AR application: Pokemon Go

A popular Augmented Reality (AR) mobile game that I love and used to play is Pokemon Go developed by Niantic in collaboration with Nintendo and The Pokemon Company for iOS and Android devices. The game enables users to use their mobile devices with Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate, capture, battle and train virtual creatures called Pokemon which appear as if they are in the real world location.

Different Pokemon species reside in different areas of the world. For example, water-type Pokemon are generally found near the water. There are various game modes available in Pokemon Go such as Battle Raids in Pokemon Gyms where users can work together to catch rare Pokemons and Trainer Battles where users can battle against each other to earn rewards and experience points.

Why the application is engaging?

Upon creating a game account, the user can create and customise his/her own avatar and the avatar will be shown on the map with reference to the user’s geographical location. As players move within their real-world surroundings, their avatars move within the game’s map. There are PokeStops where users can earn rewards upon passing a location that is marked as PokeStop.

When a player encounters a Pokemon, the encounter may be viewed either in AR mode or in a generic background. In the AR mode, it allows the user to display an image of the Pokemon as though the Pokemon is in the real-world with the use of a gyroscope and camera. User are allowed to take screenshots of the Pokemon they encounter regardless of what mode the encounter is.

During an encounter with a wild Pokemon, the player may throw a Poke Ball at it by flicking it from the bottom of the screen up or spinning the Poke Ball toward the Pokemon.

Inside Raid Battles, groups of user (up to 20 in a room) are allowed to work together to defeat strong rare Pokemon. Upon successful battle, the user will receive rewards like Poke Balls and get the chance to capture the Pokemon.

For Trainer battles, a user can battle with another user in the proximity real life as there is an option to display the Trainer Code using QR code in the application and feature to allow player to scan Trainer Code to battle.

What features are well done?

I think that weather system feature being added later on has made the game more realistic as it allows real world weather to affect the game play like some Pokemon can appear more frequently during cloudy weather, rainy weather or some Pokemon will become weaker or stronger in wet weather during battles.

Another feature that has impressed me is the addition of Go Battle League where users are able to battle each other online across the world which aids human interaction especially during the early period of pandemic outbreak where social interaction outside is not allowed.

What features can be improved and how?

Currently, Standard AR mode is no longer compatible with phone in the landscape mode which is the mode that many people prefer when taking augmented photos with Pokemon. I hope to see Pokemon Go bring back landscape mode in future updates and allow users to have the flexibility to enable AR mode in portrait or landscape mode depending on personal preference.

Poor Quality Go Snapshot example

Go Snapshot feature is not performing well at night even if phone with the best camera because the quality is way poorer than a photo being taken with normal camera. In addition, it is challenging for a Pokemon to appear in certain locations because the mode struggles to detect flat surfaces. Hence, I hope to see improvements in future update by improving the quality and background optimisation in Go Snapshot.

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