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January 1, 2017

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It's about time I developed a new gaming addiction, because Omega Ruby only has about 25 minutes of playtime and maybe 6 pokémon. So over the Spring Training trip in late March I actually started playing Ingress. It had been on my phone for probably a year, getting updated, but never used.

Two months in and I'm pretty well hooked.

Long story short: There are things called portals that are attached to churches, historical markers, cultural artifacts and local points of interest. There are two teams, Green and Blue. There's a backstory, but it doesn't matter at all and is honestly kind of convoluted and boring.

Anyway, Green and Blue vie for control of the portals by placing equipment on uncaptured ones, or by blowing away the other team's equipment leaving it ripe for the taking. If you then take a key for one of your team's portal to the location of another you can (within a few restrictions) link those portals together. Link together three in a triangle and the interior creates a field colored your team's colors. A very rough guess at the population under all your team's fields is taken every five hours and is how the game is scored.

It's a fun game, but it does have its problems.

Niantic (the game maker) has underpowered, laggy servers. It's bad enough having to compete with the other team when I'm outnumbered, playing against the game's own infrastructure as well is frustrating. I don't know if they're using overly-verbose communication methods, or if there's just that much data to process, but just waiting to hear back from the servers about an action I've taken affects how the game is (sometimes not) played. And that's under regular use, never mind a massive game event like they just held in DC at the end of May.

It's skewed in favor of offense, in the way the invasion of Poland was slightly overmatched. Advancing your team's score involves time moving around, gathering equipment, placing and deploying. Knocking all that work out involves about 45 seconds of button-tapping.

The game attempts to balance this by making a destructive action only be worth 60% of a constructive one, but it's still too high. There are players whose play style involves no building whatsoever, who only rip down what the other team builds. It's a legitimate tactic, but they level up almost as quickly as the people doing the building. Possibly faster, since setting up links and fields may be a gradual, multi-person process while kicking it over happens all at once. If I had my way I'd change the scoring to reflect the relative difficulties.

ActionOld ValueNew Value
Deploy resonator onto portal125125
Destroy resonator750
Create link313450
Destroy link18750
Create field12501800
Destroy field750200

And changing things that much may not be enough either. You want to level up? Build things. Want to tear shit up? That's fine too, but enjoy being level whatever for a long time.

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This page last updated Oct 6, 2014 8:34:36 AM.