Welcome to the fourth "Ask Me Almost Anything" (AMAA) post, where we answer your questions 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, we 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.
Lastly, as there is much more content available in the current demo (v1.0.2c as of this post), some responses may contain spoilers for those who have yet to play. Your discretion is advised.
“Can you elaborate more about how the battle system is going to work, and will we be able to create our own team or will the Pokémon be selected for you in the story?”
submitted by DubZer0
The battle system currently isn’t totally complete, but functionally it’s done. Regardless, take the following info with a grain of salt as anything could be subject to change.
Right now the battle system is meant to serve as a simple form of combat similar to how it is in the core series games. It will be much simpler in terms of design as these battles do not form the foundation of this game, a visual novel. The basics of arranging your own team, training them, and swapping them in and out of combat will be there.
One idea that we’re going to toy with is making the battles a little more random and akin to how real people would battle competitively. By this we mean that engaging another trainer’s team won’t always be the same. Here’s what a scenario might be like:
Blue challenges you to a battle. Both of you have a full team of six Pokémon. However, this battle is going to be a 3 vs. 3. Which Pokémon will Blue choose? Which ones will you choose?
Another aspect of the battle system is the inclusion of story. We would like most “scripted encounters” (i.e. battles you cannot avoid for whatever reason) to be story-driven. This means as the battle is under way, there will also be dialogue between characters, perhaps between the player and the challenger, bystanders, or others.
And speaking of scripting events, evolution will not be dictated solely by a Pokémon’s level, so don’t expect to just grind battles with other characters hoping to get an overpowered final evolutionary form in the first couple months of the school year. We’d like to give the process of evolution more of a legitimate surprise feel, rather than a numbers game (of course, this doesn’t apply to Pokémon that evolve through means like evolutionary stones).
Lastly, currently the battle system does not support double or triple battles. We would love to make it happen, but as of now, it’s not in the works.
“How many electives are we going to be able to do in the entire length of the game?”
submitted by Snake Gear
We expect students—all student characters, specifically, not just the player—to be in the same classes as a form of identity. As a result, we don’t plan on allowing players to switch classes.
We make it explicitly clear that you have to think carefully about your elective choices. We don’t want players to rampantly switch and go back on their decisions otherwise it defeats the whole purpose of making choices matter. True, some in-game choices don’t matter as much, but for something like classes that you have to stick with for extended periods of time, we expect you to think carefully.
“Will there be any restrictions on the number of clubs the player can join?”
submitted by Eric Lao
Similarly to how we treat elective classes, we will treat clubs the same way, except you can quit one and join another. But the limit will always be two clubs.
We also plan on making it scripted that the player will join the battle team. We’re doing this for a few reasons.
The first reason is that out of the numerous players we’ve talked to, players who put up Let’s Plays on YouTube, conversations between other players, etc., roughly 9/10 players seem to strongly consider or outright pick “Battle Team” when faced with the choice during the group lunch scene in the demo. By the way, the choice made during that scene doesn’t lock you into an actual club; it’s mostly to serve as the player “thinking out loud.”
The second reason is to make our jobs easier. The fewer variations available, the easier it is for us to keep things coordinated and the fewer chances there are of bugs showing up. We’d love to give players infinite options, but in combination with the first reason, it makes our decision a lot easier.
And as for the third reason, it just makes more sense in terms of plot. The player character is based on Red. What do we know Red as canonically in official Nintendo media? He’s a badass trainer. You can’t be a badass trainer without being a badass on the battle team.
So with the battle team locked in, that leaves one more spot of your choosing. Choose wisely.
“Are you going to add a nighttime cycle, or is it only daytime?”
submitted by ThatJokerWolf
Maybe these will answer your question.
So yes, we do account for both daytime and nighttime hours.
“Will there be events like formal dances or beach/pool/waterpark scenes, and will the characters have appropriate attire for them?”
submitted by Dread Loch
I see you. Oh, I see you.
You’re looking for characters in swimsuits, aren’t you?
Sure, we’ll anime-trope it up for you. Take a trip with a select few characters to Lavaridge Town’s hot springs? Why not.
“There's been a lot of talk about how Eevee is going to be put into the game. Is there anything you can tell us about Eevee that won't spoil anything?”
submitted by LinkSJ
We have seen a lot of people talking about Eevee.
Here’s a little treat. We took a screenshot directly from our Google Drive folder containing all the behind the scenes documents of the game’s development. This one is a list of Pokémon currently planned to be included in the game.
(Sorry, but not sorry.)
For more information on how obtaining Pokémon will work, please see this link.
“Is Kobukan Academy inspired primarily by an American boarding school, an English boarding school, or a Japanese one?”
submitted by NicoSims
What a fun question! You might notice elements from education systems around the world, but since the Pokémon world is not the same as ours, we make it a point to not just blindly copy and paste any one region’s school system.
The semester schedule, for example, is similar to the Japanese. So instead of starting your first year in September like it often would be for schools in the United States, you start in April like in Japan.
In many Asian boarding schools, dorms are completely separated by gender. Conversely, in some Western boarding schools, the dorms are co-ed.
So the answer really is that Kobukan Academy is inspired primarily by a little bit of everything.
“How do you decide which Gym Leaders/Elite Four will be students, and which will be instructors? I can understand Blaine not being a student, of course, but someone like Erika could really go either way. In that sort of situation, how did you decide? Is it based on attractiveness?”
submitted by NicoSims
It’s a little mix of arbitrariness, how old a character can be interpreted as, and how popular we believe characters to be in the fandom. It’s actually a little complicated.
For the most part, Gym Leaders such as Misty (original), Whitney, Jasmine, Flannery, etc. in the core series games look relatively similar in age. Some look a little more ambiguous, like you mentioned, such as Sabrina, Erika, or Winona. Then there are Gym Leaders that look much younger than their peers, such as Tate and Liza, or Candice.
So we use the first batch (Misty, Whitney, etc.) as sort of a baseline. These characters by default we’ll place in the same year as the player. The ones that are noticeably younger we’ll place in one or two years below the player. As for the middle group (the ambiguous ones), we took several things into account.
The first is popularity. Sabrina is quite popular so we just threw her into the first year with the player. Erika is not as popular so we bumped her up to the second year. Winona could have been a student, but we needed a Flying-type teacher. Who else is linked with the Flying-type? Falkner and Skyla? We could have had Falkner be the teacher, but we already have an imbalanced ratio of Johto to Hoenn teachers (Karen, Clair, Pryce and Will for Johto vs. only Wallace for Hoenn). We certainly couldn’t have Skyla be the teacher as she’s one of the more popular female Gym Leaders. At the end, that’s how Winona ended up being a teacher. We did make it a point to show that she’s a very new teacher, hinting that her age is close to the students she teaches.
The second is purpose. What purpose does this character serve? What role are we still trying to fill? Sometimes we just don’t need more of a certain type of character so we cut it off right there. Do we need another student character to show up in this particular class? If you haven’t noticed, every type elective has at least one female character (with the exception of Rock in the demo, where Jasmine isn’t available yet). And speaking of Jasmine, that’s really the only reason we have her as a first-year character. Roxanne was never going to be a first-year because she’s always given off a more authoritative feel, so we immediately assigned her the third-year student council president role incredibly early on in development. Oh, and Valerie. She’s literally the only notable Fairy representative in the game so she’s stuck with the teacher role.
Finally, there’s the arbitrariness. Sometimes it’s a coin flip when we can’t decide whether a character should be a first-year, second-year or third-year student. Brock’s a popular guy, we know it. But he just looks like an older guy, so we threw him in as a third-year student. Korrina is in the same boat and we threw her in as a second-year student.
“Are there any characters that won't be included in the game for reasons other than they didn't make much of an appearance? Like did no one want to include them? Were they too old or young? Do they just not fit in?”
submitted by MightyPotato
This ties into the previous question about how characters are distributed in the visual novel. If the character wouldn’t have any notable purpose beyond what’s already fulfilled, we’re unlikely going to include them. Perhaps they can make incredibly brief cameos—like on a poster in the background or on a flickering TV screen—but nothing beyond that.
But if a character is so niche that they cannot serve a purpose beyond what they’re identified as—for instance, Elesa as a model, Lisia as an idol, Zinnia as a… how is she supposed to fit again?—then that just adds more work to our plate. We are including Elesa for one reason: popularity. And that goes back to the previous point we made about how we prioritize characters based on how popular they seem in the fandom. It would be neat to throw Zinnia in as a student in the Dragon class, but at this point, she’d literally be a random character to throw in to take up space. We’re not going to do that.
Again, you don’t have to really count any character out for making appearances. What you shouldn’t count on is whether or not they’ll get much screen time, if any. We have enough characters.
“How much will the romance with all of the different characters influence the story?”
submitted by Randomdragon
Romance (and socializing in general) will simply be one of many optional to-dos players can tackle during a single playthrough. Everything related to romance can be thought of as side-quests, separate from the main storyline. Of course, some of the choices you make can impact different scenes, but if we’re talking about the big picture, just because you opted to go with Serena over Misty won’t change the ending or any of the major events along the way.
The character(s) you do choose to bond with over others will, of course, show up more for other events. We won’t specify what these are at this time.
“Due to the scale of the project how has everything turned out so far compared to your original plans, also are there any features that you wish could be added but just aren't possible?”
submitted by TheHutch
It’s not as much about impossibility as it is about feasibility and priority. There is never a shortage of ideas. It always comes down to cherry-picking the ones that make the most sense to include. The most brilliant ideas that take the least amount of work to implement will be prioritized over all the others.
The ideas that seem “okay” at best (basically those that could add a certain fun factor but wouldn’t change the game in any significant way) will be put in the bottom of the list. Those that also demand countless hours of work to implement will be rejected outright. Again, just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean it belongs.
If you want a list of things we want to include but don’t want to bother with anytime soon:
- Alternate main character(s)
- Alternate character poses/customizations
- Animated cutscenes
- Anything related to extra layers of choices and combinations
There’s a lot more out there.
If your question wasn’t answered, there’s a very, very, very high chance that it was answered in the past. Please check out the previous AMAA posts: