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Pokémon Go’s weather system was a long time coming

It’s Pokémon in the real world, after all

rain in pokémon go Niantic/The Pokémon Company

Pokémon Go’s next update introduces a feature that reflects the current weather of the world around you, which makes a lot of sense for the augmented reality game. It may have taken more than a year after release to implement the feature — the first of its kind for an AR game, according to Niantic — but the plan all along has been to have Pokémon Go resemble the real world as closely as possible.

“When we talked about the game in the early days, we always thought of this as a real-world game,” Niantic global marketing lead Archit Bhargava told Polygon this week. “Ultimately, the addition of weather makes the game even more real.”

This seems like a given, but there’s a special significance to launching the feature alongside the release of more monsters from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The Game Boy Advance installments were the first to feature various weather patterns in-game, each of which would have a sizable impact in battle. The Pokémon Castform’s abilities even changed based on the climate of the area it was in.

Niantic declined to comment on whether Castform will operate in a similar fashion in Pokémon Go. But the good news is that, as for now, Pokémon are only a bit easier to find during certain weather conditions — meaning you won’t have to trek out into the snow to find a Snorunt, in case you live in a drier climate.

Snow in Pokémon Go, as of the weather system update.
Snow in Pokémon Go, as of the weather system update.
Niantic/The Pokémon Company

This is par for the course with Niantic’s big Pokémon Go updates. The developer first brought baby Pokémon as part of its second-gen monster rollout; that was the first time that the franchise included pre-evolutions. Alongside those came new evolutionary items like the King’s Rock required to evolve into Slowking, which also first appeared in Pokémon Gold and Silver.

The Ruby and Sapphire-themed update makes for convenient timing to introduce weather, but at 2017’s Game Developers Conference, Niantic director of interaction and visual design told Dennis Hwang told the audience that the team toyed around with a weather system as early as Pokémon Go’s initial development phase.

I was in attendance as Hwang talked about his ideas for the future of the game.

“Some day hopefully we’ll get to do more weather effects,” he said at GDC. Earlier in the presentation, he showed off an early look at what these could have been like, alongside time-of-day mechanics that would change the look of the game to reflect sunset and sunrise.

It may have taken a while, but the biggest takeaway is that future Pokémon rollouts could be accompanied by other corresponding new features. Start thinking about any big changes that fourth-gen games Pokémon Diamond and Pearl brought to the series; maybe we’ll see those next.

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