM, and the others are taught only at 1:00 PM, what about the poor student who picked two types that are both taught at 10:00 AM?”
submitted by Pokelyte

This is a cool development question, so I wanted to chime in on this. First of all, internally on our side, we removed all the times allocated for each period. Why? Well, we realized it doesn’t matter what the times are. We’re not going to script events based on the hour. At most, we’ll have morning/afternoon/night events so times like 10:00 AM or 1:00 PM don’t mean anything.

Anyway, as for the arrangement of type electives, this was mind-boggling for us during early development. We ended up determining that it doesn’t matter when the type electives are held. They will just happen according to which type you picked first. Let’s use some examples. Calem is in both the Fighting and Flying type electives. May is in Fire and Fighting. You chose Flying and Fighting.

Based on this situation, the game will throw you into the Flying class first. Since Calem also chose Flying, you’ll both be in the same class. Meanwhile, May is in her Fire class. Later on, you’ll be in your Fighting class with both Calem and May.

But let’s say you chose Fighting and Fire. Now you’ll be thrown into the Fighting class first, and both Calem and May will be there. Later on, you’ll be in the Fire class and May will be there while Calem is presumably attending his Flying class.

Lastly, let’s say you chose Flying and Fire. Now you’ll be in the Flying class first with Calem and during this time, despite May’s types being list as Fire and Fighting, May will be in her Fighting class. Later on, you’ll be in your Fire class with May while Calem will be attending his Fighting class. Who’s to say Marshal won’t teach once in the morning and once in the afternoon?

“How many people are working on the game right now?
What is the maximum amount of new writers you plan to recruit?
How much coding goes into a typical scene?
Will it be possible for the player to fail and not graduate?”

submitted by Comm.AnoraK

Let’s close this off with a series of valid questions. Note: we removed some questions from the original comment because we don’t want to spoil anything yet.

Right now we have two people doing 99 percent of the work. We have dmjh93 serving as a combination of lead artist, lead writer/editor and screenwriter. Then there’s yours truly serving as the lead developer/programmer and screenwriter.

Beyond us two, we have two people that funded the majority of the project so far, but for the most part, that was done after the primary art assets were complete. We have a freelance background artist and also one more programmer who is working solely on the battle system. And lastly, we did get contributing writers early on that provided material for us to work with. We’ll be looking for more, which leads to…

We’re looking for at least three to five new writers to join the team. We’re not ruling out finding more, but I’ll say right now that our standards are very, very high. None of us working on the game are story/game writers by trade. In the simplest terms, we’re looking for writers who are better than us so we don’t have to worry about extensive editing.

As for coding a scene, most scenes are pretty straightforward and involve a combination of transitioning character sprites and matching dialogue. It’s tedious at most, but when a scene involves numerous variables, such as the type elective scenes, it gets complicated and messy very fast. It comes down to a lot of logic checking (if this, then this, or else this) and it doesn’t surprise me that most of the bugs and inconsistencies uncovered so far for the current demo are from the elective classes. Coding-wise, the type electives scene and their variants combine for about 30,000 words across 7,000 lines of code.

Finally, in terms of failing/graduating from the Academy. Yes, you can fail. Professor Oak wasn’t trolling.

That's all for now! Hopefully you learned something and maybe you have even more questions now. I will try to post one of these each month around the second or third week. If you have an interesting development-related question you want answered, you can tweet at PokemonVisual, post on our Facebook fan page, or email [email protected].


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