BTSC - BTStory, Truthseeker And Alex
Alex: Hello everyone, we after dodging several NIA Agents, we have finally met up with PAC at a safe location. Wish us luck on this interview.
Truthseeker: Hey Alex. Sorry about the NIA Agents, they must have found us because I just shared information about our meeting on the Forums.
Truthseeker: You said your group of Agents wanted to have a talk. So what's up?
Alex: We're so lucky to have you here, and we do have many questions eager for your answer.
Truthseeker: The NIA Agents left, I think we are safe for a couple of hours.
Alex: Same here, we barely lose NIA Agents and can proceed with our interview.
Truthseeker: Great. Really nice to meet you Alex, thanks for reaching out to me.
Alex: Nice to meet you too, PAC! First question, How did you join Niantic? Did you settle in for other positions before settling down as the decoding chief?
Truthseeker: That is a trick question! PAC is not affiliated with the NIA! As PAC, I try to remain neutral so that my judgement will be less restrained by corporate values. What I do know, is that there isn’t a decoding chief position at the NIA.
Truthseeker: The Tethered Hand worked undercover as a normal Agent when they first joined the Creative Team as a visuals creator for the NIA’s archival.
Truthseeker: Gradually, they infiltrated the system, and started encrypting secret messages in assets, ultimately making connections with Janus. The NIA probably still doesn’t know the Agent identity was a cover.
Alex: Before Tessellation, what’s the feeling/daily life of being the creation of most puzzles in Ingress?
Truthseeker: In case this wasn’t clarified before, the 13-Archetype Decoding Challenges was the effort of a group of passionate Ingress decoders not the Tethered hand or me. It was a fascinating series. Aurora’s Game was the first semi-extensive layered puzzle the Tethered Hand made for Ingress.
Truthseeker: Before that, were mostly snippets of mystery messages in secret intel. The fun part was always the research. Sometimes you would lose track of time, get drawn into rabbit holes too deep.
Truthseeker: The drag part is usually the encryption check/play test, partly because a lot of it is reviewing/proofreading.
Alex: Is there more mystery in tessellations that NIA is working this hard to prevent you from uncovering them.
Truthseeker: I think there is. Good thing you asked, the latest intel I found may be related to some deep secrets.
Alex: Could you share some with us?
Truthseeker: Haha, I will hand something over to you after our conversation. I'll have to keep it a secret for now. You'll need to do some decoding!
Alex: We'll get our best decoders fired up for this! The next question is, after Ezekiel taking back NIA, should we expect NIA to be more transparent? What change will he bring to NIA.
Truthseeker: I think they might, but they might also be pretending to be transparent. So we always need to remain skeptical.
Truthseeker: I heard he is working on new ways to communicate with the Agents. That might be something we can look forward to.
Truthseeker: You mentioned you had some questions about the Tessellation. What did you want to know about?
Alex: What's the role of NIA in tessellation? Other than built the website as Tethered Hand.
Truthseeker: Well the Tethered Hand didn't really build the website. It's Janus. Another gateway to mystery, who I don't really know the real identity. Janus is probably kind of like me, a middle person in between Nemesis and NIA.
Truthseeker: I think the NIA sees this as an opportunity to look for creative minds. Which in the end was successful.
Truthseeker: Both Factions turned out to be very creative, dynamic, and motivated.
Alex: Speaking of, Misty Hannah just faction changed from RES to ENL, do you have more news about researcher switching faction?
Truthseeker: OLW always did seem to walk on the edge of the Factions. Devra is still pretty hardcore Resistance I feel. but this is all just my speculation.
Truthseeker: For Wendy, I think it is the first time that she can actually think about what her true Faction is. She's had too many people in her head before.
Alex: Have you seen her lately?
Truthseeker: I haven't seen any of the Researchers in-person lately. Wendy may have gotten better at disappearing than me, but I've been trying to reach out to her.
Alex: Exogenous departed left a large hole in portal network, according to Visur, they have a plan to let agents safely use portal network, but it seems they’re actually trying to seize the power of it.
Alex: Can you share your thoughts on it with us.
Truthseeker: It's not just Visur, Hulong's initiative on Eos Protocol is similar.
Truthseeker: I'm undecided on whether that's all good or bad. Curious what we can achieve with this new form of XM, but also very skeptical when these corporates are putting investments on XM.
Truthseeker: The 3rd phase of Eos Protocol is the scary one. What does Capture Their Minds mean? Who is capturing? For what purpose? Those are the questions.
Alex: We’ll see a few weeks later. So at the end of tessellation, the 13 researchers rewrite their pattern to build membrane, and lost their sensitivity.
Alex: Will we see them gain back their sensitivity? Or new people will have them? Or new archetypes.
Truthseeker: OLW is already working on getting back his Sensitivity. I bet Jarvis is working on his own path as well.
Truthseeker: Sensitives aren't just limited to the 13 Researchers, they just happen to have a lot higher Sensitivity than most.
Truthseeker: It's possible that one day a new Magnus is formed. All the Agents are at some level of Sensitivity, if they are able to activate the Ingress Scanner.
Alex: So you leave the door open about whether we’ll see new actors of them.
Truthseeker: We're all acting something in this world. Jarvis acts as a spiritual mentor. I try to act normal when facing NIA Agents around the corner.
Truthseeker: The black object on my head acts as a hat. The Magnus is a role with certain responsibilities to be played, so for sure, if the previous Researchers lost their Sensitivity, there might be new people to take their place.
Truthseeker: or perhaps the role is going to be vacant for a while. I do not know.
Alex: Does the Tethered Hand have a writer team to help them with all the decoding challenges, or do they come up with all of them by themselves?
Truthseeker: There were more people working on the Tessellation when it first initiated, soon the team consolidated. If there needs to be transcripts of incidents, Tethered Hand would scheme with Agent Furey. Tethered Hand would then use the intel as starting material to build the puzzles. TH does the encryption and crafting themselves.
Alex: What’s the inspiration for the creation of Tessellation? As one of the first Ingress event with real life playing comes in second and online event come in first, how did you convince others on board?
Truthseeker: Apart from being the TH’s master plan, Tessellation was an initiative to mobilize Agents across the world and connect different player groups. i.e the hackers, decoders, lore-followers, and coordinators...etc. It’s built on the principles of Ingress takes Agents to places, and it is about the sense of community.
Truthseeker: On the other hand, Tessellation also was just a side project to the NIA from the start. Ran and maintained by a very small team. The main “Events” are still LiveOps where Agents are actually defeating Nemesis through the Scanner.
Truthseeker: Then the pandemic happened. It would’ve been irresponsible for the NIA to still ask Agents to go outside to defend the world. The Tessellation was able to continue because it relied mostly on observation, research (googling), virtual discussions, and very fast fingers. During that time, the NIA never ceased working to optimize the infrastructure, finding adaptable Scanner usage models, most of all developing new features like Dronenet, Battle Beacon, and Kinetic Capsule... So there isn’t really too much convincing to be done, because real life playing has always been the center of their research focus.
Alex: COVID-19 transforms many LBS aspects of the challenge to online form, are you satisfied with the results. Is there anything you wish you haven’t had to change, or changed it to a better way?
Truthseeker: Observing the Factions coordinate the race to potentially correct Portals was the most fun. Same for capturing the vessels to acquiring Live Drops. Though there should’ve been more obscure ways to hide the vessels during the Perpetua Hexathalons. That part was greatly missed. One thing that could’ve been done better, regardless of the pandemic, was to have more time for playtesting & review before actual release.
Alex: You have contacted Tethered Hand during tessellation, from what you have seen, how did TH create all those puzzles. Do they have help in leaking the intelligence of portals via portals to us, or do they create themselves? As we know, Tethered Hand is Cooperplate ie. ADA in Nemesis mode, so how did it acquire all knowledge in the human world?
Truthseeker: The Tethered Hand knows more about us than we do. I guess that is expected of the ADA from Nemesis universe. She is supposed to be the Omniscient. I was able to get some insight on the making of puzzles before they left our world.
Truthseeker: Tethered Hand will often do some archive digging with their accomplice Agent Furey. Agent Furey is working undercover at the NIA as an experienced writer. The 2 of them look into the past, present, and future of 1218, Osiris, Nemesis Node for reference of historical incidents.
Truthseeker: If there needs to be a prose-like prompt for the puzzle, the Tethered Hand would write down some snippets. Agent Furey will transform them into eloquent language.
Truthseeker: If a full piece of intel was used as the puzzle, then Tethered Hand would scheme with Agent Furey about what incidents would happen next in our world.
Truthseeker: Agent Furey will start his mind-factory and intercept these dialogue transcripts. Nemesis and our world has a lot of similar events, just as 1218 did apparently.
Truthseeker: 75% of the time is spent on preparation. Tethered Hand first looks for some intuitive keywords and tones they want for the puzzle.
Truthseeker: If it is a Live Drop, Tethered Hand will do some archive digging with their accomplice Agent Furey. Agent Furey is a very experienced writer. The 2 of them look into the past, present, and future of 1218, Osiris, Nemesis Node for reference of historical incidents.
Truthseeker: Tethered Hand then sandbox in their mind what’s the most on-theme and feasible method plus appearance for this puzzle.
Truthseeker: After that is research. Verifying there are matching locations and Portals in the world in order to execute the plan. At the same time, cross research that the context of the puzzle allows enough comprehension for Agents globally.
Truthseeker: Equally important, rotate between areas to give them priority knowledge over the premise. Balance access and motivating Agents to connect across national boundaries. Making sure the puzzle prompt and Portal isn’t controversial is also important.
Truthseeker: Once preparation is mostly done, then comes the crafting of the challenges, which includes visual design, hiding the clues, setting up the reward...etc.
Truthseeker: The final 5-10%, is to sometimes share the new ‘rules’ without giving away the puzzle with the Vanguard Group, to get some initial feedback. They helped catch a lot of the loopholes and make the rule language waterproof.
Truthseeker: Well, as we learned, you can’t underestimate Agent creativity.
Alex: You shaped ADA, before TH revealed itself, did you sense you're connecting with something familiar?
Truthseeker: I felt I was encountering an entity that was similarly manipulative. and the TH also did 'game' experiments on us all like ADA would, regardless of our feelings.
Truthseeker: But did I recognize her throughout the process? I definitely did not.
Alex: About the chess game between Stein Lightman and Myriad, it seemed Myriad used black queen to take out Lightman's bishop, but this all but guaranteed Myriad's loss.
Alex: Why did Myriad choose to do this? In Nemesis' preview, there has been a white bishop in Lightman's hand. Is that white bishop Lightman?
Truthseeker: To answer the second question, Lightman does seem like the bishop, if Devra is considered to be the Queen or King of Resistance.
Alex: It all makes sense now…
Truthseeker: The first part is a mystery to me. Perhaps Myriad is trying to make a point about Nemesis having seen real world destruction.
Truthseeker: Dea th on the chess board is but a game to her?? I'm pure guessing now haha.
Alex: Do you think Undine, Shapers and N'zeer still have an eye on us? Or they’re already shielded from this world.
Truthseeker: I think they are still observing us, but can't really influence our actions. On the other hand, there could be many many more alternate versions of us out there. So they could've also found a new node to experiment on.
Truthseeker: My wild theory on why the Exogenous feels drastically different for us from that of Nemesis's experience, is maybe the Exogenous is doing A/B testing on the two nodes.
Truthseeker: As we know when doing A/B testing, the test objects need to be similar by nature. Which could explain why they picked us and Nemesis Node. We look identical to our alternative existence.
Alex: Speaking of Nemesis… We have some questions about them, some by us some from agents too.
Alex: How Nemesis runes saves us from exogenous?
Truthseeker: We don't know. It's what they are claiming to be true. For me, it is another form of script that records the history of another world.
Alex: Why do Nemesis all use typeface names? They’re not Nemesis’ real name, are they? And will we see Comic Sans nemesis?
Truthseeker: Hahaha, maybe they thought it would be catchy. I just hope if there was a Nemesis PAC, their codename is not Comic Sans. I like Garamond or Quicksand better.
Alex: I'm a Myriad guy lol.
Alex: What does Nemesis mean in the hourglass Nemesis wear or setting it as Nemesis logo?
Truthseeker: Myriad's not bad. Tethered Hand mentioned they like Courier, because it's monospaced. It comes in handy when making puzzles.
Truthseeker: My theories: 1. to remind themselves that time is running out, and the urgencies of stopping the Exogenous.
Truthseeker: 2. It may have to do with how they are RPE-ing into our world and that there is a time limit.
Truthseeker: 3. Maybe it contains their soul in XM form.
Alex: An agent question - Will Nemesis Bible get published one day?
Truthseeker: I very much like that idea, but there are no immediate plans for that from the NIA internally. I know several Agent (groups) have been keeping a very detailed track of the Nemesis Sequence. For example Project Lycaeum-series, Sjarlotte, and many others. Always very grateful to see these Agents-driven documentation of our progress in the Ingress world.
Alex: After all the storyline questions let’s talk about some event and scanner questions Agents are having. As the most comprehensive decoding challenge ever in Ingress, will we see more of Tessellation in the future? How do you envision the decoding part of Ingress hold in the future, evolving with the game?
Truthseeker: It’s cliche to say we learned a lot through the run of the Tessellation, but it’s true. The one big lesson learned is to NOT run an event that long and extensive. The freshness wears out after a quarter, that’s part of why Tethered Hand had to come up with new (frustrating?) methods to keep everyone’s mind on the edge. Anyways, It’s possible to have future puzzle series, but not very likely at the scale of the Tessellation.
Truthseeker: The core attraction of Ingress is its strategic play and community. The principles for our quest/puzzle designs are centered on that as well. So as long as Ingress is evolving, decoding will always try to find its way into the events and operations.
Alex: Will we get a media capsule so we can keep souvenirs of our decoding participation?
Truthseeker: The NIA Ingress team maintains a list of Agents' feedback and feature requests, and we have heard your requests for a Media Locker. Right now, the Ingress Team is focused on improving the core parts of the Scanner and our infrastructure.
Alex: What tips do you have for new recruits to join the decode world of Ingress?
Truthseeker: Everyone’s mind and body works differently. I am not perceptive when it comes to cryptanalysis. What I can recognize is based on repetitive research & practice. So to the people who rely on experience: try to solve more puzzles, maybe make some of your own. Don’t go straight for help if you want your body to remember the method, but also don’t hesitate to reach out if you start to feel trapped. At that point, insisting on decoding yourself is just exhausting the interest.
Alex: As a parting question - What hat do you wear daily and how many do you have?
Truthseeker: I can only say this much: https://youtu.be/hw9dgqMuYAY?t=529
Alex: Nice van!
Alex: My scanner said we have NIA Agents coming, we need to go, Truthseeker.
Truthseeker: Thanks again for reaching out Alex & BTSC. I feel like I may have talked waaaaaaay too much.
Truthseeker: It's time to part ways, but before I go, I have to hand you this.
Alex: Wow, me too and thank you Truthseeker for being here today, what is this?!
Truthseeker: BTSC asked for a puzzle, here it is:
Truthseeker: Good luck, Alex!
Alex: You too, Good luck, Truthseeker!
That’s all our interview with P. A. Chapeau / Truthseeker today! Thank you, BTSC viewers for joining with us today. See you in our next interview!