Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ingress

Well, for the last 2-months I've been playing a game called Ingress. It's pretty addicting and a lot of fun, but it also requires that you walk around and not just a game where you sit on your backside. Ingress is a near-real-time augmented reality massive multiplayer online video game created by Niantic Labs for Android devices and is played globally.

The game has a complex back-story which Google is revealing in segments. The primary goal of the game is defend the takeover of the human race by an unknown “Shaper” force or, depending on your perspective, to assist in an “Enlightenment” of mankind through an alliance with the Shapers. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units controlled by each Faction.


This is accomplished by aligning with either the Resistance or the Enlightened faction and by creating “Control Fields” over geographic areas. Control Fields are established by claiming Portals and then linking those Portals together to form Fields. More powerful Portals can link over longer distances (up to hundreds of kilometers).  The link range of a Portal is determined by the power of the attached Resonators. Portal Keys are needed to form links. When three Portals are linked to form a triangle, a Control Field is established over the region. It will be rendered on the Scanner as a hazy blue or green field over the area. The number of Mind Units claimed is related to the population density of the area covered. Cities yield more Mind Units than rural areas.

The backstory of the game is as follows:
Earth has been seeded with “Exotic Matter” (XM) by the Shapers, mysterious extraterrestrials who are neither described nor seen. The in-universe motivation for the Enlightened faction is their belief that the Shapers are working toward a powerful enlightenment which will uplift all mankind. The Resistance believes that it is protecting humanity from Shaper ingression. The factions have been, however, occasionally observed to ignore the back-story and to co-operate for the sake of real-life gameplay and game balance, for example by establishing neutral zones and rules of engagement. 
A player using the mobile app (Droid phones only) is presented with a map representing the area nearby. The map has a black background; streets and buildings are represented in grey, but not named. Visible on the map are portals, Exotic Matter (XM), links, control fields, portal keys, and items that have been dropped from a player's inventory. Players must be physically near objects on the map to interact with them. The mobile client represents the player as a small arrow in the center of a 40-meter circle which represents the perimeter within which direct interaction is possible.

The makers of the game have seeded the earth with a large number of “Portals”, visible to those using the game software. They are colored green, blue, or grey, depending on whether they are controlled by the Enlightened, the Resistance, or Neutral (controlled by neither faction at that point in time). A portal with no resonators is unclaimed; to claim a portal for a faction, a player deploys a resonator on it. Each portal may be equipped with up to eight resonators and four modifications ("mods").

Portals are typically associated with landmarks such as sculptures and other public art, libraries, post offices, memorials, places of worship, and notable buildings. Players may submit requests for the creation of new portals, and the number of portals has increased steadily over the lifetime of the game.

A portal may be equipped with up to eight resonators, all from the same faction; that faction owns the portal. Resonators have levels, ranging from L1 to at least L8. A player can deploy resonators only up to the player's own level, and there are rules about how many of each level they can deploy. A portal also has a level, which is the sum of its resonators' levels divided by the number of slots (8), rounded down to the nearest integer unless the average is less than 1 in which case it would be rounded up to L1. Resonators, when deployed, are fully charged. The charge level decays spontaneously over time at the rate of approximately 15% per day; when it reaches zero, the resonator is destroyed. Players may recharge resonators. This may also be done remotely, if the player is in possession of the respective portal's key. 

A portal may be equipped with up to four mods. As of June 2013, there are six types of modification available: Shields, Force Amplifiers, Link Amplifiers, Multi-hack, Heat sinks, and Turret mods.

Many interactions with portals consume XM; the game software provides a continuous display of the player’s XM reserves (a bar along the top of the phone screen). XM is scattered across the map of the world, represented on the player's map by small, bright, glowing, drifting blobs. If a player’s XM reserves are not full, any XM that comes within the player’s perimeter of interaction is automatically sucked in and added to the reserves. XM is distributed sparsely on the map, except near portals, where clusters of new XM regularly appear. XM may also be replenished (as of April 2013) by using Power Cubes or “recycling” unwanted inventory items. Items 

A player’s inventory may include Resonators, XMP Bursters, Mods, Portal Keys, Portal Shields, Media, Power Cubes, and refactoring "viruses." These can be obtained primarily by “hacking” portals, an operation provided by the mobile client when the portal is within the interaction perimeter. This consumes XM, takes a few seconds to complete, and yields either a variable number of items or none at all. A player may hack portals belonging to either faction. There are limits on how frequently a player may hack a portal (5-minutes between hacking the same portal).

To attack a portal owned by the opposing faction, a player fires an XMP Burster using the mobile client. XMP Bursters have levels; a player may fire XMP Bursters up to his or her own level. The success of the attack depends on the relative levels of the XMP Burster and the resonators, whether or not the portal is equipped with shields, and the physical location of the attacker relative to the resonators. Successful attacks reduce the charge levels of the resonators; when a resonator is reduced to zero, it is destroyed. When all eight resonators are destroyed, the portal turns grey, whereupon the attacker may claim it for their faction by deploying, at a minimum, a single resonator. A portal which is under attack may in turn attack the attacking player; this depletes the player’s XM reserves. A player may defend a portal that is under attack by recharging resonators and deploying replacements for destroyed resonators. Recharging a portal may be done using the mobile client for any portal for which the player has a key, even if the player is not near the portal at the time.

A player within the interaction range of a portal may link it to another portal, if the player has a portal key for the destination, if the link would not intersect an existing link, and if the other portal is within the first portal’s linking range, which in turn depends on its level. The portal that the player is the nearest is called the origin portal, while the portal being linked to is called the destination portal. Only a portal key for the destination portal is needed, which is consumed when a link is created. When three portals are linked in a triangle, a Control Field is created. The space occupied by the field is claimed for the player’s faction, which is rewarded with a number of Mind Units dependent on the population density and size.



Players begin at Level 1 and progress through levels by accumulating Action Points (AP); the highest known level is L8. Players receive AP for hacking opposing portals, destroying resonators, deploying and upgrading resonators (with extra points for claiming a portal with the first resonator, and completing its complement with the eighth), breaking links, making links, and breaking and creating control fields.

I love playing this game as it gets you out and about. I play on the Enlightened side and there is a group of us from Lodge who play this. Of course one of the portals in my town in the Masonic Temple. Right now this game is still in Beta Testing, but you can go to www.ingress.com and request an invite or if you know someone have them send you an invite. In addition to needing a Droid system you must use a GMail account to play the game.

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