Shoddy Battle (later known as Pokémon Lab) is a free and open source Pokémon simulator created by Cathy J. Fitzpatrick and Benjamin Gwin and first released in July 2007. It allows users to play Pokémon matches against other people online.
Shoddy Battle simulates the 4th generation of Pokémon games, which began with the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl in September 2006 in Japan and April 2007 in North America. During the 4th generation (roughly 2007–2010), Shoddy Battle was the main Pokémon simulator used by the competitive Pokémon community.
On this website, you can learn about Shoddy Battle and its contributions to competitive Pokémon. You can also read about the history of Shoddy Battle. The program itself is also still available to play.
Shoddy Battle ushered in a number of significant advances to the Pokémon community.
You can read the full details here. A summary appears below.
- Free, open source, and cross-platform software
Before Shoddy Battle, previous simulators had been closed source and controlled by particular individuals. By contrast, Shoddy Battle was truly a community project — its open design led to improved security, greater sense of community ownership, enhanced understanding of Pokémon mechanics (because interested users could and did read the source code), and made possible contributions by anyone who wanted to help. The Shoddy Battle codebase was also re-used by several other Pokémon projects.
Shoddy Battle's open source nature and the benefits that flowed from it effected a significant shift in the Pokémon community and all subsequent simulators have continued to be free and open source.
Shoddy Battle arrived during an era of unprecedented growth in the size of the competitive Pokémon community. It supported hundreds of concurrent users and hosted around 700,000 battles per month at its peak — about one battle starting every four seconds.
- Extension and customisation
Shoddy Battle was designed from the ground up to be extensible; it included features that allowed users to design and play modified versions of the Pokémon game. Customised games could include modified Pokémon or even entirely new Pokémon characters, as well as new moves, items, abilities, and rules. The creation of custom games proved popular and was the focus of a particular subset of the community (the Create-a-Pokémon Project).
Shoddy Battle and Pokémon Lab also supported extension through bots — that is, programs that joined the server and interacted with other users. Some bots helped with moderation tasks, whereas others included AI code and could challenge human players to matches, such as Technical Machine.
- Statistical data and user ranking
Shoddy Battle was the beginning of a new era of Pokémon based heavily on statistical data.
Shoddy Battle was the first simulator to provide statistical information on what Pokémon and strategies were used by players. This information facilitated sophisticated analyses of the game and informed tiering debates. The presence of statistical data also changed the game itself by providing players with information that could help them in their battles against other people, which also paved the way for sophisticated AI code. Statistics also made it possible to observe shifts in the metagame over time and to evaluate the consequences of changes in the rules.
Shoddy Battle applied the same statistical philosophy to ranking players. It was the first simulator to include a match-making facility (the "ladder") and a rating system. Together with the statistics on in-game trends, the ranking data helped understand the differences in Pokémon play between better and worse players.
Later Pokémon simulators have followed the path set by Shoddy Battle and continue to expand on the above advances. You can read the full details here.
You can also learn about the history of Shoddy Battle here.
With the conclusion of the 4th generation, Shoddy Battle has been superseded by other simulators such as Pokémon Showdown. Shoddy Battle remains notable for the changes it effected in the Pokémon community.
If you enjoyed using Shoddy Battle or have questions or comments, please feel free to email Cathy and bearzly at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know. They appreciate hearing from you. After Pokémon, Cathy went on to litigate and win a landmark judgment for transgender equality rights. You can read about that at cathyjf.com.