Why Ingress 1.x has to be retired and Prime isn't as bad as people claim - Analysis and Speculation

Since people are very unhappy with the announcement, lemme give you my analysis on things.

The issues with Scanner Redacted are mostly of technical nature than say, different than some folks assume, Niantic want to **** you off.

One crucial component of that client, RoboVM is deprecated since 2015 so it became a dead end by then. That's why only gameplay changes happened that could be handled by changing it on a server side - but we all know barely anything happened the last few years on that front.

Because I had to extract assets for my Schloss Kaltenberg project from the old scanner, I unpacked the app and saw the coding behind Ingress 1.x. After I saw this, it was clear that Ingress was designed very efficiently to do what it should do in the scope of the game but actually adding new code, new functions and new 3D assets are would be a massive effort, because Ingress was designed with a lean core and very limited extensibility. Additionally, it seems to me that the coders who originally wrote the scanner aren't really available anymore, in that case Niantic wouldn't even have had the expertise to make changes to 1.x.

All in all, that's why it had to go.

Now, enter Ingress Prime.

It was announced sometime in 2016 I think and then it was kind of a joke with it being under the radar for so long. In December 2017, after the EXO5 anomaly in San Francisco, Prime was finally shown to the agents on the afterparty for 2 minutes, with Niantic employees explaining the scanner and some design choices they made, like the inventory system.

The thing is... back then it looked really really good and ran with 60 fps on an iPhone 6s. Hacking was broken in that build but it was surprisingly functional as an Alpha from what I could tell.

A few months pass and I was doing our xmportalcompass PLP and Niantic's producer (please correct me if I'm wrong) Mac brought some Ingress Prime Alpha along with Razer babes to Kaltenberg. I talked to Mac about my impressions, some comparisons to the SFO teaser build and what I didn't like (Android back button not supported).

But what I noted was that it ran worse on a beefy 120Hz Razer Phone than on an iPhone 6s a few months earlier. XMP bursting is pathetic. Link animations tedious. Leaked memory so you had to restart every 10 minutes. All in all a really not good experience, but it was still unoptimized I was told. I liked the direction of the new product though. I remember my words "Andrew, please make sure that it doesn't **** off the veteran players."...

Boom, Beta wave 2 of Ingress Prime after doing the Prime Challenge in Linz, End of September 2018. Agreed to an NDA and off the testing it went. Well. It was atrocious. Links were broken, Fields used to be fully 3D even if it was fully zoomed out,which was reverted in later updates. 50% resolution scaling on my Xperia XZ1 made Ingress into a pixely mess. Touch input was unresponsive and fiddly. It burned through my battery within 90 minutes. Stuff like that.

During beta, things only got incrementally better so until they forced Prime via an update, it was largely still in that state and burned players forever in the process. I think, if Ingress Prime was released in the state of today, a lot less backlash would have been had.

The thing is, since initial release a lot of improvements have been made, especially to road visibility, linking, glyph hacking and upgrading fully deployed portals. Prime truly gets noticeably better with each update and while I absolutely abhorred initial versions, I use Prime over Redacted now.

I still have some concerns about Ingress Prime though, which I also asked Andrew in this months' AMA.

I suspect that the shitty, fiddly feeling many people of us have playing Prime comes from the Niantic AR platform Pokemon GO and HPWU are also built on. And that platform is forked from the Unity 3D game engine. I suspect that the Niantic AR platform might be sufficient for slower games like PoGo and HPWU, it absolutely lacks the snappiness of the extremely optimized-for-its-purpose-version-1.x so it becomes very noticeable to the average player. My main concern here is that I don't know if the pretty bloated Unity core even allows for performance comparable to Redacted. In that case, basing the Niantic AR platform on Unity would have been a huge mistake, but only for us Ingress players since PoGO and HPWU are way more casual.

Many people also criticize the UI/UX, but I think that many people subconsciously blame Primes' lacking responsiveness on that. For me it's clear: It's framerate limited and it seems to ignore every 5th touch input I make, making it feel horrible and fiddly to use. The UI decisions themselves are pretty sound for the most part, it's just people hating change loudly instead of adapting.

By the way, 1.x was also a buggy mess back in its early days, required high end phones to play and ate battery for breakfast. Sound familiar?

So yeah, I don't know if romanticizing the past is the right way to go here, Redacted wasn't a great product from the start, it took its time to become the scanner we know and love.

I understand that Redacted must go in order for Ingress to get new features, because for aforementioned reasons it's only possible with the new platform, though.

So you can throw the figurative toys out of the pram and quit Ingress, I won't stop you.

But I suggest you do the pragmatic thing and just try it out on-and-off, with each subsequent update so you can at least effectively use it. I went from one of the most vocal critics of Prime from Beta wave 2 on to someone who appreciates Prime for some features it's simply superior compared to Redacted now, such as Glyph Hacking, full portal upgrading and bulk portal charging.

TL;DR: Both scanners have their strong points by now, use them and adapt to change.

Phew, that was quite a wall of text, but I needed to document my thoughts on that matter.

Agents, be awesome and give it at least a chance,

Moertel, L13 (recursed)

"Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change" - Stephen Hawking


  • Good reading and agree in most of the things.

  • JosmanuJosmanu ✭✭✭

    the reason of why redacted has to go is just like dewey said:

    The future is now old man

  • ArtilectZedArtilectZed ✭✭✭✭✭

    Don't forget, Ingress 1.x was supposed to be a tech demo that wasn't going to be around for more than a year. It just never died.

  • Speaks for the community that formed around Ingress, I'd say ;)

  • ArtilectZedArtilectZed ✭✭✭✭✭

    That was a big part of it! I'm one of those crazies that got an Ingress tattoo.

  • Excellent read.

    I keep suggesting that Anti-Aliasing and Higher than 24fps frame rates need to be introduced, because that's the biggest thing I notice between Redacted and Prime. To me, it doesn't make sense (at all) that Niantic would hire all these designers to make Prime look beautiful and then instantly thwart it with low frame rates and jagged, pixelated lines.I understand the battery concern, but atleast adding the options in settings to have High Performance Graphics would be a massive step foward too.

    Also, considering Pokemon Go and Ingress are not built pretty similarly, Prime will eventually become snappy and we'll optimised. 1 thing I remember about Pokemon Go at launch was that it ran like **** and didn't support low end phones well at all. Now days, very old phones can play Pokemon Go pretty well and still have a decent experience.

    We'll get there eventually Agents, we just have to hang tight while Niantic figures it out.

  • Pretty much all the animations, effects and the quality of graphics in prime are garbage.

  • grendelwulfgrendelwulf ✭✭✭✭✭

    Smooth animations, super fast response, less battery drain. Pick 2.

  • Like i've said before, and i'll keep asking for it. But we really need an ingress classic 1.x skin for prime so we can go back to the old graphics/animations. It would make prime so much better.

  • MoertelMoertel ✭✭
    edited September 2019

    To quote someone who has been horribly wrong in his original context (J. Allen Brack, asked if they would offer WoW vanilla servers at some point):

    "You think you do (want it), but you don't."

    In this case however, you really don't. People are somehow blaming the responsiveness issues on the UI, while not realizing that ways of interaction are way longer than with Prime. Also the Redacted UI has a lot of dead spaces and many actions require one interaction more than the Prime UI.

    The outcome of having a Redacted skin on top of Prime would just be that you have your old interface with a bunch of responsiveness issues that OG Redacted didn't have.

    Edit: Typo

  • He's wrong. I do actually want it. Prime is mega ugly in my eyes. Not just the UI changes, which I Can live with and get used to. XM is ugly. Fields are ugly. Link and field animations are ugly. Portal flame animations are ugly Even if they port the color scheme over to prime, i think i'd be happy. The scanner doesn't have the same weight when rotating and zooming in and out. It feels more clunky than 1.x. I know this is just my opinion, and there are some mega prime fanboys out there. But prime has a lot of potential and i'd hate to see it wasted without a classic theme.

    And for the record, WoW Classic is super popular right now on the twitch.

  • SonicgottSonicgott ✭✭✭✭

    I adjusted to Prime, and my only gripes right now are the zoom function (I prefer the old one), response time (may be an engine issue — not Niantic's fault; they are working on it), and RAM/Battery drain, and lack of quick menus (may be a UI choice). I also don't like the unnecessary rotation when clicking on a portal.

    However, the glyphing UI is MASSIVELY improved and it's smooth as silk. Linking is super fast (depending on network), and cube access is really sweet. There have been other UI improvements from portal view which I also like.

    I have more reasons to like Prime than to hate it, and I don't feel bad letting Redacted go. It had a good run, but it's time for change.

    Niantic's developers have been cranking away VERY hard on Prime, and I can definitely see that. In about a year, Prime has changed for the better and it will continue to improve.

    Andrew, I owe you a beer. So, thank you.

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