On The Internal Economy of Ingress

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On the Internal Economy of Ingress

I’ll start by posing this question: What is a level 8 resonator worth?

What is a resonator worth?

What is a level 8 resonator worth?

To clarify. I’m talking about its in-game value, not what it costs or can be sold for in real money. Deployed resonators can create value for their faction by holding territory and increasing the value of gear that allies can get out of a portal – they can also create value for their faction by increasing the effort it takes for the opposing faction to remove them.

The first core truth that needs to be recognized when thinking about the economy of Ingress is that this usefulness-of-a-level-8-resonator isn’t fixed. It’s contextual.

A resonator deployed in a level 8 farm attended by 20 people helps create perhaps 88 new level 8 resonators, even if it only persists for less than an hour. That’s useful. A resonator on a portal hacked by nobody for six months can be useful as well, if it helps hold down territory. Most deployed resonators are going to have life stories that are less useful than those two examples, but on a basic level usefulness-of-a-l8 resonator derives from the interaction of how many friendly players benefit from it and how long it persists in the game environment.

In other words, it’s worth what you can do with it and what you can do with it depends on the state of the game in the local area.  What you actually do with it depends on you, but that’s a different kettle of fish.

That leads to the second core truth: the more dominant your team is in your area, the more useful the gear in your inventory is. Even assuming every player on both sides is at item cap, the team that is larger, more organized, and/or already owns most of the portals is at a distinct advantage because their resonators when deployed last longer and provide benefit to more of their team.

link advantage

The advantage is even more marked for xmps, because Niantic has made design choices (link mitigation, shields being just another type of gear) that are of much more benefit to the dominant team’s defense then the weaker one. The dominant team’s shields get destroyed less frequently so they persist in the environment longer, they have more opportunity to add additional mitigation over time because of that greater persistence, they have more opportunities to add mitigation through links because they own more portals and those portals are more likely to be fully deployed, and because they have more link mitigation opportunities they can use cheaper and fewer shields to gain the same defensive effect that the less dominant team would have to use a larger number of more expensive shields for. In addition, high mitigation is exponentially more useful than weaker mitigation, so even a low difference in the average mitigation achieved by each faction can translate into the weaker faction needing several times the xmps the dominant faction does to achieve the same destructive effect.

Note that I have not even touched on scarcity issues here. These observations are true even if every player on both sides has identical access to gear.

As a practical matter, though, dominant teams worth their salt can significantly limit the other team’s access to gear. What this means is that weaker teams have access to less gear and the gear they have doesn’t go as far, and stronger teams have more access to gear and that gear goes further. This creates a positive feedback loop.

This is itself a design choice. In board game circles it’s referred to as the “runaway leader” effect – winning makes it easier and easier to keep winning. It has a few advantages – it is a more intrinsically realistic dynamic. There are some games, like Monopoly, in which a runaway leader taking over is the entire point of the game in the first place. However, runaway leader positive feedback loops are not viewed as good design for longer games because players tend to dislike games where the outcome is decided very early on but they are obliged to keep playing. While nobody is actually obliged to play Ingress, player attrition rarely helps with the underlying balance issues.  Note that a game having a runaway leader effect doesn’t  mean that a team in a weaker position cannot ever achieve victories – it just means that the odds are heavily stacked against them.

design choices

Ingress is a very long game, and also intrinsically different from most other real world team activities. You do not get extra points in football for sneaking into the other team’s field at 3 AM and kicking goals. Nobody is going to view a cricket match as legitimate if one side has five fewer players and no bats. Yet Ingress puts players in that kind of situation all the time. You just have to make the most of it.

Here’s how highly effective players get gear in my city:

Ideal farms are around 50-60 portals arrayed in a driving loop in an isolated location. 50-60 portals because the more portals in a farm the more gear surplus is gained from it. Players prefer to farm as few times as possible to get the necessary gear to keep up with the gameplay pace in the city. Even so, the pace in this city is fast enough that top players often farm 50-60 portal farms daily or more than daily, with multihacks when the other team is lazy enough to permit. Driving loop because our city has a farm-crashing culture and the farm needs to be completed as fast as possible to gain any benefit from it, and also because as mentioned the farms are in isolated locations. The isolated locations without serious local opposition is to give a head start.

Farms on foot usually do not produce enough gear to compete with the gear produced from driving farms. They tend to be either small (up to 20 portals, very limited geographic area) or slow. That means they usually either provide a much smaller surplus than a driving farm, or are liable to be crashed. The last only matters if you’re in an area that has a culture of crashing farms, but if you are in that sort of area it matters a lot. Usually they are both small and liable to be crashed which is a double penalty.

Crashing a farm is sending a player to interrupt and destroy an enemy farm before they can get much gear out of it. A team’s ability to crash farms depends on player ability, player availability, player transportation, awareness of where the other team is likely to farm, and surplus gear. A team with comfortable gear surplus can take risks with their gear – if it takes 200 or 400 level 8 xmps to stop the other team from farming, it’s nothing, they know where to get more. A team with no surplus has no gear to take risks with and has a much harder time interrupting enemy farms. Since interrupting enemy farms is the easiest way to suppress enemy gear acquisition, this is another aspect of the game that leads to positive feedback loops in favor of whatever team is currently winning. If meeting people to get gear becomes risky, inventory-painful, and pointless, people become less willing to do it.

A key concept to remember when thinking about the production and consumption of gear in Ingress is “pace”. If you are not successfully farming at at least the rate your opposition is farming, advantage will accrue to them. If you are farming once a day, that’s not enough if your opposition is farming twice a day. If your opposition has a standing farm and can farm on demand… you’re in trouble. One of the things hardcore players do to lock casual players on the other team out of areas is to push the pace of play so hard that the casual players might as well not be playing. Most quit at that point. weekly statsThere is no limit to how long a player can play as long as they have data access and power to their phone. Compared to a player who plays 18 hours at a stretch, even a player who plays 1-2 hours a night is “casual” and liable to be locked out. Ultimately, players who can best approximate a bot in their ability to acquire and consume gear win out. There are many ways to play Ingress, but most of them depend on there not being hardcore PvP players opposing you at every turn.

Why chase opposition players out of the game? Basically, your ability to do awesome things in Ingress is inversely related to whether the opposition is there (“Opposition” can come from your own faction as well as the other one). If they don’t show up, either because they don’t exist or have been demoralized, you can do fun and cool things like 8’ing your entire city or building field art or megafielding. If they do show up, your ability to do such things drops precipitously and swiftly approaches zero. How much effort your team puts into these accomplishments has much less relation to whether they are successful than the presence or absence of the other team. Perhaps unfortunately, only absolute accomplishments count for Ingress glory. Relatively, it could be much more difficult for one team to build a level seven farm against local opposition than for another team to field three countries against zero opposition, but the second team is going to get all the accolades. This is a strong motivation to chase people out of the game. Some players do that through playing hard, others in a less ethical fashion.

It’s true that there’s not much point to playing Ingress against a total lack of opposition.  Players do prefer having opposition, but they prefer that opposition to be much, much less effective than they are. The threshold at which players become disappointed at the lack of opposition in this game tends to be well past the point at which that opposition is completely demoralized by its inability to accomplish anything.

And that’s how the gear economy works and drives the balance of power. It’s rough on people. The inventory production/consumption cycle is used to ration play, drives how territory is divided, and has a huge effect on how well teams are able to contest anomalies. When it’s unbalanced, as it is now, that creates major distortions in play that amplify other existing imbalances. Unlike other games where the territory fought over is imaginary and players can choose their home turf, Ingress is fought over real territory. It does not artificially balance teams and it makes no allowances for how people are distributed in real life.

global dominance

Runaway positive feedback loops aren’t an inevitable problem for a game like this to have. A few negative feedback loops introduced to the mix could make the game more competitive and less about constant grind for all players. Here’s a few suggestions from a 40 million AP perspective:

1) Give thought to making underdog play interesting and fun. Even if a player is faced with a sea of max-mitigated and linked enemy portals as far as the eye can see, she still should be able to accomplish things. There should be easy ways to do minor random sabotage to portals in this game, perhaps by using keys.

2) Stronghold portals need to get weaker over tactical timeframes. A farm should be hardest to take down when people are farming it and easier to take down (soon) afterwards to encourage players to defer destruction and slow down the pace of the game. Currently a farm tends to be poorly mitigated when built and gradually grows stronger as it’s linked and shielded, making hitting mid-build the most cost-effective approach for attackers on several levels..The current decay mechanic is too slow to be relevant within tactical timeframes, and remote recharge ensures most portals someone cares about will get recharged, and only the scraps will get easier to take down with time.

3) Slow down high-intensity players in a targeted way. Per-player resonator and mod limits would accomplish a lot here. Have more than a set (or cell-scaled) number of level 8 resonators deployed? Your burster effectiveness takes a hit. You already have 10 very rare shields on portals? Sorry, that’s all you get to deploy, wait for the ones you have to be destroyed.

4) Mitigation needs a lot of work. A large fraction of mitigation comes from links, introduced to motivate players to link before scoring was introduced. As earlier mentioned this favors the dominant team. It’s also anti-pedestrian in environments where links are longer than a reasonable walk away. Reducing maximum portal mitigation (currently 95%) by 1% per link would make highly mitigated portals much less spammable. 1% reduction doesn’t sound like a lot, but 90% mitigation is half as strong as 95% mitigation. That would make a fully shielded portal with 5 links take twice the damage as a fully shielded portal with no links. That’s just one possible tweak – the whole mitigation system is heavily unbalanced.

5) Mercilessly oppress agents who play without ever leaving their cars. “It’s time to move” is basically a joke in nearly any pedestrian/car player interaction, and despite frequently claiming Ingress is a game about exercise in interviews, Niantic is putting more and more emphasis on large-scale fields that require heavy car use. It’s not just destroying by car that’s the problem; hacking and deploying 8s from vehicles is equally problematic for game pace and balance.  Agents over 12 mph being limited to effective level 6 for firing xmps, deploying, and hacking would be one approach to this issue that would probably work well.

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43 Comments

  1. This article is fantastic. It matches a lot of things I have been saying forever. Right now Ingress is nothing but a grind- it has always been, there’s a popular image of the Pink Panther and the Inspector going round and round repainting the same column over and over again, and that’s Ingress in a nutshell.

    A few comments:

    Bot-like play being most advantageous is a sign that something is deeply broken in your mechanics. Bot-like play is something that is highly realistic, but uninteresting. If you throw up barricades to bot-like behavior, you will both disarm cheaters and encourage players to contribute. What’s not to like? One aspect that is used in another game called QONQR is that each account possesses a certain amount of actions (called deployments) in an hour. Exceeding that limit means that your actions recharge more slowly, to the point that you should eventually just stop for an hour because the recharge is so bad. You do have to be harsher on multi-accounting if a player is time-limited in actions, however. It is worth noting that QONQR threw in the towel on this, “decriminalizing” multi accounting because they couldn’t stop it. Instead they allowed players to accuse one another of multiaccount behavior (and if correct, penalize the players in question by linking their recharge times.) This has a lot of problems (screws legitimate couples players, discourages socializing, is weird and opaque from the target’s point of view) but is a very interesting and unorthodox solution.

    An anecdote from QONQR regarding “high intensity” players: The majority of the state of MD was held by one man and his “family”, who would respond with a quickness when any area was taken. When sync lock went into play, this player found himself locked constantly and quit. The competitive landscape of the state changed in a breathtaking way: all of a sudden a set of independent non-multiaccounting players who had been penned up in the south-central part of the state are running rampant and the competitive landscape of the game in this area is unrecognizable from what it was before. (As I put it in chat, it’s like coming back to Oz to hear the wicked witch is dead and the munchkins are lighting tires on fire in the street and shooting off AKs.)

    High intensity players are the factor that has the most competitive impact in MMOs (and have a disproportionate effect in open-ended geolocation games, since the player pool is not defined by interest level, as in something like EVE Online but by location.) I feel this is poisonous to the genre in the long run.

    Link mitigation, while problematic for the reasons you mention, is also one of the greatest changes the game ever got. Before link mitigation, building links and fields was actually not the best idea because it created AP clusters for enemies to seek out, thus imperiling farm clusters. This led to a lot of needless anger on the part of players. Link mitigation allows players’ natural behavior to become complementary rather than opposed strictly. Your solution of dropping max mitigation would just lead to these bad old days again. Mitigation is still worth considering- my thought is to make link mitigation a separate pool, but make defense and item hacking potential draw on a common “pool” of ability (more defense = less item quality.) So, link mitigation naturally adds to the defense of a portal and is crucial, but is never actively harmful. When a portal has been stood up to 8, it should gain a major mitigation bonus that falls over time. The net effect here is that as a team’s domination increases, each portal contributes less and less farm potential as it becomes more strongly defended, causing farm “clusters” to be less valuable. Whether you want players to be able to replace mods is an open question. Could go either way.

    Regarding high intensity players, if XMP and Ultra Strike were reversed in functionality (and made open to all) that in and of itself might solve a lot of problems with guys who drive around all day. I like your speed limitation, and feel that the game could benefit greatly from expanded use of the Android on foot context for fine adjustment, and simple speed measurement overall. This also harms bots greatly.

    • on a re-read, this is what I meant to say re: links: Defense comes from 2 sources: Mods and links. Links can provide up to 50% defense. A portal’s hacking potential stands at 100% when it has no shields, but this drops with added mod mitigation (to perhaps a minimum of 30%, meaning that a glyph hack is required to get full item potential from a shielded portal.) Link defense is not counted against this total, but a portal that is good to hack is also good to blow up. No doubt there is an acceptable mean that players will find through experimentation.

  2. Very nice article.
    One thing g that is missing for me though is the effect of the number of l8 resonators needed to keep a dominant faction really dominant. L8 resos can essentially o la be hacked from l8 portals and to build a l8 portals you need I players deploying an l8 reso.
    This seems trivial but if you assume only 50% of players regularly farm you need 16 and not 8 players to build a big farm..
    Of course many heavy players trade objects to less intense players but this stops as soon as the do not have enough resonators. In addition to that a player rarely keeps more than 300 l8 resonators and one resonator is used for each portal won back to the enemy even if it will not become a l8 portal. So another rough 50% comes from this..
    This means a very active player will be able to deploy at most 80, 90 l8 portals before hacking again. So if opposition manages to reduce the number of portals below this limit, preferring drive farms to be destroyed first it still has a chance to counter the opposite dominance… Remember that you can use also l7 and even l6 bombs to destroy l8 resonators…
    So, at the end, what I really would like to see is a new article on how to counter a strong team in the most effective way!
    This also is a lot of fun even if it has not a lot of public recognition from the community

  3. Niantic could do a lot to balance the factions by simply changing the language around faction choice in the first place. Currently it basically says help aliens control humanity or resist them. I don’t think most people follow the story plot but I think if they presented the resistance as they are it would be a lot more balanced. Help the shapers to alter humanity or become one with the machine mind to resist their influence. Which do you choose?

    • Caseyscorpion on

      Always going to be difficult as frequently in stories people are supposed to root for the underdog, so calling one side resistance instantly makes them appeal. But as the story is developing, to me at least, into becoming more about alien influenced humans vs machine controlled humans (so not much of an underdog story there, more terminator)

  4. I like the first half of the article’s conclusions. However your “solutions” would be more damaging than doing nothing.

  5. I made suggestion long ago, before link mitigation was introduced. My suggestion was basically that links should add mitigation to portals, but they should also add the same amount to the decay rate. So if you have 50% mitigation from 10 links, you will have 65% decay per day (15% normal decay + 50% Link decay). Say that the Links create a de-stabilizing effect…

  6. This is the best thing I’ve ever seen on DecodeIngress and matches up with a lot of what I’ve been saying since a few weeks into the game. Thanks for expressing this so well and with such detail.

  7. Jackie Grove on

    Solutions 1, 2 and 4 make a lot of sense although I see some room for debate. Solutions 3 and 5 are absolutely biased against people who play in less portal dense areas. I’m not even saying rural areas, but in areas where portals may be more then a half kilometer or so apart.

    Let’s say you and a small band of friends are trying to move from underdog to top dog. By implementing solution 3 you in fact damage their ability to do so. A small group of players CAN gain the upper hand by putting in more coordinated effort over a short duration. By penalizing high activity like this you will in fact entrench the dominant team further.

    Solution 5 is just flat out elitist. “Mercilessly oppress agents who play without ever leaving their cars” in what way does that make game play acceptable for those who don’t live in highly dense, foot traffic friendly areas? Do we just say that Ingress is a game for those who live in areas with good portal density and everyone else go do something else? If you don’t like Niantics PR folks hyping megafields that’s one thing….but that’s not something that requires a game mechanic fix.

  8. I agree to chad! And Ir would like that niantic balance things between people that plays in car and walking, the diference could be brutal, I mean the farming case, how many hacks can do in an hour a player from his car? How many portals can reach? Compare that with a walking player, access to xm to recharge portals, made deploys, fire xmp, you know just a turn around the block and they are full xm again and ready to tear down what you build walking at least 30 minutes or more, that’s very unbalanced

  9. You makes some very great points here but you ignore two highly important ones. The game is scored on MU not by how much gear a player has or how may portals they own. In my sector that is dominantly controlled by the enemy I can frequently build large MU fields, top the leaderboard, and secure MU lead for my faction with less than a couple hours of gameplay. If I did so regulary and in sync with checkpoints I could own the score for the cycle. It’s about dedication and timing, and done so with strategic planning, collection of keys, and little gear.

    In my opinion if your goal is control of all the portals your doing it wrong. You only need to keep putting those fields up.

    • Except that MU, despite the putative “score” for Ingress, has no effect on gameplay mechanics at all. Practically speaking, how much MU your faction holds is virtually meaningless. Your bursters do not become more powerful, your inventory cap is not raised, you still need 8 people to build a level 8 portal, etc.

      • Caseyscorpion on

        It has an effect on which side wins anomalies though (at the anomaly site itself, local/connected cells and the global score). This in turn affects the narrative of the ingress story, which is of interest to players in a game that cannot be ultimately won.

  10. The second point I feel you failed to mention is farming enemy portals. You gain AP, and can acquire as much gear as the enemy without costing the XM keeping them recharged.

    • Not quite. ‘Dirty’ hacking gets you less gear than hacking on your own faction portals. On average, dirty hacking a farm gets me about 1/3 of the gear I’d get on my own colour. So, in effect, you need 3x the hacks as the enemy to get the same amount of gear. In addition, dirty hacking is an xm drain, especially on highly mitigated portals with turrets, because the portals attack you when you hack, so hacking a full shielded and linked enemy farm will cost you a lot of power cubes. Unless you have absolutely no other choice, often, it ain’t worth it.

  11. A Concerned Cat on

    This author’s descriptions of Ingress do not match my experience. I have played throughout the entire state of California, and frequently browsed intel in neighboring states, and there are no runaway leaders in any of the medium-to-large cities. I would like to see intel on the area where they are playing, to see what a runaway leader looks like, because I have never actually seen one in person.

    The two least balanced populated cells in California according to the score are CHARLIE-13 and CHARLIE-08… and they are neighbors, and RES owns 13 while ENL owns 08. In both cases the player population is comparable between factions, but the winning faction is far better organized and playing more intelligently, and deserves to win. In both cases the faction being “dominated” still owns at least 1/3 of the portals, and has areas of local control. The game is playable and fun for both sides.

    As for specific points, unless you are playing in a very sparse rural area, link mitigation does not favor the leading team. If you take over one portal at a time as a member of a trailing faction… yes, that is poor strategy, and you will lose. If you meet up with a teammate or two and take over a half-dozen portals, you can deploy shields just as well and link them up for mitigation just as well as anyone on the leading faction.

    Access to farms does not favor the leading team nearly as much as the author suggests. Niantic has ALREADY adjusted item drops to make farming opposite-faction farms more lucrative. In CHARLIE-13 for the last couple of months, ENL doesn’t even bother making farms anymore, they just go to RES farms. RES gets slightly better drops, but also has the burden of maintaining the farms. It’s not totally even but it’s pretty damn close.

    If you feel like you can’t do anything because the area is too dominated by the enemy, you need to set more appropriate goals, or learn to play more effectively. Even a lone agent can do substantial damage in an enemy-dominated area, and with two or three agents working together, you can do an awful lot.

    The issue of driving players vs walking players is entirely separate from the issue of runaway leaders, and the author should have saved it for a separate post.

    • Thomas Spear on

      Check out Houston some time. The north is fairly well balanced, while downtown and all of the south is strictly resistance. The downtown and south resistance players have also started supplying resistance players in Beaumont Texas, an hour east of Houston on the border of Louisiana with gear because the enlightened dominate Beaumont while the resistance dominate Port Arthur.

      • A Concerned Cat on

        Thomas, I’m looking at Houston now. In the area inside the Sam Houston beltway, of portals level 3 or higher, there are 652 ENL and 554 RES. In the area inside the beltway south of downtown, there are 327 ENL and 372 RES, and ENL has all the P8s and the majority of P7s. This is not a sign of anyone running away with anything.

        Austin, which “Timmy” cites as an example of RES being a runaway leader, is even more balanced than that.

    • “Niantic has ALREADY adjusted item drops to make farming opposite-faction farms more lucrative.”

      Since when? It is still better to farm your own portals than enemy portals. You don’t get zapped for XM and you get slightly more items. The only benefit is AP for non-A8 (or soon non-A16) players.

      • A Concerned Cat on

        kmd, perhaps I was unclear; I meant that farming opposite-faction portals is more lucrative *than it was before*, not than farming same-faction portals. You get almost as much gear either way these days, whereas opposite-faction farming used to get you a lot less gear.

    • Have a look at Brisbane at some point: 366 EP8s, 0 or 1 RP8s, depending on how lazy we feel. Right now its inflated as the Resistance is ‘dirty hacking’ for gear for the upcoming anomaly, but its usually about 200-0.

    • Zoom in on Western Europe some time. Portal density is a lot higher than in most of the US, and we’re definitely feeling the runaway-leader-effect over here.

    • San Jose, Oakland/Berkeley, and Sacramento are all runaway Resistance areas. there’s almost always 100+ blue portals and only a smattering of green portals.

      • A Concerned Cat on

        Jeopardy, are you serious?

        I have IITC open on Oakland/Berkeley right now. There are 1408 portals L2 or higher, 718 blue and 690 green. That’s about as balanced as you can get. I have seen it more blue than that, I have seen it more green than that.

        I live in Sacramento. Downtown and the eastern suburbs are heavily blue, but green is dominant in West Sacramento and is competitive in North and South Sacramento. Each faction has areas of strength and weakness. Over the five months that I have been playing, there is no sign of the strong getting stronger and the weak getting weaker, as the author suggests will inevitably happen.

        San Jose is heavily blue (though hardly monochromatic), but go up the peninsula a bit to Mountain View or Sunnyvale and you’ve got green strongholds. The area balance of power does not keep tipping further and further in one direction.

        All of the areas you cite are evidence *against* this supposed runaway-leader effect.

  12. A Concerned Cat on

    The author also ignores one of the most effective rubberbanding mechanisms built into the game, which is decay. If a small group of agents tries to conquer and hold a large area, they’re going to either spend all their time recharging, or they’re going to have severely decayed portals vulnerable to attack. Either way, their further expansion is held in check.

      • More and more portal approvals make decay a real issue and recharging is a tremendous burden no matter how many agents you have. However, the increased number of portals always favors the active team, so deploying portals weekly in rotation and not charging anything that isn’t strategic is still sufficient to dominate the area.

    • “Spend all their time recharging” is an exaggeration. A level 8 portal loses 7200 XM per day. That’s less than a single level 8 cube. Burning out the farm even only once a day will harvest enough cubes to keep you recharging. And that’s just one player recharging. Throw in a dozen players who rotate recharging duties, and it is hardly a bother at all. You’re looking at maybe half an hour of recharging once a week per person, or less.

    • Something I repeat time and time again: Recharge your farms, let the rest die. Don’t “hold a large area”, hold a portal farm and redeploy or do 4 on-4 off redeploys if you don’t want to lose the fields. If you get burnt out because you’re recharging too much, then you’re holding too much.

  13. This article is a good description of the game mechanics, but only for high-density areas (high density in population and therefore in portals and players). I live in a rural area with few players and few portals, and lots of km to drive to reach other portals and make fields. And the balance here is totally different: the mitigation won by linking is here very important, because it takes a lot of efforts to get links, and it’s so easy to take down portals. It took me months to get l8 players to come in my area to have 3 l7 portals, and it took seconds to a l6 enemy player to take them down. Which means that if you want a balanced gameplay, you need to have rules that adapt to the environment. And if links mitigation could be deactivated in some areas, it should stay active in others, so the more effort you make, the more rewards you receive.

  14. Please remember this is one persons view. Also remember how the game is played and what affects what, is highly based on locale. Cant gain traction in your area? Get on a bus. Take a trip with the fam. Theres more out there.

  15. As discussed in item #5 and I also agree this is not a game mechanic issue suitable for this article, but I strongly disagree with doing anything speed-limit-based either on real velocity from the GPS or as is currently used, the effective average speed based on distance and time between two actions. We have already seen that the current effective-action-speed-limit only penalizes legitimate players who have to stop and wait between portals at the end of long drives, while spoofers and bots are unaffected. I see no advantage given to walkers here, while disadvantaging legitimate driving players and having no impact on couch cheaters.

    I strongly oppose the current governor on the effective-action-speed-limit system and oppose it as it will not bring any real incentive to urban walkers and penalize rural and long-distance driving play.

  16. While I agree with the main observations of this article:
    1) There is lots of positive feedback in Ingress
    2) a few very active players have a large effect

    I don’t think it is a problem or that the proposed modifications to “fix” it are a good idea.

    While I agree that the positive feedback effect does make it difficult for the dominated faction to recover locally in a closed system I don’t think the answer is to add negative feedback to make the game more “balanced”. Indeed a perfectly balanced game would mean, essentially that players actions would be irrelevant as the game would always return to an equilibrium. As the article correctly points out positive feedback is more realistic so I don’t think this should be changed.

    So does this mean the the dominated faction should just quit as the article seems to suggest?

    NO.
    The key is to realize that Ingress can and should be played at a regional level.
    So if your faction is dominated in your town get some players from another town where your faction is dominant to come and help you!

    A car load of high level, well equipped, players can do quite a bit of damage.

    One time probably won’t be enough but, providing they also help the local players level up and give them gear this is the way to break the positive feedback loop.

    Then, once the local players start to level up enough set up supply lines to get them gear until they can farm it all locally.

    Now sure, the proportion of players willing to do this is fairly low but because of observation 2 that doesn’t matter.
    Chances are quite high that there is another town within a reasonable distance (eg a couple of hours) where your faction is dominating and there are a few players looking for action elsewhere.

    To me this is what Ingress is about, organising communities and group actions. I think it is far more satisfying to manage to organise action to reverse the domination in an area rather than complaining about “balance”.

    The effects the article describes would only be really problematic if the domination was at the regional or national level but I haven’t seen that yet.

  17. Unfortunately, you’ve missed a lot of changes, +D Reed, and are just plain wrong in many ways.

    Let’s start from the bottom and work our way back up.

    1) Underdog play is already exciting and fun.* Gear denial is a stupid strategy, as hacks on high level portals work both ways. A dense L8 farm will provide gear to either side, and if your goal is to take down a farm after the fact, doing a few extra harvesting passes prior to deploying bursters to ‘live off the land’ is more than viable. However, being outnumbered, one might want to shift their long term goals to be less about immediate area domination (impossible unless you even out the man hours being played somehow) and seeking other long term goals.

    *exciting and fun depends on player motives and goals, of course.

    2) Farms are already hard to take down while being built. You can ‘farm over’ small numbers and get your harvesting done even if they try a takedown. Seriously, it’s fun.

    Unattended farms are easy takedowns. Period. Again, you don’t even need to show up with piles of gear to do so.

    3) Farms are less relevant. The ‘walking game’ IS being heavily pushed. You need a lot fewer portals to max out on gear if you glyph hack, and again, doing 5 glyphs and letting them be scored takes a lot more time, relatively, encouraging spending more time on station.

    4) On the same note, XMP damage is much higher if you’re on top of a resonator. Even with L8 bursters. Again, encourages slowing down and going on foot.

    5) There isn’t a problem with the feedback loop. I’m a student of game design myself, and ingress is purposefully misbalanced towards blue (default ‘top’ option, more sympathetic flavor text) to provide a more competitive game environment. But any smaller group will need to accept that this is a game of man hours and shift their goals accordingly, either by megafield projects (achievable by both sides, really) or alternate means of play (concentrating on different territories and raiding the territory of the other team).

    Plus, part of the game is the social aspect. Nah, most of the game. Once you’re done leveling and whatever. We’re talking about endgame play here, after all.

    If you’re camped outside a potential farm for hours while the folks going to farm are having a little party without you .. that’s a little sad, don’chathink? Even _for_ a bunch of introvert nerds and all. What’s worse is that group can just decide to move to a different location and farm there. Once you have eight people together, it’s an ingress party, not just a game.

    6) Now, I do agree that diminishing the other team is going to be a viable strategy. But we’re all playing the same game here. A community that tries to force people out by social ostracization or illegal, RL stalking, means, is just sad, and teams that condone that sort of thing need to look at themselves as to what kind of people they really are. The mitigation to this, however, _is_ to just treat this as a game. People who view themselves as leaders need to encourage cross faction events. Get to know the other side. Take the opportunity to be social once that takedown is done.

    If someone is accused of or being an actual harasser, their actions should be looked at deeper and not condoned, and reported to Niactic as necessary.

    However, aggressive play within the boundary of the propriety is fair and proper. ‘Combat’ deploys to save your fields (showing up and deploying resonators while the other player is trying to destroy them), aggressive response efforts (by rapidly mobilizing and trying to defend fields, etc)… the line is drawn at harassing others or following them when ‘no joy’ or ‘I’m done ingressing’ is called. We have shared comms channels. Use ‘em.

    7) Now that we’ve discussed the rest of the post, let’s talk about the meat of it. The idea of gear scarcity.

    It’s ridiculous. Again, a L8 portal is a L8 portal, no matter what side it’s on. A long hack on an empty farm is going to result in as much gear either way, whether it’s L8r or L8e. The only difference is in how big of an XM bar you have afterwards.

    The true scarce resource is in man hours per team, which again, is a matter of design. But as long as you have sufficient to accomplish your goals (minimum of 8 in your region), it doesn’t matter.

    (apologies, c/p from my reply on our local ingress group where this was crossposted)

    • ” I’m a student of game design myself, and ingress is purposefully misbalanced towards blue (default ‘top’ option, more sympathetic flavor text) to provide a more competitive game environment.”

      I’m intrigued. As a student of game design, what on earth provides a more competitive environment if you bias towards one team being significantly overpopulated, as the Resistance is right now. I agree they’re biased, but I don’t agree it provides a more competitive game environment. A competitive game environment would have balanced teams and would be reflected in a balanced world score. Unless one side is relying on spoofed chinese fields for a third of its score.

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  20. I have played in big cities and more remote locations, and this is very good with regards to the former, but not so much the location. In my home area (Vermont), it’s hard for either team to even get 8 players together to build a farm, and large fields between portals in small adjacent towns is the norm. The strategy and value of various items is totally different to big city Ingress.

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