If you’ve been on Google+ any time in the last couple of months, you would have most likely seen the word ‘Ingress’ in trending topics. Infact, Ingress was trending for most of month of December.
When I saw that word, the first thing I did was Google it and I found this video:
A set up video for a new game, even though they insist that it is’t a game!
The description gives some more information (as read like a release):
Published on 15 Nov 2012
This world around you is not what it seems. Our future is at stake, and you must choose a side.
A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.
“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us.
“The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.
Install Ingress and transform your world.
When this video was released, Ingress wasn’t available in the Australian Play Store. It wasn’t until 22nd December 2012 that it was finally released here. That didn’t stop a number of players in Australia side loading it though.
Even with the application installed, you will still need and invite or an activation code.
What is Ingress?
The Ingress application operates as a ‘scanner’ in the Niantic Project Augmented Reality game. It is through this scanner that you see the ‘mysterious energy’, or Exotic Matter (referred to in-game as XM), and can interact with the Portals in the game.
You can get deeply involved in the story, or you can just play the game. It is essentially a Red vs Blue (or Green vs Blue game in this case) with a capture the flag element, played out in a 1:1 scale. The ‘Portals’ are an escape for the XM. Pending the side (faction) you have chosen, you will want to take over portals that are controlled by your opposition and defend your own. As Enlightened, you want to see lots of green. But if you’re part of the Resistance, then blue is your colour. You destroy the other factions control on their portals and claim them for yourself. You create links between Portals, and when you have linked 3 together, you have created a ‘Control Field’ which covers an area and adds to the global Mind Units (MU’s) score.
For those who want to really get involved in the story, aside from media which you pick up in the game, there are daily communication from Niantic daily which give clues about elements changing in the game or are set up for future events. People look deeply in to these messages and decrypt elements which provide passcodes, which can be used to claim elements in-game. These are usually shared between players in the applications communication section, but there are limits on how many players cam claim them.
The scanner interface
The interface is simple to use, with an OPS button up top to access information about your Items, Intel (which side is winning at the time), Mission (which at this time is only training), Recruit (which isn’t active as yet) and Device (which displays who you are signed in as, provides link to the Help Centre, the ability to resync the game data and change your sound volumes). I started out playing the game on a mobile phone and then later moved to playing it on my Nexus 7 tethered to my phone. The interface is less cramped on larger screens as you can see on the screenshots below.
There is an in-games comms screen which allows chat just between your faction or a public chat which the other team can see. The communications IS geo-based (so if you post a comment from your house, it is possible someone could work out when you live) which allows you to filter all correspondence within 20 klms (Local), 200 klms (Regional) or Global. I have seen many people (including myself) accidentally put something in the public stream which was meant for the private stream, which could mean stealth attack aren’t so stealthy.
To submit a portal, you have to take a geo-tagged photo of a location, in the nature of the game a stature or prominent landmark, then share it to ‘NIA Super Ops’, name it then submit. At the moment, it can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks for a portal to be submitted.
When logging in to the application for the first time (after entering an activation code), you are prompted to choose a Faction (note: it is possible to change faction later, but note, they are only allowing 1 change) and an Agent ID.
Once in, you are taken through a set of Missions which act as a tutorial to the basic principles of the game: collecting XM, finding portals, hacking portals, deploying resonators, linking portals and creating control fields.
In the game, think of XM as your strength and AP (Action Points) as your development. Hacking enemy portals, destroying or deploying resonators, linking portals, creating control fields, upgrading and recharging resonators all gives you AP. Each action you make uses some XM to complete.
At this stage there are 8 Levels in the game. As you level up, you gain access to higher level resources to either build stronger portals or have more powerful weapons to take down the other factions Portals. Whilst this means it’s easier to take down lower level resources of opposing factions, as the game has progressed, it is making it harder for lower level players to enter the game and level themselves up quickly. This is something that may have to be addressed by Niantic at a later date.
There is a bit to learn tactics wise in the game, such as standing further away from a portal when deploying resonators will spread them out further and they will be harder to destroy with XMP Bursters or standing at the location of a resonator will do significantly much more damage to that resonator than standing at the center of the portal and doing a small amount of damage to each resonator.
As the game requires a constant data connection, GPS and/or WiFi to be enabled for location accuracy (it’s needed) and the screen being on all the time, the program does use a LOT of battery! I consumed 80% of my SGSII battery in 1 hour!
Because of this, I’ve taken to playing the game on my Nexus 7, tethered to my SGSII with it’s GPS on. I’ve found this way, whilst listening to music as well, I use 20-30% of the SGSII’s battery in an hour. The Nexus 7 uses about the same.
I do find the number of emails that the game send quite annoying. You get an email When someone destroys a resonator you have deployed, a Link or a Control Field you created. Whilst this can be useful in defending your portals (they emails come through almost instantly), the influx of emails can be annoying. At this stage there is no known way to disable them. To get around this you can set up filters in GMail.
Whilst I play the game I ask myself the question, what is Google getting from all the information be collected in this crowd sourced game, there has to be something right? Better location mapping? Interesting locations? Behavioral patterns of players? Either way, the game is fun and can be quite addictive whilst fighting to keep your side in the balance.
The game is a Public Beta and I have seen glitches in the application and game play. I have heard some rumors that the game will always remain in beta, similar to previous releases by Google and will always be by invite or getting an activation code.
But waiting for an Activation Code can take WEEKS!
Well, it happens that we have 2 Activation codes to give away! In the comments below, tell us which faction you would join and why! Get your answers in by 5pm on Sunday 3 February 2013 and we will judge the best answer and give the code to that person on Monday 4 February! Make sure that your comment profile has an email address attached so we can contact you.
Be warned: the game is addictive and you will want to defend your portals!
This article was written by Daniel Porter, Tia’s husband, as a guest post for Ausdroid.