Germany #2 – Pokemon inside


A short ride today to return to Germany. I’m now in Deutschland for a week, until I take a short ferry to Denmark.

Holland will remain as a few days of grey skies and rain for me. I now had more days of rain in a little more than a week in Europe, than in four months across the US. But I’ve been especially lucky there. I stopped under a bridge to let the rain pass, and then it realized it was the border between the two countries! And not a Pokemon in sight. More on that below.

What else from today? I still greatly appreciate the fantastic network of bike lanes all across the region. All slow vehicles like bikes, small motorbikes and tractors are due to use these secondary roads, meanings bikes have them entirely. These are good, smooth roads, where you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car, or swept away by a passing truck – this last bit happens daily in France. So having all these lanes crisscross the countries is glorious. I see a lot of people using them, even when I’m in the middle of a forest, and there’s nothing 5-6kms either way. Mostly older people actually, and many of them have an electrical bike. I saw a lot of men my age in a competition mode in Belgium, but not around here.

When I was still in Holland, quite a few Swedish flags popped up in one neighborhood. I couldn’t snap a picture as the wind died down on me, but it was surprising to see them here. Could be read as a sign.

I ended up in Lingen, where I’m being hosted by a family who does bike trips every year, even with a young baby, which sounds like a very tough challenge!

So, as is my birthright as a Frenchman, I’m due a daily rant. Today is on Pokemon go. What a terrible waste. Here is a game with an unbelievable appeal. Catch Pokemon in real life? Count me in! A hundred million downloads in a few weeks. Okay. But then what? You catch your first Pokemon, you see them in VR, there’s a little skill gameplay, you’re happy you get them, you can take funny pics that make for excellent buzz. It works.

Then you’re supposed to go in the hunt for new ones. But no radar, no help of any kind. Pure luck to get them. I thought, on a trip like this, I’ll be loaded by the end. And it started well : on my first stop I caught five new ones. Since then, in ten days, only three (okay plus one while writing this). I’m not checking every five minutes for sure, as anyway in the countryside there’s nothing. So this gameplay of catching them all is broken.

The next gameplay would be training them. I haven’t seen anything about it. You spend items to get them to progress. That’s really poor. But what’s worse are the arenas. The fighting bit is where Pokemon shines : the battles are simple, varied, effective. But not here. The guys holding the arenas are already ten times stronger, you don’t get to do anything but get slapped across the face with a large trout. Plus your pokemons don’t get back into shape. A cardinal rule of free to play is : wait or pay. Here, waiting is useless. So fighting is out of the picture.

What else? I don’t see any way to trade or exchange with other people. The pokestops are really the only useful things on the map, and associating them with local landmarks is great, but after a week, the bag is full anyway. Eggs are a nice idea, but if you go too fast (like biking), the distance is not counted at all – and the app must remain open anyway, which is a pain. And it kills the battery faster than video.

I don’t see the game going very far if the current content is what they had in mind. You can always make players come, but without a good game, they won’t stay.


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