"Foursquare with Space Noises" comes to iOS
July 18, 2014 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Ingress, the popular GPS-Enabled Android game from Google's internal tech startup, Niantic Labs, winner of Top Game of 2013 at the Google Play Player's Choice Awards, was released for iOS 7.0 devices this week. [Previously on MeFi]

Ingress is Niantic Labs' proof-of-concept and testbed for a new type of mobile game, that in the words of their CEO John Hanke, formerly Vice President of Product Management of Google's "Geo" division, will "help people get more out of the real world when they're out."

The mechanics of the game have been compared to king of the hill and capture the flag mixed with geocaching. Points of interest around the world, such as public sculptures, murals & commissioned street art, historical markers, unique local landmarks, and even libraries and places of worship, have been designated as "portals" on Ingress's game map, and players must take their mobile device out into the world and visit these portals by approaching within 40 meters of them to begin to play the game. Once they have these items, they can begin to claim portals for their team, link claimed portals together, and when three of these portals all get linked together, a triangle of their team's color gets drawn on the map, adding points to their team's global score, until the other team comes along to knock it down.

Beyond the mechanics of gameplay, Ingress has been marketed as being both types of "ARG" -- an Augmented Reality Game as well as an Alternate Reality game. As an Augmented Reality Game, it falls short of what's shown in Niantic Labs' promotional videos. Both the original game trailer and their trailer announcing the iOS release make it look like you would be able to see the in-game portals overlaid on top of the points of interest associated with them, but currently, the game only shows them on a map interface. (The newer trailer is however, is a wonderful acknowledgement that prior to the iOS release, the Android players, when trying to spot other players, would immediately dismiss any iPhone users as harmless.)

As for Ingress as an Alternate Reality Game, in that category, it may very well be too successful for its own good. The game has an elaborate backstory, described by the creators as a J.J. Abrams-like sci-fi spy thriller. As far as Alternate Reality Games go, this game's reality is so alternate, many players don't even try to follow it, instead focusing strictly on just playing the game itself.

Development of the game's backstory has been under the direction of Niantic Labs' Creative Lead Flint Dille. Dille, whose previous works include screenwriting for the original Transformers and G.I Joe cartoons (He's responsible for killing Optimus Prime in the 1986 movie, and the G.I. Joe character Flint is his namesake) was also was the head of TSR's west cost division, producing TSR's Buck Rogers XXVc pen & paper RPG (continuing the legacy of his grandfather, who had adapted Buck Rogers from a sci-fi novella into a daily newspaper comic strip).

Flint Dille arranged and appeared at the event that would be Ingress's ARG Trailhead, a seeming crazy outburst during a panel at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, by a man named Tycho, reportedly a comic book "ghost artist" who gets called in to finish unfinished pieces by other artists to meet publishing deadlines. Soon after, bits of the storyline, involving the discovery of an extra-dimensional intelligence called the Shapers, and the efforts of a secret US government agency to determine how much of a threat they are, and whether that threat could be turned into a weaponized asset instead, began being parceled out in bite-sized chunks on a daily basis at the website NianticProject.com (And then later on, through posts on G+ on the +NianticProject account's feed). To encourage players to investigate the Alternate Reality Game, passcodes redeemable for in-game gear are hidden in each release of storyline media using steganography and scrambled with simple cyphers.

To bring new players up to speed, two videos were produced to summarize year one of the backstory: Part 1 and Part 2. These two videos were part of a weekly series of YouTube videos called the Ingress Report, which Niantic Labs uses to disseminate both heavy doses of backstory, as well as highlighting major operations by the players themselves. Other avenues that they have used to get Ingress's storyline out to the players include comic books, soundcloud channels, and several e-books: The Alignment Ingress, The Niantic Project: Ingress, and Ingress: Level 8 (a fourth e-book release The Shaper Key, is currently being written). A more recent media offering under the Ingress banner, is a second weekly YouTube video series, titled Ingress Obsessed. It is presented as a vlog produced by a pair of sisters who are low level agents in the game (in actuality, the sisters are both established Hollywood actors), and eschews the deep dives into the backstory to instead focus more on what the players manage to accomplish in-game, as well as tips geared to beginning players. Recent episodes have also been heavy on the video effects to push concept of Ingress as Augmented Reality, similar to the two trailers mentioned above.

When crafting the backstory, Niantic was quite careful in how they depict the two teams of players in the game, making it so that there's no clear distinction of who are "the good guys" and who are "the bad guys." The blue team, the Resistance, will tell you that they're fighting against alien mind control and want to keep humanity "human". However they may very well be helping a US spy agency learn the secrets of mind control for themselves, and in the worst case, enabling a rogue Artificial Intelligence wipe everyone's brain clean to have room to run AI code on our wetware. On the flip side, the green team, the Enlightened, say that they want to harness this extradimensional energy from the Shapers to bring artistic and scientific inspiration to everyone on the planet, sparking the next stage of human evolution. But they may just be under alien mind control, wanting to bring everyone else under mind control too, except for the few who go insane from the process, and then once these minds are controlled the Shapers will consume people's life experiences like pieces of fruit.

Aside from the Alternate Realty Game aspects of the backstory, Ingress is also notable for being a free mobile game that does not rely on the micropayment model. Instead Niantic Labs funds the game through sponsorship deals, such as a deal with HINT Water to include a passcode under the caps of their bottles redeemable for in-game items. Other partnerships saw the locations for Jamba Juice and ZipCar added to the game map as portals despite these locations not meeting the usual "interesting local feature" standard for being portals.

There is also speculation that Niantic is taking the location data that the game is constantly collecting when it is being played and funneling that data back to the Google mothership, presumably to help Google map out places the Street View car can't access, such as the walking paths of the parks that many of Ingress's portals are located in. While spokespeople from Niantic have denied any data mining on their part, their status as a semi-independent company segregated from the bulk of Google proper means that the denial could mean that while Niantic Labs themselves aren't tapping that data, the parent company could very well be exploiting it. What isn't speculation is the fact that point of interest information submitted by players as part of Ingress's new portal process has also shown up in Niantic's other app, Field Trip.

Another privacy concern that players must evaluate and weight against the enjoyment they get out of the game is the fact that when a portal is captured, linked, or neutralized, the name of the portal and the player's in-game name are announced on the game's COMM channel for every player to potentially see. Over time, it becomes easy for other players to pick up on the "when" and "where" of a particular player's activities. And while automated scraping of game data is against the game's Terms of Service, there is a popular browser script that aids in compiling those COMM announcements into a map marker with a trail showing locations that players have been over the last few hours.

Furthermore, while the game itself encourages the use of an in-game name that can't be tied to your real identity, to the point of allowing name changes for players who used all or part of their real name and listing the revealing another player's real name as a bannable offense in their community guidelines, this is largely a moot point, as an overwhelming amount of player-to-player networking for the Ingress community occurs on G+ which until very recently, had a "Real Name" policy in place.

Despite the privacy issues, and other controversies, such as concern that portals located on military bases may lead to incidents between civilians and base security, Niantic Labs is pushing on to adapt the technologies they developed in Ingress to new games, such as their partnership with Harper Collins and 20th Century Fox to develop a game tie-in to a series of young-adult novels and movie adaptations from author James Frey, Endgame. Bringing things full circle to Ingress's own origin, James Frey and John Hanke will be presenting a panel about Endgame on Saturday July 26th in room 7AB at San Diego Comic Con this year.
posted by radwolf76 (50 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
I played it for the first time this week. It's not as fun for me, mostly because whenever I have time to play it, I'm about a mile away from any portals, and I don't have time to do drive-by hacking. This may be a game made for city walkers.
posted by hanoixan at 1:49 PM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Although I've been intrigued by the prospect of an ARG run with the backing of a Google-sized company, downloading the iOS app for my iPhone and iPad will have to wait until an ad-busting/culture-jamming resistance can be organized within it. That kind of meta-gaming sounds enough like the plot of a Cory Doctorow YA novel to give one pause...
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:51 PM on July 18, 2014

Well, based on the video, which is literally titled "What is Ingress?" I can only conclude that they're incapable of explaining what it is.

(perhaps they should hire you, radwolf76, since you've done a much better job than they have!)
posted by Naberius at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I must have clicked on something that signed me up at some point as I get emails to assist my spying efforts for "Niantic". Has not grabbed my interest and seems intentionally obscure. Or... I'm due for a visit from some homeland security official.
posted by sammyo at 2:07 PM on July 18, 2014

I wish they had released it simultaneously for Android and iOS and then made it so that iOS was the Resistance and Android were the Enlightened, or vice versa, because I'd love to see a bunch of nerds escalate their OS flamewars into the real world.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:07 PM on July 18, 2014 [18 favorites]

I'm an unabashed user of both Ingress and Field Trip, but I'm a complete geodork. Ingress's portal submission rules state very clearly that user-submitted portals have to be on public or publicly-accessible land, so the concern about military bases should be an issue of quality control at Niantic (they approve all user-submitted portals).

I am hugely interested in the ways in which they're using this data, because of course they are. I certainly would.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:09 PM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm a city walker. I also tried it last week. I don't like it. I really really wanted to like it and I came into this thread hoping that someone will say "this other thing is similiar" and I will like that other thing better.

What I don't like about it:

1. It's all very dark. I mean by that first that the interface is visually dark. I don't like that. Why is sci-fi stuff always so dark? Are there no lightbulbs in the future? It just has a very morose visual style that I find very unappealing.

1b. The story is kind of dark. Mind control. Exotic matter etc. etc.? I realize this is a matter of taste, but I would prefer something lighter, funner...perhaps "whimsical" is too strong a word, but something coming a little closer to whimsical, at least.

2. It feels very aribitrary what you're supposed to do. I mean "hacking" doesn't actually hack anything as far as I can tell. It's not clear what resonators actually DO. etc. etc.

3. It's not very practical even for a city walker. I mean I pass numerous portals on my way to and from work and when I'm walking the dog. While walking, I'm listening to music or a book. I'm waching my dog, I'm looking around, I'm on the phone, whatever. What I don't want to be doing is starting at my phone every block or two find out if I'm in range of a portal and then figuring out what I need to do with that portal. I think I would like it better if it ran in the background and did stuff as I walked by.

4. This is related to point 2, but I just don't actually care. Who cares if we win this portal? Who cares if someone attacked my resonator? Given that I don't even quite know what that means, I can't see any reason why I should be worried about it.

Anyway, I still have it installed, but I've walked past many a portal without pulling out my phone because it's just not fun. I have done a lot of googling on enhanced reality and things liek that to find out if there's something out there that I would like better. I would like a game that is somehow about walking around in daily life and is actually fun. This isn't it for me.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:10 PM on July 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

penguin: Were you on iOS or Android? The iOS version seems to have a bug where it doesn't walk you through the whole training, which would (hopefully) have remedied some of the confusion. If so, go into the OPS menu (top right hand corner) and go to Missions and work your way through those. A lot should become clearer.

posted by jferg at 2:14 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've just started playing, thanks to coworkers and from what I've seen of the playerbase, I'm seriously considering using it as a tool for finding devs and getting a hit of sweet, sweet referral money.

Unless they're filthy Enlightened, of course.
posted by The Gaffer at 2:15 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ingress is quite intriguing from a technology point of view, but to my mind the story is pretty opaque and overwrought.

I remember seeing a presentation about the game at GDC Next last year; unsurprisingly, the first question was, "So what's the business model?" The speaker mentioned the sponsorship deals with Jamba Juice etc, but it was very clear that these deals couldn't account for more than a fraction of the game's production costs, which must run into the seven or eight figures (just judging by the dev and production team). For that reason I'm reluctant to get too involved or to draw too many conclusions from its reception, given that - for the moment - it's a big money pit for Google.
posted by adrianhon at 2:16 PM on July 18, 2014

Android...it did walk me through. But I mean it was just "each portal has resonators...if there's a free spot you can add a resonator." Well, ok, but what IS a resonator? What does it do? How does it help me advance human evolution?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:16 PM on July 18, 2014

I would like a game that is somehow about walking around in daily life and is actually fun.

The Walk
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:17 PM on July 18, 2014 [8 favorites]

penguin: Resonators power portals. The resonators on a portal determine a.) which team it belongs to; and b.) what level a portal is (which determines what level of items it produces when hacked, and how far links coming off of it can go).
posted by jferg at 2:25 PM on July 18, 2014

Yeah, I agree with the maddening, rather than intriguing, vagueness. However, based on my brief previous experiences with ARGs, this is something that a lot of ARG types thrive on. Meh. However, as a fitness app disguised as a data mining program game, it's OK. I've had it a couple days and it does make walking a little more interesting. As long as I just accept the fact that I will never, ever be "good" at the game aspects, I'll keep it up, I think. But since I'm too competitive for my own good, if it just turns into a source of stress, I'm zapping it.

That said, other apps that make walking more fun without just being sticker-type-reward-based would be great. (Zombies, Run! sounded like it would just shoot my cortisol levels right off the chart.)
posted by wintersweet at 2:25 PM on July 18, 2014

(And the length of the links determines the size of the fields you can make, and the size of the fields you make determines the percentage of the earth that is under your faction's control.)
posted by jferg at 2:26 PM on July 18, 2014

As for Ingress as an Alternate Reality Game, in that category, it may very well be too successful for its own good. The game has an elaborate backstory, described by the creators as a J.J. Abrams-like sci-fi spy thriller. As far as Alternate Reality Games go, this game's reality is so alternate, many players don't even try to follow it, instead focusing strictly on just playing the game itself.

That's me! I played Ingress for a good portion of last year, avidly maintaining a field around my home and work and various larger fields in my region. I joined the G+ group for my local team, met a few guys out and about, and even went on a few special missions. I definitely used the game as a reason to get out and look at my city, and for that it was fantastic. I spent some wonderful evenings wandering around neighborhoods and finding cool places, both on foot and on bike. But the game story didn't hold my interest at all, and it was wholly superfluous.

Maybe for players in areas that didn't have a lot of portals set up or was totally boring or where they had to drive all around to play, I imagine the story held their interest and made the gaming experience worth it. But I paid exactly zero attention to the story and was actually actively annoyed that those dumb videos kept downloading to my phone whenever.

It's still installed on my phone, but I barely play anymore after leveling-up to the highest rank. The grind was pretty fun, but when that went away it just felt like I was maintaining a house of cards. At that point I considered getting into the storyline to see if that made me want to keep playing. Alas...
posted by carsonb at 2:26 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is great. As my daughters get older the venn diagram of activities that both a 14 year old and 46 year old are willing to participate in grows thinner, this is right in the sweet spot of stuff they and I would enjoy.

I just signed up and nailed a portal outside my office, suck it Resistance scum.

Oh, and I note above Resistance seems to be a more popular choice for the cool kids of Metafilter. Did I choose wrong? I kinda assumed technology and progress would be natural MF values, instead you kids are all going the conservative Luddite route? Jeez I find this place confusing occasionally.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:26 PM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's still installed on my phone, but I barely play anymore after leveling-up to the highest rank.

The level cap recently increased, to 16. Items top out at 8, you have to get the little achievements to level up.

I note above Resistance seems to be a more popular choice for the cool kids of Metafilter

The Blue!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:28 PM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I barely play anymore after leveling-up to the highest rank.

They recently added levels 9-16. They're a lot more challenging to get, and mostly just good for bragging rights at this point, as the higher levels don't get any new gear, just longer ranges for recharging portals, and slightly bigger XM tanks.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:29 PM on July 18, 2014

I work on a college campus, which is the definition of a "volatile field of play" in Ingress, so it's good that way. But it's players who submit portals (although the review queue is months long at the moment) so if the area you live in doesn't have many portals, that's because they are relying on the people who live there to start playing and then request portals in their walking tours.

I like it quite a bit if simply because it makes me notice things that I never would have before, in the "...ah, it says there is a mural there... so there is... huh, it's pretty, who knew" sense.

And if you're into that kind of thing, it really encourages collaborative play. I do feel a bit intimidated by how deeply into it the best strategists of my region are, and I'm a bit of a lone wolf type myself besides, but if you thrive on that the option is there. (If you don't, the option is also there.)

I actually like how vague and opaque the story is, because it lets you come up with, well, pretty much whatever motivation you want to assign yourself.

if you don't know what it is you can neither control it nor defend against it---Enlightened, so I may learn

(Or simply take it for the combination walk around/resource management/bit of geometrical puzzle game it is.)

posted by seyirci at 2:30 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Keith Talent: "I note above Resistance seems to be a more popular choice for the cool kids of Metafilter"

I've heard that this is a persistent problem -- the lack of balance between Blue and Green. Some of this is intrinsic to the game (e.g.: you can recruit new players, obviously to your side) but some of this may simply be accidental. I've heard that for a long time Blue was the default choice (or maybe just the first-listed choice), so naturally more people would be on the Blue team.
posted by mhum at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Keith Talent, mhum: Blue is sort of the default choice; all the orientation/training materials is written from the blue perspective, and the story, as vague as it is, does sort of lean that way slightly. And it's the default side we expect from stories like this: Aliens come to Earth with unknown motivations, the first instinct is to resist. So Enlightened is generally the underdog. But again: You make up your own reasons anyway, if you need them...
posted by seyirci at 2:34 PM on July 18, 2014

seyirci: " So Enlightened is generally the underdog"

Yeah, that's what I figured. It does create an interesting, asymmetric dynamic. In my area (Seattle), while there are little pockets here and there where Enlightened can hold some territory, we can basically never win the regional score unless someone manages to construct an unanswered mega-field. So, there's less emphasis on winning and more on just playing around. You know that you can never really claim any of Blue's territory so all you can do is do some sabotage here and there to be an annoyance.
posted by mhum at 2:50 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just started playing this game with a visiting 7 year old. She is showing me the ropes. While driving we have stopped the car, gotten our phones out and collectively tried to take down a blue held portal. We are so low on the totem pole that we have to add all of our levels (3 people) together to try and take down level 8. So far we have failed.

At 61 I am not very good at this and need constant help from my young tutor. So far she has been very patient with me.
posted by cairnoflore at 2:51 PM on July 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Thing has caught fire where I work. I am literally and excusively surrounded by players.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:52 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I never got into the backstory but one of the great things about the game is the need for cooperation especially as you level up. Met lots of good people.

This has an insidious flip side: if you stop playing, you are literally making the game tougher for your friends. Not just online friends, but people you have met in person, shared drinks with, had to your house, etc. Perhaps not the first game to have such a mechanic, but I found it quite diabolical.
posted by exogenous at 2:54 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just started in on it the other day, excited it had finally dropped for iOS. So far: fairly amused! It's gotten me and my wife out of the house a little more on otherwise too-warm days, and it's been interesting seeing what the distribution of portals and ownership is like in St. Johns, the little neighborhood mainstreet area in North Portland a mile or so from our house.

I haven't even touched the backstory beyond what's hinted at in the tutorial missions, but I'm enjoying seeing territory move back and forth a bit and figure out where the real leylines are; the core of St. Johns is a pretty built-up as a Resistance stronghold, while most of the neighborhood around it is dominated (including some good sized fields) by Enlightenment. But someone on the Resistance side has set up a really well stocked level 8 portal on the far end of the St. Johns Bridge and linked it to a couple beefy portals on the near side of the bridge, which is creating a stiletto that prevents what would otherwise be a whole nest of links and fields connecting the north side of Philadelphia Ave. from the south side.

I might need to start talking with other players about shutting down that bridge outpost. No way my wife and I can do it ourselves at this point, but get ten or so folks out at once and it'd be pretty doable I figure.

I went with Enlightenment because I decided immediately that my preferred head canon was that the Illuminati are seeing the situation clearly and responding to an existential threat by getting out ahead of it, while the Luddites are just freaking out and turtling in hopes that ignoring the problem would make it go away.
posted by cortex at 3:20 PM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tried it, but it seems to be a near-total ripoff of Shadow Cities, but with shitty UI, and silly portal placement, and no ability to move from portal to portal without driving around town, or to set up beacons to let your teammates teleport to when your portals get attacked, which was most of the fun of that game.
posted by nicwolff at 3:34 PM on July 18, 2014

Man of twists and turns: Does the Walk allow you to listen to music or an audiobook while you walk? One of the reviews says not, but it's not clear if that's a phone-specific issue.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:02 PM on July 18, 2014

also of relevance: Augmented regionalism: Ingress as geomediated gaming narrative
posted by unru at 4:07 PM on July 18, 2014

Yeah, just started playing this, but I would have quit in frustration as soon as I started if I hadn't had some more experienced friends who could explain it to me. The training was very vague. It's a nice excuse to get out of the house, though- and I can see this model applying to all sorts of neat(er?) apps, like city tours, tourist hotspots, campus orientation, etc. I'm thinking of something more like an interactive to-do list. Maybe that's what Field Trip does?
posted by Secretariat at 4:22 PM on July 18, 2014

Ingress's portal submission rules state very clearly that user-submitted portals have to be on public or publicly-accessible land, so the concern about military bases should be an issue of quality control at Niantic (they approve all user-submitted portals).

Actually it's an issue of policy at Niantic. Their view is that just because someone is a member of the armed forces, they don't stop being members of the public, and therefor those base portals are publicly accessible, just to a subset of the public. They also see these portals' status as limited access as a kind of beanie to throw to service members who are also players, who depending on their MOS/Rating, may only be able to access on-base portals a majority of the time.

(They have a similar view for portals on closed access corporate campuses, but the mainstream media's never called them out for those, and they couldn't wrap their response on that subject in a "It's for the troops" framing. Their "still considered accessible, in some capacity, to the public" response on that issue clearly exists to protect their own portals inside the Googleplex.)
posted by radwolf76 at 4:28 PM on July 18, 2014

OK, I watched the first two minutes of the Ingress video and have no idea what the damn thing is.

The last 30 seconds had better be good.
posted by LarryC at 4:48 PM on July 18, 2014

I remember thinking some the messages we sent each other on Google Groups / Chat / SMS could get us in trouble with the NSA or whatever the local security agency was.

"Just wait 5 minutes, I'm about to blow up the airport."

"I need you to courier some stuff to the local Resistance group in Hong Kong, they could meet you for a drop-off during the layover."

"There are some agents walking around the kindergarten, we can't attack it just yet."

There was also the hilarious story of a bunch of agents being stopped in Disneyworld or something for being young men without kids walking around holding strange devices with wires leading inside their jackets (the external batteries) and not taking any rides, just scoping out the area.
posted by xdvesper at 5:05 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

A couple of my friends have been Ingress players for quite some time now. I'm not - it doesn't really appeal to me and in any case, the interface is impossible to use with my particular brand of visual impairment. Here's what I've found

1. Ingress addicts are very boring to interact with socially. I have to bring other things to do when we're meeting in pubs, and be prepared to entertain myself at random points for random periods of time when visiting at home. Their phone chirrups, and it's bloody action stations.

2. Do not ask Ingress player about Ingress. Nobody cares about the backstory, but by god they go on about portals and resonators and attacks and...

3. THere are no end of things that piss off Ingress players. The iOS launch, for example, seems to have involved some sort of mass removal of in-game stuff to provide a level playing field, and this has really narked the existing players. Plus, there have been several rounds of cheating/anti-cheating arms races, with significant damage to bystanders.

4. All sorts of odd social interactions kick off - as in, people trying not to do things in certain places where they want to do things, because other players in the area may descend. People use all sorts of back-channels to communicate out-of-band.

It could just be that I have obsessive, nerdy pals (OK< I do, and for good reasons - I too an obsessive and nerdy, and my pals are also bright and curious and fun to be with), but ut's all uncomfortably, and rather drearily, cultish.

I look forward to it fading away, tbh. It should, it does seem completely pointless to me (but then I feel that way about many popular activities) and there's nowhere really for it to go.
posted by Devonian at 5:41 PM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Level 7 Enlightened here, and I've been totally impressed by the large number of new players showing up in the last couple of days. Should bring around some new shifts in the local gameplay.

As far as Ingress gameplay goes, I think it's at it's best for bus riders. Find a few favorite portals in your neighborhood that you can link together and maintain.defend, and then just hack your way through the morning commute, gathering loot, bolstering team members portals, and recharging your favorites. Plus, there's an incomparable frisson of discovering that a Resistance member is on the same bus that you are, attacking your newly minted portals and defending their own from your short swift assaults.

As an added bonus, Ingress will make you weirdly cognizant of local art. I've discovered new bike routes to work due to portal detours, and (mildly) impressed my hiking partners by declaring with authority "There should be a trail map just ahead" (after having spotted it on the scanner.).

Yeah, it turns me into a phone-gazing dork, but it's better than sitting at a desk for an hour or two; it does an amazing job of nibbling up my spare in-between times. I can't remember the last time I got annoyed when someone was late to a planned get-together; I just take a few minutes to explore the nearby portal situation and clean out my inventory.
posted by redsparkler at 5:41 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Downloaded didn't get it. Not sure which things I can hack. What hacking does (other than a little energy mean and xp loss). I suspect I could find someone at work (downtown / SLU Seattle) to explain. But not sure I care.

I do notionally like the real work location thing.
posted by R343L at 5:45 PM on July 18, 2014

I want to try this out but I haven't gotten my own resistance to "Log in with a google account" yet.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:01 PM on July 18, 2014

Nice post!

This is pretty much how it goes whenever I try to explain the game to others (or my wife).
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 7:49 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another blue team member here. I downloaded Ingress at just the right time for me. I was recently carless, the weather was good and I was in a new city. I used to throw in my headphones, open Ingress and Dr Shadow and walk to school blasting and deploying things feeling ever so spooky.

The lack of back story helped too. To me, all games boil down to 'click the thing and make a number' and I am not interested in playing them for very long. This one didn't really hide the 'crap is arbitrary' aspect. Pick a team: blue or green it doesn't matter. I know there are videos to watch, but I haven't because for me they don't add anything. I haven't joined the state player groups in my area even though I was welcomed and encouraged on my team chat channel. I have no complaint with the players that do organise and devote themselves to it more systematically, I just haven't. I'm not playing as tactically as many other. I pull out my phone when I'm traveling to see what's around. I like claiming and reclaiming around my workplace along with the other regulars like dogs having a piss-party in the park. It makes me laugh when TreaclePig runs the docks, or the station. Makes me strut.

Also, like redsparkler, this is my local art and civic history map. Walk 20m out of your way to see a huge paste up in an alley. Check out that sculpture, but you've never noticed it before. Have a look at this building, no look up above street level... isn't it grand? It used to be a post office a hundred years ago.

I'd love to run into other players one day, particularly as my hometown isn't that large. I don't know if this has been linked (I haven't opened everything) but just like cats and dogs, Resistance and Enlightment will cuddle up at the end of the day. (Stockholm, 14 February 2014)
posted by Trivia Newton John at 9:12 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I played it a while back when it was new and I still had an Android phone. Really didn't find much interest in it despite living a life of walking/bussing; it may not have helped that I chose Enlightenment as my team, and my neighborhood was pretty much completely sewn up by the Resistance.

I don't think I'm gonna bother poking at it again. I spend too much time on my phone when I'm out of the house as is.
posted by egypturnash at 9:25 PM on July 18, 2014

I hit L8 and concluded that it really wasn't much different from gas-powered Farmville. Really - this is a video game where people will boast about how much and how far they've driven to play it.
posted by unmake at 8:49 AM on July 19, 2014

Oh man, so many hours spent jumping to spiders and busting beacons in Shadow Cities… Not falling for that timesink trap again…
posted by monocultured at 1:37 PM on July 19, 2014

If only I had a penguin...: "Does the Walk allow you to listen to music or an audiobook while you walk? One of the reviews says not, but it's not clear if that's a phone-specific issue."

Yep. I'm usually listening to an audiobook (via the Audible app) or a podcast (via Downcast) when I walk, and it works just fine.

It actually has a weird little bug where if you're still in the Walk app when you pass a waypoint, it doesn't give you an audible alert. If you're in a different app, it does.
posted by Lexica at 10:00 PM on July 19, 2014

I am downloading now. I will deliver all of mainland China to the Green team! Starting with my home city. Watch this ripple in the pond start a massive tsunami!
posted by illuminatus at 3:16 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ingress - Dublin Helios Anomaly Event defies the Irish weather

(On top of the day-to-day gameplay, Niantic Labs hosts events on Saturday afternoons in cities world-wide, with additional rules and scorekeeping. These events, that they call "Anomalies", are their way of bringing the game down from it's global scale to a much more personal and immediate level, while experimenting with more advanced forms of gameplay.)
posted by radwolf76 at 7:33 PM on July 27, 2014

I was at the Gettysburg anomaly last month and while it was neat meeting fellow agents (especially on our mobile bike team) and enjoying free beer provided by Google afterwards, the game play at the anomaly was one of the most mindless and tedious things to ever be called "play": just continual button mashing while suffering with server and network lag. It's one of the things that put me off the game, even though our side won again.
posted by exogenous at 7:46 AM on July 28, 2014

Deputy places man under psychiatric hold then finds out man was only playing a game
(Satire in the same vein as The Onion.)
posted by radwolf76 at 7:03 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

My sweetie has been playing it big-time for over a year, on Enlightened. When the app came out for iphone I signed up (same username as here) and am likely to remain a far more casual player. She said she was fine if I wanted to play or didn't want to play but to please not sign up as Resistance in the interests of domestic tranquility. We were traveling last week, so I spent part of the time playing with the game and leveling up - I think I went from lvl 2 to lvl 5 over the course of a few days - and driving around and hacking groups of unique portals.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:43 AM on August 5, 2014

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