Ingress AMA Archive

January 2019

Ingress Prime

Q1: What's your personal opinion for how long it will take for "feature parity" to occur?
A1: By the rate the engineering team is going, my best guess currently is probably by the latter part of the year. However, that’s based on the progress I’ve seen and the conversations I’ve had to date. Shifting priorities, resources, or any number of external influences could impact that in both a positive or negative way. But today, as of the time I’m writing this response, that would be my best guess.
Q2: There was a pretty strong negative reaction to the news that VR items would no longer duplicate in quantum capsules. The initial announcement made it sound like that change would happen quickly, but people are still seeing VR items duplicate. Has Niantic reconsidered the change?
A2: As of December 26th, 2018 VR items no longer duplicated in Quantum Capsules. This was confirmed by our Engineering team. I’m unsure if that was the intended date or not. But regardless, they no longer duplicate. However, the product team did inform me that we are exploring various ways to enable the duplication of very rare items in a way that doesn’t distort the game economy negatively. An example is a frequently talked about item that would duplicate items based on how far you walk. If this idea were to be implemented I would personally advocate for some limits on it. We don’t people have 100 of these capsules duplicating hundreds of items or having spoofer simply have unlimited items at their disposal. But I think there are creative ways to do something that has a hook into core gameplay as opposed to simply being rewarded for staying home and doing nothing.
Q3: Will we see common or very rare turrets in the game in 2019?
A3: At this time, there are no plans to put these specific items into the game.
Q4: Is there some plan to go hard and fast with new features once Prime reaches feature parity?
A4: We have teams of people who have planned and are planning a lot as it relates to Ingress Prime. I think there are some things that can be done prior to new servers coming online, but the bulk of new features will likely have to wait until that to be implemented. I don’t know that I would or could categorize it as “hard and fast” because the constraints for implementing the ideas may change between now and then. However, what, when, and how new features will be implemented is being planned.

Events

Q5: Hey, are you able to give any update on the issues regarding FS December? Some people are missing AP or received a badge without hacking the portal they didn't want. Is there a severe backlog of issues that piled up over the holidays? Happy New Year!
A5: Our team is looking into these issues. As with any new process, it has been a bit of a learning experience. Improvements have already been made based on the November, December, and now January IFS events. I don’t foresee these issues occurring in the future as a result of the tweaks. But do keep us posted if for some reason it does happen so we can investigate it.
Q6: What's the status on Niantic sending out patches for nianticlabs.com - Rivers and Trails 50th Anniversary - Niantic
A6: The patches started to get sent out in early December and I’m told that all of them will have been sent by next week.
Q7: Could you go public the future Anomaly schedule around February/March as you did last year?
A7: We are finalizing the event schedule for the next Anomaly Sequence and a few other events. There is some due diligence that needs to be done to confirm the cities and dates. We also recently asked the Vanguards and current Anomaly Sequence POCs to submit recommendations for cities to host events. We will be evaluating those submissions and comparing it against our event goals for the future. Because of this, the Event Team is hesitant to give a timeline of when the announcement will be made about future events. But they are working on finalizing and confirming things as I type.
Q8: Any updates on the status of GORUCK x Ingress events for 2019?
A8: Our events team says, “GORUCK will continue to be an Ingress partner on events. We are moving back to the model of separate ticketing for ancillary GORUCK activities, but you will see GORUCK activities around the February and March anomalies.”
Q9: When will the XF - MU challenge told in memorial broadcasting be done?
A9: We are waiting to do this event for a very specific reason. I wish I could go into more detail, but at this time I cannot.
Q10: Will there be a special activity like the Via Lux Explorer before the Darsana Prime Anomaly series?
A10: It is possible. There is a global event we are currently debating on doing and we are weighing the pros and cons on doing it now or at a later date.
Q11: With First Saturdays now becoming more popular, bringing local communities together, is there a plan to do more global operations like the Dark XM Cure, so local communities can participate in some global competition without the need to travel to an anomaly?
A11: The short answer is -- yes.
Q12: depending on who wins Anomalies and other events, can the badges issued reflect that? Like a Gargamel or Azrael silhouette badge if the frogs win, a smurf(or something that eats frogs) silhouette badge if the smurfs win?
A12: We will likely not integrate another company’s intellectual property into our artwork unless there is some sort of partnership. That being said, we have toyed around with the idea of altering the visual appearance of an Anomaly medal based on the result of the event. I would love to hear your (the player community’s) thoughts on this.
Q13: Will we have a counters in the medals FS, Stealth, OCF ets. If answer yes, when?
A13: Yes. This is currently being worked on. I think it’ll be present in either 2.16 or 2.17.
Q14: Releasing the individual-level unique hack scores from the last Anomaly was IMHO a really great thing to, and opens the way for Factions to be able to motivate players by their tactical victories (whether or not the team pulls off a win). Are there plans to release more such disaggregated score-relevant data, and (if so) would it be possible for teams to get it quickly enough post-Anomaly to allow Factions to give out performance awards?
A14: I wish I could provide more details but the quick answer is, yes we plan to do more with stats. I don’t know what is possible in terms of how quick we can turn around results though.
Q15: What are the expected future of anomaly’s and making them balanced? There have been many cases in the US of steamrolling by one team, giving people reason to not bother going to the events. Is there any expectation of changing something to make balance and promoting smarter playing over mass recruiting?
A15: This is a great question and a bit complicated to answer. The problem for the current imbalance is that the current format of the Anomalies is open to anyone who wants to participate -- by design. However, since these are competitive events you end up with teams of various sizes. We could do something like creating a separate instance of the Portal Network to allow only registered participants to interact with the Portals. We could couple an Anomaly instance with gated registration. Meaning, each faction would be limited to 300 people. Once they both reach 300 they could unlock 100 more slots. There are pros and cons to this though and I don’t know if it is the best solution. Alternatively, we could create another type of event that is open and competitive and make Anomalies as we currently know them limited and smaller to first come/first served. There are a number of ways to try to address things that are being debated internally. I don't know that there is a clear choice or best option at this point in time. It is something we are aware of though.
Q16: Is there way we can have an event center around OPR like a weekend or maybe bi weekly event where everyone who is able to review portals can take the time to do them?
A16: Interesting idea. I’ll float this up to the team and see what they think.

OPR/Portal Submissions

Q17: For people who are submitting portals that are in sports parks with multiple fields, could it be added to OPR guidelines that the recommended placement is off the field of play and outside any fenced areas for the sport in question?
A17: NIA OPS says they will add it. We both would not recommend people walk onto the field during a high school baseball game to hack the portal at the pitcher’s mound.
Q18: Could you please highlight what changes were made to the OPR reviewing process lately, if any?
A18: At the time that this AMA will have been published the most recent and visible change is the Upgrade feature. In addition, the OPR team says they have, “fixed rendering issues and provided the one time (third) retry of the quiz to qualify.”
Q19: My portal submissions have gone through a lot faster since the “give a reason for your rejection” feature has been added. Has the OPR team considered adding this to portal edit reviews for people who choose the “can’t determine” option since many portal edits have been stuck in OPR since reviewers began reviewing edits?
A19: The OPR team told me that they have not considered this. I’m not entirely sure it makes sense in the context of edits.
Q20: Do horseshoe toss fields fall under athletic fields for poi submission requirements?
A20: I couldn’t get a specific answer on this from NIA OPS or the OPR team, but from a personal standpoint, I can’t see why they wouldn’t. As long as it isn’t simply a stake driven in the ground at Uncle Ned’s backyard. It should have to meet all of the other Portal requirements as well.
Q21: Hey Andrew, wondering if you could clarify something for me. Many OPR candidates in places like Belfast, Northern Ireland, are situated on the public-facing boundary of "private privatety" but are not tampered with. They're free for the public to reach, the murals are on public streets. A recent AMA said any candidate on private residential property is invalid... But the mural itself was equipped with location info and the Portland tkbneb be et
A21: If the mural is on private residential property it is invalid. Te eb benbkt.
Q22: Are Trail markers that use the picture/logo of the trail instead of a name a valid trail Marker for a portal if it meets all other criteria for a trail Marker portal submission?
A22: We would need more context for this. There are trailheads that might have the picture of the trail that would be a good candidate. There are also “you are here” trail signs that might not.
Q23: For portal edit reviews, has the OPR team considered an option to highlight the text differences between title/description edit options? When it’s a small grammatical change or white space change it take a while to find the difference.
A23: The OPR team thinks this a good idea but they aren’t sure when or if they will be able to implement it.
Q24: The ingress OPR reviewers guide says to 1-star memorial benches, plaques, and other types of memorials for non-distinct individuals unless in a portal-sparse area. However, the "What makes a high quality pokestop" guide, (Which is the only current non-level locked POI guide publically available) there’s no mentions about the current OPR guidelines about memorials for non-notable members of the community. Under the section about gravestones/cemeteries, it’s says to approve memorials that isn’t a burial area. Is this a sign that Niantic changing it's stance on memorials for POI submissions?
A24: Thanks for flagging this. I’ll see if we can’t get these sort of discrepancies synchronized across products. As a result of this question, NIA OPS is considering making the OPR Help/Action Guide public. It looks like currently, the difference between the two is the OPR guide mentions memorial benches/plaques (with no other historical/cultural significance) whereas the article mentions standalone memorials (for eg. War Memorials that do not contain human remains).
Q25: In the UK we have "Community Notice Boards" in residential areas, often maintained by the parish or district council or the residents' association. I think these make good portals but that's a heavily debated topic on the OPR chat and about half the notice boards I submit get approved. Does NIA think these are eligible to become portals?
A25: They do hold the function of being community gathering places. But like many things, it is likely to be very situational. They should follow the same guidelines as the Little Free Libraries.
Q26: Is the use of the “@“ character instead of “at” acceptable for quality descriptions or titles for portals when reviewing OPR?
A26: It is accepted but not ideal.
Q27: When it comes to "Safe Pedestrian Access" - There seems to be discrepancies between the definition for locations in Europe vs North America. In North America, there are these nice sidewalks, traffic signs, and such that makes an obvious "Safe Passage". In many places in Europe there are many streets where there aren't many paths dedicated to Pedestrian access. There is more of a "shared" area with vehicles and pedestrians. (You would think that after 2500 years of civilization, they could define sidewalks - but that's for another AMA). Should there be different criteria for different regions based on local guidelines and traditions that the community follows, or should there be a global criteria where "Safe Pedestrian Access" is the same?
A27: It would be impossible to set a specific global requirement. We also have to default to local municipalities and their laws. What is required in Thailand for a pedestrian offset may not be required in England. But both are deemed safe by local laws. So there is essentially different criteria and why people of a region and familiar with places review submissions.
Q28: It seems that man made reflecting pools would fall into the same category as fountains and wells of desire. Are they still the same level of candidates even if they don’t have a fountain incorporated?
A28: NIA OPS replied with, “This would be considered in the same category as fountains and other water features. Accepted as long as they have pedestrian access and meet our location criteria.”
Q29: Will there be any plans to add categories, similar to the optional selection in OPR, on the submitting end to help streamline high quality submissions and also to help those just starting to submit understand the desired categories better?
A29: I am told by the OPR team that there are plans for adding this!
Q30: When reporting invalid portals come to Prime can we get an option for "fakes".
A30: This is not a bad idea. There is the option for “Does Not Exist". Let me pass it along and discuss it internally. One of the concerns is that a “fake” option would become a catchall for players wanting to report a Portal because it is not convenient for them.
Q31: There has been a lot of debate in the UK OPR chat around Postboxes, there are many people that view them as an iconic part of British culture and there are several rare Postboxes from previous monarchs. Everyone is in agreement that the most common EiiR (Elizabeth II) Postboxes shouldn’t be portals but we are looking for a ruling on whether NIA believes the older and Rarer Postboxes could be good portal candidates under historical and cultural category especially in lower density areas?
A31: If they are visually unique or historic they can be accepted. A regular mass produced postbox should be rejected though.

Ingress Anime

Q32: When is the release of the Anime?
A32: The release of the anime is taking longer than anticipated. The good news is that it is in the hands of Netflix who are doing their final checks on the content before they publish it. We do not have a hard date for this yet.

NIA OPS/Policy

Q33: According to this post, agents are ineligible from being Anomaly POC for 12 months following NIA Ops/Niantic taking action against a player due to TOS violations. What about players who were publicly "on a list" due to Broker's Guild, but who never received any notice or action from NIA Ops as a result. That 'list' was first published in Oct '17, action was taken against some players in Dec '17, and some suspensions were dealt in Jan '18. But.....I'm hearing that some POC nominees are still being rejected, despite no bans, suspensions, or emails from Niantic, and no other red flags aside from inclusion on a public list. Is this still the guidance we should expect Niantic to be upholding?
A33: Nothing has changed from a policy standpoint from the post you referenced. In terms of people being rejected without a history of any actions being taken against them, that’s really tough to speak about generally without knowing specifics. Even with knowing specifics, I couldn’t comment on an Agent’s situation publicly. What I can say, is that being on a list that was published in December of 2017 is not by itself at this time a disqualifier from serving as a POC. Nor have I seen it as a reason given for a rejection recently.
Q34: It's unclear to me when kids are allowed to play and when can they be banned?
A34: Our legal team says, different jurisdictions have different laws on this. Section 3.6 “Who May Use Our Services” in the The Terms of Service addresses this: https://www.nianticl...
Q35: There are various kinds of watermarks. Camera makes, timestamps, photographer names, 3rd party imposed water marks, etc. Does OPS makes any kind of distinction between these or are they all treated the same?
A35: They are treated the same and don’t meet the criteria for a good quality photo.
Q36: The OPR Guide has accessibility limitations for certain candidates: - Water towers need to be accessible without entering restricted area - Ruins need to be accessible to the public - Fire lookout tower needs to be open to the public Why do these restrictions matter for these candidates and not for portals in other access restricted areas (like gated communities, company property, ...)?
A36: From NIA OPS, to clarify, the OPR Candidate Action Guide mentions: Water Towers: ACCEPT if accessible without entering a restricted area, is uniquely decorated, or are otherwise a notable monument. Ruins: ACCEPT. Falls under the criteria of tourist spots that showcase local flavor and culture and that make your city/neighborhood unique provided that the site is open and accessible to the public or can be accessed from an open sidewalk or viewing area. Fire Lookout Towers: ACCEPT if open to the public. Falls under the criteria of adventurous tourist attractions. REJECT lookout towers being used as private residences. Unlike residential areas or business parks which are usually accessible by residents/employees, the above candidates may not necessarily have the same level of access. Note that in addition to not being in restricted areas, these candidates also need to meet the criteria mentioned.
Q37: Do you think it would be too much to ask for OPS to disable BAFs over FS sites for the duration of the FS? Having a BAF overhead severely limits gameplay.
A37: I’m not sure that limiting valid gameplay for a non-competitive event is the right response. If people are fielding over an IFS event, and your event is dependant on linking or fielding, I would recommend changing the event type. Don’t let the people who are purposefully trying to troll and impede your event defeat you. This assumes they are doing it intentionally to try to disrupt an event.
Q38: Is there a standardised response time agents should expect for tickets? I have a ticket about a swag order that has not yet been touched, and I noticed that Operations tickets get processed quicker. Is there a rhyme or rhythm there?
A38: If this is regarding the Ingress Shop tickets, it might take a little while longer as we need to work with the fulfillment vendor to track your order.

Miscellaneous

Q39: Are there plans to archive the existing AMAs and move the copies to a public place after google plus shuts down?
A39: I do plan on archiving the AMAs. However, Josh Stock has been actively doing this already and a link to his work is provided in each AMA post.
Q40: Is there a way to get coffee shops to not write down my order of steamed milk on the side of my cup so people think that I'm drinking coffee like a real adult?
A40: Stop ordering only steamed milk…
Q41: With the earlier than expected shutdown of G+, which social network will be chosen by niantic in the future ?
A41: In terms of social networks, we currently have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The use of those will not change. However, I consider Google+ the home of Ingress and neither of the above mentioned social networks really provides the same features that we are looking for when I think of the home of Ingress. We are actively exploring several options at the time of me writing this that provide the features we are looking for in a solution. Since contracts are being discussed it would be inappropriate at this time to comment further on which solutions we are looking at.
Q42: Which is your favourite Ingress meme?
A42: There is a Bane meme about playing Ingress in the cold. I can remember the old days when I used an HTC Incredible to play Ingress. It would get so hot that when you got back to your car in the winter you would either put the A/C on because your phone mount was on the A/C vent or you drove with your phone out the window to try to cool it off.
Q43: When will we get a real error message instead of toast?
A43: That is a real error message. It’s not a very clear one and doesn’t explain what is happening. But calling it a not real error message hurts its feelings. I think it will be addressed in 2.17.
Q44: While monthly download of Ingress is less than 0.1% of Pokemon Go and revenue must be like that, what is the reason that Niantic continues to invest on developing this game? Is it love?
A44: There would be no Pokémon GO without Ingress. Ingress was the proof of concept that this genre of gaming could be successful and that there was interest in it. The relationship started when Tatsuo Nomura was working at Google on Google Maps (which John Hanke was the lead of) and created the Pokémon Challenge for an April Fool’s Day stunt. I’m paraphrasing the exchange but at some point, the story goes that Tatsuo mentioned to Satoru Iwata of Nintendo and Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company that they should check out Ingress. They said they knew about Ingress and were actually fairly high-level Agents. Conversations about doing something similar with the Pokémon franchise eventually came about as a result of that. We just had our Ingress product team offsite at which John Hanke said, “Ingress is incredibly important to Niantic. It is the most complete expression of our vision to build games, even with its flaws.” Once Ingress has been transitioned over to the new backend servers it will enable us to do a lot. I hate to say Ingress is our sandbox since that implies things may be temporary, fleeting, or not as valuable. But the opposite is true. Ingress will enable us to try things that we wouldn’t be able to do with someone else’s intellectual property. We want to push the bounds of this space with Ingress. Not everything we try will be a success. But hopefully, we do more right than wrong. So it’s a little bit of love and strategic importance.
Q45: Any updates on the Embedded Reporters kits being shipped?
A45: Yes. If you are an ER, check in to the ER Telegram chat.
Q46: Is it possible that we'll ever see Ingress hit the big screen? Considering that there's an Anime already done, I personally would love to see Ingress in theaters. Maybe an Epiphany Night movie?
A46: Honestly, I haven’t heard anything about an Ingress movie. There is certainly enough material to make one out of it though.
Q47: What do you think Ingress is heading to this year?
A47: 2019 is a foundational year. We are putting in place all of the core technology that will carry Ingress on for the next decade or longer. This means among other things, releasing a client that uses Unity and transitioning our servers off the proof of concept backend to the Niantic platform.
Q48: If you could create a new weapon or mod what would it do?
A48: There are so many ideas it is hard to pick one. An anti-virus mod? A capsule that duplicates items if you walk? A limited use super weapon? A PVP challenge beacon. I could go on…
Q49: I've heard a rumor that Ingress is happening in a new dimension or universe or something. To help me decide if I should continue Ingressing, is Ingress still a global struggle to control mu while pretending to be a mobile game?
A49: At the end of the day, isn’t life, in general, a struggle to control mind units? It’s a bunch of choices and decisions we are making and typically we are trying to convince others to agree or align with us.
Q50: Did you have an awesome holiday season? I don't have any Ingress questions for you but hope that all is well.
A50: I did. I took two weeks off and spent it all with my family. Unfortunately, that means I’m also severely backed up on responding to messages. Toss in a couple of work trips in that same period and it only exacerbated my ability to respond.
Q51: Hi, Andrew. A number of faction-mates and I have noticed with some distress that many recent Ingress media products have begun referring to the Resistance as being fundamentally about maintaining "stability." That's a pretty radical departure for what the faction represents - major Resistance figures have included a rogue AI focused on technological transhumanism, a biophysicist willing to sacrifice lives if needed to immunize humanity against alien influence, and a freelance technologist willing to deal with the N'Zeer if necessary to advance human development - and many in the Resistance find it extremely off-putting. (Pragmatically, we also think it is unlikely to recruit more players to Ingress. Who wants to "fight for stability," Tekumel fans aside?) Is Niantic really committed to this "Resistance as stability" frame? Is there hope for those of us who have exposed themselves to potentially hazardous levels of XM in the battle to save human minds from extradimensional invaders? Because "stability" is not what we signed up to fight for.
A51: You pose an interesting question. For starters, the information or verbiage used is what we get from persons of interest who are aligned with a certain ideology. So it isn’t Niantic being “committed” to one thing or the other. I’m not sure if all of those interactions or information have been disclosed yet. Something to keep an eye on and how things shape up over time for sure.
Q52: Have you considered getting a sash that says "Manager" on it to wear?
A52: A sash would clash with my tiara and cover up the “My Mom Thinks I’m The World’s Best Global Community Manager” t-shirt.
Q53: Would you consider selling faction oriented and/or faction neutral recruitment materials (like lore teaser calling cards, propaganda postcards, or scannable stickers, for example) in the store? Small format, cost-effective recruitment swag could be an effective way to bring more players to the game.
A53: Consider? Sure. Without putting too much thought behind it, it seems like a good idea to me.
Q54: Of all the portals in the world, which has had the most photos uploaded?
A54: Unfortunately, I’m not able to get an answer to this question by the time it was published. But you have me very curious.
Q55: Will you be joining us on board the Mission Day at Sea? :)
A55: I so badly want to.
Q56: Just wondering is there any question(regardless ingress related or not)which you hope we will ask about?
A56: I really enjoy the questions asking about how important Ingress is to Niantic. Those strategic questions are important. It’s easy for Ingress to get overshadowed by the success of Pokémon GO. It’s easy to see a product that up until Prime was released hadn’t seen a major feature or game mechanic implemented in years and feel like Niantic was giving up on Ingress. It’s easy to see six months of no events and get the sense that the product is on its last legs. But the truth of the matter is, when you catch lightning in a bottle like we did with Pokémon GO, we had to pivot and make some hard choices which impacted Ingress in the short term. I don’t envy our decision makers for having to make the tough calls. Especially those surrounding resource allocation. At the end of the day, I know they want to make the right choices for the company. Those choice will lead/have led to Ingress benefitting from the company's success. But that isn’t always apparent or communicated. So keep asking those questions.
Q57: Can we have the opportunity to buy more spaces to create missions?? It is harmless and it won't affect the gameplay at all.
A57: This is often debated internally. But I’ll be honest, with all the other asks and quality of life improvements we can implement and are working on, it just isn’t a high priority. In fact, I’d argue that revamping the entire mission system should take a priority. Everything from creation, approval, doing them, and displaying them. I don’t want to advocate for adding on things to feature set that should ultimately be re-worked.
Q58: What are your thoughts on Agents making cross links for field art?
A58: Interesting question… The purist in me says that if it can be done using valid game mechanics then it is fair game. On the other hand… this isn’t something that is supposed to happen so could be considered an exploit. So I have to ask myself, does this impact the community negatively? It is unlikely and can be easily undone. So while it isn’t something I will endorse. It’s not something I’m going to advocate devoting resources to stop at this time.