How hackers are revealing the hidden Pokemon Go monsters all around you

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Hackers have made it relatively simple to see what monsters are lurking nearby in Pokémon Go. (credit: Github / PokemonGoMap)

One of Pokémon Go‘s defining characteristics is that you never quite know the precise location of nearby Pokémon, since the game only gives an imprecise “radar” with general distances. A group of hackers has set out to change that situation, exploiting Pokémon Go‘s server responses to create an easy-to-use map that reveals those hidden Pokémon in your immediate area.

The hack is the result of efforts by the PokemonGoDev subreddit, which is working to reverse engineer an API using the data sent and received by the Pokémon Go servers. So far, the group has managed to parse the basic server responses sent by the game, which can be acquired through an SSL tunnel and deciphered using relatively basic protocol buffers.

From there, a little bit of Python scripting work can convert the usually hidden data on nearby Pokémon locations into an easy-to-use Google Maps picture of your augmented reality surroundings. There are step-by-step installation instructions for anyone with even a basic understanding of a command line, as well as recent attempts at a self-contained desktop app and Web-based app for those who want a one-step Poké-mapping solution.

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