The New Portal Submission System

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Word broke today about the new way to submit Ingress portals.   It’s about bloody time !    For about a year nothing has been happening with submissions, and precious little activity on deletions.

Here’s how it works:

  • In the initial closed beta rollout, the new hub will work in San Francisco and Tokyo.
  • The tool will initially only be invite-only, only open to Ingress players who’ve reached L16 — the highest level in the game. Getting there requires a helluva lot of time and dedication, but also suggests you know what a portal should be like.
  • Players will ultimately be able to give feedback on potential portals in two places: the area they play most, and one other location of their choice of which they have local knowledge — be it their childhood hometown or a place they visit often.
  • Players give feedback on multiple factors — the photo, the portal’s name, whether or not it’s a duplicate, etc. It’s not a straight-up yes/no vote.
  • They’ll be starting with Niantic’s existing backlog first
  • Behind the scenes, the hub weighs each player’s feedback based on how good they seem to be at ranking portals
  • Once a portal gets enough positive feedback and an algorithm gives it the green light, the portal goes live in-game. If it’s working correctly, there’s no human intervention required on Niantic’s side.

Apparently you get an email from Niantic to start the process; those agents who have recently been in San Francisco are getting them, even though they’re from So Cal.   Then you select your “Hometown”.   Once you pick it, it can never be changed.   You also get to pick one other “area of interest” which can be changed ONCE PER YEAR.   Finally, it will also give you portals in your current area.

Just from reading about it, it’s tough to be sure it will work, or be fair.    Hangouts chatter is positive.

now this is more fun than the game

these aholes tricked me into doing their jobs

I can’t wait.   The game has gotten too divorced from reality in some spots.

Giant Marilyn Monroe statue in Palm Springs was moved in 2014, yet when I visited in Summer of 2016 the portal was still there.   The location looked exactly like Google Maps, a dirt lot.

One very close portal to my workplace, the Working Man Mural, is both a duplicate of another portal, and located one block out of the way.   I have tried the complain tool many times and yet this guy just stays there.

And there are tons of other examples, everywhere.   Keeping it reality based helps immerse you in the gameworld.    Dangerous and inappropriate portals should get removed, like the one at a preschool that Santa Clarita used to have.   I think the owner finally must have complained after Pokemon Go came out.

And with the development activity across California, new things that should be portals continue to come online.

I think they did a pretty darn good job with the portals in the game.    Some are pretty bad; but the vast majority are good choices, varied, and interesting.   Hopefully the community can continue to keep that good quality, but you never know.

The obvious concern is that agents will game the system.    Make sure portals that are convenient for one side get approved, with inconvenient ones denied.    It’s a real danger, because this is certainly a game about warfare, and any war game continues even at the meta level.    Trolling and joking too – check out one portal in the submission queue :

oh man

who does this stuff

  Title
Invisible Plaque
Description
Something interesting is hidden here   

I’m hopeful though.   But now I want to know, when will the community ban system for “That guy is a disgusting cheater!” come out ?

 

A Day In The Life of a Block Clearer

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7 AM

Time to wake up, says my body.    I don’t have to, but I get up anyway.   Check the Ingress intel screen, which shows no new blockers.   It also shows that the dangerous enemy agents have been up until after 1 am.    Perfect.   With any luck, they’ll sleep through the whole thing.  I smile a predatory smile and get ready.

I step outside for a moment.   It’s so quiet.   Cool temperature, no noise, as I look out over the city.    A huge Ingress battle will be happening soon.   Will it be in Santa Clarita ?   Or somewhere else ?    Who knows for sure.   I get prepared for battle.

Equipment ?   Battery, 2nd battery, laptop, Ingressing hat, all loaded into the car.   Full gas tank ?  Check.   Coke and water to drink ?  Check.   My team is all ready.   I give them some last minute encouragement before leaving the house at 9:30 AM.

10 AM

I have three portals to take care of.   I have never captured one, so I head out to this one first.    God help me if I have no reception – but at least I could find out early.   But it was no big deal to capture, and I burn it down along with its blocking links.

I was encouraged to set up a field north of the big one.    Sure – why not.   I hiked to the top of the mountain last month, was rewarded with keys, and even had one duplicate in an MUFG, then I haven’t used them.    The plan is written down on a legal pad.

It's low tech, but it works. Well.

It’s low tech, but it works. Well.

11 AM

I build my field.   I figured out how to make it two layers; could have done more, but would have taken too much time.   I watch for enemy agent activity, and don’t see too much.   It’s a normal day in the grind for the ENL.   Exactly what I wanted.

12 PM

I have two sides of the first layer built, and all the blocks cleared.    Too much is happening with the main field, and my questions about blocks go unanswered.   I needn’t have worried.   I head out and build the first layer.   I expected maybe 5,000 MU or so, but got a pleasant surprise.

Sixteen thousand ? I'll take it !

Sixteen thousand ? I’ll take it !

This meant that the second layer, which I planned for but didn’t know if I wanted to throw, suddenly got interesting.    I was thoroughly shocked by how much I got for this one too !

But..... that's a LOT more than the last one for a small additional amount of area.

But….. that’s a LOT more than the last one for a small additional amount of area.

I enjoy my 40k MU score, especially since this puts me over the halfway hump.   Halfway to Onyx Illuminator.   And part of the process of building this has me jarvis my second assigned portal.   Two down, three to go.

12:30 PM

I park and sit on my final portal.    I need to jarvis one of my own – so at least I don’t have to ask anyone for permission.     I wait for any word of problems, since I’m not doing anything at this point.

There’s a yogurt shop across the street – I’ve never been there.   I buy a sugary frappe type drink.    I feel for the Mexican family in there whose youngest decided to be a nasty brat, and gets carried out by an embarassed mother and father.    “I WANT THE (Unintelligible) !  I WAAAAAAANT THE (Unintelligible) !”.  My kids have done that, it’s not pleasant.    I use the bathroom, then carry my drink back to the car and glyph madly.

1 PM

Most of the blocking portals are down now, the team does their jobs perfectly.    And after all the blocks fall, I Jarvis my portal, holding an awesome and long linked little field which is blocking the BAF.    I simply report “Santa Clarita is clear” and we wait.   After a final slurp of the yogurt drink I head out.

1:30 PM

The operation is at a vulnerable spot.   The ENL have caught on, but don’t appear to have any local agents alerted.   We keep building, capping more portals and linking things up to prevent any blockers from happening in our area.   Thankfully, none occur.   And around 2 PM our link goes through.

2016-11-12-21-54-15

One side down, two to go, for main operations.   But for us as block clearers, we’re done.   And that’s a nice field I’ve built up there too.

2:30 PM

It’s time for Beergress, or the Afterparty, any way you want to talk about it.   We all talk about the game and how much fun we had, strategize and enjoy watching the field finally go up after a bunch of drama.   The ENL were persistent; one agent played the role of blocker pretty effectively for awhile, but we had enough people that could travel and kill things that they outnumbered her, all blockers were down, and 8 million MU were scored.

Now that is pretty.

Now that is pretty.

5 PM

I’m back home with the family.    I didn’t use most of my gear, but you have to be prepared.   I come in and the girls are on the couch.

“OK hon, how did your Ingress go ?”

“It went well.    First I ………..”

“Great.   Your daughter needs help with her history homework”.

Back to being a Dad again.

Postscript :

My field lasted for 24 hours, so 4 checkpoints.    Despite hoping real hard, it did NOT last long enough to break my record for “Largest Field MU x Days” which at 30,717 is respectable.    Now that it’s down I can post this entry 🙂 .

Gang War in Downtown Newhall

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Greenhall has been under assault lately, with the Resistance coming in and blowing it up pretty fast as the Enlightened build it up.   Some people are even using it to level up.

There it is !

There it is !

But it survives as a green farm.   So we got the local Resistance players to all meet on Friday night for some team building and takeover of the downtown area.   And as expected, the ENL team showed up.

The gameboard began pretty much 100% green.    All I wanted to do was wreck it, immediately.   They held me back – dinner was first.   Drinks were consumed and food eaten.    We talked strategy, we talked tactics, we talked personalities and about all kinds of nonsense.   And then we got up and started fighting.

“That’s them, over there” says our most experienced group gamer.   Me, I forget the enemy’s players, cars, and all that stuff – even if I can correctly pick them out, out of the fog of paranoia in the game.    Not my teammates though – they knew EVERYONE.    And it was the crew I was expecting, the Bad Man along with other familiar agent names.    Once I got close, I knew three of them by sight.

The etiquette was pretty obvious actually.    We all stayed in a group – unless and until someone need to peel off for some reason.   We didn’t really mix with the ENL, they stayed in their group and we stayed in ours.    ( I did shake hands finally with one agent I’ve been chasing around for the last year.)   Nobody blocked anybody in or did anything out-of-bounds.   I even boldly walked through their group when the need arose – “Pardon Me !”.

A rolling crew is something I’m almost never a part of.    It’s a very different game that way – you’re part of a team, and what you do helps or hurts the rest of the players.   So it’s a chaotic group decision with each portal.   Blow it up ?   Glyph it first ?   Who caps the portal ?   And importantly, put down the right resonators so it can be hacked or glyphed after capture.

The ideal is a rolling 8, and would go something like this.

  1. Blow off the ENL’s stuff.
  2. Any agent needing a unique captures the portal with a L8.
  3. Remaining agents drop an L8.
  4. Desired mods are placed on the portal.
  5. Links to three minimum other nearby portals are established.

As we made our way down the street and knocked everything down – and rebuilt and linked up the portals – the ENL recaptured and knocked down the portals we had.   The gang war was in full swing.    We concentrated on killing anything long standing and with good defenses, and looped our way through the area.   The ENL did their own thing, which included knocking our stuff down and trying to (game wise) irritate us.

After an hour and half of that though …….. we won !   They all left for greener pastures, while we fielded the street and glyphed for gear.   We didn’t build it up since the combat took so long (so that’s the ENL’s victory) but we did deny it to them for the evening.   I was satisfied.

Changed hands a couple of times Saturday morning, though.    Fine by me !

Changed hands a couple of times Saturday morning, though. Fine by me !

It’s time to make this more of a habit.    Gotta save humanity, after all.    And I have a great group of teammates actually.   It was fun.

Gangstalker !

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He drove up behind me as I was pulling out onto the road again.     He stuck his head and arm out the window and pointed straight at me,  a 30ish white man in a 20-year old pickup truck.

“You’re a Gangstalker!”

“No I’m not !”

“Yes, you are.”

“I don’t even know what that means.”

“When you get home, look it up”

I had to move since I was blocking traffic, so I did.    But this unsettled me.   What is this guy trying to tell me ?    It sounds a bit scary, with that word GANG in there, and me doing the sketchy pull-over-by-the-side-of-the road maneuver.

Turns out that Gang Stalking is an organized attempt at harassing an individual to the point of mental breakdown.    Sounds like something a paranoid-schizophrenic mind comes up with.   The GOVERNMENT is out to get me, and have me committed !   This guy thinks I’m the one, who’s harassing HIM.    So I needn’t worry.   That dude is probably nuts.   And I’ve never seen him before.   If I see him again it’s time to bug out.

Still, it’s a reminder that the streets aren’t safe.   As a certified computer nerd I have tried to stay indoors most of my life, where it’s safe.    And the spot where I pull over is pretty weird.

Across the road from a movie studio dirt parking lot is the Roadside Cross Memorial, supposedly the site of a bus crash.    This portal figures into a lot of my Ingressing.   It’s an important spot frequently fought over.    So I have seen A LOT of this area over the course of the last year.    I see people here a lot.

CHP officers that have pulled people over.    Guys looking at their cars that have mechanical problems.   Studio people not parking in the lot, for whatever reason.  Dudes doing the same thing as me, pulling over and whipping out their phones.   Hikers/bikers/campers pulled over for recreational reasons.    And other people I don’t know the reason they’ve pulled over.

They’re the ones that worry me, as I play the paranoid game of Ingress.   Are they agents ?   The least of my worries.   Are they drug dealers ?    Property fences ?   I doubt it, but I also realize I’d probably never know if they were.    The LAST thing I want to do is interrupt a drug deal again.    Once was enough, and was dangerous enough.

It makes me wonder about all the agents who play from 11 pm to the wee hours.   Stay safe out there guys.

Race to Level 16

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10/14

I realized that I was darned close to Level 16.   A couple million AP doesn’t seem like a lot when you’ve already banked 38 million.    And I checked, and found the Bad Man pretty far behind.

38.4 million to go

38.4 million to go

I felt good about it, and decided to get to Level 16 as soon as possible.   Definitely, before the Bad Man.    Then, I didn’t think about it for several days.

10/18

I forgot to take screenshots, but discovered to my horror that The Bad Man was ahead !   Now was the time to do some serious grinding, because Being Competitive.

I am fortunate to work in Downtown Burbank California.   This place is an absolute AP factory, with the amount of traffic from both ENL and RES very high.    With turnover I used to cry smurf tears; right now, I shouted with joy – time to do some earning.

This meant the questionable decision to focus as much as possible on Ingress, and ignoring my job.    Dangerous, no ?    And yet, I have the seniority and I’m dealing with a very limited timeframe.   The critical stuff, I was waiting until it was my turn, I couldn’t start yet.   So I judged I could get away with it.

I walked the streets of Burbank and wrecked, fielded, and glyphed like a madman.    ENL players came through and destroyed my hard work.   But I just rebuilt !    And I was stoked.

By the day’s end, I was ahead.   He did not play during the daylight hours.   So, I reasoned, I could probably win this race with this strategy.   I have four days of the week to complete the process, that should be enough.

10/19

Looking good.

Looking good.

Ah, he's ahead again.

Ah, he’s ahead again.

Wednesday was a good day again, with plenty of back and forth and building of fields.    I attended a meeting, then dashed out to field some more.    Then approved documents and discussed business.    Then blew up the local guy’s fields.   By the end of the day, I was again ahead, and went to bed feeling good.

10/20

I am pleased.

I am pleased.

Especially since I was ahead of him.

Especially since I was even with him.

Today I knew would be tougher – there were too many things to do at work that I couldn’t put off.   But I persevered.    I seemed to have discouraged the ENL temporarily, because there was little enemy activity.    Downtown Burbank was completely fielded.

I basked in glow of my accomplishments at the end of the "work" day.

I basked in glow of my accomplishments at the end of the “work” day.

And was thoroughly annoyed at Hack The Destroyer killing it all in 15 minutes or so.

And was thoroughly annoyed at Hack The Destroyer killing it all in 15 minutes or so.

I did manage to refield some of this and conduct other activity, finding myself in a comfortable lead by the end of the day.   This was all going to come down to Friday, a traditionally light day.    I could rebuild, watch it get knocked down, and refield again for the win.

A good lead.   But The Bad Man plays while I sleep.

A good lead. But The Bad Man plays while I sleep.

10/21

The morning did not look good.

Holy Crap !

Holy Crap !

No doubt about it, it would come down to Daytime on Friday.    He would turn this into 40 million over the weekend for sure.    And I was not “working” on Saturday, plus family obligations on Friday.    (Family > Game.   Just saying.)

But thankfully, I drove into Downtown Burbank and found a green city which I promptly wrecked.   I got in early, prowled the streets and played furiously fast.   By 10 am I had the entire area fielded once again.   I even fielded from a key portal, then jarvised it, then refielded for an extra 25k AP.

But there were disquieting signs during the day.   My local ENL agent wasn’t there – took the day off ?    I took his portals and fielded from them, then could field no more.   Now, it was time to wait for the greenies to wreck downtown.

They didn’t oblige.   I had one guy race through and blow a half dozen portals, which I refielded, then the day was over.   Burbank was staying blue, and I was besides myself.    I was COUNTING on refielding one last time.   But maybe the race to 16 wasn’t over.

Downtown Newhall was freshly fielded and, amazingly, not shielded in places.    I took some extra time (Instead of getting my son early to his destination, I played a game.   Bad Dad.) and wrecked fields in Newhall.    It was gloriously large amounts of AP.

That many fields and I really don't care about your AXA my green friend.

That many fields and I really don’t care about your AXA my green friend. 

But……… it wasn’t to be.    I ended the night with 39,750,000 AP.    Instead of conceding defeat, I went to bed and hoped that The Other Guy wasn’t playing tonight.

10/22

Yeah, right.    Unfortunately it ended the way I figured it would.

Yeah, right. Unfortunately it ended the way I figured it would.

I knew he would, after the ribbing I got the day before.   After virtual congratulations – he deserved them – I reflected on my wounded pride.    We got home after a great morning with my boy.   I wrote a blog post.   My daughter is going to Homecoming tonight.   I guess I’m lucky to have a great family, even if I can’t make Level 16 as fast as I wanted to.

It’ll happen, I’m sure this week.    I think I’m done racing.   And Monday, I’ve got some work to do.     But today……. I have some errands to run….

Reflecting on Ingress after 18 months

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Yes, it’s really been that long.    Ever since my “first” day of playing/figuring out the game on April 1 2015, I’ve been at Ingress most every day.    Not every day, or I’d have a Sojourner of more than 207 days, the streak broken by going on a cruise for my 50th birthday.    And that is, now that I think about it, more than 18 months ago.  I am approaching the end of the level grind (38.2 million AP earned) and I’m feeling contemplative.

This is a bit less of a game, than a lifestyle.   On the move somewhere new ?   Pull out your phone Agent !    Also do your daily grind, whatever it is, and keep contributing to the team.   Try not to be seen, but that enemy player you tangle with all the time, it’s usually good fun to at least meet them and shake hands.    Some of them are really good people.    Some are jerks.    All of them start out as strangers, but it’s amazing how many of my teammates have gone from strangers to gamer friends, even those I’ve never met or have only met once.    And there are ENL players I respect and like, and wish they’d switch teams.

Only when playing Ingress have I ever had voices rise out of the ether of the ethernet, and end up shaking hands at unexpected places.   The Queen Mary.    The Ventura County fair.    A random Del Taco.    Several parks of varying levels of cleanliness (The ENL agent once helpfully noted “Don’t step in the dog doo”).    Or breakfast at McDonald’s.

Back last year I was much more intense and focused about the short term stuff – who wins what cycle, can we keep Southern California fielded, making the mega fields.    Now I am more interested in the long term questions.

  1. Just how long will Ingress be available ?    It shows no sign of stopping, Pokemon notwithstanding.   Probably not something to worry about for the next year.
  2. The Balance of Power.    I have watched the SCV crew turn from a deadly dominating Blue force imposing its will on Bluehall (In English, this is Downtown Newhall around the Library), and beyond, to a small force getting kicked around by the greens.   This is in large part due to Res agents retiring or scaling back, much more and much faster than the Enl agents.    All the same green names are still around, along with new muscle, while the blue names have gotten fewer and far between.   Still, the important point is controlling territory, and the SCV isn’t more than 50% green.   The Res team has a lot of fight in it still, but could absolutely use more help.    Time passing brings new possibilities.

Man. And I had a quarter of it fielded the other day with teammates help....

Man. And I had a quarter of it fielded the other day with teammates help….

The Burbank Balance of Power.   At some point I had to quit goofing around and take my job seriously, and I did.    I fight for the downtown Burbank area and that’s about it, but much less often.    I’ve even gotten a smaller area of operations.    Thankfully though, Burbank is a much bigger “pond” than one agent – or “fish” – and my lessened play isn’t catastrophic.   New green agents and disappearing blue agents do mean the balance of power here has shifted from a contested city, to a largely green city.   But with an enthusiastic crew fighting to save humanity (!) led by impressively-time-devoted agents, I can see this turning around at any time.    And admittedly, I spend a lot less time watching the strategic map here, so I may not have an accurate observation.

Edge to ENL. Though I am pleased to note how beautifully blue North Hollywood is !

Edge to ENL. Though I am pleased to note how beautifully blue North Hollywood is !

To win in Ingress (take note too, greenies) you want to maximize the time your team spends in the game and minimize the time the other guys play.    Highly devoted players are your best source of game actions; there will never be a giant wave of Ingressers such that noobs will be a big help.     Nevertheless, everyone was a noob once, so train up your new players and encourage them.    Do what they ask you, to help out, and offer whenever you can.    Try not to let people quit.    Just do something, anything, every day and that is a massive amount of help if it’s adhered to.

The space limitation of 2500 items (with 5 100 key capsules) is a major hassle.    I’m becoming a bit more sanguine about it, and just destroy all kinds of things I used to think were important.   Goodbye, turrets and force amps.    Bye-bye green heat sinks and multihacks.   Later resonators – I don’t actually need to hold more than 40 of any of you.    Bursters, you are my friends.

Circumstances are turning me more into a burn-it-all-down player.    Fielding is my first love, but you need to understand to play the hand you are dealt, and it’s even fun that way, with the right attitude.    So here’s hoping for another 4 hour time-slice where I can burn down some significant green fields again, and reach max level in the biggest Massively Multiplayer game I believe I’ve ever played.

Generally, I am not allowed out of the house.    This is a weird thing for an adult approaching retirement to say, but I seem to have put myself in this position.   I have sat at the computer and surfed the Information Highway my entire life.   Now, I want to head out at various times and be without family ties for a bit, and it doesn’t work out that well; nobody expects it.   I can’t really take an hour drive for no particularly good reason.    That is – unless I’m adventuring with my lifelong buddy !

Ingress addiction is a real thing; I believe I witnessed a couple of scenes from the dissolution of a marriage when a player could not stop.    He’s not around any more to ask, either.   Let’s hope that’s because he managed to patch it up with his wife.    But the point is to be careful, and remember we’re playing a game – even if it is also a lifestyle.    Family always comes first.    All I have to do is look at my surly and angry daughter’s face, or my sunny and happy Boy Scout’s face, to know the truth of that saying.

And the game goes on, for however long it does, with no surrender of either side in sight.

Adding a New Agent

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I finally got around to it – My pal and I (Name Redacted!) went out Ingressing together.

Canyon Country was mostly smoking ruins from players riding around and killing portals, so I picked a route and had us start traveling through town, picking up grey portals and killing the odd one as we went.    My buddy was funny – he asked all the stupid noob questions I had once asked.   Despite having installed the app a month ago, he hadn’t done anything with it.

After we got his feet wet and leveled him up to Level 3, we headed to the cluster of portals by the local movie theater.    I did the heavy blasting, but we had him firing L3 bursters and taking out some links and fields.   After we fielded up the place a bit, we stopped at one of the restaurants.

oggis

PSA : Do not buy 22 ounce beers on an empty stomach and expect to continue Ingressing.   After we talked a ton of shit I took him home; and made one last field before giving up for the night.

His fields lived until Monday – about 36 hours or so – before a green agent decided to wreck most of them.   I got a surprise set of texts from him, asking about all the emails that got sent and the notifications from his phone.    I’ll have to tell him how to turn them off.

But I think I baited the hook correctly – we’re planning on trying this again after he comes back from his trip this week.

It’s a good thing too.   Sunday evening, The Bad Man was active and managed to field the northern LA mountains along with the SCV.    The town is nearly all green, and the blue fields that get created seem to stay up more because of….. exhaustion ?   on the part of the toads.    Downtown Newhall is Green L8’s all the time.    I am absolutely fighting the rearguard action here, scoring fields and disrupting the greens only – and not always successfully.

Those two links still up clearly show the field that was made.

Those two links still up clearly show the field that was made.

But that’s OK.   I get to imagine that the Resistance is fading in the area, as more and more of humanity is sucked into the Shapers plan.   It’s that moment in every movie of the low point, just before the Hero saves the day…….

The Zen Art of Playing while Not Playing

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The Vikings : War of Clans continues, but it’s a different ballgame now.    I think I’m past the Mega Drama, but who knows.

My clan, the United With Honor, went ahead and merged with another clan named Assassin’s Hellgate.    I like almost everyone in the clan, but the clan leader instantly gets on my nerves; I’m sure the feeling is mutual.   That’s OK – you never like EVERYONE in a clan/guild/group, you just have to find a way to play together.

The problem being, in my new clan, troop losses are frowned upon.    VERY frowned upon.    So frowned upon that I was reminded several times not to lose troops, and eventually told in no uncertain terms that if I lost a single additional soldier, I would have “action taken” against me, which is some kind of progressive discipline leading to getting kicked from the clan.

I wised up.    I got my troops out of harms way.

The problem being, I like having a fast army.    The Tier 1 troops are hands down your fastest troops; all levels of scouts are relatively fast too.   The Tier 5 troops include some exceptionally slow ones.    I am currently stuck with a bunch of Tier 5’s – they are basically worse than useless.   They are very slow, and I can’t build them, so all they do is drag the rest of the army down.

And I can’t get them killed to get rid of them, because “Don’t lose a single troop”.   You have no way to disband your soldiers either.

Neither can I farm resources – either dead towns, or tiles.    Each carries the risk of getting hit, and getting hit means losses.   The game is 100% offense, and with rare exceptions, if you can attack another player, you always win.    So since failure is not an option, I don’t farm anymore.    I feel useless to the clan that way, but nobody else seems to share that opinion.    Well, it is what it is.

So to get past all of that, I have abandoned actively playing the game.    The point, which I had to remind myself, is to level up your town and research.   I can do this by hiding all my troops under another players shield, and sending resources to the clan bank.    The more I send, the more I can request back.    I can’t farm resources, but so far, every request for stuff has been met.

And Level 21 town has been achieved; I am a few days away from being able to research my first Tier 4 troop, the scouts; so it’s fun to keep this thing moving, even if I’m playing much less.

State of Ingress, September 2016

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In some ways Ingress is a funny game.   It’s very rewarding to play, quite literally, one action a day – take a portal, blow one up, throw a field, throw a blocking link.    And because one action is fun, two would be more fun right ??????   So the game pushes you to spend more and more time in it.

Recently I am trying more to moderate the amount of time that I’m spending playing the game.    It’s a team game.    I don’t have to do it all myself, I can’t anyway, and the more that I play in Burbank the more my nemesis does, so I’m not exactly accomplishing that much.    Core Ingress concept – maximize your team’s actions while minimizing the other team’s actions.

So I drive past portals now, rather than take them, link them up, etc.    I try to kill key portals, or just do things when I have spare time rather than take up time I could spend for other purposes.

I have a new enemy player with a daytime job in Downtown Burbank.    I haven’t tried to say hi yet; I probably should.    We knock each other’s stuff down, and between the two of us and all the travelers on both sides, Downtown stays unfielded most of the time.

I’ve been playing a fair amount in the SCV, which is where I get my fielding points anyway, and enjoying either creating 3k point fields when possible, or wrecking the greens farm in Newhall.

37 million AP – getting close to 16 – and almost platinum with trekker at 2,389 of 2,500 kilometers walked.

Returning to Everquest 2, 2016 edition

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I was browsing Steam games awhile back (and refusing to buy anything; have to play all the dreck I have already bought and never played) when I noticed a different entry – Everquest 2.

Having played the game forever, and seeing it on Steam, meant that it was time to download it and give it a try once again.   Same with Lord of the Rings Online.    So I let Steam do its thing over the next couple of days and download both games and update them.   Lord of the Rings, however, has yet to be opened.

EQ2 is quite a bit of fun still, the game that I needed at the moment.   It’s very familiar, thoroughly polished, and I know it backwards and forwards.   So I dived in and tried to figure out all the mammoth changes; I keep an eye on things via TAGN posts but otherwise I haven’t thought about the game for (checks blog) right about 3 years.

The current incarnation of EQ2, run by Daybreak instead of Sony (To the extent that’s its a real change and not just a name) includes three levels of account access.   I think.    That’s part of the reason for this post, the actual rules do not appear to be published somewhere I can access them.

It appears there are 3 levels of accounts in EQ2.    Free, Silver, and Gold.    Free is anyone signing up for the first time – makes sense.   Silver appears to be anyone previously in a Gold account, or former subscriber from back in the old days.    Gold is anyone paying $15 a month.

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Why would you want to get a Gold account ?   One would think this would be an obvious, and clear choice; one would be wrong.    A few features are prominently displayed whenever I log in :

  • 500 Daybreak cash (DBC) currency per month (Nice)
  • Ability to sell items on the broker (SUPER NICE!)
  • 10% Discount on the premium store items (Feh)
  • Five additional character slots (Hmmm)
  • Exclusive In Game Items ! (???)

I have not been able to figure out what the “Exclusive In Game Items” are.   The character slots are a mixed bag, since if you let your gold account lapse, those five characters are now lost to you until you resubscribe.   Plus, I have plenty of characters already (7 unlocked, 1 locked).   It feels like the character slot unlocks are a better deal.

The broker, now.   I love the broker.   Always did, always will.   It’s a fun marketplace for items and gives you the chance to make money with enough effort, or a few coins with very little effort; and of course you can buy most anything your heart desires – and your wallet can afford.    So for me, the broker is the real draw for Gold access.

Other reasons are not displayed.  I could only find one.

  • Ability to change the XP / AA slider

This is more useful than it might first appear.   Number one, I forget how all the AA’s work and the additional ones that have appeared after I quit; and number two, I’d like to get Tez up to level 100 (the new max level).   The slider, for Silver accounts, is set at 50/50.

But I have resisted.   I usually subscribe to EQ2, then quit playing, and waste my money.   I hate doing that.   But what I did note is the price of plat, and therefore wondered about the wisdom of paying to sell on the broker.

It costs $15 to place items for sale on the broker for one month; that is, for that month you can place items to sell.   They can sit there forever after and not sell, finally selling after six months, but you cannot place new ones after the month.    Plat prices on the grey / illegal market however are around $15 for 300k platinum.    I could not resist, and I am now sitting on a hoard of plat.   More than I could ever have gathered playing the game.

But prices are inflated too.   These used to go for less than 10 plat.

But prices are inflated too. These used to go for less than 10 plat.

I burned 2,000 DBC on unlocking two additional slots; everyone is unlocked except for my Heroic character from 3 years ago, who I never played – Level 85 Dwarf Guardian.   The tradeskill XP comes fast and furious; with Vitality you can gain a level from a single writ, without it will take maybe 5.   I seem to recall it taking a lot longer back in the day.

So I play, and enjoy.    Tez is still questing; I want him to ding 100 so that a +20% XP bonus kicks in; same for Tlaloc the provisioner; and I’ll continue to look for the reasons / or not reasons/ why one would purchase a gold account.