Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Ingress Postmortem

So I've written off-and-on about Ingress, a game I was able to get into the beta of a couple of years ago.  It's a game I have now walked away from.

I uninstalled it while in Spokane, and opted out of their data transfer.

Data Transfer?

See, as part of Google's "Alphabet" thing, they cut Niantic Labs loose. So, to keep your Ingress login, you needed to authorize a transfer of your personal data to the "new" Niantic Labs.

See, I know Google. I've been using Google for more than a decade, now.  Google isn't perfect, but I trust Google with a great deal of my personal information.

But small companies have this unfortunate habit of not surviving, and personal information entrusted to a business that doesn't survive is (often) up for grabs.

The fact that I was increasingly disillusioned with the game didn't hurt.  It was never a very good game. It was just something I could do when I was somewhere and had nothing to do. But I found myself growing frustrated.

A new player - to get anywhere in the game - needs to hook up with (ideally) a group of more experienced players. Because otherwise they will never get anywhere.

The game revolves around going to point of interest (called "portals" in the game) and claiming them for your side with Resonators. Or blowing up your opponents' resonators with XMP Bursters.

Here's the thing, though: Level One gear is basically useless against higher-level gear.  And new players right now are going to have a difficult time finding unclaimed portals.  So they can't (effectively) blow up opposing gear. And, unless opposing gear is blown up, they can't place resonators.

This means that Level One players have two ways to gain experience and level up:

1) Recharge friendly Resonators (which decay over time unless recharged).
2) Hack opposing portals.
3) Link friendly portals and create fields.

Recharging costs you personal energy, but gains you 10 AP per recharge. And it's boring.
Hacking opposing portals gains you 100 AP. And gives you gear.

You need 2500 AP to level up to Level 2.

Gear caps at Level 8, so the only benefit to getting to a level higher than that is more personal energy that could be used to recharge things. Players can get to Level 16, now (originally, they were also capped at Level 8).

Oh - and you can only hack opposing portals once every five minutes, and a maximum of four times per day (by default - there are ways to speed this up).

Linking portals to create fields is nice, but higher-level players tend to use up all of the available links on a portal. And you can't create a link through another link, so it's possible to be cut off with no possible links.

In theory, Level One players can also deploy portal mods to gain XP, but I so rarely saw portals with open slots because  higher-level players often took steps to protect their portals. Not only that, but at least one portal mod is pointless in urban areas, which is where most of the portals are.

XMPs are pointless until you are Level 4 or 5. Even then, you need to look for an already-weakened portal (or travel in a pack with a bunch of higher-level players) to take out any opposing resonators.

In other words: To get anywhere, you need to get together with higher-level players.

If I'm getting together with friends, walking around with my phone clicking on local points of interest is very low on my list of things to do. I'd much rather ... um ... talk to them. And it's hard to chat when your eyes are on your phone and you're trying not to walk into things (and people).

As an introvert, this very much was not a game for me.

There's not really a skill component, so the only way to get "good" (meaning "high level" in this case) is to grind. And the best way to grind is to live in an urban area with a lot of portals and then get together with people to walk around while staring at your phone.

I was Level 10. Almost to Level 11.  Out of 16. Most of my play was done while sitting in a parking lot waiting for my wife.

I realized that I could just spend that time reading a book. It'd be less-frustrating and more fulfilling.

So I quit. I uninstalled the game, I deleted my account, and I walked away.

There are people who like this game. There are people who will see leveling up as a challenge and something fun to do.

I'm just not one of them.

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