While some aspects of Pokémon GO closely mirror the systems of the original handheld games, others don’t. I’ve talked about the game’s rather odd complete and utter lack of NPCs previously, but today I wanted to focus on something else, how strange the evolution and learned move process is with Pokémon in the game.
Right now, Pokémon don’t have specific levels, they have CP. But it isn’t CP which determines when they evolve, rather that’s based on how much candy you amass for each one. That’s similar enough to the original, given that it’s your choice when you evolve a Pokémon, but after that? You have no ability to dictate its move set at all.
When you evolve a Pokémon in Pokémon GO, you have no control over what moves it has afterward. You do not learn and discard different moves as you level, and you are simply stuck with whatever moves the game gives you after the evolution. Finally get enough candy to evolve that 100% perfect Blastoise? Well, bad luck for you when his charge up move turns out to be Steel Cannon instead of Hydropump. Or maybe you’re pumped to finally evolve a Victreebell into a Vaporeon killer and it evolves with two poison moves instead of any grass ones (this literally happened to me).
The problem is a lack of choice, but also that the game makes these movesets permanent. Enter TMs.
TMs, or Technical Machines (yes I had to look that up) are items found in the original Pokémon games that allow Pokémon to learn specific moves and replace their old ones. There were 50 in the original, and a handful of HMs (Hidden Machines) which had effects outside of battle like flying or swimming or moving big rocks. While I haven’t figure out a way for GO to use HMs yet, TMs seem like a no brainer in more ways than one. Pokémon GO players currently have no way to customize the move sets of their Pokémon after they catch or evolve them, and TMs would be a way to do just that.
Not all the moves in the original list were good, and obviously GO could add or delete whatever ones they saw fit, but some of the old Red/Blue TMs include the likes of Hyper Beam, Solar Beam, Thunder, Earthquake, Blizzard and others, which would certainly be useful replacement moves in GO.
My idea is that this would be an entirely new item category, with a separate page to manage your TM stock. For many generations, TMs were one-time use, but eventually they were turned into multiple use like HMs. For our purposes, I think one-time use is probably the right call.
There are a few idea for how players could get TMs. One is that they simply spawn from PokeStops, but at a very rare frequency. More rare that Ultra Balls or Max Potions. Maybe a little less rare than 10 km eggs, somewhere in there. Spin a stop, get a TM, and hope it’s one you can get use out of.
Also, TMs could drop after you can second or third evolution Pokémon in the wild. Right now, there’s little reason to waste precious resources catching things like a 900 CP Gloom or a 500 CP Beedrill, but with an increased chance to get TMs from bigger Pokémon, they might be worth the trouble after all.
Finally, it could be a gym reward. Kick a team out of a gym, get a TM as a reward. Lord knows there are precious few reasons to actually fight at gyms these days, but this would be motivation to do so. I don’t know if all of these ideas would be implemented together, but they’re just suggestions.
And finally, TMs would be the game’s latest microtransaction. Yeah, you’re probably not going to like this, but let’s be honest, Pokémon GO is F2P, and they need to produce new revenue streams. This would be one.
There would not a storefront that sold specific TMs for coins outright, as everyone would just buy Hyper Beam and Blizzard and never touch any of the others. Rather, this would introduce the dreaded (but hugely profitable) gambling loot box mechanic into the game at last. You would buy a randomized TM box that would spit out one TM and maybe a few bonus Pokeballs and another random item like a Lucky Egg or Incense. You wouldn’t have control over which one you get so it wouldn’t be pay to win, but it would be an additional way to hunt for the TMs you wanted. As much as players don’t want to think about it, Pokémon GO will only continue to be supported in earnest if it continues to be a money-printing machine, and this would be a way to keep that revenue train rolling.
So that’s my idea for how TMs would work their way into Pokémon GO. It would solve a current issue (a lack of choice in movesets) and allow Niantic to cultivate a new revenue stream in the process. Granted, this would be better if the entire battle system also got a revamp, but that’s an issue for another day.
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