Ingress Game Design doesn't gel with Goals

edited October 2019 in General

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. Remove Frackers.
  2. Reduce the output of glyphing to no more than +50% on a successful P8 hack.
  3. 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.

@NianticBrian @RedSoloCup



  • Shields were buffed long before they were nerfed, from 10/20/40, to 30/40/60/70 with stickiness.

  • Ingress is about change. People get bored and quit, when all they ever do is recharge.

    The shield change however, is about inventory space. When they raised the shield count, taking down a 30+ portal farm went from 300 X8s to 600-800X8s plus 100ish ultrastrikes, because everyone has Aegis etc. And if they remove Frackers all that does is mean that farming to get enough X8s to **** a decent farm will take much more than twice as long (given walking instead of VRHS). Frackers and Glyphing massively increased the rate at which you gain bursters. So if they reduce that rate, you need a consummate reduction in defensive strength.

    Permanent farms that can't be destroyed and only require recharging, is just as little social interaction.

  • Well easier doesn't equal more fun in game design, just saying.

  • Thus Frackers making farming "easier" doesn't make it more "fun".

    Got it.

  • edited October 2019

    The point of the post was that the design goals espoused by John Hanke are not being met by the game, and to do so would require them to remove an element that is actively damaging those design goals.

    No-one likes losing something that makes things easy, and Frackers certainly make farming ez-mode. But as mentioned above:

    Also, I did suggest new content and it was largely ignored:

  • I do agree! No frackers would increase the need for cooperative Ingress play and farm building and defense. Also I think stronger shields would support especially any underdog fraction farm building and defense.

  • All these examples are despite the game mechanics. It's great that you're choosing a social route, but the game mechanics that Hanke is claiming to support his goals, actively undermine it. Actively ignoring the advantages to have social events is great but it's not how the mechanics work, which is the point of the post.

  • NinthAntNinthAnt ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019

    Community exploration and social interaction in the real world are 2/3 of the goals. My comment suggesting enabling more community exploration in farms is on topic I think.

    You can still do walking 8 farms if you want- I’ve tried and effectively no one wants to do them with me. Company goals or no they aren’t super popular in my experience.

  • When their was no fracking or glyphing the game was much more social. Fact of the matter is, bother have been detrimental. Shields being overly sticky is also a detriment. Cheating is the biggest detriment. Allowing chronic cheaters to continue to play is unfathomable. Xfac has actually damaged the game immensely. There's no point to the game now. Why fight? The story or reasons for the existence for the game are gone now. 2 tribes war. Now there aren't any tribes. Game play is via new software is horrible. Not intuitive, overly complicated. Hell they didn't need to change the controls, upgrade the graphics. All combined the reasons the game became popular have fallen to the way side. Now everything is supposed to be all kumbaya, and it sucks.

  • Lesser or no people want to capture portals in wild places since the Guardian achievement was removed.

  • How does this address shareholder concern regarding sustainability, @Perringaiden ?

    Your suggestions, simply put, assume the main stakeholders of the game are the players. How does this make a struggling Niantic money?

    I think I speak for Niantic when I state that saying a game designer should produce a game purely for user enjoyment is utterly absurd.

  • @Cyclebiff sustainability is one of our goals, but without active players, there's also no Ingress. I don't think anyone is arguing to make a purely fan service game, and as you mentioned, there's a balance to be struck here.

  • I made 16 and I walked away for a bit. Trying to get back into things was hard. Honestly i would love the original interface. It was better. The new one is better for one handed play, which again allows people to drive and play. The new stuff takes away from why we searched our cities to create these portals in the first place. The whole game has become kinda sorry.

  • Well, good suggestions and explanations about why we think they're good suggestions, would probably help, rather than just telling them to be smarter :-)

  • Your suggestions, simply put, assume the main stakeholders of the game are the players. How does this make a struggling Niantic money?

    You can only squeeze so much money out of one player, and in a game where you need 8+ players to make frackers worthwhile, losing the players will lose the money anyway.

    There are other ways to monetize the game, or monetize the game's output. Inventory, customization, etc, that will not damage the reasons why people enjoyed playing.

  • mortuusmortuus ✭✭✭✭✭

    I agree that frackers combined with glyphs made the game less fun and challenging.. now its not so much about gameplay.. a single player can destroy alot today, high lvl farms with aegis is usually not a problem unless 3-5 agents recharge against...

    now everyone can just sit inside and reach a portal or 2 and stare on their phones and dont interact with each others as before in the early ingress days... thats just not my thing..

  • starwortstarwort ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, I hope you are enjoying all the forum points from the disagreements on this post. :-)

    Nerfing the hack output certainly won't help to get people's faces out of their scanners, because then they'll have to hack for longer to get the same kit.

    Frackers don't have to be used. The vast majority of times I've hacked a portal with a fracker on it have been at anomalies, and that's usually at a pub; one was at a house while chatting to other agents on my team. Frackers are not what's wrong with this game, and there are most likely fewer of them about since the price doubled. I have literally never sat in a car park with other agents to farm. Either I go alone (though one time another agent randomly appeared and said hi) or we go to a park or a pub and have a social event. If people turn up for 20 minutes to frack and then go away again, that's a social problem, not a game problem.

    It's been a fair while since I last did a walking 8-roll, but that's for reasons mostly unrelated to any of the current controversies.

  • Wow, I hope you are enjoying all the forum points from the disagreements on this post. :-)

    You should have seen the AMA when I asked whether PoGo players were getting OPR... two days before they announced they were getting OPR.

    Nerfing the hack output certainly won't help to get people's faces out of their scanners, because then they'll have to hack for longer to get the same kit.

    I'm assuming you never played before glyphing was a thing (or at least a worthwhile thing). My routine previously was to walk a 20-30 portal lap (depending on site), and between each portal I'd select navigate, then put my phone in my pocket and talk to people or walk while looking around. When my phone said "Portal in Range, Hacking Possible", I would pull my phone out of my pocket, tap to hack, navigate to the next portal, then put my phone back in my pocket.

    There was a lot less screen time before glyphing, because we didn't have to stare at the screen waiting for prompts or finger painting with aliens.

    It's been a fair while since I last did a walking 8-roll, but that's for reasons mostly unrelated to any of the current controversies.

    Is it related to a lack of players, or lack of willing players? Because that's become commonplace.

  • My experience of the early walking farms was that people stayed together for the first walking round, but it was very frustrating because you always had to wait for slower players and coordinate who had forgotten to place a resonator or who had put a lower level resonator blocking someone else from deploying their L8 and so on. And then after the first round, people would walk on their own because some are faster and some are slower

    While some of us always forged ahead for extra laps, my experience was that the slower group was the large one who was focused more on talking and thus stayed together.

    With regard to exercise and exploration: In my experience, being able to obtain more items in a shorter time means being able to spend more time actively moving and exploring.

    That's why any change to output would also require a consummate change to defensive strength. If you only need 300 bursters, you can get them in the same time it would have taken to get 600-800.

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