December 19

PokémonGO Buddy Gameplay Upgrade: Broken Buddies?

I got into tech writing (and righting) because I wanted to understand and improve technology more. But my approach to efficient (lazy path, minimal clicks) gameplay made me think the old buddy stats were broken or gone due to this week’s PokémonGO client update.

I’d walked nearly 20km to evolve a Feebas last week, but the update insisted he had 0km on his counter … or maybe 3.1km.

After a ridiculous amount chasing through menus, I found the right count. But did it really need to be gone? Maybe so. Because the cost to ‘right’ it might be too high.

How I think the feature replacement went down

My guess is that each team develops their feature somewhat siloed. The “new” buddy system was slated to eventually be where it is now, long before actual implementation ~24 months later. The “basic” stat simply acted as a placeholder (and handy link for lazy users like me).

When the first buddy system debuted in July 2017 or so, it allowed you to see walking stats for a Pokémon in two places: A branched path from the user avatar screen (current buddy Pokémon only), and a branched path on each Pokémon’s stat screen.

This week’s roll out of a more sophisticated buddy gameplay system (December 2019) replaces the branched path from the user avatar screen, panicking users like me who don’t like features moving with little warning.

Yes, Niantic could have done some fancy schmancy code porting to bring over my current buddy’s stats. But would it really have done any good, or just been a waste of development time? If I checked Feebas’ stats directly, I’d get the same information, and if I swapped buddies, the information would begin to update immediately. Too small a task to bother spending dev time on, when the state would change soon enough to make it useless.

Besides, wholesale changes and sparse release notes serve to keep YouTubers and gameplay sites in business: Someone releases an obscurely changed, unexplained update, moving things around without explanation, enthusiasts race to post an explainer video or news article for a confused user base. That’s half the reason I wrote this post …

The other half is to look at the gameplay changes implemented in Ingress and Wizarding World over their development arc, but those will come out after the holiday season.

PS: I still think my Nurse Joy button would be much more efficient, dev team.

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Posted December 19, 2019 by Lorena in category "Data Architecture", "Free Beta Testers", "games", "Niantic", "PokemonGO", "User eXperience