While leaving a BBQ celebrating a friend's 50th birthday party, Richard Smith's tweet pointing out the Ingress app had been released for iOS flowed through my stream. For the last two years, owners of Android-based Internet communicators have been playing the GPS-enabled, location-based massively mouthful role-playing game. One hacks portals, deploys resonators, links them up with others, and attacks enemies' fortresses while belonging to one of two factions, either the Resistance or the Enligtenment. After Tim Bray, as longtime a player as one can be, wrote a warm welcome to iOS users, I followed his advice, joining the faction then behind in the worldwide standings. (I missed the part where he said to narrow it down to your geography.)
At this writing, I'm at level 6, which regulars inform me is the level to start serious attacks on rival portals. Tonight, barring unforeseen circumstances like the local transit meltdown that spooked me last week, I will meet fellow players for the first time at their weekly meetup. I've had a couple of near-encounters, with one high-level fellow faction member sending me a message saying he was across the street. Lousy notifications in the current incarnation of the app prevented me from seeing the message until a few hours later. I now assume that anybody walking while looking down at their phone is either a friend or foe on Ingress.
Many questions remain, all of which I'll ask in due course as I get my feet even wetter. The feature requests I have for the app are
- Background navigation. That is, after exiting the app, I'd like the voice to keep me updated on how close I am to a portal I've chosen to hack.
- Notifications of in-game events, such as an portal being attacked, resonators decaying, someone mentioning me in the faction chat. I don't know the implications of what notifications would bring: maybe the game is designed for playing on the go or setting out on a planned exploration rather than having your day interrupted with attempts to destroy your protectorate.
Playing Ingress has led to some interesting Columbusings. It pulled me into the entrance of B.C. Children's and Women's Hospital, a place I haven't had a need to visit. (Yet.) The second sighting was the walkway to a publicly-accessible sitting area in the courtyard behind of the Catholic Church at Cambie and 34th. It also led to the Virgin Mary statue in the back yard church at Cambie and 33rd. A third sighting, related to the fact I was also playing Fog of World at the time, was a bike rack on private property next to a large home. Lastly, on Yukon and W. 10th, next to the bench facing the bike lane is a plaque commemorating Dad's cookies factory (my photo). It seems that Dad's cookies are a treat invented by an American who named the company after his father-in-law that had Canadian bakeries (Vancouver is not listed on the company's history page).
The game takes me outside of my well-worn routes, sometimes doubling the time it takes me to get somewhere. Now that I have the basics understood, it's time to interact with some of the players and go on group missions.