Ahhh, April 2nd. The day we take a deep breath and calm down after all the ridiculousness that goes down on April 1st. This year was no exception, because a collection of creators in the Pokemon Fangame community – myself included – all came together to pull off a massive prank…
On Monday the 28th, shgeldz made a brilliant suggestion: make a fake game announcement on April 1st that claimed to be the “Ultimate Fangame Collaboration” between fan game creators. But, when they clicked the download link, it wouldn’t be the ultimate RPG they were expecting, but rather shgeldz’s parody fangame, Pokemon Meat.
Naturally, given the opportunity for hilarity, almost everyone jumped on board immediately. With a never-before-seen dream team that included shgeldz and Starrcasm from Pokemon Ethereal Gates, Gav from Pokemon Phoenix Rising, Suzerain from Pokemon Insurgence, Amethyst from Pokemon Reborn, Jan from Pokemon Rejuvenation and of course myself and JV from Pokemon Uranium, we began to brainstorm how we were gonna make this work.
Day One (Monday)
We quickly outlined what needed to get done, and people stepped forward to volunteer for different parts of the operation, playing to each of our strengths. Gav volunteered to code the website, Amethyst agreed to host it on Pokémon Reborn’s server, and Jan covered the domain name. I volunteered to create art assets and design the fakemon starters, and then quickly threw together the game’s logo, above. The name “Rising Rainbow” was chosen due to it being the most cliché title we could think of. (It’s a bit of a trope to have ‘Rising’ in the title of fan-made Pokémon games.)
After that we brainstormed various ridiculous features that we could include in the game, stuff that would be impossibly difficult to implement in a real game but that we all have been asked to include time and time again. Stuff like being able to visit multiple regions from the canon games, to catch every Pokemon from all generations and transfer them to X/Y/OR/AS, and to have it be a MMORPG.
I also crowdsourced names for the starter Pokemon. I can design a fakemon fairly quickly based on its name alone, and the names I was provided with were Chilipea and Lilycan. It was also suggested we have a Dolphin for the water starter, for which I recycled one of my own older designs.
Day Two (Tuesday)
I made some sketches of the starters in my notes during class:
My first attempts were not very appealing.
Also, Ame and Gav set up the server and domain, to begin building the website for launch. Since domain name purchases can take some time to go through, it was better to take care of it sooner so that everything would be in line for when we went live. We also threw together a Dropbox folder to store assets as well as to share the files for Pokemon Meat, in case anyone wanted to add to it.
Then we began the process of creating graphics and visuals for the game’s website and social media platforms.
Day Three (Wednesday)
I was pretty busy with classwork this week but I managed to produce sketches of the 3 starter Pokemon:
Shgeldz wrote copy for the features list on the website, most of which was absolutely hilarious and unbelievable to the extreme:
Thanks to the amazing power of science, your favorite Fan Game creators have discovered a way to transfer your Pokémon from your Rainbow Rising Journey directly into Pokémon X&Y, Pokémon OR&AS, and even the upcoming Pokémon Sun and Moon! Just talk to Officer Jenny in New New Mauville after completing your regional Pokédex, and transfer away!
Want to join the evil team? No problem! With 11 evil teams to choose from, as well as factions such as the International Police Force, your story will be unique and special each time you play!
Built right into Rising Rainbow are a variety of Challenge/Nuzlocke modes. You can choose to play the game as a Nuzlocke, Egglocke, Wonderlocke, Cagelocke, Vs. RivalLocke, Soul Link, Vs. Soul Link, Vs. Egglocke Wedlocke Soul Link Wonderlocke, JohnLocke, LockedDoors, and even classic mode!
Gav began coding the website, which looked incredibly sleek and professional, while also bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Pride flag:
Shgeldz also set up the accounts on Twitter and Facebook, although he didn’t account for the fact that following people on Twitter makes you noticeable, so people started catching on right away, much to our amusement.
Also, we began hyping the game on our personal twitters, because we were committed, dammit.
Day Four (Thursday)
Crunch time! With the April Fools deadline bearing down on us, and with everybody being in different timezones, collecting all of the assets and coordinating a release became a stressful ordeal. We were still missing art assets, fake screens, and a downloadable game. We had our work cut out for us.
I began by finishing the Sugimori art of the starters, which I think came out wonderfully (I’m especially proud of that Fire starter). Also, I made a silhouette of the main “legendary”…
Afterwards, I took a crack at Pokemon Meat Version – most of which had been made several months earlier. We actually played it on the finale of Drunk Uranium, although sadly that footage was corrupted. So this would be the Internet’s first real taste of Meaty goodness. Playtesting it – if you could call what I did “playtesting” – was mind-numbing. Also, I’m pretty sure I only ended up making it worse. But, as far as Meat is concerned, “worse” is probably better. So… success?
Also, at the last minute, spsounds (composer for Pokemon Ethereal Gates) swooped in to drop a hot music track for Rising Rainbow: A mellow, spaced-out jam that foretold of epic adventure. We quickly added it to the website, and I proceeded to listen to it about 100 times the following day.
Then began the long, arduous process of uploading, testing and preparing everything for launch. Several of us pulled all-nighters or worked into the early morning hours, creating assets and fixing bugs so that the site would be ready to launch at 8AM Friday morning. And then the time came…
LAUNCH DAY (Friday, April 1 2016)
Pokemonrisingrainbow.com went live, and the reaction was instantaneous and overwhelming. Some forgot what day it was and fell for it hard. Some saw through it immediately – but played along nonetheless, so that buzz about the “most epic fangame ever” started to spread quickly. People started to tweet using the hashtag #RideTheRainbow, which shgeldz had come up with at 4AM the preceding morning in a sleep-deprived haze. It was great.
By the time I woke up at 9:30 AM, there were already several Let’s Plays of it on YouTube:
They expected rainbows. But what they got was Meat.
We even managed to fool the Shadiest of Penguinns:
(The Readme for the game download was just the entire script of Bee Movie)
We all had fun playing along as the day went on:
And to cap things off, Gav took a selfie with an actual rainbow:
Needless to say, all of us were having the time of our lives.
In the end, almost 5,000 people ended up downloading the game. By the end of the day, hype started to die down, as most (but not all!) caught on to the fact that the entire thing was a hoax. Some were bitter over being tricked, but most of them were good sports about it – after all, that’s what April Fools Day is all about!
And then, it was over as quickly as it began. By 10AM the following morning, the site at pokemonrisingrainbow.com was taken down and the @RisingRainbow_ twitter scrubbed of all tweets, except one redirecting to @PokemonMeat. And we all agreed never to speak of it again.
Except for this retrospective, I guess.
This prank would not have been possible without the help of the following people: shgeldz, AmethystBlack, GavMakesGames, Starrcasm, The_Suzerain, SChandelure, spsounds, Deouen, JV.
And to everyone who fell for it, or played along… we hope you had a good time. Stay tuned for April 1, 2017 for the release of Pokemon Meat 2!
or am I????