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Pokémon World Online
Pokémon World Online, or PWO, is an unofficial, fan-made, massively multi-player Role-playing game based on Nintendo's Pokémon franchise. It was created by Kyrocorp in early 2006; but has changed ownership several times in the following years. The game is currently utilizing graphics based on the Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen versions of the game, as well as some overlap with Pokémon Emerald version graphics.
The original idea behind Pokémon World Online was conceptualized by childhood friends Kyro and Zammbi. Kyro, who also designed and developed Pokémon Battle Arena, decided to develop an online version of the original hand held games he had grown up playing. Asking his friend Zammbi for help with his project, Zammbi became co-founder of PWO. Releasing the first version of their beta client in early January 2007, the two friends saw the birth of the new game prosper. Within a year, the game was receiving ~500 connections per day. By the end of the second year this number had nearly doubled.
Pokémon World Online uses C++ for its server coding, and its current client is a hybridization of the Visual Basic and DirectX languages. As the current client is only usable on Windows operating systems (without including selected Macintosh and Linux computers), work on an alternative JavaFX client was never completed and was abandoned when Zammbi was no longer able to dedicate time into the project. Plans to create a while new Client from scratch are reportedly still on the table, however.
Major updates to the game are released roughly every 4 months at minimum. It is not uncommon for updates to take up to 6 months or more before release. The previous two major updates that occurred in 2009 changed the client interface and added many additional features, such as the ability for players to block trade requests and a basic following system.
Currently, the development team consists of Zammbi, Xanatus, Fennikusu, Jinji and Shane; of which only Xanatus and Jinji remain constantly active. Shane is inactive due to the fact that he enlisted with the Australian Army in mid 2009; and there are uncertainties about his continuing role as a PWO developer. Fenikkusu and Zammbi are now in full-time roles in major corporations and are unable to dedicate time to PWO. Though not currently considered a Developer and having the Admin rank instead, another key member of PWO Staff is Bluerise, who regularly administrates the game's databases and works on the game's web services.
The following features are available in PWO:
- Wild Pokémon Battles and Catching
- Experience and Evolution
- PvP & NPC Battling
- Kanto and Johto Regions
- Pokémon Storage System
- Pokémon and Item Trading with other players
- Private Messaging (PM system)
- Evolution Stones
- Gym Leader and Badge system
- an Auction House
Features planned for future releases include the Hoenn region, a fully-developed questing system, and an improved battle engine, among others.
Reputation is the current system used to determine a Player's perceived potential as a Pokémon Trainer, originally being made with the intention of quantifying their progress in the game in order to unlock further content; for which the system does loosely fulfil. Players earn reputation points by defeating NPCs and other players at the usual rate of 0.2 points per NPC; 3 points or more for a Gym Leader; and 5% of the opposing player's Rep on defeating another Player.
The Reputation System has become less significant over time, mostly due to the system being solely based on battles; while quests and in-game features often look for other or additional requirements such as the number or types of Badges the player has obtained. Its main purpose is in determining if you are capable of battling NPCs or Gym Leaders further on in the game - NPCs and Gym Leaders past the starting point of the region will refuse to battle players who "have not proved themselves", to prevent them going to too strong opponents too quickly. In most cases, these NPCs have a predefined Reputation score that must be reached or exceeded by the Player before the NPC will battle. In this way Players are encouraged to start with weaker Trainers before progressing on to stronger ones.
The Reputation System is also used to determine the player's ability to trade with other players in the game. If a player's Reputation is equal to or higher than 30 points, trading is allowed, otherwise they cannot. This system exists to discourage malicious players who may register solely to attempt to scam less knowledgeable players from valuable items or Pokémon. On average, most players will be able to trade around the time they have defeated the 4th Gym leader (currently Erika of Celadon City, for Kanto starters; or Morty of Ecruteak City, for Johto starters).
Recently, plans have been drawn up to replace the existing Trade System used in PWO with a whole new concept described as "Trade City"; the intention of which would be as follows:
- to remove the Reputation requirement on Trading as a whole,
- to bring all trading and similar communal activities to a centralised location;,
- to facilitate for the retirement of the Trainer's Pokémart system.
Though the overall plans for Trade City are not public knowledge, they are reportedly very close to implementation. It has been suggested that the Trade City will be an actual, "physical" location within the PWO Game World, which will be accessible from as many locations as possible, with perhaps teleports in Pokémon Centres for distant locations in the same region. The system will use badges or another determining mechanic to determine access into the area; and may also require the player to give something in-game to an NPC for access, as a small money sink to allow a rebalancing of the in-game economy. This would completely eliminate the need for Reputation as a determining factor in Trading, making it solely a determinant in battles.
With the incorporation of Trade City, the purchase of new items or additional supplies by players will become an entirely NPC-orientated affair, similar to the existing system whereby basic in-game supplies such as Poké Balls, Potions and Evolution Stones can be purchased from certain NPCs at fixed prices. This system would be upgraded to support a wider variety of items, the selection available perhaps being influenced by the location of the NPC and/or the progress of the Player. Meanwhile, trading or selling items between players would all occur in a single location using the already well-established in-game trade system.
The combination of these would allow for the overall retirement of the Trainer's Pokémart - the in-game Shop system that allows players to sell or auction most in-game items to other players indirectly. The Trainer's Pokémart is known to have rather serious bugs; and has long been criticised for being unstable for general use as well as being a key factor in unbalancing the game's economy. The latter argument is due to the system's ability to allow Players to trade most Pokémon or items as auctions or with a predetermined price from the seller; the argument being that most prices are heavily overinflated due to the system neither giving suggested values to each item nor limiting the possible values that can be given to them.
Pokémon World Online's staff is comprised of international volunteers, mainly residing in New Zealand and Australia. Other staff members are from the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Israel, Japan and the Philippines.
Staff in PWO are split into numerous ranks, which are in most cases a reflection of their current duties. All Staff are identified by a tag on both the PWO Forum and game, the tag representing the member's current rank. Originally these tags were textual, consisting mainly of an abbreviated form of the rank name surrounded in square brackets, which were prefixed behind the name of the Staff member's account in question - for example, a Developer called Rich would be identified as [DEV]Rich. In recent months images have been used instead, with each Staff rank having a different colour scheme and Poké Ball to represent them, while still keeping the abbreviation for easy reference. Also, some of the names of ranks, and their abbreviations, have changed over time.
Originally, PWO's Staff structure consisted of only three ranks. The highest-tier staff members were the Developers, followed by the Game Masters, then finally people who were undergoing training to become a Game Master, who were often referred to as "GMlings" for short. Also, for the first few months of the game's life, Developers and GMs were not distinguished by the game itself, both using a [GM] tag until changes were eventually made. As time went on, a fourth rank was added for "Guides", members of which played no direct role in the game's development, instead working as Community Support and Greeters for new players. Independent teams, focusing on individual elements of the game development such as Mapping, Graphics and so on, were also founded over the game's life, but were not incorporated into the official Staff structure until a major staff reorganisation in 2009 saw the ranks become officially recognised, as well as many new content-based groups formed. These groups themselves have changed many times up to the present structure.
An Artist is a common player who helps make pixel art for the game. They help make Pokémon sprites, trainer sprites, map tiles and more. A leader of the artist group is referred to as the Lead Artist. Most artists are volunteers.
Community Guide [CG]
A Community Guide is a volunteer moderator who is in the game to help answer player's questions and provide general player support; but are also capable of performing basic moderation tasks such as muting or disconnecting ("kicking") players who break the rules. However, Community Guides play no direct role in the game's development, so may not be able to assist with all matters presented to them, in which case another available member of Staff may take over instead; and they are under no obligation to help all of the time. The Community Guide rank replaced the original Guide rank. A leader of the Community Guide group is referred to as the Community Guide Lead.
A Composer is in charge of handling the music and sound effects that are heard while playing Pokémon World Online. A leader of the Composers group is referred to as the Maestro. Most composers are volunteers.
A Developer is one of PWO's key programmers and the highest level of Staff obtainable. Instead of moderating the game, Developers are in charge of the game's programming including the game client, server programming and any other websites/devices used to run the game.
Game Editor [GE]
Originally part of the Game Master rank, Game Editors were formed in 2011 as a splinter group to allow for specific focal points for Staff in PWO's second-highest rank. Game Editors are in charge of editing existing content within the game (such as NPCs and spawns) and adding new content to the game. A leader of the Game Editors group is referred to as the Lead Editor.
Game Master [GM]
With the formation of the Game Editor rank, the role of Game Master became mostly moderation-based duties in and outside the game. The main responsibilities of Game Masters are to moderate the game as a whole; enforcing the law of the land on both the game and Forum, as well as dealing with issues regarding either.
A Journalist is a player who helps with communication between the staff and the rest of the players of Pokémon World Online. Journalists are in charge of making news posts that inform the players of what is going on behind the scenes. They are also in charge of informing the playerbase of recent and possible future updates. The role of the Journalist mostly revolves around the Passenger Pidgey newsletter; but may expand to other areas in the future.
A Mapper is a volunteer who helps in making the places, cities and overall geography for the game. They help make the regions which players travel across throughout their journey. They are led by the Mapping Lead.
The Playerdex is a supplementary website that provides PWO's players with access to their Pokémon offline. From the Playerdex, it is possible to add and remove friends, search other trainers, release Pokémon and view their stats, and manage guilds. The Playerdex is developed by Fenikkusu and is one of the game's greatest resources.
Other features of the Playerdex range from an offline Pokédex (which is also present in the game) to customizable player profiles reminiscent of Facebook, albeit much simpler.
Scamming is a prevalent problem in Pokémon World Online. While content features are in the works that will help remedy the problem, such as an improved trading screen, it is recommended that those interested in trading only do so with people they know and trust. Other problems to consider before joining the game include trolls and intense, heated guild rivalries.
Registration was temporarily closed in March 2010 due to the overwhelming traffic the game was experiencing. The game has since adopted a limited sign-up system; whereby registration is opened for short periods of time, usually once a week for an hour each time; with each planned registration period being pre-announced beforehand; and new accounts can only be created during the open registration periods, using a form available via the site or via the game's official Twitter feed (@PWO_). The game is usually inaccessible some hours before and after each registration period to reduce server load. Criticism of this system are that the dates are rarely consistent and can make it difficult for potential new players to get in on time; while it reduces the amount of game-play time available for existing players.
- PWO Official Website
- PWO Official Forums
- PWO Playerdex
- PWO Official Wiki - a knowledgebase of information and help related to the game
- MyPWO MyPWO is a fan-site created by MasterK. It is one of the more popular game resources as it includes IV calculators tailored specifically for the game.