November 15, 2012 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Looks cool, could be a killer app for G+?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:32 AM on November 15, 2012

It occurs to me that a game like this is the perfect cover / deniability layer for any type of concerted action by a free association of people.

Until of course, someone types that observation into the internet, and then it isn't a cover any more... or is it?
posted by MikeWarot at 9:34 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

What are the mechanics of the game like, do they get real time location info as I walk around "hacking" monuments and fighting people? There is some talk that this will be a launch app for google glass. A way to gamify augmented reality.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:40 AM on November 15, 2012

Majestic 2: Now With GPS

Fax machine no longer required
posted by tracert at 9:51 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm skeptical, mostly because I've seen this kind of location-based, check-in, capture-the-flag ARG tried a few times before (e.g. Shadow Cities), with limited success:

a) The central game mechanics are incredibly basic and weighted towards people with more time than you. Come on - you're not hacking a monument, you're probably going to press a button that says 'Hack' on it, wait a few seconds, get some XP, and maybe flip control of the monument until someone else with more time flips it back from you.

b) Most normal people really can't be bothered walking out to sculptures or public places every day. It's really hard to get people to develop new habits, and the payoff here doesn't seem enough to change those habits.

c) The trailers for these things are always set in some big city, whereas most people do not live that close to interesting places. Is this game going to be fun in Podunk, USA?

Why location-based game designers always fail to understand these last two things, I will never know.

I would like to be proved wrong but this game looks so similar to Shadow Cities it's uncanny, and that did very well for a while, but now doesn't seem to be quite as active any more (and certainly not making as much money, as far as I can tell from their grossing ranks in the App Store).
posted by adrianhon at 10:03 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not that I necessarily disagree with your overall feelings about the game (although I will check it out), but your point 3 is actually incorrect. Most of the population of the US lives in urban areas.
posted by Inkoate at 10:14 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Majestic 2: Now With GPS

I got interviewed on NPR about Majestic back in the day. After it aired, tons of friends started emailing and calling and I got real tired of saying "Yes, that was me..."

Was a neat, fun ARG while it lasted.
posted by mrbill at 10:19 AM on November 15, 2012

Inkoate: Urban areas; but not necessarily within walking distance of lots of monuments etc. The UK is very urbanised as well, but living in Zone 4 of London isn't the same as being a 15 minute walk from a museum.
posted by adrianhon at 10:23 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Adrianhon's three critiques are surely valid for many existing games of this type, but there's no reason they must be true. It's easy to imagine a more challenging game, with sparse time requirements, that is at least playable in rural areas. Well, two out of three maybe.
posted by newdaddy at 10:27 AM on November 15, 2012

adrianhon: I didn't get the feeling that the game was about monuments specifically. I think any urban-ish area with public sculpture or park-like land (this is based only on the trailer for the game I've seen so far) is a feasible venue for this kind of game, no?
posted by Inkoate at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2012

Yes, I don't want to be too hard on the game - it's only just launched, so it may well be awesome (also, it turns out I know someone on the team at Google!).

newdaddy: Absolutely. I think there is a bright future for location-based games and arguably their more time-and-space-constrained variant, urban games, shows that there is a genuine apetite. My company makes Zombies, Run! which is not technically location-based but is a real-world game and also avoids some of these problems.

Inkoate: It could be - certainly I hope so. It's kind of confusing based on the Allthingsd article, which suggests that the 'portals' are things like 'public art, libraries' etc.
posted by adrianhon at 11:03 AM on November 15, 2012

I'm still working through the Nyantic Project.
posted by mhum at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2012

mrbill: " Majestic 2: Now With GPS

I got interviewed on NPR about Majestic back in the day. After it aired, tons of friends started emailing and calling and I got real tired of saying "Yes, that was me..."

Was a neat, fun ARG while it lasted.

Damn tooting, especially when I disabled the warning on the phone call (my immersion!) and my wife got a frenzied phone call from the characters who were trapped in a hotel with the black helicopters closing in.
posted by Samizdata at 1:48 PM on November 15, 2012

Majestic was about 12 years too early. Stupidly brilliant game, with horrifically-bad storytelling in parts. (Wait, I'm going to spend four days practicing this stupid little flash game and then when I do it "for real," which you've made clear that I have exactly one chance at ever, no matter how well I do I am certain to fail by game designer fiat? F#$% THAT. Ahem.)

This could be a fantastic project... but there hasn't been a commercial ARG that has worked arguably ever. Certainly not for anything other than as a marketing tool ("I Love Bees" for Halo 2, for instance). I wonder if this game would be easier or more fun with Google Glasses?

Oh, wait.
posted by andreaazure at 4:43 PM on November 15, 2012

I was one of Majestic's developers. I didn't make that forced-fail Flash game, andreaazure, but I still feel guilty about it, anyway!

Ingress looks really cool, and I'm sure Google will get lots of juicy data from us users.
posted by flyover at 5:01 PM on November 15, 2012

Is this where we beg for Ingress activation codes? Because I want one.
posted by DynamiteToast at 7:19 PM on November 15, 2012

Is this where we beg for Ingress activation codes? Because I want one.


posted by isnotchicago at 8:04 PM on November 15, 2012

This is pretty cool, I got it set up today and rode around on my bike tonight setting up a few portals and one link. Seems like the sort of game that could be quickly unbalanced by a couple people spending all their free time playing it, but for the time being it's entertaining.
posted by DynamiteToast at 12:21 AM on November 17, 2012

Looks neat, will have to figure out a way to carry my giant android phone around when I go running.
posted by pixie at 4:13 PM on November 17, 2012

Got in, ofcourse it is now near 0c outside and dark so doing the tutorial will have to wait.

Not got any invites yet.
posted by pixie at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2012

You can do the tutorial in your house/apartment or w/e, it lets you set up a fake portal and then do all the tutorial on it.

The enlightened in Houston had taken over most of downtown, so tonight I rode my bike down there and took down a portal that had like 8 links and cut their field by about a third. It was pretty satisfying.
posted by DynamiteToast at 10:03 PM on November 18, 2012

Managed to complete the tutorial, in a airport departure lounge, but there are zero portals visible near my office today
posted by pixie at 4:42 AM on November 19, 2012

Just joined, I really like it. Its going to encourage me to go out walking and visit stuff. Wandered around near where I work in central london and found a Portal that was a ghost bike, pretty eerie. Via the forums am now tracking down other, ahem, enlightened people near me.

If there aren't any portals near you, you submit a photo, then they might make it into one.
posted by memebake at 2:56 PM on November 19, 2012

There is a subreddit already, and here's a good post from it.
crgk: As of now, it looks like only one other guy in my town is playing. Luckily, he's with the Resistance, so at least we have something to do. Are any of you guys locked in 1-on-1 battles like this? I think it might come to physical violence when I encounter Pinyaka in the wild.
Pinyaka: ... Also, I'm a pretty big guy and I saw what you did to my post office.
posted by memebake at 3:02 PM on November 19, 2012

From Koush (ClockworkMod, CyanogenMod) On G+:
I made a custom +CyanogenMod build that lets me enable mock locations (fake out my GPS location), but lie to #ingress about it being a mock location.

Game over Seattle World.

Competitive gamers use all the tools at their disposal.
And in the comments that followed:
FWIW, I'm not actually going to use it. Just did it to see if I could.
posted by mrbill at 5:26 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mrbill, yes people are GPS hacking already.

On Tuesday morning a single user created huge 50km fields over Milan in the course of one night, if you look at the speed he travelled between places he must have been GPS hacking. The same user was 'in' London today.
posted by memebake at 4:40 PM on November 22, 2012

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