So You Want To Make a Pokémon Game

The year is 2015. You’re on Twitter, or YouTube, when suddenly you spot it: a brand-new Pokémon game that you’ve never heard of before! Curious, you look it up in order to find out more, and you discover that this is no ordinary game, it’s a fan made game that looks and feels just like a new Pokemon game, but is free to download and play! Wow, you think, I had no idea that you could do that! Now I want to make a Pokémon game, too!

(Screenshots from Pokémon Ethereal Gates, an upcoming fangame to be released August 20th.)

Woah there, bucko, not so fast. You might think it’s easy to make a Pokémon game, but like any game project, it takes lots of time, careful planning, and dedication before you’ll reach a product that’s at all finalized. It’s important to understand the scale of a project before you dive head-first into a super ambitious game project, or else you risk being overwhelmed and having to cancel it because you didn’t realize how much work it was going to be.

Fortunately, I’m here to guide you. This post will be a tutorial to getting started on making your first fangame — but it will include advice that will hopefully be useful to veteran game developers, too. So, without further ado, here is what you should do:

1. Brainstorm some ideas. Think of what you’ve always wanted to see in a Pokémon game. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, either. You may be tempted to follow the classic formula of 8 gyms + evil team, but consider more possibilities: What about a more story-driven game? Or a survival based game? Or a game where you play as a Pokémon? It helps to envision what kind of game YOU would most want to play. Keep track of all your ideas somewhere — in a notebook or a word document. Writing it down helps. Also bounce some ideas off your friends and listen to what they have to say. Have fun with this part! Coming up with new ideas is the most exciting part of game making. Be careful not to grow too attached to any of them at this point, since you might end up changing them around or scrapping them later.

2. Familiarize yourself with the tools used to make a Pokémon game. Yes, before you even finalize the concept for your game, you should explore your options when it comes to creating a fangame. My personal preference, and the base for almost every (non-ROM Hack) game out there today, is Pokémon Essentials for RPGMaker XP. Pokémon Essentials is free to use (although RMXP itself costs between $5 and $20), and is essentially a heavily modified version of the RMXP engine that includes complete functionality of a Pokémon game, and is easy to use with little to no programming knowledge. By default it is modeled on the 3rd generation, but it’s relatively easy to modify to fit any generation style or even a custom style of your very own. The creators of Pokémon Essentials are constantly releasing new updates to it as well, and there is an active community creating and sharing resources. Honestly, it’s never been easier, so what are you waiting for?


To learn the ropes of Essentials, the base game itself is honestly the best tutorial; it comes with dozens of pre-made maps and events that demonstrate how to use its tools. Another really great resource is Atomic Reactor’s “How To Make a Pokémon Game” video tutorial series on YouTube:

3. Consider the scale of your project. For somebody just starting out, making a full-length classic Pokémon game with hours and hours of gameplay is a hugely ambitious project. If you also plan to add Fakemon to your game, that’s an even loftier goal because then you will need a full set of sprites, along with stats and movesets for every single one. If you’re not ready to handle all that responsibility yet then you should practice making a smaller game first. Remember, none of the time spent working on a project is wasted — even if you decide to scrap it in the end, you will have learned valuable skills that you can bring with you to your next game project. The more games you make, the better you will get at making them.

Pokemon Marigold, a new, non-linear fangame, playable now!

4. Don’t get obsessed with recruiting a team. If you have some friends who want to make the game with you, that’s great. But far too often, people start out with just the bare-bones outline of a game and immediately try to recruit people to make the game for them: mappers, spriters, scripters, composers, etc. You should be ready to take on responsibility for making your game yourself; This may mean learning how to map, write events, make sprites, etc. If you have no artistic talents whatsoever, you can find resources for your game on the internet, on websites like DeviantArt and The Spriter’s Resource where there are many graphics available for public use. If you are using somebody else’s work however, make sure to keep track of it and give credit to them somewhere — it’s just polite.

Also, if you do have a team of people working together on your game: Communication is key. Having a good team dynamic is critical to being productive. Use platforms such as Skype or Slack to keep everybody coordinated and up-to-date on game progress. It doesn’t have to be all professional, though, so feel free to joke around and have fun — you’re probably all Pokémon nerds, anyway.

Phoenix Rising, another upcoming fangame


5. Prioritize work on the actual game. What I mean by that is, it’s easy to get sidetracked by making promotional artwork, graphics, memes, etc., but none of these things are going to make your game get finished any faster. This also means to not spend time brainstorming the post-game when you haven’t even finished the first Gym yet. Focus on what needs to get done — even if it’s less glamorous than composing your Champion’s battle theme, it’s just as important!

6. Wait to publicize your game until you have a substantial amount already finished. Social media such as Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube can be fun, and a great way to garner feedback and generate hype about your project, but it can also serve as a distraction from what’s important, which is actually finishing the game. If you over-hype your game without having anything concrete finished, you risk embarrassing yourself further on down the line when your fans are counting on you and you don’t have anything to show for it. Once you have made something playable, trust that your hard work will speak for itself and generate interest on its own.

And lastly and most importantly…

7. Have fun!!!! Game making is a fun and exciting thing to do, plus it’s incredibly rewarding to create something for yourself and other people to enjoy. It’s not a job, so don’t take it too seriously — go out there and have a great time! Once you’ve started your game, and you’d like to share it and connect with other people in the fangame community, I recommend joining Relic Castle — currently the only web community that’s dedicated solely to Pokemon fangames. If you do, tell them Involuntary Twitch sent you!

That’s all for today. I know this blog post was text-heavy and not filled with pretty, pretty pictures like it usually is, but I thank you for reading it all the same! If you have any lingering questions, feel free to leave a comment or tweet them to me at @voluntarytwitch.

Until next time,

~ Oripoke


Designing Fakemon, Part 3

whos-that-pokemon wizkitWelcome to Part 3 of my Fakemon Design tutorial. In Part 1 and Part 2, I described my process for coming up with a good design and making a sprite for a convincing Fake Pokemon. Now, I am going to take the design I came up with and give it details like stats, moves, and abilities so that it could fit in a Pokemon game with ease.

First, some meta: it’s not always necessary to go this in-depth when creating fakemon, unless you are making a game, like me. However, I think that some of the best-created fakemon there are have well-thought-out movesets. To make a truly convincing Pokemon you must envision it in action: what kinds of powers does it have? What strategy would it use in battle? Here I’d like to give a particular shout-out to the Smogon Create-A-Pokemon project, which has produced some of my favorite Fakemon ever, some that are nearly indistinguishable from canon designs. Finding a fitting moveset to complement your design can push it over the line from good to great. Plus, if you do plan on including your fakemon in a game-like setting, then a well-balanced and carefully-planned moveset is a must.

Here the completed Dex info for our own fakemon, Wizkit:

wizkit sprites
Name: Wizkit
Type: Fairy/Psychic
Height: 2’1″
Weight: 33.6 lbs
“It likes to sit on its broom-shaped tail and levitate a short distance above the ground. It is known to cast good-luck charms on its friends and curses on its enemies.”

“They can bring good luck if treated with kindness, but superstition regards their presence as an ill omen. They are often kept as familiars by witches.”

Ability: Magician & Super Luck
Hidden Ability: Magic Bounce
Egg Group: Field


wizkit stats

Levelup Moveset

— Charm
— Copycat
06 Confusion
10 Teleport
14 Lucky Chant
17 Trick
21 Magical Leaf
24 Covet
27 Magic Coat
31 Assist
34 Magic Room
37 Psychic
41 Nasty Plot
44 Snatch
48 Future Sight
53 Trick Room
58 Moonblast

Egg Moves

— Fury Swipes
— Confuse Ray
— Mystical Fire
— Hypnosis
— Wish
— Disable
— Encore
— Baton Pass

TM Moves

03 Psyshock
04 Calm Mind
06 Toxic
10 Hidden Power
11 Sunny Day
12 Taunt
16 Light Screen
17 Protect
18 Rain Dance
20 Safeguard
21 Frustration
27 Return
29 Psychic
30 Shadow Ball
32 Double Team
33 Reflect
41 Torment
42 Facade
44 Rest
45 Attract
46 Thief
48 Round
49 Echoed Voice
53 Energy Ball
56 Fling
57 Charge Beam
63 Embargo
65 Shadow Claw
66 Payback
70 Flash
77 Psych Up
85 Dream Eater
86 Grass Knot
87 Swagger
88 Sleep Talk
90 Substitute
92 Trick Room
99 Dazzling Gleam
100 Confide

Uses: Wizkit is a very versatile Pokemon. Its strengths lie in its powerful base 115 Special attack and decent base 105 speed, its useful abilities and broad moveset. However, its major shortcomings are its defensive stats, at 62 and 72 each, meaning it can’t take more than a couple blows before falling.

I can envision it working as both a special sweeper (with nasty plot + STAB on both Fairy and Psychic attacks) or a more utility based build, taking advantage of interesting moves in its set like Magic Coat, Baton Pass, Encore, etc.

When puzzling out moves for Wizkit, I examined the movesets of Kirlia, Mr. Mime and their related lines, since they share the same type combination (albeit Psychic/Fairy instead of Fairy/Psychic). I also drew inspiration from Whimsicott, Girafarig and Klefki, the latter of which I modeled its Base Stat Total on, since they are each gimmicky single-stage Fairy types. Lastly, I made sure to include some catlike moves in its repertoire, like Assist, Copycat (heh), and Fury Swipes as an Egg move. I made sure to give it every concievable move that had “magic” in its name, in order to really hammer in the theme. I even gave it Delphox’s signature move, Mystical Fire, as an egg move. This was a deliberate choice on my part, since I envision Wizkit and Braixen getting along very well. Furthermore, they belong to the same Egg group [Field].

best buds.

One thing I debated when planning out Wizkit’s abilities was whether to give it Prankster as a hidden ability. I love Prankster, it’s definitely one of my favorite abilities in the game, though it is easily overpowered and incredibly frustrating to play against as Klefki’s popularity demonstrates. In the end, I decided that Super Luck was more fitting considering its lore, and Magic Bounce had “Magic” in its name so it won out.

Sadly, there aren’t many ways to easily test out fake Pokemon in a competitive sense, although some friends of mine at Fuji Labs have a Showdown server & a system which allows people to submit their own Fakemon ideas which, once approved, can be added to competitive teams and used in battle. They’re graciously helping us to create a Pokemon Uranium league, though that feature’s still a WIP at the moment. I’m going to try and get Wizkit added to the server, although I can’t guarantee it’ll be accepted. Still, it’s worth a try!

Now that I’ve done every concievable thing I can think of to bring this critter to life, from conception to realization, I believe I can say that this Fakemon Design tutorial is hereby concluded. I hope that I was able to educate and inspire some of you to create Fakemon of your own! If you do make your own designs on the basis of this guide (or just in general), I would be delighted to take a look at your work and/or provide feedback if you are looking to improve.

Some questions: Does this moveset look right to you? Is there anything that you would recommend I add, remove or change? How would you choose to use Wizkit in battle? Let me know in the comments below!

Now that this tutorial is over, I think my next entry will focus on some designs that aren’t my own, or perhaps spotlighting some other people’s games. I haven’t written it yet, so I don’t know what to anticipate, but expect it to be interesting! As always, thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day.

~ Oripoke

Designing Fakemon, Part 2

whos that pokemon-caitsithWelcome to part 2 of my Fakemon design tutorial, where I will narrate my process for designing a fakemon in such a way to allow you to follow my methods to create a fakemon of your own. You can find Part 1 here, where I talked about how to find an idea and then devise an appropriate design. In this part, I will explain how to make the sprite. The next entry will elaborate on the details like moveset, abilities, name, etc.

Let’s start where we left off on the last entry, where we envisioned a fairy/psychic type Pokemon based on Cat Sidhe.

cait sith 2

I changed some details around from the version I made in the last entry, which I felt was too simple a design, especially for a non-evolving Pokemon. I liked the idea of having it ride around on a witch broom so much that I incorporated the idea of a broom into its design: Now, it can hop on its broom-shaped tail and fly around. I got rid of the redundant pattern on its chest and instead gave it a bell, because that seemed fitting of a Fairy-type. I also added in some more details, like giving it blue pawpads and cute star whiskers. Now we’ve got a much more appealing and unified design!

Now that I’ve got a design that I’m fully satisfied with, let’s move on to…

3. The Sprite

Let’s be real for a second here: as of the 6th generation, Pokemon games no longer use pixel sprites. Instead, they have these lovely, fully-animated 3D models, which inject the creatures with personality and give them life like never before.

so majestic

But nostalgia is a powerful thing, and while it is technically possible to emulate the 3D pokemon style, it’s pretty impractical… and I have a soft spot for 2D pixel sprites. My own style is the most similar to the last generation to use 2D sprites, the 5th gen (not coincidentally also my favorite generation).

And of course, when it comes to making fakemon to put in hacks or fangames, pixel sprites are a must. Pokemon Firered and Ruby are still the most popular bases for ROM hacks, and many RMXP-based fangames use 2D sprites too. They’re useful due to the small file size, the ease of recoloring (for shinies etc), and the nostalgic appeal. Which is why I’m not going to stop making sprites any time soon.

There’s something special about it

Without any further ado, let me show you my step-by-step process for making a pixel sprite.

tutorial step 1

I start with an 80×80 canvas on my pixel art program of choice, GraphicsGale. I actually work on a much larger canvas, 800×800 usually, and utilize the included grid feature to divide it into appropriately-sized squares. Why 80×80? That was the limit on sprite size in Diamond and Pearl, and although Black and White expanded it to 92×92, very few sprites strayed beyond the 80×80 box. It’s also the size I use in my game. I seldom feel the need to go outside it; almost any Pokemon design, no matter how complex, can be made to fit in these bounds with a little creativity.

I use a neutral color for a background, usually a desaturated green or blue. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give to spriters who are starting out: the impulse is often to work on a blank white canvas, but by drawing on a colored background, your colors and outlines are guaranteed to look good against any background. Since all the sprites I make are transparent, and appear in-game in several locations, this matters a lot.

tutorial step 2

Next, I make a sketch. For more complex designs, I usually draw this out on paper first to get a general idea for pose, but for simple designs like this one I just freehand it. It’s okay if the lines are rough or jagged at this point, because I’ll clean them up later.

tutorial step 3

I like to compare the size of my sketch at this point to the size of similarly-sized canon Pokemon. If it’s too big or too small, I drag the corners to resize it and then clean the outlines a bit to make them less jagged.

tutorial step 4

Flat colors. These were based on the art that I drew before. Pick colors that stand out from each other. There are 3-4 main colors for this guy’s color scheme so I picked those.

I also clean up outlines and add details. At this point it is important to remember that outlines should be 1px thick and have smooth curves — I’ll explain the specifics of this in another entry. You should regularly zoom out (or use a preview) to make sure your sprite looks as good at 1x as it does when zoomed in. (I usually use 600-800% magnification.) You want to make sure that your fine details, particularly those around the face, look good on a small scale.

tutorial step 5

Shading. For clear-looking sprites, I generally use 3 shades per color (base, shadow and outline), occasionally adding a 4th highlight shade when I feel is essential. The light source in all Pokemon sprites comes from the top-left, or the top-right in case of backsprites. I like to conserve colors and limit my palette as much as I can. Having enough contrast between shades is, again, important if you want your sprite to read on a small scale.

tutorial step 6

Last is the outline and other fixes. This is where the colored background comes in handy the most, to make sure the outline colors are even and will look good on any background. I saved the trickiest details, the whiskers, for last because I wanted to make sure the underlying parts looked good first.

And there you have it! Just for fun, here’s a gif I made of the progress:

tutorial gif

That’s all for today. Next time, we’ll pick out abilities, states and moves for this guy, as well as choose a name… which I’m still stumped on! If you have suggestions, leave them in the comments section, please!

~ Oripoke

Designing Fakemon, Part 1


Today, I’m going to walk you through my process of creating a convincing and appealing fake Pokémon design. This will serve as a tutorial for anybody who wishes to follow this process for themselves.

Since I want to elaborate as much as I can on every step of the process, I’ll break this up into 2 parts: the first, where I devise an idea and sketch some basic designs, and the second, where I make the sprite and elaborate on finer details like movesets, stats, etc.

Step 1: The Idea

The first and most important part of designing a good fakemon is, of course, coming up with an idea. And it’s entirely possible you’re stumped: you may think that all the good ideas for Pokémon have been used up already. You may be afraid that even if you do have an idea that hasn’t been used in canon, some other fakemon creator has done it already. To which I say: don’t trouble yourself with what other fans have done. As long as your design isn’t a deliberate copy of someone else’s, it’s all right to base a design on the same general idea (for example, an ice moth or a fire tiger).

It's been done, but don't let that stop you.

It’s been done, but don’t let that stop you.

But there is a trick to coming up with cool, original designs, and here I will let you in on a secret: my favorite Wikipedia article ever, List of Legendary Creatures. Click on it, and it will bring you to an index of mythical monsters from A to Z. Not only is this article fascinating, since it spans many cultures from multiple time periods, it’s fertile ground for fakemon ideas. There are vastly more than anyone could possibly make into fakemon, so literally all you’ve gotta do is randomly pick one that interests you.

Here’s why mythical creatures are so great: they were Pokemon before Pokemon existed. People have been making up monsters since the dawn of time. Many of them, like the Bunyip or the Pyrausta, come with an elemental affiliation that fits nicely into the Pokemon type categories. So half your work is already done for you!

For this exercise, I’ve picked a creature that strikes me as interesting: the Cat Sidhe.

i just really like cats ok

From Wikipedia:

Cat Sidhe … is a fairy creature from Celtic mythology, said to resemble a large black cat with a white spot on its breast. Legend has it that the spectral cat haunts the Scottish Highlands. The legends surrounding this creature are more common in Scottish folklore, but a few occur in Irish. Some common folklore suggested that the Cat Sìth was not a fairy, but a witch that could transform into a cat nine times.[1]

Apparently, it can steal people’s souls if it passes over their graves, but will bless you if you leave it a saucer of milk. It’s a trickster, an intelligent shapeshifter, and an all-around interesting creature. Sounds like there’s a lot to go from!

For type, I think Fairy-type is somewhat of a shoo-in since it’s described as a “fairy cat” from the start of the article. Most Fairy-types in canon are cute and pink, but I’m personally interested in fairies as mysterious and powerful beings that can do harm as well as good. This is somewhat of a liberal interpretation of canon, but I’m ok with that. As for its type2, that’s pretty much up to me to decide, but I’ve elected to go with Psychic to represent the idea that it’s a witch, as well as to open up some interesting movepool and ability options.

In terms of evolutions, I’m going to keep it a single stage in order to save time, though I could easily design additional stages if I so choose.

So now we have our idea: a Fairy/Psychic single-stage fakemon based on Cat Sidhe. Time to do some sketches.

2. The Design

cait sith

I spent a couple hours sketching and here’s the design I decided on. I wanted it to be primarily bipedal, since it’s an intelligent (and somewhat person-like) creature, but able to go on all fours as well. I wanted it to be cute so I gave it a big head & big eyes, plus a big tail which I sort of take artistic freedom re: how long I want it to be. For colors, I picked ones that went nicely together, I think the dark purple and blue give off a sort of magical feel.

As a sort of happy coincidence, this character fits into a sort of halloween theme too, being a black cat that’s associated with witches, so I drew it riding around on a broomstick.

In the future, I’ll see if I want to design any sort of evolution for this cat, as well as give him a name and go more in-depth on abilities and such. But it’s pretty late now, so I think I’ll call it quits for tonight and pick this up again soon.

This concludes part 1 of the tutorial! Thanks for reading, part 2 should be up in just a few days’ time.

~ Oripoke