Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Category: Ingress Page 1 of 3

My Old Chromebook

I am about to get a nice new Chromebook. It will replace my old warhorse of an Acer.


So my First World Problem of the day is, some of these stickers are quite difficult to replace.  Especially the Ingress one in the center.

I know, I know.


Flash Farm Fracking (Ingress, not Shale)

There has been a lot of discussion in the Ingress community since the introduction of the Fracker (see New Items) around the interplay of fracked portals and glyph-hacking.  Now personally, I dislike glyph-hacking, not least because it requires such absolute focus from the agent that it forces them to ignore other elements of their environment.  For example, nearby humans.  People disappear from conversations in the middle of a sentence.

I was excited that the advent of fracking might bring a viable alternative to glyph-hacking at least as far as building inventory is concerned (no help with your Translator badge, obviously).  So after a discussion in our Rochester Resistance Slack about how this might apply to a flash farm, I modeled some scenarios for how we might allow people to farm their fill with judicious use of hack mods, frackers and tap-hacking.

This table shows the number of hacks per portal you can get using two frackers, based on twenty different ways you might mod each portal.  Each scenario supports up to a given number of agents; more agents will cause the frackers to expire prematurely from hitting the 150-hack limit.

A few of these scenarios have some interesting characteristics.  Scenario 1 requires only one fracker per portal, as it will burn them out within the ten minutes.  On the other hand it requires three Very Rare Heat Sink (VRHS) per portal, and this may not be acceptable.  The VRHS has emerged as the most difficult mod to hack, and people are very interested in being able to conserve them.  In that spirit, scenarios 5, 7 and 10 require two, one, and zero VRHS per portal respectively. Scenario 12 requires no VRHS and also no Very Rare Multi-Hack (VRMH).  Another factor is, how many people are showing up. For a larger group, Scenarios 10 and 12 are better.

Consider Scenario 11 and place an AXA shield in the free slot, if you want to try to hold the farm for the four-hour reset time, and then cycle through it again.  Don’t forget to link it up thoroughly.  I highly recommend Ingress-Maxfield for your strategy to do that.  It doesn’t take into account a lot of operational needs of BAF ops, but for small areas with up to a dozen portals or so, it’s very nice.  A full tutorial on using Maxfield is a future topic here.

Taking a break between frackers will have no ill effect on the results. Remember to recharge the portals during this break; they will each go to 50% when the first fracker expires.

With these ideas, or your own take on them, you can have everyone chatting merrily again at your next flash farm, and then soon enough everyone can get back to kvetching about the item cap.

Much thanks to Fev-Games, from which I extracted the cooldown times I used above.


Impressions from a Different Ingress Op

A blue blankie for Western NY

Operation PapaSmurf went off in the very early hours of October 4.  Planning for this began back in August, with the same designer/planner who’d done the previous Ingress BAF operation I have blogged about.  During September, the original planner had to drop out to devote more time to his greater work responsibilities, after a promotion.  Happy news for him but it left the rest of us wondering what to do next.

My friend Cindy, my wife Jill and I stepped up to say, we’ll take it over!  But despite having participated in the previous operation, we three knew we were wayyy over our heads in planning something of this magnitude.  Luckily, +Phil Visalli, an agent who had Onyx Illuminator from the first day Illuminator was a badge, was receptive to our pleas.

The original plan had us linking anchor portals in Corning to Olcott/Barker to Cape Vincent.  Cape Vincent made for a lovely trip for us to farm keys and spend part of Labor Day weekend by the St. Lawrence River.  But when Phil looked at our key inventory, he was immediately skeptical that the Cape Vincent anchors would be workable.  His suggestion was that we instead consider Oswego for the northeast anchors.  We could see the benefits: bypassing the heavy areas of Auburn and Syracuse in our eastern lane would make the clearing much more manageable.  And we would not give up much in MU at all.  I had perhaps the toughest time with this, but then I realized I was falling into the trap of the Sunk Cost Fallacy as I gazed at the Cape Vincent keys we had so laboriously farmed.  Finally, I agreed.

Immediately, Phil was able to tap his deep network to obtain both keys and helpers for the Oswego area.  We were on our way.  Drawings were made and re-made a few times, and finally there was a design for 24 layers that looked workable.  We selected the October 4 date to hit the end of a septicycle, which would be at 8AM that morning.  The plan was to get the fields up by the 3AM checkpoint, then see if we could hold it until the 8AM.

At a meeting of the available team members on Sept. 18, Phil briefed us on the plan as it stood and explained the OpSec requirements for something of this size.  Had there been leaks, there were just so many ways for the Toads to mess with it.  No discussions outside of a single secured discussion room on Slack.  No out-of-area activity for clearing during the week before the op.  Phil arranged for friendly links to be allowed to decay, and for hostile links to be hit by players in their usual playing grounds.

Came the night of the op, the last remote blockers were knocked out and it was 2:20 AM, time to start throwing the long links.  With every player on station and waiting for the Go signal, suddenly Phil’s voice said, “Wait.”  A random blocker – a friendly! – had gone up across the inner western lanes.  Phil did a nifty bit of on-the-fly replanning and announced that we could still do the op as planned, but with seven fewer layers.  Meanwhile, he was trying to reach the n00b who had tossed that thoughtless link.  And then he reached one of the clearing team members at home, who rolled immediately to Jarvis the offending block.  3AM checkpoint was approaching when the link was finally dropped.  We got the first layer up with about nine seconds to spare.  The rest went up after checkpoint, but at least seven of the layers survived until the 8AM and Resistance won the cycle.

If this reads like I am a charter member of the +Phil Visalli fan club, well, I guess it’s because I am.  His direction of this entire thing from early planning to real-time execution was most impressive. You can read the Google+ SitRep that Phil wrote for details, more photos, and the whole cast of characters.  But since he wrote it, it’s far too modest on the role he played in the success of the op.


New Ingress Items Coming

The next version of the Ingress Scanner to hit your phones & tablets will be 1.83.1. A big jump from the 1.81.0 you’re running now, and boy does it show.  FEV Games did a tear-down of the new version and found a bunch of both newly- and not-quite-yet-released features.

Key Capsules: Special capsules that can only hold keys.  Keys in these capsules do not count toward your 2,000 item inventory limit.  I repeat.  Keys in these capsules do not count toward your 2,000 item inventory limit.

and the op planners of the world did rejoice!

Capsule Loading Organizer: The interface for loading items into capsules is now organized the same way inspecting your main inventory is organized.  You select an item type (Weapons, Resonators, Mods, Power Cubes, Portal Keys, Media. maybe?  Does anyone actually ever put media in a capsule?), and if you select keys, you choose to sort them by distance or by title.  My friends and I have fantasized about a lot of things to make handling keys easier: tags, folders, etc.  This isn’t anything so 21st century as that, but it’s still a hell of an improvement over what we have now.

Portal Upgrades: These apparently boost the hacking output of a portal.  They go into a dedicated upgrade slot on the portal, and based on rarity have variable rates of output boost and variable expiration times.  I know some bars that will be sporting these soon!

In-Game Store: A store in the game where you can buy items.  Everyone will start off with 10 credits.  It’s not clear yet how you will get more credits, if actual IRL money can be used or if credits are awarded for in-game accomplishments.  Or some combination.

Big changes have been coming, we knew, since the spin-out of Niantic from Google.  This is at least the first wave.

Thanks for the teardown analysis, FEV Games.

Random Things I Saw Today

The things a day of Ingress play will bring to my attention:

Heading out this morning, to clean the green out of the neighborhood.  There’s a girl sprawled on porch roof of her house, lying on her stomach, talking to a friend just inside the second story window.  The girl on the roof is fully dressed and has a pillow out there.

After cleaning the algae out of the neighborhood, we go to Braddock Bay Raptor Research center.  Jill wants to see if there is any action at the Hawk Watch platform.  We are surprised to find a few new portals, so we get some unique captures and visits.  I go into the very utilitarian building where the training events are held, to use the bathrooms.  There is a a table set up near the door with about 200 lanyards, each one has an empty badge holder.  There’s also stacks of badges for people to write their names, and each badge is pre-printed with “Friend”, “Bride’s Family” or “Groom’s Family.”  A wedding at Braddock Bay Raptor Research Center?  Plausible.  But: a wedding with name badges on lanyards?

Done for the day, we stop at Wegmans.  As we’re walking in, we hear a car alarm going off.  We look over to see a woman rapping on the windows of her (?) car, pleading with “Samantha” to please unlock the doors.

On our way home from Wegmans we’re lucky that the traffic light in the middle of the freeway on-ramp is green.

Just another day of Ingress around Rochester.

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