Pokemon GO “balloons” leak may change the game forever

Chris Burns - Jun 30, 2020, 1:48 pm CDT
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Pokemon GO “balloons” leak may change the game forever

Niantic’s inadvertently revealed a major Pokemon GO update with Team Rocket in a balloon! A spill of game code for the Pokemon GO iOS version of the game showed a sort of game element that moves around the map. It’s almost as if allowing Pokemon friends to rove around the map was a test run for this very awesome realization of one of the original dreams for the game – real-deal moving Pokemon!

UPDATE Yes, I know that they’re just called “Team GO Rocket” in the game, but I can’t help but to refer to them as Team Rocket. It’s like the different versions of “Max” Pokemon in the game, the card game, and the television show.

In Pokemon GO, the original dream was that Pokemon would appear all around the world – our real world – and that we’d be able to interact with said Pokemon just like the fictional Pokemon universe. The earliest iterations of Pokemon GO had an element that showed how far a Pokemon was from your physical location – shown with steps that’d appear accordingly.

It became apparent rather quickly that managing this system was too taxing for the game and its servers, so it was dashed. Better iterations of the game surfaced since then, and all is well. But wait, what about Pokemon that could appear anywhere?

In the current iteration of the game, Pokemon have spawn points. They appear in a single spot and stay there until they de-spawn. The Pokemon Friend feature allows a Pokemon to “follow you” and explore the map as they see fit.

The Pokemon Friend will go so far as to reach local Pokestops and return with gifts – so what’s the next step? If what we’ve seen in leaked code is released in the live game, we could very well be seeing other roving Pokemon in the future.

According to PokeMiners Toronto, a recent teardown of an iOS version of Pokemon GO shows Rocket Balloons. This element could end up ONLY spawning at Pokestops like Rocket GO Grunts – but there’s evidence that they’ll move.

The Balloon appears in code to hover on the map, not necessarily tied to any one Pokemon Gym or PokeStop. Code suggests that you’ll either tap directly on the balloon or use radar in the game.

BalloonMovementUtility is in the code, as is “get_NextWanderTime” and “wanderTargetMinDistance” and etcetera. Rocket Baloons will move up and down and around the map. If the balloon is too high, you’ll only notice it if you see a shadow on the map.

Can you imagine a Pokemon GO in which Pokemon are spawning on your map and move around? This might well fix the issue of having to remain locked in your home during this global pandemic in one swoop!

Can you imagine how happy you’d be if you found a Snorlax lumbering toward your house? Or, on the flip side, can you imagine how disappointed you’d be if you opened Pokemon GO only to see a Snorlax walking away from you, on the other side of a local highway which you cannot cross?

This could be the most extreme change to the game yet!


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