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An Interview With Toni Mikael Korpela: The Rise and Fall of the Pokemon MMORPG

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Most game enthusiasts would be familiar with Pokémon Global, PokeNet, or 2D Pokémon MMORPG. One of the original team members who developed this open source game took some time to talk to us. His name is Toni Mikael Korpela, hails from Finland, and is a tech geek with aspirations to start his own tech company.

Hello Toni, welcome to Blogcritics. When did you start 2D Pokémon MMORPG development? How many were there in the project initially?

 
I joined a Pokémon Game project when they were looking for Java programmer in 1999. This project was a single player game done with one of those RPG maker systems. The project owner wanted to do MMORPG version of it and he knew Java himself. So we started to code, but we merged with another Pokémon MMORPG project which had already built [a] small codebase. We did not have the community yet. At this point we had not yet finished even an alpha version of the code. After this it was a month and we had been working on an alpha version which loaded one map and players could move in the map. From there we started to recruit more developers such as mappers, quest creators; all volunteers. Every one of us put our free time to the game project and we started to grow even though we had to do some feature rewrites on the road, we were getting there and would have got there. This is collected timeframe of Pokemon game projects from 1999 to 2009.

What do we mean by MMORPG? How popular has this game had become worldwide?

MMORGP is a Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game like everyone most likely knows. In the end the game had around 50,000 members. From 100 to 500 players playing in any given moment, but we could not handle over 500 players that well as we were self hosting the server on a 10MB uplink and we had a major bug in our game rendering for a long time which caused the game to lag when many players were in one map. Though if I remember correctly this would have successfully been fixed for the release which only was up for two days to play. The game featured 2D world of Pokemon. If the player avatar was moving in grass pokemons might pop up and challenge the player to fight. The player could also challenge other players into [a] fight or trade. The players could store their extra pokemons at the pokemon centers and heal their pokemon there like in real Pokemon games. The players could add people as their friends and chat with them. The Non-player characters spoke about things and were planned to give quests, but we didn’t get that far on implementing the game.

This game, your team, and your domain got into some kind of trouble in 2010? What was it exactly?

We got Cease and Desist from Nintendo for breaking their trademark and copyright. Basically this was because we were creating [a] copy of their game.. [on] the PC. The letter we got from Nintendo wanted us to halt distribution and development of the game and give the domain to them. We got to keep the domain as it did not break their trademark or copyright.

What was the main reason of a fight between your project team and Nintendo? What was the reason and how did it conclude?

Reason? Money (That could have been Nintendo’s intentions, probably, to grab that project, and commercialise it). I can only speak [about] what I think, but the reason why Nintendo shut us down is because we were creating working game whose popularity kept rising by the day. They possibly saw it as a threat… shutting down their Pokemon game sales, even though many of our members were playing the real Pokemon games too and sharing that extremely long friend code. Though in the end the reason why they could shut us down was because we were breaking their Intellectual Property rights such as trademark and copyright.

Are you out of this team now? What are your future plans?

Yes I am out of the team, but I am closely following their new project. My future plan is to complete the IT Engineer studies after that I am not certain. You might find me in my own company or coding for some small or big company.

Is 2D Pokemon MMORPG Project totally over or you see any future in it?

Not in our and not in anyone else’s unless its Nintendo itself (The future of [a] PC version is in [the] dark). Nintendo will shut down everything fan made, though they probably will never make MMORPG version of Pokemon.

Any other project you are involved in currently?

Not in development, but I’m following the development of several projects. Well, I do still write code myself for the web and the desktop, but these are my own handy tools.

What message would you like to convey to your readers on Blogcritics?

I hope that everyone…[has] good luck and [a] nice future. Keep on writing great articles, that’s something I can not do myself so easily!

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