Ingress is still in invitation — only beta status and there’s a lot of mystique around it as a result. People are curious. They want to try it. The players who have been invited seem pretty psyched to get in and hack away at it. But Ingress is complicated with new terminology and game play theory. Plus it requires that you leave the house. What’s this all about? Here’s a little deep dive on how to play Ingress. Scroll down for useful links — you’ll need them to master this baby.
I was excited when I received my invitation to Ingress. When a person joins, they first have to decide on their team — their faction — and join one. Some folks join Team Enlightenment, others the mighty Team Resistance. I went the latter route. The goal for the team was to venture out into local areas and search for “portals” that have been plotted by the Ingress development team, Niantic Labs.
Using Android mobile devices, team members have to hack and claim these so-called portals. What’s a portal? Check out an image of a portal as shown on my Nexus 7 tablet, below. I use my tablet tethered to my Android smartphone because the larger screen is much nicer to look at when checking the map. But there’s more to it than that.
You see, once you hack a portal, you must strengthen it with so-called “resonators” and “shields.” You get more of these the more you have surrounding portals. And the game encourages you to link portals to one another. Confused? You’re not alone. The point is to create a network for your faction, but the whole thing is elaborate and it does take some getting used to.
Ingress confused me at first with all of the strange terminology. Portals, resonators, shields and keys are just four new terms you need to get acquainted with to play Ingress. Fortunately there are forums available online to help with these terms and game play. Once you have an understanding, then it’s possible to know what you’re doing as you venture out and start hacking portals.
But where are the portals? The challenge of answering that question is a problem Ingress players have to solve across the board. You can drive around town and surrounding areas for miles and miles without finding a portal. The Ingress development team has been helpful in noting that portals are found in areas that are considered local landmarks — and post offices and fire departments are common places for portals. Players can submit portal suggestions to Ingress via their smartphone cameras.
I live close to a metropolitan area, so there are bound to be portals nearby, right? Not really. I originally had difficulty finding portals that were closer than 20 miles away. This was discouraging. I wanted to play Ingress, but not that bad. Fortunately over the last three months more portals were placed and finally conquered by Ingress players. I now have four portals within 5 miles of my home! Also, a helpful tool to find historical landmarks and hot spots in your area is the companion app Field Trip from Niantic Labs. Maybe the point is to get more Field Trips out there.
It’s too soon to call as to whether Ingress will gain critical mass. It has achieved critical confusion, that’s for sure. My social media stream has been riddled with players wishing they could play but are unable to find nearby portals. Is this the intention?
Then again, maybe Ingress is just trying to get geeks out of their houses? I joked about this on a recent episode of Yet Another Tech Show – but I was only half-joking. Get out of the house, geeks. Live a little. It’s a message, anyway. Will anyone do it in great number? We’ll see.
Have you gotten an Ingress invitation yet? Does it even interest you? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts and your faction if you’re in the game. By the way, on Ingress I’m Physique on Team Resistance … and for aNewDomain.net, I’m Ant Pruitt.
Ingress 101 Links:
- How to get invited:
- For beginners: Check out the Ingress help page before you get confused. You’ll need it for the terminology challenges. Or, here’s a helpful Information Board.
- We live the IRC discussion Channel
- Intel Map has some basics.
- And finally, don’t forget to check out FAQ. Provided to Reddit by /u/derangedlunatech.