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I met the enemy today – the top level Enlightened player in the Burbank area.      He’s a nice guy, another gaming nerd like myself, certainly not a kid – probably fortyish.   We had a friendly chat about the game and how it all goes.

Strangely, it’s kind of taking a bit of the wind out of my sails.    Not sure why.    Maybe it’s more fun to imagine “the enemy” as people with pointed horns and what not.    Is that what was in the back of my head ?     My forebrain has been telling me, for the past couple of weeks, that he’s probably a nice guy, so why am I deflated having met him and confirming that expectation ?

So now I’ve met one Enlightened player, spotted a second guy as he stole my keys, and met up with a third Resistance player.    The socializing here is out of control.    When you go 20+ years having never seen anyone you game with, it starts to feel pretty weird.

I’m continuing to peel the onion of Ingress, and today I’m thinking about “Why is this fun ?” at different stages of the game.

STAGE 1

I have no idea at all what’s going on.    There are no rules to help you figure out how to start; oh sure, there’s a tutorial, but just getting to the point of realizing you really need to move around in order to play the game at all is hard to get used to.    New players really need to see the Ingress intel map much more quickly IMHO.    I only got past this stage by grim determination.

STAGE 2

Now you realize you have to capture portals, or knock down enemy portals, in order to play the game.     I fired my puny level one weapons at a park portal and not much happens.    But with access to portals, comes access to gear.    I stocked up by hacking everything and it started to come together.     I only found portals by accident; didn’t actually deliberately go to any of them, but in heavily urban areas there are tons of portals.

STAGE 3

You need to make fields.   What kind of fields ?     You can make gigantic fields that cover an entire area (megafields) and prevent any enemy (or friendly) fielding within them.    This usually only works if you can find the right portals to anchor it, and teammates work with you to clear the way.    These are both excellent fields, and hard to defend, depending on where the anchor spots are.

Or you can make little fields.    With a minimum of three links, any portal becomes harder to attack; additionally the more links it has the more attractive of a target it is to the other team.    You can link every portal in a massive spiderweb, or jump around and bypass items as need be.   I’ve yet to really decide which is more effective.    It’s probably tactical.

So if you build the right set of triangles, then that might slow/stop the enemy right ?   If you eat up more of their gear, they will take longer and take fewer portals, right ?

STAGE 4

Nothing at all stops anyone in this game.    Sure, each portal and field has defenses, but these are all marginal.    Any sufficiently determined player on top of a portal will wreck it.   Every player has a full inventory, just like me.    Once they’re standing on the portal it’s all over, unless they’re just starting out (like level 1-4).

This leads to the realization that the game has no real defenses other than location and time.    I have to plan out where I am going to maximize the number of fields I create.   Heading out blindly means things are more spontaneous, but I’m still subject to being in the right place.

The best defense against enemy fields is to go out and wreck them.    It won’t be hard, other than the travel requirement(s).     The bonus is the destruction of the enemy’s keys, which they needed to create fields.    Now they need to regather them, while all you need as the attacker is to hack portals and restock your gear.

The best way to protect your fields, seems to be, make them with portals in inaccessible locations.    The problem being, if they’re inaccessible, how are YOU going to get to them anyway ?    Failing that, I really don’t think you **can** defend with any reasonability.

STAGE 5

How do you win for your team in Ingress ?     The other team has to stop playing.    Only then can you expect to keep your area fielded and contributing to the global score.    As seems usual for location-based games, the game is winnable if no one shows up on the opposing side.

That’s not going to happen in Ingress – they very wisely created only two teams.    If a blue player finds himself in a 100% dominated green area, all he has to do is wreck whatever he finds and he’s making a real impact.    The greens need to rebuild it all again, which I’ll estimate as 2.5x the effort of wrecking it.     So it’s all a never-ending war of attrition, in a quest for global scores as high as possible at any checkpoint.

Or it’s a level chasing game.   I hit level 9 this week, and I don’t really care, because it’s more of a pointless milestone; no real increase in power.   Moving the badges up, that’s a different story.    It’s fun to think of how many people (or MU’s in the game terms) I’ve saved from the influence of the Shapers.    How many portals I’ve been to.   How many resonators I’ve destroyed.

My gold medals are Recharger (For recharging!), Trekker (Walked over 300 kilometers, about 225 miles (!)), and Guardian (hold a portal for over 20 days).    I have a bunch of silver medals.    I expect my first platinum to be for recharging, as I have 7.9m of 10m recharged so far.    They go up to Onyx, with hints from the devs that it might go higher in the future.

So now I have to figure out how to get all the green players to quit, so we can win.    Yeah, not going to happen.

For some reason I feel very melancholy, so I’m going to take a walk and do some more Ingressing while I do it.

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