Since it was released in early July of 2016, Pokemon Go has become a worldwide phenomenon. Sure, its popularity has waned significantly since its release, but the two main screens that players are looking at while playing Pokemon Go — the map screen in which your trainer runs around and the encounter screen in which you can capture new Pokemon — have already become iconic to not only Pokemon Go fans, but to anyone who pays attention to the more technology-oriented side of pop culture.
Because the visuals of Pokemon Go are so well-known by now, it was a bit jarring, and even more impressive, when Dennis Hwang, a designer at Pokemon Go developer Niantic, unveiled concept art for some enhanced visuals a few days ago at Game Developers Conference 2017. Pokemon Go communities across the internet agree the designs, which are not yet ready to be implemented, are absolutely stunning.
— Joe Merrick (@JoeMerrick) March 1, 2017
Polygon reports the aesthetic designs of Pokemon Go‘s visuals that Hwang showed off during the conference are the original concept art for what later became the screens now seen in the app. In other words, the screens Hwang presented show what Niantic would have ideally liked to make Pokemon Go look like.
The image shown above, for example, depicts five alternate looks for Pokemon Go’s map screen that would be changed up as the weather and time of day change. The map retains the basic structure of Pokemon Go’s existing map screen, but, in each of the alternate maps, the color palette and appearance of the buildings is changed to make the map more reflective of the surrounding real world.
Scrawled above the image is the text “immersive/relates to your on-foot experience.” Below the image is written, “reinforces that you are catching Pokemon in the real world.”
Indeed, Pokemon Go fans commenting on coverage of the reveal attest, the concept art looks marvelous and really would increase the immersion one would feel when playing the app.
There is another mock-up of three alternate encounter screens: one for daytime, one for nighttime, and one for sunrise/sunset. They are presumably meant to give off the same feel.
— Pokémon GO News (@PokemonGoNews) March 1, 2017
Of course, the general consensus about how beautiful the concepts look has lead many to question why they were not actually implemented in the first place.
Well, some of the more realistic members of Reddit’s Pokemon Go community explain in a detailed thread on the art, Niantic had technical viability of the app and, for that reason, could not really include all they wanted to. In order to make Pokemon Go accessible to even low-end smart phones, it had to be kept relatively simple. Not only that, but including rich visuals would result in the game draining battery even faster, and that is definitely not something Pokemon Go players would be happy about.
That might seem a bit disappointing, as it shows that implementation of the beautiful visuals shown off at Game Developers Conference 2017 is probably not happening anytime soon. At the same time, though, it means that eventually, when more visually capable cell phones become more common, it will be possible. In fact, given the overwhelmingly positive response to the images, it seems very likely that Niantic will implement these visual improvements, or something like them, whenever they feel the app is ready. When that time will be is a mystery, as it depends on many factors: battery technology, mobile processing development, and too many others to count.
Interestingly, notes an earlier report from the Inquisitr, Niantic CEO John Hanke announced just yesterday that Pokemon Go will be receiving three more giant updates on the scale of the introduction of gen two during 2017. Is it possible that one of those updates will give Pokemon Go users the option to switch to an “enhanced graphics mode” that will include visuals similar to what Hwang showed off? Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Hanke’s and Hwang’s presentations happened so closely together. On the other hand, maybe it is a hint at what is to come for Pokemon Go in 2017.
What do you think of the concept art? And do you think anything like it will ever be implemented into Pokemon Go?
[Featured Image by Wachiwit/iStock]