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Pokémon Legends: Arceus

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I won't wade in too deep but just to add one point; yes outsourcing the animation may mean Game Freak can focus on other things but it wont mean the Switch is any more capable of storing all those. It's not just the time taken in making them, but also the fact they take up space (literally). I don't know how much a game like this is pushing the switch, but having that amount of data is going to mean other areas are affected. 

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19 minutes ago, Ashley said:

I won't wade in too deep but just to add one point; yes outsourcing the animation may mean Game Freak can focus on other things but it wont mean the Switch is any more capable of storing all those. It's not just the time taken in making them, but also the fact they take up space (literally). I don't know how much a game like this is pushing the switch, but having that amount of data is going to mean other areas are affected. 

Well, physical space is not that much of a problem. Sure, it takes some space but the images can be compressed, and they can always go for a bigger cart if they need to. Loading the animations is not much of a problem either, as we've seen. 

My point is that spending development time on animations shouldn't take focus away from developing the core game and adding stuff to the core game. If that is the case, they should hire someone to do it for them (or hire more 3D artists). 

Edited by MindFreak

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9 hours ago, MindFreak said:

Animation of Pokémon should and could (I hope) be outsourced. Software companies outsource more important stuff to places like India all the time. Game Freak could hire an external company to animate all existing Pokémon and then just focus on the new ones, meaning less work in the future. (Sure, shit happens like we saw with Sword and Shield where their previous work was wasted but that shouldn't happen again!) 

If Game Freak is occupied with all of those animations, they are focusing on the wrong part of game development, in my opinion.  Furthermore, most people complain about lack of content and new things in the games. 

It IS being outsourced.  Creatures are the ones doing the 3D models & animation of all the Pokémon.  Ever since Pokémon X&Y, TPC set up the Pokémon CG Group, who handle all 3D modelling and animation of the Pokémon themselves (both in the video games and in all merchandise; including advertisements, movies and the TCG).

However, Game Freak still need to incorporate the Pokémon CG Group’s work into the game itself, and that’s still a mammoth task (just the QA work involved must be staggering!)

Edited by Dcubed

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50 minutes ago, MindFreak said:

Well, physical space is not that much of a problem. Sure, it takes some space but the images can be compressed, and they can always go for a bigger cart if they need to. Loading the animations is not much of a problem either, as we've seen. 

My point is that spending development time on animations shouldn't take focus away from developing the core game and adding stuff to the core game. If that is the case, they should hire someone to do it for them (or hire more 3D artists). 

You can't compress a rig though. That's what's driving the animation. 

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33 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

It IS being outsourced.  Creatures are the ones doing the 3D models & animation of all the Pokémon.  Ever since Pokémon X&Y, TPC set up the Pokémon CG Group, who handle all 3D modelling and animation of the Pokémon themselves (both in the video games and in all merchandise; including advertisements, movies and the TCG).

However, Game Freak still need to incorporate the Pokémon CG Group’s work into the game itself, and that’s still a mammoth task (just the QA work involved must be staggering!)

Alright. I may have misunderstood but I thought @Glen-i said that Creatures were only doing the 3D models, not the animations. So if what you're saying is true, then awesome.

I don't know much about importing 3D models into software but I would expect them to behave in more or less the same way. I'm not saying there is almost no work involved but I would expect it to be like "import one - the rest is trivial" kind of work. Then each attack should have an attribute that would trigger the right animation on each Pokémon (physical, special). Yeah, of course, QA is quite some work but that shouldn't occupy more than a few testers. And if this indeed takes up so much of their time, they should hire more people to do this stuff, or hire more people to focus on the core gameplay stuff, like adding content. 

Just to be clear, I am a software engineer myself so I have at least some insights into software development, even though it's in a totally different kind of business than games development.

I think Legends: Arceus is the ambition we were all hoping Game Freak would have and I acknowledge that something went amiss with the development of SwSh, which were barren and boring. But we then get sad because what we've seen makes Legends: Arceus look a bit empty and shallow.

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13 minutes ago, MindFreak said:

Alright. I may have misunderstood but I thought @Glen-i said that Creatures were only doing the 3D models, not the animations. So if what you're saying is true, then awesome.

I don't know much about importing 3D models into software but I would expect them to behave in more or less the same way. I'm not saying there is almost no work involved but I would expect it to be like "import one - the rest is trivial" kind of work. Then each attack should have an attribute that would trigger the right animation on each Pokémon (physical, special). Yeah, of course, QA is quite some work but that shouldn't occupy more than a few testers. And if this indeed takes up so much of their time, they should hire more people to do this stuff, or hire more people to focus on the core gameplay stuff, like adding content. 

Just to be clear, I am a software engineer myself so I have at least some insights into software development, even though it's in a totally different kind of business than games development.

I think Legends: Arceus is the ambition we were all hoping Game Freak would have and I acknowledge that something went amiss with the development of SwSh, which were barren and boring. But we then get sad because what we've seen makes Legends: Arceus look a bit empty and shallow.

Absolutely not.  Each individual Pokémon animates in a different way from each other.  Some may have hundreds of bones for elaborate tail/cloth animations, some might have special effects like lightning, wind etc, some will have special (or even completely unique) shading properties, and some might squash, stretch and morph the entire model (Muk immediately springs to mind).  Not every Pokémon is a Pikachu and most aren’t even humanoid; so rarely can you work with a simple “base” model if you will.

Funnily enough, here’s an example of what a “simple” model import from a previous Pokémon game can go very horribly wrong!

 

Edited by Dcubed

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14 minutes ago, MindFreak said:

Alright. I may have misunderstood but I thought @Glen-i said that Creatures were only doing the 3D models, not the animations. So if what you're saying is true, then awesome.

Sorry, my bad. Looking back, could've worded that bit better.

Jumping on @Dcubed's latest post, another thing to keep in mind is that some of the actual moves Pokémon use are animated separately from the Pokémon themselves. One of the obvious examples is Hydro Pump, which involves a blast of water being shot out of the Pokémon using it.

The key thing is that it needs to be programmed in such a way that it comes out of a place that fits whatever Pokémon is using the move. For example, Feraligatr has Hydro Pump appear from it's mouth, and that's true of a lot of Pokémon, but now and again, you get an oddball like Inteleon, who shoots Hydro Pump from it's fingertip. (Keeping with the secret agent theming that Pokémon has)

Just another aspect that needs to be taken into account to make sure these attacks look right.

Edited by Glen-i

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Okay. My point is still valid, though. If they are working as most software companies do, though, they have a team allocated for animations and such. They should invest more in that team if there is so much work. And then the other teams, working with core gameplay, overworld, side-quests and actual content in the game should work on making the games actually good. If the majority of the company works on animations, they are prioritising in a weird way internally. I know that this stuff is important, and I remember the feeling I got when I played Pokémon Stadium and everything was brought to 3D - it was awesome! And the battles should look like that. But it shouldn't be what makes up 90 % of the work on a new game, if they do that, they are doing it wrong.

I look forward to seeing more of Legends: Arceus, because I believe that is has the potential to be a really great take on the Pokémon franchise going forward, going away from grid-based routes and restricted areas and intro a more open world (which is not the genre open world - I can agree with @Glen-i on that many open-world games are just too empty with little to do (though I do enjoy Witcher 3 and BotW)). 

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If animating all those Pokémon is that troublesome, it sounds like they'd be best off returning to 2D for the main series games and resurrecting Stadium for 3D battles.

I'm not really sure what to think of Legends. It looks like it'll probably get poor reviews, but still sell ridiculously well. Will the success or failure of this game make any difference to how the Pokémon Company handles the main series games?

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At no point did I imply the devs were lazy. I implied they weren't good enough, technically.

I realise that Pokemon games are good with deep systems, that's irrelevant to the discussion.

7 hours ago, Glen-i said:

You're a Nintendo fan! You know for a fact that Nintendo are notorious for putting in tiny little details that 99% of people will never see. Why is it different when Game Freak does that?

Because Nintendo allocate priorities so that visuals, gameplay AND all the tiny details that most will never see are all up to scratch. Pokemon nail two out of three, but are 2+ gens behind in terms of presentation. There's a balance to be struck. Don't put in tiny details when 99% of your game's presentation looks terrible.

Edited by Ronnie

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3 hours ago, MindFreak said:

I don't know much about importing 3D models into software but I would expect them to behave in more or less the same way.

Do you mean you expect the import to work in more or less the same way, or the actual animations to work in more or less the same way?

The former sure, you would expect that (although we all know how technology can be) but the latter absolutely not.

GF may be able to use a series of 'base' rigs (skeletons) and apply them to the models and tweak. So you could set up the Butterfree rig and use it for Venomoth with minimal changes, but you couldn't (or 'shouldn't' maybe) use the same for something like Pidgey as a butterfly moves differently from a pigeon. And even then GF may well want to add more personality to differentiate them even if the rigs are the same (honestly can't recall if they do or not, but if they do then that requires more work).

But its not like you can reuse the same bipedal rig for something like Pikachu and Dragonite as their sheer size differences will affect how they move, never mind the fact Pikachu moves from bipedal to quadrupedal. So there's a whole series of bases you need and then you layer on top of that the different weights, movements, personalities, facial animations etc. I'm sure its not taking up a huge amount of space, but that animation data will be taking up space and obviously in action will have an impact on RAM so that's why you won't see huge crowds with independent movements like you see in the films.

To me personally it feels like GF focus on the Pokémon as they push merchandise and the core gameplay mechanics as there is a hell of a lot of balancing that needs to go on and it means that there's less visual polish but the series has always been graphically behind anyway. It is what it is.

As to other issues others are raising; do we know how long GF typically has on each game? It seems like they have a much shorter development window than games like Mario and Zelda which may be a factor here. Hell, in the time between BOTW 2 was first announced (much less when it went into development) and when its released at least 3 Pokémon games will have been released, although granted BDSP is being developed by ILCA.

Didn't know they lost all that data for Sword/Shield though. They had the same problem with the original games. That's what we should be criticising them for ;)

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3 minutes ago, Ashley said:

Do you mean you expect the import to work in more or less the same way, or the actual animations to work in more or less the same way?

Yeah, you import animations for Pokémon A, B, C the same way. So once import work is set up for Pokémon A, then B and C follow the same "API", so to speak. I would then expect that there is an internal event that triggers an animation, and that event is the same for each Pokémon. Then there may be variations - a lot of ifs to trigger special animations and some heights and special attributes that need to be somehow programmed (but if a Pokémon is an object, you can set some special attributes). But yeah, I know that it isn't trivial in that sense and that it requires a lot of work. But this work is almost solely for battles so I expect that the team working on the core game - everything outside the battles - is larger and more capable of creating a diverse, immersive and interesting game. However, over the last generations, I haven't really seen that.

I do also understand that this is probably not Game Freak's fault. TPC may give them too tight a leash and that is really too bad. I want them to spend more time on each game to get them out - when they keep releasing "new" games every year, fatigue is also starting to show with the player base. I'm always in doubt whether I actually want to play the next game in the series because I don't care for whatever gimmick they try to throw at me, I just want to wander around in a world with Pokémon and experience a great story within that world - and not a story where the sole purpose is to become the best. I hope that Arceus may deliver that to me! 

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3 hours ago, MindFreak said:

Okay. My point is still valid, though. If they are working as most software companies do, though, they have a team allocated for animations and such. They should invest more in that team if there is so much work. And then the other teams, working with core gameplay, overworld, side-quests and actual content in the game should work on making the games actually good. If the majority of the company works on animations, they are prioritising in a weird way internally. I know that this stuff is important, and I remember the feeling I got when I played Pokémon Stadium and everything was brought to 3D - it was awesome! And the battles should look like that. But it shouldn't be what makes up 90 % of the work on a new game, if they do that, they are doing it wrong.

I look forward to seeing more of Legends: Arceus, because I believe that is has the potential to be a really great take on the Pokémon franchise going forward, going away from grid-based routes and restricted areas and intro a more open world (which is not the genre open world - I can agree with @Glen-i on that many open-world games are just too empty with little to do (though I do enjoy Witcher 3 and BotW)). 

Slight tangent, but it’s also worth noting that the models and animations from Pokémon Stadium 1 and onwards got re-used like mad.  Even Pokémon Battle Revolution on Wii was still rocking the same models and animations from the N64 original!

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15 hours ago, Dcubed said:

I’m just gonna unceremoniously steal @Serebii’s post from Resetera on this very topic because it’s actually pretty good…

Pretty good at conveniently dismissing the hundreds of other elements in BotW that also required animating, yeah. :heh: Including these non-human models.
But hey, any chance to pooh-pooh BotW somehow has gotta be taken, right? :hug:

Anyway...

As for this game, while it appears to have improved ever so slightly since the previous trailer, the visuals are still looking very ropey indeed. :blank: Having said that, I re-watched the video on my mobile and it looked quite a bit better on the small screen, I'm guessing the same is true for the Switch's screen as well. So yeah, while all Switch games have to be built primarily around the portable specs, I think that's very much the sole focus for Game Freak with Legends: Arceus. I also imagine that a sizeable chunk of their target audience will only be playing the game on Switch Lite, so even if it were possible for them to improve the presentation for docked play it probably wouldn't be worth the extra work involved to do so. ::shrug:

 

 

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6 hours ago, Mandalore said:

If animating all those Pokémon is that troublesome, it sounds like they'd be best off returning to 2D for the main series games and resurrecting Stadium for 3D battles.

I'm not really sure what to think of Legends. It looks like it'll probably get poor reviews, but still sell ridiculously well. Will the success or failure of this game make any difference to how the Pokémon Company handles the main series games?

The last generation to use 2D sprites, Black/White, while being one of the more impressive Pokémon games visually, also happen to be the worst selling games in the mainline series (Not counting remakes).

That game actually took quite a few risks, a region that had no old Pokémon available until you saw the credits, a story that was a bit more involved then become the Champion (Becoming the Champion is completely optional, actually) and so on. But it's low sales (as far as Pokémon goes) marked a shift in Game Freak's approach to shifting to 3D and giving the spotlight to the first generation. It sucked.

Now, in reality, Game Freak were probably making plans to jump to 3D already, Black/White's tepid sales just sped up the process. But if Game Freak were to swap back to 2D sprites with 3D models used to make an overworld, they'd have to draw 1,300-ish sprites that look good in HD that also animate at least as good as the fifth generation games.

Is that really worth it when 2D games still have a bit of a stigma to them (Some people still feel 2D games are inherently inferior)?

The biggest benefit of 3D models is that it's far easier to transplant them for use in multiple different games then sprites could ever be. That was the original idea behind creating HD ready models, despite giving the 3DS severe troubles. Those models are used in Pokken, New Snap, Mystery Dungeon, GO, Unite, Smash Bros (Maybe not the actual playable characters, but all the other Pokémon use the Creatures models)

I do have to wonder how different Sword/Shield would have turned out if Game Freak were able to transfer those models as smoothly as they hoped for.

7 hours ago, Ronnie said:

Because Nintendo allocate priorities so that visuals, gameplay AND all the tiny details that most will never see are all up to scratch. Pokemon nail two out of three, but are 2+ gens behind in terms of presentation. There's a balance to be struck. Don't put in tiny details when 99% of your game's presentation looks terrible.

Once again, I have to point out that 2+ generations behind imply 3D visuals on par with the Wii/DS, which is just not the case. Stop with the hyperbole.

And speaking of that, the turn-based battles make up around half of your average Pokémon game, so don't imply that the model work doesn't make up a lot of this game.

But the main point I want to make here, is that Nintendo have more manpower, more money, and more time to freely work on their games. So of course their games will be more technically impressive!

Have you ever considered that maybe the visuals outside of the Pokémon are not the main priority for Game Freak when working on a Pokémon game? Because quite frankly, I wish more developers would do the same. Graphics are the least important aspect of a game. If compromises have to be made, then I'll take some low quality trees over actual gameplay related stuff anyday.

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18 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

But the main point I want to make here, is that Nintendo have more manpower, more money, and more time to freely work on their games. So of course their games will be more technically impressive!

We also keep saying that Game Freak is developing one of the most popular gaming franchises in the history of gaming and should therefore also have more money, manpower and time to work on their games. But alas, they are governed by outside forces. 

19 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Have you ever considered that maybe the visuals outside of the Pokémon are not the main priority for Game Freak when working on a Pokémon game? Because quite frankly, I wish more developers would do the same. Graphics are the least important aspect of a game. If compromises have to be made, then I'll take some low quality trees over actual gameplay related stuff anyday.

I agree. I don't think Legends: Arceus looks that bad, and I'm sure the game will look just fine once it releases. I just want more content and a good story with varied side-quests and an interesting gameplay outside battles.

23 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

And speaking of that, the turn-based battles make up around half of your average Pokémon game, so don't imply that the model work doesn't make up a lot of this game.

True. The battles are an important aspect of the games. And therefore the animations are also important, but developing the animations shouldn't take focus away from developing the rest of the game. Which is what it feels like happened to Sword/Shield, which is a shame. 

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44 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

But the main point I want to make here, is that Nintendo have more manpower, more money, and more time to freely work on their games. So of course their games will be more technically impressive!

If only Pokemon earned the respective companies lots and lots of money.

Money to be able to staff up, acquire expertise, make better games. That's the entire point I've been trying to make. When Nintendo needed help with Breath of the Wild, they turned to Monolith Soft. Don't tell me that TPC/Game Freak aren't able to get expand their team or get extra help in when developing their games (beyond Creatures).

It's not hyperbole to say that Arceus visuals are 2 gens behind. Breath of the Wild is "last gen" and looks far better, The Last of Us is two gens back and looks far better. I'm sure you've seen the Elder Scrolls Oblivion (2006) comparison by now too.

44 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

If compromises have to be made, then I'll take some low quality trees over actual gameplay related stuff anyday.

The point of this discussion is WHY do compromises have to be made. There are better looking games, with deeper systems, made by studios with more manpower and a bigger budget, that will sell less than what Arceus will end up selling. It's the biggest gaming franchise in the world, isn't it time it started acting like it? The reality is, TPC/GF don't need to, people will buy it anyway. 

Edited by Ronnie
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1 hour ago, Ronnie said:

If only Pokemon earned the respective companies lots and lots of money.

Money to be able to staff up, acquire expertise, make better games. That's the entire point I've been trying to make. When Nintendo needed help with Breath of the Wild, they turned to Monolith Soft. Don't tell me that TPC/Game Freak aren't able to get expand their team or get extra help in when developing their games (beyond Creatures).

It's not hyperbole to say that Arceus visuals are 2 gens behind. Breath of the Wild is "last gen" and looks far better, The Last of Us is two gens back and looks far better. I'm sure you've seen the Elder Scrolls Oblivion (2006) comparison by now too.

The point of this discussion is WHY do compromises have to be made. There are better looking games, with deeper systems, made by studios with more manpower and a bigger budget, that will sell less than what Arceus will end up selling. It's the biggest gaming franchise in the world, isn't it time it started acting like it? The reality is, TPC/GF don't need to, people will buy it anyway. 

Profits that are split at least four ways (And almost certainly not equally). But sure, Game Freak are totes rolling in it. They just hire less then 200 people because they're greedy.

The Last of Us is 2 gens behind the PS5, right? Or are you suggesting that Switch is as graphically powerful as that? That's kinda disingenuous, isn't it? Also, it's a heavily story driven game with a humongous amount of cash behind it. It's not really comparable.

You keep trotting out the "They don't need to try hard, it'll sell anyway" line. And I keep reiterating that maybe it sells because it's a game people like to play? If it wasn't a quality product, people wouldn't buy the damn thing so much!

So sure, the environments don't hold up to high-end PS3 games? Well, what that shows is that to the majority of Nintendo console owners, graphics don't matter. If Legends: Arceus suddenly looked like a PS4 game by Sony Studios, I guarantee the sales wouldn't go up that much, certainly not enough to warrant the massive costs that would incur.

Graphics don't matter when the gameplay is so appealing.

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49 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

You keep trotting out the "They don't need to try hard, it'll sell anyway" line. And I keep reiterating that maybe it sells because it's a game people like to play? If it wasn't a quality product, people wouldn't buy the damn thing so much!

I haven't once suggested that the games aren't fun to play. Obviously people buy them because they're good games. That statement + "they don't need to improve the graphics" aren't mutually exclusive, they can both be true.

51 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Arceus suddenly looked like a PS4 game by Sony Studios, I guarantee the sales wouldn't go up that much, certainly not enough to warrant the massive costs that would incur.

Exactly. Hence the whole... "they don't need to make the visuals look good" argument.

51 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Graphics don't matter when the gameplay is so appealing.

Oh please, enough with this 'graphics don't matter' argument. The best games of the year manage to marry gameplay, visuals, audio, direction and performance. Gameplay is king, but that doesn't mean everything else "doesn't matter". A top quality game is a combination of all aspects.

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The point of this discussion is WHY do compromises have to be made. There are better looking games, with deeper systems, made by studios with more manpower and a bigger budget, that will sell less than what Arceus will end up selling. It's the biggest gaming franchise in the world, isn't it time it started acting like it? The reality is, TPC/GF don't need to, people will buy it anyway.

All good and very valid points. There is no excuse for shoddy production values in a series as big and profitable as Pokémon. Nonetheless, Glen-i is inexplicably on hand again to provide said excuses. :laughing:

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5 hours ago, Sheikah said:

All good and very valid points. There is no excuse for shoddy production values in a series as big and profitable as Pokémon. Nonetheless, Glen-i is inexplicably on hand again to provide said excuses. :laughing:

That's an odd impression you have of me, considering I'm not planning on buying this game because it looks as empty and boring as all the other open-world games out there, not to mention I'm the kind of person who would happily complain about many of the things in Pokémon I don't like. I just don't think graphics are one of them.

I would love for the games to look as good as the best Switch has to offer, but until Game Freak are in a similar position to the likes of Nintendo and Sony Studios, that's just wishful thinking, and people will only get themselves pointlessly riled up if they keep comparing them to such.

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That's an odd impression you have of me, considering I'm not planning on buying this game because it looks as empty and boring as all the other open-world games out there, not to mention I'm the kind of person who would happily complain about many of the things in Pokémon I don't like. I just don't think graphics are one of them.
I would love for the games to look as good as the best Switch has to offer, but until Game Freak are in a similar position to the likes of Nintendo and Sony Studios, that's just wishful thinking, and people will only get themselves pointlessly riled up if they keep comparing them to such.

Game Freak must be minted, the amount Pokemon makes. They could easily spend the money to make it look better. And whatever your feelings you're making excuses for them.

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It's not about money; you can't just chuck more people at a problem to fix it.  Game Freak isn't Ubisoft!

The Pokemon series' appeal doesn't lie in its graphical prowess anyway.

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It's not about money; you can't just chuck more people at a problem to fix it.  Game Freak isn't Ubisoft!
The Pokemon series' appeal doesn't lie in its graphical prowess anyway.
Game Freak have had years of making serious money to improve the presentation of their games, there's simply no excuse. And if they wanted to they could outsource like everyone else.

There are games with a fraction of the budget and staff of what Pokémon games have that look much better.

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1 hour ago, Sheikah said:

Game Freak must be minted, the amount Pokemon makes. They could easily spend the money to make it look better. And whatever your feelings you're making excuses for them.

By that logic, the likes of Spike Chunsoft and Genius Sonority should be just as minted.

You don't actually believe Game Freak get the lion's share of the profits from their games, do you?

They already outsource the Pokémon models to Creatures. Nintendo also get a share of the profits, as well as The Pokémon Company itself. I'd be surprised if TPC didn't get the largest cut.

Yes, there are issues with Pokémon games. There's definitely room for improvement outside of the Pokémon and the battles, but it's not anything Game Freak can really do about it.

The point I'm trying to make is if blame has to go somewhere, it should go to the Pokémon Company. They set strict deadlines which never get delayed, even if the company they commission have to recreate 450 models from scratch due to unforeseen issues.

But they get off relatively scot-free while Game Freak get lumped with all the blame and labeled incompetent because necessary compromises had to be made to make release date.

As of today, Sword/Shield is not even 2 years old, and yet we're getting Pokemon's first foray into open-world in January!

That's completely insane! So forgive me, if I think people who exaggerate it's flaws by comparing it to non-HD games on a 21 year old console as a tad unfair.

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