Generation 9 Updates - Preparation and Expectation-Setting

Quick thought:

Converting Pokemon to the new Level System:
Stage 1*-2* Pokemon will be converted to Lv0 Pokemon.
Stage 3* Pokemon will be converted to Lv2 Pokemon.
Stage 4* Pokemon will be converted to Lv4 Pokemon with no Advanced Techniques (no Z-Moves, Facility-only techniques, Mega, etc)
Stage 5* Pokemon will be converted to Lv4 Pokemon with their present Advanced Techniques: Mega Evolution (if applicable), and Z-Move access.
Pokemon who have "entered Leveling" by becoming Level 1 will become ineligible for evolution. Whether or not promoting a fully-evolved Level 0 Pokemon to Level 1 will have any cost, and what that cost will be, is a lower-priority decision for later.
If not currently instated, exceptions should be made for Pokemon that receive cross-generational evolutions. For example, consider my Stage 3 Ursaring: if our current system was continued into gen IX, it would be eligible to evolve after PLA content is brought to BBP, but the proposed leveling rules will require me to purchase a duplicate. This inconvenience would be exacerbated if I spend resources to elevate it to a currently competitive Stage, given that the investment is not valuable for NFE Pokemon (barring niche choices such as Porygon2 and Rhydon), and those who have done so for their similar Pokemon should not be made to accept such losses.


heralds disaster.
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If not currently instated, exceptions should be made for Pokemon that receive cross-generational evolutions.
emperor's new groove yzma headache gif

yes, obviously. this is how we've always done it.

but as before; that will be a function of updates that introduce an evolution, not a core part of the rules. furthermore, it would be extended only to an existing ursaring, and not to future ones (who would need to fully evolve before leveling as normal.)

edit: also, I am going to repost the previous two mod messages for the new page.


heralds disaster.
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repost of nb's message for the new page

P2X7 a lot of things are still being worked on, but I will try to answer what I can.

Q: What kinds of Moves will be available in each Level's list?
A: The master lists are under construction right now. What they will look like when they are finished is unclear. Still, there are some general ideas... (not set in stone.) The two main goals in designing the master lists are:
  1. To ensure that battles between Pokemon of the same level are reasonably balanced.
  2. To provide a steady stream of new moves to most Pokemon as they progress. If it is possible, we would like to avoid situations where Pokemon are getting key parts of their movepools super-late, or receiving too many or too few moves in a single Level. Therefore, we might choose to scatter moves with similar functions across multiple Levels.
With that in mind, some notes on the specific Levels:
  • Lv0: Exists only for beginners. Expect stingy movepools containing fundamental, high-distribution moves such as Surf, Flamethrower, Will-O-Wisp, or Protect.
  • Lv1: Pokemon at Lv1 should be able to legitimately engage with the mechanics of BBP. They will be fully-evolved, able to hold Items, etc. and their movepools should reflect that. Their narrow but functional movepools will likely prioritize moves that have wide application.
  • Lv2-3: These two Levels are still a bit nebulous. Probably the focus will be on filling in redundant/similar moves (Heat Waves and Fire Blasts to go with the Lv0 Flamethrowers, for example), tossing in increasingly niche utility moves, and slightly increasing the general power ceiling.
  • Lv4: Another vague Level. Likely motivated more by flavor than anything else, moves like Burn Up or Frenzy Plant may live here. Imprison and Assist also seem like good fits for Lv4. Naturally, a Pokemon will know its entire movepool after reaching Lv4.
Q: When will a Pokemon acquire its Nature?
A: I don't know yet.

Q: How will Sketch function in a Level-based system? What will happen to Moves previously Sketched by a Pokemon updated to the new system?
A: Naturally, Sketch will need to be limited by the user's Level. It wouldn't be fair for a Lv1 Necturna to have a Lv4 move.
At the same time, the current requirements for Sketching a move may need to be re-evaluated -- Smeargle is very expensive to build and its power does not justify its cost. What's more, the new movepool system will make certain moves much more difficult for Smeargle to obtain. We will take these things into consideration when figuring out what to do with Smeargle.

Q: Will the prohibition of evolution above Stage 3 translate to the Level-based system?
A: Yes, a similar system will definitely be in place for Gen9. I imagine that it will likely take effect upon reaching Lv1, but that could change.

Q: How will the effort required to obtain a Level-4 Pokemon compare to our current option of paying 25 TC for a promotion to Stage 4?
A: I cannot answer that question because I don't know yet if Lv4 will be purchasable. But in terms of effort when challenging Facilities, we aren't trying to make things any more difficult than they currently are. We're not trying to move the goalposts, we're trying to make the path to the goalposts smoother and more enjoyable.

Q: What are "Facility-only techniques?"
A: Techniques that can only be earned by completing a Facility. It's a placeholder for anything adjacent to Z-Crystals and Mega Stones that GameFreak may throw at us in the future (assuming it gets added to BBP).


heralds disaster.
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repost of this post for a new page:

To clarify on our thought process for some of these steps, and especially on what we're waiting for:

Natures will most likely be Lv3 or Lv4. The main factors driving this is that we don't want Pokemon to have their Nature until they've been "test-driven" in the earlier levels, or else it makes buying Pokemon more difficult. If people are frequently having to pay to re-Nature their Pokemon because they didn't get to play the Pokemon enough before choosing, that's an issue design-wise. The same is true of Hidden Ability: We want each of Levels 2, 3, and 4 to give one of Nature, Hidden Ability, and Hidden Power.

That last bit is important, because we can't assign Hidden Power to a Level just yet.

Move-tiering work is some of the last work we'll do before Gen 9 Launch, by necessity. Gen 9 will bring us new moves anyway, which many result in other moves rising or falling in Level. For example, if more countermeasures to Endure are added to the game, Endure could become lower in level. So we won't know what Level to put Hidden Power in for sure (and by extension, what level Nature and Hidden Ability are unlocked) until we have the new moves in front of us for tiering.

The main things guiding our process, as determined by NB, is that:
  1. Moves should exist in the same tier as their counter-moves, and
  2. Moves that provide the exact same functionality should be in the same level; while upgraded versions of other moves will typically be higher than their base versions, and
  3. Pokemon in each Level should be equipped to viably punch up to one Level above their own without being a liability.
For example, we may decide that Pokemon learn Phazing moves at Lv1, Partial Trapping at Lv2, Pivoting at Lv3, and Full Trapping at Lv4, if we wanted a Pokemon's suite of match-up control tools to grow and evolve as they Level up. What each of these "pillars" (broad categories of moves sharing a function) end up being, and what exact level each member of a pillar becomes, will depend on what Scarlet and Violet offer us to work with.

Levels 2, 3, and 4 won't be purchasable. The ability to buy these levels was a band-aid solution to having to grind Realgams and Trees, coin-tossing for match-ups you could win until you won your Stage. With EXP, even in a bad match-up you can play to squeeze as much of your next Level out of the battle as you can. Then, if you had earned, say, 80% of a Level, you could either rerun for the rest or just move on to the next-Level facility and earn the rest as you go.

Driving the above; Only Stage 5-granting facilities will retain their difficulty. You can expect facilities to gently curve both new and veteran players into this "end-game" difficulty. In development, we've referred to these facilities as being "Level 2, 3, 4, and 5" based on what they grant; however, I think calling them by the level of Pokemon that are allowed entry is better. So, loosely:
  • Battles for Level 0 (unevolved) Pokemon are "Early-game". Only the very most basic moves are in this Level, since players are still learning how to post orders and substitutions at a fundamental level. Any battle at all, win or lose, will evolve your Pokemon at this stage of play. So, this Level will pass very quickly. We're deciding if non-evolving Pokemon even experience this stage of play at all; starting your BBP career with a Heracross is battle-warping, but very very few of your battles will be Level 0, and Heracross vs. Cubchoo is very funny.
  • Level 1, 2, and 3 Facilities make up the "Leveling" tier of content. These are for learning the game and deepening your experience as a player piloting the Pokemon. Our hope is that, as you level each Pokemon and earn its Movepool in an intentionally-designed progression, you'll enjoy seeing that Pokemon grow into its unique strengths, and get lots of chances to learn its unique tricks and tools as you play.
  • Facilities for Level 4 Pokemon are "End-Game". Level 4 Pokemon have finished their movepool and have their Nature, their Hidden Power type, and their Hidden Ability. They are fully battle-ready. End-Game content is where these Pokemon battle their advanced challenges to earn their ability to Mega Evolve, to use Z-Moves, or any such technique we decide we're willing to write for addition to BBP.
  • "Level 5" or "Pinnacle" content is what we're calling "Post-Game". For players whose Pokemon have their advanced techniques on deck. This is intended to give players something with serious bite to use their Megas, Z-Moves, and TLG Legendaries on.
Pokemon who have "entered Leveling" by becoming Level 1 will become ineligible for evolution. Whether or not promoting a fully-evolved Level 0 Pokemon to Level 1 will have any cost, and what that cost will be, is a lower-priority decision for later.

The various content in each Facility is designed by that Facility's owner, not by the mod team. We only stamp things. That said, we asked our Facility Heads to target a winrate of 80-100% for Leveling challenges, about 50% for End-Game, and perhaps 20% or less for Post-Game. If we find any Facility is off the target and is either clogging Leveling (too hard) or giving stuff away (too easy), we'll adjust.

Early-game facilities (especially Level 1 battles) are analogous to the Tierno 1 or Trevor battles in Realgam in difficulty, as well as scripted content like 2021's Season Beatings. Content that is solvable, or at least very forgiving for mistakes. New players get their first tastes of "real battling" here. Really, the design of this Leveling progression as a whole is an admission that these types of facilities are okay; planning and preparation are worth rewarding. In addition, communicating with other players about known strategies or reading previous challenges brings new players into the folds of BBP's social structure; which is a pretty key component of the game and even the main draw for many players.

End-game examples include Realgam's Cynthia and Ciphers. Examples from the past might include mid-tier TLRs and Silver Pike. Level 2 Facilities (the easiest) need to be winnable even for players who have just finished evolving their very first Starter Pokemon in BBP; so they will fold easily to veterans.

(As an aside, fully clearing a facility challenge always awards a full Level. The amount of EXP per level is being decided. Some mods like 10 for its clean appearance and because they can call a mon "Level 1.9". Myself, I like 12 per level for its many factors of divisibility. We'll decide before launch, but it's a low priority overall.)

One last addition: Some certain select Pokemon will be given a specific move sooner. The most certain of these are Pokemon that mechanically need a certain move to function: The Dittos, Unowns, Aegislashes, and so on. Dive is normally is a bit too complex to be a Level 1 move, but Cramorant will have it at Level 1 because it's necessary for Gulp Missile to function. Similarly, Kitsunoh will always have Shadow Strike, and Stratagem will always have Paleo Wave. We already have this tech in the game (in the current Handbook, I think, which is an odd home), so iterating on that isn't too much to ask for the Pokemon that need it.

Sketch relies on move tiering to mostly finish before we decide how it will work. Though, I can't imagine Necturna will change much mechanically, if at all.

The other type of move getting this treatment is specifically Starter and Legendary Signature moves, such as Spacial Rend, Plasma Fists, Searing Shot, and so on. This will probably be for the move *very obviously designed to come out with the Pokemon*. For example, Victini's V-Create and Searing Shot. Victini learns the signature moves of the Gen 5 Dragons in Fusion Flare, Fusion Bolt, and Glaciate; but these are not Victini's moves. Similarly, Leaf Blade may be widely distributed, but it's designed for Sceptile (and Grovyle). This can get very subjective very quickly (just check the relevant Bulbapedia page), so we're limiting this treatment to Starter, CAP, and Legendary Pokemon initially.

Pokemon not getting this treatment are Pokemon who just learn some random move in-cartridge at "Level ?" or their evolution level (such as Venusaur's Petal Blizzard) and Pokemon who are somewhat mechanically bound to certain moves but can fight without them (such as Skill Link users). We decided that it's perfectly okay if that latter type of Pokemon be "late bloomers" who come on-line when their Hidden Ability or key coverage moves kick in. Building a team for early-level facilities that includes initially strong Pokemon, who help push your late-blooming Pokemon through the leveling process, is left as an exercise for the player.

The natural question is why we wouldn't just make these kinds of moves Level 1 to begin with. This would mean making mechanically-complex moves like Transform Level 1; which would have knock-on effects. If we got the inevitable Transforming CAP down the round, as just one example, that Pokemon shouldn't start with a CAP movepool and Transform. Letting specified Pokemon simply list a move to start with in their data both saves future headaches by allowing us to tier the move on its own merits, and makes the purchase of the Pokemon in question feel more special.

this type of essay is mainly brought to you by the power of imbibed substances and won't be the PR norm until we get closer to Gen 9 launch.

as a reminder:
nightblitz42 said:
To allow fans of the Pokemon games to enjoy Scarlet/Violet spoiler-free, spoilers will be forbidden within BBP until Dec 2 UTC.
However, there still is a need to communicate game design across the playerbase. The mod team will be discussing certain implementations in general terms until then. A specific, updated Handbook will be made public on Dec 2*
Gen9 is scheduled to release on Dec 16th, UTC.
*only december 2-ish. it will be up whenever i manage to move the thread that day, as I am terminally employed
Thanks to both nightblitz and Lou for providing such comprehensive responses. I'll try to make a reciprocal post later; for now I'll simply mention my support for a system that unlocks a Pokemon's Hidden Ability, Nature, and Hidden Power type at Levels 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The Hidden Ability comes first because it's the most impactful of the three for many Pokemon, while Hidden Power comes last to give a player time to identify the specific matchups that they want to cover with this move.


heralds disaster.
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You know, when we made our update schedule: We didn't count on the games being actually really fun. We expected, at most, a SwSh-like chore to chew through quickly.

So we're asking: Would BBP players prefer to launch at the specified time, or would you all prefer more time to play the games spoiler-free and finish up Gen 8 BBP content?

If so, how much more time would people like? The most we'd be willing to push back is a week or two.
I'm glad you're enjoying the new releases!

I would prefer to adhere to our schedule and launch on December 16th.

As a non-sequitur, my longer post is still coming; maybe I'll see what I can do in a few days when I can afford to spend an appropriate amount of time on such matters.


It's beauty and rage!
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I think that if the mods are still committed to the current release date, then it should be maintained.

That being said, I know the games are exceeding most people's expectations, so if the mods themselves need some extra time to make sure Gen 9's ready to go then I think we would understand. I know I'm falling behind on my own BBP obligations due to the release of the games :P


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Here's a draft of the move tiering list: (link). Hopefully this will give players a point of reference as to what sort of things we're aiming for. Does not contain any moves from SV yet. Signature moves have not yet been documented.
Some basic design ideas and reference points are listed below. (non-comprehensive, subject to change)

L0: (designed for beginners to BBP. The Pokemon only knows the most basic of techniques; just enough to scrape by in battle.)
Basic high-distribution moves, typically 7-9 BAP.
Moves that inflict Burn, Paralysis, or Poison.
Moves that provide a small boost to 1 stat.

L1: (the highest purchasable Level. The Pokemon displays competence in the fundamentals of battle.)
Moves that boost two different stats.
Moves that inflict Sleep, Confusion, or other Status Conditions.
Weather moves.
Moves that are similar to Protect.
Weak high-Priority moves.
Phazing moves.

L2: (experimental techniques. The Pokemon is trying to surpass the basics, with mixed results.)
Moves with high BAP but recoil or low accuracy.
Moves that hit 2-5 times randomly.
Partial Trapping moves.
Recovery moves.
Moves that charge up before attacking.
Moves that increase one stat by 2 Stages.

L3: (fine-tuned techniques. Moves that show off exceptional training and fine control.)
Moves that combine good BAP with useful effects.
D/E moves.
Moves that strike for 2-3 Actions in a row.
Pivoting moves.

L4: (specialized techniques. Having already achieved near-mastery, the Pokemon must seek further improvement in creative ways.)
Unorthodox attacks.
Moves with highly variable properties.
Moves with outstanding power and great drawbacks.
Moves that require drastic effort from the user.
Moves that boost stats by many Stages.
Full Trapping moves.
Moves that call other moves.


Although some move categories fit neatly into one or two Levels, there are certain move categories that are instead sprinkled throughout. For example, moves that interact with Items or Abilities are present in almost every Level. Likewise, moves that are specific to Multi Battles have been spread throughout the whole progression system. The idea is to strike a good balance between [Levels having distinct identities] and [Pokemon feeling unique within their own Level]. When similar moves are spread throughout like this, there is usually an effort to put the more situational moves in the earlier Levels so that they have a chance to shine before being replaced by more consistent alternatives. For example, Incinerate is tiered at Lv1, then Thief at Lv2, then Knock Off at Lv3. (this is opposite of damaging attacks, which are generally more consistent at the earlier Levels and become more situational at later Levels)

Sometimes, moves are placed relative to other moves, which can lead to strange situations. For example, Self-Destruct is at Lv3 even though mechanically and thematically it should be expected to be in Lv4. Placing it at Lv3 is an attempt to distinguish it from Explosion (Lv4), which has a similar function but higher BAP.

Another consideration is how common a move is. Many common moves were placed in either the very early, or very late Levels. It's important to put common moves in the early Levels to ensure an even playing field. On the other hand, setting aside some common moves for Lv4 ensures that the majority of Pokemon have something to look forward to as they progress. The current system has quite a few Pokemon that gain almost nothing from Stage 4*, which is the kind of problem we'd like to prevent by putting some valuable moves in Lv4.


heralds disaster.
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We're pushing reveal to the 5th of December since some of our mod team is still finishing up the game. The generation launch will remain on the 16th (e.g. it won't get a matching delay.)

This gives our team a weekend before the 5th to do any last-minute polish that may remain, while also launching before a weekend so people can play with the new toys.


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Regarding Battle Tree: It is still in development and will not be ready at the start of Gen9. I am focusing on fine-tuning the difficulty of Tree to ensure a balanced play experience. Specifically, there will be an introduction of various effects that alter the difficulty of battles.

Of course, the addition of new balancing mechanics itself necessitates additional attention to game balance. Hence the delay.

As a side note: there will likely be an opportunity for players to contribute to the design of Battle Tree in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.

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