There were eleven of us that met at a Starbucks in downtown Chicago and we had one goal in mind: strengthen the Portals that we had fought so hard to establish and expand the reach of the Resistance. As we stepped outside we realized that it wasn't just cold; it was the kind of cold that would reach its icy fingers right through the layers of clothing we had put on. It sucked the warmth right out of our bones with each new gust, but we were undeterred. +Resistance Chicago was holding its first official meetup. Only one or two of us had met before, and none of us had been playing this game longer than a couple of weeks, but we had decided to spend our Saturday afternoons fighting frozen limbs and tired feet in order to further the cause we had taken up.
To any random person walking down the street it must have been an odd sight. A random group of people who included different genders, races and professions taking an erratic path across The Loop in a huddled mass. Occasionally stopping, seemly at random, to tap on our phones furiously, almost in unison. But to us, we weren't just wandering around the city. We were strategizing, hacking Portals, and meticulously planning our route in order to reinforce weaknesses in our defenses and to conquer enemy strongholds. That is what Ingress does. It changes an afternoon stroll into an adventure.
Playing Ingress by yourself is lots of fun, but getting together with random group of strangers is an experience. We knew nothing about each other, but we had something in common: we loved playing a game that got us out of the house and into the fresh air, and that was enough. We swapped 'war stories' about taking out enemy Portals, and shared tips and tricks (more on that below). I learned about the game, and I got to know some people I wouldn't have met if it weren't for this new game from Niantic. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.
We learned a lot from each other about the best way to advance our faction's cause. And I want to share some of what we have figured out.
If you are planning on doing some serious damage to the enemy faction, you will need a few things:
- An extended battery, or an extra battery. In order to get a good lock on your location, the app needs you to have your WiFi and GPS turned on. I use the Galaxy Nexus, and if it weren't for my recently purchased extended battery, my journey downtown would have been in vain.
- As Sean Bean keeps reminding us, winter is coming. Gloves that have conductive fingertips are a great tool. It's worth it. Buy yourself a pair.
- The Nexus 7 seems to work well with the current version of the Ingress app. Larger tablets will work if you have a data connection but if you are planning to tether through your phone, remember that this will drain your battery even faster than just using your phone to play the game. Ten inch tablets will look a little pixellated, since they are running a scaled up version of the smart phone app, but they are defiantly usable.
- Most major cities now have a Google+ and/or Facebook page for each faction. If your city or area doesn't have one, start one.
- The game is more fun when you cooperate with others in your faction. Don't just join or like a page; get involved. Find out if your area needs officers or support, and stay in touch with each other. Don't be afraid to meet new people and explore new areas. At the end of the day, this is what Ingress is all about.
- Attend a meet up, organize an attack in your home town, or coordinate your attacks with others in your faction. Not everyone can drive to every Portal. You need your teammates to help you take out strong enemy Portals.
I really can't emphasize the importance of organization enough. What happens when you have a well-organized faction? This happens:
The Resistance has a stranglehold on The Loop in downtown Chicago right now. We are heavily fortified and very organized. If the Enlightenment want to enslave the minds of those who dwell in Chicago, they have their work cut out for them.
I know that many of you are still waiting for your activation code. This is still a closed beta, so many of you might just have to wait a little longer, but luckily there is hope. First of all, you can click here and enter to win one of the activation codes that we are giving away here at AndroidHeadlines.com. You can also try to impress either +Brandon Badger or +Joe Philley over on Google+ with your creativity. Of course you can also go to the Niantic Project website to make sure that you are in line when invites start going out to a broader audience.
If you don't have an activation code yet, don't be dismayed. This is a massive undertaking by Google and Niantic. The game still has quite a few bugs that need to be ironed out and features that need to be added. Patience is a virtue, but in the mean time, you can download the app and start submitting landmarks in your neighborhood to be added to the list of Portals. If you haven't played yet, trust me; you will want as many Portals near your home and workplace as possible. All you have to do to submit a new Portal is snap a picture and tap "share." If you have installed Ingress on your Android phone, you will have the option to share to "NIA Super Ops." Once you have named your Portal you can send it off to the good folks over at Niantic, and hopefully in 2-3 weeks you'll have a chance to claim that Portal for your faction. If you want more information about the mystery surrounding The Niantic Project, you can check out the unofficial wiki here.
Its been amazing to see such a vibrant community spring up around Ingress in such a short amount of time, and I can't wait to see what comes next. Ingress isn't like anything any of us have ever seen. None of us know how big Ingress is going to get or what features will be added to the game next, but I can't wait to find out. Get involved, get organized and join the fight.