Augmented reality is a technology with huge potential, though, due to lack of inventive software, has yet to fully prove itself. Pokemon Go, Nintendo's plight to bring pocket monsters into the real world, might just be the killer app AR has been waiting for -- but how does it actually work?
Details on gameplay have been thin since the announcement, leaving me to envisage grown men roaming the streets in undersized baseball caps, clutching phones and throwing their balls at anything that moves. Putting my mind at ease somewhat, the developer behind Pokemon Go, Niantic Labs, recently spoke to Venture Beat about their ambitious plans, sketching out a much clearer picture of how they're going to make every 11-year-old kid's dream an augmented reality. First, check out this concept video:
So, what do we now know from this new interview? Well...
Pokemon will be tied to specific geographical locations
As with Niantic Labs's previous AR effort, Ingress, players will have to travel to real world locations with their phones or a small Trainer device worn on the wrist. Pokemon will be hiding in appropriate environments, e.g. you can expect to find a Squirtle near the coast and a Weedle in forested areas. Rarer species might only be discoverable in a handful of locations worldwide. Okay, now this is starting to sound pretty rad.
Pokemon gyms will exist for battling and trading
As you'd expect from a Pokemon game, you'll be able to trade your prized catches on the fly, presumably over wi-fi or 3G.
Trainers will be able to join factions and work together
Imagine starting your own nefarious Team-Rocket-esque gang at school, or facing off in a team battle against the band of kids down the street? You'll also be able to join large scale MMO style raids, joining up with strangers to take down ultra-tough opponents.
It will be pretty much impossible to catch 'em all
Not to sound like a pessimist, but even the developers came right out and said it. In order to temper expectations, Niantic warned that those who aren't willing to travel round the globe won't be able to fulfill the trainer's dream of catching 'em all. But I'm sure that won't stop some determined Pokemon masters out there...
Pokemon Go does not yet have a release date, but it would make sense for this new generation of pocket monsters to launch in conjunction with the franchise's 20th anniversary next year. Stay tuned for further details.