Saturday, July 30, 2016

Go! Go! Go! Pokémon Go! - Augmented Fun Gets Exercise Done

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality based mobile app developed by Niantic which has surged in popularity since its release on July 6, 2016. The game is available for iOS and Android in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. (It was later made available in Japan on July 22, 2016).
Pokemon Go allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual Pokémon which appear in the real world via computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphic imagery. It makes use of mobile GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) location technology and the cameras of compatible devices.

Despite being a free-to-play application, it does support in-app purchases of additional gameplay items. Pokémon Go Plus, an optional companion Bluetooth wearable device, is planned for a future release and will alert users when Pokémon are nearby.

After logging into the app for the first time, the player creates their own personal avatars. They can choose the avatar's style, hair, skin, and eye color, and outfit. Players begin the game with a brief introduction by Professor Willow, who explains the mechanics of the game and guides you through catching your choice of the three starter pokémon — either a Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur, which should all be familiar to Pokémon regulars. If players decide that they do not wish to have the original starter Pokémon, they can bypass them and attempt to capture Pikachu as their first companion.

There are three basic parts to Pokémon Go: Catching Pokémon, visiting Pokéstops, and battling gyms.

In order to capture a Pokémon, you simply walk around with the app open on your phone, which will buzz (providing force-feedback) when Pokémon are nearby. Tap on the Pokémon on the map, and you’ll switch to the catching interface. The color of the ring surrounding the pokémon helps determine how easy it is to catch — green is easiest, yellow is of intermediate difficulty, and red is the most difficult.

Pokémon are found at different CP (Combat Power) levels, which determines how powerful the pokémon will be. To raise a pokémon's CP, you'll need two resources: stardust, a generic item you obtain with each pokémon that you catch, and the pokémon's specific candy, which can be obtained by catching duplicates of that particular pokémon.

For example, to level up a Meowth’s CP, you’ll need stardust and Meowth candies. Similarly, to evolve your Pokémon, you’ll need to use more of that Pokémon’s candies, which will also dramatically raise the CP of that Pokémon. As your character level increases, you’ll encounter higher level Pokémon in the wild and be able to level up the CP level of your Pokémon more.

Pokémon Go is unlike any other installment in the Pokémon series, as players do not battle wild Pokémon in order to capture them. Rather, the game relies on a unique capture system where the player must throw a Poké Ball with the proper force at the right time in order to make a successful capture.

PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms

PokéStops and Pokémon gyms are typically located at popular meeting places, such as memorials, places of worship, parks, and tourist attractions.

Pokéstops in particular, are places in Pokemon Go that allow players to collect items such as eggs, Poke Balls (to capture more Pokemon), or other additional items to help on one's journey. Their location is indicated on the map with blue spinning Pokéball icons.

After you've collected items from a PokeStop, the icon's color will change to purple, and you will not be able to collect items from it again until it refreshes to blue, which takes about five minutes. Players do not need to travel away from the PokeStop for it to refresh. This is convenient if you live or work on a PokeStop because you can get items often!

PokeStops typically grants players three to four items at a time. Until a player has reached level 5, PokeStops will grant them Pokéballs and Pokemon Eggs exclusively. Once they have achieved level 5 status, PokeStops will occasionally generate up to six Pokeballs, and other items such as Revives or Potions for use. Trainers can only access Gyms and battle other Pokemon once they have ranked up to that level.

PokéStops can only be interacted with once a person is within range of the stop - if you are on a bus or other form of transit, you may not be able to sync up with the servers and GPS location data in order to interact with it in time, unless the vehicle is slowing or stopped.

If a player purchases one of the Lure Modules from the in-game Shop, the player can place it at any PokeStop to increase the amount of Pokémon who will gravitate to that area thus, benefiting any other players in the immediate area.
A PokéStop is shown to be under the influence of a Lure Module on the map by a showering of pink petals, and interacting with the PokéStop will produce an icon that details who used the lure.

Players earn experience points for various in-game activities which allow them to rise in level. At level five, the player is able to join one of three teams (red for Team Valor, which uses Moltres as their mascot; blue for Team Mystic, which uses Articuno as their mascot; or yellow for Team Instinct, which uses Zapdos as their mascot). These teams act as large factions within the Pokémon Go world. If a player enters a Pokémon gym that is controlled by a player that is not part of their team, they can challenge the leader to lower the gym's "prestige". Once the prestige of a gym is lowered to zero then the player will take control of the gym and is able to deposit one Pokémon to defend it. Conversely, a team can upgrade the prestige of a gym under their control by battling their gym leader.

Battling in Pokémon Go is basically a simplified version of the classic Game Boy game. Pokémon face off one-on-one, and can use one of two attacks — tapping on the enemy pokémon to do a low-damage light attack, and tap-and-holding to unleash a special attack once your meter has filled. Additionally, you can dodge enemy attacks by swiping left and right. Battles continue until one of the pokémon has fainted. And of course, standard pokémon damage type rules are in effect: water pokémon are effective against fire types, fire against grass, etc. Pokémon can be healed or revived using potions and revives that you can obtain from visiting pokéstops.