Origins of Pokemon GO Panel with Niantic Designer David Hollin!
Recently a trainer by the name of bureika went to a Pokemon GO panel with Niantic’s designer David Hollin who originally came up with the idea to release an Augmented Reality version of Pokemon GO for the company. At this panel Mr.Hollin spoke about some interesting facts on the creation of the game and how it was intended to be made and some future projects for the game.
Information on Pokemon GOs Origins/History
As most of you probably know, PoGo started as an April Fool’s joke by Google in 2014. Basically, a Google Maps engineer named Tatsuo Nomura wanted to do something with Google Maps and Pokemon, so he pitched the idea to The Pokemon Company (TPC). It was a great prank, and everyone thought that was the end of it.
- But then Niantic CEO John Hanke thought it would make for a fun actual game, so he tried contacting TPC again. Turns out the TPC CEO was a huge fan of Ingress, Niantic’s previous game, which has a big cult following. (Speaking of Ingress, David showed an old trailer for it and commented on how Niantic had a thing for releasing really epic trailers that don’t reflect gameplay at all LOL.)
- TPC liked the idea of a Pokemon mobile game but wanted to make sure it was simple (e.g. no battling with Pokemon in order to catch them) and that it was distinct from the other Pokemon games.
- When David talked about Niantic’s split from Google, he put up a screenshot from the episode “Bye Bye Butterfree.”
- Niantic’s main goal in creating PoGo was basically to get people to walk around outside. Secondary goals were to get people to notice nearby landmarks and hopefully interact with other players.
- When PoGo first started, you threw Pokeballs by pressing a button. There was no control over how far or curved your throw would be.
- AR mode was also not really in consideration at the beginning. Niantic fiddled with the idea of using Google Earth images and superimposing Pokemon, but that required users to download huge images and would not have been practical.
- One day, David experimented with incorporating AR mode and his phone camera in his backyard and showed it to his coworkers, who really liked the results. (The funny part of this is that David showed an early screencap of AR mode, but the only part of the screencap that everyone focused on was the fact that he was using a Master Ball and that he had 61 of them in his bag.)
- Niantic was in a time crunch to release PoGo by summer because otherwise, it would have been fall/winter and everybody would stay in their houses. Hence, all the issues at launch.
- When PoGo launched, Niantic had only two server engineers who had to work 24/7 in shifts to handle the server issues. Man, the old days… lol.
- PoGo completely surpassed all expectations Niantic had for the game. I believe the response was 50x what they expected.
- Niantic does read /r/PokemonGO and /r/TheSilphRoad, though mostly to keep track of bugs (not Caterpies, but things that need to be fixed right away).
Niantic is also hiring.