2015: Year in Review

Goodness, it’s been a big year, hasn’t it? Between the announcement and release of several new & ambitious fangame projects, to my own personal accomplishments, I think we’ve made a lot of progress this year. So, for my (probably) final blog entry in 2015, let’s look back at all the big and exciting things that happened this year!

January

Technically, this happened at the tail end of 2014, but on December 24, we released Beta 4.0 of Pokemon Uranium:

4.0 banner

This was the culmination of several months’ hard work by myself and JV, and it’s an accomplishment that both of us are incredibly proud of. A few days later, news of the new beta got picked up by Kotaku, and suddenly the number of downloads skyrocketed. I was on the beach with my family when I got the news, and I’d never seen anything like the amount of attention it was getting. It felt like such a satisfying payoff for all of our hard work, having people play the game we made and enjoy it.

Now that we’re approaching Beta 4.0’s one year anniversary, looking back on it now it’s amazing how far we’ve come since then. It makes me so incredibly proud of the Uranium team — that includes also Kelo, Mercury, and our wonderfully talented composers ElectricMudkip and Alex Naveira in addition to JV and myself. It’s great that we can all come together based on our shared love of Pokemon and create something wonderful!

February-March

So, it should be said that for the first 4 months of this year, I was actually studying abroad in Mexico, so between the lack of free time + the abundance of interesting non-Internet things to do, I wasn’t exactly the most active on the fakemon / fangames side of things. However, for an example of what I was up to, you can check out my post from March, Fakemon Designs – Alebri:

alebri mega

Also around this time, I started to be very active on Relic Castle, a forum community dedicated to Pokemon fangames. It was great because it created a space for people to share and discuss fangames together.

April-May-June

Around April 13th,  one of my all-time favorite fakemon and sprite artists, SirAquakip, revealed a big new game announcement: Pokemon Ethereal Gates. Not only did the game look amazing in the screenshots, but its development team announced a definitive release date: August 20th! And thus, the hype train rolled out of the station.

announcing_pokemon_ethereal_gates_by_siraquakip-d8pl0xe

It’s changed so much since these early screens :’D

Also, I made some more fakes:

Another notable fangame-related development was the announcement of Pokemon Phoenix Rising, a fangame directed by the uber-talented Gav! Exciting stuff.

July

Now is when things start getting interesting. For starters, I revamped my Twitter identity and started tweeting about fangames like all the cool kids do. I joined the Relic Castle Skype Chat, which was at times a space of interesting discussion about fangames and at other times a vortex of madness and despair, but it kept me sane during my monotonous summer job and let me focus my attention more fully on fangames.

I also connected with Starrcasm, Shgeldz and Aquakip of Ethereal Gates, and even guest-starred on Starrcasm’s LP of my own game, entitled “Drunk Uranium”:

(Warning for language, etc. We’re drunk.)

I started doing semi-regular Livestreams on the Pokemon Uranium Twitch.tv channel (which you should subscribe to if you haven’t already!). Also, I posted some new fakes:

 

 

August

In terms of fangames, August 2015 was huge. For starters, it was the month of the Relic Castle Game Jam, where users were challenged to make a game — any game — in less than a month (which is a lot longer than most game jams!)

The Game Jam yielded some excellent results, including Pokemon MarigoldPokemon JeffGolurk Rising and more. Oh, and I made a game for it, too:

secret of cinnabar screens arranged

Working on The Secret of Cinnabar Mansion was a fantastic learning experience for me. It was my first time creating and coding a game completely on my own, using the tools in Pokemon Essentials. After working on it, it gave me a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the engine, which absolutely came in handy for working on Pokemon Uranium. Plus, the experience of completing an entire, self-contained little story was a big confidence boost. I gained new appreciation for the power of games as a storytelling medium. It’s certainly something I’d like to explore more in the future.

Additionally, I published a new entry to this blog, So You Want To Make a Pokemon Game, a tutorial I felt was a long time coming. Based on the hype that popular fangames such as Insurgence, Reborn and Uranium generate, so many people want to start their own games — and who can blame them? I’d always wanted to make my own Pokemon game since I was really little. Check out that blog entry if you haven’t yet, it’s my favorite one I made this year.

In case you thought the August craziness was over, there was also a podcast over on Radio Whirlwind which featured many creators of popular and up-and-coming games! I represented Pokemon Uranium (since JV was traveling at the time). You can listen in here:

I talk a lot about my fakemon design process, so it’s definitely worth a listen if you want to know more about how I do the things I do.

And finally… Pokemon Ethereal Gates released their 1.0 demo on August 20th!

I can’t overstate how big of a deal this game was for fangames, or how lucky I was to get to be a beta tester for it. Between the amazing custom pixel graphics by SirAquakip to the lush original soundtrack by Sean Petersen, Ethereal Gates stands out as a new standard of quality for fakemon games, as well as fangames in general. If you haven’t played it yet, you can download v1.1 from their website.

And, to cap it all off, I got to meet up with PEG team members Evan and Scott at the Pokemon World Championships in Boston! We got to be some of the first Americans to play Pokken Tournament, got to watch Pokemon battles on the big screen, and then we went and recorded another episode of Drunk Uranium.

September

4.3 banner

We released the (most current) beta version of Uranium, which included many improvements and a new playable character, Pluto! You can download it here.

October-November

Avid readers of this blog will know what happened in October: Faketober!

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I designed 28 original fakemon this month! (The last 3 have names and types, but not art: Equinacht [Dark/Dragon], Chaosynth [Bug/Psychic] & Ohmegades [Dark/Ghost].)

For more deets, check out the individual journal entries:

Faketober #1
Faketober #2
Faketober #3
Faketober #4

And then… I kind of went dark for a while! I can explain: For the month of November, I was working on NaNoWriMo, writing a novel that was unrelated to Pokemon. And I finished it! Hooray!

December

…So, wow. Here we are: at the very end of 2015. Where will we go from here?

I can speak for Uranium at least. In the months since our most recent beta release (4.3), the game has undergone a huge graphical revamp, and a whole lot more story content has been added. JV’s re-done almost 100% of the early-game maps, and I’ve been hard at work revamping sprites for a new battle system. It’s not close to being done yet, though, since the next version of the game is planned to be the full game, Pokemon Uranium 1.0.

What I can do is provide some previews of how the game looks now:

Updated Route 01 & Moki Town

There are some other changes that we haven’t revealed yet as well, but take my word for it, the new version of Uranium is reflective of the all the time and dedication we’ve spent on it. I’m not going to promise that you’ll be able to play it any time soon, but at the rate we’re working on it, you can probably expect a full game release… sometime around late 2016? Don’t quote me on that. It’ll be done when it’s done!

As for other stuff to look forward to, Pokemon Phoenix Rising is promising a playable release of their first episode around March-April of next year. Their team is comprised of some of the greatest talents in the fangame community, and they already have a significant amount complete, so you can very much look forward to playing that. Some other fangames that I’m hyped for include Pokemon Tyrian by Deouen and Pokemon Sitnalta by AfroPharaoh. Hopefully 2016 can be as big of a year for Pokemon fangames as 2015 was!

Also, I should note that today is my birthday, so I’m gonna spend the rest of it eating birthday cake and then going to see Star Wars. Happy holidays, everybody!

~ Oripoke