Ability discussions are terrible, and have been terrible for a long time. In the PR cycle before CAP 4, I planned to make a PR thread to address some of the problems, but I procrastinated too long and I missed the window. During CAP 4, a few other problems with Ability discussions cropped up, so I just added them to the list to be addressed now. Here are a few of the big problems I see with Ability discussions. Feel free to agree or disagree with these, and feel free to bring up others that I am missing: Ability discussions are too easily derailed by unreasonable ability suggestions. This is subjective as hell, I know. But those of you that have been through a bunch of CAP's know it happens a lot. The ability thread is humming along nicely and someone brings up an ability that is overpowered, underpowered, or just plain weird -- and the ability thread goes into a tailspin. People not only argue whether the ability is, in fact, overpowered/underpowered/just plain weird -- but they also argue if we should be arguing about it! We end up spending so much time talking about the overpowered/underpowered/just plain weird ability suggestion that we don't actually spend much time talking about the "regular" ability suggestions. After a certain amount of time, it becomes almost impossible to get the ability discussions back on track. Even if the TL comes in and throws out the option, it taints the rest of the process. Compared to the overpowered/underpowered/just plain weird ability suggestion, the rest of the abilities on the table appear boring or uninteresting and the discussion suffers. On top of that, because we have ten billion ability discussions threads (more on that later), the overpowered/underpowered/just plain weird abilities tend to be resurrected over and over again. This is exhausting to everyone and makes it almost impossible to have a fresh, engaging discussion of abilities after we've fallen down the rabbit hole of overpowered/underpowered/just plain weird ability suggestions. Even if we don't "fall down the rabbit hole" completely, every CAP we get unreasonable ability suggestions that take a certain amount of time to neutralize. I can't count the number of times we've had Wonder Guard suggested for CAP. Yes, WONDER GUARD. It comes up more than you might think, even though it is retarded beyond belief to mention it in the context of any CAP we have made over the past 5 years. And even though I don't believe we ever really considered it seriously -- it still provokes a few reactions in the threads, even if just for people to post "That's retarded, you idiot." Honestly we really don't need this kind of distraction. Ever. We have enough trouble having a decent discussion about reasonable abilities, without having to deal with random shit like Wonder Guard suggestions from left field. Custom abilities are not worth the trouble. I used to love custom abilities. I was a big proponent of Mountaineer back on the very first CAP, and I often was leading the charge on other custom ability discussions on other CAP's. I wish I could go back and slap myself in the face for encouraging any custom mechanics on Create-A-Pokemon. We haven't actually chosen any custom abilities or moves in a long time on CAP, but the lingering possibility is always out there and it's a distraction. Rarely is a custom mechanic required these days, considering the vast array of abilities and moves out there currently. If we can't make due with the options given to us by Nintendo, then we aren't trying very hard. And any time a custom mechanic is discussed, it tends to be a magnet for broken fanboy suggestions. I don't think any TL in their right mind would open the door to a custom ability in a modern CAP, but after recent events, I don't put anything past our Topic Leaders. We need to deal with this decisively in terms of CAP Policy and establish very clear rules about custom mechanics, if we allow them at all. We have too many ability discussions. Ability discussions are shit anyway, but to make it worse, we have to deal with the same shitty discussions over and over AND OVER. It was bad enough in DP with just two abilities, but in BW with three abilities it is unbearable. We should not be altering the ability selection process in the middle of every CAP. This is a general problem that came along with the Strong TL model -- the Topic Leader deciding to re-order the CAP process or re-structure how a given step will be executed to suit their project. It was a decent idea in theory, but in practice it just makes things confusing -- and ability threads seem to be the target of most last-minute process alterations. I don't care what the process is, or what the order of steps should be for Create-A-Pokemon. But let's decide on a process and then stick to it during the project. If we want Abilities to come before Stats, that's fine. If we want Abilities to come after Stats, that's fine too. Hell, we can put Abilities before Typing for all I care -- but we should not be deciding the process order mid-stream during an ongoing CAP. It's confusing for most people, particularly newcomers, and it doesn't give us the time or opportunity to discuss the implications and consequences of the proposed change. Our process ordering is a fundamental part of CAP policy, and should only be changed through a proper Policy Review, not because we picked some Concept that supposedly "requires" Ability to be chosen earlier, later, or otherwise manipulated to suit the Concept direction. Any Concept that requires a change in process to pull it off, is a BAD CONCEPT and should be not be slated in the first place. Arguments over No Ability and Non-Competitive Abilities are total crap. It's not just the abilities being discussed that make the threads terrible -- but also the fact that after the first discussion we then get the added joy of discussing whether we should be discussing abilities at all! Yes, I'm referring to the perennial mind-numbing debate of No Ability, No Competitive Ability, Pedantic Argument of What The Terms Mean For This CAP. Fictional Sample Ability "Discussion" (Move your mouse to reveal the content) Fictional Sample Ability "Discussion" (open) Fictional Sample Ability "Discussion" (close) "I want No Ability." "I want No Competitive Ability." "Wait aren't those the same thing?" "No, they aren't. NCA means we want a flavor ability." "Well, I don't want another competitive ability so I'm OK with either of those. NA or NCA." "Hey, I suggested <Whatever>, which is obviously NCA." "No it's isn't! <Whatever> is competitive as hell. Here's why -- <blah, blah, blah>." "No you're wrong. <Whatever> is non-competitive. Here's why -- <blah, blah, blah>." "Hi, I see this argument about <Whatever> and I don't want it, so I won't be voting for NCA in the next poll." "Wait you obviously got mixed up, because we are arguing that <Whatever> is not NCA, so you should still support NCA in the next poll, assuming <Whatever> is not allowed." "Huh? You're saying that <Whatever> is not not competitive? Therefore it is competitive, therefore it won't be included in the slate?" "Well, maybe. That's assuming the TL agrees with us, but we don't know that yet." "OK, well I don't really want any ability at all. I just want this to be a single ability pokemon." "Oh then you don't actually agree with me. You should be voting for No Ability." "Wait, if people that don't want <Whatever> split their vote between No Ability and No Competitive Ability, doesn't that actually INCREASE <Whatever>'s chances of winning?" "Maybe, that's why I am arguing we should have a completely separate shitty, boring discussion where the only two options being discussed are No Ability and Non-Competitive Ability. Then when that is decided, we can go back to having a shitty boring discussion about <Whatever> and the winner of the NA/NCA discussion." "Hey, I don't agree with that! I support <Whatever> and I think it would be unfair to have a completely separate shitty boring discussion on NA and NCA, because it unfairly biases everyone that one of those options should ultimately win. I think all three options should be discussed." "I think we should have one separate shitty boring discussion on whether <Whatever> is competitive or not. Then we should have another separate shitty boring discussion between No Ability and Non-Competitive Ability. THEN after all that we can come back to this shitty boring discussion on the ability we are choosing." "Yeah that makes sense." "Wait, if we choose NCA then do we suggest options now? What will the non-competitive ability be?" "We don't know yet. So don't suggest a non-competitive ability in this thread. Just support NCA in this poll, and then later suggest non-competitive abilities in the NCA thread that will come after art, assuming NCA wins." "But what if I'm not sure if the ability I want is competitive or not? Shouldn't I mention it here and see if I'm right? Because I really want Cute Charm on this pokemon, but I don't want to find out later that it's actually competitive." "You can bring it up now, but if you really want a Non-Competitive Ability you need to argue for NCA and not a specific ability. Because if you argue for Cute Charm in this thread, most people think that is a crappy ability, so they will dismiss it completely now." "Ok, so even though we are supposed to mention abilities that we want in this thread, you're saying I should not mention the ability I want?" "Right. Well, sorta. Don't mention what you want, just mention that you want a Non-competitive Ability." "But is Cute Charm non-competitive or not?" "I don't know. So yeah, I guess you have to mention it until we get a ruling from the TL. But I still think your time would be better spent arguing against this <Whatever> nonsense, because now it looks like it's going to win." "No <Whatever> isn't gonna win. Because it's non-competitive too." "No <Whatever> is very competitive, but it's still gonna win, and I like it. I think <Whatever> is perfect." "So if we first vote between No Ability and Non-Competitive Ability -- which one will you be voting for?" "I'll be voting for Non-Competitive Ability. Not because I think <Whatever> is Non-Competitive. But because I don't want No Ability. Then when Non-Competitive Ability wins, I'll flip back over and argue that <Whatever> is actually competitive. Unless, of course, it looks like the TL thinks <Whatever> is non-competitive. If that happens, then I'll switch sides again, and start arguing for Non-Competitive ability. Then in the Ability poll after the art is chosen, I'll bring up <Whatever> again, and support it." "Sounds like a good simple plan. I agree." "Hi, guys. I think we should consider Wonder Guard." Arguments like that come up all the time, and they make me want to gouge my eyes out with a sharp stick. To one degree or another, it comes up every CAP and probably comes up multiple times on every CAP because of the bazillion Ability threads problem I mentioned earlier. And there is no way to avoid this with the current process. Heck, the current process encourages it. We have to do something to stop the nonsense. Abilities can and should be one of the most interesting parts of the CAP process. But for many reasons that have grown over time, Abilities are often the worst discussions in Create-A-Pokemon. So here are my proposals. Proposal 1: We will only choose a maximum of two abilities on every CAP. CAP is competitive project and for competitive purposes, we don't need more than two abilities. In looking through the list of more than 500 pokemon, I can count on one hand the number of pokemon that have three legitimate competitive abilities. And almost no pokemon has three abilities that see regular use. If the pokemon has three viable abilities, at least one of them is clearly inferior to another ability, and would only be used as a gimmick. There is almost no real game precedent for competitive pokemon to have three usable abilities. (Birkal pointed out Scrafty, which I agree has three legit abilities that get used. But yeah, you get the point. It's almost non-existent.) So one possible solution would be to have a maximum of TWO competitive abilities, and force the third ability to be non-competitive. That sounds nice, but isn't practical. Because the definition of Competitive and Non-Competitive is so ambiguous -- if we allow three abilities to be discussed, then we are committing ourselves to three messy ability discussions. Even if you think the third discussion is purely flavor -- it won't be. It will be filled with bitching about what is Flavor or not and will devolve into the Competitive vs Non-Competitive bullshit I enumerated earlier. In this PR thread where we first discussed CAP for the 5th gen, it was actually part of the stated policy conclusion: But for some reason, this was completely forgotten or thrown aside in CAP 4, and we decided to give our pokemon three good competitive abilities. Maybe everyone was still reeling from the Drought debates of CAP 3, or maybe Bob just went and did his own thing. I don't really know. I was scratching my head at the time the third ability thread came up for CAP 4, but it was one of many other process and topic leadership problems that we were dealing with as moderators, as I have detailed in other PR threads. Regardless of the reasons the policy was not observed on the past few projects, I want to make a new policy and stick to it. We need to take the entire third ability discussion completely off the table as a matter of policy. With three abilities, at best we get a third flavor ability that makes the fanboys happy. At worst, we derail the abilities discussion into a confusing shitstorm. It's just not worth it. The benefit is not worth the risk. There are examples of pokemon with only one or two abilities, even with the introduction of Dream World and Hidden Abilities. I agree there are very few pokemon whose Hidden Ability is the same as one of their regular abilities -- but they do exist. For the sake of clarity and streamlining the CAP process, I think we should mandate that every CAP's hidden ability should be the same as one of their first two abilities. Basically, we treat Dream World as if it didn't exist for CAP. This also gets rid of the confusing "Let's give it <Whatever> as a Dream World ability, but make it Unreleased." nonsense. Competitively, choosing up to two abilities is a big task. Let's just focus on that. Proposal 2: We will not alter the ordering of steps in a given CAP after a CAP project has begun. This has impacts outside of just Abilities, but since Abilities seems to be the most frequent target of process order alterations, I think it is appropriate to discuss it here. But I want this proposal to be binding for all steps, not just Abilities. We need to stop treating the CAP process as a "suggestion" to the Topic Leaders or even the Moderators. The process order is not perfect -- far from it. But over time, we have discovered that it tends to work better than the alternatives. Looking back on CAP 4 and every other project where altering the process midstream has been deemed necessary, I can't recall a case where it turned out to be beneficial to the project. In almost all cases, it was mostly irrelevant to the result (like CAP4) or was a huge distraction and policy shitstorm (like DP CAP 3, DP CAP 10, and BW CAP 3). Of course we can still alter process ordering during Policy Review. Regarding Abilities, the process currently puts Abilities after Stats. I can see some reasons to do Abilities before Stats, and if you want to argue that in this thread, I'm willing to listen. But if I have to choose a process order that I think allows for the best variety of Concepts that we might choose -- then I tend to think choosing abilities after stats probably is the best fit for us. So in this post, I'm not proposing a change to the process order itself. I'm just proposing that we stick to the ordering in our process guide, whatever that ordering may be. Proposal 3: No custom abilities ever. They are effectively dead already. Let's make it official. Nuff said. Proposal 4: Define a list of "Banned Abilities" that are automatically excluded from all ability discussions. This is the most controversial proposal that I'll be making in this Policy Review, and it's the main reason I've been wanting to make a PR on Abilities for such a long time. I feel this is essential to getting ability discussions back on track. We can and will argue over the exact contents of the lists I propose. I implore each of you to please distance yourselves from the abilities you personally think are interesting, and think about the POLICY implications of allowing these abilities to be openly suggested and discussed by the community at large on any given CAP. Exceptional Abilities I am using the term "Exceptional" in a specific way. I am NOT saying that Exceptional Abilities are "broken". I am saying the mechanics and impacts of these abilities can not be considered "normal" in terms of using them on a CAP pokemon where other aspects of the pokemon must be considered in separate discreet steps. Some of these abilities may be considered "good", some may be "bad", and others may be "just plain weird" -- but all of these abilities are "the exception to the norm", that's why I call them "Exceptional". Basically, all of these abilities are so good/bad/weird that they tend to centralize the CAP process. If they are chosen or even seriously considered, they will tend to "hijack" the entire CAP project. These abilities cannot be considered like every other ability as simply one of the many choices that we make to implement the Concept. These abilities are just too defining for any pokemon that gets them -- GOOD OR BAD. Exceptional Abilities (Move your mouse to reveal the content) Exceptional Abilities (open) Exceptional Abilities (close) Moody Banned from all metagames for being overpowered. Multitype On CAP 10, we halted the project and convened an entire PRC group discussion to figure out how to allow Multitype. Ultimately it would have required a complete alteration to the CAP process. And by choosing Multitype, it would place all sorts of conditional requirements on the typing, stats and movepool of the pokemon. Multitype would have to be selected before anything else on the CAP, and after it is selected, the rest of the Pokemon almost builds itself. Drizzle, Drought, Sand Stream, Snow Warning We've been down the auto-weather route enough haven't we? Auto-weather is obviously no longer "broken" like it was in DP CAP 3 when we discussed it for Pyroak. But after another shitstorm with CAP 3 Mollux, I think we can safely say that whenever auto-weather is discussed, the entire project tends to revolve around the weather ability. Let's leave the job of starting weather to the pokemon that Nintendo gives us, and focus on more manageable ability discussions. Wonder Guard I shouldn't even have to explain this. Centralizing effect on Typing and Stats. Imposter No one has ever brought it up. Let's guarantee it never comes up in the future for all the obvious reasons. Huge Power, Pure Power Obviously centralizing effect on Stats and Movepool. Multiscale I wouldn't have predicted it before BW came out, but after seeing what it did to Dragonite (which was already a good pokemon), Multiscale is so exceptionally good that the rest of the pokemon is almost a footnote. Shadow Tag, Arena Trap, Magnet Pull Realistically, the only way we could consider these abilities if if we chose a concept like "Trapping Pokemon". But such a concept would never be legal BECAUSE it pretty much requires one of these abilities. So these abilities really have no business ever being discussed in CAP. Personally, I love to make a trapper some day, but if you think about it objectively in terms of the CAP process -- it's never gonna happen. Allowing these to ever be discussed by random suggestions is just asking for a shitstorm. Speed Boost Obviously centralizing effect on Stats, and realistically it centralizes everything else about the pokemon too, since the metagame is so centralized around Speed anyway. Skill Link Basically would require a poll-jump to the Movepool in order to consider this. Color Change This is a weird ability that has so much interaction with Typing that you really can't decide the two separately. Forecast, Zen Mode Weird abilities that cause the pokemon to change form and would dictate almost everything else about the pokemon. These abilities simply cannot be chosen in a single discreet step. Normalize Really bad ability anyway, but if we were stupid enough to choose it, it would have a centralizing effect on Typing and Movepool. Stall Really bad ability that would have a centralizing effect on Stats and everything else in a metagame that is already centralized around Speed and Priority. Slow Start Really bad ability that would have a centralizing effect on Stats. Truant Really bad ability that would have a centralizing effect on Stats, and everything else. Scrappy This is a borderline subjective call, but past experience tells me the only reason anyone brings this up is because they are making a thinly-veiled poll-jump to push for Scrappy Rapid Spin. The discussion goes nowhere fast. It's interesting, but not something the entire project should get wrapped up in. It runs contrary to the CAP step-by-step creation process. But since we need good objective reasons to declare something Exceptional -- I'll give this one: Realistically, for this to be a legit full-time competitive ability on a competitive pokemon, it needs to be on pokemon with Normal or Fighting typing. Therefore, Scrappy would have a centralizing effect on Typing. Anti-Competitive Abilities These are abilities that aren't necessarily good or bad, but they encourage anti-competitive playing strategies that rely on abuse of broken game mechanics or they encourage us to build pokemon that rely on hax. Technically, I guess Moody could be listed here, instead of the Exceptional list. But since it is the only ability that has been outright banned from competitive play, it obviously is considered "Exceptionally Good". Anti-Competitive Abilities (Move your mouse to reveal the content) Anti-Competitive Abilities (open) Anti-Competitive Abilities (close) Bad Dreams Essentially dictates that we encourage the abuse of a broken game mechanic -- Sleep. Sand Veil, Snow Cloak, Tangled Feet Essentially dictates that we encourage the abuse of a broken game mechanic -- Evasion. Super Luck, Sniper Encourages abuse of critical hax. Cute Charm Encourages abuse of attraction hax. Stench Encourages abuse of flinch hax. Serene Grace This might be debatable to some, but this ability encourages all sorts of hax and I don't think CAP really wants to get into that as a fundamental part of any project. Signature Abilities There are a few abilities that are the signature abilities of notable ingame legendary pokemon. Let's avoid the bad optics, for all the reasons discussed in the previous policy review thread about Public Relations. Signature Abilities (Move your mouse to reveal the content) Signature Abilities (open) Signature Abilities (close) Teravolt, Turboblaze Signature abilities of Zekrom and Reshiram. Use Mold Breaker if you want. Victory Star Signature ability of Victini. Use Compoundeye if you really want to boost accuracy, but let's avoid the bad optics here. Some of you may wonder why we should bother to list out many of these abilities to be banned from discussion, since many of these rarely come up in discussions. I think it is important because it sets a tone for what we expect from Ability discussions. We establish firm policy that we will not be discussing abilities that run contrary to our project goals. Notice I am NOT trying to mandate what is a "powerful" ability or not. I'm concerned with abilities that have implications beyond the ability discussion threads, and I think we should take them off the table. But I also expect this policy to send up a warning flare that we are sick and tired of seeing ability discussions fall into black holes because of off-the-wall suggestions. Proposal 5: Eliminate "Non-Competitive Abilities" in ANY CAP ability polls. Non-competitive abilities are a fairly recent addition to the CAP project, and in retrospect, not a good one. For the first ten CAP projects, we never really considered non-competitive abilities. This is a competitive project and the idea of discussing shit like Illuminate or Honey Gather was never something we really had any desire to do. But on CAP 11 Voodoom, someone (I think it was Rising Dusk) got serious about giving Voodoom a completely irrelevant second ability. Most people wanted Voodoom to be a single ability pokemon like Arghonaut, where all competitive movesets had only one legit ability. But instead of voting for No Ability, like we did in all previous projects, the concept of "No Competitive Ability" gained traction. So ultimately Lightningrod (which had no effect in DP singles battles) won out as a clever flavor twist on the ability discussions. I thought it was a cool way to change things up on CAP, and it very obviously complemented my artwork, which had a big sewing needle stuck in its chest. BTW, I had NO real participation in the ability discussions that led to Lightningrod, and it was incredibly ironic that Rising Dusk pushed so hard for Lightningrod, because he was very heavily AGAINST my voodoo doll design winning. RD vocally favored Darkmattr's ninja design. RD's push for Lightningrod gave a huge boost to my design in polls, which bothered RD to no end. Just in case any of you think we engineered the abilities and designs of Voodoom -- it was 100% complete coincidence, that actually went AGAINST the interests of the foremost advocate for the non-competitive ability! Anyway, what was nifty and cool on Voodoom has turned into a shitstorm for every project since then. As I pointed out in my not-so-fictional fake discussion earlier in the thread, the definitions and arguments that surround Competitive and Non-Competitive abilities are a total mess these days. We need to get back to the basics with our ability discussions. We should no longer allow or tolerate discussions of abilities that are intentionally non-competitive for the pokemon we are building. I'm fine if we discuss abilities that are significantly less-powerful than another ability that we have chosen. But no one should ever suggest an ability that is known to be so inferior that it will likely never be used on the pokemon in competitive battles. If we really want our pokemon to have only one ability for battles, then we should give it just one ability. Discussions of non-competitive abilities are not worth all the trouble for a project focused on competitive goals. With that in mind, here is a list of abilities that we should consider to be categorically "Non-Competitive" and therefore banned from CAP discussions: Big Pecks Flower Gift Friend Guard Healer Honey Gather Illuminate Pickup Run Away Telepathy On any given CAP, depending upon the typing and the concept, there are many other abilities that will be non-competitive in practical terms. Presumably, with this policy in place, people will not intentionally bring them up in discussions and topic leaders will never slate non-competitive options in any ability polls. Wrap Up If we institute these proposals, I think it will go a long way towards making Ability discussions productive again. We won't have a never-ending stream of bad threads. We won't be arguing over pedantic definitions all the time. We won't have to deal with as many random overpowered, underpowered, or just plain weird suggestions all the time. And we won't have to deal with constant uncertainty as to when abilities will be discussed on any given CAP project. In recent years, too many CAP projects have been hinging on game-breaking ability discussions and big divisive fights over ability choices. CAP has always had a certain amount of drama in ability discussions, but lately it seems to be more magnified. This Policy Review is an attempt to regain some sanity in our CAP process. Lately I feel like this has become the Choose-An-Ability Project, and I want to get back to the Create-A-Pokemon Project.