The Samuel Baldwin Memorial Ingress Portal

The cars zoomed by
the large rock
with the rusting bronze
and the small American Flag
planted by the D.A.R.

No one,
except for the town historian,
an avid genealogist,
who served on the school board,
knew anything
about this
revolutionary war
the first cousin
of her fourth great grandfather
on her mother’s side.

But now,
late at night
young men with cellphones
stop beside the monument
a twenty first century
game of war.

Note: This was written for a writers prompt to describe a landmark. I took a different angle on this and described the landmark, first in terms of the actual, someone obscure landmark, and then brought in aspects of the game Ingress, played on cellphones, in which landmarks are ‘portals’ in the game.

Inside XM Truth

No, that is not a cable news style podcast about the augmented reality game, Ingress, although it could be. It is one of the many ‘glyph hack’ phrases I’ve come to recognize playing Ingress. In the game, you hack portals to get gear for playing the game. They added a new feature several months ago called glyph hacking. If you repeat a pattern on your phone successfully, you get extra gear, and if you do it perfectly, you get glyph hack points. You get more points for more complicated patterns from more powerful portals.

Then, you get badges for depending on the number of points. The highest glyph hacking badge, onyx (or black) requires 50,000 points. I’ve gotten pretty good at glyph hacking and yoday, I got that badge. However, at the level I’m at, other badges become further and further apart.

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Random Ingress Thoughts

This evening, I’m going heading off to an Ingress event. Ingress is an augmented reality game played on smartphones that I’ve been playing and writing about for quite a while. I haven’t written much about it recently because there hasn’t been much to say. I still play regularly and meet with friends I’ve met through Ingress.

There are things I could say about my strategy, but Ingress is a team sport, and I don’t want to advertise my strategy to people on the other team that might take advantage of knowing how I approach playing. I could talk about various milestones. I’m level 15 out of 16 levels. I’ve walked over 1800 kilometers playing the game. People who play Ingress mostly know this already and it probably doesn’t mean much to those that don’t play Ingress.

One of the things I was very interested in, when I started playing, was the story line of the game, but I never got as caught up in the story as I thought I would. I’ve also mostly chosen to simply play and not get involved in some of the drama. There is a lot of drama between players in the game.

It raises some interesting questions about how you manage the community around a multi-player game. I touch on this in a post on an Ingress related forum the other day, but haven’t really thought out the details. This is probably an area well worth the research, and I wonder if any of my old Internet Research friends are starting to do studies on Ingress.

Ingress Stats

It has been a while since I’ve written a blog post about the augmented reality game, Ingress. If you’re not an Ingress player, you may want to skip this post.

I am approaching 100,000,000 XM Recharged and it made me stop and figure. For each 1000 XM recharged, you get ten AP. If the resonators are close to fully charged, you might be able to get ten AP for less recharging than 1000 XM, but to keep things simple, it works out to be 1 AP for every 100 XM recharged. So, 100,000,000 XM Recharged would be a million AP. So, when I get to 120,000,000 XM recharged, I will have recharged enough to make it to Level 8 on just recharging.

This got me thinking, what is the mix of AP that I’ve received? With 125 AP for each resonator deployed, I’m around 7.4 million AP just for deploying resonators. With 500 AP for each portal captured, I’m at about 3.8 million AP for portal captures. I’m at about 2.6 million for resonators destroy and another 2.6 million for fields created.

I find the numbers fairly well reflect my style of play. I’m more of a builder than a destroyer, but when I destroy enemy portals, it is often to take out fields. While I have done a lot of recharging, it remains one of my lesser methods of gaining AP.

The other set of statistics I look at is when I’m likely to get my next badges. Some badges are so far out on the horizon that I doubt I’ll ever get them. For example, at my current rate of play, I’m unlikely to get my next mind controller badge for another 13 years. My next Connector badge is just under 10 years away. But, there are between five and seven badges that I could get within the next year.

All of this is based on the game remaining the same as it is right now, and my level of activity, likewise, remaining the same. However, I expect that we will see more changes over the next year, and my level of play will ebb and flow.

So, how are your Ingress Stats?

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Players Who Suit Ingress

In 1996, Richard Bartle wrote and article, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs in which he explored four basic player types in text based virtual reality games called MUDs or Multi-User Dungeons. He summarizes these types as follows:

So, labelling the four player types abstracted, we get: achievers, explorers, socialisers and killers. An easy way to remember these is to consider suits in a conventional pack of cards: achievers are Diamonds (they're always seeking treasure); explorers are Spades (they dig around for information); socialisers are Hearts (they empathise with other players); killers are Clubs (they hit people with them).

He uses this to explore ideas like game stability and player interactions and recently, I've been wondering how this relates to the Augmented Reality game, Ingress.

In Ingress, players interact with one another, destroying opponents portals, fortifying portals that other faction members have captured, recharging portals, exchanging gear, etc. There is an achievement aspect in terms of what level one is and how much gear one as accumulated.

I suspect that the player styles may change as people level up as well as when an area gets more players of one faction or another, and that each player has a little bit of each style.

For example, I probably started off primarily as an achiever, seeking treasure and trying to level up. Once I reached Level 8 in Ingress, which is currently the highest level possible, my focus on seeking treasure has diminished, but I still seek a basic amount of treasure. Now that I'm Level 8, I tend to move more towards being an explorer or a socializer. I like exploring new areas and I like interacting with players.

I've met some players who fit very nicely in the into the socializer category, always dropping inventory for new players and helping them get started. I've ran into players who remain very focusing on achievement, trying to build up Level 8 farms, and gather as much gear as they can from them. I've run into others that focus mostly on tearing down other people's farms.

Another component of Ingress is establishing links and fields. With this there are several different styles, that I haven't really figured out how they best fit to Bartle's model. Some people rarely link, or create links to support a farm. Others create long wild links, which make it difficult for others to link but don't serve any other apparent purposes. These links are used to establish fields. Some people establish large fields, mostly as an achievement, which the killers take down as soon as possible. Others create lots of small fields, overlapping as much as possible.

Bartle spends a bit of time talking about interactions between different styles of players and it is useful to read through the section, think about what sort of player you are, what sort of players are around you in your faction, and what sort of players are in the opposing faction. It may provide insights that can make the game more fun for players, no matter what style they adopt.

So, do you play Ingress? What style of player are you? What style of players are around you in your faction? What style of players dominate the opposing faction? How do these insights change the way you approach the game? Or, do you think Bartle's ideas don't translate to Ingress? Is there something that better explains player interactions? Let me know your thoughts.

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