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Context Switch (redux)

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
Hello everybody. For those of you who hang out around where I do online, you might recall me saying that I stated that I intended to do some touch-ups of my first two fanfics this year in order give them a new coat of paint with some better writing skills. Originally I was planning on doing them in their order of release, but after realizing that my first fic needed a little more than mere cosmetic surgery to do it justice, I decided to go in order of path of least resistance and start off with a rewrite of Context Switch.

Okay, so for those of you with really long memories, you might remember that in the leadup to ORAS’ launch back in 2015, I released a 6-part short story here following the story of Game Freak making games in games in Hoenn and offloading some fancy pieces of paper on the small handful of trainers that actually bother to complete the Pokédex. That’s still the case this time around, though I’ve gone back and made some structural changes and tweaks to address some criticisms of the original, as well as to update the development gags a bit for new information that’s come out in more recent years regarding the beta and development versions of Ruby/Sapphire.

This series will be targeting per-fortnight releases, though if I feel a chapter needs a bit more time in the oven to do its rewrite justice, it may come a bit later than planned. As an advisory, but once the rewritten version of Context Switch is complete, the link in my signature will lead here instead of to the original version, which you can read by this link here if you want to see a side-by-side for how things evolved, and this opening post will also contain a table of contents to better organize the story relative to its initial version. I would like to take a moment to extend my thanks to @Tangent128 , @Venia Silente , and @Dragonfree for beta reading the first chapter, along with all the readers and reviewers of the original story who motivated me to try and polish my original vision a bit.


And without further ado, let’s get right into this yarn of everyone’s favorite superpowered creatures and programming in a fresh post.
 
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Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter


Part 1 - Adventure adventure = new Disaster();




A man with short and vaguely green-tinted hair followed by an excited Corphish made his way down a metal catwalk from a ship to the ferry terminal it docked up against. He paused for a moment to take in his long-awaited destination in this balmy, strange new land. While dense, the town the ship had taken him to lacked the vertical height of larger seaside settlements he’d seen before in other regions such as Goldenrod City, and was a sea of mid-rises and tightly-clustered houses. East of the urban sprawl, the man could catch glimpses of a beach and sandbars with indistinct figures milling about on the sand and in the surf.

"So… This is Lilycove City, huh?"

The man's attention was diverted from the town beyond the dock by a light but sharp nip at his leg, which prompted him to turn his gaze down towards his Corphish that was attempting to drag him along towards the terminal building.

"Alright, alright! I'm coming, Bracket!"

The Corphish - named ‘Bracket’ by his trainer after one too many sleep-deprived nights - eagerly pulled the young man past the doors of the ferry terminal and deep into a sea of bodies. There, the man saw a passing boy accompanied by a white cloud-like sprite who gawked together at the tiny screen of a yellow device with a folding hinge. Bracket and his trainer carried along through the terminal, snaking their way along pathways lined with stanchions, and made their way down to a baggage claim where suitcases circled about on a conveyor belt.

The man’s attention drifted off as he waited for his baggage to appear, spotting a girl with a net and straw hat walked past accompanied by a yellow chitinous creature that warbled a crisp rhythm with black-and-green rhombal wings on the other end of the carousel. On a nearby seat, an older woman rested next to her luggage as she looked at what seemed to be a case filled with little badges with ribbons along with a purple creature with tiny eyes and cream lop-ears. The Corphish tugged sharply at his trainer’s pant leg, turning the man’s attention to a passing red suitcase labeled ‘Keita’ on the name tag that the man hastily snatched off the conveyor belt and dragged to the ground. After a moment to sigh in relief, Keita looked back down at the Corphish, the trainer’s mouth curling up in a small smile.

"Heh. Sure picked the right place for a tropical vacation, don't you think?"

The two quickly focused their attention on an approaching man in a lei, who cordially greeted Keita and his companion with a sunny "Welcome to Lilycove, where the land ends and the sea begins!"

Bracket tilted his head blankly, while his trainer amusedly guessed that the greeter was surely reciting the town's motto. It struck him as certainly appropriate, but…

"Heh, but isn't all of Hoenn a place where the land ends and the sea begins?"

Keita quickly noticed a dawning realization come over the face of greeter. One that indicated the man with the lei was deducing that he and his Corphish hailed from further afar than initially presumed.

"Oh? Not from here?” the greeter asked. “For a second, I was sure that since you have a Corphish…"

"Nah, he's my partner… and headache for customs," the younger man chuckled back.

"Well, I'd like to think that you two aren't any more of an invasive species than the normal crawdads and tourists around here," the greeter teased. "So keep your eyes open- I think you two will find that Hoenn's a land of surprises after you get a chance to look around a bit!"

"I'll keep that in mind," Keita chuckled back.

It was then that he noticed a worker holding a sign for a bus with an eye-shaped logo and two words underneath that he could just make out. While Keita’s blissfully illiterate Corphish maintained his cheerful demeanor, a cloud seemed to settle over the trainer.

"Though… getting a chance to look around might be a bit tougher than I'd like it to be."

Alas, as much as Keita wished he were there as a tourist, it wasn’t leisure that had brought him and his Corphish to this distant land.




The two had come to Hoenn for work, specifically to help develop computer software. A short bus ride later, Keita soon found himself and his Corphish in the common room of a motel that had been furnished with low tables and cushions for use as a makeshift conference room.

Idle chatter floated around in the background as Keita took a seat in the middle of the room and gaped up at a patch of blank wall that was lit up with text and images from projector slides. After a man with a head full of healthy-looking blond hair, the room quieted as all eyes and ears in the room trained their attention towards the speaker. Given the speaker's relative age to most of the rest of the crowd, whether that color was natural, a trick of the lighting, or simply the product of liberally-applied hair dye was anyone's guess.

"Good afternoon, everyone. And welcome aboard to the dev team for the next generation of Capsule Monsters games."

Keita couldn't help but feel that this presentation was perhaps a bit less impressive than he had expected. After all, a dingy "Cove Lily Motel" was hardly the prestigious office environment that he thought he would be working in to help develop the third installment of a smash hit video game franchise. The blond-haired speaker continued on with his surprisingly dry introduction to developing video games, as Bracket started to pick up on his trainer’s disappointment and began to fidget restlessly.

"As I'm sure you all know, this is an exciting opportunity for all of us. When the first Capsule Monsters games were released, none of us ever anticipated that they'd bring such joy to children’s lives across our nation, much less across the world."

Video games, television shows, comic books, trading card games, an ill-fated musical production… perhaps it really would’ve been daft to have expected a series to become a phenomenon capable of moving a pile of merchandise and toys the size of Mt. Moon in just a few short years. Keita wondered if that success’ unexpectedness would explain the lack of ceremony to this debriefing as the speaker carried on.

"As Capsule Monsters now ranks among the world's largest multimedia franchises, it places some rather unique burdens upon our team in order to ensure that our fans are satisfied with the experiences we provide them."

The speaker seemed to pause reluctantly for a moment before continuing on with his speech, "Given the… erm… various hurdles that were encountered during the development of past games, senior management has decided that it made a bit more sense for our present project to follow a different paradigm than the ones we grew accustomed to in the past."

The speaker’s comment puzzled the young man. The earlier Capsule Monsters games had been fairly simplistic and developed for primitive machines. Then, the question was just what were these…

"Hurdles?"

Keita found himself answered by no shortage of takers, all of them more versed practitioners of his same trade.

"Surely you’ve heard the stories if you’re in this business. Why the first games were glitchy messes that were prone to save corruption if you so much as surfed down the wrong patch of water!"

"And there was that whole flap about the localization office in Unova wanting to redraw all of the sprites to make them more 'audience appropriate'."

"Those blasted games almost put this house into the ground. We spent six years just getting it ready for the initial release! If it weren't for the help from our publisher, the other developer they tapped to help us out, and all the Eevee that they gave us to give away to shoo out people coming into our office in Celadon City, we'd probably all be making spreadsheets right now."

The direction of the speech began to stray a bit, as some arguments broke out among the audience and Bracket began to grow restive and attempted to scuttle off to pinch at a table leg. The speaker was not terribly enthused with the various interruptions, and hastily attempted to re-rail the debriefing.

"Ahem. While I see that we all seem to have a healthy knowledge of those past hurdles, as I was saying, it is the intent of the firm to advance beyond them-"

Which didn’t go quite as the speaker had hoped, as the young developer noticed that the chatter in the audience had actually grown louder as an increasingly-agitated Bracket was resisting Keita’s attempts to restrain him without resorting to drawing his Pokéball.

"Hey, I was there in the trenches developing the second Capsule Monsters games- we got through it with just four guys and a little outside help!"

"Having to bring in one of the board members from the firm that handles our merchandising and licensing after two years to refactor the source code is not a 'little outside help.'"

It was at that point that the speaker decided that he had had enough, and blurted out, "Would you all stop being a bunch of rude children and let me finish?!"

The blond-haired man’s outburst proved to be just the thing needed to deflate the uncontrolled chatter, and incredibly even helped to settle Keita's Corphish down.

"Anyways, that is why for this development cycle they are bringing the team responsible for our previous successes along. Bringing a team of people from all around the world is hard, yes, but we didn’t flinch from that challenge. For example we chose to host development in a place new for everyone-"

"Not me. I grew up in Petalburg," a lone voice protested.

"For almost everyone on the team," the speaker added in a somewhat irked tone. "We have been asked to develop these games for brand-new hardware that launches in a matter of months, and has a massive audience to cater to. So it seemed only fitting to choose a relatively new development venue to host a project with so much uncharted water to cover."

The speaker further qualified the challenge. "Make no mistake, this will not be an easy project to be a part of, regardless of whether or not you stay the course for it. There will be late nights, aggravating bugs to squish…"

Bracket gave a small cry at the speaker's last comment, and hastily retreated behind his trainer's legs. Keita chuckled a bit and patted the crustacean to reassure him. "Don't worry, he doesn't mean you. You're a crustacean, not a bug."

The speaker carried on, oblivious to the incident towards the middle of the room. "But I'm sure you'll also discover that there will be camaraderie, and that the bonds that you form during this project live on well past release. To top it all off, you will be handsomely rewarded for your work…"

Some murmurs went about the room after the topic of bonuses came up. After all, this was a prestigious project, so surely the reward for completing it promptly would be generous.

"If you can deliver on the concept and design work that has already been done for you and stick to the twelve-month timetable that the publisher has given us."

Almost immediately, there was an outcry from the other programmers in the room.

"Twelve months?!"

"Are you nuts?!"

"We didn’t even have a playable build in twelve months for the last set of games!"

Keita melted into his seat, as he began to get a sinking feeling that he had perhaps gotten himself further in over his head than he’d imagined. Bracket also seemed to share the same sentiment, as he pawed about with his claws and chittered uneasily.

"Some tropical vacation this is shaping up to be, huh?"
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
That's a really cute perspective! Are they still called Game Freak like they are in the games?
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
That's a really cute perspective! Are they still called Game Freak like they are in the games?

Yup. This is the incarnation of Game Freak from the devroom in the Cove Lily Motel from the original Hoenn games. So even if the staff roll doesn't look fully like reality, the name is the same since that's game canon.

And I'm running a little later than planned, but I'm here with the second installment of this series. Special thanks to @Tangent128 , @Venia Silente , and @Dragonfree for beta reading the first chapter, which will go live for your viewing pleasure in the post right after this one.
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
Ooh I wonder how the Tropius is going to play into their development.
 

Venia Silente

[](int x){return x;}
Congrats on the new release! And it's good to work that the code snippets work well.

Most of my commentary (both in-development and on release version) on this story would likely match my commentary for the old version, but one thing I wanted to more overtly state is that it's a good work to mention and have things work that make the story look and feel *specifically dated*. A good example is the "crude whiteboard sketches attempting to visualize logical flows for data and events", which not only calls back to a pencil-and-paper stage of development (and "un-finality" of the work) but also makes one reflect in comparison to more "modern" works that require lots more work to get the same final effect (*eyes hissingly at Umbrello*).

How to Try and Get Rid of a Tropius:

Director: "Either get a Pokéball for her or else"
- Famous Last Words o3o
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
Ooh I wonder how the Tropius is going to play into their development.

All in due time, good sir. But she definitely winds up leaving her mark on these games by the end of the story. ^^

Congrats on the new release! And it's good to work that the code snippets work well.

Most of my commentary (both in-development and on release version) on this story would likely match my commentary for the old version, but one thing I wanted to more overtly state is that it's a good work to mention and have things work that make the story look and feel *specifically dated*. A good example is the "crude whiteboard sketches attempting to visualize logical flows for data and events", which not only calls back to a pencil-and-paper stage of development (and "un-finality" of the work) but also makes one reflect in comparison to more "modern" works that require lots more work to get the same final effect (*eyes hissingly at Umbrello*).

Well I’m glad to hear that the story seems to be feeling period-appropriate to you. Since it’s really easy to wind up slipping into anachronism when doing a period piece in even relatively recent history.


- Famous Last Words o3o

Yeah… that didn’t quite work out quite how the Director was expecting. o3o;

Also, scheduling wound up shaking out a bit weird since the new installment wound up getting published with some… ahem other work. But the third installment of Context Switch (redux) is finally here! Special thanks to @Tangent128 , @Venia Silente , and @Dragonfree for beta reading this chapter, with Venia Silente providing additional help sanity checking some code through by running it through some old versions of the GCC and LLVM C compilers. As usual, today’s chapter will go live for your viewing pleasure in the post right after this one.
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter


Content Switch (redux) - Part 3 - Features May Vary



6 month(s), 28 day(s), 10 hour(s), 2 minute(s), 12 second(s) to deadline

As the weeks went by and the shock of the encounter with the Tropius wore off, Keita found himself once again hard at work in front of a hastily purchased replacement monitor. With time, even the visibly mismatching monitor had melted into the normal order of things as the first quarter of the project gave way to the second and the team was on the cusp of finishing a playable build.

In the midst of the flurry of change over the past two months, there was yet another change to the programmer's routine. Against his better judgment, Keita had taken up the Director on his ultimatum, if not in the way his superior expected: he had sourced a Pokéball to keep the Tropius in and even, after a more sleep-deprived night, dubbed her 'Paren' in much the same fashion as he'd named Bracket. The Pokéball was a green-topped capsule with yellow rings, a design originating from a project by the local Devon Corporation that was fine-tuned for the needs of younger Pokémon.

To Keita's relief, his initial worries of how well Paren would adjust to life under a trainer's care had been premature, as it quickly became evident that she'd taken an unexpected shine to her trainer's environs. This particular day was but another point that reinforced his sentiments, as Paren drew near to the young man's workstation in the middle of a balmy Hoenn day.

"Eh? You're not going to go out to stretch your wings? I left the door open for you and everything."

Much to Keita's surprise, Paren seemed more entranced with the strange box and button-covered strip her new trainer was interacting with. The Tropius had already deduced in the past that he manipulated it somehow every time he sat in front of it, and seemed curious about what the greenish-haired man found so interesting about the screen and the multicolored glyphs that popped up in different boxes on it. Keita tilted his head back at the Grass-type for a moment, not fully sure as to why the Tropius had taken a shine to his handiwork now of all times…

"Oh, this? This is just some code that I'm trying to debug. Nothing special, really."

Perhaps the novelty of the human world had yet to wear off for Paren, perhaps she wanted to get to know her trainer better, or perhaps the Tropius had been motivated by the small rivalry she had developed with Bracket for their trainer's attention since her stay began. Whatever the cause, Paren's interest in Keita's work certainly made programming much less solitary for the young man, especially on days such as this one where Satoshi was busy with his peers from the art and sound teams down the hall.

Keita was quietly grateful for Paren's companionship, especially now when he was busy reviewing some new snippets he'd written up. In his field, programmers occasionally would sanity-check their work by explaining it aloud to an inanimate object like a rubber Psyduck, or in other cases to their Pokémon. And unlike Bracket's usual fickleness, Paren had always proven to be a fairly reliable muse, and even gotten Bracket to suddenly take an interest in sitting in on his work, leaving Keita to pull up a file he was working on for the viewing pleasure of his audience of two.

"Not sure how you got interested in this, Paren," Keita murmured. "Let alone how you managed to get Bracket interested in sitting still watching me code... but let me take things from the top."

Code:
///////////////////////////////////////////

#define SELECT_MON 0
#define WAIT_OTHER_SELECTION 1
#define CONFIRM_SELECTION 2
#define WAIT_OTHER_CONFIRM 3
#define SEND_MON  4
#define RECEIVE_MON 5

///////////////////////////////////////////

Keita began to scroll through line after line of code with subtle taps on his keyboard as Paren and Bracket followed along with their eyes. While the pair surely could not understand the characters on the screen, Paren seemed enthused with the differing colors that the text editor rendered different statements as, and Bracket was keen to project an outward sense of excitement to match her in front of his trainer.

Code:
///////////////////////////////////////////

while (_trading) {

    switch (trade_state.mode) {
        case SELECT_MON:
            update_selectmon(trade_state);
        case WAIT_OTHER_SELECTION:
            trade_idle();
        case CONFIRM_SELECTION:
            trade_conf();
        case WAIT_OTHER_CONFIRM:
            trade_idle();
        case SEND_MON:
            send_data(trade_state);
        case RECEIVE_MON:
            update_data(trade_state);
    }

}

///////////////////////////////////////////

The programmer explained the shifting lines to his charges, scanning the code with his eyes to ensure that his explanation matched up with the actual functionality of the lines of code on the screen.

"And this is a state machine for trading. That part there checks if the player wants to trade, and then waits on another player," he explained. "Normally the event that triggers the different cases here would be sent from a second console through a Link Cable, but we're allowed to cheat a bit for now. Anyhow, my problem is that something is going wrong with the last-"

As Keita continued his explanation, he was interrupted by the sound of the room door opening from outside. The Director walked into the room and made his way over to Keita's workstation, giving him a skeptical frown along with his Wynaut after seeing the programmer and his two Pokémon crowded at the desk. He momentarily scanned his subordinate and his charges before speaking up with a quiet clearing of his throat.

"Hard at work, I see."

"Oh! Er… yes, of course. I was just reviewing the changes that I made to the state machine for trading," Keita explained while hastily turning to face his blond-haired superior. Bracket and Paren seemed to be taken aback themselves, as the pair traded sheepish looks with the Director's disapproving Wynaut.

The Director for his part was a bit more cordial towards the young man than his blue companion, too cordial perhaps. It became apparent in short order that there was more than it appeared behind the Director's amiable demeanor, as he had approached the programmer with an ulterior motive.

"Trading, eh…? In that case, perhaps you'd like to take a bit of a break from your current task," the Director suggested. "I actually just got a heads-up from some of the other programmers that they're presently having some issues with the monster data structure."

"Oh…?"

"If you could pitch in and help with their problem, I'm sure that they'd deeply appreciate it."

The programmer paused and thought for a bit. It seemed peculiar for such an abrupt change of work, but the Director wouldn't have approached him directly about this matter without a good reason.

"I suppose that I could help for a bit," Keita finally replied. "I mean, I think the problem that I'm encountering right now shouldn't be too hard to fix later…"



6 month(s), 28 day(s), 9 hour(s), 49 minute(s), 9 second(s) to deadline

A little over ten minutes later, Keita and his Pokémon walked the last few steps up to the doorway to the conference room where their project's initial debriefing took place. Bracket and Paren traded puzzled looks with each other for a moment as Keita stepped forward and pushed the door open.

"Hello, I heard that you guys needed some help with the-"

...only to find the room packed from one end to the next with monitors and whiteboards, along with roughly a third of the programmers on the development team, far more than Keita had expected.

"-monster data structure?" he asked. Keita stepped forward and entered the room with his Pokémon, the lot looking about their surroundings with freshly-evoked unease and suspicion that something was dreadfully amiss.

An older bespectacled man with an accompanying Porygon beckoned the younger programmer to come in and lend his aid towards what was quickly becoming evident to be some manner of serious quagmire.

"Pull up a chair, kid," the Porygon trainer insisted. "It's not like we've been making any progress lately."

"Eh? Why not?"

"Take a look at this."

Code:
///////////////////////////////////////////

typedef uint8_t Uint24_t[3];

typedef struct Party_mon {

    uint8_t mon_index;
    uint8_t h_item_index;
    uint8_t move1_index;
    uint8_t move2_index;
    uint8_t move3_index;
    uint8_t move4_index;
    uint16_t ot_id;
    Uint24_t exp;
    uint16_t hp_ev;
    uint16_t atk_ev;
    uint16_t def_ev;
    uint16_t spd_ev;
    uint16_t spe_ev;
    uint16_t indiv_val;
    uint8_t move1_pp;
    uint8_t move2_pp;
    uint8_t move3_pp;
    uint8_t move4_pp;
    uint8_t frnd_val;
    uint8_t cprs;
    uint16_t catch_dat;
    uint8_t mon_lv;
    uint8_t status_cond;
    uint8_t swap;
    uint16_t cur_hp;
    uint16_t max_hp;
    uint16_t atk;
    uint16_t def;
    uint16_t spd;
    uint16_t spa;
    uint16_t spd;

};

///////////////////////////////////////////

The Corphish, Tropius, and their trainer all traded blank looks as the man explained the meaning of the long block of characters on a boxy screen not unlike the one at Keita's workstation.

"That is what the data structure for Capsule Monsters from the last set of games looks like. We have this blasted thing kicking around still to support trading up from the last games."

"Yes? What's so strange about that?" Keita asked. "Wouldn't we logically be using a data structure not too different from this one for compatibility reasons?"

Some other programmers nearby interjected from their computers after hearing the question.

"Tch, you wish. We're supposed to throw in a bunch of hidden personality values onto this. Change the way that maximum stats for a monster are seeded, and give them abilities to make them different in battle on top of it all."

"And don't forget that set of stats for that side mode based off of Contest circuits the Director thought of. For guys who want every player's monster to be one-of-a-kind, they sure aren't helping with giving us 48 bytes to work with!", a man offered between exasperated rubs of his brow.

Ah… Keita had heard that the concept behind Capsule Monsters had been based around its creators' experiences training Pokémon when younger. So then it sounded like one of the goals of the new games was to make them more accurate mimicries of the Pokémon training that inspired it.

Even so, the young programmer still couldn't understand why this would be such a big bottleneck.

"But aren't you making the new data structure larger to accommodate all of this?" Keita asked. "I thought that's what you did for the last set of games."

"We've been trying," the elder programmer snapped. "Expanding the structure isn't the problem."

"It's getting everything down to 48 bytes for trading a monster over to the previous games, and then putting all of those extra bytes back when you trade it back up."

Keita fell silent, as Bracket and Paren traded worried looks with each other and the color drained from their trainer's face. Somehow, even they seemed to pick up the programmer's terrible realization of just why everyone was stuck here.

"I think I can see how that'd be a problem."



5 month(s), 29 day(s), 14 hour(s), 32 minute(s), 58 second(s) to deadline

Two development cycles later, the problem of what to do with the new games' data structure remained unsolved. The team had made attempts to dance around the issue and continue working on other parts of the project, such as ironing out bugs with the trading data states, but there was only so far that they could kick the can down the road before the bottleneck started to stymie their progress entirely.

The air was tense that day, a full month later of futile battling with the monster data structure. The lack of a breakthrough weighed heavily on everyone in the room, not least the Director, who was visibly racking his mind to try and present difficult words to the gathering.

"It has come to our attention that there are some… critical bottlenecks for being able to handle data transfer between the last set of Capsule Monsters games and our present project."

Voices quickly rose up from around the room in protest, their speakers exasperated with the lack of progress in attempting to coax these new features from the base of a legacy data structure that had never been built with them in mind.

"Look, it's been four weeks with no progress," a programmer at the front objected. "We've tried everything. We've tried making caches for the extra data on trading, we've tried injecting data into the unused byte at the 33rd offset to try and rebuild all the extra bytes."

"To be blunt, nothing's working," a voice from the back interjected. "We haven't even gotten one-way trading from the old games to work consistently thanks to that data corruption bug."

Low grumbles filtered about the room along with sharp scowls at the speaker's passing mention of the 'data corruption bug,' which had merely added insult to injury for the team's struggles. In spite of that, the Director remained undeterred and continued on speaking.

"Yes, I understand that. But the office is adamant that these new features be implemented," the Director sternly replied, to a chorus of frustrated groans from the audience. It was then that he presented a possibility that even the audience had not considered.

"Even if it means having to make a few sacrifices."

Keita instantly heard murmurs filter about the room, and began to wonder if his roommate was implying that they should make an entirely new data structure even though that meant...

"Wait, you're not seriously considering gutting backwards compatibility, are you?" the programmer at the front asked.

The Director reluctantly nodded. "Between this and the problems that the rest of your team have been encountering with the clock system, I believe that we will need to make some difficult decisions to make our deadline."

Keita noticed Bracket and Paren had begun to trade concerned glances. Apparently they had seen the visibly sinking expression on his face, and of those of the others in the audience.

"But half the material we've been given to work with assumes tight continuity and connectivity with the last game!" one of the scenario designers cried out.

"I'm aware of that," the Director replied. "And I'm saying that it appears that we're going to have to take a bit of a more uncharted approach to fill those gaps."

Another round of groans went around the room. This was a massive shift in the direction for the game, and the timetable that had been initially given to the team was already half-gone! Satoshi from the hotel suite raised his voice in protest, spelling out just what the Director's suggestions would entail.

"Director, how on earth are we supposed to come up with stopgaps for half a campaign and setting on top of throwing a game together?!" the graphics artist exclaimed.

Keita looked back blankly at the Director. Yes, surely making a setting and new story from scratch in less than six months was an obvious non-starter. After all, where on earth would they get all of that material from?

It was then that his attention was drawn to Paren reflexively batting one of her wings. Like Bracket, the Tropius also grew fidgety when kept deprived of distractions for too long, of which there weren't terribly many lying around in the dimly lit conference room.

Yes, it was as clear a sign as any that she needed some outside air, out in the tropical Hoenn weather. Out in that big region which was supposed to be a haunt for tourists.

Keita paused and blinked for a moment, as a spark of inspiration suddenly crossed the programmer's mind.

"Wait a minute… I think I actually know how we can do that," he interjected.

It was more than a little daft, but at this stage, what did the team have to lose? So it was that the young man stood up from his seat, raised his voice, and made the fateful suggestion that would make or break the project over the course of the remaining six months:

"What if we took some notes from our surroundings? And then used that for the game's setting and campaign?"
 
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