1. We have moved to a new forum system. All your posts and data should have transferred over. Welcome, to the new Serebii Forums. Details here
    Dismiss Notice
  2. We have received legal notice about the sharing of certain images for Pokémon Sword & Shield. Due to this, we have a new rule. If you post said images, you will be removed from the forums until 15:00 UTC on November 14th 2019. We have also killed the leak discussion threads for the time being. Thank you for your patience during this. If you have any queries, use the contact form
  3. Be sure to join the discussion on our discord at: Discord.gg/serebii
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you're still waiting for the e-mail, be sure to check your junk/spam e-mail folders
    Dismiss Notice

Context Switch

Discussion in 'Completed Fics' started by Spiteful Murkrow, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Hello, a bit of an infrequent face around here. For those of you who might somehow still remember me for a series of viginettes I wrote an eternity ago, I'm back with another.

    Back when it was still spring and the sun rose at an acceptable hour in the morning, I wound up drawing up a list of fic topics that I thought would be fun to see tackled at some point. One of them happened to be the idea of somehow putting together a yarn incorporating everyone's favorite murderbeasts and...


    Yeah, it was a bit of a strange and implausible-sounding premise in my head as well at first, and I was stumped for a while on what sort of context it would have to even function. But then after noticing the then-open ORAS Interpretation Contest we have on this site, it suddenly dawned on me that there was a rather convenient recurring context in the world of Pokémon to work with all along. The story of how Pokémon games (and fiendishly hard-to-get pieces of paper) are made in Pokémon.

    Now, the Pokémon world is a strange place. While there are obvious similarities to reality, it's also a world where palm trees fly, where trying to ride a bike indoors gets an old codger's voice to yell at you in your head, and where Skitty mate with Wailord. So naturally (and hopefully!), any story of a Pokémon game being made in a Pokémon world would similarly depart from its counterpart in reality a bit as well.

    Nonetheless, it seems to be an uncannily apropos yarn to share in these last 6 weeks before ORAS hits the shelves. So between now and then, I will be capitalizing on several months of research into code, some neat development histories, writing, revisioning and several more months of procrastination into finally putting up little weekly viginettes from now up until just before launch following an unlucky sod's journey following Ruby and Sapphire's development in the world of Ruby and Sapphire.

    Once again, I'm not under any delusions that this is likely to be that strong of a work. I'm more punting it out to be done with a proof of concept I had for the idea that struck me the better part of a year ago, and to share with some friends that happen to browse these forums a bit more frequently than I do. That said, I do feel compelled to spend a brief moment to extend my thanks to mothimas from ff.net and fellow forumites Tangent128, solovino, InsaneTyranitar, The Great Butler, and Shurtugal for suffering through my writing and providing feedback and some occasional tough love.

    So without further ado, I present to you:


    Context Switch


    Part 1 - Adventure adventure = new Disaster();

    A man with with short, and vaguely greenish tinted hair trailed an excited Corphish down a metal catwalk, from a ship to the ferry terminal it sidled up against. He paused for a moment on the catwalk to look at his long-awaited destination in this balmy, strange new land. While dense, the town lacked the vertical scope of larger seaside settlements elsewhere, such as Goldenrod. East of the sea of mid-rises and tightly-spaced houses, 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, huh?"

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

    "Alright, alright! I'm coming!"

    As the Corphish eagerly led the young man deep into a sea of bodies, he saw a passing boy accompanied by a white cloud-like sprite who gawked together at the screen of a yellow device. Further in his field of vision, a girl with a net and straw hat walked by, accompanied by a yellow chitinous creature warbling a crisp rhythm with black-and-green rhombal wings behind her. On another seat, he saw an older woman resting while looking at what seemed to be little badges with ribbons in a case as a purple creature with tiny eyes and cream lop-ears pressed up near her, shying away from the surrounding commotion.

    "Heh. Looks like just the right place for a tropical vacation, don't you think, buddy?"

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

    The Corphish tilted its head blankly, while its trainer bemusedly 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 like that, though?"

    'Buddy's' trainer quickly noticed a dawning realization come over the face of greeter that this young man was perhaps from further afar than initially presumed.

    "Oh? You're not from here? For a second, I was sure that since you had a Corphish…"

    "Ah, nah. He's my partner… and headache for customs," the younger man responded, chuckling.

    "Heh… 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 peeled, I think you two will find that Hoenn's a land of surprises once you look around a bit!"

    "I'll keep that in mind," the young man chuckled.

    It was then that he noticed a worker holding a sign for a bus with some words that he could just make out. While his blissfully illiterate Corphish maintained its cheerful demeanor, a cloud seemed to settle over the trainer.

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

    Alas, as much as he wished to claim to be a tourist, his visit was not to be one for leisure.


    Namely, he had come to Hoenn to work, his job being to help develop computer software. The man soon found himself in a common room with low tables and cushions in a motel that was hastily repurposed into a makeshift conference room.

    Idle chatter floated around in the background as a man came up to stand next to a patch of blank wall that was being used to display slides from a projector, which drew the attention of all eyes and ears towards the speaker, man with a head full of healthy-looking blond hair. 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 some healthy-looking dye was anyone's guess.

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

    The young developer couldn't help but feel if this presentation was perhaps a bit more humble than he had anticipated. After all, a dingy "Cove Lily Motel" was hardly the office environment that he thought he would be working in. His Corphish seemed to detect its trainer’s misgivings, and it began to fidget restlessly as the speaker continued on with a surprisingly dry introduction to developing video games.

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

    The Corphish's trainer wondered if said 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 development 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, "Given the… erm… various hurdles that have been encountered during the development of past games, management has dictated that it perhaps makes sense for our present project to follow a different paradigm from what we have been accustomed to in the past."

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


    The young man found himself answered by no shortage of respondents, all more versed practitioners of his same trade.

    "Surely you have heard of them. 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 branch in Unova wanting to redraw all of the sprites to make them more 'audience appropriate'."

    "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 the office, we'd probably be making spreadsheets right now."

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

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

    Which surely was not quite as the speaker had hoped, as the young developer noticed that the chatter in the audience had actually grown louder and his increasingly-agitated Corphish was resisting his attempts to restrain it without resorting to drawing its Pokéball.

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

    "Having to bring in one of the board members of 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 had had quite enough, and blurted out, "Would you all stop being a bunch of rude children and let me finish?!"

    It was just the thing needed to deflate the uncontrolled chatter, and incredibly even helped to mollify the young trainer's Corphish.

    "Anyways, this is why for the development process they are bringing the team responsible for previous success along. Bringing a team of people from all around the world is hard, yes, but we try; for example we chose to host development in a place new for everyone..."

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

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

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

    The Corphish gave a small cry at the speaker's last comment, and hastily retreated behind its trainer's legs. Its owner chuckled a bit and pat the crustacean to reassure it, "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 will outlast its end. 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 with the last set of games!"

    As the young man melted into his seat, he began to get the sinking feeling that he had perhaps gotten himself further in over his head than he had fathomed, a sentiment which the Corphish seemed to be concurring with it as it chittered uneasily.

    "Some tropical vacation this is shaping up to be, huh?"
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  2. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord


    But this is wonderful so far! Having seen the first draft I can see you've honed this quite a bit.

    I love how meta your concept is- it's certainly a unique idea for a fic! And Corphish is adorable.

    Not sure of the flaws yet- those will probs get more apparent as the story progresses.

    Keep it up!
  3. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    I'm back. Today's snippet will be a bit longer and get a bit further into the thick of things, much as any software project does. As a minor addendum, but there is some computer code in this installment, which is formatted as a PunBB code block, so don't be too surprised if there is some labeling left behind.


    Part 2 - Extraneous Variables

    11 month(s), 29 day(s), 21 hour(s), 28 minute(s), 9 second(s) to deadline:

    Soon afterwards, it came time for the greenish-haired young man to depart the makeshift conference room for his lodgings. If this "Cove Lily Motel" had some hint of grandness he was ignorant of, it was surely not here either.

    The garish, peeling paint on the roof and shingles did little to spruce up its dated architecture or hide the fact that its owners still relied on metal keys to lock the rooms. The deserted puddle of a pool and its attendant patio furniture downstairs that his Corphish eyed in between pinches at the base of the second floor railing similarly failed to strike him as remarkable.

    "So… This is going to be our home for the next 12 months, huh?"

    The man sighed as he slipped his room key in, unlocked the door, and after a short struggle yanked it free. The sounds of the man fighting with the door caught his partner's attention as it turned to see its trainer with his hand on the door's knob.

    "Guess we'd better see who our two roommates are…"

    The man walked into a small hallway and was immediately struck by the relative size of the room. It was laid out as a suite, clearly meant for customers that planned on staying for a good time. The second thing that caught the man's attention was that a good deal of the free space had been taken up by additional desks. On them papers, PC towers, bulky and boxy monitors, and what the man presumed were the devkits were strewn about willy-nilly.

    It was then that a small voice came from another room, as the young trainer and his Corphish saw a small predominantly blue mouse bouncing on a tail orb roughly the same size as its body. There was a moment between the man's Corphish and this new creature as the two cautiously sized each other up, leaving the man to try and learn who the blue creature's owner might be.

    That was, until the man heard the owner getting up and following its charge into the hallway. When the two met each others' gaze, the first thing that struck the young man was that this blueish-black haired counterpart had probably been at the firm for a while. Or at least he was old enough to have had such a background.

    "Oh, hello! You're that programmer who's sharing the room?"

    This was a tad unexpected, the young man had not anticipated that he would be paired with roommates that were visibly older than him. Additionally, the papers on the man's desk and the contents of a boxy monitor on it, although ruining an otherwise unimpeded view of the sea, seemed to be unusually colorful, to which the young man inquired, "Yeah, and you're…?"

    "Why, your maestro of turning ink and paper concept sketches into sprites, of course. I'm one of the graphics artists," the roommate responded. With that mystery solved, the young man briefly caught a glance of the blue mouse cautiously nearing his Corphish. The red creature had not quite devoted its attention to the Marill and was cautiously clicking its pincers, clearly sharing its owner's curiosity for its purpose here.

    "And the Azurill?"

    "A bit of a newer friend, you could say that she's become a bit of a muse. And you?"

    "Oh, I'm one of the new programmers brought aboard."

    The Corphish took the opportunity to interject here, waving a pincer cheerily at the man at the other end of the doorway.

    "And this is my little buddy here."

    As well as to attempt to nip at the mysterious blue orb attached to the blue mouse. The Marill, narrowly dodging the Corphish's grip, squeaked and bounded up onto a counter in the other room. The debacle left the Corphish's owner to sheepishly attempt to excuse his Pokémon's behavior after an awkward pause.

    "He's just a bit feisty."

    "So I see," the artist grumbled.

    "Hmm, aren't we supposed to have three people in this room? So then who's our other roommate?"

    "You didn't already know?"

    The young man heard the door open again, and as he turned to see the graphics artist explained, "It's the director for this team."

    Much to the programmer's horror, it truly was the blond-haired speaker from the debriefing. The young man's face rapidly drained of color as he began to register that he would be spending 12 months in the same room as the project's leader, there over his shoulder to criticize every little potential snag.

    The man attempted to put on a brave, if obviously blanching face and hesitantly put out an arm to offer a handshake to his senior.

    "Er… Nice to meet you, sir."

    The director for his part seemed to not be particularly fazed as he reciprocated the young man's handshake while a small blue creature with a protuberance coming from its head, two arms on the sides of its face, and a black tail marched in with a commanding air headed over towards the Corphish.

    "While I'm sure you were expecting someone a bit lower on the ladder to be rooming with you, I hope that it helps take some of the edge off of the experience. After all, I don't bite."

    It was at that exact moment that blue creature gave an abrupt cry. All eyes in the room turned to see the Corphish playfully grasping one of the blue creature's arms, and the blue creature abruptly slamming the Corphish into a wall to break free.

    As the stunned crustacean hastily retreated behind its owner, the young man became acutely aware of the withering stare directed at him from the director.

    "He's normally better behaved, I swear."


    10 month(s), 20 day(s), 12 hour(s), 45 minute(s), 49 second(s) to deadline:

    Work for the young programmer typically consisted of a series of two-week cycles, in which making a functional game to be sold to customers was inched towards little by little by deciding and implementing objectives during those cycles.

    There was a good deal of group conferencing, crude whiteboard sketches attempting to visualize what should do what, and division of tasks. However, the bulk of work was in the end adding characters to an agglomeration of text in a development environment and watching varying messages flash in a terminal. From there, that text, the source code, as it was called, would be forced through a compiler, a program which would turn people's texts into programs.

    Indeed, halfway through the first of such cycles, the man knew that his craft was a process that probably would have struck an average passerby as less interesting to watch than the Taillow preening itself on the window balcony at that moment. Until he noticed his Corphish tugging at the back of his pant leg.

    "Oh… Hello there, buddy… Did you come to help me find out where the problem's coming from with this callback?"

    The creature visibly paused, after all, what its trainer seemed to be doing appeared rather unremarkable, while his tone of voice sounded strangely playful. The Corphish, perhaps against its better judgment humored the man's request and gave a cheerful call as it awaited whatever its trainer had on its mind.

    "Heh… I suppose it couldn't hurt to describe what I'm working on."

    The programmer brought his charge up onto the desk, where the contents of a text editor were visible.

    void init_menu_callback(menu_evt *event) {
    if(event->active == TRUE) {
    menu_type = event -> subtype_ID;
    } else {
    "So this is block that handles how the callback for the menu works. I'm pretty sure that this logic is correct, but the error messages say that something's coming from here. Basically, every time that it game detects that there is a menu event, it records the type of menu as a local variable, and uses it to-"

    There was a bit of a short silence as the man noticed that his Corphish had not made a sound, but was eyeing the screen blankly.

    "You didn't understand a word that I just said, did you?"

    The Corphish responded with a call that its owner could have sworn had a sheepish tone to it.

    "Of course. Uhm… Should I use one of the dev kits to demonstrate?"

    The Corphish then decided that perhaps it would be better to leave his trainer be until he was less preoccupied with work and cheerfully scuttled off to go pester the graphics artist's Azurill and the director's Wynaut in the other room of the suite.

    "Yeah, I didn't think that would help much either. I guess I'm on my own," the man sighed.


    9 month(s), 1 day(s), 18 hour(s), 15 minute(s), 57 second(s) to deadline:

    The young man's craft was one of fits and starts, much as a writer finds himself oscillating between near-total lack of accomplishment and great progress. Alas, this day was of the latter sort as the Corphish's trainer attempted to puzzle out a strange error coming from his compiler's messages.


    The programmer noticed that the graphics artist, while on his way out from the room with his Azurill, seemed to hesitate as a faint sound from outside occasionally reverberated. He decided that given his lack of progress in work, that it was high time to give his mind a short break to investigate what his coworker was looking at. On his way to the door, he was joined in by his Corphish, who had taken the opportunity to free itself from the Wynaut's attempt to badger it into parting with a berry.

    "Hmm? Did you see something?"

    There, the young man saw a brown and green sauropod with what appeared to be fruit attached under the base of its neck walking about in a circuit about the motel's unimpressive pool. The creature would periodically look about and call out, seemingly expecting a response from something.

    "Is that young Tropius still pacing around the motel pool?"


    "You didn't see her this morning? She was pacing around and calling out just like that."

    The creature continued her ritual, as it dawned on the programmer that this Tropius seemed rather disoriented, and couldn't help but feel some pity for the reptile pacing about.

    "She looks really lost. Where the heck are the hotel staff and why haven't they brought her to her trainer yet?"

    "I'm certain it will sort itself out, just leave her be."

    As the graphics artist and his charge departed, the programmer watched the Tropius for a little longer before returning to his post. After all, surely the graphics artist was right and this matter would sort itself out.


    9 month(s), 1 day(s), 12 hour(s), 58 minute(s), 12 second(s) to deadline:

    That evening, the programmer found himself heading back from a convenience store to pick up some small snacks after a long meeting with his fellow programmers. It was an underwhelming end to an underwhelming day, with the only excitement that he encountered so far being watching some local children engaging in an impromptu stunt competition with Acro Bikes outside the convenience store.

    While on his way to the stairs, he chanced to run into the graphics artist.

    "Heading back so soon? I'm surprised you're not off at one of the after-hours socials."

    "Eh, I had a little more work to tend t-"

    The programmer saw that the Tropius from earlier was still beside the pool, if no longer pacing about and appearing visibly exhausted and distraught. She would occasionally crane its head upward towards the sky, as if she were waiting in anticipation for something. As the Corphish and Azurill looked through the gate, the two Pokemon and their trainers couldn't help but trade looks with each other evincing sympathy for the poor creature.

    "Her trainer hasn't come to pick her up this late?"

    "Maybe she should spend the night with us," the programmer suggested.

    It was at this point that the graphics artist began to express some reluctance.

    "I don't know… A Pokémon that we don't have a Pokéball for? In a room full of computers and devkits?"

    "I'm sure that we'll be able to manage."

    And the young man opened the gate and with his crustacean in tow, drew near to the young Tropius, calling out to her.


    The creature instinctively got to its feet, and began to backpedal nervously, beating four green appendages a bit. The programmer noticed that one of them seemed to be moving slower, if lacking signs of injury; perhaps the creature had exhausted it or struck it against a hard object while her caretakers were out.

    Still, he knew better than to try and force another trainer's Pokémon into something they were uncomfortable with. He approached the creature with a noticeable berth and presented it a soft drink as his Corphish waved congenially to the creature.

    "Aw, come on, don't be shy… You want a better place to stay tonight than on that hard pool concrete, don't you?"

    The Tropius paused for a moment, and then slowly drew near before seizing the soft drink with its mouth and beginning to drink its contents. The creature's guard had been lowered, and she seemed soothed as the programmer gave her long neck a cautious pat.

    "Heh… See, we're not so scary."


    9 month(s), 1 day(s), 8 hour(s), 14 minute(s), 43 second(s) to deadline:

    Later that night, as the programmer backed away from his keyboard deciding to leave his present battle with the current iteration of work to be done for another day, he chanced to see the director come in through the hallway as a the Tropius from the pool gawked around at the furniture and various monitors about it.

    "I see that you caught a local companion for your Corphish."

    "Er… Technically, I didn't. I left a call for the front desk to ask around for her owner," the programmer sheepishly replied.

    The comment caused an uneasy look to spread over the graphics artist's face which did not elude his Azurill's notice, "Right… About that. According to the front desk, the Tropius is apparently a female stranded from a herd flying through."

    The programmer was taken aback, unsure if he had heard his colleague's words properly, "Wait, what?"

    "You didn't know? Tropius can fly. I mean, they have to exploit updrafts and glide for most of it, but they can cover some decent distance while airborne."

    "So… She doesn't have a trainer?", the director questioned while betraying a hardening countenance.

    The graphics artist hesitated for a long moment, but ultimately answered, "It doesn't sound like it, no."

    The programmer and graphics artist traded looks with each other as the director buried his face into an open palm. As the Tropius carried on with her examination of the room and the Corphish sidled up, blissfully inattentive of the conversation between the three trainers, the programmer started to get a sinking expression while his other colleague shot back a small glare reminding him that their present embarrassment was completely avoidable.

    "You brought a wild Pokémon into our room?", the director demanded before turning his attention to the graphics artist, "And you didn't stop him?"

    The programmer protested, "Well, I didn't know she was wild! And she's been really well behaved…"

    It was then that the uneasy quiet room was broken by a loud cry from the Tropius. The programmer whirled around and saw that his Corphish had latched onto one of the Tropius' wings causing her to dash about wildly trying to knock it free.

    After upending some furniture, she eventually succeeded with a loud crash after swatting the Corphish into the side of the programmer's bulky monitor, which fell to the floor and shattered the screen. The Tropius hastily retreated to the side of the programmer baying as the Corphish hissed indignantly at the new stranger for overreacting to a friendly nip.

    "Probably not the best choice of words there," the graphics artist whispered.

    At this point, the now-seething director had had quite enough of the chaos in the room.

    "That monitor's coming out of your paycheck. Get a Pokéball for her or else get her out of here!" he barked at the junior programmer.

    "Yes, sir."
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  4. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Aww, that poor Tropius. :(

    But once again this is excellent. Except I found a problem!

    When you do use dialogue tags, you tend to use the dreaded Said Bookisms. Yours aren't the worst I've ever seen, (definitely not "ejaculated" level bad) but "said" is better, trust me.

    But keep going!
  5. Venia Silente

    Venia Silente [](int x){return x;}

    Good to see this one published.

    Since I was a beta-reader for the story I don't have much to say in terms of literary criticism that hasn't been said already. I can speak for the things I usually speak for, however. I like the story because of the tackling of that little inmersion detail of "game about the game". Even more bonus points for tackling Hoenn and G3 what with ORAS approaching and the story behind the development of the G3 games, Should make things more interesting in the future.

    And as a hobbyist software developer myself I can commiserate with the characters on the pains of project organization, and other horrible pains that are to follow. But hey, at least they have 'mon company. Where's my Nidoran when I need to tackle compiler misfeatures? ;_;
  6. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    This looks like a cool idea. I've thought a lot about what video games might look like in the pokémon world, so it'll be interesting to see what you come up with. Mixing in references to the actual development process for the early pokémon games is a nice touch, as well as a friendly reminder of how amazing it is that any video games get published at all considering the general cluster**** that making them tends to be.

    The plot's been moving at a pretty casual pace thus far--more cute character moments with the protagonist and his corphish than anything else. It will be interesting to see how that changes as the final death march approaches. Do you actually program? You're doing a lovely job of the jargon and what it's actually like, rather than the usual media view of what a programmer does.

    One thing I might watch out for when writing this, though, is going a little too deep with fancy diction. This is particularly prevalent at the beginning of the second chapter, where you end up with sentences like this:

    There's nothing wrong with "ersatz" or "grandeur" here, as such, but both the unusual words and ponderous construction of the sentences makes it read a little thick. Words like those can add a lot of color to the prose, but when they keep popping up, it's very noticeable. When I'm reading I prefer to be thinking about how cool whatever's going on in the text is, not how impressed I am by the author's vocabulary.

    And speaking of construction, you put out a fair number of sentences that I find difficult to read, often because you try and cram a ton of information into them. Here's an example:

    The man is glancing while the mouse approaches while the corphish is clicking while it shows curiosity. That's a lot of action, and it's stuffed into a long sentence with almost no punctuation (there should be a comma before "which" and another before "clearly"), which doesn't give a reader much of a pause to process. Adding the commas would help a bit here, as it makes the distinction between different clauses more clear and helps break up the stream of info, but it's less of a help in a case like this:

    Missing a comma here, too (before "shying"), but mostly there's just a lot going on here.

    At times, jamming a lot of information into a sentence can mask problems in its construction, as here:

    Loads going on there, but it's not actually a complete sentence. There is no subject.

    I think reading your sentences aloud might help; it really works wonders for clearing up "flow" issues, and you'll be able to tell your sentences are getting away from you if you find you have trouble finishing them in one breath.

    At times you use words incorrectly, too, like "pedipalps," which appears a lot towards the beginning of the second chapter. Corphish doesn't have pedipalps as far as I can tell; they'd be appendages coming out of its face, and even then they'd likely be called mandibles instead (pedipalps are an arachnid thing). I'm guessing you mean pincers or claws instead.

    I think it would be more correct to put the dialogue in the same paragraph as the narration here; leaving off on a colon like that looks very odd. Same with the other times it happens in the story. You look very invested in not mixing dialogue and narration in the same paragraph, and I don't know why.

    I kind of did a double-take when it turns out the protagonist's second roommate is the director, since for whatever reason I'd gotten the impression that the director was a woman. Scrolling back up, though, it turns out that the speaker's gender just wasn't mentioned, nor anything about what they look or act like. It seems a bit odd to me, since all the pokémon get at least some nominal description and run around the margins doing things, but the humans pretty much seem to exist as dialogue and some label (no name... no one here has a name, do they?). You do a good job of characterizing people through their dialogue alone, as well as getting across what's going on with minimal description of what the humans are doing, but I think you might want to apply some more of the principles you use when handling pokémon characters to your humans. Presumably the reason you focus so much more on what the pokémon are doing is they can't talk, and so you can't fall back on words to give them personality. I think you'd bring more life to your human characters, though, if you were a little more explicit about what they look like and what they're doing. As it is, the world around them seems a lot more vibrant than they themselves do.

    A couple other quick notes:

    - It seems a little odd to me that the characters consistently refer to the tropius as "she" in their dialogue, but the narration calls her an "it."

    - You're really fond of starting sentences with elipses. This reads pretty oddly to me, since elipses are used when you're trailing off from something, so having them at the beginning of a sentence doesn't make a lot of sense; you can't really trail on to a thought. My best guess is that you're using them to indicate a pause of some kind, e.g. the protagonist and graphics designer stopping to watch the tropius for a bit before they start talking for a bit. What would you lose by leaving them out, though?

    But anyway, like I said, this is a cool premise, and I like what you've done with the programming aspect of the story so far. I think the format you've chosen suits your style of writing well, and it's pretty rare to see a story about the life of a person who isn't a trainer in the classic sense. Good luck with your writing, and I look forward to seeing where you go with this.
  7. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Thank you all for your feedback so far, it's helped to bring my attention to some things in my writing that I would have otherwise passed over. To give a belated answer to your question, Negrek, I do indeed program regularly, so that helped a bit with the jargon and snippets that pop up in this series. Having programmers that are a bit more experienced than I am to talk to on a regular basis also helps sanity-checking in that regard. ^^;

    This week's installment will primarily touch on a phenomenon that pops up all the time in programming, and in creative projects in general, really. Namely that there is no such thing as a final feature set until you actually ship something:


    Part 3 - Features May Vary

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

    As the shock of the encounter with the Tropius wore off, the programmer again found himself hard at work in front of a hastily purchased replacement monitor. With time, the visibly mismatching monitor also melted into the normal order of things as the first quarter of the project gave way to the second. In the midst of all this, there was yet another change to the man's routine.

    Perhaps against his better judgment, the programmer had taken up the director on his ultimatum and found a Pokéball to keep the Tropius in. It was a green-topped capsule with yellow rings, apparently originating from the area and fine-tuned to caring for younger Pokémon.

    To the programmer's pleasant surprise, his initial worries of the creature having problems adjusting to captivity had largely been premature: she had taken an unexpected shine to her trainer's environs. This day was not too different, as the Tropius drew near to the young man's workstation.

    "Hmm…? You're not headed out? I left the door open for you and everything."

    But indeed, the Tropius seemed more entranced with the wonderful box her newfound trainer was interacting with. She had already deduced that he was manipulating it somehow, and seemed curious about what the greenish-haired man saw from this screen and the multi-colored glyphs that popped up in different boxes. The man wasn't quite sure what held the Tropius' interest…

    "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 on the creature, perhaps she wanted to get to know her trainer better, or perhaps she was feeling the small rivalry with the Corphish for their trainer's attention she had developed since her stay began. Whatever the cause, it certainly made programming much less solitary for the young man; especially on days such as this one where the graphics artist was preoccupied with his peers from the art and sound teams down the hall. It was a change the programmer was quietly grateful for as he pulled up a file he was working on for his audience of two.

    "Not sure how you got interested in this, let alone how you managed to get him to sit with you watching me code... But I guess I can explain."

    #define SELECT_MON 0
    #define WAIT_OTHER_CONFIRM 3
    #define SEND_MON  4
    #define RECEIVE_MON 5
    He began to scroll through line after line of code with subtle taps on his keyboard. While the Tropius surely could not understand the characters on the screen, she was apparently enthused with the differing colors the text editor rendered different statements as.

    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 and the reality of what was there were one and the same.

    "And this is a state machine for trading. That part there checks if the player wants to trade, and then waits on another player… Normally it'd be by link cable, but we're allowed to cheat a bit for now. Anyhow, my problem is that something is going wrong with the last-"

    The director then walked into the room and gave a bit of a skeptical look 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 quietly interrupting the programmer with, "Hard at work, I see."

    "Oh! Er… Yes, of course. I was just reviewing a state machine for trading that I wrote," the programmer explained while hastily turning to face his blond-haired superior. The Tropius and Corphish traded sheepish looks with the director's disapproving Wynaut.

    The director was a bit more cordial towards the young man than his blue companion, as he had come to the programmer for a purpose.

    "Trading, eh…? 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."


    "If you could pitch in, I'm sure that they'd be deeply appreciative."

    The programmer paused and thought for a bit, it seemed peculiar for such an abrupt change of work, but there was surely a reason why the director would approach him directly about this.

    "I suppose that I could help for a bit. 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), 9 minute(s), 9 second(s) to deadline:

    The programmer soon found himself and his Pokémon opening the door to the place that had served as the conference room for the project's debriefing.

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

    Only to find roughly a third of the people from the debriefing staring at monitors and whiteboards, far more than the programmer had expected.

    "Monster data structure?" the young man asked, entering the room with his charges with freshly-evoked unease and suspicion that something was dreadfully amiss.

    An older bespectacled man with an accompanying Porygon beckoned the neophyte to come in and join what quickly became apparent to be some manner of quagmire.

    "Pull up a chair, it's not like we've been making any progress lately."

    "Eh? Why not?"

    "Take a look at this."

    The Corphish, Tropius, and their trainer all traded blank looks as the man explained the meaning of the long string.

    "That is what a monster from the last set of games would look like as raw hex on actual hardware."

    "So that's what we're using for this new game too?"

    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, give them abilities to make them different in battle."

    "And don't forget that set of stats for that side game. 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, so the game was to be a more accurate facsimile of the Pokémon training it mimicked, but 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 this?"

    "We are, that isn't the problem," the elder programmer snapped.

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

    The greenish-hair man went quiet, as his Pokémon traded looks with each other which seemed to perceive their trainer's terrible realization of just why everyone was here that was spreading over his face.

    "I think I can see the problem here."


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

    Two development cycles later, the problem remained unsolved. The team had made attempts to dance around the issue and continue working elsewhere such as ironing out bugs with the trading data states, but there was only so far that they could push the matter down the road before the bottleneck began to stymie their progress entirely.

    The air was tense that day after the month 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 raking 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 current set of Capsule Monster games and our present project."

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

    "Look, it's been four weeks with no progress. 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.

    "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 began to present a possibility that even the audience had not considered.

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

    The young programmer instantly heard murmurs begin to go about the room, and began to wonder if his roommate was implying just what he thought the older man was.


    "You're not seriously considering gutting backwards compatibility, are you?"

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

    The young man noticed the Corphish and the Tropius with him casting concerned glances. Apparently they had seen the visibly sinking expression on his face, and of those of the others in the audience.

    "But half of 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. 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. After all, this was a massive shift in the direction for the game, and the timetable given to the team was half-done already. A protest from the graphics artist spelled out just what the director's suggestions would entail.

    "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 young man looked blankly at the director. Yes, surely this would not be possible for the course of 6 months of continued work, after all, where on earth would they get all that material from?

    It was then that his attention was drawn to the Tropius reflexively batting one of her wings. Like the Corphish, she too grew fidgety when kept bereft of distractions for too long.

    Yes, it was a sign 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.

    It was then that an idea suddenly dawned on the programmer.

    "Wait a minute… I think I might know how we can do that," the young man 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 entire direction of the remaining six months, "What if we took some notes from our surroundings?"
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  8. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Hello, everyone. Once again, Thursday is here, which means that it's time for another chapter of the saga of the hapless desk jockeys responsible for making Pokémon games in Pokémon games.

    As you probably guessed from the last scene last week, this week's installment has the crew out and about on a task that in a sane project, happens well before any coding: fishing for ideas.

    So obviously, we know that in reality Game Freak likes to pull its ideas somewhat tightly from the world around us. So then that begs the question:

    Just what does that look like in the Pokémon world?:

    Part 4 - Amelioration Patterns

    5 month(s), 28 day(s), 8 hour(s), 41 minute(s), 22 second(s) to deadline:

    Not long afterwards, the young programmer and his roommates found themselves far removed from their workdesks in a barren waste of sand hemmed in by mountains. In the distance, a Trapinch could be seen pawing at the ground outside a sand pit, seemingly attempting to doodle something into the dirt with its feet.

    It was far from a boring location- but also far from a comfortable one. The sun beat down on the three men and their Pokémon as they stared wearily at rolling dunes ahead of them

    "How on earth did you ever get us into this?" the graphics artist asked while wiping away some sweat from his blueish hairline.

    The programmer gave a bit of a sheepish look after seeing a rather visible lack of amusement from the Tropius and Corphish accompanying him, and attempted to check the less-than-welcome reception.

    "Well, hey, it’s one way to get out of the hotel room, right?"

    "Do keep in mind that there is a practical purpose to this. This is field work for getting ideas for the game," the director reminded, his Wynaut being quick to mimic its trainer's feelings by sternly pointing at the young programmer and giving what he presumed was a withering leer like the one the blond-haired man was presently giving.

    The graphics artist's Azurill began to tug at its partner's pant leg. He attempted to soothe it with water from a plastic bottle, only to find it bereft of all but a few drops.

    "Well, what is there to take away from this aside from deserts being terrible for dehydration?" he said in exasperation, as the young programmer began to climb a dune in front of the group.

    "I'm sure there's some sort of history we can take away from he-"

    As the programmer neared the top of the dune, he had the misfortune of having a clod of sand from the ridge thrown into his eyes by a strong gust.

    "Ackpth! Okay, so that's why they were selling those goofy-looking goggles back at the rest area!"

    As the man's Tropius and Corphish rushed to his aid, the crustacean took a perhaps ill-advised attempt to wash out the sand from its trainer's eyes with a water gun. The director glanced at the unfolding chaos, thoughts stirring in his mind.

    "Hmm… The sand and wind acting as a barrier… I think that we could use this…"


    5 month(s), 21 day(s), 4 hour(s), 45 minute(s), 13 second(s) to deadline:

    A few days later, the programmer and his roommates found themselves and their charges walking down a route encrusted in the never-ending rain of light-gray volcanic soot. In somewhat grayed foliage, Spindas with perpetually dazed expressions moved to and fro erratically around their surroundings.

    "So… This is where all the ash for those glass blown flutes comes from…"

    The young programmer had heard of this place from a travel brochure, but seeing it in person was all the more mesmerizing. The Pokémon with them seemed to likewise find the novelty of the gray land around them entrancing, as they began to lazily make patterns in the soot, trading playful calls with each other.

    "It's like a snowy landscape… Except it's hot and muggy and much worse for your lungs."

    The director began to notice that the Pokémon playing around them were starting to take on shades of the surrounding soot as it clung to their bodies.

    "I notice that the ash tends to stick to you as you move through it…"

    "Er, well of course. It's how people around here gather the soot. They carry around a bag and let nature do the hard work," the graphics artist explained.

    The episode struck the director as something to mull for filling content.

    "Hmm… Seems like it has potential."


    5 month(s), 15 day(s), 15 hour(s), 6 minute(s), 40 second(s) to deadline:

    A few days afterwards, the programmer and his roommates found themselves at an island town of whitewashed buildings overlooking a caldera lake at its center. The town seemed to be a popular haunt for tourists, given the plethora of eateries and souvenir shops, but was strangely empty.

    The reason for the seeming incongruity was soon discovered after the programmer and his roommates found a young child from the area, who told a tale of a particularly stormy night just a couple months before the start of their project.

    "And the sky was dark and thundering, and the earth was shaking- And there were these red and blue Pokémon that were all 'Rawr, I'm gonna eat you!' and 'Bump wiggle wiggle' with each other! And then this green sky gecko showed up and the two got bored and left."

    The programmer and graphics artist traded blank stares with each other after hearing the child. Even the Pokémon with them seemed to feel as if perhaps this explanation was not quite telling the full, and likely much more concerning story.

    "I'm starting to understand why that news coverage of the big storm last year seemed like it was missing something."

    "No kidding…" the programmer replied.

    Meanwhile, the director seemed to be rather enthralled with the child's story. "Bump wiggle wiggle, eh?" he mused aloud, "Very interesting… And I think we have our new plot climax…"


    4 month(s), 20 day(s), 5 hour(s), 43 minute(s), 0 second(s) to deadline:

    Before long, the programmer and the others on the development team completed their last-minute inspiration gathering and returned to the thick of virtual battle with the different builds of their project.

    The game was finally beginning to show vestiges of being more than a handful of test results from a compiler, and it was finally robust enough to host a battle between the graphics artist and the programmer through two devkits linked with a cable.

    At that time, things were still rudimentary- all of the sprites other than those for the menu were still placeholders. Still, that did not stop the graphics artist as he moved his selector icon twice to the right over along a 2-line list of attacks and made a final, decisive move.

    "Whoo! And another victim is claimed for the champion!" the artist crowed.

    His Azurill happily cheered him on, while the programmer's Corphish seemed adamant on protesting his trainer's loss. The Tropius quizzically tilted her head and tried to examine the machines in the hands of the programmer and graphics artist, as she was at a loss for just what the two Pokémon and their companions were so worked up about.

    "Yeah, yeah. When are you ever going to hurry up and implement character sprites instead of these floating question marks?"

    "You can't rush art or battle prowess, young grasshopper," the graphics artist tut-tutted.

    It was then that the director, attracted by the ruckus the two made, came in and after a little chin-scratching, questioned the emergent victor over some. "Hmm… That's the tenth time that you've been able to defeat him with more than half a team left… What is the team that you've been using?"

    "Ah, just something thrown together with later game monsters.

    My star has four offensive moves, a recovery, and a status move," the graphics artist replied, beaming.

    "Thing's a blasted juggernaut. I honestly don't know how you're doing that," the programmer replied. A comment which made the director pause and mull something about the graphics artist's string of good fortune.

    "Hmm… What would happen if we cut things down to only four moves each again…? Can you quickly reset the match so that the last two moves of each monster have no power points?"


    4 month(s), 20 day(s), 5 hour(s), 32 minute(s), 12 second(s) to deadline:

    Once the director's limitations were imposed, the young man was pleasantly surprised to find that luck had shifted in his favor, "Whoo! Knew that things would finally turn around!"

    Much to the dismay of the graphics artist, who was quick to bemoan his loss.

    "Nooooo… My winning streak…"

    The director began to ponder the implications of what he had just witnessed, and mused "Hrm… Maybe it is a little unbalancing to be adding more moves to monsters…"


    3 month(s), 30 day(s), 11 hour(s), 48 minute(s), 5 second(s) to deadline:

    Two months after the field work was completed, the project was beginning to remotely resemble a game, and the programmer found himself with a bout of free time. While an amused Tropius and Corphish watched a young trainer on the sidewalk below toss small blocks from a dispenser to a Zigzagoon, the trainer of the two snooping Pokémon found himself checking up on the graphics artist.

    "Hey… Still working on those sprites?"

    "Yeah, I just finished up the final form of one of the starters."

    The programmer looked at the screen, confused- this was not what he thought the starter his colleague had sprited would look like.

    "Eh? I thought this one was supposed to be the 'Latiiken', though."

    "Got a memo stating that it didn't seem to mesh well with the other two, so… We have this instead."

    "Hrm… Shame. I kinda liked that overgrown bird," the programmer mused while looking over the screen.

    The artist realized that the programmer was uncharacteristically away from work...

    "Wait, so what are you doing right now?"

    "Oh, just waiting on the sound team for something to make up for them tricking me into running a script with a hidden recursive delete command and wiping out a night's worth of work…"

    "Just what would that be?"

    Just then, the abrupt sound of a cacophony of MIDI instruments could be heard coming from the room next door, all tuned to a singular, distinctive instrument. Much to the displeasure of some voices from next door, both human and Pokémon.

    "Hey! This is supposed to be a test of the entire soundfont! Play one of the other instruments already!"

    "That's what I've been doing!" another voice cried, "Everything's playing brass!"

    As the artist and the other Pokémon in the room turned towards the programmer and began to piece together just what he had been waiting on, the young man gave a contented smile and chuckled while giving an explanation.

    "Why, hearing their reactions to having some more trumpets in their lives."
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  9. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord


    But yeah, this is great. I noticed you still aren't watching those Said Bookisms, so... Look out for those. Yeah.
  10. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    It's amazing how fast time flies, here we are, nearing the end of this series of snapshots. The tail end means any number of things depending on context: in stories, it's where we see climax and denouement, a programming project is fairly similar... If with the added "perk" of sometimes being dramatically more sanity-taxing.

    Yep, we've arrived at the final grind, the death march, or as it's more colloquially known "crunch time". So with that, I leave you to delight in a somewhat larger-than-life version of what it's like to wrap up a project:


    Part 5 - Driven to Debugging

    2 month(s), 0 day(s), 4 hour(s), 59 minute(s), 1 second(s) to deadline:

    The project soon enough began to draw to a close. On an evening when the rain came down in torrents as some dark blue wraiths with yellow and light-blue eyes gathered under the eaves of the motel, the programmer found himself wrapping up a session of typing into his text editor.

    void add_listener(list, callback) {
    int last = LENGTH(list);
    list[last] = callback;
    list[last+1] = NULL;
    "Whew… Finally. No errors from compilation, I never expected that generalizing event handling would turn out to be such a chore."

    The Tropius and the Corphish were once again sidled against the programmer watching his progress, and turned to him looking quizzically. After all, it seemed as if the man was done… And yet his attitude seemed to indicate otherwise.

    "Yeah… I know, we're almost there… But now comes…" the man squinted and furrowed his brow as he braced himself for an oncoming trial, "Merging…"

    As the man fired up his terminal, he couldn't help but feel some dread for what was about to happen. It was the point where he and all of the other programmers working on their game would have to piece everything together.

    It wasn't so much putting all of the code together that worried the programmer… But rather getting everything to work afterwards.

    "Here goes… Once this thing gets all the conflicts sorted out, we should have a complete playable build… I hope," said the programmer.

    The programmer reluctantly pressed a button on his keyboard, and watched as a wave of messages flew by on the terminal's window. He braced himself, and much to his astonishment, saw none of the conflicts he was dreading to find.

    "Huh. No conflicts at all? Must be my lucky day."

    But as young man attempted to compile the patchwork of code, he realized that fate had not been nearly as kind to him as he had thought... an inscrutable message flashed onto the screen:

    "'Segmentation Fault'?"

    A sinking realization crept onto the man's face, as his Pokemon began to notice that something was amiss.

    "Maybe I should have kept my yap shut…"

    And they all began to understand that this ordeal was far from over.


    1 month(s), 19 day(s), 17 hour(s), 52 minute(s), 53 second(s) to deadline:

    It was the dreaded logical conflicts, times when the different parts of the patchwork would manage to be close enough to each other in form to not yield any errors while merging, but have critical differences in their meaning. A variable here, a function there, each with two or more completely incongruous expectations foisted on it by some part of the entire game.

    After about a week of long and sleep-deprived nights, the young programmer and his compatriots were able to coax them all into complying well enough. On the day the programmer was able to finally coax the game's code into compiling, his attendant partners were there playfully batting cardboard tubes at each other as he discovered that to his joy, "It compiles!"

    The Tropius and Corphish put their papery distractions aside and cheered for their trainer- after all, he was happy, meaning that surely his problems had come to a close? Right afterwards, the programmer loaded the compiling build onto a devkit, started it up, and immediately after his employer's logo flashed on the screen, promptly watched the game crash along with the celebratory atmosphere in his portion of the hotel suite.

    "You’re kidding me."


    0 month(s), 2 day(s), 0 hour(s), 2 minute(s), 34 second(s) to deadline:

    Yes, now it meant that it was time for the programmer to join in on the favorite activity of every practitioner of his craft, debugging. A time when one problem after another would be discovered, and have to somehow have their culprits teased out and fixed.

    It was a sisyphean process; one problem's solution would expose others that had not been uncovered, or worse- cause new ones. And so it went, all the way up to the final 48 hours.

    The programmer looked over a list of problems while taking a Lava Cookie from a mostly-emptied box in the hopes that its alleged medicinal properties worked on migraines. There was a problem with attack animations causing the game to freeze, berries somehow giving monsters negative stats, players were able to access illegal places on the map…

    "There's no way that I'm going to get through all of these…"

    The programmer sighed as he leafed through the still-massive list much as a doctor performs triage, attempting to identify which of the problems were most important to prioritize next as his Pokémon helped themselves to the unattended Lava Cookie box.

    "At least they're all mostly small bugs that QA should be able to ca-"

    Only for his heart to sink as he attempted to shove aside a boulder on the devkit… And the game immediately stopped responding to any of the devkit's buttons.

    "What?! Impossible!"

    The man reloaded the build. And then again. And again. Only to find that the same glitch reappeared in each case. He then went to his workstation, and looked over a debugging log: "That's impossible! I'm clearly sending the correct event flags, and there's no exceptions or errors. So why is-?"

    "Ahem…", a voice interrupted, which immediately caused the programmer to turn from his monitor- and his Pokémon to turn from the box of Lava Cookies they were raiding, pieces of their snacks still dangling from their mouths.

    "Oh… Hello, director… Er…"

    "Not to interrupt your work, but… There's a bit of an urgent meeting that's going to start in about 5 minutes…"


    0 month(s), 1 day(s), 23 hour(s), 43 minute(s), 38 second(s) to deadline:

    A short time later, the programmer found himself watching the director speaking before a small crowd of people in a familiar dingy room.

    "So… As you all know, it's presently 48 hours until we have to deliver a build for final QA to the office… And… Well."

    The programmer watched as his Pokémon looked about the room warily; they apparently also felt the thick tension clogging the air of the room, as the director attempted to tease out a way to break some less-than-pleasant news.

    "Last I was aware, we had at least a dozen known bugs that render the game unplayable."

    Some murmurs began to go about the room, as varying voices began to complain of the current state of affairs.

    "Well, looks like we can kiss those bonuses goodbye," said a man towards the back.

    "Grr… This is all the fault of those new programmers! If it was just a team of four like last time, we wouldn't be in this mess!", one of the veteran programmers fumed.

    "Our fault? We aren't the ones throwing in GOTOs every other function!"

    "It's a perfectly acceptable practice when it's properly documented!"

    The murmuring quickly evolved into rather heated argument, as the director attempted to rein in the project team.

    "Quiet! Quiet!"

    The arguments began to die down as the director calmly reminded the room, "Look, it's a challenge, yes. But we as a firm have come through tougher obstacles, and this one is no different."

    "All I ask is that until the deadline passes," the man pleaded, "That you try your hardest. If we succeed, we succeed. And if not, well…"

    There was an uncomfortable silence around the room, which the director finally broke: "We'll get there when we get there."


    0 month(s), 0 day(s), 0 hour(s), 14 minute(s), 57 second(s) to deadline:

    Just a little over 47 hours later, the young programmer found himself at his monitor again. He had not slept a wink since the emergency debriefing. And by some stroke of luck all of the game-breaking glitches had managed to be caught and patched…

    "Argh! WHY?!"

    With a solitary exception.

    "I don't believe this. 15 minutes left, and my bonus is going to be withheld over this stupid boulder glitch!"

    The programmer set down the devkit and slumped his head against his desk. This was how he was going to spend these last 15 minutes, just sitting and letting the inevitable pass. If there was a Duskull passing by outside which for some reason wanted to cart off the spirit of the project, the man would have not resisted. It was then that he felt a presence brushing at his arm.

    He turned, and saw that it was the Tropius that had spent the last year with him through his ordeal. Its highs, its lows, and now she was here to witness the deadline's expiration without a finished product. He sighed.

    "Hey girl, did I wake you up?"

    The Tropius curled its neck around the man's shoulder and nuzzled her audibly troubled trainer.

    "Yeah… I know. I thought we were going to be done too…"

    Much to his surprise, the Tropius nosed at the monitor. The man thought that he understood what the creature was suggesting, but responded, "Don't worry about it, it's not as if anything can be done about it right now."

    The Tropius was not satisfied, and proceeded to drag one of her trainer's arms over to the keyboard. The programmer decided that, as foolish as it was, surely there would be no harm in humoring her.

    "Eh… Fine, I suppose that one last step through can't hurt…"

    The man pushed the devkit aside and opened up a familiar text editor, beginning to go through various files one by one.

    "Uh… I guess I'll start from the top."

    struct player player_data;
    "This is the player struct, which handles all of the fields it's supposed to," the man said as he scrolled down.

    player_data.controls = TRUE;
    player_data.event_listeners = game_state -> strength_listeners;
    "This is the part where we actually track the event listeners for the player, which is really a list from the global state," the man continued

    player_data.event_listeners[11] = player_strength_callback;
    "And here is where we keep the callback," the man said, before opening another file.

    if (case == STR):
    strength_player_event = dispatch_event(player -> event_listeners[index(STR)], &data);
    "And this where the events are dispatched, it checks if the case is equal to the enum for Strength. Okay… Okay... I'm currently walking back and forth right now. Each step that I make sends out an event that the player's listeners respond to.

    Everything works. Except for this."

    The man quickly loaded up a save state onto the devkit, right before his accursed nemesis for the past two days.

    "When I try to move a boulder, I can move the rock just fine."

    And indeed the pixelated boulder did move, only for the devkit to become unresponsive.

    "But then it paralyzes my character and I have to reset just to get it to work!

    … And I don't know why this is happening."

    It was then that the Tropius nosed at a colored line on the screen.

    "Huh? What's it that you see?"

    void player_strength_callback(hm_evt *event) {
    if(event->active = TRUE) {
    } else {
    The man looked for a moment, then realized which line the sauropod was attempting to point out. He did not know whether or not it was a lucky guess, or perhaps she genuinely understood the problem, but there was indeed a critical error with the portion of the callback on the screen…

    The code didn't say "event->active == TRUE", which would have checked for equality, but rather "event->active = TRUE". It wasn't checking to see if the event was active, it was always making it so!

    "Yes. That… Would be a problem."

    The man hastily edited the typo in the code, compiled it, and after what seemed like an eternity, saw that no errors had arisen during compilation. He then sent the build to the devkit, and with bated breath, pushed the pixelated boulder again.

    And then he moved forward. And then backward. And then he accessed the menu. And quickly discovered that all of the buttons and their bindings were properly working.


    The programmer threw his arms around the Tropius, gratefully hugging and patting the creature for its help.

    "It's official, you're allowed to pig out on berries until you get sick!"

    The man quickly stopped himself, realizing that it had been over 50 hours since he last slept and that his body and mind were harshly protesting any further deprivation.

    "Er… Would tomorrow work?", he asked.

    The Tropius obliged, and after the programmer hastily uploaded the fixed build, led him to a triumphant and well-deserved rest on his hotel bed, the creature curling beside him as fatigue quickly claimed him.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  11. Venia Silente

    Venia Silente [](int x){return x;}

    Good to see this story approaching the release date (heh, it works on various levels!) and a nice touch of reality back there with all the programming and the nightmares that come with it.

    Now, does this novel way to be notified of a bug mark the beginning of a new era of (literally) Pokémon programmers? :p
  12. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    D'aww. Tropius are best debuggers.

    No problems here I haven't noted already.
  13. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    Glad that you've been enjoying it so far, Solovino. And I hardly think this is exactly a new era in (literal) Pokémon programmers, after all, they'd have had about a decade of experience by the point the story depicts. :p

    Today's installment will be the final one, and as you can surmise by the timestamp, has come a little early in order to beat ORAS release for readers in as many meaningfully populated timezones as possible. It's more of an epilogue in nature, but I felt that it was the most fitting way to deliver closure to this minor saga that was semi-accurate to the nature of programming. Thank you all for your time reading and reviewing this short series, and I am eager to hear any suggestions for things to take away from this experience for future projects:


    Part 6 - Release

    The following day, the programmer once again found himself in the conference room. The director was once again speaking, but today his message was far more relaxed in nature:

    "Well, I'm not fully sure how you all managed to do it…" the director said, pausing for dramatic effect, "But this is it. Mission accomplished."

    The people gathered in the room cheered and hollered. Their ordeal was finally over! Sure, there were bound to be problems discovered later... but that was not their problem anymore! They had somehow made it- the games they made worked well enough, it would go gold in a couple weeks after final quality assurance, and they would be sold in stores about a month afterward.

    The festive mood abruptly halted as the door to the room opened, and a girl with bangs in red-and-white clothes strolled in. The young man with the Tropius and Corphish noticed that a pall fell over the room.

    "Oh… Hello! I didn't know that there was a party here! Who are all of you?"

    "I'm the graphic artist! Aren't the Pokémon of Hoenn interesting?" the graphics artist hastily interjected, deftly unplugging the projector to hide their notes from the girl's eyes. He hushedly asked the programmer "Do we still have those Eevee?", desperately hoping for a distraction for the intruding girl.

    "Uh… I guess?" she said, "Anyways, I came because the hotel staff said-"

    The young man shook his head at the graphics artist's question and also joined in on the effort to try and get the intruder out of the room, and plied her with some boring-sounding banter, "Me? You're talking to me? I'm the programmer. I wonder what the slots are like here."

    "That's really nice, but-", the girl said while getting a bit flustered.

    "I'm the game designer-", the director began.

    "They said that I should come here for my Pokédex," the girl interrupted, frustrated with the way the strange people in the room were complicating her simple errand so much.

    "Oh, is that right? You're working on a Pokédex? It's tough trying to complete it, but don't give up. If you do complete it, please come to me."

    The director attempted to then shoo the girl out of the room, only for her to thrust a small red machine with an LCD screen into his face.


    The man sized up the readings on the machine's screen, as he attempted to come up with some manner of contrivance to be rid of the girl.

    "Er… Wow! That's awesome! Yep, it's totally awesome!" he exclaimed while looking around for a distraction. "This Pokédex is completely filled! You really must love Pokémon! I'm so impressed!" the director cheered as he hastily grabbed a sheet of Pikachu and Wynaut stationery that was bought from a tourist stand a few months prior.

    He quickly scribbled a congratulatory message onto it and thrust the paper into the girl's hand, cheerfully exclaiming, "Let me give you something in recognition for your feat!" before pushing her towards the door.

    "Now, do go on. Be sure to show your trophy to your mom and dad!"

    "But you just gave me a piece of paper and a st-!"

    The director cut short the girl's protests by shutting the door behind her the moment she crossed the other end of the doorway. He quickly turned the lock and turned back to the rest of the people in the room.

    "Now… I believe we had a party to continue?"


    After the party died down, the programmer took the opportunity to treat his Corphish to a rare mid-day opportunity to play in the pool. The creature happily swam about, happily engaging in a splash war with his only companion, the Tropius. Their trainer took in the scene bemusedly from a pool chair, when he suddenly heard a loud call, which jostled him from his rest and seemed to catch the attention of his Pokémon from the pool.


    The three looked up, and took in the peculiar sight of a small herd of sauropods flying overhead.

    "He was right, they really do fly past here…"

    When much to their amazement, one of the larger creatures in the group circled back from the group, and flew down, coming to rest on the pool patio after knocking down an umbrella and calling out to its smaller counterpart in the pool.


    The man's Tropius abruptly clambered out of the pool and ran over to the grown Tropius, eagerly nuzzling it. The man at first was at a loss as to what would cause this, when he thought back to about around seven months earlier… And realized that although the Tropius he cared for had grown since then, perhaps this other was one who recognized her.

    "Oh… So this is who you got lost from, isn't it?", he said quietly, beginning to understand just what this moment represented.

    The smaller Tropius looked at the man, at the Corphish which was just climbing out of the pool… And at the larger creature which she was still pressed up against, and began to visibly falter. As if she were on the precipice of two worlds, and unsure to which one she ought to go to.

    The man looked down at the green and yellow ball that belonged to the faltering Tropius, and after a long pause, answered her.

    "It's alright… If you want to go, go."

    The smaller Tropius appeared surprised by the programmer's attitude, and at first started to head over to the man, thinking that perhaps the sleep deprivation was affecting him... only to be interrupted by her trainer patting her head.

    "It's fine. I can see that you two mean a lot to each other… And I'm sure that we'll meet again."

    The younger Tropius nuzzled the man, and began to turn to head off, turning back in time to catch the man doing something to her Nest Ball that caused a blue light to connect to her, and then dissipate.

    "You stay safe, you hear. I'm totally putting you back to work debugging the next time we meet!"

    The Tropius gave a bemused toss of her head, and then, as the Corphish and the man waved her off and bade her farewell, took to the skies with her larger counterpart, disappearing into their herd and fading as they headed off into the distance.


    While the Tropius was leaving, the director was engaged in a teleconference with his superiors, wrapping up his account of the project to a few men gathered around a table on the screen.

    "And that is how the project managed to make the timetable's final deadline."

    "Ah, so I see that Hoenn wound up contributing more than just a convenient place to meet," one of the men mused.

    "It's quite fascinating, really," another added, "When we started to base game settings off of real-world locations more with the second set of Capsule Monster games, at first I thought that we'd be making a massive mistake. But I see that perhaps the strategy lends itself well to development."

    The director chuckled, "What can I say? In a big world full of wonderful things, you'll never run short on places and things to draw inspiration from." And it truly was, he thought, especially if his junior roommate's account of the last-minute discovery that saved the project's timeline was remotely accurate.

    "That is true," one of the men on the screen replied, "But… I think that perhaps the local weather didn't lend itself well to an orderly development, even if things wound up pulling together at the end."

    "Perhaps for the next Capsule Monster games, we should consider having the developers work someplace a bit colder," another man jokingly suggested. Both ends of the conversation couldn't help but laugh.


    About a week after the project concluded, it came time for the man to leave Hoenn. He looked out from the deck of a ferry, towards the town that had been his host for the past year vanishing over the horizon.

    Yet the man could not help but be troubled by something that had been said towards the beginning of that year… The director had asserted that the bonds that he would form during his project would far outlast its end. While the man had indeed developed a number of contacts with his partners and roommates from his experience…

    He couldn't help but feel as if they somehow rang hollow.

    The programmer's thoughts were interrupted after he felt his Corphish tugging at his pant leg and pointing off in another direction.

    "Huh? What's it that you see, buddy?"

    The man turned, and saw that it was a herd of flying Tropius passing nearby. Among them was a smaller individual, who as she passed, made eye contact with the man and his Corphish and gave out a joyful call.

    "Heh… Guess we're not the only ones taking away something from this project."

    And in that moment as two worlds fleetingly brushed up against each other, the programmer's doubts about the director's words were laid to rest.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  14. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    One word:


    This was absolutely fantastic! Thank you for sharing it with us!
  15. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    This corphish has good ideas. I move that control of the company be transferred solely to said corphish.

    Awww. Someone must've called the li'l thing a mudbug at some point. Anyway, yeah, officially liking this corphish. :D

    Oh hi wynaut. :D

    Yeah don't parp with blue blobbles (or the pink versions); it tends not to end well.


    To say nothing of the timing. Also hissing corphish = adorable.

    Grumpy lil thing. It's kind of endearing, really.

    And so my 1st* and 2nd-gen shinies languish on Stadium 2.

    (*It's just a mimic-tricked ditto.)


    Seriously, I am just... so fond of 3rd gen. ;w;

    Wynaut you are too adorable for words.

    PFFFFF. Man, there is some genuinely delightful humor in this thing.

    Oops, cue music

    Between "bump wiggle wiggle" and "green sky gecko", this is probably the best summary of the Hoenn games' plot I've ever read.


    What a wonderful image.

    Oops, cue music.

    All of these pokémon are just so diddly darn adorable.

    She'd better get a place in the credits, too!

    Bananasaur. That's how.

    Okay that was just brilliant right there. Again: great humor.

    Yes. Bananasaur.


    This was a legitimately fun read, and clever to boot. Thanks a thousand for posting. :D

Share This Page