As I sit worrying about about employment, sickness, and health during the COVID-19 scare it got me thinking about Ingress. It’s now been almost 6 months since I’ve played the game.
I am no longer playing. The game I used to play is gone; there are plenty of resources that let you learn about Scanner Redacted and Prime and the technical challenges faced. My experience was simple : since the game isn’t fun anymore, I don’t play. The Prime scanner ruined it.
But Oh My God. I miss this game. I used to enjoy going places – real places, you know, in the real world – to find out what portals I could capture, and how I could protect the human beings in a specific place in the real world. The absence of enemy fields, or better yet a protective field over the area. The ragtag group of other players – IE, other secret agents – all working together to defeat the other team. The discovery aspect of going some place you would not normally travel to, just to pick up a portal. Traveling for whatever reason and you’re standing at a game location, time to take action.
There are all kinds of “Augmented Reality” AR games out there but they all follow a Pokemon Go model. Here’s that model to me : Go someplace in real life, and take actions on your phone. There’s no real connection between the place, and the real world. Sure, you can get that Water Pokemon by finding a river, but that’s only a tenuous connection with the real world. Harry Potter and Minecraft Earth all struggle to bring the same kind of magic back that exists in Ingress.
It seems like it’s mostly a question of teamwork and planning. I loved poring over the Intel Map, looking for openings to create this field or that. I loved coordinating with other players as teams tried to create Big Ass Field (BAF’s) that would cover huge areas. I managed one covering Santa Clarita and the City of Burbank. They were GLORIOUS things to do. I also failed to create one covering the entirety of Southern California, and it was fun in its own way.
Then there were the BAF’s which I participated in for some other players. They usually weren’t successful, but never because of my group – it was always somewhere else. That’s a fun record to look back on. And then there was the time the entire Ingress world was watching me stop a multi state BAF from coming into existence.
Somebody has to bring that gameplay back into the world. It’s still there, in Prime, but the client is awful for technical and artistic reasons. But most of all, because it’s not fun playing the game any longer, since the client sucks that bad.
Someone has to design a game that :
- It’s like Ingress
- Territory control battle between teams
- Keep it friendly and competitive, but not angry and vicious (this was a real problem)
- Sense of discovery
- Impetus to travel
- Rewards for cooperation
- Connection to real world
- Enslaving humanity and/or protection of the world
- Bonus points if you can set it up so each team thinks the other one is the bad guys. Ingress did a fantastic job with this.