Ingress Thoughts after Six Months


Platinum Sojourner

Platinum Sojourner

I guess that makes it official, I’ve been playing for six months, plus my first “real day” playing the game was April 1st – very memorable due to the Pac Man gag that was running at the time.

Right now I have a clear path to Level 15 – I have all the badges necessary – and at just barely Level 13, I need a mere doubling of AP to achieve that level – 12 million points.   That’s a staggering amount of actions ; 7,700 fields created, for instance.

Ingress is best described as a secret war between two factions, but the analogy fails on several levels.     There is never an end; you finish that “Weeks worth of War” and go on to the next week.   Plus, you have to remember that you don’t literally want to kill the opposition.

Sure, one way to “win” would be to get the opposition to quit playing, through some action that you do.   But you have to be careful about that, remember, this is only a game.    I have heard stories of people getting fired over the game related to the Lockheed Factory in Palmdale.   That’s reprehensible.   The recent posts on Reddit that talk about a literal break in at a nuclear plant – The Email screenshot, and the Comments on the post.    Guys, remember – we’re only playing a game.   Please don’t trespass onto the grounds of A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT.   Or a TOP SECRET LOCATION.    Jeez, some people.

Then again, key hyperactive agents are the ones who have the most effect on the game.    Growing some for your faction, and getting the enemy’s agents to quit, are ways to influence the game.

Even scarier are the people passing away.    The game inevitably leaks from the electronic into the real world overlaid upon the game (see what I did there ? :) .    Joe Philley, beloved community manager for the game, passed away last month.    I think he was in his late 50’s.    Over the months I’ve seen posts about other agents passing away, including one guy who helped to field Southeast Asia and died shortly after the fielding.

The crowning strangeness is the story of the death of an Irish agent recently.    From Google Plus posts, I gather he/she was playing Ingress and had an accident and died.   Friends and family managed to get him/her before the news media latched onto it, so no links are available.   But the death was quite literally caused by the game – as he/she tried to access a portal, they slipped into the sea after falling off a pier.    A bit of scary thing, isn’t it ?   We have to remember to play safely.

EDIT : Wow.    Yesterday there was a shooting at a community college in Oregon.   It turns out that an Ingress Agent was among those killed.    No indication that he was playing when he died – maybe the guy just went to college there.   Still – Wow.    Colleges typically have tons of portals which would attract Ingress players, both students and non.

But enough scary real life talk.

The “regular crowd” is largely the same in both Burbank and the SCV.    New agents have popped up, and other agents seem to be fading away.    There are three Level 16’s that I have constant contact with in Burbank; the SCV has one who’s doing it more lone wolf these days.  Reaching Level 16 still seems like an impossibility; I might expect to hit 15 in April of next year.

The effects/affects of Ingress on me.

  • I always want to get up early, and go Ingressing during the cool of the morning at 5 AM.    This results in falling asleep at 9-10 PM, and breaking the cycle of a lifetime where I sit at the computer until the early morning hours.
  • I used to take my son with me and kill portals.    He’s so diplomatic, but he gingerly let me know that I do this ALL THE TIME, and he’s sick of it.   So we don’t attack portals together anymore.    Then again, he has a short attention span.
  • I made the mistake of taking my teenage daughter with me to a portal to try and throw a block.   Once.    She decided to embarass me in front of family talking about how I play the game all the time and embellishing the facts.     That showed me how much I can trust her to keep a secret, or suck it up for her Dad’s sake.
  • The desire to build big fields is still there.    The ability is lacking.    I can’t see the day in the future where I can get agents involved again and make a field like the Connect Burbank field.

I’m slowing down a bit due to time commitments, which is OK – do I really want to make a many months-long habit of walking around town instead of working ?    Downtown Burbank is seeing the effect of my lack of commitment, although it’s a far cry from the state 6 months ago, before I started.

A typical view of Burbank.    The Center controlled by Resistance, and the edges by Enlightened.

A typical view of Burbank. The Center controlled by Resistance, and the edges by Enlightened.

Typical shot of the area north of the San Fernando Valley.   From Piru to SCV to Acton.

Typical shot of the area north of the San Fernando Valley. From Piru to SCV to Acton.

We have new players making a big impact in the rural Val Verde area, and some atypical links from the SCV up to Lancaster and Acton.    The southwest of the SCV stays very green due to diligent Enlightened activity, while the rest of the SCV stays very blue.  Even the Sierra Highway, often The Bad Man’s jumping-off point for Ingressing, is staying pretty clear at the moment.

With a continuing commitment to the game, and a lack of the Zeal Of The Convert, I expect to keep this going until :

  1. Pokemon Go makes its appearance.   Have to at least try that out.
  2. Ember invites me to the beta.   It’s apparently an Ingress clone built around the idea of power outlets (?).
  3. Something else comes out of nowhere – like Ingress did – and catches my fancy.

Enough writing.   Time to take a walk.


No matter what – That’s Great !


I am appreciating the game design of Ingress more, having been on both a Big Fielding operation, and defending against them.   Most PvP games include a pretty strong sense of loss for the loser, but this not-quite-PvP-but-not-PvE game is different.   Say you’re the defending team trying to stop a field.

If you figure out what they’re fielding, before they do, that’s great !   For obvious reasons.

If you go out and attempt to block fielding – that’s great !   It turns out it’s quite a rush, suddenly finding out that something is happening, hopping in the car, and trying to stop it.

If you block them from fielding, that’s great!   You’ve just saved the possibility of them scoring MU and getting badge points.

If you slow them down from fielding, that’s great !   Maybe other teammates can get into position or make things happen while you delay.

If you fail to stop them….. maybe you screwed up their layers !   That’s great !   Layered fields score huge amounts of points, while single layers score big.

If you can kill their field(s) before checkpoint…….. that’s great!   They have scored for their badges, but not for the regional/global score.

If you kill their field after it scored – that’s great !   It won’t score again, plus your operations can continue in the fielded area.

Now, that’s the defending team’s perspective.    What about the fielders ?

If you plan out a field – that’s great !    It’s a lot of fun to figure out how to make a big field.

If you attempt a big field, that’s great !    There’s no greater Ingress rush, I believe.

If you fail to make your field – that’s OK !    A well planned field includes smashing green fields very often, so if you break them apart you’ve contributed to the war.

If you make *some version* of your field, such as, portions of it get successfully blocked – that’s great !   You’ve just scored big and may be on your way to your Onyx illuminator.

If you make your full field – that’s fantastic !

If your field scores for a checkpoint – that’s great !   We all want to see our side win.   If your field scores many checkpoints, that’s even better.

Either team can/should have intel people, and guess what – that’s great !   Who doesn’t like seeing the whole perspective and trying to keep the pieces all moving together towards the goal of a field ?

Add in, to all of the above, the fact that the enemy’s moves are made in secret.   Just what, exactly, is happening can be obscured by the fog of war, and will often be interpreted in the best possible light.   For example – I thought, yesterday, I ruined the layering of the field.   I am told by the fielders themselves that only one layer was planned anyway.    Doesn’t matter – I was still able to congratulate myself for screwing things up.

There are truly negative experiences in Ingress, but it’s something you get over – your portals get taken.    It really hurts for the newbie, to see the portal they just took, disappear just like that.   But if you get over that, there’s quite a lot of positivist gameplay possible.    In fact, almost everything is positivist.

Recharging your portal and seeing it die anyway sucks pretty bad.    There are few agents who can’t take your portal, even if you’re recharging.    The technology also works against you – defense suddenly stops updating, often, so you really have no chance.    The best defense is against someone who’s just firing bursters, or is for some reason not at all close to your portal.   Those rare situations are the only ones where you are likely to successfully defend.

All in all, it’s pretty hard to not enjoy your Ingress game.

The Enlightened Strike Back


The call went out at 10 AM – “Hey the Enlightened have a nasty looking portal up at the top of this trail.   Can anyone kill it ?”

I joined in on the intel hunt and tried to ferret out what they were doing.    First thought was a field over Sylmar, but that turned out to be wrong.    The Enlightened were going to field the San Fernando Valley.

I sat and watched as all of us employed folks asked “Who can go out there and block the fields ?”    And eventually we figured out where the key spot was for their field.   It was a triangle stretching from the top of Topanga Canyon, to La Crescenta, to south of Ventura Blvd in Tarzana.     After the greens jarvised a friendly portal, I realized just how nearby it was, and I had a lunch time coming, so I headed out in the 100 degree heat to see what I could do.

The Del Taco Skirmish

The Del Taco Skirmish

The field of battle, 1 PM Pacific, was :

  • Del Taco, the selected portal.   They have a mural on the side of the restaurant.
  • “Dora”, just above the green link.   This is a painting on the side of a business.
  • Some church, right next to Dora.
  • Carpet Genie, linked to the North.    A big genie statue.   I love this guy, he’s so kitschy.

I came upon this area and found Dora linked to the anchor portal, which was the rail for the operation.    What is a rail you ask ?    The people running the operation will throw a link they are not that interested in, to block any enemy links from coming in and messing things up, until they are ready to throw the field.   My thought was, they threw the rail on the outside of their operation, so I needed to block north of “Dora”.    This is important given what I ended up doing.

First, I pulled into Del Taco and filled out the resonators there.   Two hacks produced two keys, as desired.   I pull out immediately and head to the Carpet Genie, and link up the two portals.   That should block their operation, at least until someone shows up and tries to clear the area.

Next, I headed to Dora and took that portal, along with the church.   Keys were farmed.    I linked Dora to Del Taco and tried to figure out what to do next.   There were a few spots to the north that I could link up, and back to where I already was, to start making a mess of links that would stop them from fielding.

And then – there they are !   Just as I’m ready to drive off, Del Taco gets killed.    Now the way is clear for the enemy to field.   What do I do ?    Since I’m sitting right next to Dora, I immediately threw a link to Carpet Genie from Dora, to block their operation.   Remember – the expectation is all the layers are on the north side.

The Carpet Genie

The Carpet Genie

Now, clearly, its a cat and mouse game.   I’m right in the same area as the enemy agent.    What do I do next ?    The nervous feeling is intense.   I ask for advice in Hangouts and get some, and decide rather than sitting still moving is probably better.

I decided to head straight for Del Taco.   I pulled in, and an angry and distracted man was pulling out.    I motioned to him, “Go Ahead” and smiled, and he smiled and started to move.    Then his eyes BUGGED OUT!    He had to be thinking, “Hey, was that……..   ”  Well, no way to know for sure, but I will lay my bets on who that guy was – The block clearer for the operation, a well known local agent.   I think I was made, and he was shocked and “scared” in the sense of his operation getting screwed up.

So I took the portal back.    But I didn’t get any more keys; one free hack and one heatsink both came up empty.   I headed off to Carpet Genie, reasoning that the enemy agent would take Dora, and maybe I could link to the church after they did so.   Or at least, get a key and then head back again to Del Taco.

Dora stayed up.    And suddenly, they threw the southerly link.    They threw it SOUTH OF the Dora portal, in other words, I was not correct about where all the layers would be.   You can see how just barely “south” of Dora they threw it.   That’s probably 3 feet to spare.

I’ve failed in my main mission, but I’m sure I messed up any layering they had going.   Their layers had to be north of their rail.    The field got made, but only one level of field.    Bet you I rattled the enemy enough that they threw the minimum they could.   I decided to call it good and headed back to work.

Sure, a 500k point field is pretty bad, but what about one with 7 layers ?    That would have been a lot worse.

The Enemy Fielded the San Fernando Valley

The Enemy Fielded the San Fernando Valley

3 PM

There’s a new call to action.   Checkpoint is at 4 pm.   And the field is supposed to be killed at 3:30 PM.    I reviewed the intel map, and sure enough, a really short drive away is an opportunity to not only block a rethrow of the field, but to use up the keys I just got.   I headed out and set up blockers.

These should stop a re-throw.

These should stop a re-throw.

The east link should block, and I had to link back to Dora and Del Taco because I wanted to use the keys, and because these will also block to some degree.    Hopefully it’s all wasted effort, but you never know what people will do for their operation.   I suppose I’ll find out later.

The layers were probably on the south end (Tarzana) of their operation, because we could see spots to make a bunch of nice layers.    So my block(s) managed to keep them from making layers, and the field that did get made, was a single portal.   And another agent who was nearby, and not afraid to climb a mountain trail in the 100 degree heat, took down the field before the checkpoint.

You know – defense is pretty fun.    Finding out where to block and making it happen was pretty intense, even if I expect I’ll rarely do that to any degree of success in the game.   Most of it was about communication, but somebody had to go out and take things down, and it was fun to do that.    This is much more of an unattached person’s part of the game, but I skipped out of work for an hour plus and got a taste of how this works.

Ingress Lives !


Rumors (some by me) of Ingress’ demise seem to be greatly exaggerated.

The latest teardown of the Ingress program reveals new features to be added soon.    The three things that caught my eye were

  1. A cash store.
  2. Pink Capsules.
  3. Portal Upgrades.

The childish way to look at a cash store is “Waaahhhh the game should be pure !”.    Given all the circumstances at the moment, I see the cash store as Ingress continuing as a viable game.    Let’s hope they find a way to get people to part with their money, and yet not put any heavy imbalance into the game.

If they go broke – no more Ingress.    If they overdo the “Pay To Win” – everyone leaves and no more Ingress.    I’m hoping there’s a happy medium in there that they strike.   No good information is available about the details.

The second item – possibly related to the cash store ? – is pink capsules, which apparently hold keys.    Only the capsule counts towards the inventory limit.   So you can stash your keys into one of these babies, and pick up another 99 items.    I want.   i want 5 or 6, to hold my current key stash, and then I want another 10.     Yes, I would pay cash money for these things.

The third item is some kind of portal upgrade.   Currently we have mods – modifications – that you can put on a particular portal, but this sounds like something different.    Is this also something you can buy in the store ?   Time will tell, but it sounds interesting, and at first blush not very gamebreaking assuming that whatever you buy dies when the portal is taken by the enemy.    If it’s a defensive item, that could very easily be gamebreaking, but things to do with hacking; portal power; link range – that would be pretty nice.

It’s all rumor at the moment, but the new version – 1.83 – should be available next week.

In the meantime – I’ve reached a few milestones.

  • Double Onyx Recharger – 50 million XM.
  • Silver Purifier (Destroying resos).    This also means I have only silver badges and up, not counting the mission badge which I don’t have because I don’t do missions.
  • Platinum Trekker – 1,000 kilometers the phone has traveled at low speed.   That’s 621 miles for us Imperialists.
  • Halfway to Onyx Translator, plus a bit.   This will be my required second Onyx badge for level 16, this won’t take long to finish.

AP continues to pour in, and I’m at about 11.6 million, not much to go until I reach level 13

The Art of Ingress


No, really.    Someone wrote an Ingress manual a long time ago in the style of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.    You can find it here.

It’s pretty far outdated and probably abandoned by the author.    That said, it is extremely well written, feels exactly like reading Sun Tzu.  Makes me think, perhaps it’s time for me to take on a project like updating it ?

Of course, that would require less real life, and peeling myself away from Marvel Heroes.

Operation Field the Pacific


Waking me up out of my malaise this morning.   Around 5:30 AM this field came into being :

All of California and Nevada

All of California and Nevada

Reportedly about 1 billion (Yes, Billion, with a “Bee”) MU.    In other words, one thousand times as big as my biggest previous effort.    Covering California and Nevada.   Most of Oregon and Arizona.   Parts of Washington, New Mexico, and Alaska.   This is an amazingly large field, both in size and people.

With no links possible under a field, and with Burbank pretty green lately, I immediately set out to bust as many fields as I could before work.    I didn’t do too much actually – I guess things were killed over the last day or so – but the town is now remarkably free of green fields.

There's a bunch near Burbank in Glendale, and some over in the Magnolia Park area.

There’s a bunch near Burbank in Glendale, and some over in the Magnolia Park area.

Passed the 9 am checkpoint, but I find myself uninterested in work – I got the important stuff taken care of over the last four days – and much more interested in smashing things.   It would be nice, for once, to use my bursters instead of recycling them.

So as I head out and smash things, the field comes down, around 11 am.   It was an awesome thing to have.   Now, it’s time to rebuild, the only thing eternal about Ingress.

Gliding along




Over the past week, I’ve made 11m AP leaving a paltry 1m to go, for level 13.    And yet, I’m a little burned out from the whole thing.   I’m not all over the intel map, not really participating in the Hangouts,  I’m just taking actions when I have the time.    Very busy at work, as well.

I spent last Friday night in Newhall for about 3 1/2 hours.   Nobody came out.   I may have missed the window of interest in Ingressers getting together, having a bite and some drinks, and walking the streets, which would be typical of my social prowess.    I did, however, acquire 32 more unique captures, and start to feel the beginning of game burnout.

Pokemon Go was announced.   Apparently, this means there will be places for you to go in real life, and find your pokemon; battle the pokemon against “something else”; so it might be very Ingress-like.    It should be, considering that it is Niantic’s next software project, leading to further speculation that Ingress might be “done”.   I did get good news from a random player, who had a portal approved after the submissions were closed off, so they may at least empty the queue.   And keep the game running.

Marvel Heroes

My current goal is to find someway to beat the Cosmic Midtown Madness trial.    It is to laugh – the best I can seem to do as Cap is take out a bunch of the easy kills from the first wave.    My limited understanding is there’s something like a bunch of “easy” kills, then a boss, then more “easy” kills, then a final boss.   Except the “easy” kills make short work of me if I do the usual and wade into them and attack.

The key to surviving seems to be, move in and make attacks, and run away.   Regen and repeat.   This is extremely tricky given that my team up – Iron Man Mk II – is a big part of the key to the level, and I have to keep him alive.    Leave him alone, the baddies will swarm him, and next thing you know I’m gone too.    I keep trying once or twice a day, and I usually get stuck among the baddies and beat down.

Omega distribution is a simple set of regen choices, from both the Nanotech and “Default” trees, along with some light offense if I feel like adding them.    The previous advice to use the ones that help with bosses, are clearly wasted.   If you can’t reach the Cosmic bosses, who cares, and the normal level bosses are easy to kill with all the other players available.

And the currency grind goes on (200 Odin Marks!) along with levels for the lowbies (Human Torch – Now 42!), and feeding into chasing achievements (Maybe 75 more AIM technicians for one of them!).    It’s a game well built for an achiever personality like me.

Six Man Marvel


I continue to play Marvel Heroes – quite a bit in the past few days.    Clearly, one of the things that is meant to be fun about playing the game, is *figuring out how to play*.   My current knowledge is :

  1. Get your first hero.
  2. Collect Eternity Splinters.
  3. Reach Level 60.
  4. Buy additional heroes (With Splinters or Cash) as needed.
  5. Buy at least one “Team-Up”.
  6. Do daily quests for special currencies.
  7. Collect unique items, until you have “good ones” at quality 63.
  8. Buy Legendaries for your heroes.
  9. Buy recipes to upgrade your uniques to level 66.
  10. Buy recipes for level 69 uniques.
  11. Cosmic Midtown Trial ???   Genosha ?????

Currently, I’m working on leveling the Human Torch up to Level 60.   He’s squishy, but I’m enjoying it.    Plastic Man is waiting in the wings.    Other heroes are all Level 60, and mostly with level 63 uniques.   Everyone has their legendary weapon.

(I find it amusing my spell checker thinks you cannot use plural for “unique”.   But this word, does not mean what you think it means, in Marvel Heroes)

Clearly, my favorite hero remains the Hulk, with Invisible Woman a close second.   Force fields really rock !   So does turning invisible in the middle of combat, and all your enemies forgetting about you.    Thing and Cap are also excellent, but Cyclops is not holding up well as part of a rotation.     I’ve fully upgraded/XP’ed the Legendary for Cap, and continue to move forward with other hero’s legendaries.

I managed to get one recipe for Slot 2 Level 66 uniques – but getting the second one is clearly going to take some time.    I think the only time I get that currency is when I complete a daily, for the first time.    At least with the Odin Marks grind, I got some every time I completed a daily mission – more for the first one, naturally, but some every time.    So it’s pretty hard to get these “Hero’s commendations”.

I have close to 1,200 Splinters, and I probably should just buy Iron Man and get it over with.   I have a special costume for him, as well as a 63 quality unique.  The only challenge is I already have two guys to level up, plus Deadpool the team-up.    What I would like, actually, is bank space, except I’ve already spent $40 on this game and I prefer not to spend more.    The call of more space, however, is very strong.

The End Game – Cosmic Midtown, probably – is getting a bit more accessible.   Cap managed to fight his way through 20+ enemies before dying the last go-around, so perhaps with more upgraded uniques, and enough Omega points, it will actually end up doable.   Who knows.  325 or so Omega points earned to date.

And then there’s the Genosha area, which I believe is a raid zone.   Would raiding in this game be like grouping, where I get invited to random groups and do everything the same as if solo ?    Maybe i should try it out.

Portal Submissions – Suspended ?



I heard about Ingress when it first started, and I predicted at the time it would go nowhere because it was relying on the community to submit portals.   I was completely wrong, but I was surprised once I started playing – they actually reviewed each submission and approved or rejected them, not in a timely fashion, but that was the process.   The quality of them, all things considered, is pretty high.

Then, a couple of things have happened recently.

  • Niantic gets spun off from Google.    Part of some corporate restructuring.   Rumors swirl that it’s because whatever “Greater Google” wanted to get out of Ingress, it didn’t happen.
  • Layoffs happen at the now-separate Niantic, as well as new people being hired.    Translation : Get rid of the higher salary people, and rehire cheaper ones.
  • Today, new portal submissions have been suspended.

When I read the tea leaves, I get that Niantic is in a bit of trouble.    They have some serious staffing costs here, what with the events they put on globally, whoever keeps their back end systems working, that girl that does the Ingress reports that I never watch – and paying the portal monkeys to sift through portal submissions.    You can cut costs if you cease to process new portals.

Anyone want to argue there are not enough portals in their area ?    I sure don’t.   Everywhere I’ve gone there are portals, from campgrounds to little hamlets and to roadside stands.   So it’s not that I see a gameplay problem, rather I wonder if the game will last long enough for me to…. I don’t know.   Get to Level 16 ?   Get bored and quit ?    Get all Onyx badges ?

Will I manage to reach the point where I’ve finished the game ?    Or is it going to get shut down; or be a zombie like War Worlds.   The game was supposed to shut down last year, it’s apparently limping along still.


Ingress – The Anonymity Killer (?) (!)


I have, for years, followed my generation’s stance on digital identity.   Namely – Never use your real name on the internet.    I think I’ve done a decent job of keeping it squirreled away, and having an anonymous identity as well as disconnected “real” identities, but I don’t think I’d withstand a serious doxxing attack.

Then I heard about this game Ingress.   You’re a SECRET AGENT.    So obviously, the thing to do when signing up is use your anonymous profile, right ?

It’s less obvious than it seemed when I started.   I *could* have declined all contact, but you miss a lot of the game that way.   Instead, I started meeting people, accepting help, giving out weapons etc, organized a Big @SS field,  and now here I am.

At this point I’ve met dozens of agents who all know my face, many of whom know my car, and a couple I’d even consider friends.   I’ve only revealed my name to a couple of them, just at first.    I eventually realized that I had to just go with it, and now everyone who meets me only meets “Doc”.    The guys who know my real name have probably forgotten it – it’s already hard to remember tying the agent names, to the real names you see on the hangouts.   And yet, tomorrow I’m having lunch with a bunch of the “Burbank Crew”.

I don’t play at night, because family – except, there are lots of husband and wife teams, and I know my wife would love to wander downtown Newhall, socialize and eat dinner, and who knows what other ladies could talk her into.   She loves games after all, just never digital games.   Certain aspects of Ingress sure remind me of “The Amazing Race” games that we’ve participated in.

I’m wondering where all this is headed – complete loss of anonymity ?    I have all these agents wandering around *my workspace*, and we meet up, and it’s all fun.   And all my coworkers see me at lunch and say Hi.   That’s clearly an anonymity problem.

At one time Niantic had thought that players should never meet, due to the potential for angry encounters.   That seems to have changed as everyone forms teams and carries out operations, attends the “First Saturday”, along with the massive Anomaly events that some agents attend.

It would not be fun to have my anonymous identity outed after over 15 years of keeping it secret, but I’m getting worried about the whole thing.


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