IUENG Q&A: Sept 30, 2020

On Wed, Sept 30 I had the great opportunity to chat with @InvestigateXM, @Ishira, and @carlobolla to answer some questions they had about Ingress and where we're heading. The following is not a transcript of our Zoom chat, but it's notes that I took after our call so I could provide a text-based version in the forum. Thank you.

When doing "balance" changes to the game: Do you start with a goal? For example the drone changed farming, do you compare P8s built? P8 drone hacks? etc . How do you analyze the change?

I start by setting goals, usually around usage metrics, and also track and catalog feedback and requests from Agents. For example, I recently went through the Play Store reviews and forum threads and tagged them with labels to get a better picture of where we should focus our efforts. We also look at key game metrics across multiple dashboards, and review how recent changes affect usage over time to evaluate our progress towards the stated goals.

We saw new avatars in the scanner based on 4 archetypes a few months ago. Is there a possible schedule on when we will see the other 9 archetypes as avatars in the scanner? (Trickster when?)

I like to test my hypotheses, collect data and see the outcomes, then evaluate whether we should spend more time on Project X or Project Y. We have a backlog or todo list with requests from Agents, so it’s not so much whether a specific request will happen or not, but whether our team should work on that first or work on that right now. 

Some Avatars, like NL-1331X, were more popular than others. I look at what would be required to add additional Avatars, and the opportunity trade off of what we could work on instead. We aren’t currently planning to add additional archetypes right now, but we can revisit that in the future after we tackle other todo list tasks first. Our todo list isn’t a static list; it changes over time as we work on Ingress and gather more data and Agent feedback.

Any way of getting passcodes in the future again? To give away to fellow faction agents etc or to attach to selfmade puzzles

I wanted our team to move from Mod Cards to the item Store so that we continue to follow guidelines set by the app stores. There are ways we could enable First Saturday hosts to award Ingress prizes or Agents to gift items to other Agents that don’t circumvent app store platform fees that I’d like to explore further.

Will there be an official global leader board for all, the most or at least the medal stat entries? (Andrew said there was something unofficial and internal apparently)

I don’t typically discuss features before they ship unless we’re certain that a feature is coming soon, or we’re looking for Agent feedback earlier in the development cycle. A leaderboard could drive a lot of Agent activity towards specific Agent Stats, but I don’t have anything to share right now.

At the moment there is a big backlog with missions. Are there any problems at the moment?

Missions are being reviewed but there is an issue where they aren’t being reviewed in the order received, as they should be. Our team is investigating and working on process improvements.

When recursion was introduced. We were told that there would be added benefits. For players who made the choice to recurse. Will recursed players ever see added benefit for recursion? PS. I love the recursion option. It keeps the game interesting.

We still need to address this. In the last year, I set some big goals around sustainability so that we can continue to grow the game. I also wanted to balance that with adding new features to Ingress, like Avatars, Portal Scanning, Apex, Dronenet, and Battle Beacons, to show Agents that we’re committed to improving Ingress. I realize how important the Agent community is, especially veteran and Recursed Agents, and we’ll make good on that promise to Recursed Agents.

Are you finding the Vanguard program to be useful?

Yes, they’re champions of the user voice and fierce player advocates. They promptly escalate issues and feedback to our team, who also share updates with me. 

Currently, Vanguards and Niantic teammates are the only Agents with access to pre-release or Beta versions. It would be helpful to invite more Agents to help us test the Beta versions of Ingress, which could help us identify issues earlier than we are today. For example, maybe this would be something Recursed Agents might be interested in.

Until before you went back to Niantic, what is your best memory of Ingress?

I have too many, and that’s why I’m back working on Ingress. When I originally joined Niantic more than 8 years ago, it was to help connect people who share common interests, like geocaching or orienteering or ARGs, and then to help them connect locally. Finding someone who likes what I like isn’t too hard, but finding someone who likes what I like and also lives in my neighborhood can be much harder. All of those stories from Agents about meeting their best friends, significant others, or finding their tribes — that’s why I came back.

I think we’ll agree that Ingress has a very dedicated player base to last for what will soon be 8 years, but the number of players has definitely changed. As the original agents aged with the game, some have stated in my area (Connecticut) that their decision to no longer play is due to the introduction of Prime, Niantic giving more focus to Pokemon Go and other brand-famous AR games, and of course, life situations changing as we all age. What would your marketing strategy be to see the game stand out among other AR games, and maintain or increase its player base beyond Year 10?

Our Marketing Lead answered this one with her 2-prong approach:

  1. Community-first: Focus on the Agents. Celebrate the community and create authentic content for Agents.
  2. Re-engagement: Win back retired Agents by constantly working to improve the game, and developing new features that Agents want.

Has the lockdown proved to be productive or just delayed things?

I don’t want to understate the impact of COVID on Agents, on my team, or the game. We’ve had to make big pivots and postpone live events in 2020, but we’re still working to add gameplay for Agents who can play outside safely, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.

The drone has been a fun feature during the ongoing pandemic, thank you. Are there any plans to add to it, add medals or use it in virtual events?

We’ve discussed different ways to enable Agents to play from anywhere with Dronenet. I think it’s important that Agents who physically travel to a Portal are able to do above and beyond what an Agent using a Drone is able to, which is why Drone Mark I is limited to hacking and Glyph hacks. We’ve been discussing what a Mark II or Mark III could potentially become, and if you have ideas please let us know in the forum.

What are the expectations for the game to return when the global pandemic ends? it would be interesting to launch a global event for all agents to participate together when things get back to normal.

I would very much like to host Anomalies when it’s safe for us to do so. In the meantime, I do think there’s a middle ground to bring back some types of events, for example something like the Nemesis Global Challenges, to encourage more Faction versus Faction competition in the nearer future.

A lot of agents are frustrated by the lack of communication coming from the Ingress team. This interview is an amazing step in the right direction! What is the Ingress team’s plans for increasing consistent communication with your player-base moving forward?

It’s two-fold where we should be more proactive and prompt with talking with Agents, and also we need to fix the issues Agents have highlighted so they know we’re listening and acting on their feedback. I don’t reply to each message I receive, but I read the forum, the subreddit, and have every Play Store review piped directly into my Inbox. Jumping in to First Saturday Zoom calls or hopping into an interview like this helps me with a 1:many approach, as opposed to a 1:1, as in I can answer a question once and hopefully a few Agents find it helpful.

What is your long term vision for ingress, year 3 to 5 down the road? Not asking about what features there will or will not be, but general state and vision.

Competitive, Faction versus Faction warfare held at a planetary scale. I want as many players as we can get to join the fold, which is why I also want the game to be approachable and accessible, but there’s a specific kind of player that I think will really grok and love what Ingress will become. There are a lot of different ways to play Ingress and be a part of the Ingress community, but at its heart, I do want to amplify the exploration, exercise, and social components.

What’s next?

In the short term, after cataloging Agent bug reports from Play Store and the forum, I’m eager to get to work crossing them off the list. For example, COMM; animation feedback; Linking issues. I’d also like to return to something like the Global Challenges, but change them up so that there’s a Faction winner declared at its conclusion.



  • GreenVamGreenVam ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2020

    finish the scanner according to the plot! Shapers are gone for a long time, according to the plot, and in the scanner they are constantly being repeated about them.

    and please finish all that was presented earlier, magnus, agent archetypes, finally deal with exogenous beings as described above. make the development of agents from 8 to 16 levels and add the advantages of recursion.

    And read this please. https://community.ingress.com/en/discussion/12275/niantic-misunderstanding-of-user-needs-or-everything-new-is-well-forgotten-old#latest

    It will help you to understeand us, the players.

  • GrogyanGrogyan ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for this.

    Though would have liked more questions answered

  • Thanks a lot for understood that finally what really happened with game.here we havr thousand of hardly dedicated players.but nin continuesly give us preschool game experience update from update.an then so many player dismissed the game update by update .... im seen that in srilanka really wel.please understand that what we need.and then give us that.without this preschool graphics.we need real game.not preschool graphic dynamic graphics

  • KhatreKhatre ✭✭✭✭✭

    An official global leader board for the medal stat entries would be really awesome 😍 , and even better two for each stat, one global one by cells ?

  • NaruwasherNaruwasher ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for summarizing some of the points discussed in the interview @NianticBrian ! I look forward to the improvements in the (near or far) future.

    As for the perks for recursed agents, how do you feel about reducing the hack timer by 10% and giving 1 extra hack (instead of 4 without hack mods) with every recursion? The hack timer will cut can cap at 60% and the extra hacks per portal can cap at 6 (6+4=10). This could be that added incentive for agents (like myself) to keep wanting to recurse again and again instead of just doing it once.

  • Ah yes, an issue with the review order of mission submissions. Sorting Databases (E-Mails?) has always been a difficult to implement feature. You should definitely hire more rocket scientists for this

  • I know new features are sensitive topic but I really am wondering how is it possible that tracking unique (hack, capture, scan control) is still not in the game when we have so many medals depending on knowing such info.

    PoGo has those for ages and they only became relevant when 'spin a new stop' research came.

    Out of all the missing features this one would improve quality of life the most for us interested in those medals.



  • Although i loved the interview and the ideas spinned around, still felt left with hunger.

    Really was hoping something definite would have been said in time about what will happen real shortly.

    Missions, problem known, nothing more. And as such for every aspect it seemed "we are aware of the problem" however nothing new.

    Secundary the direct contact to nia as was by andrew krug, maybe bring that function back to live? Not as such as in real life, but as presence in reddit or here as communications manager....?

    Till then we play the waiting game 🤷‍♂️😁

  • I'm a Japanese agent, but I'm not very good at English. Machine translation from transcription is dozens of times easier than machine translation from video and audio. This article was a lot of fun! Thank you Brian!

  • kireankirean ✭✭✭

    As one of the players receiving a, now reverted, intel-ban for using iOS 14 I am on a break and playing turf instead.

    I really love all the stats stuff turf have, like region toplists, warded etc. Ingress needs stuff like this as well. Localized toplists could also be a nice tool for us players to help spot foul players. Please bring this to Ingress!

  • "It’s important that Agents who physically travel to a Portal are able to do above and beyond what an Agent using a Drone is able to,"

    That's why I think the feature whereby the drone can jump much further when you have the target portal key should be treated as a feature indeed, and not as a bug.

    It made me go out and hack specific portal keys to extend the range of my drone. It's a new type of gameplay and I like it.

    Please leave this feature in the game.

  • jontebulajontebula ✭✭✭✭✭

    Take to long time for Niantic when they update the app and jump to new servers. Hope Niantic speed up soon and stop make lots of mistakes slow down. Now they relese Battle Beacon most of agents dont like to have in Ingress Prime if we read on community. I hope Niantic remove Battle Beacon soon and relese somthing new agents love to have in Prime for very cheap price and Niantic earn lots of money when agents can get free or buy. Hope we can get 1 free Battle Beacon sometimes on hackas and very cheap price on Battle Beacon.  Low price for Battle Pass in Pokémon Go and we get 1 free every day and we can buy Battle pass for free for Pokémon GO money we earn from gyms.

    I hope @NianticBrian make more videos and tell us if we in foture Niantic plan to relese system we can earn free CMU for play and use adventure sync from Pokémon GO when Ingress Prime have it.

    Nice video Love @NianticBrian 😀💙😊👍🏻

  • grendelwulfgrendelwulf ✭✭✭✭✭

    You could add a Global Cell Domination Score. There's only a limited number of cells on Earth. Showing how many are dominated by each faction vs each other vs neutral might spur action.

  • @kirean I'm sorry about the incorrect Intel Map suspension and the delays in our messaging. We've had discussions about what happened that caused this and ways to try and mitigate it from happening in the future, and are discussing ways to improve our process around communication regarding issues like this.

  • MonkeyPeltMonkeyPelt ✭✭✭✭

    @NianticBrian, THANK YOU SO MUCH for doing this interview (and for doing this forum post afterwards). I have a few quick ideas about how your team could improve communication in the future.

    1. You (and/or) people on your team could do interviews like this monthly or quarterly. You seem to be the face of the Ingress team right now. I'm not sure if that's intentional or not, but perhaps having other team members do interviews could help spread the load, and we could meet more of you amazing people! I don't think public interviews like this once per year will cut it.
    2. I know you've been popping into IFS zooms lately (which is amazing as well!) but that only reaches a VERY small number of agents. It would be great if segments of those video chats could be recorded and uploaded publicly and/or you could do another writeup like this after the IFS.
    3. Please prioritize getting another community manager!
    4. I understand you don't have the bandwith to reply to each message, but if you're already reading the forums, a simple public acknowledgement of an issue/bug or common feature request goes a LONG way! Just a few words or a like, not a paragraph or 10 (though those are almost always welcome).
  • jontebulajontebula ✭✭✭✭✭

    Can you say if agents now have 1 strike on account now or Niantic remove strike and agents have 0 strike on account?

  • grendelwulfgrendelwulf ✭✭✭✭✭

    A great benefit to Recursed agents would be the ability to make edits over 10 meters.

  • For example, maybe this would be something Recursed Agents might be interested in.

    Definitely some are.

  • mortuusmortuus ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2020

    Thanks for taking your time Brian. I do hope your team will manage to create new global challenges soon perhaps something with drones perhaps missions Who knows ? And using them could help with the covid problem so you still could manage to play from home. This could also bring back some players as u hear there are those that think its strange pogo gets events nonstop where ingress this is on pause at the moment having no such events.

    For me its something i miss most, its always fun trying to ger a new flashy badge on your profile so i hope we get something soon to do outside the normal play.

  • RostwoldRostwold ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's frankly insulting that all you can be bothered to do for players you've falsely accused of cheating, who still have no clarity about having received a strike or not is say you're "discussing ways to improve our process around communication".


    How can you possibly not understand that this is the right thing to do?

  • M4NDR4M4NDR4 ✭✭✭

    Pos vengo a dejar la entrevista subtitulada al español por si alguien quiere verlo...


  • @NianticBrian It is great that Niantic is beginning to reach out to agents again. However as a senior agent in my area. I find niantics lack of clarity between Spoofing and Trespassing in the real world.

    Why would an agent need to Spoof with ingress or ant other game. When anyone can rent a tablet and simply create a persona and and an acct. Level 1 acct. reddem some virus codes and virus the portal to your factions color.

    And simply walk in without pissing off the cops or getting caught tresspassing.

    Which is the result is no different that tresppasing and claiming the portals and niantic not returning the portals to the legitmate owner. That did not cheat.

    As an example of willfull vilolation of the TOS. Also reports can be redacted for privacy and satisfy libel laws.

    And with blocks instead of letter redacting could be easily created.

    And you can likely create a cipher from the blocks displayed instead replacing letter for letter.

    I need to take i may need niantic's propaganda and see if the message can be changed and see if i can code a message any in the square or triangular font shapes. As a cypher.

  • The difference is that spoofing is detectable in Niantic's software, where as trespassing is a legal issue. I'm sure if you provide a conviction record for the person who got caught trespassing, then Niantic would consider a restoration.

  • Jo0LzJo0Lz ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for sharing Brian. I'm eager to find out what the future holds for Ingress. I have just one remark about the communication part; there is a topic on the forums about the intel/comms bans. Your last reply there is that you would investigate and get back to us. Since then there have been messages on the telegram, new topics; but there never was an answer for the people that were in that topic sweating because of the unclear communication.

    Now; we had comms restored the moment you guys reversed the "false positive" bans, but we were still unable to use Intel. Support mailed back that we "cheated". The new version came out and I didn't get a notification. Two days ago, I got a reply from support that they are still investigating.

    I don't know what's true anymore. I for one would like to have the peace of mind that ony someone at Niantic can give; the assurance that it indeed was a false positive and we (I?) have nothing to worry about. The lack of feedback from you, other members of the Niantic staff and the mixed messages of support have had more impact than you might think. If you read the rest of that topic; you might get some sense of the distress it causes for agents in this similar scenario.

    I really hope that the communication part gets streamlined soon. Having messages with unclear instructions (no popup when opening Ingress) is fixed, but support also sent me the "you cheated" mail, with a link to a part of the FAQ that does not exist. After three replies, it took two week for them to finally respond (2 days ago) that they are still investigating. WIth everything that has been communicated since, you'd think that investigation was finished already.

  • If missions are in fact being reviewed, but simply out of order, then Brian should be able to point to a specific mission via intel that has been approved and gone live within the last month. Surely there have been some FS or otherwise clearly topical missions approved?

  • kireankirean ✭✭✭

    Yeah. I'm still bummed about getting intel-banned and haven't played since. Just keeping sojourner alive, waiting for motivation to return.

  • Jo0LzJo0Lz ✭✭✭✭✭


    18 of those missions were approved yesterday. They were submitted around 20th of July.

  • jontebulajontebula ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2020

    Can we get some free CMU and some new cool items or special for win checkpoint or cycle with large fields MUS. Now we get nothing. Think more agents are interested to help with large fields and MUS if Niantic relese somthing they get to spend lots of time and money to drive.

    For example we can get somthing new for free say XM stone and we need 100 to bye somthing new cool in store. I think more agents like to help to get buy the new cool item in store.

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