How to build the Pokemon MMO of our dreams

The fabled Pokemmo

Youve asked for it. We know. Weve asked for it, too. On forums, during interviews, in our hearts, in our dreams: Will there ever be a Pokemon MMO? The world Game Freak has created seems perfect for such a game. There are already towns, regions, and nations surrounded by wandering monsters. There are already gym leaders that act as natural barriers for characters that are leveling up. There are already secret dungeons and end-game locations where rare and powerful monsters reside. There. Are. So. Many. Things.

And so, to tide ourselves over until the companys assured Magnum Opus is revealed, weve decided to take a stab at what a Pokemon MMO would actually be like. If given a pervasive world of Pokemon to be able to shape with thousands of other trainers, what could be achieved? Well, the mere thought sent our heads spinning, but we managed to pair our thoughts down into a few solid points. Heres what we came up with:

You'd choose between several starting nations

Dun Morogh, Elwynn Forest, Durotar, etc. in WoW; Limsa Lominsa, Gridania, and Uldah in FFXIV--in every MMO there always needs to be a starting area. So what, pray tell, would be the starting areas in a Poke-mmo? Its a good thing there are already predefined and segmented regions of the Pokemon Universe. Players would be able to pick from the Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh regions; they'd be confined to their respective region, and the Pokemon in it, until they are high enough level to venture out.

This game pretty much designs itself, since the gym leaders already exist as level stop-gaps in the games. Defeating gym leaders would be a quest that continually opens more and more areas of the region, until you defeat a gym leader that lets you fly to other regions. Beating the Elite Four unlocks the end game in that particular region. And, of course, catching your first Pokemon would be your first quest.

The story would be... epic

Free your mind to wander with us: Giovanni (truly the baddest of all the Pokemon villians) has taken half of all of the villainous gangs in all the Pokemon games and turned them into a super army. His goal: to wipe sentience from all Pokemon and make them true slaves. No more friendship, no more growth and understanding with Pocket monsters--the entire universe will become a hole of despair.

But! Fighting him is N, who is followed by the other half of all the now-redeemed Pokemon game villains. He is trying to stop Giovanni from enacting his diabolic plot, and thus saving the life and love of Pokemon everywhere. At every major battle of Poke-mmo the two sides will be warring. Its up to the player: Who do you choose to side with? Whose ideals do you empathize with? Not only will you be able to start in whichever region you want, but youll also be able to choose between being good or evil.

Battles would work about how you'd expect

This is it, this is where the Poke-mmo will go down in history as being one of the coolest things ever. This Pice de rsistance of gaming will do the unthinkable: Your character does not actually battle. Of course not! Why would they? Youre the trainer, and your Pokemon fight for you. Yes, youll have your own hitpoints, but those wont get hit if youre doing your job well. Aggro will play the lead role in that, and youll have to balance the voracity with which you give commands and the destructive power of your Pokemon.

It works well because Pokemon are literally designed to run the gamut of classic MMO classes and roles. Need a tank? Venusaur, Kangeskhan, Wailord can help you out. DPS? Mankey, Hitmonchan, and Marrowak would like a world with you. Mage? Gengar, Starmie, Xatu are right around the corner.

...except you'd only control three Pokemon at a time...

Isnt it frustrating in Pokemon when youre fighting a hard battle and thinking to yourself, Man, I have five other Pokemon just chilling in their Pokeballs right now. WELL GOOD NEWS BECAUSE IN OUR POKE-MMO FEVER DREAM YOU CAN HAVE THREE OUT AT ONCE. "Why not all six," you wonder? Well, have you ever tried giving intricate and explicit directions to three sentient beings in heated combat? We havent either, but we assume it gets pretty hectic. Calling positions and moves all in real-time, responding to three different threats, preemptive measures, counter attacks, using items, dealing with type strengths and weaknesses--crazyness.

Three is a good number, too: You can have a tank, DPS, and supporting role all out and interplaying with each other. Plus you yourself are a fourth participant. In the beginning area of the MMO it will only be you and your starter; yet as you level up and get more adept at controlling your Pokemon, youll unlock the second and third combat slots.

...and some abilities would become passive stats...

So we have the regular, active attacks. Those are pretty straight forward. We have the damage attacks, the ailment attacks, the stat-affecting attacks. Everything works as it does in the game: types still matter, things that look like they should be AoE become AoE, damage and attack speed are affected by the stats of the Pokemon. But what about their temperaments? What about their abilities?

Those are now reworked to become passive abilities. Temperaments become auras that affect the party (ex: calm reduces stat aliment duration), and abilities stay as the passive affectors of active attacks. The most awesome thing is that these temperaments and abilities can combine into new and secret skills. If your Dragonair has a stoic temperament aura, and your Snorlax has the thick fat ability, then all of a sudden your Snorlax is immune to being burned or frozen during battle. Magical.

...and you'd be able to party with a group of friends

Of course Pokemon isnt just a solo adventure--heck friendship is one of the points of X and Y--so our glorious Poke-mmo should reflect that. With the insane battling thats already happening with just you and your three Pokemon, the classic idea of a five or six person party is getting thrown out the window. The magic number pops up once more: three. 3 trainers + 9 Pokemon + 18 auras and passives = incredible and astounding good times. The absolute mayhem that will arise from coordinating across the team while trying to keep your own party alive already makes our brains tingle with happiness.

But what about huge raids? Mount Moon, Team Plasma hideouts: there will definitely be times when hordes of trainers must band together for the greater good. For these youll take only your most trust Pokemon with you, and together you two will work together with a dozen other trainers secure victory.

You would craft Pokeballs!

Pokeballs, battle items, rare candies, evolution stones, potions--oh my goodness the possibilities are endless. The crafting system in Poke-mmo shall be as amazing and robust as they are in FFXIV. Youll be able to level your skills and craft better and better items as you hone your techniques and travel abroad to gain items. Only by working together and trading with crafting trainers from other regions will you be able to create the best items in the game.

The best part? Pokemarts will be public bazaars and auction houses. Players will be able to buy and sell items for all of the Pokeneeds. Some people will make money by adventuring and fighting, others will make money by being one of the only players skilled enough to whip up a master ball or two.

There'd be a complex job system

So we have Pokemon doing all the leveling and fighting, where now can trainers grow? Well thats where the job system comes in! Now instead of a single character splitting itself into a crafter and fighter like in a regular MMO: in Poke-mmo you will be the crafter and your Pokemon will be the fighters.

There are different paths youll be able to take as well. If you feel like you want to be the protectorate and healer of your party, study under Nurse Joy to be a healer. Is your tank doing just fine, but you want your team to pack a little more punch? Head on over to Officer Jenny at the police station for offensive support techniques. But hey, if your team is doing fine and you just want to be ready for the long run (and perhaps make a bit of Pokedollar) study under one of the professors to hone your crafting ability.

It'd need to bend the Pokemon Universe and change the rules

There are some things to address though. First is the fact that there are going to be literally thousands of the same Pokemon in the starting area running around. Therefore, just like you can change your own appearance, youll be able to change the appearance of your Pokemon as well! Artfully arrange the leaves of your Bulbasaur and feed him different fruits to change its colors--why not! This way everyones Pokemon will be special and specific to them.and youll be able to tell them apart in battle.

Speaking of special Pokemon, the legendaries will have to be dealt with, since theres technically only one of each. The solution is simple, really. After the terrifyingly hard dungeon to defeat the legendary, instead of capturing them they will bless you with a piece of them. That way you can call their essence in battle, not the legendary itself. Problem solved! Now everyone can have a Ho-oh!

This is the best idea ever

These examples arent even skimming the surface of what is possible in a Pokemon MMO, but they do give a taste of a could-be future. We havent even touched the possible cross-platform potential of geolocation/augmented reality ideas with the Pokemon handheld games (going into a national forest to catch a Scyther oh my god), or the ways trading is going to be incorporated into the games, or HMs and TMs for that matter. What does matter, though, is the Poke-mmo, when it comes out, will be the best thing to happen to gaming since ever. Think of another idea of the Poke-mmo? Like one of the ones above? Let us know in the comments!

If you need inspiration for your game design, check out The Pokemon Pokedex and The laziest Pokemon designs ever

Zach was once an Associate Editor for Future, but has since moved into games development. He's worked at EA and Sledgehammer Games, but is now Narrative Director on League of Legends and Valorant at Riot Games.