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when i first started playing about 3-4 months ago, i didn't really understand what was going on, nor exactly what the fuss was about. not that it wasn't interesting or fun - i liked it well enough even though i didn't get it, but it wasn't something that i felt i could get particularly invested in.

two things changed that. one was the exploratory nature of the game. since the hacking of portals (to gain resources) requires you to go to the physical location of the portal and since portals are in places of historical and/or local interest, i've discovered a whole lot more about my neighborhood and about new orleans in general, and i've also taken to walking around my neighborhood at least an hour or two once or twice a week to interact with the portals in some way, which is more motivational exercise than i've had in a while since i can't do much more vigorous things due to the issues with my back.

second is the community. The new orleans resistance faction is a very strong community, and even though i haven't had a whole lot of personal interaction mainly because i'm a little shy about it, it's a neat group of people, generally led by this one individual who is a great leader and mentor for everyone in the faction, whether new players or old ones, local residents or visitors, and etc. it's neat to suddenly have this default community and social group of otherwise virtual strangers who can find commonality because of Ingress; which isn't something new clearly since half of my close friends all came from Dance Dance Revolution, but it's nice to have another conduit for that sort of thing, and in a way that has strong international reach.

the game itself has its positives and negatives. The exploratory and psuedo-physical activity/exercise nature of the game is its biggest strength, as is the coordination and community effort necessary to do everything from small scale things like get a portal to a level higher than 5 to large scale things like attempt to create a field that spans entire countries.

Before today, the biggest negative of the game was that the main mechanics of the game doesn't require any sort of skill, it's more of a grinding game, something that requires mere time investment. At early levels i think that's fine because you don't want to turn off potential enthusiasts by requiring them to be video game masters to achieve in the game. you want everyone to feel welcome. But once i hit a particular point in the game, i found myself wanting to actually Play a Game, or at least be rewarded for achieving something that required some sort of skill that could give me an edge over those that aren't as skilled. The closest thing that Ingress had to this before today was the long-press XMP Burster bonus, which is nicely designed because it's treated as an optional thing, something that gives an edge in offense (although i have my issues with that too because i feel that the game favors offense very heavily over defense in general).

Then today, they introduced a new thing, an optional mini-game within the game called "glyph hacking", which is basically a memory game that can give big bonuses to normal portal hacking. This addressed the criticism that i had before because glyph hacking definitely requires a measure of skill to excel in it, but at the same time, failing to do well in it doesn't really punish you, nor is glyph hacking required (for the most part). So it's a nice addition to the game that doesn't compromise the main premise or the main audience. I do wish that glyph hacking would do more than just resource bonuses - it would be nice if, for example, i succeed in a glyph hack and it enhances a portal mod, potentially balancing the issues i have with the game predominantly being offense based over defense.

One thing specifically about the New Orleans Ingress experience is that while i like the community i'm involved in and also am much more in tune with the philosophy of being a Resistance member as it relates to the Ingress story, i feel like i chose the wrong side for New Orleans because the Resistance is highly dominant here and i generally prefer to be on a team that's the underdog. It's very easy to be a part of the Resistance here, and that's not exactly what i want either as a member or for the game itself. I've contemplated the idea of starting over and switching sides once i reach level 8, but i'm not sure if that's worth it because i'd lose the community that i've in some ways grown fond of. It's possible that the Enlightened side here has a similar sort of vibe, but at least for the time being i feel invested in what it means to be a resistance member, and i feel like i owe it to myself and to the community to see that through. Maybe if/when i move to new orleans i might use that as a reset opportunity, but who knows how the game will have changed at that point.

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dr4b
Feb. 19th, 2014 06:01 pm (UTC)
I haven't played, but being that I work at Google, I am happy to see you are enjoying it like this! If you ever want some Ingress swag I can try to hook you up -- we used to have a bunch of faction patches and stickers around :)
lifeofmendel
Feb. 19th, 2014 06:02 pm (UTC)
i suppose i could get a bunch of swag if i wanted since you, igene, my friend Lisa, and my brother all work at google. :) no swag necessary, but thanks. I already bought a resistance shirt i really like, that's good enough for now.

you should start playing. :)
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