So here's something: thousands upon thousands of people are playing a game of Pokemon Red. The same game of Pokemon Red. At the same time. Controlling the same individual character.
They're doing this through Twitch.tv - where someone's set up an emulator that takes input from chat commands (currently recognizing directional pad options, A, B, and Start). Naturally, this is pretty chaotic (two Pokemon are named JLVWNNOOOO and ABBBBBBK ( because EVERYONE'S TRYING TO PRESS BUTTONS AT ONCE). It's sorta the ultimate backseat gaming experience - people are desperately trying to get the main character where he's trying to go, in spite of the hordes of people who just wanna screw around (and watching them try to deal with shopkeeps and item usage is a sight to behold).
What's Been Happening:
Original Text: As of 48 hours (!!!) into the game, the hivemind powering it has made some pretty impressive progress (relatively speaking) - two badges down, although there's been a LOT of aimless wandering back and forth and a near constant stream of people trying to pause the game and mess with the menu. Really, the fact they got through Mt. Moon at all is insane.
UPDATE #1: As of 72 hours (!!!!!!!) - which is, again, THREE ENTIRE DAYS - poor Red has managed to collect 1 additional badge (Lt. Surge's electric gym - making 3 total), and has been stuck at the same ledge for the better part of 6 hours. The reason for this is the difficulty of dealing with the trolls trying to derail things have gotten even more sophisticated - someone's set up a bot spamming the wrong commands.
UPDATE #2: RED HAS MADE ZERO PROGRESS OVER THE COURSE OF 15 HOURS. IS STILL STUCK ON ROUTE 9. HAS ONLY THE HELIX FOSSIL TO CONSOLE HIM IN THIS DARK HOUR. PLEASE TELL HIS MOTHER THAT HE LOVES HER AND WILL LIKELY NEVER SEE HER AGAIN.
UPDATE #3: After struggling over 16 hours, players have finally made it past the nightmare of Route 9. Praise be to the Helix Fossil. Only problem now is navigating a pitch black labyrinthian cave! Should be done with this in a breezy 96 hours!
UPDATE #4: Defying all the odds, the OVER 40 THOUSAND chatters controlling this game made it through the Rock Tunnel in a mere 9 hours! Reminder: a complex pitch black cave with monsters attacking constantly was easier than a ledge.
UPDATE #5: After another 6 hours or so, the players managed to cut down a tree and get a new badge. PS - this has been going on for over 96 hours - 4 entire full days.
UPDATE #6: 100 hours have passed. There have been over 50,000 simultaneous chatters. Red now has an Eevee in the sixth slot, crushing the hopes of those who had wanted Lapras there (since they will eventually need a Pokemon that can learn Surf). Of course, there's always the possibility that Eevee evolves into Vaporeon - but that would require a Water Stone, and all we have right now is a Fire Stone. In other words, things could be difficult going forward.
UPDATE #7: In a stunningly brilliant move, the over 40,000 players decided to release their Charmeleon (known as "ABBBBBBBK (" and the 2nd highest level Pokemon in the party behind Pidgeot) and their first Rattata (known as "JLVWNNOOOO") into the wild, freeing them from the bonds of slavery in this obviously doomed quest. They replaced them with a previously stored Rattata and an Oddish. It has been over 110 hours. My god.
UPDATE #8: They've stored their level 44 Pidgeot (aka THEIR ONLY HOPE) in a PC and somehow lost the Helix Fossil by storing THAT in the PC too. Then - miraculously - Pidgeot was pulled back out. Hope remains. This should be done in a year or so (optimistic outlook).
UPDATE #9: They've been wandering aimlessly around the Team Rocket hideout for most of the day (specifically the room that sends you spinning across the floor). They are attempting to get to the elevator key, but that will require the slightest amount of coordinated effort. So get comfy, this could take another few hours. Speaking of, this stream has been going on for FIVE ENTIRE DAYS! That's over 120 hours!
UPDATE #10: 135 hours in, and a great deal has changed in the last few hours. Most notably, the emulator in charge has decided to change the input settings so that it's no longer a constant stream of confusing and contradictory control commands. Now there is a pause between each command, and in that period there is voting as to what the next move should be. It's significantly slower than before, but it's also infinitely less chaotic and no one is pressing Start every 2 seconds. As a result, the players have beaten the maze (for the 2nd time)! Also, they deposited Drowzee and Flareon in the PC. The fight against Giovanni does not have people optimistic, but the new control scheme makes even the most difficult challenges ahead seems possible.
There is also an "Anarchy vs. Democracy" meter, where people can vote as to whether to remain in Democracy mode (aka voting on which way to move next) or return to Anarchy (the free for all where everyone can shout commands at once). It's been going back and forth for a few hours now and could change constantly. Right now, Anarchy reigns.
UPDATE #11: Those fighting for Anarchy seem to be winning the battle for Red's soul. A clever tactic they've devised was to spam "start9" (which leads to pausing 9 times in a row) during a period of Democracy until Anarchy was restored. This kind of voter manipulation feels like an episode of House of Cards, except - ya know - ABOUT POKEMON.
The introduction of democracy seems to have somehow made things even MORE chaotic. This is the Pokemon MMO from Hell, folks.
UPDATE #12: It has been 147 hours - over 6 entire days. The players managed to beat Giovanni (not on their first attempt, though). Naturally, the Rattata that knows Dig (aka "Digrat") dug out before they could pick up the Silph Scope. After some more struggling, they got it and can now leave Celadon City. Note that they've been worked on this for about 36 hours. Jack Bauer could have saved America 1.5 times in the time its taken Twitch Pokemon to get through this one building.
UPDATE #13: Over 160 hours in, a few trips to the Pokemon Tower have proved fruitless (since Ghost-types are immune to Normal-type attacks). The hivemind has wavered between trying to power through that or trying to train Drowzee enough to learn Psychic by returning to the pitch-black Rock Tunnel. Caught a Zubat named "---" (aka 'DashBat') using one of the Great Balls that Red spent all of his money on. Then it was renamed "JJSSSSS-", because sure why not. Oddish was renamed "x(araggbaj" there too because that will make this much simpler. And Rattata (known as 'DigRat') was renamed "AAJST(????" because this is ridiculous. Then ANOTHER Zubat was caught, named "X". Smart move to use all the Great Balls to get Zubats.
UPDATE #14: After a great deal of work and a little bit of elbow-grease, the players gained some new Pokemon: Hitmonlee (named "CCC") and a Gastly. Of course, CCC the Hitmonlee and X the Zubat were released into the wild and Gastly was left to rot in a PC. Luckily, Drowzee managed to learn Psychic, giving Twitch Pokemon the ability to actually make it through the Pokemon Tower. It still mostly tries to use Pound (which doesn't affect ghosts), but hey at least it's making an effort. The team now consists of
- x(araggbaj the Oddish
- AAJST(???? the Rattata (also known as 'DigRat')
- DUX the Farfetch'd
- Pidgeot (aka "Bird Jesus")
- Drowzee (aka "The Keeper")
- JJSSSSS- the Zubat
All things considered, this isn't that bad of a team.
Oh and by the way THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER A FULL WEEK NOW. This is our generation's Vietnam.
UPDATE #15: Remember how Drowzee finally learned Psychic, a great move for it that would help the players finally blow through the Pokemon Tower? Immediately forgotten in favor of Headbutt. Encouraging! But Dashbat (or JJSSSSS-, its rebirth name) was soon deposited in a PC, bringing in the Gastly. Speaking of non-complex names that keeps things simple, Pidgeot was renamed "aaabaaajss" because I give up trying to keep track of any of this.
Progress started being made - DigRat finally evolved into a Raticate (nicknamed "BigDig") and the group made it to the 5th floor of the Pokemon Tower, where they could finally start healing themselves without having to return to a Pokemon Center. Then - over 40 hours after initially entering - the group finally completed the Pokemon Tower by defeating Marowak.
They received the legendary PokeFlute - which allowed them to awaken Snorlax (who they instantly ran away from). Oddish evolved into Gloom.
And now the journey continues. Helix save us.
Important Items and Terms:
The Helix Fossil: A fossil obtained in Mt. Moon that will (theoretically) evolve into Omanyte. Since it was one of the few items it was impossible to toss, it was frequently attempted to be used (with no results, since it's a fossil 'n all). As a result, "CONSULT THE HELIX FOSSIL!" has become something of a meme. It was accidentally stored in a PC to pretty much everyone's chagrin, but was retrieved a few hours later.
ABBBBBBK ( and JLVWNNOOOO: A Charmeleon and a Rattata (nicknamed "Abby" and "Jay Leno") that were some of the original team members. Both were released.
Flareon: One thing the players desperately need is a Pokemon that can learn Surf. When they got Eevee, there was hope they would evolve it into Vaporeon (who could) or at least Jolteon (who's a great Eeveelution). Naturally, they bought a Fire Stone and turned it into Flareon. Many view Flareon as the ultimate symbol of the trolls' success and have dubbed it "The False Prophet." It was released in Day 5.
Digrat: The "other" Rattata. Knows Dig. This is a problem, since using Dig outside of battle will teleport the player out of whatever dungeon they're in and back to the nearest Pokemon Center. Even if they're riiiight at the end of a dungeon. Currently renamed "AAJT(????". Catchy!
Route 9: A pathway that required navigating some ledges. This took around 16 hours to complete.
Pidgeot: The highest level Pokemon on the team. Nearly lost in a PC deposit catastrophe. Currently the only hope.
The Safari Zone: To retrieve the HM Surf (which is necessary for progress through the game), there will need to be a venture into the Safari Zone. The limitations are as follows: you must pay $500, there is a 500 step limit (although rumor has it the stream creator has removed that restriction), and you will be kicked out once you've used all 30 Safari Balls. And even if - by some miracle - they DO get Surf, they need a Pokemon that can learn it. Currently, they don't have one. Although, again, the new control scheme should make this a lot easier - assuming it stays in place.
Victory Road: The path to Victory Road contains an immensely difficult ledge (a worse one than the dreaded Route 9). Which wouldn't be too bad if what immediately follows the ledge is a crazy difficult cave filled with high-leveled wild Pokemon, tons of difficult trainers, complicated rock puzzles (each of which requires using Strength thru the start menu), etc. And if all the Pokemon faint within (which is pretty likely), they'll be transported back to a Pokemon Center and have to get through the ledge all over again. Again - the new control scheme will help the maneuvering, but having an actual team that won't get knocked out here is an issue. Trying to convince this group that they need to grind for levels is not going to be easy.
Everything: Literally cutting down a single tree took about 4-6 hours. So. There's that.
Here's a video summarizing pretty much this entire thing:
In case you were curious about the chatlog, here's just a taste of the chaos: