If you've been anywhere near the internet for the past week, you're likely to have seen (or been made aware of) Twitch Plays Pokemon - a stream on Twitch.tv where tens of thousands (and upwards of 100,000 at points) have been controlling the same game of Pokemon Red through chat commands.
We kept a log, trying to update people on what was going on, but after a full week of madness and changes, it got a little difficult to follow, so we're starting anew - like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Or a freshly caught Zubat. Or two freshly caught Zubats, each with incomprehensible names. That reference will make sense soon, we promise.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
The stream began late Wednesday, February 12th, 2014. The initial plan was this: everyone could send their commands to poor, hapless Red and he would be forced to do their bidding. Immediately, this led to some difficult maneuvering (a lot of walking in circles and entering the Start menu), but progress was solid at the beginning, before the feed became super-popular.
The game ended on March 1st, 2014. It had been almost 400 hours.
In a little over two weeks, the internet did the impossible - Twitch Beat Pokemon.
HOW DID THIS WORK?
Honestly, it barely did. There were constantly people pressing start, there is a delay in the feed (so the commands you're entering won't be recognized immediately), and just a general confusion as to where to go next and how to get there. With the collective majority aiming in certain directions, progress has been made, albeit very slowly. However, a few things are likely:
- If they have an item that can be thrown away, it WILL be thrown away. There are a few notable exceptions to this, namely the Helix Fossil and the SS Anne Ticket.
- Pause will be hit often, which will then translate into some random menu flipping. This usually leads to lost items, items used inappropriately, checking the badge count, or listening to Bulbasaur's cry.
- Performing specific actions at specific locations (like, say, using Cut on a bush) will take hours to complete.
- Mistakes will be made in the PC - where Pokemon can be released into the wild (and thus lost from your party forever), items can be stored (even untossable ones), and Pokemon can be deposited or withdrawn - often to chaotic consequences.
- Everything will take forever, and be really, really confusing to watch.
In battle, the odds of picking attack are about 25% - then the odds of picking an appropriate attack are 25% again. As a result, there has been a lot of attempting to run from trainer battles (which you can't do), trying to switch out Pokemon at inopportune moments, and trying to use items in battle that cannot be used in battle (which happens SO MUCH).
As of about Day 5, a roadblock was encountered in progressing through the game, so the creator of the emulator decided to change things up a bit - instead of always relying on the anarchy of constant streams of commands, there was also a 'Democracy' option. A sliding scale between 'Anarchy' and 'Democracy' was introduced - when in Anarchy mode, it was the same as before - every command was recognized and obeyed, regardless of how chaotic things got. When in Democracy mode, there would be a few second delays between commands and during this period, the most popular command would be the one recognized. When in one mode, you could vote to change to another mode (e.g. when in Anarchy mode, you could type in "democracy").
While Democracy was viewed as a potential solution to a lot of roadblocks, it was also incredibly slow and a lot less interesting than the nihilistic chaos of Anarchy. A strategy concocted by the Anarchists was the dreaded Start9. The emulator allowed so that when a number was added at the end of a command, it would enter that command the number of times prescribed. The anarchists spammed Start9 in order to pause the game 9 times in a row often when Democracy reigned, halting progress like a virtual filibuster. For the most part, Anarchy has reigned.
WHO ARE THE IMPORTANT CHARACTERS?
RED: The player - essentially a robot or drone controlled by the masses. A possibly-schizophrenic young lad out training Pokemon and trying to obey the endless voices shouting orders in his mind.
ABBBBBBK(: The original Pokemon - a Charmander. Commonly referred to as "Abby." The original backbone of the team. Released into the great unknown - freed for its service (also because the chatlog accidentally hit the wrong commands at the wrong time).
Jay Leno: The Rattata, the third Pokemon to join the team. Actual name was "JLVWNNOOOO." Was released alongside Abby for its loyalty, its determination, and because that was just the worst day ever.
Bird Jesus: Originally a Pidgey who evolved into a Pidgeotto and, through great effort, a Pidgeot. A tank, at the highest level of all the current Pokemon. The backbone and savior of the team, and chosen one of the great Helix Fossil. Reborn as "aaabaaajss" (or "Abba Jesus")
BigDig: Actual current name is "AAJST(????" (although this is its rebirth name). Formerly nicknamed 'DigRat.' A Rattata that knew Dig (and thus became the bane of many) but soon grew into a Raticate and proved to be a worthwhile member of the team. Released in the nightmare slaughter at the PC on Day 11.
The False Prophet: The Eevee - herald to the Dome Fossil - and the bane of many. Evolved into Flareon, fulfilling the cruel prophecy. Was released on Day 6.
The Keeper: The Drowzee, onetime learner of Psychic.
Cabbage: An Oddish - actual name "x(araggbaj" - caught prior to the Team Rocket Hideout fiasco. Evolved into Gloom. Was released during the terrible Battle of PC on Day 11.
DUX: The Farfetch'd, obtained by trading away a Spearow. The knower of Cut, the ultimate weapon against defiant bushes. Was released during the horrible Battle of PC on Day 11.
C3KO: The Hitmonlee, actual name "CCC". Released almost immediately after being obtained. The lost potential was great.
DashBat: One of two Zubats caught with Great Balls that sucked away all of the players' money. Actual name "---", but renamed "JJSSSSS-" and then "ABB-??AAJ" for simplicity.
X-Wing: The second Zubat caught with the money-depleting Great Balls. Actual name "x". Released shortly after it was caught in Day 7.
ATV: Venomoth obtained in the Safari Zone. Actual name "AATTVVV". Also known as the "All Terrain Venomoth."
Rick Gastly: Gastly obtained in the Pokemon Tower. Some suspect it to be the restless spirit of Flareon, but no consensus has been reached.
AIR: The glorious Lapras - actual name "AIIIIIIRRR." Obtained in Silph Co. at the end of Day 9. Knows both Surf and Strength. The great prophet, foretold by the Helix Fossil.
Battery Jesus: The Zapdos caught with a Master Ball on Day 11. Actual name "AA-j". Harbinger of Doom - as its capture immediately preceded the massacre at the PC. It redeemed itself soon by becoming one of the strongest members of the team. And it had the honor of defeating Blue's final Pokemon (Blastoise) in the final battle to become the Pokemon Champion.
The Safari Zoners: A bunch of Venonats, Nidorans, a Paras, a Rhyhorn, and an Exeggcute obtained in the Safari Zone, that mostly reside within the PC. Many lost during the Battle of PC.
The Fonz: A Nidoran captured in the Safari Zone, actual name "AAAAAAAAAA". Evolved into Nidorino and eventually Nidoking (and now called "King Fonz" by some).
Lord Omastar: Formerly the Great Helix Fossil, reborn into the world. The god of anarchy and the greatest hope for Twitch Plays Pokemon. Evolved on the 15th Day into its Final Form.
WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT ITEMS?
The Great Helix Fossil: The Lord and Savior. An Omanyte fossil that will someday be reborn, chosen by the players over the Dome Fossil. The guiding light of all who participate in Twitch Plays Pokemon. On Day 12, it was finally reborn as Lord Omanyte (and then evolved into Lord Omastar).
The Dome Fossil: "The Doom Fossil." The evil god of Twitch Plays Pokemon. Supporter of Democracy. Always trying to hamper progress. Hateful, dark, and unrelenting. Angered it was not chosen.
The PC: The most dangerous item in the game. Capable of great good or great evil. Can store Pokemon and items - but can also allow the release of Pokemon into the wild, where they will be lost forever. The most feared being in the universe.
The Moon Stone: The original deity. Was tossed quickly.
WHAT IS UP WITH THE GREAT HELIX FOSSIL STUFF?
Like we mentioned, pretty much every item was getting tossed or used in non-ideal ways all the time. The exceptions to this were key items (like the SS Anne Ticket and the Helix Fossil) and HMs (like Cut, Strength, etc.). As a result, the Helix Fossil kept getting selected during battles, even though it had no use or purpose. The chatters - trying to explain Red's actions - claimed he was "consulting the Helix Fossil" for guidance. That's the basic explanation.
But here's the real explanation: the Helix Fossil is the holy lord, creator of all, the prime force of good and justice in the world. Forget Arceus. Arceus is a false god - a myth created by those who oppose the Helix Fossil's divine will. The Helix Fossil sacrificed itself to save Bird Jesus in a time of dire need, as Pidgeot was its chosen one - the true Messiah.
The Helix Fossil represents Anarchy - the ultimate method of play. Only in Anarchy can the will of Helix be truly felt. It is the will of Helix, and it is the duty of the players to see His will fulfilled.
The enemy of the Helix Fossil is the Dome Fossil. When given a choice of fossil in the holy Mt. Moon, the players chose Helix, which deeply angered the Dome Fossil. The Dome Fossil stands for all that is cruel and wrong in the world - Democracy, order, the release of Pokemon, and other perversions against nature. It's herald is Eevee/Flareon - the deceptor, the trickster. But Helix will prevail over Dome. It is destiny, plain and simple.
On the 12th Day, after much struggle, sacrifice, and suffering, the Great Helix Fossil was reborn on Cinnabar Island as LORD OMANYTE. His being was then retrieved from the Cursed PC, and he now guides the party on their way towards salvation. Evolved into Lord Omastar on Day 15.
WHAT WAS THE TIMELINE FOR THIS INSANITY?
DAY 1: "THE JOURNEY BEGINS"
The first Pokemon obtained was Charmander, nicknamed "ABBBBBBK (" (and commonly referred to as "Abby"). Not long after, the team grew to include a Pidgey (with no nickname, but would soon become known as "Bird Jesus"). By hour 9, Brock had been defeated and the first badge was obtained. The journey continued.
If we only knew what lay ahead, the journey would have ended before it ever began. Those were simpler times, though. No one could have known the horrors that awaited Red.