Having “won” City Domination I found myself getting a bit bored.   I have nothing to do on my commute, other than drive.   (The Horror!)    Then I heard about another Location-Based Game.    I had not heard about it previously because, naturally, we have to change the terms whenever Google is involved.

Niantic Labs is apparently a division of Google, who markets a Augmented Reality Game (Ie, Location-Based) called Ingress.    You can get it in the App/Play Store for either IoS or Android.   The game is well covered with community based instruction – Google’s instructions, simply, suck hard.    I almost uninstalled the game in the first 3 days since I didn’t know what in the hell I was supposed to do, besides “walk”.    Decoding Ingress is an essential site for reading about the game.

This is a game that’s been around for 2 years plus, and it’s a bit of a fresh take on Location-Based Gaming.   I’m going to compare this to City Domination to get started.

City Domination has no levels.    Each person is as important as their upgrades purchased with gold bars.    And the bars are acquired either by completing badges or spending money.    Ingress, by contrast, has a levelling system (16 levels) and no monetary transactions.    The first 8 levels are the most important ones, with the remaining having minimal benefit – the biggest benefit I can figure out is “Something To Do”.    City Domination has the better system.    Levels are not much good if you are going to blow through them too fast – I am currently level 5 after 8 days playing.

Teams in City Domination are based on gangs.   Every player starts out in their own gang, and is expected to join up into bigger and bigger groups, or you can just dump your old gang and move to another.   Ingress puts players into two teams – the Enlightened (Green) and the Resistance (Blue).    Your choice is permanent.     I like the Ingress system much better – the only thing any gang invite ever made me think of is someone wants to “steal my points”.

In City Domination you take over squares.   The entire Google Map of the world is divided up into little bitty squares that you fight over with bots and the occasional human being.    Once you hold a spot, you hold it forever, until a bot or another player comes by and takes them.    Ingess, by contrast, is about “portals” where energy is leaking into our world from some other world.    Take a portal, and you have it for as long as its energy lasts – 15% decay per day in the game.    If your portal’s resonators decay, it goes neutral.    City Domination is the clear winner here – the decay mechanic is not useful, if you can prevent defensive lockout with other game mechanics like the 200 man limit and missions.

In City Domination, I can play on the freeway.   Freeways have just as many squares as any other area.   Ingress has a “40 mph detection” scheme built in, and no portals near freeways.   I have no idea how, but they know roughly when you’re on the freeway and when you aren’t.    (Something to do with the GPS obviously)   City Domination wins again.

For population, I’ve seen less than 10 other players on the map.    no more than TEN.    Kind of pathetic for a large urban area, right ?   Ingress has dozens and dozens of people who appear in the scanner taking portals and creating links.     Ingress wins in terms of player interaction.

From what I’m reading about Ingress, the big goal you should have is to get to level 8, so I’m working my way towards that goal.    Past that – I’m not really sure.    I’m entertained and playing so that’s going to have to do for the moment.     The real test is if you play a game like this for more than my current one week – but I’ll put that in another post.