An Open Letter to John Hanke & Niantic
Yang Liu
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An open letter to Mr. Li and all the folks who have taken the time to express themselves here on medium.com…

Can we take a breath and scale back the rhetoric a little?

I’ve had some time to ponder this whole controversy. Admittedly, I found myself caught up in the anger and betrayal I felt from being dragged into an addict/pusher relationship with Pokemon Go; only to have the most crucial element of the game yanked away from me. Looking back on it all, I find myself wondering why so many of us feel the necessity to carry our thoughts, words and deeds to extremes.

On this thread alone I’ve heard people called “liar” and “cheater” by individuals who truly know little to nothing about the person or group on whom they are passing judgement.

— That’s a little extreme.

Let’s look at PokeVision itself. As a reaction to broken navigation/location features in a wildly popular game, Yang and others pooled their estimable talents and created a utility that performed far more than just guide a player to the hidden monsters “nearby”.

— That’s a little extreme, too.

In order to attempt some perspective, I’ll describe a few things that, to my way of thinking, are indefensible or untenable :

  • Clear violations of a company’s ToS (Now, here’s one of those things I know very little about. I’ve heard that PokeVision, PokeWhere, and several apps of the same ilk violated the ToS with Niantic, but I really couldn’t say. I’m not a lawyer and, as a simple player of a game, have no inclination to do further research. My guess is, “If you did this, you know who you are”.)
  • Calling someone a liar when they claim to be expressing their true motivation (Now, you can disagree with Yang’s points. You can suspect he’s deluded, deranged or diabolical. What you can’t do is see into his mind to know if he’s sincere or sinister in the things he says about himself or his beliefs).
  • Claiming to be merely fixing what’s wrong with the Pokemon Go locator by providing the ability to discover the spawning points and countdown times of every Pokemon everywhere on planet Earth (Now, given that Niantic provides no communication and no actual instruction regarding nearly every aspect of game play, this can’t really be called “cheating”. After all, one can’t cheat if there are no rules. Even so…really?!).
  • Calling Yang and anyone who used his site “cheaters” because their behavior doesn’t conform to your sense of morality as put forth by fictional characters in a fictional game/show of which the vast majority of people playing this game have heretofore never seen or heard (The inspirational success of this game; the business precedents it will set and about which books will be written for years; the unparalleled and nearly universal appeal; all come from the fact that Pokemon Go has outreached the scope of core fans by an astronomical margin. For the same reason, Peter Jackson’s LOR/Hobbit movies were a phenomenal success in the midst of die-hard book fans who angrily protested the changes, omissions and insertions. Most of the folks [enjoying] this game don’t have any background context by which they could assess fair play from foul.).
  • Flooding a set of galactically stressed-out servers with enough faked game requests to provide the service described in the previous point (Again, even though I’m a software developer and designer, I really don’t know any more about this than what I’ve read in all the other blogs and posts by self-deluded know-it-alls).

A little Recommendation for Mr. Li (and anyone else with the endurance to wade through to this point):

How ‘bout retooling your PokeVision to merely provide the functionality that Pokemon Go creators appear to have intended all along?

In other words, provide a companion app/site that signs on with the actual login of the gamer and does the following:

  • Tap into the location of the device
  • Acquire the same list of “Nearby” pokemon that show up in the little window on the game
  • Provide simple, rudimentary information about which way to head; maybe a little arrow or a gradient that glows a certain color when you’re “getting warm”

Perhaps if you proposed this to Mr. Hanke, he would be more amenable to your efforts to provide a temporary enhancement to his game while Niantic works on a more permanent solution.

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