Niantic Developer Diary: Campfire June 2022 Edition

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On the 7th July Niantic published the rather late June developer diary! We had been wondering where it was, so we were very keen to see what they had to say and if it was worth the wait.

For June’s Dev Diary, Niantic interviewed a member of their staff who worked on our newest set of social features that will make coordinating activities in Pokémon GO easier than ever before. The interview is with Mikey, the Pokémon GO Product Manager.

Below is the interview with in full, including thoughts on how Niantic ‘designed these new features, how they’ll enhance in-person gameplay, and how Campfire will be implemented in Pokémon GO, now and in the future.’

Introduction

Hi, Trainers! I’m Mikey, a product manager for social features in Pokémon GO. Like many of you, I started playing Pokémon GO back in 2016. That summer, scurrying around the streets of New York City and seeking out Pokémon with my friends, I felt like I was experiencing something brand new—something that I’d never experienced in over 20 years of playing video games.

All these years later, it’s been a thrill to end up at Niantic and work on something that feels just as special: Campfire! We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on. 

Campfire & Local Community

When we were thinking of ways to make Pokémon GO better, we reflected on what makes the Pokémon GO experience special. The themes that came up again and again were that Pokémon GO helps Trainers befriend people who share common interests and explore the world around them. We wanted to design something that made those experiences even more meaningful, and with these new social features, we hope to have done just that.

If you’re on vacation somewhere—or even just exploring new areas near you—using Campfire is a fun and unique way to shape your own adventure and meet new friends. Once you’ve met up with other Trainers, you can send them a Friend Request and even direct message them to coordinate your next meetup.

Community, exploration, and real-world interaction shape the Pokémon GO experience, and we think these new features will make those connections even stronger and easier to maintain.

Campfire in Pokémon GO

Trainers want to quickly and easily coordinate with their friends while playing Pokémon GO. To maximize the usefulness of Campfire’s social features, we integrated certain features within Pokémon GO itself.

From Pokémon GO’s in-game map, just tap the Campfire icon and you’ll see where other Trainers have lit Flares—think of Flares as beacons, real-time markers that direct attention to a particular location—which will help you identify where to meet up with other Trainers. This will make coordinating raids and meeting up with your fellow Trainers much easier.

And, in a future update, one of my favorite Campfire features will be available in Pokémon GO: on the in-game map, alongside Flares and Gyms and all that other fun stuff, you’ll also be able to see pictures of Pokémon caught by other Trainers! These photos will exist on the map right where that Pokémon was caught. So if you’re searching for a specific Pokémon, these photos are a great way to decide where to go next!

One of my favorite memories of Pokémon GO is hearing a friend shout that they’d found a Dratini nearby, inspiring the rest of us to run over and try to catch one, too. We hope this photo-sharing feature will create many more thrilling experiences like that for Trainers!

Niantic Campfire

What’s in the Campfire App?

For us, the most important thing when designing these features was how we could enhance the collaborative aspect of each Trainer’s Pokémon GO experience. With this in mind, we made accessing Campfire’s features within Pokémon GO quick and easy—but for a more involved experience, Trainers can also use the Campfire app itself.

We know Trainers love taking part in raids, so we designed Campfire specifically to make this aspect of Pokémon GO easier to coordinate. Inside the Campfire app, Trainers can share raid locations with friends in direct messages or group chats, making it easy to get a team together quickly and efficiently.

And for those of you who typically play on your own—don’t worry! When you tap a Gym on the map, you’ll see the option to add a Flare to that location, which can encourage other Trainers to come by and join you.

We’re still hard at work integrating the Campfire experience within Pokémon GO, so we hope to roll out more features in the future. Pokémon GO is such a special, unique game, and we can’t wait to see how Trainers use Campfire to catch more Pokémon, take on more raids, and make more friends!

Niantic Campfire Niantic Campfire

Our Thoughts

Campfire is a really intriguing prospect for Pokémon GO, and it will be interesting to how much it improves the community aspect of GO. Organises in person raids can be so tricky, and the idea of ‘flares’ to help show there are trainers in the area could have massive potential. With trainers currently spread across a huge amount of social media platforms to organise raids, and other third party-apps, Campfire has the potential to give us one central place to organise everything, and hopefully find new local trainers to play with along the way. Being able to access features from within GO is a huge thing, I know my local community have been resistant to Discord because it involves learning a new app and it can look intimidating, so if certain parts of Campfire are built in, it should be much easier to figure out!

Some content creators were able to try out Campfire at GO Fest Berlin, so check out thetrainerclub video below for a preview of how it all works.

What are your feelings on Campfire and this very late June dev diary?

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