This is the second installment of a longer article about balancing issues in Ingress. You can find the first part here. I remind you that this is the result of a brainstorming by several players. I don’t claim that all the ideas here are mine, nor that all the contributors agree at 100% with all the ideas…
In the first part of this series, we discussed how the rules could be modified to make somewhat easier (or possible at all) for a dominated faction to recover control locally once the situation has become too unbalanced.
On the other hand, one may go one step forward and say that the game could avoid unbalanced situations altogether. This does not mean forbidding them of course. The aim could be to just make it more convenient for both teams to have a balanced situation, then if one of them still wants to try a complete takeover it should be allowed to do that, in particular if some safety mechanisms like the ones discussed in the previous post are implemented.
Making the coexistence of the two factions more convenient
Nobody playing the game seriously would accept that his/her foes are graciously allowing him/her to own a few portals. Portals must be fought for, and must be conquered. We know that in some cities there are informal agreements between factions that lead to a somewhat balanced situation. This is, however, not enough. The game should be smart enough to make it convenient for any player to have a few enemy portals around.
The situation would greatly improve if the following ideas (or something similar) were implemented:
a) Building a portal close to another portal of the same color, without an enemy portal in between, could be made much harder (for example, much more xm required for deploy). This should work for the immediate proximity of a portal, and to some extent over a radius which is the size of a small city. The result is to make farm building much harder, in particular for a faction that is already in control of a city. The easiest farm to build would be the one which includes enemy portals.
b) Alternatively, destroying a cluster of portals belonging to one faction could be made easier. The actual mechanism could be for example much faster decay of portals when they are all close to each other without any enemy portal in between. In general, portals should weaken neighboring portals of the same faction and strengthen portals of the opposite faction. One can think of a mechanism in which portals of the same faction compete for resources, “feeding” from enemy portals, and if portals of a single faction are too dense, they just starve each other to death. Along the same lines, portals could deflect part of the damage towards enemy portals nearby, thus becoming more resilient to attacks. Or, similarly, xmp damage to enemy portals could be mitigated by friendly portals (i.e. if you attack a blue portal, green portals nearby can screen it from part of the effect, even if not taking explicit damage). This would make a single portal surrounded by enemy portals very strong and hard to takeover and a mono-faction portal farm easier to destroy. The strongest configuration for both factions would be a balanced mix of green and blue portals. This encourages to keep a situation where the two factions share the portals. Indeed, a farm becomes stronger if it hosts enemy portals.
c) Similarly, the droprate of a friendly portal when hacked may depend on the neighboring portals: more enemy portals nearby would result in more items being dropped. The motivation here could be similar to the competition for resources mentioned above. This could work the other way around for hacking an enemy portal, i.e. the enemy portal gives you more stuff if there are no portals of your own team close by.
This is all for this installment. The next (and last of this series) will follow in a few days.
What do you think of coexistence between different portals? Is this really a good idea, or is it too risky?
Part 3: Limiting the impact of very active high-level players [coming soon]