Ingress Lag Getting Awful

Ingress has never been known as the speediest of games. In all fairness, a lot of people play Ingress simultaneously from all over the world. Keeping it running is an impressive feet. Still, sometimes, it seems like Niantic puts exactly ZERO EFFORT into speeding the game up or making it more efficient so that all that traffic can be handled. Instead, developers seem hell bent on adding more bandwidth hogging animations or cosmetic interface changes. These days, deploying a portal can take 90 seconds or longer. Worse, sometimes, the game will just animate while doing nothing. And, yet again, it seems in version 1.72.1 that not only was no effort made at making the game faster and more playable, but it seems slower than ever.

Why you no want people to enjoy playing your game?

scumbag steve ingress

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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.

Why You Should Recharge Other Player’s Portals – Ingress

When I first started playing Ingress, I learned that the one thing you want to do is level up fast in Ingress. Anyone of any level can hack a portal and get some equipment. Each hack is worth some AP, which helps you level up. Then, you find empty portals and build them out. Fully building out a portal is worth a lot of AP. You get 125 AP for each resonator you deploy (8 x 125 = 1,000 AP), then you get a bonus for fully filling in the portal, and you can get another 313 AP for every link you build. Plus, your name goes where it says “Owner” of the portal, which is cool too.

Higher level players will often go through and area and attack the other team’s portals. Often, they’ll leave behind one or two fully loaded portals that they used to build links and control fields. Then, they’ll leave other portals behind either empty, (so newer players can use the above technique to level up faster). Sometimes, they’ll leave behind a portal with just one or two high-level resonators in them. If it isn’t their home area, these portals will decay over time and eventually revert to empty.

How Recharging Team Portals Helps You

recharge-portal-ingress

Recharge those high-level resonators now! Then, drop your highest level resonator in that empty slot and upgrade that Level 3 if you can. Voila! High level goodies all day long from hacking this portal.

My initial conclusion upon figuring out the above was that it benefited me more to let other player’s portals decay away to blank so that I could “own” them and fill them all the way out. After all, I don’t really care about who is winning the worldwide score and that is the only way someone else having a control field benefits me. And, since this is my backyard, and I’ll be doing all the work, shouldn’t I be getting all the credit?

Unfortunately, this is rather short-sighted.

First, higher level resonators are harder to destroy, so every Level 7 or Level 8 resonator on a portal makes for better portal defense, especially if those opponents are Level 8 players. That isn’t to say they can’t be destroyed, but it can be the difference between a Level 8 player marching through your entire area and destroying every single portal, and just a few areas getting hammered before they move on.

Secondly, and more importantly, is that higher level equipment comes from higher level portals.

Hey, check out my articles about credit karma here.

To encourage the “social” aspect of the game, each player is limited to how many of each level of resonator he or she can put on a portal. So, for example, as I write this, I am a Level 6 player. The best portal I can build is one with the following configuration:

  • 2 Level 6 Resonators
  • 2 Level 5 Resonators
  • 4 Level 4 Resonators

That adds up to a Level 4 portal. It also means that I don’t get high level XMP Blasters or Resonators as often from hacking this portal versus higher level portals. This really matters at Level 5 and 6 because I can attack a Level 8 portal with defenses and as long as I’m close and using Level 6 XMP blasters I can almost always win this battle, even if it takes a power cube or two. However, this gets harder with Level 5 blasters and uses up severl power cubes. Worse, if the player is active and notices the alert, he/she can remotely recharge the portal as fast (faster?) than I can take it down. That wastes a lot of blasters and power cubes for nothing.

However, if I find a portal with a couple of Level 7 resonators on it, and I keep those charged up, then I can have a portal like this:

  • 2 Level 7 Resonators
  • 2 Level 6 Resonators
  • 2 Level 5 Resonators
  • 2 Level 4 Resonators

That’s a higher level portal and it will give higher-level stuff more often. If this is in my backyard, then I can get better stuff more frequently, and then I can take down those enemy portals that are bugging me without draining all my cubes and resonators.

Well, now, who cares whose name is on the portal? Isn’t what the portal can do for you more important?

So, when you find portals with high level resonators in your home area, nurture those portals. Use the XM laying around to recharge them every time you go by. If you’re lucky, those portals will stay there for a long time generating high-level stuff for you to use as you level up. When someone takes them down, rebuild and fill them out, but keep those high ones around for as long as you can.

Can’t Defend Portals in Ingress

There are a lot of players who complain about the game mechanics of Ingress. By and large, I’ve tried to ignore such things because,

a) I’m not really that into whining

b) I haven’t been playing long enough to really know what does and doesn’t work

c) I like the game and I don’t want it ruined for me… even if I figure it out and it gets ruined down the line.

However, after this weekend, I feel like I can comment on one problem people frequently note in Ingress. You see, on Friday afternoon, a certain player came through the area where I play and systematically destroyed every one of the portals in the area. It would be interesting if there were a way to play a defensive strategy too, but I’ll just go out and knock down what is there and the rebuild them on Monday.

You Can’t Defend Portals Well in Ingress

Defend Portals Ingress

One of the complaints I hear from the various boards and Google+ pages and communities is that you can’t really defend portals in Ingress. Sure, you can install shields, and some weapons, but the truth is that if someone (who isn’t below Level 3) wants to take down your portal, they can, no matter how well it is defended. This is true even if you are Level 8 and you built a full-Level 8 portal with full defenses and the other player is Level 5, or even 4.

When you attack a portal, you use an XMP blaster. It’s a radius weapon that takes out a percentage of each resonator attached to the portal. Fire enough times, and the portal will be defeated, that’s it. The only limitations are how many XMP blasters you have, and how much XM you have.

If you are not familiar with Ingress, XM is basically the same thing as Hit Points in other games, or the amount of “Life” you have in video games. In Ingress, however, you cannot die. If you have too little XM, then you cannot do things because everything costs some amount of XM in order to be able to do it. This does mean that if you run out of XM, then you cannot keep firing your blasters. More on this in a second.

XMP blasters are something you pick up by “Hacking” portals, whether your side’s or the other side’s. Sometimes you don’t get anything from the opposing side portals, but you do at least half the time. XMP blasters are very common thing to receive whenever your hack a portal, so they are not hard to come by. After playing for a few days, assuming you aren’t firing them as you get them, and assuming you are playing in an area with a reasonable density of portals, you probably have dozens of XMP blasters.

As with everything in Ingress, you can only fire blasters equal to or lower than your level. So, if you are a Level 5 player, you can fire Level 5 and less blasters. That does not mean that you can’t pick up and keep higher level blasters. So, as you go along hacking portals, you are also building up an arsenal of higher level weapons for the day you achieve that level.

When you decide to destroy a portal, you simply get close to it and start firing your weapons. The portal will defend itself, but that isn’t necessarily very harmful. Eventually, if the portal is well enough defended, or if you are trying too low of weapons, you will run out of XM. At this point your attack is over… except…

Running Out of XM While Attacking Portals

The trick is that XM is all over the place. There are small amounts just laying on the roads. I leave my scanner open while I drive around (I don’t play, obviously, just leave it running) to sweep up stray XM as I go from one place to another. Second, portals give off big pools of XM around them. So, to reload, you just walk, bike, or drive over the next portal. This makes certain portals more susceptible to defeat than others.

Imagine you are attacking a portal that has numerous other portals around it. Refilling on XM is as simple as wandering over near another portal and picking up XM then returning to finish the portal off. If you are driving or biking, this can be even easier. Portals with parking lots, or places to pull over are particular susceptible to the attacker driving around the block to another portal and returning.

Theoretically, you get notified when your portals are under attack, but there is a significant delay. Unless the attacker had to take time to refill his XM, chances are the portal if finished by the time you know about it. Even if not, recharging portals doesn’t happen as quickly as a Level 6 blaster takes them down.

Does It Matter That You Can’t Defend a Portal

If it sounds like Ingress is tilted toward offense and destruction, it is, but not to the detriment of the game.

First, constructing a new portal is just as easy. You can deploy all 8 resonators in less than 2 minutes, link a portal in a minute, and if your links make a triangle, a control field is automatically created. Making higher level portals takes more people, but no more work.

Second, while destroying a single portal is a simple task, taking down several can be more difficult. If it takes 10 blasters to destroy a single portal, then it takes 50 to destroy five portals. Running out is likely before you can take down dozens of portals.

Third, the mythology and game design of Ingress is of a world in flux. Teams of nearly equal strength battle for the Earth. The myths are deliberately inconclusive about which side is “right.” No one is supposed to be able to win, not yet at least.

Fourth, unless you are already Level 8, destruction is nothing but good for you. In order to attain higher levels, you need to gain AP (experience points in other games). However, having portals and links and stuff gives you precious little AP. Recharging resonators, for example gives only 10 AP. Deploying (building) a single resonator is worth 125 AP. Filling all eight slots is worth more, and then building links is worth 313 AP, while continuing to have the same link is worth nothing.

I assume at Level 8, the idea of building sounds more interesting, but then unlike other games where high-level players interacting with lower-level players is simply bullying, here, that Level 1 player can take down your carefully constructed control field as easily as any other. That means you must continue to rely on your strategy and teamwork, which is what the game is all about.

Have fun out there, and remember, if you’re rebuilding what someone smashed, you’re getting stronger and more powerful. If you’re just admiring those portals that have been sitting there for weeks, you’re stagnant.

Legitimate Ingress Portals or Illegitimate

Ingress is a fun little game. It has many different levels and can be very strategic or just a little side thing, depending upon how you play. I have noticed however, that some people can get very upset playing Ingress. The truth is that Ingress is a pretty fair game, and it works surprisingly well considering the sheer scale at which the game operates. However, there are plenty of places to find injustice if you are looking. To enjoy playing Ingress and keep having fun, it is important to have the proper mindset or attitude while playing the game.

Legitimate and Illegitimate Portals

In the game lore, Portals are, “places where human creativity and ingenuity is expressed and  unexplained energy phenomenon emanates.” In other words, portals are supposed to be artistically, historically, or culturally significant. There are numerous places that obviously meet this definition, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and so on.

However, even if you took everything there is in your average travel guidebook, that’s still pretty thin for tens of thousands of players from all around the world to have enough places to use, discover, and fight for. So, places of much smaller significance are allowed. The official criteria is that a portal be one of the following:

  • art
  • unique architecture
  • unique local business
  • historic building or landmark
  • transit stations
  • public libraries
  • public places of worship
  • water towers (?)
  • and entrance signs for various parks and recreational areas

Things that do not count are fire departments, hospitals and police stations, unless they have other significance.

As you can imagine, this is open to a LOT of interpretation. One way to easily get bent out of shape over what is and is not approved.

Ingress Portal Denver

It’s a bench along the bike path, donated by someone’s family, but there’s a plaque!

Locally, I’ve seen completely un-historic or unique buildings get approved. The folks at Ingress seem to be partial to anything with a plaque on it. As a result there are numerous memorial benches setup as portals here in the Denver area. (You donate the cost of a bench, and the city puts it on a bike trail with a little sign on it.) This can make it seem really unfair when you submit something that you think should qualify and it is rejected.

The important thing to remember is that it really doesn’t matter. The point, for the purpose of the game, is to have various portals scattered around town in interesting places. Then, you can go to those places and fight over them. So, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a local coffee shop, or an old wooden Indian outside of a sushi restaurant. As long as it’s a real place that the public can go, then it’s good enough to be a portal.

If there aren’t very many portals in your area, then that can make it harder, but you travel to work, to the grocery store, to the mall, and so on. Play when you go to those places, or keep submitting usable portals. The better the picture and description, the better chance it has of being accepted. Chances are there is a church nearby. Get a good picture, preferably with a readable sign in it, and send away.

In the meantime, get in your car, on your bike, on the bus, or start walking and find some other portals. Half the fun is going places you probably wouldn’t have gone without an enemy Level 1 portal sitting there. I know there are always plenty of fun things to see in Denver.

(Did you see that sweet little plug there at the end? I’m an evil genius…. muwah-ha-hah!)

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.