Matryoshka Madness: One Agent’s Review
Matryoshka Madness: One Agent’s Review
I love being able to see my usual route in a new way, which is why I was very excited to try this Matryoshka linking event. I wanted to experience the event first before writing down my ideas in the Ingress Forum. Earlier today, I took an active break by making both traditional and Matryoshka-style microfields in an area in my town.
A few details about my town. I am an Enlightened Agent who lives in a rural hub in the Pacific Northwest, USA. It is Enlightened dominated. The town is not very wealthy (for American standards), so most people play Ingress on foot or by using public transportation - there is a sizable amount of people in this town who cannot afford a car, and for those who do, cargressing often is often out of the budget.
Why Matryoshka is Awesome
After my brain finished adjusting to the Matryoshka rules, I found that it was very interesting to try new ways to microfield familiar areas. As an Agent who plays on foot in a rural hub, and as an Agent who microfields for stress reduction and AP gain, I love how I was able to layer more fields with Matryoshka linking. Since rural hubs like mine have a very limited number of portals, I am all for being able to earn more AP from the portals that already exist.
A side effect of Matryoshka linking is that I felt less rage at trash-links - links (and related fields) that cover a large area but make it hard for people on foot to play effectively. Trash-links are often thrown by self-dubbed “lone wolves” who don’t actively play with the team. Trash-linking is especially annoying in poorer rural and rural hub communities like mine because there are fewer portals to work with, and the most annoying trash-links require car access, which many of us don’t have. During traditional microfielding, I found myself playing a lot in large bunches so I could beat out the trash-linkers to the portals before the trash-linkers create a one-layer field that takes out half of the nearby play area out of play. With Matryoshka linking, I felt more relaxed and didn’t feel like a rush to play.
I am privileged to not be living under a perma-field of any color. For those living under a perma-field, Matryoshka linking sounds like a great opportunity to earn some AP and take out some stress at the same time. I love how Matryoshka linking makes Ingress more accessible to players in less privileged situations, such as those living under perma-fields.
How to Improve Matryoshka Linking
The largest complaint that I’ve heard from Agents is that fields made underneath fields also earn MU. Agents suggested that it would be more aligned with Ingress values if fields made underneath fields gave AP but not MU. This seems like a great compromise - microfielders rarely go for MU and are usually just playing for AP gain and/or non-game rewards (like stress relief or fitness), and cell-score enthusiasts can still compete to see who can make the largest fields in the cell.
One minor complaint is that it is hard to see portals under layers and layers of green fields, especially lower level and/or unlinked portals. Yes, having many green layers is a good problem to have, but being able to see portals under these fields would make this a more enjoyable experience for all.
Agents who have tried Matryoshka linking, what do you think of it?
Building homogeneous control fields (HCF) becomes much less challenging. I used the opportunity to build a HCF4 before breakfast and a HCF5 in the afternoon.
As for MU, I think it should be counted no matter how how the links were thrown. What sense could it make to have different MU for two completely identical fields, only because the links were in a different way? And it opens new opportunities for MU play: you can win a cycle even if your whole scoring cell is covered by a field of the opposite faction, and players can still contribute to their own faction's MU score if they are under an same-faction field.
Fielding under fields also allows for more spontaneus gameplay. I remember many situations where I did not make a mid-size field because I did not want to block the area for microfielding.
I've been all over the forums championing this event's potential for permanent game quality-of-life changes. I really agree with your assessment on unlocking play for disadvantaged players. The potential of this change allows for people to really play a local game without being forced to worry about portals they can't reach.
In places with permafields, this can mean the difference between a player quitting or a player staying. Moreover, I'm finding that in my area where it's normally permanently green, some blue players are popping up and microfielding and creating links. I find that this also has a benefit of creating targets under a field that otherwise wouldn't exist, promoting more trading of zones which otherwise would just stagnate as a cluster of greyed out portals.
One downside is that the event has made rebuilding large fields super simple (TOO OVERPOWERED). No longer can you hollow out the other factions' layers and leave a single field up, forcing them to field off the corners or consume a virus to rebuild. Inner layer destruction is a valid and useful strategy we need to retain in the game. Also, the opposing faction can indeed build large layered fields within the existing layered fields the other team has. I don't believe either of these should be a standard method of play.
Potential Solution to Bad
My solution to the above ^^^^^^^ isn't to just say "fields built under don't count for MU", that seems a bit inelegant. Instead, I believe portals under fields need to have their link distances suppressed. Niantic could scale the link suppression based on 2 variables: 1) portal density to account for rural versus city play and 2) Increase the amount of distance suppression based on the size of the largest field covering the area. This way, big fields have a direct effect on play still and incentivize the creation (and destruction) of large fields. ALSO, we can create new modifiers for Link Amps that reduce distance suppression, so making longer links while under a field requires trading portal strength (shields) for distance ability (link amps). The math of link suppression should make it impossible for large covering fields to be rebuilt from the inside, despite whatever mods you use.
My solution goals are to 1) Eliminate agent "griefing" by locking out fielding by creating large fields. 2) Enable small microfielding to be done while covered BUT 3) allow SOME longer links, but make a significant costing method to control how often people can do this (via link amps). A payoff to the "small local" game is that we should see more targets and "trading" of zones going on, rather than a bunch of covered grey portals.
I have heard from some agents locally who are more casual that this event's changes are "too little, too late" to help with player retention, but a good change for their style of play. I've also heard from the OG agents who are pretty hardcore about controlling people under them that this would make them quit. I've seen some warming to the idea if restrictions are made on linking. I've also gotten some pretty heavy virtriol from forum members who fall into a special category of what I call "dedicated", who will s-c-r-e-a-m (banned word?) and stomp to stop this from happening. I can say I wholeheartedly agree many conflicts/arguments/fights in my area would have been avoided if large fields didn't stop players of your same faction from creating small local fields for leveling.
I also want to mention that 57Cell chimed in with a new video on his Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTWThmcirSo), it goes to show you at length what this change unlocks. This has been important to visualize how "easy" and simplistic allowing fielding under fields is, removing planning as a required skill. Again, I believe a link distance suppression should restore required planning for certain types of fields. Perhaps, we make a permanent change with link suppression included, but have events that focus around field art and large HCFs for events where suppression is temporarily disabled?
There is a lot of potential for increasing quality of life and player activity here. But, great care has to be taken to not over-simplify or remove key parts of the MU game while striving for improvement.
Thanks @Bihotz for the review.
It's great that you highlight how different local/regional conditions (player base, play style, rural/urban, resources etc) can affect the nature of the particular local Ingress. This I believe has always been true and will indeed affect how you perceive different events/changes to the game.
So I'm going to offer my perspective from a seemingly quite different setting...
I'm from the coast of South of Sweden (sharing cell with Copenhagen and parts of Zealand/Sjælland - Copenhagen, btw), and our region consists of (by Swedish measures) some larger and middle-sized cities, a lot of villages + rural area. We have a fairly active player base from both factions - with new players joining in on a regular basis - battling over the region intensively on a daily basis. In the cities mostly by foot, bike or scooter, otherwise by car or public transport. Personally I play on foot 99% of the time, as I live in mid-city and enjoy the walks.
So from my perspective, while I have nothing against a short, temporary event, the fielding under field has erased the strategic play, making it of no or low value/fun to field or destroy fields, and/or performing collaborative ops. What is left is using the event for AP hunting.
I personally have always enjoyed Ingress because it is not an easy game based merely on instant gratification. It takes collaboration, community, and some good thinking for it to happen and elevate. This is, in my opinion, the strength of Ingress = if you engage yourself it pays off, and on so many levels...
Hence while I do understand and appreciate the efforts to make the game accessible during the pandemic through several facilitations making single person play more possible, I am concerned that moving away from competitive, collaborative game play to a simpler game, focusing on individual AP "hunt and collect" will deflate the whole (original) concept that makes so many of us enjoy (and prefer) Ingress over Niantic's other games.
The talk in our local/regional chats points to me not being alone in finding the function taking away the strategic, fun, collaborative game we highly enjoy. Most of our active players agree and do not wish to see more of this, while two or three players that don't play that often/aren't that engaged in the community, have expressed appreciation for the field under field making the game more easy/accessible to them. (And while both fac's BAF quite often, there is no chance of any perma fields in our region as we will simply take them down within a day, often within the hour... ).
So here is my conclusion based on my experience;
For a short rare event, this has been fun. Except maybe a medal would've been nice.
But it's getting dull now. I think this can be opened up only by explaining why I prefer the normal setting:
I'm an agent who plays by foot or bike, I've played in both in cities and small towns. I enjoy both microfielding and team play for big fields. But the specific reason I enjoy microfielding is the puzzle to solve, to must think before linking, to plan which route to take so there's less back and forth, how to do it efficiently and minimize the time someone else can interfere. And there's more: Over time I've realized microfielding is therapeutic: I've learned to handle it better when I sometimes make mistakes, I've also experienced frustration from other agents and learned to handle that feeling better, to give others space and to ask for my space when the area is dominated by my team. To learn to accept that it doesn't always succeed, but what matters is the attempt and whatever learning there was for future. And to celebrate it when the opposing faction comes to ruin plans, it's time for counter strategies, to make decisions in the moment - the best part of the game. Or to ask for help when my own resources aren't enough, to actually contact other people (with this last part I wish helping others with resources was still needed as a teamplay element, as resources are currently too easy and abundant. Being able to deploy a lvl6 portal alone and drone really broke the balance there).
With the challenges provided, it makes a successful trip feel rewarding.
We also made a bigger op yesterday, fielded over the capital city of Finland. We joked that if the opponents come, we can just keep linking the fields over and over without any strategic plan. But honestly? I'm not really looking forward for that type of expectations in the future, it's unbalanced. It makes it feel so underwhelming because there's a lack of challenge. Needless to say, we didn't really care to stay for longer once everyone's illuminator had turned onyx.
When you take away the challenges, you are also taking away the reward. It doesn't matter if there's some in-game shiny being given (AP, score etc.), it's the effort and the interaction with real people that makes it worth it.
To steal a slogan: I'm Lovin' It
It is fun for a while, but if it always will be like this, then it will become boring and too easy to get links, fields and mu.
i don`t like permafields, not on a whole city and not on a country, and I hope there are better ways/ proposals to handle that than this.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts an experiences. I want to give kudos to folks who responded with heartfelt and intelligent comments - and especially to @Sindaya and @Neothetaa, who both respectfully expressed viewpoints and related experiences significantly different than mine. Between different playstyles and different locales, Ingress is a different game for everyone, and that's a great thing.
Both @saarstahl (who mentions homogenous fields control fields) and @KonnTower (who mentions rebuilding large fields) discuss how Matryoshka linking makes things unbalanced. Yes, I agree that permanently enabling Matryoshka linking would be unbalancing. If Matryoshka linking was only available during a few select special events and the Matryoshka links/fields disappeared from the map (like how a portal decays and returns to neutral status when it is not recharged) after the event, I'd still be very happy.
Overall, I love that Niantic is trying new gameplay mechanics in the Ingress game. It's challenging to balance out a game with so many different IRL situations and playstyles, and I appreciate Niantic's willingness to try something new.
I'd be okay with it being permanent with some limitations. We can get rid of the unbalanced issues pretty easily. Shortened link distances would make HCFs and rebuilding layers impossible while still allowing microfields.
Where is the harm in making it a little easier to build HCF? Planning is still the same, execution is a bit more flexible.
Would it be a problem to see more HCFs? You can still build them the old way if you want.
And if HCF6 is not Sitrep-worthy any more, let's build HCF7+, which becomes possible with Matryoshka.
how would Matryoshka unbalance the gameplay?
With only two days left, I also want to give my two cents on the event.
I really, really liked it. It has been so long since the core gameplay was changed, and linking under fields definitely made you finally change your day to day gameplay a bit. The added x2 AP for Fields and Links also helped me to finally cross the L16 and Recursion line, so I may be a bit biased. It was liberating to not worry about link order or accidentally fielding over a portal I wanted to link from later, and it made me go out and play a lot more then usual.
As others have said however, I also wouldn't like to have this change permanent. While it's true that you don't have to think as much about your link order, you, well, don't have to think as much as before. Ingress is, in its core, a strategy game, and taking the linking strategy out would make fielding quite boring. I personally don't believe that this would "
****forcefully end the life of the game", as some people fearmonger, but it's true that linking would be too easy.
I absolutely love the idea of core gameplay elements being temporarily changes for gameplay events however! Some things I could think of that could be interesting is removing mods again, as was possible during the early days of Ingress (maybe with the nerf that AP is either reduced or stripped during it), upgrading mods, giving L8 XMPs their old range back etc. All things that would probably not fit in the game permanently, but would be interesting to play with for a week or so (and yes, some of those things are broken, but so is linking under fields).
If I focus on the gamechanging feature rather than any of the accoutrements that we see come around periodically such as AP boosts for building and destroying...
I think allowing players to link and field under fields needs to be a permanent feature. This makes sense for players and for Niantic as a business, which means it just has to happen if not now then soon.
I don't buy the argument that it "makes things too easy". I look at the reality of the normal situation making life too hard. There are too many big, near-permanent fields the world over that **** off player bases because they can't do anything. A small and shrinking player base is bad for the game and bad for Niantic's bottom line.
Making this feature permanent means someone who picks up the game under a perma-BAF *might actually keep playing the game because they can actually do stuff*. That in turn means they level up, get interested in doing more, and join the local community. Instead of start the game, cap, cap, cap, oh can't do anything else, close, delete app.
Niantic will realise that a bigger player base means a bigger pay day. That's fine, they're a business and if they can get more money from a broad and growing player base rather than nickel-and-diming a small and shrinking one, that will make everyone who plays that much happier. Of course they could choose to get greedy and do both but let's at least entertain the idea that the former can be introduced without the need for the latter.
I think a good compromise is fielding under fields only gets you AP and not MU. That fits with the lore.
I also think people saying it makes H4 and H5 easy have failed to take the logical next step which is that it makes H7 and H8 hard so go out and do those if you're looking for a new challenge.
If Niantic is not going to make this a permanent feature (and they should make it so, it's the easiest way to deal with the problem of perma-BAFs on a worldwide level) they at least need to rethink mega fields and their impact on the game, and what can be done to limit it.
As a chronic s***linker I love this mechanics, but I do not think it should be permanent.
The intricate fields that require time and effort can now be soloed in a couple of days without too much thought or effort, layers in BAFs can be too easily added from inside as well more complicated plans can be ruined by an odd link within an existing field.
I think more challanges should have one of the goals that unlock it for a brief duration in the future rather than permanent change.
Bingo. Niantic is a business and they want more customers. From a business perspective, it seems like a no-brainer to me that some form of this will be implemented permanently. I don't think they would have opened this Pandora's box if they weren't seriously thinking about it. I do hope it isn't without limits, there has to be a carrot and a stick in any sort of compromise. But the argument of fielders that this will take away their ability to dominate others and drive them out of the game, while possibly a sound strategy for your local play, will not be very persuasive to Niantic as a business trying to grow its customer base.
This last week I went to add microfields under my miniBAF and went to places I would have never been to before. Just for that I would keep it: more exploration.
You still need a bit of planning and skills to have enough keys and make sure you do not ****-up the link order (yes, that is still possible). But agreed beautiful fields or even HCF are not anywhere near as challenging. I love my HCFs, but when I count the number of times I did not bother fielding because I knew I wouldn't be able to multilayer properly. what a waste.
Also I do not have the ethical question of a throwing a BAF that would block others to play.
So yes there is the question of the MU score. I am pretty sure a good multilayer BAF will still generate more MUs that any microfields you do underneath, And if it does not, then what's was the point of the BAF, other than bullying others out of play?
Nah. keep it and keep the MU going with it.... it just levels the game between those would can drive to BAF and those who can't drive to smash it.
Ingress had a basic core concept when I started to play, It was clean and pretty straight forward, and loved it. You fight to control territory and push back upcoming agents. This Matryoshka Madness goes exactly against it. It's sure madness and unwanted for me.
I can understand the big perma fields problem, but a part of that problem is quantum kapsel and key breeding, everyone in that faction will have keys to maintain and reestablish those fields. Especially when there are people with multi accounts or none playing family members holding 20QC breeding keys.
And there we have the other issue again, you can be anonymous with all accounts, handling keys and resources back and forth without anyone questioning what account you interact with.
If it's the perma fields is the issue maybe you should look into remote recharge, what about some kind of incremental decay rate like on 10th day 100% decay! We don't have guardians anymore. This would need agents to revisit portals and the game field would start to change rapidly.