HANKE:A MIGRATION OF REGIONAL POKEMON IS POSSIBLE
In a second interview with German Website Wired, Hanke discussed about the future of AR gaming. Although in this interview he discusses on how AR games will grow in the years to come including he makes a minor note on how a migration of regional Pokemon is actually a posibility(This has been confirmed by the author of the article – Credit to /r/TheSilphroad):
The Inteview (Translated – Find the original HERE):
The most revolutionary thing of Pokemon GO was probably the fact that monsters suddenly became part of the real world. For the first time many people experienced a new technology, which will soon become our everydaylife. At least John Hanke, the man behind the hype, believes in this. WIRED spoke with the CEO of Niantic about the future of Augmented Reality games.
John Hanke is thrilled that he can go outside to catch a few Pokémon. He sat all day in a Berlin hotel and gave one interview after another. The Subject: His infamous game Pokémon Go, which took the summer of 2016 by storm and is still one of the most financially successful smartphone games in the world.
Hanke develops games in order to give more reasons to people to leave the house. His first title, Ingress, was popular, but difficult for beginners and therefore never inspired the general public. Pokémon Go, on the other hand, was much more accessible – possibly because of the small monsters that many knew from their childhood and youth. For the first time, Hanke gave many people the opportunity to experience the fascination of Augmented Reality (AR): The Pokémon could be found in the real world by using a smartphone.
We walk across the Berlin Gendarmenmarkt and the wind ruffles the hair of the 49-year-old startup founder, graying his temples. Hanke snaps Poké balls across the screen. Looking at the smartphone, he looks no different than the millions of gamers who are still running the streets of the world with a smile on their face. A total of half a billion times, Pokémon Go has been downloaded.
“Ah, I have not yet [catch one],” murmurs Hanke, pointing to the Swinub on his display – a monster that is half pig, half mollusk. In Berlin, this Pokémon live in almost every street corner. Quite different from Hanke’s home town , San Francisco: “We have mainly Krabby’s,” he says. Not every monster is the same in Pokémon Go, which is exactly what makes the game so attractive to Hanke. Some monsters live even on certain continents – perhaps there could be a migration sometime, the Niantic CEO points.
Through such mechanisms, Pokémon Go creates an alternative reality that has its own rules, but its always oriented to the real world. An example: The most important places in the game are historical buildings or artworks in reality.
Hanke himself is not a Pokémon expert, he does not know many monsters. He has already climbed up to level 19 on walks with his buddy Pokémon Tentacruel and his youngest son. Although, Hanke leaves the game details to Niantic’s Designers. The CEO is more focused on the subject of augmented reality, the technology behind Pokémon Go. Hanke reveals how the future looks in his eyes.
WIRED: In the past, you’ve always talked about building an Augmented Reality platform for your games. What does that mean?
John Hanke: For us Augmented Reality means that games take place in the real world. It’s not just about seeing Pokémon when you’re pointing the smartphone at them. We want to improve the way the world is visualized. There are ways to do that with phones, an example of this is Google’s Tango technology. But there are also startups and corporations working on AR glasses such as HoloLens or MagicLeap. We will expand our platform to support the relevant devices – as soon as there is enough of them on the market.
WIRED: What will be the AR games of the future?
Hanke: When I imagine the future, it is a continuation of what we already do with Ingress and Pokémon Go. New devices will make the visualization more real and rich, but the central game mechanics will remain the same. You run from place to place to interact with resources. It is about creating motives for cooperation and mutual game with others. This is really the core of our games.
WIRED: Would AR glasses actually change the game a little?
Hanke: Yes, but I do not think they are insignificant. They would make it possible to play the game in a way to keep your head up, to keep eye contact with other people. You could see all the cool stuff around you. Our goal is to make you discover new places in the city, you have never seen before. This is easier if you are not constantly looking down at your smartphone. I think it would be an important evolutionary step for Augmented Reality to create the appropriate hardware.
WIRED: Will Smartglasses be so successful?
Hanke: I believe in smartglasses. Although we had a bad start with Google Glasses. I was one of those who have worn Google Glasses for six weeks. I thought it was cool for four weeks, and the last two weeks was not so cool. Then they landed in the drawer. But that is the case with many technologies, the first smartphones were gigantic blocks and also the first computers were not really useful. People thought that they could only be used for indexing recipes or so. It always takes a few cycles until new technologies get a fun factor to become useful – smartglasses are getting there.
WIRED: There is, still indeed, a certain skepticism about the technology.
Hanke: It is easy to make fun of it and say: I will never put on such a giantic thing on my head. But devices will soon look like normal eyewear, they will be cool and fashionable. You will be able to express your personality with them. They will be intelligent and provide you with data that will make your life better. You will be able to read about the most important news without constantly staring at your phone. It won’t be like today, where you always have to get your smartphone out and then put it away again – like a pocket watch.
WIRED: So will we have something that is still a smartphone, but looks and works differently?
Hanke: Maybe, it will simply fit more naturally in our lives.
WIRED: Will you develop such devices at Niantic?
Hanke: We are looking for ways to speed up the adoption of Augmented Reality. I would not rule out that hardware may help. But at the moment, we are not developing any AR devices.
WIRED: In your lecture at the Mobile World Congress, you talked about Location Beacons.
Hanke: Determining where someone is standing is still a big problem for AR games. How can they help make your AR games better? In rooms there is no good solution for position determination. GPS does not function reliably there and also the triangulation over mobile antennas is difficult. The compass of a phone does not work reliably in buildings with a lot of metal or when you’re on the train.
WIRED: How do the Beacons come into play?
Hanke: AR apps must know I’m here and not over there. You must know whether I look at you or look in another direction. Another disadvantage of GPS is that it consumes a lot of power. There must be better solutions. A Beacon is the one that can provide higher precision and lower power consumption.
WIRED: And would this also allow more interesting game content?
Hanke: If a Beacon knows that I am directly in front of an easel. I could then, for example, hang up my phone and read a secret message. We can not realize this at the moment, because we do not know precisely where I stand. If we know the position better, however, it becomes possible.
WIRED: So could then, as an example, also Pokémon interact with the real world?Like hiding under a table or behind it?
Hanke: Yes. But there are two problems that need to be solved before this works: If you want to see a Pokémon standing on a table, hiding under it or bouncing on it, we need to know two things. We need to know where the viewer is and we need a 3D view of the space and all the objects in it. Beacons are responsible for the first. For the second, there are already approaches at HoloLens or Project Tango. You build a point cloud of the environment, a form of 3D mapping. This makes Pokémon possible, which are far more realistic.
WIRED: So AR gaming is great, are the technologies market-ready?
Hanke: Oh, yes, gaming drives these technologies. Look at the first days of the personal computer. What came first? The Atari Console with Pong. Then came Apple, then IBM. Word processing programs did not come first. Games do not take it so accurately, even if the technology is not yet perfect, expensive or a bit strange to wear. The people will get involved in games on Augmented Reality.
WIRED: But will it go beyond games? What about the industry, the military?
Hanke: We think mainly about products for consumers, but the topic is definitely bigger than games. Augmented Reality is the natural successor to our current smartphone world. Shopping, travel, even social media and dating – for all these things AR apps will be useful and important. Imagine you are coming to San Francisco and are gazing at the most interesting historical places through a pair of spectacles while a city guide whispers to you what you see. Or imagine you want to go for the first time with the New York subway and you are simply guided through the process. It is the computer platform of the future and it is not so different from what we can already do with our smartphones.