Category Archives: Ingress

The Geo Caching game that enhances the world around you.

Emerald Specter 25: Round Up

coveremeraldspecter

I embark on the 25th Emerald Specter column without a specific topic, but I’ll be doing a lot of writing… so strap yourself in, this ride is going to be all over the place.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought, lately, to covering topics on a regular basis on the site. I have seriously toyed with doing a political column/show on the site and it was only this morning that I have decided that would consume an enormous amount of my time to produce, so I’ve decided not to cover that. However, I will be posting a political thing here before Trump’s inauguration… specifically dealing with the promises he made on the campaign trail and we’ll revisit those when his term as President is over. Everyone who supported him supported those things, as well as his misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, and racism… we’ll see if the ultimate liar holds up to his promises or buckles under the weight of actually being the President.

Along with that topic, I’ve also been considering covering the sports that I enjoy watching as a reporter… specifically the UFC, One Championship, the NFL, sumo, the Barclays Premier League, MLS, and professional chess. Once again, that would eat up an enormous amount of my time but that is still on the table. I don’t need to report all the injuries, the play by play, or anything like that… covering sports is different than, say, politics, but I’m still not committed to doing that, yet. Starting out small would be the preferred way to do that, obviously.

Dude, you’ve talked a lot about nothing so far and you’re already almost 300 words into this column. 

Yes, I am, but I’m far from done.

My SpecterFit column went into the 40s for numbering and then just suddenly stopped. There are a couple of reasons for that but I’ll concentrate on the real barrier first: free time. SpecterFit requires that I put a little more effort into it than just a regular column and since I’ve gone back to delivering mail rather than supervising, I am finding it hard to squeeze all the things in I want to do in a day. This column, the Emerald Specter column, has been written ahead of time for the past month or so and as I write this I’m only a single column ahead (where I was four ahead when I initially got this thing back up and running). The other thing that stalled out the SpecterFit was my attempt to resurrect WAFFLE in the SpecterFit form… something I just don’t have time to organize and run like I did before. SpecterFit will return with less soul crushing “dictating from on high” and will morph more into a “tips and tricks” type thing. I’m also probably going to go with the “Nerd Fitness” type thing where I relate fitness to something you can geek out about in the process. Time will tell.

In the world of comics, I collect myself some titles. Spider-Man (the Miles Morales one), Moon Knight, Harbinger: Renegades, and I’m looking into a few others. Yes, that’s two Marvel comics and a Valiant. I really, really want to review comics and whatnot but with me only having three titles, and DC not really having anything that interests me at the moment, I don’t think I’d be doing the medium a service. I also don’t believe that many people would follow that, so I’m going to hold that on the back burner… the WAY back burner.

Where does all that “I’m not doing this” leave us? Well, it lets me cover the items I am doing and explain what is probably coming down the pipe in the near future.

Obviously, the Emerald Specter column is living and still breathing, so I’m going to go ahead and say this is safe to stick around for the future. This would be the only column that is currently running regularly and I’ll surpass the SpecterFit column in numbering before I pick that one back up. I think the self titled stuff should all be higher numbered than the other stuff, don’t you?

The three year running Greatest Show is doing just fine, too. We’ve just finished episode 102 as I write this and we’re going to be entering some non-typical shows into the mix so that we aren’t exhausting our discussion topics weekly. Episode 103 will be a Greatest Show Fight Series event (GSFS), which will be all of us in the UFC 2 game simulating a fighting event. I’m talking about this in the “coming soon” tense but you’ll have already seen it because we needed to take a week off for Thanksgiving. We will have more shows like that, some that are different in nature, some that will happen between discussion episodes, and then there is what we discussed on our last episode that will be likely helping us through the next 100-150 episodes (at least).

We are going to start roleplaying on the air.

In episode 102, I ran Bob and Metal Jesus through character creation for a game called Green Team, which is utilizing the White Wolf Storyteller system and is a story of my own design. Metal Jesus and Bob will also be running stories but mine will be the first one. The likely format of this bad boy is probably going to be a three hour show, beginning with a half hour (or solid hour) or witty banter, followed by two hours of roleplaying, then either just ending the show or finishing with another half hour of witty banter as a “wrap up.” While my story will be the one pushing the first few episodes like this, I’m hoping a rotation of games will fall into line so that if I don’t feel like running the game, I can certainly play instead.

Moving right along… the Specter Show.

I’ve been talking about doing this damn show for over a year now. I was going to launch the show in January of 2016 and as I write this in late November of 2016, you can see not one episode has been produced. I am going to launch this show, I am just trying to figure out when would be a good time. The topic will be whatever the hell I want to talk about, some will be longer, some will be shorter, but I’m aiming for a 30-60 minute weekly show to start things off, with the intention of running five episodes a week (Monday through Friday) as if I was on the actual radio. I’d like to be on the actual radio, too, so that is part of why I’m angling the show to be what I’ve just said. Wouldn’t that be fun?

And now for something completely different: the ESPL. I’m going to run the ESPL, expanding the depth of the league, for at least 10 years. That will be 10 seasons of the characters gaining specifically assigned positions, the league growing to be at least the two tiers I’ve already announced, and hopefully attracting others that want to be involved. Ideally, I am interested in knowing if anyone out there wants to jump in and take the reigns at some point in the future. I’m not depending on this, I’ll certainly just close the place down when I’m done running the thing, but I am enjoying the logo design (kits are coming in the future, too, kids) and running the simulations. Running this has also encouraged me to run something else I’ve been interested in running for some time…

An MMA simulated league. Unlike the ESPL, though, which is designed to basically be a simulation of realistic teams in a realistic scenario that is completely plausible… and the ESPL was specifically designed to be a way for me to create logos and practice my graphic design skills, the MMA league would be different. I’m going to change the MMA simulation to be more embracing of the digital nature of what I’m doing. That means instead of Heavyweight, Middleweight, Lightweight, etc for weight classes, I’m going to base them more off of digital denotations like Gigaweight, Megaweight, and Kiloweight. These will be “digital fighters” and I’ve already been setting up the framework for what is about to blast onto the scene here at Emerald Specter.com. As with the ESPL, the digital MMA will be an outlet for my graphic designing in the form of the “fight posters” for the events. The ESPL limits me to logos for specific clubs, where the MMA league will be about drawing attention to a more general design for posters and whatnot. If you saw some of my WAFFLE posters, you saw that I was heading into a beautiful era of graphic design… unfortunately, I’ve not had the outlet that I did before.

I want to simulate sumo, too, though I don’t have a graphically specific reason for doing so. As I write this, I realize that the other two leagues were for a specific reason (as would an American Football league, if I decided to launch one of those). I’ve also toyed with another racing league (NASCAR-esq, I have the groundwork laid but I haven’t been driven to design anything for it yet) but that is on the back burner.

Finally (what, finally?), I’d like to talk about the writing that I’ve been trying to get to forever. I really want to write novels, short stories, comic scripts, movie scripts, television scripts, and whatever else but I’ve stalled out consistently and that has left me in a bit of a scenario where I’m not really sure how to accomplish what I’m after.

NaNoWriMo is almost over and I’ve written a grand total of just under 6,000 words, which is 44,000 short of the 50,000 word goal. I need to set up a time and place to write and I need to write a specific amount of words or pages in that time in order to be allowed to move on. If I took a Sunday, for example, and woke up at 8 AM, wrote until I got 5,000 words done and then shifted into the Specter Show, after which I went into simulating the ESPL and the MMA leagues (or designing that which needs to be designed, as that is mostly the point of why I’m doing them), and then finished the day with whatever else I wanted to do, that would be a nice schedule. It shoots one entire day out of the water for doing much of anything else, but with NFL season running right now I’ve not really got a lot planned on a Sunday other than watching a game or two and staying home. No harm, no foul… I just schedule a bunch of other stuff in there and make it a productive day.

If you’ve read this far, then you’re a trooper or you really wanted to know what the hell I was going to write about. Thanks for sticking with this as long as you have and I’d like to tell you that I’m almost double my normal column word count… I try to write about 1,000 words and this sentence is in the 1,800 range, which is pretty sweet. I won’t keep writing, though, I’ve got more to do and writing isn’t going to help get that done.

Until next time, think on it.

Ingress Intel 6 – Farming

You want supplies?  You want bursters?  You want resonators?  Then come on down to *location redacted* for the best ones of them all!  Level 16s!  Come down to *location redacted* to farm the best Ingress supplies around!  Hurry, available while supplies last.

Ingress300Alright, that was a little fun to start things off with a fake commercial, right?  Come on…

Anyway, I’m here to talk about farming.  I am a farmer, of bursters, and I’m ramping up for one hell of a grand “get out of town” party.  There’s a plan that will be put into motion and I need as many bursters, resonators, and all the fun things associated with that I can get my grubby little hands on.  That means I need to do me some farming!

Where I’m from, the exact city, there are two level 8 portals with ultra rare multipacks (2) and ultra rare heat sinks (2) on them, allowing us to hack them about 25 to 30 times a piece.  When they both burn out, as long as you’ve glyph hacked them the whole time, you’ll end up with about 100 new toys to play with.  At least 100 new items, though a lot of them will be resonators.  Bursters still come but they won’t come as much.

The whole process takes about an hour to burn both portals out.  Get some friends together and you’ve got yourself one bunch of people staring at their phones and glyph hacking without doing more than telling a few quippy anecdotes to pass the time.  The glyph hacking makes the hacking non-stop, by the way.

Sure, there are only of them and once they’re burned out it takes a full four hours to hack them again, but at least they are there and are close enough to do the multiple hacking.

This is because our entire city (we are technically two cities) has agreed not to take these portals out, though we can flip them all we want, we can farm them without needing to worry about not having a place to farm.  That is something, at least.

I am always wanting to farm them, though I don’t get there as often as I’d like.  I would love to set one up a lot closer to home, too, because the portals aren’t exactly outside the front door.  Having one just outside the front door would be awesome and I’d love to suggest that but I am only one of two people that can make a part of a level 8 portal.  Being able to have a few more in on that and having everyone in the area be on board with making more untouchable portals.

That doesn’t have much to do with farming, though.  Find your local farm.  Farm it.  You need to be able to get stuff at your level and you need to make sure that you have everything you can get for when you really need it.  Who knows when you’ll come across an enemy portal that just looks like it needs to come down.

Hack it.

Ingress Intel 5

There are badges in Ingress that everyone needs to have in order to advance to certain levels.  These badges are normally of the silver and gold (and black) varieties and they are somewhat hard to achieve, depending on where you live.  While the easy ones would be easy to get, you might want to look at concentrating on the hard ones first because the easy ones will just sort of happen based upon where you live.  Let’s check out badges!

Ingress300The badges that I am aware of that everyone can get are as follows:

  • Connector
  • Builder
  • Explorer
  • Guardian
  • Hacker
  • Mind Controller
  • Purifier
  • Seer
  • Liberator
  • Pioneer

Sure, these all sound great… but what are they?

The CONNECTOR badge is for how many links you can make between portals.  The levels are 50, 1000, 5000, 25000, and 100000 links.  If you’re out to create these on purpose, TRYING to get these links, then you’re going to find that everyone in the world will be working against you, even your own faction, because there will be very little in the way of options for linking.

The BUILDER badge is for how many resonators you deploy.  The levels are 2000, 10000, 30000, 100000, and 200000 resonators.  Again, TRYING to deploy these things will have you finding very little available in the way of options.

The EXPLORER badge is for how many unique portals that you’ve hacked.  The levels are 100, 1000, 2000, 10000, and 30000 hacks.  Unless you live in a high density area, or you travel a lot, I don’t see this one being achieved easily.

The GUARDIAN badge is for how long you control a portal.  The levels are 3, 10, 20, 90, 150 days.  Sparsely populated areas are the ones with the advantage here, though even those can be trying times if no one will leave remote portals alone to achieve this.

The HACKER badge is for how many times you’ve hacked.  The levels are 2000, 10000, 30000, 100000, and 200000 hacks.  These shouldn’t be too hard to achieve, unless you’re in the middle of nowhere.  There should be enough portals to hack without needing hundreds of places to go.

The MIND CONTROLLER badge is for how many fields you have created.  The levels are 100, 500, 2000, 10000, and 40000 control fields.  Without regular access to at least three portals, you’ll have a hard time getting far on this one.  There is potential, though, especially in high density areas.

The PURIFIER badge is for how many enemy resonators you’ve destroyed.  The levels are 2000, 10000, 30000, 100000, and 300000 enemy resonators destroyed.  If you’re a lone wolf in a largely enemy controlled area, or you’re in a high density area, this one should essentially just happen.

The SEER badge is for discovering and submitting new portals.  The levels are 10, 50, 200, 500, and 5000 portals.  Without starting the game early on, I personally don’t see how this one can be achievable by a vast number of the plays (especially the newer ones).

The LIBERATOR badge is for capturing portals.  The levels are 200, 2000, 8000, 15000, and 40000 portals.  If you’re in an even, or heavily enemy territory, you shouldn’t have an issue with this one… otherwise you’re going to be working on this one hard.

The PIONEER badge is for capturing unique portals.  The levels are 20, 200, 1000, 5000, and 20000 portals.  This one is another high density or travel based one, otherwise would be hard to get.

These are what you’re fighting for, in order to get higher levels than 8.  They aren’t as easy to get as you might think, unless you fit into the ones that I said were easy for your particular area.  Don’t shoot for the easy ones, they are easy… shoot for the hard ones.  They take work, the easy ones will just happen.

Hack away.

Ingress Intel 4

One of the hardest badges for me to get inside the game of Ingress is the 150 guardian badge.  I was stopped at 112 days by a stupid cheater and I’ve not come close since.  Why, you may ask?  Well, in my area there is just enough competition to keep me from getting said things and if I don’t get my guardian badge before I leave North Dakota, I don’t think I’ll be able to get the badge.  Where I plan on going has a LOT MORE COMPETITION and I think that trying to hold a portal for anywhere longer than a couple of weeks is going to be a hard, hard task to accomplish.

Oh yeah, this is Ingress Intel.

Ingress300Do you know how hard it is to sit here and write that I came within 38 days of getting the highest badge for guardian portals?  It’s very hard.  In fact, I’m going to pause to recharge the few portals that I need to keep charged in the hopes one of them lasts into the 149+ day area… I’ll be right back.

(Jeopardy Music Plays)

Okay, I’m back.  Yes, I actually did do some recharging there.  So, nobody drive out to the Sage Grouse to take it down, okay?  I need me the guardian portal.

No, I don’t own the Sage Grouse.  Fooled you.

There are lots of badges that I’m interested in getting.  I’d like to get the one that is for destroying resonators… and the one for connecting portals.  I need 2 more silver badges to get to level 9 as I type this and that means I need to do some Ingress stuff in order to advance myself in the world a little.  If I can get the “easy” badges for my area, when I move, I can get the easy ones there and then I can be a level 16, in which there aren’t many in the WORLD right now.  No, not many level 16s at all.

Ingress has got me wanting to go out and be active.  I could combine this column with my Fitness Specter column to really get people more active… but then I would have only one column and that wouldn’t be any fun at all, would it?  Maybe I should do a cross over, but not today.

There are a number of players in my area that do what I call “drive by playing,” which eliminates the point of having Ingress in my opinion.  You should want to get out and walk around, which I do more often than not, and want to be out in the world.  I’ve met plenty of interesting other players in this and they have also been outdoors being active, which means that we’re all playing the way that I think the game was intended.  Why not get more active and join the community?

We rely too much on computers and phones to get in touch with people but we don’t spend time getting out, getting badges, and meeting friends.  Let’s all Ingress together.

I’d really like to get in on the next event FIRST HAND rather than remotely, too.

This was kind of disjointed, but hey, this is my column and I can do that.

Charge that portal.

Ingress Intel 3

If you’ve noticed a pattern, I’ve stopped subtitling as much as I used to.  That makes finding something specific you’ve read a little harder to find, but it allows me to write a little more freely.  If you really hate it, let me know.  Otherwise, let’s get to this…

Ingress300There is so much going on in the world of Ingress right now, I can’t even wrap my head around all of it.  I’ve met with a Niantic employee, I’ve hacked a virus, and now I’m trying to figure out if there is a news stream or video series about Ingress I should be following a little more closely than I currently do.

That means I’m not really following anything all that closely.

As Niantic is a Google property, that means that Google Plus is really the first place to start.  With some new decisions made in life recently, I’m spending 50% more time in Google Plus than I used to, which means I’ve cut the amount of time I’m spending on Facebook.  The move has many reasons but for the purposes of this column, I’ll concentrate on one of the biggest factors in the decision: ease of following Ingress posts.

I like to see passcodes come out, I like to see updates on the latest event going on, and I like to see little tips and tricks that help making play the game a little easier.  I like to see the updates and what is coming down the pipe, too… and the best place for that is Google Plus.

Some people deride Google Plus as the social network for Google employees.  Keep on thinking that because that means those of us who realize the place is way better than Facebook can keep having the place all to ourselves.  At least Google is upfront and honest about using our information for making money, whereas Facebook is trying to hide the fact and slowly roll out what they wanted to do in the first place.

The way posts are displayed makes for better viewing, too.  I could use a little improvement on the iOS display in the app but I am overall satisfied with the experience, I think.  I say that to point out that finding the Ingress posts that much easier!  I can see three or four columns of information at once and key in on the pictures that I know relate to Ingress.

In order to play the game, you need to have a Google ID… that means you have a Google Plus profile.  That also means you have other stuff but if you have the Google Plus profile, why not check the place out?  Sure, you’re used to Facebook’s setup but were you used to MySpace when Facebook popped on the scene?  Hmmm?  Think about that for a moment.

People don’t like change, but if you want the best and most up to date information for Ingress, Google Plus is really the place to be.  Come on over and check the place out.

Ingress on it.

Ingress Intel 2: Hacking A Virus

The world around you isn’t what you see.  If you have the proper equipment, you can see the real world.  That is the world of Ingress.

The title of this particular Intel Report is a little telling.  Tonight, I hacked my first virus… ever.  Like, I actually hacked a portal and got my very own virus.  Some of you who don’t play the game and are reading this may wonder if I’ve lost my mind, loving the idea of a virus, but those who play the game know what I’m talking about.  The particular virus was a JARVIS Shard.

I’ve been playing the game for almost a year… well, I’ve only really been putting a lot of effort into the game since it came out on iOS, but I’ve been playing via an Android tablet for almost a year.  Without my own data connection, the tablet was always tethered to my wife’s hotspot, but all in all, I was still having a decent time.  There are plenty of things that I’m happy about otherwise, and hacking a virus is one of them!  Now I’ve had a capsule AND a virus.  I’m so special.

That’s all for this edition, but I’ll let you know that I’m trying to get more regular with my columns… all of them, including the new ones.  This one is no different, because it’s also fairly new.  Hell, they’re all new, really… but this one is the one that will bring in the traffic that play the game.

Won’t you play with me?

Ingress Intel 1: Meeting Niantic

On Friday, August 8, 2014, a member of Niantic will appear in my local area, Bismarck, ND, to discuss “the scanner functionality” with members from both factions.  As he/she is completely unaware, I’m almost positive this meeting will devolve into chaos.

I hold out small hope, though, that it won’t.

I play Ingress.  In my community (the one in which I currently reside but shall not reside for a long period of time) has two distinct factions.  Yes, all Ingress does, but the two factions here have two very different ways of playing.

The Enlightened group, which is the green team, have a very coordinated method of play.  We communicate in multiple locations to charge, attack, link, and make sure that key portals do not get taken down if we can prevent it.  There are enough of us, too, that are of sufficiently high level to create our own level 8 portals just by showing up.  We work together in order to make things run smoother.

The Resistance is another story.  I do not know the vivd details of the opposition, but conversations with a few different blue team members has revealed to me that there is almost no organization on their side.  In fact, from first hand experience, some of the players seem to be incapable of setting up a portal correctly, only drive around to get portals (thereby not really playing at all) and some even actively antagonize members of both factions.

Why would you antagonize your own faction?  Why wouldn’t you put forth the effort to set a portal up correctly?

At this impending meeting, I’m sure Niantic is looking for feedback on their apps.  I’m more than happy to tell them that iOS users, of which I am now one, are grossly unable to do many things that actually hinder our ability to play effectively.  An iOS user cannot submit a portal, for example, which means we can’t correct the terrible pictures that others take and so on.

If the meeting doesn’t devolve into a “green vs blue” mudslinging match, I can see the next hurdle being an “iOS vs Android” mudslinger.  In fact, members of my own faction, who have known I’d be an iOS user since I started playing, were making disparaging comments early on before the app came out.  They’ve stopped, understanding that we aren’t the mindless idiots who can’t figure things out like some non-iOS users think, and believe that we are now helping in the effort.

With any luck, things run smoothly.  I look forward to giving the employee some input and I also look forward to iOS Ingress catching up in functionality to the Android version.  I understand that Android will be more functional but the iPhone is so much more accurate with the GPS than anything Android I’ve used.

I’ve used the opposite OS and don’t like it… many who complain about the opposite side have not.

Think on it.