Tempus Fugit: adding ageing to Ingress

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My previous set of posts was proposing some ideas aimed at one specific target (namely, making the game less vulnerable to faction unbalance).

This post instead discusses a few ideas without any specific problem to fix. These are just some speculations on how the game could be different (not necessarily better, nor worse) if some features were implemented instead of the current ones.

I’ll discuss briefly three main topics, all connected by the general idea of making ingress, so to speak, calendar-aware.

ingress-clockMaking portals expire

The game geography as we know it changes in time, but only along one direction. New portals are added, the old ones stay there forever. Moreover, amongst the criteria for portal acceptance apparently there is no requirement on preexisting portals in the same area.

The result is that not only the portal population increases (which would not be bad), but also the portal density increases (which, depending on your style of gaming, may be annoying).

So, what if portals were allowed to age, weaken and, at last, die? The correct time scale for this ageing is clearly driven by the approval process. If it takes, say, one month to approve a portal, it makes sense to expect that said portal can be used for at least 3-5 times as long. After that, some weakening process can be imagined in such a way that the portal slowly loses potential, and eventually disappears (maybe with some spectacular explosion that neutralizes everything close by). The weakening could be reflected in gameplay in several ways: for example the portal becomes less powerful, i.e. it can only be upgraded up to a given level. So a new portal can support L8 resos, while during its ageing it will slowly support only up to L7 resos, then only up to L6, and so on until it can only be upgraded to L1. The nice thing here is that we would have for free some rigidly enforced playgrounds for low levels. The level limits could also go the other way around: a portal starts by being at maximum an L1, grows until it reaches its full potential as L8, then it becomes unstable and explodes. Portal expiration may also be an occasion for Niantic to slowly reduce portal density, by accepting less portals in high-density areas.

Making items expire

Dropped items disappear after a while. Which makes sense, imvho. What if also items in a scanner (at least the most common ones like xmps and resos) had a real expiration date, starting from the moment they were dropped by a portal (or redeemed through a passcode)? Forcing people to use the items they have within, say, one month from hacking, would most likely encourage more sophisticated resource planning and make the game, overall, more dynamic. A nice variant would be to make the item expiration depend on the number of items in the inventory, rather than on time, i.e. a scanner can hold and stabilize only a few hundreds of items. Anything in excess will start disappearing, with a speed that is higher if one has more items. This way the inventory limit could be removed altogether: one would be allowed to keep 20k items, if needed, though only for a very short time.

Making players expire

Ok, the title here is slightly misleading, but the thing is that, in a game where there is no reset, sooner or later the population of players who have reached the top level (be it 8 or 80) will increase, creating an extremely competitive environment for new levels. So it may be nice to have a mechanism to periodically interest high-levels in low-level-like playing. What if, once reached the top level, a player could choose to start a second cycle of leveling? To focus on the current level scheme imagine that, once I reach 2MAP, I decide to hit level 8+1. This is the first step of a new level cycle. Inventory is reset. I can only use xmp1. I must fight as a L1 for the usual 10kAP. At 2.01MAP I am level 8+2 and I gain again access to my L2 xmps, at 2.03MAP I get L3 xmps and so on. Why bother doing all this? At each new level, I get to deploy one extra resonator wrt a player at the previous level cycle. So when I am at L16, I can deploy on the same portal 2 L8 resos, 2 L7 resos 3 L6 resos and so on. Ideally, after 8 cycles, a player at level 64 could be able to build alone an L8 portal.

What do you think? What modifications you think would add fun/complexity to the gameplay?

About Author

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

49 Comments

  1. I’m kind of liking the idea of portal expiration and player leveling that you mentioned. Not so keen on the inventory expiration, though. But I like where your heads at! :-D

    • I like the idea of portal aging, not necessarily portal death. It would be interesting if a portal started at L1 and then after a few weeks could be upgraded to L2 and so on. Then after a few weeks at L8 it would reverse, then grow again. This way there could be areas that would be good for low and mid level players over time. It would certainly add a new component to strategy and help new players.

      The idea for player levels is also interesting. This could be a good option rather than moving to a L9 or higher. As a L8 I know I would take the plunge back to L1 if I knew I could work my way back up and be able to place more higher level resonators onto a portal.

      Not a fan of item expiration though. I would prefer to see some way to create crates and stash items in a geographic location outside of our scanner. This could help more coordinated drops and also create an element of possibly trying to hunt down where another faction might be hiding items they may be storing up.

  2. Interesting ideas. I like and agree with the idea of portal aging. I think the reduction in portals is an important step in keeping the game with some level of balance between levels where L1 players can make real and true impact in the game and are not dependent on finding higher level players to babysit them while they accumulate enough bursters to be able to make a dent in the high level portals they may be surrounded by.

    The other ideas are interesting an dI could see some variation on them being embraced when the game goes to an open beta state.

  3. I suspect that the biggest single thing that needs to be done to equalize things is to randomize the initial faction assignment instead of defaulting to resistance…

    One thing that might be very interesting is if a third, non-player faction was added. This faction, let’s call them the Aliens (even if Enlightened was originally envisioned as being “alien” in the source code), would randomly acquire portals, weighted towards areas where a single faction dominated. These portals would turn some third color, say red, and would have to be won back by either Enlightened or Resistance as normal.

    • Hi PDH. I am always interested by discussions on the third faction. The implementation you suggest, however, would be de facto equivalent to forcing the portal to decay faster depending on the local faction unbalance. Or am I misunderstanding something?

      Concerning randomizing faction assignment, I do not like the idea. In principle, it could work. But in real life people prefer to play with their friends (or against them), or they love the storyline and really want to roleplay according to one team instead of the other. Overall, I think new players shoul be allowed to choose. Things could be improved in such a way that the choice is informed, though.

      • I think the result would be considerably different than just faster portal decay. In particular:

        – red attacks would be somewhat random;

        – only a single resonator might go down on a given portal or as you say the entire portal might be weakened;

        – red might build links and fields;

        • Hi PDH. Ok so your third faction will have full capabilities like the other two, with the only special feature of being managed by niantic itself instead of by players. That may be interesting: I have never thought of it this way.

  4. I have been thinking that making the so called and never available third or red faction would be interesting if is managed only with elder players. If some day becomes available, what would it be the point of a new faction only with bewbies with no knowledge of the game whatsoever. Making a third faction for the players who started back with the game from the beginning could shake off all the monotony, now that more players are out.

  5. I am interested to hear the current stance of ‘Inactive portals’ will unclaimed portals be removed if they remain inactive for a period of time. I was wondering if Ingressers living in the snow in winter, also located out of huge citys, if they may lose their inactive portals along with the yearly hibernation period.

  6. Just a wild thought but… In the latest PDF ‘manual’ niantic released, AP is now ‘Access Points’ vs the old ‘Action Points’… What if soon there will be a cost to being level 8 where to have to ‘pay up’ a certain amount of AP per day to maintain your level 8 access or privilege. This will help against people with multiple accounts as they can’t leave them unused or else they maybe potentially down leveled to 7 if they lose enough AP. This will also require level 8 players to stay active and not take a vacation once level 8 is achieved. Lately this would illuminate the need to add higher levels. They do how ever need to add missions, which can give a preset amount of AP upon completion.

    • Hi DJ. Along the same lines, I was once thinking how nice it would be if some new actions were allowed (to all players, not just L8) that a player must pay with AP, instead of xm. Like removing a link of one’s own team, or fixing he position of a resonator.

  7. I don’t like that portals just disapear – this would lead to portal clusters around players dayli work and kill slowly the portals on top of mountains and similar places

    BUt i really like the expire of plaxers, in case you would need to get more ap for the same level each circle

    • That’s why you’d have some algorithm that has slower portal decay for portals in less dense areas, perhaps even getting to zero decay for particularly wide-open areas.

  8. I like the idea of portal expiration because the geographic features that portals refer to are not permanent. A new portal should come with an expiration date a year in the future, and that date is pushed back every time an agent submits a new picture of the portal referent. That way when the museum burns down, the portal will eventually disappear.

    Unfortunately, that’s more portal validation work. I wonder if that work could be given to the agents. If Niantic had a portal validation page, I’d visit. Let’s say a portal can exist only when it’s deemed valid by a quorum of L8 agents from every faction. If it could be agents from both inside the region (who know the area) and outside (who have no stake in the existence of the portal), that’d be good.

      • I’ve commented in other places about how the expiration would be player-instigated. I imagine a power (either via a hackable item or perhaps bestowed upon L8 players) to mark a portal as ripe for expiration. This would be visible to all and could be reversed by other players. This approach would put control in the hands of local players and reduce the workload on Niantic.
        I don’t support automatic expiry through non-use. There’s some portals in remote regions of Australia that players only pass periodically, but when they do can be used to create large fields. It would be a shame to lose these.

  9. psycopuppy on

    No no and no. The portal expiration doesn’t work because of the storyline (nia found xm only because ancient artifacts were still producing them.) I do agree with you on portal density though, some places are just ridiculous. The items disappearing after a while is bad because a) ppl need to stockpile items for the next big push and b) if a faction controls an area why should they be punished for not having to use them? And the higher level idea will only make the problem worse as time goes on.

  10. -1 expiring inventory
    -1 for portals expiring

    put friendly portal decay rate back to how it was in the first place.

    (what are you thinking? this was a horrible post to read through)

  11. -1 for portals. There are some portals in rural and hard-to-reach areas which are used to build hard-to-kill links but most of the time they stay uncaptured.

    +1 for items as it will more resemble real world.

    • Hi Ruslan. I see your point concerning hard-to-kill links, but my argument is that all portals disappear (not only the isolated ones) and you can submit as many new portals as you want. We would still have isolated portals, as long as somebody cares enough to submit them from time to time, possibly in different places, so we don’t repeat again and again the same field…

  12. I can see where you are going with all this but there are still WAY too many factors. One big one for me is that I live between somewhere and nowhere… portals, items, people to play with or against are all VERY scarce. Portals, in a sense, already decay on their own… the resonators eventually will fall apart if not maintained and hence leave an open portal. With the new ADA Refactor and Jarvis Virus, taking over a higher level portal is as simple as this… 1000 XM per level of the portal. This means at level 6 you can take over a full-on level 8 portal. Sure… you’d blow all your XM in one shot but with Cubes to replenish your XM that isn’t even an issue anymore. Also, destroying / taking an enemy portal at a lower level is VERY simple. I drive around with 2-4 operatives and at the time our highest level was level 3. We managed to recapture a level 5 portal. It’s not hard. Finally, making the players increase their levels to as high as 60+ is just insanity. You are asking for players in urban areas to become gods among mortals and players in rural areas to be the peons of the game. With as many portals as there are now in some places, I look at my map and see a green or blue BLOB where around 30-50 portals reside all within about 10-25 feet of each other. Overall I’d have to say NO to any or all of these ideas. Sorry.

    • Hi Boudragon, the problem of rural areas is a real one. What would you propose to make the game more interesting there, while still keeping it playable in more dense areas? Because the more I think of it, the more I am convinced that you just cannot have a single game optimized for both scenarios.

      • Seems to me that the solution is to have portals of the same faction “compete” with each other for XM. So in portal dense areas you can only have one L8 portal within some distance of any other portal. Maybe make it exponential:, 1 L8, 2 L7’s, 4, L6’s, 8 L5’s, 16, L4’s, etc So one simply could not build high level portal farms within a small geographic areas…

  13. As a rural player, I don’t like the idea of portals expiring. For my entire quest to L8, I only had 4 portals in town, and one more 15 miles away. The next was another 20 miles. I couldn’t convince anyone locally to play in that environment, and I don’t really blame them. Ingress is a very expensive game to play outside major cities.

    I’ve put forth a lot of money, time, and effort to create portals, so that future players in the area wouldn’t have to spend a ton of money. If all that went to waste, I’d have little reason to recruit, or even keep playing.

  14. I completely agree with some means of portal vetting, by veteran players. Within the realm of my suburban commute there are four portals which are obviously bogus, but even after multiple players from each faction reporting them, they’re still around. I have not seen a portal removed from Ingress yet. Maybe after the most recent flurry of “adds” are done, Niantic will do some cleanup?

    • LMAO! The only portals I’ve ever seen removed were the bronze statue of William Faulkner on my city’s square which no local agent said they filed to have removed, and the national sedimentation lab when I submitted a picture for it. I have heard rumors of certain Resistance players in Memphis having portals removed in cases where Enlightened agents live/work within hacking range, but I never saw the portals that disappeared while they were available (nor am I certain they were removed rather than simply *moved* to an inconvenient location).

  15. One thing that I think would make the game more interesting and possibly more balanced, would be to add a THIRD *side*. Just think that adding a third path to choose might increase difficulty and make it harder to hold on to a single portal, as instead of only having to worry about approximately 50% of the population, you would have to worry about 66%

    • Hi Daniel. Not necessarily. You can easily imagine scenarios where two factions cooperate to “kill” the third one, making it definitely an unfair match. If you really want ta third faction without creating unfair scenarios, you must be careful about how you implement it. It is clear that it must have very different rules for gameplay.

      • I agree.

        Granted, I had been reading Robert E. Howard prior to the Cross Plains Anomaly. When I spent 1.5hrs slashing my way through downtown Fort Worth, TX, taking 85 portals on my way to L8, I couldn’t help but think of Conan the Cimmerean.

        I’d like a barbarian red faction, whose only purpose was to deconstruct the portals built by both current factions. Allow full points to this faction for taking out portals, links, or fields. Don’t give them resonators or keys, only weapons and power cubes.

        I’d drop my L8, and join up in a heartbeat!

        “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”
        ― Robert E. Howard

        • If the portals attack Cimmerians on their hacks, then the Cimmerians do damage when they hack.

          “Barbarianism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is the whim of circumstance. And barbarianism must ultimately triumph”
          ― Robert E. Howard

        • I like the idea of a purely destructive faction. It will have to have special weapons, though, and some mechanism to compensate the lack of AP due to not creading links/fields. Probably it would be enough to lower the thresholds for leveling up.

          • I think it would be fairly simple to mitigate leveling. Don’t give half AP for destroying, but full AP or a constant X times AP for taking things down.

            Currently, it is 125ap to deploy a resonator, or 75 to destroy. Give them 140AP to destroy a resonator, a 250 bonus to knock out the first of 8 resonators, and a bonus of 500 to nullify a portal.

            “I think the real reason so many youngsters are clamoring for freedom of some vague sort, is because of unrest and dissatisfaction with present conditions; I don’t believe this machine age gives full satisfaction in a spiritual way, if the term may be allowed. ”
            ― Robert E. Howard

  16. very good! glad im not the only one who wants more depth and variation to ingress! great ideas!!!

  17. Dave Holmes on

    Seems to me the issue is one of ‘purity’

    Each portal leaks a very small amount of “HM” (Harmful Matter) as a by-product of drawing XM out of the ether. It is, fortunately, only a tiny fraction of the energy that we all recognise and use as a power source. If it accumulates, however, it can impair portal function (including max strength of resonators), and ultimately lead to catastrophic failure of the portal.

    If the portal is in a non-congested area, the HM can easily dissipate and no harm is done. A portal that sits in a magnificently isolated area need not decay at all. So rural players who have had to build against great odds would not see their work decaying or dying.

    In urban and city settings, though, it would lead to pollution zones where all portals would decay more quickly. The more portals that are added, the faster the decay. Overlapping portals would decay fastest of all.

    if a certain area became too crowded (as a player in Scotland, I am particularly looking at Princes St in Edinburgh, which is, frankly, ridiculous), portals might deteriorate/die at quite a rapid rate as they would basically be poisoning each other. However, as equilibrium was achieved between the HM output and the environment’s capacity to cope, portal decay/death would reduce accordingly.

    Eventually, one would hope for a scenario where portals are well spread-out, allowing for better game-play and easier access for lower-level players. IMO, it would be quite a simple algorithm to add in to the programme too.

  18. Portal Expiration:
    Its a good idea but it lacks something that i am gonna tell you very soon.
    As you say, the map will be cluttered as hell with old and new portal due the new players joining in. Adding aging to the portals is one thing, but being able to re-awaken portals is one thing i would love to see aswell. But as you say with the aging, its a growing process before the portal are able to have L8 Resonators on itself.

    Let me put up a timeline (including parts of your original post) that explains how portals should expire and get re-awakened.

    Approx 1 month = Portal Submission
    3-4 Months = Fresh Portal [L1-8 Able]
    2 weeks (without recharging/upgrading/modding) = L8 Ability Loss
    2 weeks (without recharging/upgrading/modding) = L7 Ability Loss
    2 weeks (without recharging/upgrading/modding) = L6 Ability Loss
    And so on until the portal are dead. From now on, the portal are not able to carry any mods or resonators.

    BUT its able to carry Portal Seeds.
    When the portal is dead, the color of the portal on the map is Yellow.

    ————————————————————————————————————————

    New Mechanic: Portal Seeds
    Portal Seeds are faction locked and its able to place both Enlightened and Resistance Seeds on the same portal. When the seeds are deployed on the dead portal, the energy level are 5%.
    You have to manually charge the seeds with XM to make it reach 100% or chosen energy level.
    As i said, they are region locked, but placing a seed on a portal does not claim it to your faction.
    This is where the interesting part comes.

    You have to make sure that your seeds on the dead portal haves a higher energy percentage than the opposing team. You have 2 weeks to charge/attack your opponents seeds with XMP’s before the Portal gets reborn.

    The Portal cannot awaken if there are less than 4 seeds on the dead portal. If the first seed phase fails, next phase takes 1 another week to awaken again -> 3 weeks to awaken the portal and it goes on until it decays forever.

    The Energy Decay on the seed are 5% per 24 Hours.

    XMP Attacks towards the seeds works best if you match the Seed Level with the XMP level.
    The Attacks gets less efficient the more you drift away from the initial seed value.

    Portal Seeds are gained through hacking the portal during active phase and are classed as Rare. The chance of gaining seeds easier are when you match the Level of the portal with your own and when the resonator energy levels are high.

    Portal Seeds does not have an individual level but the level of the seed are determined by the deployer. Portal Seeds cannot be dropped (Agent Binding), due the reason that the higher level agent, the higher level seed.

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    Item Expiration
    I dont think that items you gain from hacking should expire.On the other hand, the efficiency of the item should decrease after a certain amount of time. Normal items gained by hacking stays on maximum performance for 1 month, after that their power/energy level decreases by time passes. When the items (Mainly Resonators) reach 0 power, they disappear. XMP’s on other hand gets practically useless – where they only damage max 1% when they are on their lowest.

    Also that Agent Level determines the amount of items you are able to carry.
    Example:
    L1: 50 of each Item
    L2: 100 of each Item
    L3: 200 of each item
    L4: 400 of each Item
    L5: 800 of each item
    L6: 1600 of each item
    L7: 3200 of each item
    L8: 6400 of each item

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    “Player Expiration”
    This is something that expands endgame ALOT.
    Inventory should NOT be reset, only limited.
    If you have 2k L4 resonators and decide to start a second leveling cycle, you are only obliged to 50 of them (referring to limitations above). You are of course not able to use your L2 and up items until you are 8+1/2/3 and so on.
    For making it harder to level, the requirements are raised.

    Second Cycle -> x1.1 AP Needed
    Third Cycle -> x1.2 AP Needed
    and until
    Final (Eighth) Cycle -> x1.7 AP needed.

    But its a high-risk high-output choice to do it.
    Your Resonators capacity gets increased, but it costs more to recharge/hack/deploy anything.
    You will be able to create power cubes with gathered XM when starting a new cycle (Power Cubes are Agent Binding)
    C2-C3 = L1 Cubes
    C4-C5 = L2 Cubes
    C6-C7 = L3 Cubes
    C8 = L4 Cubes

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    I have only scratched the surface of what i can come up with. I hope you enjoyed my post.

  19. I also love to see this game as an AR game, using camera to hack the portal also….

    So we can see the portal like in the game’s GPlay picture… It would be awesome!

  20. Portal Expiration:
    Yes! It should be based on some algorithm balancing portal density in the area, and/or frequency of player interactions, Portals surrounded by other portals should decay quickly. They could have a cooling off time, then re-emerge.

    Item Expiration:
    Bad. There’s no real reason for it.

    Levelling Changes:
    As others have said, raising the cap only delays the issue, and makes it worse in the long term. The way to do it is to have level decay. The more AP you have, the more active you need to be to maintain that level of AP, or your AP decays over time. While this doesn’t solve the issue of very active L8 players dominating an area (why shouldn’t very active players have that ability?) it does solve the “once I’m L8, I’m maxed out.” issue.

    In fact, I’d say that higher level resonators should decay more quickly as well. It should be HARD to maintain a high level portal.

  21. I am also see the problem of how level 8 player can be motivated to keep playing ingress!

    My approach would be to add an extra level for hard core players! (1 000 000 AP, MU, glyph? after requesting for extra level)

    BUT

    The difference to the current setup should be that this is only a temporary level.
    You can only keep it, when you earn a number of AP (e.g. 100 000), MUs, … in a defined time period (e.g.60 days).

    If you lose the level you start again the process of gaining this extra level.

    One possibility to kept it simple from the software point of view would be to change the current level 8 to this extra level (the other would be add a level 9 (10).

    I hope that I will initiate some discussions with this approach!

    Best regards
    Jo

  22. thomasthethinkengine on

    I think balance is a crucially overlooked aspect of this game.

    My area is completely blue. I have dozens of portals that have never been attacked and fields that stretch for miles around. I’m only L4 but frankly I’m growing bored of keeping them healthy. I might stop playing if green doesn’t have some sort of resurgence around here.

    To make the game more dynamic, I think most portals should decay faster, but be easier to top up. Imagine if every morning, key portals that were not topped up yesterday evening were now down to half health. Recharging should be a lot easier though. (however remote re-charging via portal key should be more difficult – the player on the spot should be advantaged!)

    I think portal decay should be proportional to how easily accessible they are by their own team.

    This is easy to measure by how often they are hacked. A portal that is hacked once a week should decay more slowly. A portal in the city centre that is hacked every five minutes should decay fast.

    Another element affecting balance is the number of portals continually growing. Some areas are packed with portals. There is a risk akin to inflation. You want to keep the ratio of portals to players in the appropriate zone. (I don’t know what this zone is but Niantic must have an idea.) Too few portals and they are all level 8. Too many and they are all level zero.

    You see this on the university campus during holiday, the portals lose their resonators and go grey. then it’s easy pickings and quite boring.

    To A portal that hasn’t been hacked in a month, but is in an area with other portals nearby should be primed to disappear, or maybe only appear to low level players.

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Tempus Fugit: adding ageing to Ingress

by Andrea Di Simone time to read: 3 min
49