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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Game Logic | 120 comments

Thoughts on Ingress game balance – part 1

This is the first installment of a longer article about the game balancing issues that many players are experimenting.
It is the result of many contributions from players across Germany, Switzerland, Italy.

Game balance (that is, the absence of it) is, in our opinion, one of the major flaws in Ingress.

If you do not know what we mean, imagine a medium-sized city. Say 100 to 200 portals. The typical size of a european city with so few portals is fairly small. One can very easily reach any portal with 10-20 minutes biking and/or public transportation. And there are a lot of such cities around, of course.

Under these conditions, the present rules are not robust enough and they potentially lead to a situation where one faction completely dominates the city, holding nearly 100% of the portals.

The reason is that the game at the moment has one huge positive-feedback loop: a faction dominating the city always has better inventory (which they cannot use due to lack of targets, btw), while the dominated faction has no way of getting the xmps they need to claim the city back. Moreover, massively linked portals get even stronger after the last update and destroying and rebuilding requires now a much larger effort, due to the xm drain upon firing/deploying

picture by Jared Ziegler

picture by Jared Ziegler

This means that the dominating faction gets stronger, and the dominated one weaker. There are examples of whole cities being turned entirely into L8 farms, and staying like that for days, since the other faction has no other option than to painfully wait for the portals to yield enough xmps to take them down.

This evolution is unavoidable, as long as both factions play the game the way it is meant to be played. Presently the aim of the game is to conquer all portals, because in doing so you get good inventory and more options for building fields. Any faction who is not struggling for complete control over its city is not playing the game properly, according to the current rules. Then it is enough for a faction to have a handful of very active players to completely take over the city.

On the other hand, any situation of absolute domination kills the game. The dominated faction has no means of recovering in any short time. In most cases it loses all motivation. The dominant faction is left unchallenged, and most players will agree that this is terribly boring.

Feel free to have a look at middle-sized european cities on the intel. You’ll find quite a few being in a completely unbalanced situation. A few minutes of exploration are enough to find tens of cases. Then look again after a few days: you’ll see that the situation didn’t change. Those cities are, to all extents, lost to the game.

Presently, the only way out of this kind of impasse is to wait. Wait until some of the more active players of the dominant faction eventually get bored and leave, or wait until some very active agent joins the dominated faction. Basically agents just have to cross their fingers and hope for the best.

This is why we think that the game dynamics should be improved. We collected our proposals under three main topics. We will report now about the first one.

Easing recovery from unbalanced situations

Big, spectacular actions, like conquering 100% of the portals in a city are nice, and should not be made any harder than they are now. Such operations are the best occasions for refining the organization of a team and bonding with other players; moreover, showing-off and bragging are part of the game. So the game should be robust enough to tolerate such extreme situations, while forcing them back to a saner balance in a relatively short time. Moreover, conquering portals is now the main element of any game strategy. Portals are needed both for inventory and for linking/fielding. This encourages lousy strategies, where one concentrates on item harvesting instead of item managing. The game should decouple the “rough” aspect of item collection from the more strategically interesting one of portal ownership and field building.

Concerning this problem, we would like to propose these improvements:

a) The rules for item collection should be made more complex. You presently get a lot of stuff if a portal belongs to your team, and you pay a lot of xm to get mostly nothing if it’s an enemy portal. A very basic improvement would be to just make the item collection completely symmetric. The aim of the game should not be to have more xmps than your foes, but to make a better use of them. A more interesting situation is when portals give you different items depending on whether they are friendly or enemy. A scenario where friendly portals give you mostly defensive items (resonators, shields) and enemy portals give you mostly offensive items (xmps, powercubes), would introduce some negative feedback in the loop, and automatically allow the game to go back to the equilibrium: the dominated faction will end up having lots of xmps to take the city back. Moreover, all players would have interest in keeping some enemy portals around since they are the only reliable source of xmps and powercubes. Indeed, this would add an extra layer of strategical planning to the game.

b) The new rules that allow links to contribute to portal defense are nice if you think of large fields and long links. What happens in real life, however, is that people use this to make farms harder to destroy. To improve this, we propose that only long links should contribute to portal defense. Or, that the portal “pays” the improved defense with much faster decay. If you think that this will make your L8 farm more vulnerable, well, you are right (we also believe, en passant, that high-level farms should not last longer than the time of a burn out, in any case). Note that the new rule does not act symmetrically for dominated and dominating faction: when you have 500 xmps you really don’t care if you will spend 5 or 10 to take down a portal. If you only have 20, that makes some difference indeed.

c) Similarly, the new rules that make you pay xm for each xmp you fire, penalize mostly the team who has to recover from a very unbalanced situation (trivially, they are the ones who have to fire more xmps, and the dominating faction is very likely to own many more power cubes). The xm drain could be determined in a dynamic way by the number of friendly portals hit by the xmp: this way, if you are recovering from a highly unbalanced situation (i.e. attacking only enemy portals, with no friendly portals close by), you only get very small xm drain. If you are consolidating your dominance (i.e. you already own all of the portals in a given area, and you are attacking the only one missing) then you hit many friendly portals, and your xm drain is much larger.

d) In order to help new players leveling up in highly unbalanced cities, the AP gain for hacking an enemy portal may be increased when there are no friendly portals nearby. On a similar note, AP gain for very isolated portals could be made higher, to encourage players to visit them even if they are far away from the bulk of the portal population.

e) The Jarvis virus and its counterpart may help in rebalancing a highly asymmetric situation if, for example, they are dropped more frequently by enemy portals. Since these are relatively new additions to the game, however, it is not clear yet what their impact will be.

This is all for this first post. In the next days, we will be adding two more sets of ideas, namely:

Part 2: Making the coexistence of the two factions more convenient

Part 3: Limiting the impact of very active high-level players

For the time being, what do you think of the game balancing? Do you find it adequate? How is the situation in your own city?

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Andrea Di Simone

Freiburg (DE)
Proud member of Enlightenment teams in Freiburg (DE), Geneva (CH), Rome (IT)

Latest posts by Andrea Di Simone (see all)

120 Comments

  1. I honestly disagree to the assumption of in-balance:

    - First: in your european city there is not enough XM to continously have 200 portals at L8, so some portal will become weak over time.
    - Second:
    The game get’s boring for the dominating faction.

    Even the dominated faction get’s items and they also get AP. So the dominated faction has the possibility to level and thus turn the city.

    Every portal can be destroyed, if you have a group of 5 L8 player you can easily build a farm, let your friends gain AP and come home with more items you had before. It just needs some organization.

    • Lofwyr, I see your points, but as I said in the article, you are free to check the intel map yourself.

      The fact that so many un-balanced cities exist is enough to prove (imvho) that the game is unbalanced. I don’t think it is an assumption. It is a fact. Then we can disagree on my personal interpretation of it of course :)

      Concerning the inventory, hacking enemy portals gives definitely less items (and cost more xm, if you consider the attack), so this is actually enhancing the un-balance, rather than bring it back to normal.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Ingress is more community based than most games.

        While what you are saying is absolutely true, this is NOT the case in the DC area in the States. There are TONS of portals in a very small plot of land, yet every couple of minutes (depending on the time of day) portals are flipped, fields are created or destroyed.

        Outside of DC, its not nearly as intense, but i find that most of the time, enemy players leave some portals untouched when they clearly could have taken them. Or they flip a portal but put a single level 4 resonator. There have been a few times i co-ordinates with enemy players on portals to temporary avoid because of balance in the area, and they were more than happy to comply.

        While i agree the game itself doesnt play nice with the “losing” team, but the community makes up for it (or they should, at least). Maybe someone needs to make a G+ page for the brits and tell them to stop flipping whole cities? haha,

        While the goal is to get more portals, the point of the game comes from the experience you get while playing.

        • That is poor game design. No game should require players to play sub-optimally for the game to remain fun and engaging, let alone entire teams.

          The strategy of allowing a portal to remain in enemy hands or one of your own weekly defended is not about helping the other team nearly as much as being able to constantly flip portals and provide yourself with more AP.

          The faction specific viruses are hopefully going to fix this. It is the silver bullet method though and while potential effectively still falls into the category of troubling game design if it is the only real method of handling the game imbalance. Andrea is correct that if the only way to get them is to hack enemy portals and additionally, if the drop rate is increased on the strength of the portal (calculating the level as well as how many links it acts as a hub for) then we’ll see a fair amount of balance put into the game as the most “important” portals are the ones which are most likely flipped by the dominated faction.

        • I imagine in DC some of that has to do with the time a person can spend at that portal before they continue their trip to or from work; or visitors to the area.

        • This is happening in the US also. Maybe not in the larger city’s but definitely in the mid-size city’s. I have to drive 45 mins to find a single friendly portal. My whole town is level 8 farms that they do not neglect and hacking one for items almost wipes out a level 1 player of xm because they all attack you. So in an average day. If I hack all 167 portals in my town once. Playing at level 5 I might gain 20 level 5 busters. But I will spend most of my day searching for xm just to be able to hack and try to obtain a few item. At this rate it takes me almost 3 weeks to take down a portal, if they are not remote charging as you are attacking it. If by chance I do manage to obtain a portal. It does not stay green for more than an hour before they have it level 8 and part of their large farm again.

      • But sometimes the problem is just that the other faction decided to let you have x farms and hack it themselves (or forget about them). That’s what happen here in Barcelona lately…

      • Yes hacking enemy portals giv you less items, so you need more time/dedication to reach the same level. But that’s about it.

        The fact that many unbalanced cities exist, does only prove your point if they are unbalanced for a long time and have an active community that tries to overthrow the status quo. Most towns I know the unbalancing turned from side to the other within a short time. As I told 5 high level players and a day or two are sufficient to take an entire city back, go home with more items than before and have some new recruits at least at L6 to continue playing.

        I know that a small group of determined high level players can eassily dominate a mid-sized city. On the other hand it just takes another group of a little more determined high-level players to take it back.

        As I perceive it local dominance behaves like a pendulum. It swings back and forth.

        Also there is the possibility to talk to the other faction and reach some kind of local agreement. This is a community game after all. Or you may get a group of outside players to help you take back your city/give you items.

        Its just a question of dedication. No one can defend a whole city with > 100 portals.

    • In my experience (my city has been completely dominated by my faction for over one month), what has happened is that my teammates are very defensive, and since we’re all mostly level 4 and up, they’ll destroy anything a measly level-1 enemy tries to build in the blink of an eye. Since a couple of days after we took over the city (during an organized event, mind you), there has been pretty much no enemy activity… at all. It’s like at some point the other players gave up. We don’t know them, we can’t reach out to them (because, as I said, some people in our faction are so defensive, it would be perceived pretty much as treason), we don’t know if the higher level players are still around and mentoring any new players so that they’ll improve… It just feels like we’re playing by ourselves, waiting for portals to decay so we can recapture them, hoarding items, and waiting.

      I used to be on Ingress all day long… now I can stay off for days at a time, because I know nothing will happen in my absence, and when I do come back, lo and behold, nothing has happened. I’m stubborn as hell, but I can’t imagine how other people wouldn’t get bored.

      • Looks like the opposing faction is very unorganised and/or neighboring city factions don’t care about your area. What about a faction change?

      • Faction change. Power through the first two levels (hack 300 enemy portals to get there if you have to), then mentor some of the other players. If you can get them over the first couple of levels where they can’t do anything in a level 4 city, they can start to have fun.

        Since your current faction is dominant, they’ll be able to stomp on any portals your side takes pretty quickly, so make sure you get full advantage from them – organise farming events, take down a portal for a low level player to fill, then have another upgrade. This also means an entire group gets to burn out the portal before it gets trashed.

      • We have the same sort of situation developing in my area, I am in the dominated faction. Even when we start to build a farm enemy agents seem to magically appear to stop us so we are stopping. The only viable strategy I see left to us is to sit back and gather inventory until opposing players quit or switch factions.

        This situation has nothing to do with a lack of organization, just the opposite, both sides are highly organized. The problem is that the other guys have been very successful at recruiting while our new recruits have barely replaced losses. The imbalance is roughly 5:1 and they are still adding new players every week.

        Playing a one-sided game is dull for both sides.

      • This is how my town has been for the last 2 months. They have gotten so bad they have taken over the other towns in every direction. There are close to 30 players for the other faction and when I tried to talk to the members to come to an agreement about portals so points could flow in both directions. I was flat out told that I should make a new account and join the right faction because they are going to own everything in this town.

    • Check Northampton (UK) for an example of this… search NN1 in /intel and zoom out a bit.

      Has been like that, roughly, for 2 months now.

      Any time the Resistance take a handful of portals, the Enlightened re-take them in an afternoon.

      Most L8 Enlightened players are now recycling L7 XMP’s and Res, because they get in the way, and are constantly at max items.

  2. I’d like to see portals have a decay where rate is altered based on percentage controlled by faction in the last 30 days, on a logarithmic rather than linear basis. So, if 55% blue, would decay at almost same rate, but if 90% blue would decay over a couple days (or faster)

  3. I agree the part with the differences in the drop from friendly and enemy portals. The part with calculation how many portals near you are friendly or not is hard to calculate all the time. I think that this won’t be implemented in the game. But I hope that Niantic will get the idea for the drops

  4. I absolutely agree with a&c. b seems counter-productive to me – there’s still the larger issue of a single player being able to easily destroy an l8 farm, and screwing with defense just further complicates this.

    Lastly,I want to present a mild counterpoint: where I live ( on the gulf coast of the United States), most cities only have a dozen portals. I’ve submitted enough to triple the number of active portals, but 200 portals still represents at least an hour’s radius at interstate speeds. Gathering enough L8 players to build an L8 farm is a huge effort. New Orleans, LA JUST built its first L8 farm this weekend, and to think that a single L8 player could destroy it in under 30 minutes is sickening (something similar happened in Fort Walton Beach,FL this last weekend). Realize, lastly, that I’m closely monitoring cities more than 2 hours from myself because those are within my area of play. This is not the same game as taking the bus downtown to 200 portals.

    • Daniel, thanks for your comment. We have something concerning very active players in the third part of the article, so I hope you’ll have time to let us know what you think about it when we publish it.
      Concerning the portal density: I agree with you that it is a problem, but I honestly never though about it too much.

      • Yeah… I might be biased, as I’m a very active L8 player. It kills me to wait for my Smurflings to come claim the occasional green that pops up, but I do: they need the ap.
        Typically,I soften anything green without taking it, and I farm like a share cropper, only to give it away

    • The article addressed this, L8 farms should not last long. The complaint that one lower level player can dismantle a L8 farm is as irrational as saying a pawn should not be able to capture a queen in chess. The problem of game balance starts with definition, and that starts with the game play. Portal turnover is vital to Ingress, and if no turnover occurs, the game comes to a screeching halt. A level 8 portal being taken apart so easily may seem unfair, but that is not the same thing as imbalance.

      I agree with the idea of perfect imbalance proposed on Penney Arcade’s Extra Credits. That is why I once proposed a devastating weapon, which I hope Jarvis and ADA prove to be, coming from enemy portals. I also proposed a perfect shielding, which I hope is coming. These kinds of things would allow players to break the game in good ways.

      The game designers mantra should be “If the most active players aren’t complaining, we are doing it wrong.”

  5. Good analysis and excellent ideas! E.g. the dynamic xm drain you propose (what I’d call the “friendly fire penalty”) makes a lot of sense.

    Having a good back story or organizing principle to explain game dynamics is good. I propose leveraging the true wisdom that “power corrupts” in this case. That would motivate faster decay of links on fields or on highly-linked portals.

    • wow I like “power corrupts” :D

      Really guys thanks to all of you for the feedback. I cannot reply to all of you, but I do read everything very carefully.

  6. L8 portals should decay in hours, and one L8 player from the other team shouldn’t be able to take out an entire L8 farm that took lots of coordination and logistics to create. In a balanced area why not need as many L8 players to tear down as it takes to build up? We see this from both sides lately. The second a L8 portal goes up someone is there destroying each portal as fast as the entire group can put one up. literally just following behind everyone. It makes noone want to get together because you can barely even get a single hack on each one. The game has turned into whoever has the most cubes. Especially in our area where there are 2 dozen highly active L8′s on each side.

    After L8 there needs diversification. Make high level players choose a route and be a healer (give out xm to teammates), a destroyer, or a builder. Force the high levels to take younger players out. Give AP for each item given to a L1-3 player. Only allow a L8 player to use L8 inventory :) These are just random suggestions, but all sorts of sliding scales for damage and portal strength just seems to get confusing to me.

    What if a L8 player decays back down by attacking too much, or to stay L8 they need to be assigned to help a new player level up. Something to break the grind of hack/attack/deploy/link.

  7. Im sorry to have to say this, but your suggestions suck completely. What ppl need and dont get is teamplay. With a group of 4 L6 players you can escape every Situation while making a net surplus in items.

    • What if there *aren’t* 4 L6 players in the other faction? Not active ones, at least? What I have where I am is one faction with at least 20 people, at least 15 of which are L4 and up, and one faction where there is one L8 who plays irregularly, and two or three active L1s and L2s.

      • I wouldn’t call that unbalanced.Two or three active L2s against 15 active L4s and up? They *should* have a hard time. Maybe it’s even OK if they don’t stand a chance.

        It’s hard to say when a game is balanced or unbalanced. 10 active L4s that don’t have a chance against 15 active L4s, no matter what they do and how good their tactics, that’s unbalanced. But your example numbers are a bit far fetched imho.

        • My example numbers are exactly what we have in my city. I don’t really understand the point you’re trying to make, though.

          • He’s saying that with these kind of numbers, it is completely normal that you have a hard time (being in the minority). The game would not be fun (and imo very “unbalanced”) if 3 L1′s could “win” against 15 L4′s.

            Your only options are to recruit new players, or to team up with other players of your faction (from other regions then) and exchange gear/level each other up. That’s how this game has been designed from the beginning.

    • Heinz, thanks for your very thoughtful comment. What if as soon as you setup the farm, one of your foes is there and takes it down before you can burn it out? Maybe you want to revisit your “net surplus” argument. Of course you can put your 4 L6 players in a car and drive to some remote place. That will gain you a burn out.
      Some of us think we should not be forced to do this. And our foes should not be forced to be kind and allow us to farm. The game should be able to balance the factions by itself.

  8. I like all those suggestions. One idea I had a while back was making XMP’s damage all resonators, not just enemy ones. That way taking back a single enemy portal in the middle of your farm would be difficult without destroying your entire farm in the process. Just don’t give out any AP for redeploying a resonator that you just destroyed, or introduce negative AP for destroying your own resonators.

    It would also help if resonators have a short term defensive boost, e.g. for the first 6 hours after being deployed they only take a fraction of the normal damage from an XMP. That would discourage a single spoiler from coming out to an L8 gathering and taking everything down minutes after it was put up.

    • bmitch, something along the lines of what you suggest is in the next parts of this article. I hope you’ll find the time to give us your feedback when we publish them.

    • I like the idea of XMP’s damaging all resonators. This would introduce some interesting problems with “friendly fire” and would require players to choose the XMP they use instead of the ol’ “the biggest ones I’ve got”. Additionally, it would make the game harder (and more interesting) for high level players since they need to get low level XMPs if they don’t want to destroy their own portals as well when they’re close by.

      I think destroying a resonator/link/field of your own faction should cost at least what you get when deploying/creating one, possibly even more (double?).

      This would also make a better story. I mean why should a pulse of XM only affect enemy portals? Imagine throwing a bomb on a battlefield and the explosion only kills enemies.

      • There is so much different situations around the world with Ingress…
        The problem I see with the xmp who blast everything is that in some cities there is so much portals in a small area that even with xmp 1 you will hit a few portals, so what ? if there is shields, you will be empty of XM and you can destroy nothing at all, or destroy everything if low lvl portals, or even you destroy your portal, you rebuild, you destroy, you rebuild (if XM follow, but after all, XM around a portal respawn 30-60 seconds after a portal gain 1 lvl, so just be patient when you deploy and XM will not be a problem)

        And for your last question, hmmm just look at Star Trek, Star Gate &co, if they haven’t the right frequency the weapon doesn’t cross the field of the enemy ships/armor I assume it’s the same here lol

        • You wanted to make the game more balanced, didn’t you? *Especially* in cities with many portals in a small area this would give the dominating faction a hard time to destroy the one portal in the midst of their owns.

          • Yes, I’d like a game more balanced, but what I think is that it will be really difficult to balance exactly because of all the different situations.

            And maybe in most of the places the collateral damage will be ok to deal with, but in some big cities portals are so dense that I really wonder how you can handle that (I think about Roma for example but for sure there is plenty of place like that)

            Another point is that actually, a city with only one team slow the players AP… After you own all the portals, make all the links and fields, what are you doing ? farm ? ok, but you don’t AP anymore, (ok recharge or replace rezo when decayed but that’s slow)
            if you can destroy your own portals I let you imagine what will happen, even no need to fully deploy a portal, one rezo 625AP, blast, one rezo 625 AP, blast…

          • I really think that “collateral damage” is a good idea. You didn’t give any reason why it isn’t except you “really wonder how you can handle that”. That’s just it, right? You need to handle it, i.e. live with collateral damage or try to avoid it and destroy a high level portal with low level XMP’s. Makes the game more comlex and therefore more interesting.

            “Another point is that actually, a city with only one team [...]”

            Boring, not matter what you do.

            “After you own all the portals, make all the links and fields, what are you doing? farm ? ok, but you don’t AP anymore, (ok recharge or replace rezo when decayed but that’s slow)”

            Why do you want to get AP? You really don’t need to reach a higher level if there’s no enemy to compete with.

            “if you can destroy your own portals I let you imagine what will happen, even no need to fully deploy a portal, one rezo 625AP, blast, one rezo 625 AP, blast…”

            Boring, you only get +/-0. Anyway, destroying resonators from your own faction should give a higher AP penalty than deploying them. I.e. 250 per reso, 500 if you destroyed the first reso of a portal and 1000 for the last.

          • Lol Stulli you again !! We should chat instead of use comments (;

            Yes I wonder how you will handle collateral damage in area where you have 3-4 portals in a square of 50m (I found that stupid that there is place where there are so much but that’s another story), even with L1 xmp you will hit all the portals in the area and good luck to take a high lvl portal with low xmp. (40 xmp 1 to blast 1R8)
            On another side, what could be fun is to build a fresh high lvl portal in the middle of a field of other enemy portals and watch them make more damage to their portals than yours ahah.
            More seriously, why not, but I assume it will be really hard to balance correctly how much damage a xmp will do to enemy and friendly portals, if it’s the same, I say it will be unplayable (at least in some area).

            Look around you, most of the players play mainly for AP (see, they cry when there is a big field over the city and that they can’t make field to gain AP quick enough),
            And even if the common enemy players are only able to tickle your portals because they are not enough to contest the village, they will want AP to be even stronger and to protect the village of occasional high lvl players who will pass by.
            They are not common the gamers who play games not to reach the higher level. I don’t say it’s good or bad, I just say it’s like that.

            So I don’t say that your idea of xmp is bad, but good luck to implement that to be really balanced and with no way to abuse it and without changing completely how works the game.
            You want to make AP penalty if you destroy your own rezo ? Ok I blast till I let a few % then wait a day or two for the decay, quicker than 7 days. or even quicker, ask a friend to destroy it for you and rebuild behind.
            It’s not because you and I, think more in MU that most of the players think the same, sadly.

  9. I totally agree to the in-balance in the game and would appreciate changes.
    At first i’d like to describe the Situation in the city nearby.

    -The dominating faction owns nearly all Portals (150-300 Portals) in a field with a cross section of about 100 square kilometers.

    -There are only about 4 L8 Players of the dominated team, each living far away from each other (so it is only possible to arrange a meeting event once or maximum twice a week).

    -The dominating Team has at least 9 L8 Players from which 4 are extremly active. Additionly there now are really many L4+ players of the dominating team and way less of the dominated team so if a Portal gets turned to the other faction it will be turned again within 30-60 minutes which nearly completely denies creating fields for the dominated faction without really good plans.

    -Low Lvl Players of the dominating team now create lots of fields and lvl up which makes it harder and harder for the dominated team.

    -Portals never decay or get weak! They are recharged the whole time. Which means only active L4+ Players even have a chance to crush them with the effect that the dominating team gets even stronger because of the new fields for the low level players

    Communication to arrange leveling areas or to let portals in some areas decay at least a bit failed.

    In my oppinion at least the AP for hacking enemy portals in a dominated area should be way higher. 100AP for hacking … don’t know if i should laugh or cry. If there aren’t many high lvl players of the own team you haven’t got a chance to reach at least level 4 without hacking 700 portals or 1500 for L5. In comparison a new player from the dominating team only needs to create some links and fields…. The gap in my area grows and i see that there are less and less chances to close it because only the dominated faction players quit the game…

    So in conclusion i hope for server changes to change the situation. Don’t think the dominating gets bored of total victory…

  10. I see your point in all this, I am in a city where my city is dominated by the other faction, even when I am level 8, is hard and expensive for me to do any damage or help new recruits, hacking enemy portals cost a lot of XM an what I get back is just a few items and very little XMP’s and Power Cubes, before the huge drain/update of XM was deploy I was able to do more damage, take over a considerable amount of portals and it will take some time before they get them back, now I can only take over a few before my XM is empty and using power cubes and recycle is not good enough, most of the time I am force to leave the work half done and it will take little time for them to take them back and build stronger portals than the ones I build. It’s not fair to pay extra for hacking and get less, it can take days to collect a considerable amount of XMP’s and Power Cube’s to do some damage, while in that same time, the dominating faction can make almost twice of items with the same amount of XM or even less.

  11. Good analysis, this becomes a problem once all portals are in reach of several active players of the dominating faction which leaves the dominated faction no room for building their own farms to catch up. Just want to add that an additional positive feedback loop is the increased AP gain for the dominating faction and the unbalanced recruiting due of the invitation system now in effect.

    I have the impression that the difference between hacking enemy portals and friendly portals was already reduced in several ways. Still, makes sense to get rid of the difference completely or even introduce some bias to get more offensive items from enemy portals. Holding your own portals is still desirable for AP gain and strategical field building.

    Item acquisition is a boring and repetitive task and should not be the main activity in the long run. I’d increase item gain from one hack and at the same time make the cooldown period much larger (e.g. 1hour) to promote playing while doing other activities.

  12. I agree with the concept of collateral damage to your own portals. When I use lower lvl bursters the portal attacks and XM is depleted faster than I can use them to destroy the resos. This would also help with remote charging to defend your portal.
    One area that has not been addressed is the public appeal for new players. To my knowledge Ingress has no poster that could be printed and put up the bring in new players. There was in the past a balancing effect of new players predominantly joining the dominated faction. As it is now friends of friend are joining the faction of the friend and this social aspect of people playing with those they already know, is a cause of imbalance that as far as I can see, these suggestions will do nothing to correct.

  13. I’m not sure if this is a valid point or not, but why don’t they just do away with the 5min cooldown on portal hacks? If you can hack the same portal 4x in a four hour period why not just let us do it all in one go?

    I have limited time in which to play the game and my burster count is always low as I cannot harvest enough to keep me going. This coupled with the fact that I live in an area where one faction holds most of the portals at one time or another it just slows down my progress.

    As I say, not even sure if this is relative, but for me this would balance my time in the game and what I could achieve.

  14. Andrea, regarding your post:
    “while the dominated faction has no way of getting the xmps they need to claim the city back”

    This is nonsense imho. It’s only true for people not wanting to farm as well as solo players (because the max portal level a single player can build is 5). Imho people not putting effort in farming, building or destroying should not be rewarded at all.

    “Presently, the only way out of this kind of impasse is to wait.”

    Another solution would be to get more active and more involved instead of waiting.
    A few players destroying an opposite farm, rebuilding it and burning it our heavily multiplies their inventory (XMPs as well as resonators).

    “make the item collection completely symmetric”
    While this might make sense up to level 5, its complete rubbish for the levels 6-8.
    Why should a single level 8 player get level 8 items from an opposite level 8 portals where it took 8 players, a lot of effort and organisation to build it?

    “In order to help new players leveling up in highly unbalanced cities, the AP gain for hacking an enemy portal may be increased when there are no friendly portals nearby.”

    This would encourage solo-playing even more than it already is. Hacking is a very simple task. If you increase it to lets say 300 AP, its worth as much as building a link which already involves building up at least two portals, acquiring a key and linking them. Imho actions should be rewarded by the amount of work it takes to perform them.

    Regarding the comments:
    “The fact that so many un-balanced cities exist is enough to prove (imvho) that the game is unbalanced. I don’t think it is an assumption. It is a fact. ”

    This isn’t a fact. If you look at Freiburg where you are playing now, too: It all depends on the players and their engagement and cooperation. Freiburgs color completely switched its color five times alreay since December 2012.
    So it’s *always* possible to switch the color. It justs needs organisation and cooperation.

    “With a group of 4 L6 players you can escape every situation while making a net surplus in items.”

    Full ack.

    “What if as soon as you setup the farm, one of your foes is there and takes it down before you can burn it out?”

    Then your organisation of the farm was weak. You don’t need a car to build farms that last one burnout.

    • I agree with all of your points, good post.

      Unfortunately Foes get there before we can get up more than a few L8 portals because they admit to using the IITC map to track us active L8 players’ activity with the intent to get there before we can build a farm and burn it. I know its cheating on their part, but if one dude rolls up even when we are 40min away all is lost for our hard work if xm doesn’t regenerate in enough quantities for everyone to recover and rebuild and its happened before. It has less to do with organization than that only one or two can destroy what it takes 8 to build. If they had to organize 8 people to take down a farm then their strategy wouldn’t work so well.

      • Brad, how can they get there before you? The first sign that you’re up to something should be when you trash the enemy portals.

  15. There’s also a ‘cancer’ effect. Smaller, satellite cities remain strongholds for one faction, who can travel to them to ‘stock up’ (or similarly, the players who are resident in the stronghold cities come into other cities and mule high level items to give to allied players.)

    For reference see London and Canterbury, this has happened multiple times. The level 8 enlightenment players go to Canterbury, 8-up the entire city, the few Resistance players there are unable to compete with the mob. They spend all day harvesting then come back into London tooled up. In addition Canterbury has a resident 8 player who comes into London usually once a week and drops items to the other players.

    Of course we’re trying to build up a defence against this, but the dominated city leaves little chance for the local players to level up.

    • i need to counter this. In particular the reference to the chance for local players to level up. to my knowledge no fewer than four local players have been accelerated to level 8 through the satellite cancer city you mention. thats with other semi local players still coming to said city and gaining lots of AP at the same time.

      thats just the enlightened side. I know that on the resistance side there are a reasonable number of players that were playing 5/6/7 of them vs the 1 enlightened resident lvl 8 player until the enlightened managed to recruit a few players.

      so the game balance shifted slightly. grow up and deal with it.

      if local ‘cancer’ strongholds on either sides have the resources and ability to pass off items to the surrounding areas then good luck to them. Teaming up is how the game should be played…what else do level 8 players have that they can do to keep themselves occupied other than helping other players level up?

  16. I think it would be interesting to see a virus being able to spread across links in a densely linked dominated city. Every x hours the virus should spread one link further across links… In this case it would be even more interesting to see links and fields having an owner. The owner should then be able to destroy/detach his own links, thus preventing a virus from spreading further and infecting a whole city…

  17. Check out my city: Novi Sad, Serbia. It’s completely dominated by Resistance, with little chance of us fighting back since they have so many L6 and higher items they’re recycling them.

  18. the game is abbout dominate the other faction

    • false. the game is (like all all games) about having fun. if your dominating the other faction makes the game boring for you and frustrating for the the other faction, you must not be allowed to dominate. period.

      • Errm, sorry but this is just your personal opinion. It is quite obvious (from the introduction and tutorial of the game and also from the “intel” view in the scanner application itself) that the “goal of the game” is to completely dominate the world.

        I myself live in a city where we dominate the other faction. I tell you… it’s not boring at all! It takes a lot of work and coördination to keep it that way. Especially with the new rules around xm. It’s really a lot of work to keep all the portals fully charged at all times. This results in quite some portals not being recharged every day, and so quite some opportunity for the other faction to take them down.

        All the people here complaining about not having enough gear. It’s a social game, guys. Find your local community, meet each other. If you’re in a dominated city, meet with people from other cities where your faction is dominant. They will be very eager to give you a lot of gear as their inventories are mostly full and they can’t do a lot with it.

        That’s what we do. We supply gear to players in other cities who are dominated, so they have a chance. That’s the way to play the game. There’s no problem with inbalance in my opinion. On the contrary! It would be boring if every city would be the same to play the game!

        Just my 2 cents.

        • So how’s the FUN FUN process of going to exactly the same places again and again day after day to keep the virtual dots on the your phone’s landscape refreshed to 100%? Sounds even more inspiring than say a call centre job.

          If this is the sort of shit you enjoy you deserve to keep doing it. I praise thee murican mindless drone.

          • Hey hey, no need for insults… I’m not even American, btw, don’t know where you get that.

            You know you can remotely recharge portals when you have their keys, right?

            Also, you missed the point where I said “This results in quite some portals not being recharged every day, and so quite some opportunity for the other faction to take them down.”

            Which was the point of my post (and the subject of this whole thread by the way) that the game *is* in balance, as lang as there are a couple of active agents of each faction. Heck, only one active agent can make a big difference!

  19. What I gather from the comments is that people are just lazy or don’t want to spend time playing the game. This is a cooperative game and it needs effort and organization.
    What the author is describing is not unbalancing, it is just showing that areas with more active players from one faction is being dominated by that faction, and that is how it should be. Why should less active players and less organized teams have the same chance to succeed? That doesn’t make sense to me.
    I think it is actually too easy to flip a portal, if it takes 8 L8 players to build a L8 portal, it should take at least 4 players to take it down easily.
    I’m saying this when I live in a city completely dominated by the other faction, it used to be the other way around, but they got better organized and some of our team players are a lot less active now, so they deserve to be dominating. You don’t hear me complaining, if we want to take the city back it should take lots of work on our side, otherwise what would be the point?

    • Defagium: and once your perfectly organized and amazingly over-crowded team has taken all the city and turned every portal into an unbeatable L8, what will you do? Seriously, have you ever played in a city which belongs entirely to *your* faction and stays like that forever? Because I did, and I found it terribly boring. Actually, I found it terribly boring after two weeks. I can’t imagine how a normal player would feel after *months*.

      • I don´t think the game is just about controlling the portals in my city, we are more interested in organizing big fields here with other cities, that is part of the reason we never got ourselves to discuss a strategy to take over the city again.
        But consider this, it takes at least 3 L8 players to build a portal with 400km range, it takes weeks of planing and traveling around to build a big field, for exchanging keys and uping portals and all that. Once the field is up, a single L6 player can take it down in less than 10 minutes, even if the 3 L8 players are trying to recharge. Is that good balancing in your opinion? You are arguing that it should be even easier to take portals down, so what is the point? Why go through all the effort to build stuff? Don’t you think more active players should be rewarded for their hard work?

        • Ok Defagium, then now we agree.
          I also think that big fields are the real aim of the game. Portal control does not have anything to do with that (and this article is mainly about portal control, not field building). I only need to control 3 portals to build a field.

          On the other hand, the lifetime of a field is a tricky subject. If I build a 650km link, I effectively freeze the game all along the link. Players will not be allowed to build new links which cross it. This is the reason why that link MUST fall asap. I would be completely in favour of increasing the decay of portals with very long links in such a way that the link will fall in a few hours no matter what you do to maintain it.
          The same happens for big fields, with the additional problem that you freeze the game inside the field, not only along the links. Imagine being a mid-level player in a city which is at the center of a full L8 field. The vertices of that field are hundreds of km away, yet your gameplay is dead: you cannot create fields, and you definitely don’t want to collect AP by just conquering portals. I would personally hope that the field does not last more than a few hours, even if it belonged to my team.
          My approach to a large field is: ok you built it, you took your snapshots, you wrote your g+ post and sent the report to ingress. Now get out of my way :)

          Unless, of course, they review the blocking power of fields and links.

          • I agree with you there, the biggest the field, the harder it should be to maintain it. Perhaps it should decay very quickly, so it would take an inhumanly effort to recharge from several players, maybe depending on area or MU’s, which would be just one more challenge, but making it easier to destroy portals doesn’t add any fun to the game in my opinion. It really just make it pointless, I doubt anyone is leaving the game because it is too hard, my opinion is that people leaving are just not that interested. Now making it pointless to build stuff make the people interested to leave, but that is just my opinion.
            I think the blocking power is what is fun about creating fields, it adds another challenge, you need good coordination with team members from other cities to destroy blocking links, if they review that they will just take away another challenge, making it less fun.

          • On the comment about the guy in the center of the field, this game isn’t supposed to be played solo, you can play it solo, but it is not the point of the game. I’m sure he could encourage people from his faction to organize an attack on one of the vertices. If there are no people from his faction close to any of the vertices, well… life ins’t fair anyway!

          • “I would be completely in favour of increasing the decay of portals with very long links in such a way that the link will fall in a few hours no matter what you do to maintain it.”

            Maybe links should consume extra XM? Like an additional 1% decay per 20 kilometers per day? For a large field with two 600km links this would be 15% + 30% + 30% = 75%.

            Btw: Isn’t a 15% drop every 24 hours a bit harsh? Wouldn’t it be better to have 0.6% per hour?

          • “Btw: Isn’t a 15% drop every 24 hours a bit harsh? Wouldn’t it be better to have 0.6% per hour?”

            I thought about that too, maybe they don’t want it done every hour for some kind of server issue, I honestly don’t know.
            Perhaps if they decayed every 6 hours by 4% and then every portal which would be on a field vertice would decay twice as fast (3 hours), but if the field reached say 1000 km^2 it would be every hour. Not saying it should be exactly these numbers, but some kind of progression like that would be nice.

          • I would suggest that the amount of XM needed to maintain afield on a daily basis be based not on the size of the field but the number of portal contained with its boundary. This would allow huge fields starching across empty areas like oceans but not over cities.

            A simple explanation would be portals under the field would destabilize it with frequencies.

  20. As an aside… it’s odd that it cost XM for to hack a portal (more for an enemy portal) to gain resos that contain XM, and again it costs XM to deploy those XM-filled resos, and of course it costs XM to recharge resos. I get the consequences of attacking and recharging, but deploying, too?

    As for restoring game balance, so long as what ever mechanics are ultimately implemented to achieve game balance I am hopeful it won’t be compounded by making it harder to defend against than it is already, e.g., the fact that it requires 1.2M AP for the privilege of a single L8 agent to make an L5 portal at best and ~25 XMP’s for the satisfaction of a single L4 agent to wipe it out. That should be good enough. Just don’t make it more costly for an L8 to defend against it. It doesn’t do anything for the restoration of game balance. It does detract from the privilege of being an L8 after working your butt off to find out that it’s mostly for bragging rights and not so much power.

    As for the power of an agent, it shouldn’t be solely based on AP. It may be complicated, but an occasionally active agent that has barely made L8 shouldn’t be so quickly regarded to be as glorious as an agent whom has gained enough AP to make L11 (going on the principle that each level is double the previous required AP) and has resos all over the map. Or, for that matter, an aggressive L5 agent with resos all over the map gets diminutively compared to an inactive, lazy and overrated L8. The power of any agent should be represented by some factor of their level and activity, not just their AP gained. I know L8′s that barely get off their front porch (and act like they don’t need to because they can easily hit 5 portals from their bedroom), while L4′s will actively travel through multiple neighboring counties if not for the AP opportunity alone, but for the love of the game. Create an incentive to keep players active and avoid drop outs because all they get out of it in the end is bragging rights.

    • Deploying (replacing) resos can be a defensive act when your portal is under attack, that is why it costs XM. In the field, of course, most likely you will have bad luck and your scanner doesn’t refresh fast enough or gets out of sync and you can’t apply this strategy anyway.

  21. What if Mind Units had more importance in the game ? After all, that’s the main goal, isn’t it ?

    Actually, at least in my area, there is often big fights and destruction by the not dominating faction, but less often real reconstruction behind that, only one or two resonators (lack of items ? I doubt, not when you destroy 15-20 portals in a row)

    In my opinion people play too much for AP than for MU… Maybe it will be a good thing to make that aspect of the game take a bigger place ?
    Actually the more fields/links a portal has, the stronger it is, what if we say the more MU the portal has the stronger he is ?
    It’s easy to make plenty of (small) links/fields on portal in a city with dozens of portals in a small area and with one or two players who keeps an eye on them to reload in case of attacks, it’s funny to see attackers break their teeth on them (x
    And (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) the number of links/fields also improve the chance to have more items on a hack ?

    I don’t have a solution, but maybe the MU should impact more on the resistance of a portal and on his drop rate instead of number of links/fields ?
    To make big fields ask some travels or coordination with other players and it’s not funny to see that destroyed in a few hours or less.
    That would also make the control of a whole city not as interesting as it is actually to farm.
    But more as to take and hold some important portals for MU control

    Anyway, that’s only quick thoughts like that. But what is sure is that for me, MU should have more impact on the game

    • interesting thought there, maybe the size of the link can have a detrimental effect on the strength of the portal (should take more energy to maintain a longer link) so the larger MUs would weaken the portal, conversely if you made the portal give out more items the larger the field you would encourage the larger fields but also the turnover due to the weakness.

    • Maybe if every country had its own “Ingress Report” to talk about local factions people would go for more projects and fields.

    • “In my opinion people play too much for AP than for MU… Maybe it will be a good thing to make that aspect of the game take a bigger place?”

      I agree. Where I live, people create dozens of fields < 10 MU because this maximizes AP. It's a bit unfair (and doesn't make sense) that 10 10-MU fields give 10 times as much AP as one 100-MU field.

      • I dunno if AP for big field should be higher (at least that will motive people to try to do it) but what I know is that a city fully optimized by a team will be hard to take back if there isn’t enough opposition players (that’s the problem in the area where I live, but when I started Ingress 3 months ago, the situation was inverse so I saw the two side of the “problem”)

        Like some peoples said, one “problem” with the big field is that it blocks everything below it (you can still destroy and capture portals, for sure it’s not as profitable as creating links and fields but…), in a way I agree with that… but again we talk in AP view… If we see the game in MU (that’s the final goal after all) where is the problem..? I’ll be glad to have a 1M MU field over my head (a green one of course) and the longer it stays the happier I’ll be.

        Like that, I really don’t know what solution could be good…? Remove AP from the game, only MU count ? q:
        Permit to do links/fields under a bigger field (like that the crazy of AP are still happy ?), but the MU of fields under the main one doesn’t count ? After all, I don’t see why if there is 5-6 layers of a field like we see sometimes there is 5-6 times the Mind units total.

        Courage to the guys of Ingress who will have to found how to balance all that (x

        • Hi Athesdan, Stulli, Michael. Sorry, but I had overlooked this branch of the discussion. Yes, I agree that the present rules push people too much towards portal control instead of field building, and that the focus could, maybe, be slightly pushed on the other side, just to try something different :)

          Concerning the big field duration, in the discussion on the second part of this article I made a suggestion concerning the “halo” of a field, which may allow some compromise between the need of the field to disappear asap and the gratification that a team might want, i.e. seeing the field having an impact on the global control figures.

  22. Although *you* might not agree, he has a point. One could translate what he said to: “The goal of the game is to have fun by dominating your opponent.” I assume thats how war games work.

    I would really want to know why you think that domination makes the game boring? Have *you* ever been in such a situation? If so, what were the elements that made it boring for *you*?

    • It’s boring because you can never ever win Ingress. Imagine a game of Warhammer 40K that doesn’t stop “just” because you don’t have any units left.

  23. Two suggestions:
    1. Let people goet a more informed choice when starting. When I got my invite I had to choose a faction. I had no idea of which side was the strongest, what kind of people each faction had summoned in my regional area. I chose from a RPG-viewpoint and never saw a concequence from that choice. It’s just green team vs. blue team, and in my local area it means 3 resistance vs. 1 enlightened and in the next city 5-6 enlightened vs. 1-2 resistance. Since we each live where we do, there is not much cross-city attacking, making it very static.
    It would be much more fun to feel recruited by the weak faction in the local area as to balance things and make the game more dynamic. This could be done by cut-scene stories based on statistics. With ppl-invites he stronger side most probartly gets the most new players, continuing the static nature of the game.

    2. Let the factions have their own characteristics. As in putting a bit more RPG in the game. Perhaps choosing classes (as mentioned by Brad), different from faction to faction. Just think of the joy of StarCraft…

    • Hansen: I agree that new players should be properly informed before asking them to choose a faction.

      • Hansen I absolutely agree with this too! I think it would make a big difference. (I didn’t see this before my comment).

  24. I actually completely agree with you Defaguim: Hard work should be rewarded.

    Laziness should not be encouraged. Imho Ingress is an outside activity game that requires effort, cooperation, organisation and a lot of perseverance to dominate. If you stop or get less active the opposite faction will dominate.

  25. I think the problem with big fields is that they don’t add mich to the game.

    A few of my thoughts on big fields:
    * The size of a field does not matter. There is (currently) no reward for creating huge fields.
    * Using a car/train/airplane it is very easy to field anything. Just drive/fly farther. No one is able to stop that.
    * It is very easy to take a field down. It literally takes seconds to do it. It takes weeks / months to plan a big field (i’m not talking about small ones….) for what? For an ennemy player to jump in a car and destroy just one of the three portals. In seconds.
    * A field hinders your own team more than it helps if you field your own city. You can’t link anymore. So no more Fielding-AP for your team. It does not even make your portals below it stronger (that would ne nice! ;-)) or so…
    I do not know any player who cares about the global score. It’s all about your own city / region and the suroundings. Big fields are currently just useless and are created for the fun of ‘hey i made it, look at my screenshot’.

    One could change the impact of fields, for example (although i have not yet thought about the consequences):
    - Make portals linkable below fields for the faction controlling the field.
    - Make portals stronger (more resistant to attacks) below fields for the faction controlling the field.
    - Make portals spawn more items (maybe a certain type) if fields are attached or if they are below a field.
    - Make a field draw energy from ennemy portals below it (they decay faster)
    etc.

    Probably there are many ways how one could give fields more sense.

  26. Yes I know this is a long post… so don’t read if you don’t want to. Thanks ! :)

    This issue isn’t just a European problem. Here in the United States there are troubles with unbalanced communities as well. My husband and I (both Enlightened) used to try to flip our city frequently. Not anymore.

    We live in a town of 40,000 people and less then 50 portals. The Resistance have control of 6 other towns in the area already. Ours makes city 7. One city an hour away (94k) has a strong Enlightened community otherwise most of the state is Resistance.

    Due to the unbalanced setting here we decided to not “flip” our town anymore. Instead we are going outside the city for our farming/ap. This started to starve the Resistance of the AP they needed. They started to taunt us in comms. Then one of our agents met one of theirs for lunch. Shortly after that a fairly inactive Enlightened agent suddenly became very active flipping portals giving them the AP they needed. There has been talk in comms of leaving portals low for Resistance to take back and Resistance comments about these Enlightened agents switching sides.

    We have tried recruiting. Most people we talk with either don’t have an android phone or have an iPhone. Others don’t have the time between family and work for Ingress. We have also asked for assistance from out of town Enlightened. They have been wonderful in helping with items but it leaves us feeling like beggars and we drive an hour just to get the items.

    In the past, our flipping the city lasted no more then a day. As time progressed that time shortened to a portal lasting no more then 12 hours. On several occasions less the an hour between us flipping a portal and it being retaken. That has made farming for items nearly impossible.

    There are a lot of Cross-faction events in the US. I am all for them. I think it’s great and creates good sportsmanship, as well as friendly rivalry. I would love to hoist a few pints with some Resistance players… just not our local Resistance. Taunting, running players out of town or out of the game and you have the nerve to ask why we won’t meet you? Why we won’t talk with you? You treat us like dirt then try to be friends? Simply…no.

    It’s a game. For a game to grow and get bigger, better you must to have competition. You take away all hope on the other side, Resistance or Enlightened, and you start to lose players. I don’t think any of us want to see the game start to lose appeal. At least I don’t.

    • What you are describing is not game inbalance. You are either outnumbered or the resistance is more active. Are you sugesting they should let you win for it to be fun?

  27. Doh that should read (94km) – Wow 95k would be a bit far for farming too :)

  28. Ideas that are supposed to make Ingress more exciting seem to cause site effects on the long run.

    “There are examples of whole cities being turned entirely into L8 farms, and staying like that for days, since the other faction has no other option than to painfully wait for the portals to yield enough xmps to take them down.”

    I think the original idea was that this kind of threat is supposed to incentivize a community effort by the opposing faction, and a fast one.The problem is that Ingress doesn’t play in rounds, it never resets and so the threat just keeps on imbalacing the power levels when a response doesn’t come together for whatever reason.

    “Any faction who is not struggling for complete control over its city is not playing the game properly, according to the current rules.”

    I’m not sure this is true. Only conflict creates a lot of AP, so complete domination is not working out for anyone.

    For the overall proposals, I think you try to convert what is a game of poker into a game of chess. In a game of poker your funds, your inventory, are also part of the strategy and it is the same in Ingress.

    a) “all players would have interest in keeping some enemy portals around since they are the only reliable source of xmps and powercubes” Is a faction as a whole really coordinated enough to honor such a change. It’s kind of the same conflict we have now – in theory you know that you need to leave the competition room to play, but on the other hand a completely green/blue neigbourhood just looks sooo nice an the map.

    b) Faster decay is an incredibly good idea, because it makes threats less permanent. If an L8 portal has 80% decay per day (scaling up from the 10% of an L1 portal) it really needs some significant effort to keep it up for a long time.

    c+d) What about the counterstrike scenario? Right after the dominated team turned a large patch of land into their color, this change would also help the faction with more cubes and XMPs to turn it back.

    “For the time being, what do you think of the game balancing? Do you find it adequate? How is the situation in your own city?”

    I think the situation here in Dortmund is quite balanced. The Resistance is stronger than us, but not in a way that totally dominates us Enlightened.

    My home town of Recklinghausen is another case, the Resistance really dominated there and quickly razes any Enlightened farm efforts quickly.

    Of course, because of the high population density you could always drive to a town dominated by another faction to play.

    What I really dislike about the game is that it sometimes discourages “neat” gaming. In an area with extreme portal density it can be smart to just place one resonator and continue because you gather more AP before your resos run out. That behaviour makes no sense in game logic.

    Portal density is also a problem that Ingress will run into very soon. I heard some great ideas from the community how to automagically handle that on the server side, maybe you also want to write an article about that sometime soon.

    • countersrtike sounds very nice indeed. yet another idea I wish I had had before publishing :)

  29. Start recruiting and building a team then. That’s also part of the game imho.

    I was in exactly the situation that you describe. My city was completely dominated by the Enlightened. What did we do to change this? We coordinated our efforts, recruited new players and conquered the city. And that was in december/january when the ennemy portals yielded almost no items for ennemy players.

  30. This “no units left” can never happen in Ingress. Even in a completely dominated city you (nowadays) have plenty of items (if you are farming). So if you are willing to flip the city you can do it. Maybe not as a single player, but easily as a team.

  31. Here’s another thought: Perhaps some balance can be returned starting with Niantic managing portal density based on what the estimated total MU is over a given area, and allowing new portals to come online, but at the surprise of having existing portals randomly disappear. Submit to get it back if you want, but expect something else to disappear. I mean, c’mon… the alley way already has 8 portals, does it need another? And if it does, does it need to be 10 feet from another one? Would be appealing to add a bit of mystery to the lay of the Ingress intel map.

    • Hi Jeff, in one of my next articles, I’ll address precisely this issue: portal rotation is very good imvho. It is boring to have the same portals around for months. Let alone for years.

  32. One city dominated by one faction is not a sign of game imbalance, but rather a sign of player laziness.
    As you say, in small European cities we can reach very easily all portals in one city, so very motivated players (without job, family or on vacation) can easily control the whole city.
    So actually penalizing players when firing xmp is a good idea as it makes harder for one player to turn over the city and forces you to play in teams. Though, as experience shows, player who doesn’t have to work can still capture every portal during working hours.

    I also don’t agree that lvl8 portals should stay only for a short time. It is really hard to get 8 people to build lvl8 portal. Even in big cities, where are a lot lvl8 players, it is hard to gather 8 people (family, work and so on). It seams that everyone is motivated to farm their first or second lvl8 portals but as time goes, lvl8 players get also bored with lvl8 farming. So it will be unfair if lvl8 portal where you have to manage 8 people gets easily destroyed by one person.

    I think dropping Jarvis/Ada items only from enemy portals will definitely bring more balance in the cities dominated by one team.

    • Hi bogdan. If it is hard to motivate 8 players to build a portal, then it will be even harder to motivate 8 players to take it down :D

      I think high-level portals should have a very fast decay, in such a way that if you really camp there all night a refill it continuously then it survives. Otherwise in the morning it’s neutral again. But I can of course understand why people would not like it.

  33. btw. item drop from enemy is not so bad as people think. It used to be very poor, but it changed a lot. Also with the current density of portals, items is no longer a problem.

  34. I provided feedback early on that mentioned this negative loop:
    https://groups.google.com/d/msg/ingress-discuss/7enUoK4JNoA/Q9dMb0CpgvwJ

    Things have changed a LOT since I posted that and mostly for the better IMHO. It’s hard to balance to keep interest for both sides. The game is really a numbers game. The more hours a side can put in the more they are going to dominate.

    I’ve lost a lot of interest lately locally because we’re outnumbered 4-to-1 in an area I submitted probably 90% of the portals and used to control once upon a time. Short of actively going out recruiting new players I have no way to address the balance issue.

    Other balance issues are almost a moot point. If I don’t have others to join me locally then the interest level dies off fast. It’s the social side of the game that gives it longevity and the main reason, aside from getting outside for some exercise, I’m still playing.

    To me the #1 thing that needs to change is the game needs to dynamically alter the introduction/tutorial based on the current dominant faction in the area. A lot of players that just sign up and start playing are likely to play Resistance as it stands. But if the Resistance is already dominating the area someone is doing the tutorial in I’d love to see some mention of it in the introduction so players can make a choice. Conversely if Enlightened dominate the area the bias should be towards Resistance.

    I’d also like to see more reward for creating large fields, and a bigger defensive boost for longer links. The game is meant to be about MU but, apart from bragging rights, there is little actual incentive to get those MU when large fields tend to get taken down quickly by an individual player. A field that requires a L8 portal with considerable travel time to setup should require similar effort to take out (either 8xL8 attackers or 1xL8 attacker over a long period of time).

    To achieve this portals for such large fields could become invulnerable for a period of time after an initial time window when they’re first attacked. So either x players attack it at once, or y players attack it multiple times after invulnerability periods. This would add to the strategic value of large fields, whilst still making it possible to destroy them with a similar effort to that involved in creating them.

    Of course the Viruses could still be used for this sort of thing but if they remain rare enough, and had a higher drop probability from enemy portals, then players would have to still use them warily or save them for when they’re of the most strategic value.

  35. I think that Ingress looks to computer games for its inspirations where it should look to board/tabletop games instead. This is due to the fundamental difference between video and tabletop games: their cost (in a sociological sense, i.e. the mental, emotional and physical effort required).

    Computer games have a very low cost, especially a low start up cost. Ingress, like tabletop games, has a high cost: you need to physically move to a location, assemble a team of real life players, coordinate schedules, spend a lot of time on moving as compared to acting etc.

    Thus the Ingress team would do well to look at the balancing issues in modern (last 10 years or so) tabletop games and their solutions.

    For example: what you’re proposing here is a simple catch-up mechanism, which has been standard in Euro style tabletop games for the past 15 years or so.

    Something to implement would be an action trade off: alternative-other alternative situations rather than win-lose. For example, the placement of resonators is a clear win-lose situation. Placing them far out is clearly better. But if you’ve got a GPS on the fritz you’re out of luck. What if the drainage would be based on the distance between the res and the portal where lower distance = lower drain? Then the players would get the “consolation” that their close in resonators would keep for a longer time. And you might get situations where it would be good to put all the resonators in close.

    • Filip, thanks for the comparison with tabletop games. It really helps in considering the problem from a new perspective.
      I also think that the drain based on distance is a very good idea. And a fair one, considering how easier it is to take down a portal with all resos close by.

      • There is one major difference between a table top game and ingress; A table top game has a definitive ending and thus one can define “game phases” like start game, mid game and end game. In these phases mechanics to catch up or alter the game balance are common.
        Ingress on the other hand is in a constant flux, some players are in the start phase, while others have played it through.
        I don’t think that any game mechanics should be changed just to allow people not to play in a community. I even think that solitary high level players are overpowered (they limited that somehow by the XM drains for deploying).

        • Lofwyr, that is true. On the other hand, tabletop games (at least, the well designed ones) are rather good at balancing the game. You must of course beat your foes, but you should *all* have fun in the process. If after a couple of rounds you take over and all they can do is wait, people will soon realize that the game is not worth playing.
          Note that this is *even more true* (imo) since ingress does not get reset after a few hours like a tabletop game: in a good tabletop game, once one player prevails beyond recovery, the game is designed to end rather soon anyway (or, the losers can concede victory and everybody starts all over again). Starting all over again is something ingress cannot afford of course.

        • Just a thought like that :
          What if we remove Agent leveling and we only use different lvl weapon/rezo more or less rare (very rare ?).
          Like that, no technical differences between agents, only in experience of playing.
          Actually I’m sure that most of the Agents lvl 6-8 are near to be full in “only” high lvl xmp/rezo and near inventory full.
          What if the L 6-7-8 xmp become very rare… You will think twice before throwing it on the first small portal you cross ? Same for rezo

          • Athesdan that is interesting. The only problem I see with it is the xm drain: you either reduce it dramatically, or give to all players 10k xm. I also think that the push to level up is an important part of the game. You can remove it only if you introduce something else to motivate people to play.

          • I’d say the fast gratification for beginners as provided by the current levels, is needed as a motivation.

  36. Game balance is for the weak! Team up ‘n harden up!

  37. The lack of competition in our area has lead some to start recruiting for the opposition. We will have some people come from out of town on occasion, but nothing consistent to offset the numbers we currently have, and nothing really local.

    See his post below:
    https://plus.google.com/105280472036490308976/posts/capdJTqVSAq

  38. The best game ever would be a tower defence game combined with ingress. With more action and weapons. Just my two cents.

  39. Interesting ideas. For most of your suggestions, I don’t have strong feelings either way. But here are my thoughts on a couple of the suggestions.

    Re: differentiating loot drops based on faction– If everything remains the same, but the virus is obtained by hacking portals from the opposite faction, this would definitely put in the negative feed back that you are talking about. The enligh… err the weaker faction would still need to be organized to take full advantage, but they could still turn a level 8 farm on it’s head.

    Re: long links being better for defense– This clearly favors high level players over low level players. Long links can block opportunities for linking portals and creating small fields. As things stand now, it can be too easy for high level players to crowd out new players. Anything that would make that worse needs to be avoided.

    • Lonicera: I agree that the virus could achieve similar results. I am slightly worried about people having to rely only on that, though. I still believe that the correct way to get rid of an enemy portal is to take it down with xmps and deploy resos. From the point of view of the gameplay this seems to me to be more interesting than some magical instantaneous flip. And it seems to me to be more fair to the players who have setup the portal. But this is just my feeling.

      Instead, what I think is really interesting in the virus is that for the first time it gives a faction the possibility to destroy its own links, which is useful in so many scenarios.

  40. Author really play Ingress?

    “Note that the new rule does not act symmetrically for dominated and dominating faction: when you have 500 xmps you really don’t care if you will spend 5 or 10 to take down a portal.”

    5x XMP8 = 2000 XM
    10x XMP8 = 4000 XM

    plus attacks from enemy portal for each fire.

    So no, I do really care.

  41. A lot of the comments here talking about their experience with faction imbalance (being outnumbered) rather than game imbalance. And actually, I think this is spot on.

    If you have a roughly 50/50 split of players in a city then most of the game imbalance problems mentioned are actually pretty minor in effect. On the other hand if most of the people in a city belong to one faction, then even a balanced game design will leave one faction frustrated and overwhelmed, putting more into the game than they have time for, and the other bored.

    The consequence is that teams focus on recruitment instead of on gameplay strategy. To me, that’s not very fun, and if it gets out of hand (you’re very outnumbered already) it’s nearly impossible to win the recruitment game.

    I would really like to see Niantic either enforce local faction balance, or at the least, ENCOURAGE local faction balance by providing new agents with info on who is dominant in their area, and encouraging them to join the underdog. I think this would make a huge difference.

    I’ve even seen an interview in which Brandon Badger said that faction imbalance isn’t an issue, that people tend to join the underdog. I find this discouraging because I think it’s very untrue (most newbies don’t even know who the underdog is, and most people really want to join the team their friends are on, which is likely to be the bigger one). It seems that this issue must not be very visible to the devs.

    • Hi Gyre. I agree with your point on faction imbalance. Nevertheless, I must insist that, even with two perfectly balanced teams, if for any reason one managed to take over, the other one will have a very hard time in taking back the city, if it will manage at all.

  42. My city used to be dominated by the opposing faction. The keys to turning the tables are:

    1. Get coordinated. Get over any issues you have with G+ and make a community, get your players in there and encourage newbies to join. Boot trolls in a heartbeat to keep the place positive.

    2. Stop attacking. This will frustrate the hell out of the opposition, but the fact is you can’t afford to waste your gear. A “Hack, No Attack” policy will let you catch up to your opponents, all of whom are probably stuck at 2000 items (so there’s no gain for them while you actually establish some item stocks). Your L7+ players should be hacking any L8 opposition farms, too. Save your keys – you’ll need them later.

    3. Recruit. You never know who is going to end up being a power player for your faction. The hardc0re gamer guy could prefer the couch. The girl who hardly speaks could end up playing all night, every night. Get them invites, teach them the basics and help them if they get stuck (see #1 above). If you’re level 8, pass down your spare keys to newbies so they can make links and fields for easy AP.

    4. Make sure you’re arranging farm events. Use them to learn and practice coordination skills as well as build morale and plan future events. Practice overlapping fields for high yield AP. Mashing the deploy button when farms are eventually attacked is the *easiest* AP you will ever earn.

    5. Inclusive socialising adds another positive aspect of the game – throw in a picnic or something.

    6. Once your collective item stocks are up, reappear on the attack in a big way. Big fields, link everything you can. Go nuts. Remember that creating links and fields yields more AP than destroying, so you’ll get more AP than your attackers.

    7. Once you’re in the habit of taking down portals (wait for decayed portals, or lower level portals with good number of links). Portal churn – where a single portal is being captured and recaptured
    over and over – is your best possible outcome: link it up every time.

    8. Don’t bother with shields – no AP is rewarded and you *want* portal churn so you can deploy again. Don’t bother with recharging unless you’re absolutely sure a defender is about to arrive to mash-deploy in response to an attack. No point recharging any other time (seriously, 10 AP?? Compared to 1250 for creating a field!).

  43. Although you’re right, there are two possible solutions:
    -You just have to add more portals, as many as you can. The bad ones can’t keep them all.
    -Be patient :)
    But yes, you are right, it´s really hard.

    • Miguel: yes, adding portals is imvho the best strategy to undermine the dominance of a team. Besides, after a few months in which you repeat to yourself that your foes are lazy idiots, you are so self-confident that you start making silly mistakes, and then typically the faction flip happens. Note, however, that this would not really solve the problem. After a faction flip you end up having exactly the same problem, only with the factions inverted. Still one faction is bored and the other one after a while gets frustrated.

  44. Stop moaning and call in some high level friends if your town is dominated. Winchester had ~60 L6 and L7 Enlightened portals and was flipped overnight by two high level smurfs.

  45. I just joined and play in portland. It is very boring because it is 98% dominated by the other team. On the rare occasion I find a portal held by my team, I get a little more ap/exp and I really don’t understand why hacking enemy portals doesn’t earn more. Obviously there is very little I can do to contribute to the game and it feels as though the other team lives very close if not on top of portals as they are instantly taken over if there is a flip.
    The other annoying thing is when there are 2 or 3 portals for the same park all held by the other team.

    Probably going to quit and wait for fixes to balance. /auto-balance yo

  46. Ok, so in your (not completely thought through suggestion) I would in order to stack up on xmps, pimp up a portal with multihacks and heat sink, flip it. My enemy can’t touch it, I can farm xmps like crazy.

    If a faction is dominated, it is not because of what you say, it’s because you are to few agents. in stead of spending majority of your time trowing pebbles at Lvl8 portals, you should actively recruit to the game. With more agents it’s easy to overthrow a dominant faction, if 8 agents walk together, you wont need to spend many nukes each to take down a portal, so every individual agent does not have to have very many. Farming is a part of the game, some do it more, personally I recycle hundreds of items every day. You can’t balance a game based on the fact that very active agents makes a difference vs. less active and fewer in numbers agents in opposing faction.

    Recruiting, training, building your faction is the key to the game, not crying over balance. It’s already to easy to take down a fully pimped up portal i.m.h.o.

  47. I think part of the problem is there is no “base of operations.”

    Think about it. What makes Risk so enduring . . . there are 4 or 5 key places on a map from which to build a base. Command and Conquer you start with a base. Capture the Flag you start with a base. Perhaps 2-3 portals be designated as permanent in each city or area.

    I compare ingress to a chess match that once the game is lost and you start to put a new pawn on the board to play again, but the queen from the other side immediately knocks the reset piece out of the game. There is no chance to reset the match. Then why play? Once you loose its over. What good is a lvl 8 stomping out all lvl 1′s in an area. Perhaps a rule that says you can attack +1 -1 portals from your level? Niantic can rate the significance of all portals accordingly and then you have to build and hold verses squash. You cant take over higher level portals until you reach that lvl. Thus all lvl ones compete on the same field and have a chance to advance.

    I honestly do not know what the cure is but I am quickly loosing interest in the game as fast as I gained it.

  48. I would love to live in a city dominated by the other faction.

  49. A 3rd faction is seriously needed. And could be a NPC faction, ie the higher the portal and number of links, the more likely a “Shaper” will emerge and consume the portal, spread by infecting linked portals .
    Along with allied faction hacks producing mostly resonators and shields.
    Enemy portals produce “flip cards” of your faction, bursters and cubes.
    This would make for a much better game.

  50. How about providing the simulated/automated/virtual opponents/teammates to bring the balance in the game?

  51. I think a 3rd (or even going upto 5 factions) would be a nice move, the Good vs Evil system always end with one side being far more dominant.

    Personally i’d love to see a more active side added to the game, something like rifts that needs sealing or widening that last say 48h tops the reward being items you can’t get from portals? and for the faction that is trying to widen them other benefits.
    Then maybe if they are close to an opposing portal or field and are widened enough they have a chance of flipping, damaging or clearing it.

  52. just insert a third faction…
    …this 2-faction-problem is a part of sooo much games. but if you have 3 factions, the 2 dominated faction can attack the dominating faction together.

    Just have a look a the most balanced Multi-Player Games like “Dark Age of Camelot” or “Planetside”.

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