Pokemon GO Electric Biome Analysis

This is a copy of a research piece written by WoodWoseWulf and published on TheSilphRoad. It’s published on GO Hub for safe keeping and not getting lost on reddit.

Of all the biomes that occur in Pokémon Go Pre-Gen II, the electric biome is arguably the most stark and recognisable. Even the most non-observant traveller would be hard pressed to mistake their presence in such a biome, which is characterised by an abundance of Magnemite, Voltorb and also a high occurrence of their evolved forms, Magneton and Electrode. In some locations these Pokémon make up well over three quarters of spawns at any given time.

Definitions:

Biome: In the context of Pokémon Go, Biome typically refers to a collection of Pokémon that are associated with a particular environment or ecosystem. Travellers may find themselves in a desert biome with Geodude and Sandshrew, or a Mt. Moon Biome with Nidoran and Clefairy, or a Water biome with Magikarp and Tentacool.

S2 Cells: Put simply, S2 is a way to divide the entire globe into areas (cells) that cover roughly the same space as each other and are as square as possible on the surface of the sphere that is the planet Earth. S2 Starts at level 0 (which covers the Earth in 6 distinct cells) and then divides into fours after that – each level 0 cell is divided in four for level 1, each level 1 cell is divided into 4 for level 2. S2 divides all the way up to level 30, at level 30 each cell is less than a cm (0.39 of an inch)

Pokémon Go uses level 10 S2 cells to work out captured locations of Pokémon and uses level 20 S2 cells to distribute spawn points.

If I mention anything that you don’t understand, you’re probably not alone, please comment or PM me and I’ll edit in a definition or explain myself better

Process

While it may be difficult to distinguish between the boundary of what some Travelers refer to as the “grassland” and “forest” biomes, the “electric biome” is distinct in so much that in many locations Magnemite and Voltorb are not common spawns. As such, the electric biome is one of the most ideal to conduct early studies into how biomes are distributed in the Pokémon Go game world.

S2 Cells

In the past, S2 has proven useful in both understanding how capture location works, and also in understanding how individual spawn points are distributed. Around the world, the exact shape of S2 cells varies as S2 attempts to maintain areas of a similar size for each level around the sphere that is the Earth.

Although the exact shape of cells varies depending on where you are on the globe, in Sydney, the vertical of s2 cells is 90 degrees and the horizontal/diagonal proceeds along East South East at approximately 105 degrees from North. Consequently, if biomes are linked to s2 cells, one should be able to follow the borders of these cells and observe variations in spawns on either side.

Gathering Data

The greater area around the city of Sydney, Australia is home to dozens of electric biomes. The vast majority occur within close proximity to the ocean or Sydney Harbour. A few hours in each location is sufficient to establish the boundaries of these electric biomes.

We recorded the positions of spawns at 15 unique strong electric biomes across the Central Coast and Northern/Central Sydney, NSW, Australia.

The map here shows one location with the spawns marked as black dots and the electric biome marked as bright green: http://imgur.com/BJeY6Bv

Findings

  • There is a strong correlation between the boundaries of level 14 S2 cells and the electric biome. In many cases, the boundary is immediately visually observable in electric biome spawns along the cell’s border.
  • The electric biome appears to form clusters in multiple adjacent level 14 S2 cells, twisting and turning along a larger area, this makes the boundaries more obvious on corners and longer chains of cells. Those with knowledge of the position of S2 cells can easily observe the boundaries, especially between electric and non-electric cells.

When reviewing the electric biome s2 cell clusters, the following OSM features were observed in each. It is important to note that these may have nothing to do with generating an electric biome:

  • 86% Water
  • 73% Car Parking
  • 66% Pier
  • 46% Park
  • 40% Residential
  • 33% Ocean (specified)
  • 33% Retail
  • 23% Commercial
  • 13% Industrial
  • 13% River (specified)
  • 6% Hospital

Discussion

It is possible that other kinds of biomes may follow a similar pattern to the electric biome. It is also possible that they use either larger, smaller or the same sized cells and overlap.

Interestingly each electric biome cell still possessed some unique characteristics. Some spawned Meowth commonly, others didn’t, some had a desert like biome (fire, fighting and rock types), others didn’t, some were directly next to the water, at least two weren’t.

Biomes are clearly complex. Future research may need to focus on each unique biome cell as well as focusing on individual biome sources. It is possible that biomes have more than one contributing overlapping data source – elevation, map features and weather data may all play into an area’s biome as observed by travellers.

While complex, Biomes are also evidently measureable. Researchers should take heart it this notion. If we can understand and accurately mark the bounds of biomes, we will have taken a massive step forward in our understanding of how they function.

In this silent lull from Niantic and Professor Willow, perhaps we find ourselves in a place where we can gather valuable data that will never be able to be gathered again. The Pokedex, in its ‘completed’ state will never again be as simple as it is now again.

Future generations of Pokémon might offer the potential of both more complex and also possibly more identifiable biomes. Only impending updates will reveal the truth. But, with this in mind we should not rest on our laurels. The limited number of wild varieties of Pokémon at this time present unique opportunities for study and this may not be repeated in the future.