Myriad Ruminations from the Cemetery
Saturday July 13. I was in the graveyard way after dark hunting down unique hacks for the Myriad challenge, and I knew that there were about 25 cargressable portals here. I had been at the cemetery at twilight before, but this was close to 11 pm. It was dark, except for the glow from the solar powered grave lights. I never noticed them before, actually. And I’m thinking, who does that? Do the dearly departed need a night light? And actually, it makes a normally peaceful graveyard look eerie.
My wipers are on. It’s not raining, but it’s so muggy. With the AC at full force, the windows are fogging up, just adding to the creepy factor. The heat and humidity explains why I’m in a cemetery at night instead of walking one of the wonderful lakes in my own home town during the day.
And I’m thinking … it’s ironic that the graveyard is full of ghost portals.
It didn’t used to be that way. Eleven months earlier I was hacking high L7 and L8 portals in the cemetery, stocking up on gear for the Cassandra anomaly. This was our farm. And now, the place is, pardon the pun, a ghost town. The person who usually minds the cemetery is a Boy Scout leader who gave up a month of his vacation to act as camp counselor. But even when he comes back, we’d be lucky to have it Level 7. Things have changed, and that was never more apparent than seen via my travels today. Because it wasn’t just the cemetery where I found grey portals.
In my quest for unique hacks, earlier in the day I ventured a further out of town to neighboring suburbs. I went to a local university and hacked what I could from the perimeter in my air conditioned car. I found the experience profoundly depressing. The last time I was there, doing a banner last fall, most of the 100 or so portals were high level and deployed green. But you can kill yourself charging that many portals. And not as many people play there anymore. I get it.
I drove down a mile long downtown street that used be consistently green. The RES would take it down all the time, but the rebuilds were also swift. Today, I hadn’t seen many green portals. In fact, I saw quite a few L6 and low level L7 blue portals. Huh? Are they trying to make a farm … here?
I live in a town that is quite active and mostly green, so getting out of town for unique hacks was a bit of a shock. Is Ingress … dying? In another year, will the Intel map show my area as white too? I have a feeling that there will be a huge player decline when Redacted is dropped. And for all I know, there’s a good chance that I will give up on Ingress at that point.
So here I am in a cemetery, mourning the premature loss of Ingress. I look at the clock on my car. There’s only an hour or so left of the day, and I hadn’t had time to finish up the Wizards Unite Daily Assignments. The truth is, I’m just not into WU. I seem to be continuing out of habit. Mind you, it’s a beautiful game and impressive in its complexity. But at its core, it’s pretty boring. Cast a spell. Rinse and repeat. The success of a spell seems to be more luck than skill and experience. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why PoGo and WU are so popular, when it seems obvious to me why Ingress is the best game in the Niantic family.
Ingress offers a level of creativity that you don’t see in the other Niantic games. Mind you, there is an element of randomness in the game, but it’s mostly skill and experience. The world is a series of dots just begging to be linked up in fun ways. I love making a tight spider web of triangles in my part of town. I love booming, particularly in a cluster of close portals, watching the mods blow off.
You can play alone if so inclined, but you’re experience is enhanced if you meet up with other players. I love my local ENL family. And actually, I’m quite fond of my RES opponents as well. If you play Ingress, chances are you’re pretty smart, introverted, and are an out-of-the-box thinker. In this game, you do best when you’re around other people to learn the tricks. I had good coaches, and now I’m paying it forward. Truth is, I enjoy the company of other agents, and am the first to sign up for a happy hour. And gear sharing makes so much sense! Teamwork leads to success.
And then there are the banners, all created by agents. It has taken me to all sorts of places where I would never have seen before.
I’ve done some mind blowing things playing Ingress, things that a new player could never been to imagine. I was up way past midnight in the greater DC area, post Cassandra, and actually got to move the shard, which we named “Steve.” Later in the week, people took off work and headed to the center of Delaware to help the team move the shard to the next location. I’ve seen some crazy stuff at anomalies, strategies I had never considered and thought that they would be doomed to work. Except they did. For the Dark XM challenge, my heart was racing like crazy as I drove to 15 miles from the origin to destination portals, wondering if someone would take down my portals first. And then there was the op to create a BAF, which involved about 20 people, where every agent had a critical role.
I got home right before midnight and took to my local hangouts to ruminate about my thoughts from the cemetery. About what I saw, or didn’t see that day. About how I thought Ingress was dying. About how much I loved the game. My friend K was still up, and she’s a good listener and a thinker, just what I needed. She wrote, “(The things you can do in Ingress) are not prescribed within the parameters of the game. It’s awesome. PoGo, WU, etc. are fun, but the games are much more confined. There’s not much outside the box that you can do. Ingress is all about being outside what the simple rules outline.” She continued, “I think everything ebbs and flows. A year and a half ago (my home area) wasn’t all green all the time like it is now.” My friend K is right. And in some ways, Ingress seems better. First Saturdays have seemed to have taken off, and since that’s user created, we get to have them monthly. And I have 3 to choose from without driving too far.
And that gave me a sense of hope.
Sunday, July 14. My friends are posting their purple Myriad badges to Hangouts, and I know that I’m going to add my screenshot by the end of the day. The last 265 hacks were tiresome to find, but I am determined. At 735 unique portals, I am in a town just north of home now heading west down a road counting down the remaining portals. It hit me. I’m going to likely get the Myriad badge close to the same portal where I got Level 16. As it turns out, it was exactly that portal, without pre-planning. The portal has special significance to me, besides being my L16 portal. The area is a VFW hall and the portal itself is WW2 fighter airplane. As it turns out, the guy who got me into this game, my boyfriend (and a RES; no one is perfect), is a recently retired Air Force fighter pilot who flew much larger and sexier jets. When I got L16, I took a rare selfie, me in my aviator sunglasses (at night) with the fighter jet behind me. Once I got the purple I-robot badge, I stepped out of my climate controlled car into the steam bath, put on those same sunglasses, and took another selfie with the airplane behind me. Another Ingress adventure complete. And looking forward to the next one.