Playing Ingress and Pokemon Go in parallel

People are playing Ingress and Pokemon Go in Parallel. Both games use the same geo-located points and walk the same routes. They have the same places to farm and combat. I started playing Ingress again, but only a few minutes here and there. As I play I see new faces and new people at Ingress portals. They are no longer my age or older. They are much younger, in their teens.

Yesterday as the neighbours were having a party I decided to take advantage of the excuse to go out and play Ingress. I went to the four or five portals in my village. At the village church I saw a youth drive up to it on a scooter, farm via the Pokemon Go layer and then leave. Nothing changed on the Ingress layer. No damaged resonators, no upgrades.

I like that people can play two entirely different games at the same location. I see this as the future of geo-located games. I see this as the next wave. The physical world provides the location and then the layer (or game) provides the user interface, the virtual world we interact with. With imagination more and more layers can be added. This will provide people with choice.

The next step is smartwatches and augmented reality goggles. Those who have played Ingress intensively know where all the portals are so they can put their phone away when walking from point to point. The same is probably true of Pokemon Go players. One person wrote that he uses his smartwatch to farm when walking around. Imagine if Google Glass had come out now. If it had come out now, with the Pokemon Go craze people would buy them.

At the moment to play pokemon Go and Ingress you walk in a position, that given time, will turn us in to hunchbacks. Rather than being from manual work in a field or a coal mine it will be from walking staring at a phone. I write this with a certain sense of humour. The market for Augmented reality goggles is ripe. Device manufacturers should grab this opportunity while it lasts.

Ingress no more

Somewhere in Geneva

For months I was passionate about Ingress. I was passionate about the game until fuel costs, parking costs, device costs and time costs were too high. When you play from level one to eight the game is fun. You progress quickly and you meet new people. You discover new places and it’s enjoyable.

As you reach level 8 and above the game becomes more like a chore. You have to walk hundreds of kilometres and you need to perform tens of thousands of actions to progress anymore. Every medal takes time. This time, when you drive from the countryside to a town or city is money.

Imagine doing something different. Imagine writing or taking pictures. Imagine reading current affairs articles or donating time to an event or charity. Imagine what you could walk away with. Imagine what achievements you could tell people about.

The biggest waste of time with the game of Ingress is farming. Farming in the game refers to hacking portals to get weapons, mods, shields and more. I find farming to be the most boring and tedious part of the game. You spend two or three hours farming and within twenty minutes your stock is empty.

Imagine if you had used that time to go for an energetic bike ride.

Fribourg was liberated by Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva Ingress resistance fighters

This weekend teams of Resistance Ingress agents from Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva met in Fribourg to neutralise and capture all Enlightened portals. Some teams were on foot to liberate portals from the centre of the city. I was with the bike team and we took care of liberating all of the portals on the outskirts. It involved cycling up and down hills, a thunderstorm and being rained on.

I really enjoyed being part of the cycling team. It’s a fantastic way to get around and it’s a good way of seeing a big portion of unfamiliar cities with a minimum of effort. My team members were on electric bikes and I was on a mountain bike. This was great for me. I had to work hard to keep up with them. This was a good workout. There were moments where I generated up to an estimated 1300 watts of power for very short bursts and got the fifth best time on a segment.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I would love to do this again in other cities around here. Cycling gave me a workout and playing Ingress gave me time to recover. It seems that if you’re creating fields having a bike is ideal. You can get almost anywhere from anywhere within a city within minutes with a minimum of effort. By car this would be dangerous and impractical and on foot it would be slow and impractical.

Ingress Operation Apache, Covering Geneva in Blue.

Operation Apache

Operation Apache

Ingress is a selfless game when you play as a team. The driver gets no AP. Other operators get a few AP for breaking portals. Three individuals gets hundreds of thousands of Mind Units (MU). Rather than feel a sense of achievement I feel fatigue.

The first reason is to do with the hangouts. You have to be serious. When I work in a team I want to be able to joke around. The most fun you have is with people who know what they’re doing and despite the stress have fun doing it. When you do something for free this is even more important.

The second is driving a hundred kilometres. I don’t like driving without something to do at the destination. I also prefer to be active during daylight hours rather than once the sun sets. I am not a vampire.

The three day rains don’t help either. Three days of rain, seeing the Arve saturated and very high. The Pont Rolex is a metre from being flooded.

Friday I drove three hundred and seventy kilometres for another operation. I drove an hour to the location and an hour back from the location. On this previous up the engine had run for six and a half hours.

I drove up one slope and fire crews were present. They allowed me to go on and I drove up beside the stream running down. The water wasn’t too deep but there were a lot of stones and mud. I felt the car loose traction so tried to keep my speed up. I saw where a storm drain intended to take water in was overflowing like a spring.

In total I drove 470km on half a tank of diesel so fuel wise it was probably still cheaper than driving to meet people in Geneva. I think I’ll take a break from communal activities and play solo. I’ll stick to Via Ferrata and hiking as team activities. I will feel good about the op in a few days, when the sun starts to shine again.

Ingress and it’s barrier to entry

Google has an excellent reputation for server uptime and reliability. They pride themselves on making processes so efficient that hundredths of seconds after a request is sent the answer. As a result of their very high work ethic and desire to excel logic would indicate that Niantic labs would follow the same work ethic and strive for the same quality of service.

Over the last few months of game play I have found they resemble an early twitter. Loading the game for the first time of the day can take several attempts, loading the inventory can be unreliable, charging portals can be unreliable and sometimes trying to do any action can fail 70 to 80 percent of the time for several hours in a row.

Unreliability is perfectly normal for web services. They are pushing the envelope and they need to find ways to do new things and prevent bottle necks. Twitter had severe issues for months and so did many other services.

A few people say that Ingress is a free game, that because it is free we shouldn’t worry about unreliable actions.

Ingress is not a free game. At the very least it takes a lot of time to play such a game. Levelling up can take progressively longer going from hours from the first levels to months or even years for the higher levels.

There are a number of costs associated with Ingress:

A smartphone:
A local data plan
International roaming plan
A battery pack
A car or other form of transport
parking space
Hotel rooms

You also have to consider whether you live in a village or a town or city. If you live in a village you may have to travel to another village several kilometres before you can play the game. I created the account but did not play until several months later due to a lack of local portals. Towns and cities have a lot of portals so this is a city slicker game.

If you drive half an hour, from the country side to a city to play the game and when you arrive at your destination and the game is laggy then you have wasted money on petrol, you have wasted time on driving and you have to wait until the next weekend to play.

As I have said lag and server issues are part of online life. From 1996 to 2015 I have grown accustomed to these problems and have no issues. I am less forgiving of companies whose policies make servers issues worse. Niantic labs is making mistakes. They created a new badge to encourage people to sign up more accounts which resulted in more server stress and a degraded quality of service. They then encouraged people to make mega fields which the servers can’t deal with. We have seen that every single time a megafield is created the game suffers for periods of time ranging from a few minutes to a few hours. Yesterday agents created a 6880km link which resulted in a degraded quality of service for hours afterwards.

If Niantic labs and the story line continue encouraging actions that Ingress servers cannot cope with then I will see my passion for the game degrade further. My willingness to drive 40 minutes to participate in activities will vanish.

I am not picking on Niantic labs and ingress. I have seen twitter have problems, I have seen facebook have problems. I have seen Seesmic have issues. I have seen suunto movescount have issues. I have let each of these companies know that I expect more.

I will only continue using an unreliable service as long as I don’t find a better alternative.

A proposal for a crowdsourced portal acceptance system for Ingress agents.

People love to submit portals and portals add excitement to Ingress. The more portals there are the busier you are. Cities are fantastic places for ingress players for this reason. Geneva, Barcelona, Neuchatel and other cities already have hundreds if not thousands of portals but go to the swiss countryside, the spanish sea side or away from big cities and portals are few and far between. As a result of this rural players don’t have much to do unless they get in a car and create megafields.

What I propose is a crowdsourced portal acceptance system. The system would have two features:
Proximity to other portals. If you’re in the middle of the countryside and the portal is submitted then it is moved to the top of the submission list for quick approval. By getting remote locations to have higher portal density so users are encouraged to become more active. As people see them play so new players are encouraged to join in the game.

The second variable is based on geographic location. If a player in New York submits a portal then a player in Madrid from L9 or above sees the portal submission and decides whether or not it is too close to other portals, whether it is legitimate and whether it is worth validating. If a player from Paris submits a portal then a player can accept or refuse that portal.

Of course the second feature requires for the Portal acceptance interface to be opened up to players of level 9 or higher. The permissions would only be “approve” or “reject”. will allow players to question the submission and let a group of people decide on the future of specific portals.

Gimel’s Ingress Mission

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 16.25.58

The views as I drove up to this ingress mission were beautiful. I could clearly see the Jet D’eau in Geneva and the streets of Lausanne on the other side. I could see how light was playing with clouds to provide enjoyable views. Gimel is a village/town in the Jura surrounded by forest and fields. The mission is a six kilometre run or walk. At this time of year wear snow shoes as other shoes will get wet. You start from the village centre and head north to the first check point. You follow field paths until the next checkpoint 1.2 kilometres away across mud paths. Once you get to the second check point the path is road without pavement so be careful of oncoming traffic.

The first and last checkpoints of this mission require that you upgrade the portals so make sure that you are able to. It would be a shame to go on a 6.2 kilometre walk only to find that the mission cannot be completed due to the portals being fully upgraded.