Pokémon Go Gen 3: Niantic Explains How Weather Will Change The Game

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Get your trumpets ready! Hoenn is finally coming to Pokémon Go, with the latest update dropping later this week.

Although the most recent Halloween event introduced some spooky Gen 3 Pokémon to the popular mobile game, this next update is even larger, and will bring over 50 new Pokémon for trainers to catch, train and battle with.

Even more surprising is Niantic’s implementation of another feature from the Gen 3 Pokémon games that reshaped the franchise. Of course, we’re talking weather effects. Weather effects in the overworld will affect where Pokémon spawn and how trainers battle in Gyms and Raids.

We spoke with Archit Bhargava, Niantic’s Global Product Marketing Lead, and Matt Slemon, Product Manager, about the impending update to Pokémon Go. And, no, there is no update on trading.

NOTE: The interview has been lightly edited for clarity

Can you go into more detail about this big update coming to Pokémon Go?

Archit Bhargava: Our biggest priority is to try and delight the users and end the year strong with momentum. We’re excited to talk about two features that we’ve invested a lot into.

The first feature will have over 50 Pokémon released into the game. The second new mechanic is what we’re calling Dynamic Weather.

Matt Slemon: Aside from the new Pokémon, we took other inspirations from Hoenn and the Gen 3 games. The major focus of the world of Hoenn is weather, from the Weather Institute to Team Aqua and Team Magma vying for control of the world’s weather. We took that as a huge inspiration point to launch what we’re calling our Dimension Dynamic Weather into Pokémon Go.

The first thing people will notice when catching their Gen 3 Pokemon is the world map will look like what their actual world looks like. So if it’s sunny outside, it’ll be sunny. If it’s raining, it’ll be raining on the map. If it’s snowing, it’ll be snowing.

The Pokémon themselves will care about what the weather is outside when they decide whether or not to show up. So when it’s raining outside, trainers should expect an increase in Water and Electric Pokémon. If it's sunny out, more Fire types will show up.


 

So if a Pokémon appears because of the weather, a special icon will show up on the map to indicate that. Pokémon lured out by weather conditions tend to be a good deal stronger than Pokémon that you’d find otherwise. Capturing those Pokémon will also yield an additional bonus.

During the weather conditions, the attack power of Pokémon who have moves that correspond with the weather will increase. For the advanced players, when players are doing Raids or Gym Battles, the weather outside is going to be a big determination of the types of teams they’ll want to attack or defend with.

It ties into the features that we like to release at Niantic. What we want to do is be sure that we deliver on the AR experience and the Pokémon experience for Pokémon Go . What we think the weather can do here, for the hardcore players who have gotten to a certain point, they will have a solid experience and will have to make a decision whether to go after a Raid who is boosted by the weather outside and try to capture them to give them a more powerful Raid boss, or use the weather to power up your team to go against a boss that is weakened by the weather.

Similarly, the Gym game should be a little more dynamic now. The best Pokémon to attack and defend will be shifting along with the weather outside. The Pokémon who you use to defend a Gym may be very different tomorrow when it’s raining. The same can be said with the team you bring to attack a Gym.

We’re excited for the weather feature overall. We think it’ll give the players a dynamic world to play in in Pokémon Go that both reflects their surroundings and rewards them.

How does a place like Arizona, who won’t receive snowstorms, be affected? Will Ice types just never appear?

MS: It’ll be a reduced rate. You’ll find occasional Snorunts make their way to Arizona, but Pokémon live where they live. They have strong preferences for their environment. If you lived in Arizona, your Pokémon world is going to look different than if you lived in the mountains of Utah. That is part of the experience that we feel players love about Pokémon Go, that their world is reflected by Pokémon in their region and where they live.

I also expect that if you’re living in Arizona, the ways that Gyms and Raids work is a little different than if you lived in Utah. Your Fire types, your Grass types, they’re going to be a lot stronger if you live in Arizona. The people around you will have stronger Fire and Grass types. Your local Pokémon population, not just the ones that spawn, but the players will have different sets of Pokémon than if you traveled the world and went to that city in Utah that has snow all the time. You’ll find players with teams of Ice types and Steel types.


 

We’re really excited. In the current state of things, regardless of the weather outside, everyone is in a single state of being. Now, we’re getting to a point where, in places where weather rotates, and even in places where the weather doesn’t rotate that often, you’ll see a specialization in that area.

People will say, “I live in Arizona, the weather doesn’t change very much. But my Fire Pokémon are stronger than other Fire Pokémon anywhere else in the world, because I live in the desert.”

If Pokémon are stronger in certain types of weather, how will that be known? Is that be seen in the CP or an indicator?

MS: The first thing you’ll notice is when that Pokémon spawns, you’ll see a special effect on a map. Players know of the purple ring that appears when a Pokémon shows up from an incense. Similarly, a special effect will show up due to the weather.

What that does in the battle, is you’ll see that Pokémon will have higher CP than normal. If you catch the Pokémon, stick with it and grow its CP, it’s better on average than one that’s caught outside of weather conditions. And in addition, after you catch that Pokémon, you’ll get a bigger reward.

There will be several indicators along the way that tell you that this isn’t like the Pokémon that normally spawn.

I love Rock-type Pokémon so I have to ask, where is Sandstorm?

MS: [Laughs] Well, we haven’t implemented the Sandstorm, but I can say that every type of Pokémon is mapped to a specific weather condition. It’s not going to be as narrow as one weather condition equals one type. Most weather conditions will support two to three different types of Pokémon .

For instance, Rock types, they’ll be partial to partially cloudy weather. So somewhere in between sunny and cloudy.


 

So there will be more than just extreme weather?

MS: There’s going to be a series of seven weather conditions that Pokémon will care about. It’s more than the ones you see in the games. So it’s not just sun, rain, hail and sandstorm. Effectively, the real-world weather influences Pokémon as much as the special Rain Dance, Sunny Day type moves in the game.

We care about the sun being out, we care about cloud coverage, we care about the wind, the rain, the snow. There are seven conditions that Pokémon care about and depending on what the dominant one is, that will determine which type of Pokémon show up.

How will Pokémon Go determine the weather? Is it by the minute, the hour? What’s the technology behind it?

MS: The weather itself will update on a regular cadence. It’s something that we are going to watch over time. It’s a trade-off, where we don’t want to rip the weather right under the user. We don’t want the weather changing in the middle of a battle.

We’re aiming for once an hour, then people should see the update.

AB: The way to think about it is the same way most weather apps out there work. When you’re checking the weather, it’s something that evolves and changes gradually throughout the day. It’s definitely not to-the-minute, and definitely not slow, so we’re going to try and find the right balance ourselves. We’re starting with roughly by the hour and that’s something that will evolve with feedback from the users and how we see our users use this feature.

Do you anticipate any safety hazards with the weather feature? Like a blizzard occurring and a player wanting to go outside?

AB: Yea, safety is very important to us. We try and put out warnings as much as possible, encouraging users to be mindful of their surroundings and play in a manner that’s safe. We designed a feature with built-in safety and alert systems that we will continue to assign as procedures get tested in the wild by users. But we want to ensure that there’s no incentive to play when the weather is extreme. We want to make sure that this feature is something that will reward you for exploring outside no matter the weather, but if the weather is harsh we obviously don’t want players to go out. That’s something we have an initial check built in, and we’ll continue to refine that system.

MS: Pokémon don’t love extreme weather any more than people do [laughs].

Will there be future weather events where a certain type of Pokémon appears more frequently, like the Halloween events? Will Arizona see a freak winter storm in Pokémon Go? Is that something Niantic has in mind?

AB: That’s a pretty interesting idea. I think a main feature is to make Pokémon Go more like a real-world game and take that Augmented Reality aspect to the next level. So I think it will be difficult from a philosophical standpoint to do a snow storm effect in Arizona when it’s not truly happening. But I think there’s some interesting things we do with that feature to ensure that a dynamic feel for players in that region. It’s something we’re still thinking about.

MS: The weather feature itself is intended to be an AR feature. We don’t want to break presence to make it so that, if you’re in Arizona and you open the app, it’s snowing outside. However, like we’ve done in the past, there will be plenty of events that cater to different types of Pokémon.

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Arizonians can expect a lot of sunny weather Photo: Niantic

How do you determine which Pokémon appear in updates?

AB: These decisions are made in close partnership with The Pokémon Company. Ultimately, they built this incredible brand and they have this incredible experience and knowledge and they have a say in these decisions.

We decided that in this launch we released them in a thematic fashion, which is something we haven’t done before. When we released Johto, we launched most of them at once.

This time, we’re starting with over 50 and they’re the ones that normally hang around the field, that you’ll see outside. Moving forward, we are planning themes like a Water and Ice theme, for example. Those type of Pokémon , we bundle them together and release them to the world. It’s something we’ve discussed here and there. [The Pokémon Company] know the brand so well. They’ve made the recommendations and we work towards that

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