This Is Not a Game

Ingress_Logo“This world around you is not what it seems. Our future is at stake, and you must choose a side.”

I’m ashamed to say that I received my Ingress activation code back in December but I only activated my agent status three weeks ago.

Since then I’ve been busy hacking my way around my local area — Horwich, Shevington, Appley Bridge, Bolton, Wigan and Manchester — and yesterday I hit level 4.

OK, so Ingress is an augmented reality MMO for Android devices, currently in closed beta. It might also be a massive data-mining operation. Either way it’s a lot of fun.

The idea is that the Earth is seeded with a number of portals associated with public landmarks, anything from sculptures to notable buildings to graffiti. The portals are visible using the Ingress app with the agent located using GPS. There are two factions, the Resistance and the Enlightened. You pick your faction, then you travel around hacking and capturing portals. You can also attack portals captured by opposing faction members. There’s a complex back-story and bonuses available from the Niantic Project website in the form of hidden encrypted codes.

Here’s the trailer:

This is first MMO I’ve played that involves some decent physical effort. Some players drive, others cycle, I like to drive to a location, park up and get walking. From RunKeeper I know that my walking pace is typically around 3.0mph and I spent nearly three hours in Manchester the other evening during which time I probably knocked out 8 or 9 miles. With a couple more trips into Wigan I think I’ve covered at least 15 miles this week — probably a lot more. Not bad considering my usual hermit-like working week.

There’s also a cerebral side. In-game bonuses are available in the form of extra experience points and equipment via ‘passcodes’ which can be entered into the Ingress app. These codes are available in various multimedia files uploaded to the Niantic Project website and Ingress YouTube channel. But get ready for some serious brain-ache. Not only are these codes are hidden away in HTML comments, image metadata tags or image aberrations just a few pixels across, they’re also typically encrypted using a variety of ciphers or encoders such as Caesar (ROT13 is a favourite), Base64, Hex, ASCII and so on. A code will usually be encrypted using two or more such methods. There’s a great guide here.

Here’s my kit list:

If you’re interested you can request an invite from the Ingress website, but bear in mind that this is a closed beta so invites are in short supply. Good luck!



  1. Reblogged this on PM Promomac.

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