As much as I am on the Internet and paying attention to trends and games, this one blew right past me. I only learned about Ingress while on one of these work trips and a work buddy started talking about his Android friends (the phone users, not actual androids) who were playing. I thought, “Hey, I am an Android user! I should be playing this!” So I set out to learn about The Niantic Project.
A few months ago Google came out with a fun app called Field Trip. This app runs in the background of your phone and alerts you when you are near something historical or interesting. I get a kick out of it sometimes when I am driving around and find out I am near the largest ball of twine, or the location where George Washington’s third horse is buried. Little did I know that it would lead to their new Augmented Reality game called Ingress.
Augmented reality apps have been around for a while now, but none of them actually held any value past a good “Yup, that’s a thing!” You use your phones camera or GPS to tell where you are and your phone displays something virtually where you are physically. For the most part it was only for just that, to view something. Google stepped it up a notch with Ingress. You aren’t just viewing things anymore, you are
interacting with them and everyone else around you. Under the guise of “The Niantic Project” which is the secret organization behind Ingress.
Two warring factions are fighting for the well being of mankind. A crack in the universe has caused something called Exotic Matter (XM) to leak into our plane of existence. Much of it was concentrated around Portals. These portals can be hacked and linked up to other portals to create a field. This field is a protective barrier that covers those who live under it. Got all that? So using the software on my phone, I can go to a portal location, which is only visible on the software, and hack that portal for my given side. By
hacking it, I have the chance to gain some equipment:
- Resonators – Attached to portals to extend their range and link to other portals.
- Bursters – Weapons used to attack other resonators.
- Shields – Protective devices that can attach to portals to prevent damage from attacking factions.
- Portal Keys – A virtual link to a specific portal
- Media – Documents and pictures pertaining to the origins of the portals and XM
Resonators come in various levels (1-8) and can only be used at the level you have reached. (if you are level 4, you can use any item L1 to L4). Each portal can hold 8 total resonators, and their combined level averaged is the level of the portal. An unclaimed portal has no level, while one with all level 5 resonators is a level 5. Depending on the total of the level of resonators, that portal may be able to link to another portal. There are plenty of charts out there to show the distances. Resonators degrade 10% of their energy each day and need to be recharged if they are to stay active.
Bursters also come in levels and can only be used by their respective level user. It’s a simple 360 degree bomb that takes out enemy resonators. The higher the level, the more damage.
Shields can be attached to portals, like resonators, and can deflect some of the damage from Bursters. Up to 4 shields can be added to a portal, and as of now, I have only seen 3 types of shields.
Portal Keys are interesting. They give you a link to the specific portal you have hacked. This link can show you it’s status, allow you to remotely recharge the resonators, and they give you a way to link a portal over a great distance. If you are trying to link to a portal that is out of range of your local map, you need it’s key. From what I have been able to tell, hacking a portal may “Steal” it’s key from its owner, same with destroying all of the resonators.
Media objects are just some documents that lend to the over arching back story. I have managed to collect 4 if them.
Using these tools, you can add the “Mind Units” of a covered area to your factions totals. The factions are:
- Enlightened – The group who feel that the portals are part of the greater good and look to use them to influence mankind to their way.
- Resistance – Those who want to keep free will and mankind away from influence from outside sources.
Now, there is a larger story going on that hasn’t yet been released. The Website NianticProject.com has been leaking out documents and videos that tell us there is something much bigger coming. I guess we will have to wait and see what that is.
I am currently on the side of the resistance. Time will tell how it ends up for us.