In the past about 10 years ago, there used to be talk of hacking and RNG Abuse within some circles of Pokémon Battling on the GBA and DS.. But at the today almost nothing on the newer games on the Switch. So why not talked about?
Before I go in to much details, I really need to cover some things I will regularly reference in this article.
RNG stands for Random Number Generator. In terms computing and gaming, it’s more accurately described Pseudo- Random Number Generator. A subroutine that will return an apparently random number upon a request. This is not actually random, but just a really long list of numbers that was randomised during the development of the game. Many games and systems run use another method to find a “seed” to use as a starting point.
The “Seed” is process where the game picks a spot on the list to start it’s work from. There are various method for getting one, and this will change between games. A common method is using the time from the systems clock. Some games such as Minecraft will allow users to insert their own seed.
Now why was Hacking and RNG Abuse was talked about?
For every main series Pokémon game there are 5 sets of hidden stats to affect the how each individual Pokémon actual stats are found. Actually, Hidden was true for the older games, but many newer games have these shown to the player, in a vague way.
- While not hidden, the Level of a Pokémon will affect it’s stats. Of course, this can easily be increased by earning experience, usually by battling. In most PVP modes, the game will alter the Pokémons Levels to match the mode’s requirements. (This will bring up or drop down some levels.)
- The “Base Stats” shared between of all members of the same species* of Pokémon, and the only way it changed was during evolution, and Mega Evolution and Dynamax. *In this case, All Abra have the same base stats. But exceptions do exist, such as Lycanroc and Rotom forms having different base stats but all members of that form have the same Base stats.
- The EV or Effort Value stats was actually easily added to based on the Pokémon that was previously fought, and in most games can be also reduced with certain items. In the games, this stat set is often referred to a base stats.
- One of 20 Natures are offer a 10% boost in one stat and 10% reduction in another, or with additional 5 doing nothing. This stat is seen on all games that natures exist, but the effects are not always seen. This is set when Pokémon is caught or otherwise generated. Ideally for PvP, you want a nature that synergies with your Pokemon and move set.
- The IVs alter the stats of a Pokémon, and is impossible to alter these without getting another Pokémon. When breeding, you can pass certain IVs down from a parent. Ideally, you’d want the highest IV stats possible for almost all stats, baring a few exceptions, such as Trick Room teams.
Both Natures and IVs, along with additional things such as Shininess are calculated from number out of the RNG.
So back 2010, The latest games in the west were Heart Gold and Soul Silver, with Black and White due in Japan in September. So the We were approaching the end of the 4th Generation, and just about to get started in the 5th.
The Pokémon Company had just started doing it’s yearly Video Game Championships, with the players bringing their best teams and beating everyone else in the place.
The only real limit using any Pokémon was using limiting valid Pokémon Species via Pokédex number to enter. With 2011 being the only one that required you to the “new” Pokémon from Unova. In theory baring 2011, one could use the exact same Pokémon in the 2009-2013 VGC competitions.
Due to the way some Pokemon got some moves in some of the older side games, one could take that Pokémon and bring it forward. For example: If I wanted a Zapdos with Extrasensory I would have to get one from Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. (Zapdos was regularly excluded from entering in VGC competitions.)
The Rules until the 2014 season introduced the required the Pokémon to have a certain Origin Mark to valid, which was introduced in 2013’s X and Y.
So would hacking be Prevalent?
Actually it was very prevalent. Back for the GBA games, needing face to face contact, kept most hacks to small selection of games, but with Online trading, you could end up with a hack especially if you asked for a no so easily obtainable Pokémon. Also it was quite easy to obtain means to obtain a means to generate a hacked Pokemon back in the day if you knew where to look, as both the Action Replay, and the R4 Flash cart was very common.
The above Pokémon are all clearly hacked Pokémon, as they’re are showing incorrect information about their origin. (The PBR screen shots is just showing information on a now deleted Game save.)
The tools provided by sites like Project Pokémon, could be used to generate hacked Pokemon with ease.. I personally used it to generate Nioi in the Images above.
However, the VGC rules could result in someone being disqualified for being caught using “Illegally Manipulated Pokémon.” (Also Project Pokémon doesn’t approve of the use their tools for VGC competitions.)
So what if there was a way to “hack” Pokémon with the IVs and Nature you want, without hacking? Given that IVs and Natures are “Randomly” generated, why not find a way to make sure you get the Dice roll you want?
RNG – Dice roll?
To put simply, if you know when that could throw a Six on a standard cube dice? For some player this is decent thing…
But In the games, the dice doesn’t have 6 sides but hundreds of sides.
As the number of that many sided dice roll, will affect the stats of the Pokémon..
But computers don’t really play dice, they actually cheat and the random number generator, which give an next random number off the list.. So if you can guess what number is due next, or know when your Pokémon had the stats you wanted, or the ultimate “random” event with it being shiny with the stats you want!
So how did The Pokémon Company/Game Freak stop it?
First, Nintendo made it harder to get the R4 cards, with the Action Replay also being harder to find. While didn’t remove the Pirated games and hacking of those games, it made it harder for the hacks to end up being produced on demand.
Second, Pokemon Company forced that only Pokémon with the correct Origin Mark could be used in VGC. This reduced the need to go back and get then 10 year old game to obtain a certain moves on a system that is no long being made, evened the playing field. (Due to the recent Pandemic, prices of the rarer games have gone up, and got even rarer.)
As the move to the 3DS and Switch. They also made it harder to hack the 3DS than the DS was, and closed some exploits that older games had left open. As the 3DS could be patched, they made it possible to close exploits in short time without waiting for the next game.
But the best thing they did was give the Player more control over how their Pokémon become without just relying on luck. Give them less reason to hack in the first place.
Most of the following changes carried over to the following games.
The first change was back in Emerald. The Ability to increase your chance to get the nature you wanted, was added via a few means. Also Game Freak added the ability to use some useless but common items to reduce EVs. Finally, a person in a Post game area can gives you idea of what your IVs are.
In the next games, Diamond and Pearl kept all the changes added in Emerald and added a few others. The first was the “Characteristic” line added to the stats. This line was directly based on the Highest IV stat, so one could easily work out the highest stat. Nioi’s “Capable of taking hits” suggest her Defence stat is the highest, would end in 1 or 6, and could be used to with this games IV checker NPC. New items where added to reduce the time to EV train.
In Platinum, they altered how the IVs where calculated when breeding, which made it easier to get the better Pokémon than in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
Then Heart Gold and Soul Silver, the game showed the stats had been boosted and reduced. While hardcore players may have memorised the stats it made it easier to work out if the Pokémon had the Nature you wanted. Also the EV training items introduced in Diamond and Pearl was used to pass down that stats IV, while breeding.
Black and White didn’t do major changes. They added means to alter EVs more finely using some items. They made it possible for abilities to send to the baby Pokémon. In Black and White 2, there were a player can recruit NPCs based on other players that could alter the EVs for a Price. This is party due the Lack of the items EV reduction items added in Emerald being easily available. Finally, passing down the nature was now certain where it was previously a chance it was passed down.
As X & Y was the first games with a Origin Mark, they did a few changes. First, was the fact and the Destiny Knot could pass down 5 of the 6 IVs of the parents. This made it easier to get near Perfect IV baby Pokémon. For Pokémon that couldn’t breed, at least 3 IVs where set to be the max. They added more means to EV train in these games. Also one could see the approximate EV Spread diagram of your Party Pokemon in the Super Training Menu, as offering other means to train your party. Additionally the “Horde” battles made EV training training easier.
In Sun and Moon, many changes where made. The EV Spread diagram in the Pokémon status window. And after completing a few tasks in the end game, you’d get to see the same diagram have a IV mode as well. But the biggest change is the Hyper Training. It give the effect having your Pokémon with Maximum IVs Per stat.
In the most recent games, Sword and Shield. The Ability to change the Nature on demand was added, as well has having almost every improvement since Emerald.
Game Freak has stated in the past they didn’t like many of Pokémon trainers just breeding and using exploits to get the best chance. Now they’ve lowered the bar so it actually quicker to do than actually learning to hack the Nintendo Switch