Half-Assed Ingress

For a half-month, we’ve gotten half-assed Ingress play, at least in my area. We talked about the (soon to be ending) second anniversary rules before, and how I don’t think that the changes produced anything close to what they were supposed to accomplish. After playing with them for some time, while the rule changes did perhaps enable the take down of some strongholds, what they really did was disincentive rebuilding.

Don’t Build 8s

In the area where I primarily play (Denver) there are both Resistance and Enlightened strongholds. Resistance seems to control downtown Denver pretty well, mostly because there are more of them who work down there, plus a terminator-level player who works nights. There are plenty of areas outside of downtown where Enlightened dominates, the most prominent of which is the city of Berthoud where no blue portal stands for long.

Featured image

Where are all the Level 8 portals? Check back next week after half-effort Ingress is over 🙂

In both areas, there are semi-standing Level 8 farms where the faction build, and quickly rebuild L8 portals that can be farmed for gear. Typically, a player or two from the opposing faction will show up, burn the farm to the ground, peg the portals with a single resonator or two, and then move on. The players from the original faction, will swarm down and quickly take back the portals, and over the next day or two, players will provide their 8s and rebuild the farm. In fact, in both factions, if it takes more than a day or two to get the portals back to L8, there starts to be some hand wringing about how, and how fast, the farm will be rebuilt.

However, with the half-month or so of 2nd Anniversary rules, those farms have gone fallow. No, the Enlightened doesn’t have many portals downtown, and Berthoud isn’t blue, but neither has seen Level 8 since the anniversary rules went into effect.

I’ve wrote before about whether or not anyone at Ninantic plays Ingress enough to truly understand the mechanics of their creation. In particular, I wonder if they realize that the most scarce resource in all of Ingress is the Level 8 XMP Burster. Certainly some items are more rare, but scarcity is the combination of both the rarity of the item and how quickly it is used, and by how many people. Once you reach L8, there is nothing you are more likely to run out of than L8 bursters.

As a result, when the L8 farms in downtown Denver and in Berthoud went down, no one bothered to rebuild them. Why give your opponents access to the one thing that you both need more of in the game? With triple bursters going to dirty hacks, not only did the farms not get rebuild, but no one cared. There were no messages about getting it back up and running.

Theoretically, this may be what Ninatic had in mind. The idea is that now, an opposing faction could get a toehold. That may be true in other areas, but here in the Denver Metro area, it just means we did without farms. For me, it means that I was very careful in what I attacked, and made more use of L7 and L6 bursters, eliminating only the portals that I needed for a link or field instead of clearing out all the portals in an area. My opponents in those areas do the same. There are no new strongholds, there are no newly ascendant players. Just like always, there are some new 8s around, and there are some 8s who aren’t around anymore, but most of us are just kind of sort of building and attacking.

I suspect that will all change once the temporary rules expire.

Oh, look, there’s a message from my faction now about when we should rebuild the farm. See you next week, for full-contact Ingress 🙂

Temporary Ingress Anniversary Rules

In an effort to keep Ingress “fresh”, Niantic likes to make temporary adjustments to the rules. Sometimes, it makes the effort to build in something to the Ingress story in order to justify the game changes. For example, it claimed that someone created a virus that affected portals when it made the change to faster decay rates. Sometimes, it just announces new rules, as with the latest Second Anniversary Rules.

Ingress 2nd Anniversary Rules

ingress anniversary rulesThe new rules are simple enough. First, for two weeks, everyone gets double AP points for everything they do including recharging (20 AP instead of 10), linking and fielding. If you are an under Level 8 agent, looking to move up, this is great news. In my experience, most agents find the badges the limiting factor for higher Ingress levels, so it really doesn’t mean much to the over 8s.

You do get a new badge if you are over level 3, or something like that by the 2nd anniversary. So, that’s fun digital swag, if nothing else.

In addition, the rules were changed to give more resonators from friendly portals, and more Xmps (weapons) from enemy portals.

Hack output of the Portal Network has also been boosted:
3X more Resonators to help Agents upgrade Portals
3X more Xmps from enemy Portals to help Agents reclaim strategic Cells
3X more Rare Heat Sinks and Multi-hacks to help Agents replenish inventory

Every rule change comes with plenty of agents complaining about the new rule change, and that leads to plenty of agents telling those agents to shut up and quit complaining. However, what I find most fascinating is that Niantic never seems to get what it wants from the rules changes it makes. It’s almost like they don’t have any developers who actually play the game.

For example, the change to xmp hack output is to “help agents reclaim strategic cells,” while the boost to friendly hack output is to “help agents upgrade portals.” Although, anyone who actually plays the game knows that these changes will do no such thing.

Upgrading portals requires the ability to deploy additional higher level resonators, not having more of them in stock. No matter how many L8 resonators I have, I can’t put more than one on a portal. Even a Level 5 player only gets to deploy 2 L5 resonators, so what exactly will he upgrade with his huge new stock of 3x hacked resos?

I’m not sure how MORE of whatever reso gets hacked out of a portal are going to help. In fact, the higher level resonators are actually pretty easy to keep in stock because so few can be deployed on each portal. For example, you can only deploy one L7 reso on a portal, so having just 50 of them means the ability build or upgrade 50 portals, without a single hack to replenish them. I throw a L8 reso on every portal I walk by whether I care about it or not, just to help out the team. But, unless I go days without farming, I never run out of them.

I do build relatively frequently, and sometimes many portals at once, but it is rare for me to build or upgrade 50 portals in a row.I often run out of L4 resonators (I build L5 portals by myself, so I have to remember to build a L4 portal on purpose, or hack after deploying the 5s, to hack any L4 resonators.) Other players with the ability also build L5 portals at minimum, so you CAN run out of L4 resos. Of course, there are always 3s, 2s, and 1s to fill out the slots.

The actual result of the higher reso hack is only that I’m recycling many more resonators than ever before.

The higher reso hack, makes the higher output of heat sinks and multi-hacks almost comical. You can only put heat sinks and multi-hacks on friendly portals. But, those portals will already output 3x resonators so quickly that you will be forced to recycle them frequently. I recycle resos in batches of 50 to keep my inventory down. Plus, portals already gave out more resos than xmps. If you burned out a farm loaded with multi-hacks and heat sinks in order to get a stockpile of weapons, you would be recycling resos in batches of 100.

 

In contrast, going through xmps is very common. It can take 10+ L8 bursters to take down a shielded and linked portal. So, running out of XMPs is very likely. In fact, the only agents sitting on large piles of XMPs are those who have recently burned out a large farm, or those who don’t really attack much. Because of this, the higher hack output from enemy portals is actually the more desirable of the two changes. In fact, I now leave enemy L8 portals nearby untouched, so I can hack them for more XMPs. Some agents even used flipcards to get enemy L8 portals to hack.

I’m not sure that Niantic actually understood this dynamic when they implemented these rule changes. This isn’t a complaint or anything. Frankly other than being less compelled to attack every L8 enemy portal I see, and recycling a lot more, these rule changes mean pretty much nothing to me. I suppose the higher AP is a big boost to lower level players, but since I’m 600-ish hacks away from the Gold Hacker Badge and Level 13, with 3,000,000 AP to spare, I couldn’t care less.

It’s, just that it would be nice if it seemed like the guys developing the game actually understood it well enough to make it do what they wanted it to do.

 

 

 

Ingress Portal Rejections

One of the most frustrating aspects of playing Ingress is the process of submitting portals. On the one hand, it is a remarkable game feature that lets anyone, anywhere, submit portals that are then incorporated into a game played by millions of people from all over the world. In other words, there is no reason any area can’t have portals no matter how far they are from someone who works at Ingress.

On the other hand, to avoid Ingress cheaters, and other people who don’t care about the game as much as they care about their own little desires (spoofers, and bot runners are other examples) there has to be a review process to make sure that submitted portals are both legitimate and worthwhile. However, with players all over the world, submissions are numerous. As a result it takes a very long time to get submitted portals reviewed and approved. Last time I checked in with team members, it was taking nearly four months to have portals reviewed.

Check out my Credit Karma review.

The long review period in itself acts as a bit of a deterrent to Ingress cheats. After all, if it’s going to take four months before any submitted portal goes live, there is no way to submit a portal quickly and use it to build a BAF (Big Ass Field) or a flash 8 portal to gear up with. In fact, many players who submit couch portals, or other portals, aren’t the ones who end up using them. After four months, players quit, circumstances change, and so on.

The long review period also causes considerable frustration. Players attempting to get the Seer Badge, for example, not only have to find new portal candidates, they have to wait a very long time to get them approved. If you have zero submitted portals today, no matter how many amazing portal candidates you find, you will not earn the Bronze Seer Badge for at least four months. In a game with mostly real-time feedback this is hard to put up with.

Even more frustrating is when a portal you submitted, and then waited months to be reviewed, is rejected. Even more frustrating that that is that in order to make the portal review process move along even at the current glacial speed, time can’t be spent by the reviewer to tell you WHY your portal was rejected, other than the form letter text that the submitted portal doesn’t meet the requirements. And, even more frustrating than that is when a portal you submit is rejected while a very similar portal is accepted.

Keep in mind that when the game was starting more portals was a good thing. These days, some areas are choked with portals. So, what was once a good portal is not a good portal now. Cheeseman Park in Denver, Colorado, for example, is filled with portals that are memorial benches. A memorial bench, if you aren’t familiar with the concept, is nothing more than a regular park bench that someone donated money to put a little plaque on. These benches are in no way cultural. In fact, they are routinely ignored. However, they have been there for a long time, and are fun local place to play Ingress.

Rejected Ingress Portal

Still, it is a little hard to swallow when I submitted a Memorial Garden that is,

a) bigger than a bench,

b) has a bigger, more impressive sign than the bench, and

c) is in an area with just a few portals existing.

If you ever submit a portal that you know SHOULD be accepted, there is an appeal process. Don’t be a jerk though. The portal review and appeal process is already choked enough without belligerent chuckleheads insisting that their portals must be approved. I’m not appealing this portal rejection. After all, I know that it is in no way culturally significant, and while I want my Bronze Seer Badge to make the last lock on my stats go away, I know that it’s a judgement call. Now, if a large, beloved local statue was rejected, that would be different.

In the end, if you want your Seer Badge, of any color, start submitting portals now. You’ll need to think of them the same way you think of Guardian Portals. Just having the one and hoping it makes it is not an intelligent strategy. Submit everything you find, everywhere you go. Eventually, even though it make take months, or even a year or more, you’ll get your badges, and have plenty of new portals to play with as well.

Almost to Level 11

I realized several months ago when the new higher Ingress levels came out that I was going to have a lot more AP than the minimum for getting to Level 10 and then eventually Level 11. Of course, back when I started playing Ingress, Level 8 was the highest level and the badges weren’t really for anything other than vanity. As a result, I never focused on doing the things that counted toward badges.

Just the things I did playing the game counted toward getting, of course. I blew up enemy portals when they were in my way, too big, too close, or just on the way when I had some free time available to play. I also deployed resonators in order to build my own portals, linked portals to turn the skies blue, and so on. But, in the end, badges came without any effort or knowledge on my part. I remember getting the Gold Guardian badge one day and then looking it up to figure out why I got it. (I capture and keep a lot of portals around my home and work. One of them lasted 20 days. I didn’t even try.)

The one thing I had going for me was that I didn’t like the idea of my portals dying for no reason. That is, I didn’t let portals decay. I started by recharging anything that was sentimental or otherwise important to me. Then, I’d charge whatever I needed to keep up my fields or links. I’d charge portals that I knew were particularly irksome to other players, and finally, I’d charge anything that was about to die. I’d leave my scanner on when I drove places. At red lights, I’d recharge with the XM I collected on the trip. I didn’t save everything, of course, but I did save a lot. As a result, the first ever Platinum Badge I got was the Recharger Badge. Now, I have the Onyx Recharger Badge. Currently, I’m sitting on 28,246,948 XM recharged.

onyx recharger badge

The point is that I got that badge just because that was how I played. Other badges came too. I basically got the 6 Silver Badges before the higher levels came out. As I mentioned, the Recharger and Gaurdian badges were already Gold before I had to bother “working” at it. Ironically, my first effort to actually, deliberately go get Gold Badges didn’t work out before my next badge just kind of came to me. My Mind Controller Badge went gold, and while I certainly was aware of it happening, I didn’t necessarily force it the way I have my quest for unique captures and unique hacks.

Unfortunately, as a freelance writer that works from home, summer is not the most productive Ingress time for me. While working from home usually affords one some flexibility in Ingress time, watching kids on summer break while also trying to maintain quantity and quality of work does not. As a result, I’m still just Level 10 as the middle of August approaches. However, Level 11 is close at hand (I’ll have it in a single day if I’m not already there once the kids go back to school.) Even more interesting, it that by playing in the small spurts I’m able to put together, me and my over-sized L10 AP are actually very close to Level 12 as well. I’m less than 50 unique hacks from Gold Explorer, 51 unique captures from Gold Pioneer, and 1,100 links from Gold Connector. So, as fall rolls around, it looks like I’ll be L12 very soon.

Current Status:

  • 10,666,439 AP
  • 10 Silver Badges
  • 3 Gold Badges
  • 1,966 of 2,000 Unique HACKS for Gold Explorer
  • 949 of 1,000 Unique Captures for Gold Pioneer
  • 3,902 of 5,000 links for Gold Connector

Basically, any one of the Golds above gives me Level 11.

Two more golds gives me Level 12 (I already have enough AP for that.)

For Level 13 I need another 3,000,000 million AP and one more gold and one more platinum. I seems like that might be the level where my AP needs match up more closely with my badge needs, unless I get lucky with a Guardian portal hitting 90 days.

Collecting Uniques Isn’t a Picnic – Ingress

Turns out that even though collecting various “uniques” is still likely the best bet for many players to get two more gold Ingress badges, it isn’t necessarily a quick task either. (Update: Playing Ingress on vacation is a good way to rack up some uniques, if you can get away to play.)

Yesterday, I managed to grab about 40 uniques, and squeezed out another 30 unique hacks this morning between dropping off kids and getting to work. Still, that’s a long way to go to get the next 681 needed for a gold Explorer badge. A local player says that there is a 100-ish portal cluster nearby. That might be my next move.

Getting unique captures for a gold Pioneer Badge is even a longer process. There, you need not only new portals, but new enemy portals. Then, you need to have the gear and time to take down those enemy portals and capture them. I know where there are some good enemy portal clusters. Unfortunately, most of those are heavily linked and shielded. Not that I don’t love a good fight, there is just a very big difference between racking up quick captures and taking down a big enemy field.

I guess it’s time to hit the Ingress Intel map and find clusters of Level 4 green portals, hopefully unshielded 🙂

Latest stats:

  • 7,200,758 AP
  • 1,129 / 2,000 Unique Portals Visited
  • 616 / 1,000 Unique Portals Captured

L11 Progress Pictures

 

Ingress Game

Alright, I don’t really NEED another blog, or anything, but there are already four or five posts about Ingress on my personal Brian Nelson blog, and I don’t want people getting the idea that that’s all I do. Of course, it’s better than going weeks between posts, but one anxiety at a time, here skippy.

So, the solution for any self respecting writer, is to come up with another place to write stuff. I like WordPress.com because it’s free and if I abandon this whole thing later it won’t matter, and I won’t have wasted any money or time setting anything up. If it turns out this whole Ingress thing is pure gold, then I can buy a domain name and move the blog and everything, or maybe I’ll try the pro version of WordPress. As an added bonus, by playing Ingress and joining the resistance, I have finally grasped the concept that “resistance” is spelled with an “a” instead of making spellcheck always fix it. Ironically, I keep adding an “x” or something in the middle just make sure spell check is working since I’m used to that word coming out wrong about half the time.

Anywho… let’s get started with some backlinking. First, so as to not waste the stuff I already wrote over at my other blog, here are some links. First up, my first post about playing Ingress in Denver. Turns out, I may have had it easier than some since I live a few blocks from Cherry Creek North, and there are twelve portals within a stone’s throw of the local Starbucks. Got plenty of hacks, then someone came through and left a bunch of unclaimed portals and I leveled up to 5 pretty fast by filling them out and then linking them and sort of creating control fields via the luck of the draw. Next, is my post about some guy who keeps attacking (but not finishing off) one of my portals, seemingly while waiting for the light to turn green at a nearby street corner.

Ingress Resistance Graphic Icon

OK, I guess that’s only two articles, not four, but if I wrote one more that would be three, and then… well, you get the idea.

What’s next for my Ingress play?

Not 100% sure. I’m less than 50,000 AP (XP in every other game on the planet) from Level 6. When I reach that, I’m going to treat myself to attacking a local apartment complex that somehow got setup as a portal and links out to several large Greenie control fields.

Then, who knows.

Maybe I’ll finally fill out the application to join the Denver Resistance Google+ page thing. Maybe I’ll actually look at a map and try and make some nice big control fields instead of going at random with links.

Maybe, I’ll try and capture every portal reachable from a Starbucks in a 10 mile radius. Maybe, I’ll walk through campus and try and capture everything. Maybe, I’ll get some more work done 🙂 Either way, it will be legen – wait for it – dary. (Yeah, that doesn’t really work in print/type, does it?)

We will see.