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Pokécharms

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Pokécharms, an amalgamation of Pokémon and Lucky Charms, is a Northern Irish Pokémon fan site that caters to UK and European Pokémon fans.

The site's slogan is "Wii're Crazy and Proud of It" (formerly "We're Crazy and Proud of it" but changed following the announcement of the name for Nintendo's latest Home Console, the Wii) and makes no bones about breaking convention in its news posts, often opting for a conversational blog style when reporting on Pokémon and video game news.

Pokécharms originally found its way onto the Internet in 2001 on FreeServers as a very simple and amateur fan site manned solely by Gary Oak, later known as Doctor Oak. It promised much but featured little and is in general a classic example of "My First Website," as described by Doctor Oak. It was eventually abandoned but not before an ezboard was created in its name that built up a small community of like-minded individuals from another Pokémon fan site, Pokeschool. The purchase of a .com domain was discussed largely on the forum but was eventually discarded along with the site.

Two further Web sites by Gary Oak followed in its wake, RPGCCG and Nintendo Gamer. Both strayed from Pokémon but gave their webmaster a small following that eventually came to the rebirth of Pokécharms in the summer of 2003.

Pokécharms was relaunched as a place for its webmaster and friends to upload fan works and soon grew with that very idea at the forefront, encouraging visitors to upload their work to the site to share with others

Eventually the site strayed from that theme as Doctor Oak and his team of Linkachu, Nemesis, and StellarWind Elsydeon took on the task of covering news on Pokémon Colosseum, then FireRed and LeafGreen before completely focusing on the Pokémon games, other video games, and the lives of its webmaster team.

Pokécharms has also had an important focus on the Pokémon fandom itself- something the site has strived to support through projects such as Bulbapedia and continues to work with other websites and webmasters rather than becoming part of various inter-site conflicts that have marred the Pokémon fandom over the years.

As the site continues on in years and growth, being "different" has been at the forefront of its design and content. Seeking to avoid the trap that many Pokémon fansites have in the past, where they are fairly similar to and serve much the same purpose as Serebii.net, Pokécharms' designs aim for a more unique style, with constant updates to reflect the latest events in the Pokémon franchise.

In August 2008, the site 'relaunched' following server issues with a new look, a new server and a complete overhaul to the popular Trainer Card Maker.

On September 10, 2011, Pokécharms was closed and reopened on September 11. The Trainer Card Maker is open again.

Pokécharms Day

As part of celebrating the site's Irish roots, every year on March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day the holiday is celebrated as Pokecharms Day and until 2007 featured competitions for the site's visitors to win real-world prizes in. New exclusive content such as Nemesis' Pokémon Review is also often also uploaded in time with the holiday, though the deadline of launching the site's Pokédex for March 17th 2006 was eventually missed and ended up being uploaded later in the month instead.

In 2007, the annual tradition of holding competitions on the site was abandoned following server problems barely over a week before the holiday. Since then, Pokecharms Day has gone by relatively quietly due to time constraints and other issues. The Webmaster has said he hopes "for 2009's Pokecharms Day to be a true return to form" but also made note that again it will rely on availability to prepare activities or material for the day.

Pokédex

In March 2006, following years of on/off work, Pokécharms launched its own online Pokédex for the Third Generation using PHP and MySQL. Later that year, the Pokédex was upgraded to include Pokémon and attacks from the new Fourth Generation. Pokécharms' Pokédex is used as a backend for much more than just the Pokédex Program, it is also used to generate pages such as an EV Training advice page and more recently used along with the Trainer Card Maker program.

The Webmaster confirmed following the 'relaunch' of the website in August that a complete overhaul of the Pokédex was in the works and is expected to accompany an update for Platinum's information in September.

Nemesis' Pokémon Reviews

Originally a one-off feature on Nintendo Gamer following the release for Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Nemesis' Pokémon Reviews have since become cornerstone features on Pokécharms, and are critically well received upon each installment. The simple premise is that Nemesis, one of the 4-piece webmaster team, gives a list of his opinions on each Pokémon, based on a variety of influences, in an aim to spark discussion on the subject. The Generation 4 Review saw Nemesis looking over all 493 Pokémon, including a renewed look at the original 386 featured in the second Review in what Nemesis has said to be his last Review. Key distinguishable features in this new Review compared to the one before it is the presentation and style - instead of a simple list, each page is now laid out more aesthetically and is often broken up by small inserted sections focusing on a single train of thought brought up while discussing a Pokémon before it.

Another version of the Review was planned during 2006, featuring opinions from other Pokécharms staff and forum members presented in the same manner as it was originally conducted - as an online chat about each Pokémon. While the groundwork for this Review was laid and work begun on it, eventually it was scrapped in favor of a return to the original format focusing on the new 107 Pokémon of Diamond and Pearl.

Trainer Card Maker

Pokécharms launched its latest feature on the 12th March 2007, allowing anyone, whatever their image editing capabilities, to have their own Trainer Card image in their signatures without the need of using another person's Trainer Card 'Shop', as they are often referred to on Message Boards, in just a couple of minutes by filling out a simple form.

As well as creating the image for the user, the site also offers the ability to host the Trainer Cards for them without the need for their own webspace or third party sites such as Photobucket. As word began to spread about the program - including an officially endorsed promotion of the system on Serebii.net's forums by Serebii - eventually the offer of giving away bandwidth for the service caught up with the site and in the early hours of the 26th March 2007, the bandwidth limit for the site was exceeded. Pokecharms' hosting plan was upgraded to cope with the massively increased traffic and bandwidth, and arrangements had then been made to try to ensure that the site could cope with continuing the program.

On the 7th August 2007, the Trainer Card maker once again overloaded the site - with 6GB of 11kb cards (Over half a million image files) completely filling up the server space allocated especially for them. Due to this, the program started failing to save people's cards once they had made them and the only solution was to completely purge the Trainer Cards already made to continue the program. However, days later the Generator was completely pulled down and the account used for storing the files discontinued.

Later in the year, on the 8th November 2007, after some reworking of the system and a new host to provide a more robust (or so it was assumed at the time) backbone for the service, the Trainer Card Maker returned once again. The service proved once again to be immediately popular and over half a million new cards were made by the end of the year - working out at around a thousand cards made every day.

Unfortunately, the quantity of images once again proved to be too much for a shared host to cope with and server issues returned to plague the website. The cards made between the 8th November and March 2008 were purged to clear up the server's space and resources but it was only a temporary fix and moves began to be made to once again relocate to an even more powerful server.

At this same time, work began on a massive update to the Trainer Card Maker. Condensing everything into just one page and making the application much more streamlined and smarter, this update was dubbed the Trainer Card Maker 2. Using Javascript/AJAX, the application is slightly more server intensive than the previous use of simple forms but this is balanced out by a much cleaner code in generating the images as well as the new rule for saving cards to the server; after thirty days all cards are automatically deleted. This means that the server would only have to cope with around 30 thousand images, as opposed to the 500 thousand plus other servers were previously straining under.

However, as of now the Trainer Cards are unavailable again, with a note that they will return in a couple of weeks.

As of 1st September 2008 over 880 thousand cards have been made since November 2007. The 1 millionth trainer card was made in October 2008, and the count has already exceeded one million.

'Summer' Teasers

Beginning on 20th May, Webmaster Doctor Oak began posting 'teaser' images for an, as yet unannounced, feature related to Pokécharms. As of 4th August, there have been 2 further teaser images posted, both following the same pattern of a single image as an opening post, linking to the previous teaser and with a title referring directly to something 'coming' "this summer".

The Webmaster has claimed that the upcoming reveal will be "massive in scope" and that "all will be revealed very soon", but otherwise has remained silent on any speculation as to what the teasers refer to.

External links

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