Ingress Game Design doesn't gel with Goals
Dear John Hanke (@ace),
In this article you are quoted as saying:
Niantic’s games adhere to three core principles, Hanke explained: promoting community exploration, incorporating exercise into gameplay and encouraging real-world social interaction.
If this is your goal, what happened with Frackers and Glypyhing?
Pre-2015: 8+ Agents gather in a park with 20 or more portals, walking as a group, building those portals to 8 in roughly half an hour. Once the portals are built, and the common/rare multi-hacks are on, the group splits up into smaller groups, with the more energetic heading off around the lap in singles or pairs, and the less energetic walking in larger groups, talking, laughing and occasionally looking at their phone to tap once on a portal to hack it.
Post-2015: 8+ Agents gather in a parking lot where 3-5 portals are all within 40m of them. Once everyone arrives the portals are upgraded, and modded with VRHS and VRMH and some with ITO-. Frackers are then deployed, and silence descends as Agents stare at their phones for blocks of 10 minutes. Between blocks, gear is recycled or transferred, then silence descends again. After 20 minutes, everyone leaves.
- Community exploration: While going to the same parks over and over isn't really getting more exploration, it's definitely taking you to places with more to see. Often these areas are unsuitable for fracking, because of the separation between portals. So you end up in a carpark or the side of the road.
- Incorporating exercise: Frackers encourage people to stand in place and hack the same portals 10-20 times. Glyphing means people stop moving, because they're not good enough at it to keep walking. And if they do keep walking, it's at a very slow pace so they don't pass the next portal before they finish the glyphing. These two features actively discourage exercise.
- Social Interaction: A short burst of being in the same place at the same time, where people are shushed because people are concentrating, is not real social interaction. Splitting after the frackers end reinforces it. Glyphing requires people to concentrate on the device and not talk to each other lest they be distracted.
So what happened?
It's undeniable that Ingress has been declining since 2015, with many major cities at more than 50% uncaptured portals. While there are many reasons for it, the social community's decline can be attributed in some part, to the changes in farming which are far more convenient, and because of Shield values, far more necessary, the old methods certainly brought people together and made them enjoy each other's company in interesting places more often, as well as getting them more exercise.
If you want to meet your company's goals.
- Remove Frackers.
- Reduce the output of glyphing to no more than +50% on a successful P8 hack.
- Return shields to C10/R20/VR40 and reduce the stickiness. Aegis shields should either reduce appropriately (probably 50 mitigation) or be removed from hack tables.
Point 3 could alternatively be replaced with a doubling of the Inventory cap.