Examining the Pokemon Hunter series in-depth!

  • sbester
  • 12/26/2012 11:00 PM
Planning on creating a whole series worth of games? Then this is the article for you! Welcome to the second issue of Series Master!

This time we’re here with halibabica and his series of dungeon crawlers, Pokemon Hunter! There are (so far) 3 complete installments in this series and the 4th has been in the making for (wow) 4 years or so. I’ve dabbled in all three of the complete games myself, and while not quite the prettiest or most extravagant games on the site, I found them to be really well made and planned out. Here’s the interview!


Sbester: Can you briefly explain the origins of the series, and how Pokemon Hunter evolved into a full-fledged series? Was that the plan all along?

Halibabica: It all started with my Pokémon card collection. I always loved looking at the cards, their different attacks, strengths, weaknesses, etc., and I had always wanted to do something more with them than the trading card game offered. When I found out about RPG Maker, a Pokémon RPG was the first thing that came to mind, and I adapted the cards into the enemies used in-game. A series quickly became the intention, as each episode would cover a new set of trading cards.

Screens from the first PH game.

Sbester: What is the overall goal you had in making this series?

Halibabica: The goal was to throw Pokémon into something of a new light. The commercial games are RPGs, but not at all like other RPG series (such as Final Fantasy). So these games, concept-wise, are what Pokémon might've been like if it were a more traditional RPG.

Sbester: Why Pokemon?

Halibabica: The reason for this is mostly covered in my answer to the first question, but I have an undeniable love for the series, regardless of how many things about it tend to irritate me (grind-fest, hidden statistics, arrrgh).

Screens from PH2.

Sbester: All three of the completed games are quite similar to one another in a lot of respects. What is it that keeps bringing players back to them with each new installment?

Halibabica: Honestly? I have no idea. I don't even know why someone would pick up one of the games anymore. When I first started making them, they were extremely unpopular. Each game offers new enemies and places to explore, but at their heart they play out almost exactly the same. Unfortunately, a lot of my weird design choices really held the series back, and even if I'd done a better job, I still suspect many would've been turned away by my choice of fan game alone. Pokémon RPG Maker games are not in high demand, and it seemed a lot of people couldn't understand I wasn't just making a clone of the real games, or why I wasn't.

Screens from PH3.

Sbester: What advice do you have for people who want to begin their own series of games? What did you do that made you stick with it for so long?

Halibabica: My advice would be not to start your series with your first game. Try something else first. Get a feel for the maker, learn what you can and can't do with it. If you have a series in mind, and you really want to see it succeed, make sure you know what you're getting into first, and be sure to listen to any criticism you receive.

I was only able to stick with it so long because I was absolutely infatuated with RPG Maker. I was using 2000, so there was no help manual, and everything I learned about the program was pretty much self-taught. The more I learned, the more advanced I was able to make the games. But now, there are hardly any mysteries left, and so it doesn't appeal to my problem-solving skills like it used to. That and the series’ rapid decline in public approval have been what killed it altogether.

Screen from PH4 (demo).

Sbester: The 4th installment is currently on hiatus, and has been under development for a long time (I’m going through the same problem with my series’ fourth installment). Will it ever be finished? What about expanding the series past that?

Halibabica: I can safely say it will not. It's something I've been trying to work back around to for a long time, but my perspective of it has changed considerably over the years. In my eyes, it's no longer worth pursuing.

The series itself isn't completely doomed, however. Among the criticisms I've faced along the way, one of the more prominent ones matches your third question perfectly: "Why Pokémon?" Why Pokémon indeed. It may have started out as a fun little thing with my trading cards and all, but ultimately I was creating a fan product when I didn't have to be. Take the Pokémon out of Pokémon Hunter, and...guess what? You have an original series.

So that's where they're going now. I'm taking out the intellectual property that isn't mine and replacing it with original works. I plan to finish one last demo for PH4, then I'm taking the series in this new direction, starting with the first and working back up.

Sbester: Any final thoughts?

Halibabica: I don't regret anything I've done in terms of game making (well, okay, maybe RMN Bros. 3). It's been a journey, and an important part of my life so far. I've learned a great deal, both on my own and through others' thoughts and criticism. There are many things I'd have done differently, but there's no other way it could've gone for me to develop the way I did as a game maker. I hope others can learn from my mistakes and improve their own games that they might avoid such a fate. I also hope someday I can make an RPG that is not only well-liked, but that I can be proud to say I produced.


Exciting stuff! Can’t wait to see what the series turns into! Anyways, keep a lookout for part 3 very soon!