Tag Archives: Ingress

Journal of the Emerald Specter 69: Pump Up The Volume

Here’s a little bit of a different column, I’m going to be writing about two topics (with one obviously taking the majority of the column). There was a movie that I wanted to discuss, sort of in the vein of the nostalgia trip I took with the last three weeks, but without the solo RPG angle. I mean, literally, this movie defining something that literally isn’t a thing anymore.

I’m talking about Pump Up The Volume.

In Pump Up The Volume, Christian Slater players a teen named Mark Hunter who is an introvert and doesn’t really socialize a ton. He’s got a lot of pent up rage and discovers that his shortwave radio allows him an outlet to rant against the injustices of society. He’s got himself a post office box under an assumed name to receive mail, his voice is obscured with some technical mumbo jumbo, and he’s doing all of this as an airwave pirate, something that was quite illegal.

I bet you can tell where I’m going with this already…

Everything that happened in Pump Up The Volume is literally happening right now. Podcasting is allowing anyone to put out anything and they don’t get arrested for it. In fact, there is no FCC involved at all and that, I find, is hilarious, because this movie now is not only terribly dated but it is quite anachronistic, too.

Using the music of others without paying royalties, like apparently is alluded to in the movie (it’s been close to 30 years since I’ve seen the movie, that would catch the FCC’s attention (along with the use of profanity, which I do remember is quite prevalent). The broadcasts that Hard Harry, the alter-ego of Slater’s Mark Hunter, are limited in range and wouldn’t really catch a large scale attention because they were so limited in range.

Put this in same category as Footloose, as in the premise is slightly ridiculous and over the top. This was a typical 80s thing, where they came up with something and made it plausible, then resolved it within the confines of a two hour movie. Unlike Pump Up The Volume, though, Footloose is a totally ridiculous premise.

Podcasting has busted open the idea that anyone can say anything at any time and there is an audience for that. If you look at iTunes, Google Play, or other podcast aggregators, there are thousands of podcasts (I have three of my own) where people are talking about all kinds of subjects, using whatever language they want, and some even are clouded mindedly pretending to be ON the radio, giving weather and station identification… between their playing of music that they aren’t paying for and don’t own.

Now, I’m all for using a clip of some music for some theme song stuff, but to play the entirety of a song without giving any props to the artist is downright stupid.

Watching this moving now would feel completely confusing, like watching Smokey and the Bandit and wondering why the Enos Brothers couldn’t just go pick up some Coors at the store. The world was a very different place 30 years ago, and is hard to understand why people did things the way they did them.

In fact, when someone wants to “relive the good ‘ol days” because they remember it being awesome, I like to point out that sometimes those memories are heavily shaded with the rose colored lenses that they’re wearing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. I haven’t watched it in a long time and after writing this, I don’t think that I could get over how awkward things were back then. It’s just nice to know that we’ve advanced and evolved to a place where our options aren’t limited by an “overseer” like the FCC.

I used to play a game called Ingress, and technically I still play that game but I haven’t really done much of anything in the game for the better part of a year. As a recap, Ingress is a location based game where you are trying to either free or enslave the minds of humanity in order to create peace or free will options.

As I’ve said in a previous column, and actually several previous writings on this website, I belong to the Enlightened (the green team) and I’ve made quite a few friendships over the time I’ve played, though my ability and/or desire to play the game recently has waned because of a lack of time and difficulty achieving the next few levels I need in order to be “at the top.”

There is a problem with bias and cheating in the game, though, and I’m going to be talking about that aspect of the game.

I’ve met a lot of players, and of those players, I’ve come to understand that there is a problem with cheating going on in the game. The thing I’ve noticed about all the cheating of which I am fully aware is that the Resistance (the blue team) is responsible for the majority of that cheating.

I’m stating that I am positive the Enlightened have cheaters as well but I’ve not personally met any of them. As far as Resistance cheaters, I’ve met more than I care to talk about.

The first instance in which I understood cheating was happening ended a long run of my holding a portal, which provides a badge in game. I was within 10 days of meeting the highest badge possible for holding a portal. My streak was ended when a player, who was living in Maryland, spoofed his location to take over my portal and end my (at that point) current streak. His account was banned less than 2 days later due to having been caught spoofing, since one cannot go to Bismarck (North Dakota) to Shanghai (China) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) in the course of less than 24 hours. Despite this banning, I had to start all over with my Guardian.

When you play Ingress, you often meet up with players from “the other side,” participating in mini-games and what not to build a little community. I’ve met several Resistance players who are completely above board with their game play, but even in North Dakota, I met just as many who were spoofing their locations, using apps clearly outlined as illegal per the terms of service, or using the game to stalk certain people. The fact that I’ve met so many players on the same team that do this is, in my opinion, highly disturbing.

I won’t limit this to just outright “cheating,” either. Many of the members of Niantic, the company who makes and runs Ingress, are Resistance players, unbalancing the “hub of arbitration.”

There have been a few instances of unfair decisions coming down from those “on high” that have tilted the game in favor of the blue team, mainly the core team “taking care of their own.” I’ve no examples of this for this particular column, I’m just saddened that the creators had to choose a side and neglect a chance for balance to be present at even the highest levels of the game.

If you can’t guess, the above items are a big part of why I don’t want to play Ingress anymore. I’m sorry if someone thinks that this outlook is unfair, but honestly, I don’t care. I call it like I see it and I see the cheaters and unbalanced decision makers ruining what was once something I really looked forward to doing.

That’s all for now, though… thanks for reading.

Ingress Intel 7 – The Graphic Novel Review

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Cryptozoic Entertainment brings to us the Ingress Origins graphic novel, which originally was slated to come out in early September but was pushed back allllllllllll the way to November. I purchased my copy via preorder, especially after discovering the ONLY way the shop would have gotten the item in is via preorder because they didn’t even know Ingress was a thing.

Having my copy, I’m about 3/4 of the way through it and I’ve decided that it’s time to review this bad boy right here on my site.

In short: it’s not worth the money.

The story is literally the backstory of the Ingress ARG, which is not terrible in and of itself. The story has some decent bits as part of the mythology but the problem isn’t with the story. I’ll start with the story, though, the actual and full backstory of the game… before touching on the graphic novel’s version of the story.

Ingress is built upon the idea that exotic matter is all over the place, brought to us by aliens, and we were introduced to Niantic (the company that makes Ingress) that was supposedly some ultra secret organization out doing something supposedly nefarious.

The graphic novel portrays Niantic as an idea, where they forcibly recruit some weird ass choices into the organization to work towards utilizing this exotic matter (XM) towards a goal. That doesn’t sound too terribly different from the backstory that I just ran over, right?

My problem with the graphic novel is the execution of the story. You get a random 3 or 4 panel conversation about something seemingly completely random (i.e. about the backstory that seems jarringly out of place in any conversation), then with little or no transition you are swept to another random 3 or 4 panel conversation about a similar topic and then boom, we’re in another random conversation about Niantic or the XM.

What I’ve read so far has been painful to get through, to put it mildly. The art isn’t my style but it isn’t terrible. After everything is said and done, the story is something that should have been told over a 12 to 24 issue run with actual development rather than the hastily slapped together, then delayed beyond explanation, in this current form.

If I’m being honest, don’t buy this book if you think it’s a collector’s item or a catch. If you want to toss Ingress some cash without going through their store feature, this may be how you do it, but I’ve got to say that this is a turd.

I had high hopes for this, too.

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.

Ingress for iOS has Arrived

It’s about damn time, too.

photoThe game that I’ve been playing on a crappy Android tablet, tethered to my wife’s HotSpot, is finally out for iOS so that I can Ingress wherever, and whenever, I choose.  Starting this morning, I got to stretch my playing legs to squeeze in some early morning play by walking a bit before work.  After work, there was more Ingress playing involved and I couldn’t be happier.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate.

In the iOS version, you apparently can’t submit portals yet.  Well, slight snag, sure, but I can still do almost everything else one can do in the game.  Hell, my primary goal today was setting up, linking, and hacking as much as possible… and I get to do it all again tomorrow!

This topic will segue into a topic later this week but let me tell you that for now, Ingress is wicked awesome and my enthusiasm for the game is through the roof!

Go Ingress!