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 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:
Part 1 - Adventure adventure = new Disaster();
A man 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.
"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.
"Are you nuts?"
"We didn’t even have a playable build in twelve months with the last set of games!"
As the young man 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?"