Ingress is still the most geeky fun you’re probably not having

In mid-November of last year, Ingress from Niantic Labs@Google was introduced, a division that’s only produced one previous application before. When announced, the limitation of being Android-only and invite-only certainly might have been a turn off to some people, but if you received the invite, you were introduced to world that just hasn’t existed on a mobile device before. Not to this extent, at least.

Since it’s debut, the Ingress world through has become more mysterious and intriguing, and if you have the time to sift through the (intentional) mess on the site, you just might get sucked into the story. There’s a lot to look through and it takes a lot of time before you really get a gist of what’s going on, but the project itself has been executed nicely to get your attention. Throw in the Ingress app and the Intel Map, and you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you to stay up to date.

To deep dive into Ingress even further, Decode Ingress is one of the best sites you can find.

The heavy use of sci-fi esque language will likely garner some awkward looks and laughs to those who don’t know about the game, and rightfully so. This is definitely a geeks game. Talk of portals, resonators, and exotic matter is hardly a conversation anyone can jump into. All of my attempts to explain the game to housemates have proven to be laughingly unfruitful. Luckily, it’s not hard to find someone playing on the street (here in San Francisco, at least), and most of the time, they’re more than happy to chat. From my experience, I’ve met a handful of players and it’s always been fun to geek out about the even geekier game. AndroidHeadlines has a nice write-up on Ingress terminology here.

Ingress Moves Fast.. Maybe not this fast.

My biggest question about Ingress is how it will progress going forward. Sure, the game itself is fun, and there’s always something to be done, but I’d like to see where Google is going to take us with the Niantic Project and Ingress. We’re sure there’s plenty more up Google’s sleeve once the game gets out of beta, and it will be interesting to see what is done to effect strategy techniques and more. Given that there’s a beginning, middle, and end to the game, and it will take over a year to complete, there are surely some nice surprises headed our way. If the phases are divided evenly, we still have a few more months before the game advances further.

With multi-hack officially gone, It’s becoming harder to level up as fast as the lucky first players, and the application was updated today to shorten XMP range (essentially the ‘bombs’ that destroy resonators). This makes collaboration more important. Not only is it easier to play and get more points with someone else, it beats walking around for miles alone.

At the moment, Invites are still hard to come by, but it’s not impossible to get them outside of the official invite email from Google. is a way to get an Ingress invite through a series of puzzles via a command line interface. Here’s a sample walkthrough of a previous puzzle.

Even if Ingress is just a big data mine for Google, it’s been implemented in a way that you simply don’t care. The game has been wonderfully executed so far and we’re pumped to see where Google brings it next.

If this is your first time hearing about Ingress, sign up for an invite here!

[TimeLapse photos via Josh Estelle: 1, 2]




  • josh

    And if you’re not having this geeky fun, and you want to…. I have a few invites I could give away…. be in touch. Blake knows how to reach me. No promises though.

    • Craig A

      Would it be at all possible to grab one of these invites? 🙂

    • Owen Finn

      I’d really love to get in on this, as I’m in a city (Winnipeg) that likely has few players right now.

    • Jaime F

      Got anymore invites?

    • pease send me one.

  • Zac

    Any invites left please?

  • Great article and thank you for mentioning us!

    • blakestimac

      No problem! Stay awesome! 🙂

      • We will! And we always have a spot for guest writer 😉

  • Guest

    This ingress stuff is getting gayer and gayer all the time.
    Not only are the ratings from current players showing the client is getting buggier and buggier, but the invites are taking far longer to get.
    Methinks all the work that google wanted people to do for them is pretty much done now, and all the advertising niantic wanted done, has been.
    Congratulations, you all just helped google get a shitload, for nothing at all.

  • Mouaed Mahmoud

    plz plz plz plz plz plz plz ineed and invite plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Lev Lafayette

    I admit it. I’m getting bored with Ingress. The game has some excellent features; the backstory is fine (although more recent developments have been daft), the exploration and disovery aspect is enjoyable, and the social part is good too.

    But the gameplay is complete rubbish. I suspect the design has been put together by people who are more familiar real-time video games that old school tabletop wargames (which would be more appropriate). For a game that should include an incremental and strategic approach in resource building, the relative ease in which portals can be smashed and resources acquired is not just unappealing but completely broken.

    (Well, perhaps not if you’re on the winning side and have the sort of personality that enjoyed pulling wings off flies when you were a kid)

    These design decisions means the game is seriously unbalanced, especially on a regional level. A 2-1 difference in local active players, will result in an order of magnitude difference in mind unit capture. A balanced game, ceteris paribus, would tend towards a 2-1 difference in mind units. Basically it’s a game that depends pretty much *entirely* on gang size, and that’s boring.

    This can be fixed of course, even if implemented slowly. If you wind back the goods that portals give out and make portals more defensible, both acquire more meaning in the actual game.

    Perhaps Niantic should pick up some people who are more experienced in some strategic game design as part of their design team.

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