Learn Incremental Development from Pokemon
“Pikachu, I choose you!” — Ash Ketchum
Because of the pandemic, I tried to occupy myself by playing games. One of which is my old pokemon games in Citra emulator. I love pokemon games cause it offers you the joy of composing your team of 6 pokemon to carry you thru the journey. For those of you who didn’t know, Pokemon is known to have a “generation” in which in every generation you will explore a new region and encounter a new set of pokemon. The one available in Citra which is a 3ds Emulator is Gen 6 (X & Y), the remake of Gen 3 (Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby), and Gen 7 (Sun & Moon, Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon). As I opened my save files, I can’t help but notice that there’s a slight difference in each generation of the games that I believe (in my point of view) is following the incremental development principle.
Since this year is also marked the 25th anniversary of Pokemon (Happy anniversary 🎉), I think it’s the perfect time for this story.
Pokémon 25th Anniversary Celebration
Join the yearlong celebration as we commemorate 25 years of Pokémon!
So to join the festivity, I would like to tell you a story about what I see in these pokemon games which I believe is following an incremental development process.
In gen 5, they started to make the game 3D’like. They expanded their camera placement in such a way so you would feel like it is 3D while it’s actually not.
They also change the static image of the pokemon into animated sprites
Then finally in gen 6, they make the pokemon games fully in 3D with the make use of the Nintendo 3DS technology.
In Gen VI, they introduced some kind of petting system where you can feed and pet your pokemon called Pokemon Amie. For players like me who only like pokemon battle, I rarely use this feature. Besides, I don’t know the functionality of this feature other than you can get the experience of “petting” your pokemon. It is necessary tho if you want to have a Sylveon.
Later on Gen VII, the feature evolved into Pokemon Refresh. Now I feel more benefit from it for pokemon battles. It can heal status conditions, and pokemon with more affection are more likely to have an effect in battle. It evolved from being just an additional feature into a feature that plays a major part in your journey throughout the game. It is more relevant to use it now compare to the previous ones.
Increase in Quantity
Trainer customization is introduced in Gen VI. But the options are limited in terms of the hairstyle. Male characters have 4 different hairstyles and 102 cloth options, whereas female characters have 12 different hairstyles and 205 cloth options.
I guess the players are loving it. That’s why the developers are upping the number of options later on in Gen VII. Male characters have 6 different hairstyles and 300++ cloth options, whereas female characters have 22 different hairstyles and 500++ cloth options.
It’s also applied for Regional forms. Regional forms were first introduced in Gen VII called the Alolan Form. There are a total number of 18 pokemon that have the Alolan form. The idea of the regional form is loved by pokemon fans around the globe. It’s really interesting to see another design for a pokemon that we once know when we were little.
Cause of the great feedback from the pokemon fans community, Gen VIII later introduced Galarian Form as the additional regional variant with a total number of 19 pokemon (20 if we count Darmanitan Zen mode as a separate entity from Darmanitan Standard mode).
I don’t know whether it’s true that Gamefreak uses the incremental development approach. But for me as a player, I kinda see it so. From my point of view, it feels like Gamefreak is “testing the water” to its player. They try to ship some ideas “early on”, get “learnings” and “feedbacks” from players, then make adjustments and improvements in the upcoming generation for ideas that are validated by the players. It’s what we called iteration in an incremental development process.
So… what do you think? Do you see it too?