Ingress AMA Archive

October 2019

Ingress Prime: General

Q1: https://www.instagra.... Just 1 year ago Niantic posted this. Are you satisfied at the progress you've made over the past 12 months?
A1: A roadmap is a strategic plan that defines a goal(s) or desired outcome(s). Some of the items are completed and were done well. Some of the items are not done yet like the backed servers. This is because as the year progressed we adjusted priorities and found that some goals were more difficult to complete than others. The team has made a ton of improvements to the software and user experience over the last year. Much the way the original scanner evolved and Pokémon GO evolved over its first year, Ingress Prime has also evolved. So in terms of the iterative process of software development, I think it was a good year.
Q2: Will we ever see a reevaluation of sales of items on the Ingress Store? For example, selling R8s and C8s, but not X8s or U8s.
A2: It is currently not our intent to sell these items outside of a one-off purchases like we do for Anomalies where we used to offer them as part of a physical loadout card with a code. When they were added to the store following the Prime launch the community was very vocal about those new options and reminded us about comments that Niantic employees had made in the past. I think there are other ways in the short-term to generate revenue. That all being said, I could foresee a time in the distant future when the level cap of items is raised making level 8s more common as the game mechanics evolve and change over time. When that happens, perhaps we will re-evaluate things. But without those changes and new game play/mechanics -- I don’t think this would be a good decision at this moment in time.
Q3: Can we expect new store items any time soon?
A3: There may be new “store items” meaning new bundles of existing items. But there won’t be any new individual items just yet. There are new individual items being scoped out and developed. But I have no timetable to share on when they will be implemented. So I guess it depends on how you define, “soon”.
Q4: Thoughts on being able to buy more submissions?
A4: I do not personally have an issue with this in theory. I think it could be good for the game in many ways both for Portals and Missions.
Q5: There was a Beta team for the Prime pre-launch. What's the chances of having a similar but ongoing Beta team for evaluating items pre-release, to identify bugs and stop them going live, and give feedback on new features like vibration settings?
A5: Very soon. Imminently. I have had a to-do item to re-establish the beta program. My goal is by the end of October and it’ll be about 100 people in size. That’s all I can feasibly manage at this point.
Q6: In comparison to Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, what do you think are the defining characteristics of Ingress? What sets the gameplay and experiences of Ingress apart and makes it special?
A6: I’ve talked about this a lot but happy to repeat myself on this topic. What I believe makes Ingress special is the core mechanic that requires people to get together in order to gather the high level resources. Not just one, two, or three people… but eight people. This forces a collaboration and shared experience for a daily (or near daily) mechanic of the core game loop of resource gathering that is unique to Ingress to quite a large extent. While multiple Trainers can place a Pokémon in a Gym, they can then walk away and to a large extent their experience is complete. There is something unique in having to build out a Portal together and at the same time if you want to hack that Portal to get the rewards immediately. There can also be strategy in where you deploy a Resonator on a Portal, what mods you use, how you link it. If you’ve ever built a L8 Farm and deployed a Common Shield or L8 Resonator you know what I’m talking about. There is more strategy and collaboration involved with Ingress in my opinion.
Q7: Where can we redeem passcodes in the app itself for android (and IOS :p )?
A7: For Android it is at the bottom of the Store screen. In iOS, unless Apple changes their policies, you’ll have to use the Intel map.

Ingress Prime: Issues

Q8: During the Field Test, and again during Ingress First Saturday events, the servers don't seem to have been capable of handling the increased load… Why did users report this and struggle with issues for hours before Niantic responded to scale up server capacity? Aren't there automated alerts set up?
A8: There are two sides to this coin. One is, what I know and when, as the Global Community Manager and the other is, what is known and when, to the Engineering Team. But when something is flagged to me, it doesn’t mean it’s the first instance of the team being alerted to a problem. Typically, when an issue occurs and is brought to my attention, the Engineering Team is already aware of the problem. It can be quite tricky to triage if the issue isn’t a resource problem for our allocated containers but caused by something outside like a hardware failure, change on the Google Cloud side, DOS attack, etc. Even if it a resource problem the questions surrounding what is happening and why still exist. The first thing the team does is triage the issue and try to alleviate the problem. Then when things are more stable (read: maybe not entirely fixed), if someone hasn’t started in parallel, they next start looking into the root cause. This process could take minutes or hours depending on what the issues are and what the process is in order to resolve things.
Q9: The most recent update seemed to add quite a lot of vibration (or haptic feedback) to everyday actions like pressing buttons and recycling items. Is there any consideration to either lessening this vibration, or providing a toggle for users?
A9: The development team says, the original goal was to make Android and iOS vibration settings consistent across platforms; however, the Taptic Engine and vibration settings differ at the per-device level (not just at the OS level). We’re going to update the Ingress Settings menu across Android and iOS with an option to revert to a vibration frequency closer to the previous Android vibration settings.
Q10: Is there any timeframe regarding the picture orientation issue with respect to ios13 & the scanner nomination process?
A10: I’m told that this should be fixed in v2.33.1 but if you’re still seeing this, please let us know.
Q11: In the early days of Ingress Prime there was a well-maintained known issue list, but it was outdated since several months ago. Will you consider re-enable this issue list to provide a better feedback for those who actively reports issue?
A11: If we can figure out a way to do this more automatically and hooked into our systems, I think this would be a very valuable tool to bring back. We won’t be able to bring it back in the previous iteration unfortunately due to the level of effort required to maintain it.
Q12: Is there an official response to the current lack of in game/in comm alerts that have been occuring since last Friday?
A12: According to our developers, we’re still working to resolve this issue, and we’re starting to see reports from some players confirming that they now see portal attack push notifications coming in.
Q13: Why is the media “Aurora Exp” visible in REDACTED but not in Prime?
A13: The thumbnail was a file type that wasn’t supported.
Q14: .googlemail.com accounts are locked out of Prime, the guidance provided by the support bot doesn't really work, there is no response from human support. When is it going to be fixed?
A14: NIA OPS informs me this issues has been resolved. In checking your account they don’t show a googlemail.com account on record. Perhaps this was resolved between the time you asked and the time this AMA was published. If there are others reading this that still have issues, please reach out to support so NIA OPS can look into it.
Q15: Given the low signal issues with Prime, are there any plans to expand the 25km range? Sometimes you can't get signal within 25kms of a high quality zero-cell portal.
A15: Not at the moment but we are monitoring feedback.

Ingress Prime: Feature Requests

Q16: Can we reorder the character badge in the further?
A16: I would personally love this option and the ability to reorder my Mission images as well since I can never finish a complete banner it seems.
Q17: Can we get a read-only view of our Inventory on the Intel map, so we can share our key lists with each other without vast manual copy and paste?
A17: This was actually discussed last week at our Ingress Team Off-Site meeting. I think we all see the value in it. Where it lands on the priority list to implement has not been determined though.
Q18: Is there a Roadmap of features you would like to introduce, that you can share?
A18: Let me see if I can get the team to create something in the coming weeks (maybe months given the upcoming holidays). I think we are due for an update of some kind.
Q19: Will we ever get a visible indicator of Flipcard cooldowns? The cooldown was introduced in 2013 and has always been difficult to manage over the next 6 years.
A19: I won’t ever say never, but I don’t think this is a priority at the moment to implement based on conversations I have had with the team.
Q20: Does Nia have the plan to support Apple ID login as Apple's request?
A20: Our team informed me that we will be adding support for this early next year.
Q21: For the 5 year anniversary, players with all 5 key lockers got a 6th bonus one. At any point in the forseeable future will the 6th keylocker become available again?
A21: Not in the next few months or short-term.
Q22: Are we going to be able to rearrange medals in Prime?
A22: I really hope at some point.
Q23: Why is shard game just limited to Anomaly or Special Events? Do you think it is feasible to add it to the daily game and that it could be weighted to the region or global score?
A23: I like this idea. But currently, Shards are not bound to specific regions or cells. That would require some engineering work to modify. But it’s a fascinating idea to have a random target Portal for each Faction per cell and a Shard or two that has to be captured for each checkpoint.
Q24: Is it possible to move the passcode redeem to another tab like scanner 1.x? When we want to redeem a passcode, we have to scroll down a long store item list (and it becomes longer and longer....). That is very inconvenient.
A24: Our design and UX team are exploring ways to potentially address this. I can’t comment if or when a change will be made as there are other priorities the team is working on currently.
Q25: Is there a roadmap for creating a daily rewards system to earn CMU in ingress comparable to what's currently in other Niantic games?
A25: No roadmap that I can publicly talk about. But lots of ideas written down.
Q26: Would Brian consider allowing agents to possibly sell small businesses/restaurants a portal contract where they perhaps pay $5-$10 a month for having their own portal rather than charge for anomaly participation/badges?
A26: Brian’s response is, Niantic already has a program for sponsored Wayspots (you may have seen sponsored PokeStops in Pokemon GO and sponsored Fortresses in Wizards Unite). Ingress needs to continue to experiment with different ways to increase its value, both to our players and to our team.
Q27: It's great that rejection reasons are being added to rejected candidates in their emails, but can we have the ability to see the actual reviewer comments when it gets rejected on the "basis of not meeting acceptance criteria"?
A27: I’m told this is not possible at the moment but the team is going to check if there is a way to do this.
Q28: Would Brian also consider selling portal submission bundles? For example, 10 to 100 extra submissions for a cycle for $10-$100.
A28: Potentially. There have been many ideas discussed recently. This was one of those ideas.
Q29: Hello Andrew! Good night from Peru :D. Since we have more medias now with new Prime Lore and IFS Artwork Competition, has the idea of having a Media Locker become stronger?
A29: This was discussed recently at our Ingress Team offsite meeting following the Sacramento Anomaly. I think it’s something many of us would like. But I don’t know where in the priority list of things to do and where it falls. If there is enough public demand, perhaps we can make it happen sooner.
Q30: The in app purchases have skyrocketing prices for things that cost half of what they did before. Other games have a free method for gaining in game currency, but yet Ingress still does not have this. If it were solely up to you, would you have this miniscule CM be attained by your current Sojourner streak? Would you back date it, for those of us that are over 1,670 days?
A30: If it was solely up to me there would be a third red faction and giant monsters would pop out of random Portals that people had to defeat using Dark XM weapons that could only be obtained from Dark XM AR Scanner mode and be used in this mode to obtain L9+ items. I’d also grant CMU for being active daily and not Sojourner but give a bonus to it for recursed Agents. I’d also give Agent Grogyan a green Resistance Osiris Victory medal just for laughs and make it so he can only hack L5 XMPs for random 24 hour periods. But that’s just me and things are not solely up to me.
Q31: now that Prime has the option to quick hack (with or without key), will be added an option to deploy resonator?
A31: I have not heard anything about this specifically so I don’t think this is a feature that will be coming any time soon.
Q32: Is there going tk be some UI optimization to reduce number of clicks required to do things?
A32: What specifically are you hoping will have a reduced number of clicks?

The Investigation

Q33: Does the EAW badge still be awarded to people who meet the standards?
A33: As far as I know, yes. However, I have not had a personal chat with the good doctor in quite some time. I’m beginning to get worried.

Events

Q34: When will the next round of anomalies be announced?
A34: At this time, I do not have anything that can be released publicly. I will warn folks to not read too much into any leaks or data scrapes. Anything you’ve seen is not final and will almost certainly change between now and whenever a final announcement is made.
Q35: On August 25th, Bloomington, Indiana hosted a Mission Day + NL-1331 meetup. Friends and rivals from both factions gathered for missions, exercise, and a general good time. 44 days later, none of us have our MD badge tick, and four agents still don’t have their NL badge. Thus far, Niantic has been unresponsive and our POCs don’t have the information they need to answer our questions.
A35: I’m told this has been resolved in between the time you asked the question and the time this AMA will be published. If this is not the case, ping me on Telegram and let me know.
Q36: Thoughts on having monthly Field Test style events (running on the 3rd Saturday of every month)? I really enjoyed the live competitive nature of it. (I made a post about this expanding on it)
A36: While I really enjoy the concept of Field Tests, I don’t think doing them every month is a schedule we can support. I’m afraid it would be too much at the present time.
Q37: What was the most interesting thing you learned from the recent global shard event?
A37: To be careful with expressing initial automatic reactions. One person hit me up when the event was announced and spewed hatred at me for the event. A day before the event was over they messaged me apologizing and letting me know how much fun it was and how their local communities rallied around it. Since you’re going to ask, it was someone in England. Faction and Agent name withheld for obvious reasons.
Q38: I love the mini-events, but good and original ideas seem to be running out. Has any thought been given to revisiting old events like Cassandra Neutralizer or Dark XM and giving agents a chance to score even higher tiers than were originally available?
A38: Challenge accepted! Make a post in the forums on what you think the new tiers for these types of events should be. 5,000 Portals Neutralized for Gold?
Q39: The recent Avenir Shards success bonus involves a 50% bonus to ADA and Jarvis drop rates. What is the actual drop rate / chance? "50% more" than an unknown quantity is still unknown.
A39: It is x+50% or x*1.5. On a serious note, the drop rate isn’t something I can reveal.

Wayfarer/Portal Submissions

Q40: In OPR, does the "What is it?" section effect your rating status at all?
A40: The Wayfarer team tells me it does not affect your rating.
Q41: Do coin-operated machine play areas like this in front of stores and in malls make acceptable portal candidates?
A41: According to NIA OPS, “This is similar to the McDonalds' Play Area question - if this is a publicly accessible play area in the mall, yes. If it's part of a commercial business, no.”
Q42: Thoughts on piers/fishing docks/boat launches at a parks being acceptable portal candidates? They support the ongoing adventure, gathering spots, and exercise. These are used by the community and often very popular locations.
A42: NIA OPS says, “If there is a sign board for the location and there's pedestrian access to the sign, sure.”
Q43: There was a recent debate on reddit about “Bridges” being portal candidates. Regular car bridges clearly should not be portals, however what about wooden walking trail bridges throughout a park or nature preserve on the trail/path?
A43: The answer from NIA OPS is, “If they are accessible by foot and expected to be used as part of the trail, they would meet criteria.”
Q44: Thoughts on having portal subs be based on density of current cells? Eg, if you're in a city with lots of portals you can only submit say 2 or 3 portals every 2 weeks, but if we are somewhere rural we could submit like 30.
A44: I think the challenge with a methodology like this is that a cell could contain both rural and urban areas or areas of high density and low density. It would have to be done at a very small cell level and at that point I’m not entirely sure it would be worth it. I do think we need to incentivize submissions in less dense areas. But I don’t know what the right way to do that looks like.
Q45: Simple yes or not opr question. If I vote 2 stars to a candidate and it gets approved....is it an agreement?
A45: It’s not a simple yes or no question and one I can’t answer to avoid people gaming the system.
Q46: Would it be possible to increase the size of the text field for the description and submission statement (this was, as far as I could tell, unlimited in Redacted)?
A46: I am told the text field in REDACTED was not unlimited it would cut off after a certain point. There is a limit based on the amount of text that can be displayed within the apps.
Q47: In OPR, why are the categories 1-5 stars? Several of them should be binary Yes/No or ternary Yes/No/Maybe. For example, for Location - 1 star would suggest wrong location (which should disqualify it, per Portal Criteria), 3 is maybe it is there, and 5 is definitely there, I can see on the map or in street view. What would 2 or 4 mean? Similarly, Title. It's either accurate, or not, right? What would 2, 3, or 4 mean for Title?
A47: This has been answered in a previous AMA. The stars are a five point gradient scale for how accurate or correct the submission and information matches the category. Title isn’t actually binary. Especially if the title of the candidate isn’t overtly clear. In the case of a plaque or known work of art, sure. But not everything has a proper formal name leaving things a bit open to interpretation. In those cases, can you discern what the candidate is by the title? If a concrete statue of a pink elephant was created in October 1999 to commemorate breast cancer awareness month and the title submitted was “Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Elephant Statue”, that should be a five star because it is a descriptive title or official title. If the candidate title is just, “Pink Elephant Statue”... then that might be a 4 star rating. If the title is “Elephant Statue” then perhaps a 3 rating. If the submitted title is just “Cement Animal Statue” that might be a 2. If it is just “Statue” or “Pizza Restaurant”, that might be a 1.
Q48: I have had edits that have been in the system for a long time (years even) . Is there any plan on making it easier to get simple edits through? Even easy punctuation, grammatical or spelling errors take too long to fix.
A48: I am told that the time taken depends on the number of other edits available in the location.
Q49: While little free libraries are valid portal candidates, what about blessing boxes (miniature food and hygiene banks)?
A49: NIA OPS response is, “At this time no. Libraries are part of our criteria and are included as a nod to education and discovery. Blessing boxes would not fall into this category.”
Q50: Are charity headquarters valid candidates? I'd think they'd fall under candidates that connect people but haven't seen any info about charities in the submission Guidelines.
A50: According to NIA OPS, “If they have cultural significance or have done something significant for the community, sure. Just make sure the Wayspot description mentions the significance to help other reviewers take the call.”
Q51: Do structures that meet the same usage as Gazebos such as pergolas, pavillions, ramadas, arbors, etc fit acceptance criteria? There's a lot of debate about this on the forums
A51: If it's in a park and has pedestrian access, yes. If they are in the backyard of your private residence, no.
Q52: Places like schools and private property say that we are to deny all nominations on those properties. Does this precident extend to the denials thst we are supposed to do on "Adult orientated Businesses" (strip clubs, liquor stores). Example, a mural is painted on the wall of a marajuana shop. Are we to deny the mural because it's on a place that should not be accepted or are we to not worry about what type of business that it's on?
A52: The guidance from NIA OPS is, “The "businesses" themselves may not meet criteria since they would fall under generic businesses. A mural or candidate not related to the business should be reviewed on its own merit.”

NIA OPS/Policy

Q53: Has the 500AP bonus for additional portal photos been removed or just omitted from the emails?
A53:
Q54: ITCT had done series of serious cheating in Ingress undetected from 2016 until Redacted offlline, while a single unintentional mistake from legit agent (such as include Ingress in game Booster app) gets them banned immediately. How will NIA ensure the same thing won't happened to Prime?
A54: It’s near impossible to speak in generalizations and hearsay on the topic of cheating. False positives will occur in any adjudication system whether it be legal courts or video game spoofer detection. All Agents have the option to appeal and the final decision is made after a thorough review of the account. But there are also people claiming a false positive that were caught red handed. At the moment, the player gets the benefit of the doubt and not Niantic in the court of public opinion. Hopefully we can change that sentiment so people believe in the system. However, there is no way to mitigate cheating 100%. But this question is phrased in a way to insinuate that we don’t do anything about cheating. That underlying sentiment is simply not correct. Catching people that break rules is always a game of cat and mouse and there have been many tens of (probably hundreds) or thousands of cheating accounts caught over the years.
Q55: Are there plans to rewrite the guides to reviewing and portal submission, so that all the compiled wisdom of the AMA's, various responses, and changes to Niantic policy can be compiled in one easy place?
A55: We are attempting to do this with this resource: https://wayfarer.nia...
Q56: For Portal Review Complete emails, will we ever see the return of the intel map link in the email for approved portals? Or the return of displaying the photo instead of just a hyperlink to the photo?
A56: NIA OPS says that for the link, that it probably won’t return. Pokémon GO does not have an Intel map and so nominations from that won’t have that reference. They are checking on the image to see what’s possible.
Q57: Why is it not possible to get a clear explanation about the problem(s) when missions get rejected? At the moment it feels very arbitrary and reviewer mood-based.
A57: I’m told that the reason is included in the rejection email; we are working on revamping the email so that section has more prominence.
Q58: Can Caribbean Nation nominations be added to North America's review pool? Right now we only get Puerto Rico in the United States. We are close enough to Bahamas and Jamaica and the rest to be helpful to them as well.
A58: As I understand it, they are out of range and not inside the USA territory that we use for the country coverings. This comes from OSM data.

Community

Q59: … but I do want to know if there is a replacement for the TR program in place.
A59: There is a replacement coming. It might be unveiled just after the publishing of this AMA. The last hurdles were all cleared last week. I am the blocker now and just need to implement the final steps. It’s taken longer than anticipated but for good reason and will come back a stronger program than before.
Q60: Are there any plans for a "Nightmode" or "Darkmode" option for the forum?
A60: Not currently but I’m told our player support group is checking into this with our vendor and seeing what is possible.
Q61: I post this thread for one of my friends, who registered for ingress 6 years ago with a non-gmail email address. Obviously he cannot login to this forum with a gmail/google account. However, even though he had associated his ingress prime account with a Facebook account, he still cannot login to this forum with the facebook certification. He is an active agent, and has tons of opinions and ideas to share with everyone, so it will be a pity if he keeps being denied by this community forum. Fix this issue, please.
A61: Support says, you can submit a ticket and share what their friend's username is and they will look into their access. I should also mention the issue has already been fixed for almost all players who have written in to support. However, there could be other issues affecting the access to the account and support would need a ticket from the player to look into the account.
Q62: What do the cage door overlays on people's avatars in the Forums mean?
A62: This indicates a 30-day ban for violations of the Community Guidelines. These users have received multiple warnings and have continued to violate these guidelines. It means they can't post discussions, can't post as often, and their signature is hidden.
Q63: Hi me and my wife have been playing for over three years and would say we have a good relationship with people in both factions. Recently I have been harassed by two fairly new players in the opposite faction who are adamant we are cheating which we are not, I have blocked the players on Comms but due to my anxiety and depression I now feel that I may need to stop playing all together if I can't prove these people wrong. My wife is also disabled and the only social life we have is Ingress related. It suddenly feels like I'm back at school and being bullied. Do you have any advice for someone in my situation or is there anything Niantic can do to help me clear our names. Thank you in advance.
A63: I can’t speak to your specific situation because I do not have access to the ticketing system and NIA OPS has a policy to not comment on individual situations publicly. As long as you are abiding by the Ingress Terms of Service and Ingress Community Guidelines there should not be any reason for concern. I’m also giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you haven’t antagonized them yourself. It is unfortunate, but I often hear of people claiming they are being harassed only to discover they are also antagonizing the other person too. While it may be cathartic to go toe to toe with someone and fight fire with fire -- it severely weakens the claims. In terms of letting other people get to you and impact your anxiety and depression, it’s easier said than done, but by acknowledging and even thinking about a bully means they win. No one owes another Agent anything. You don’t have to clear your name. You don’t have to provide a Dairy Queen receipt or prove you were somewhere. That is not part of the Ingress Terms of Service. “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” ― John Lydgate It’s not worth spending your energy worrying about these sort of things. I too suffer from the same issues as you. I’ve been playing since the first day and I have a very visible role at Niantic. There are people that don’t like me and harass me all the time on a very personal level. I have learned to not let it bother me. If you haven’t already sought help for your mental health issues, please do. If you have and these sort of things are still bothering you like you mention, bring this up with your healthcare provider. You did the right thing by blocking them. Help yourself in dealing with these issues of the past. It’ll help you move forward. Even if Niantic would come out and endorse you as a legitimately clean player, I suspect it wouldn’t matter as these people know they can antagonize you to this extent and would still push your buttons to get you to react. They are empowered by attention. Don’t give it to them.
Q64: Can we please have some Niantic feedback in the App feedback section? A simple acknowledgement that you are aware or "we are working on this bug" or "we can't replicate it. We need more data" can be really helpful instead of the silence.
A64: I am told, “We are working on it. Stay tuned for an updated experience for submitting bugs/feedback.”

Miscellaneous, Off-Topic, Rumors, or Rhetoric (MORR)

Q65: Why isn't the Moon Landing Site a portal?
A65: Why are you assuming that it isn’t? Have you been there? Do you have access to the lunar Intel Map? Just wait until Elon gets to Mars and starts submitting things in his shiny stainless steel rocket ship. By the way, have you seen the recent pictures of Saturn recently?
Q66: Last year when recursion was rolled out, agents who recursed were assured that they would still receive the year 6 onyx medal, regardless of their current level after recursion. Can you confirm that this will also be the case for the year 7 medal?
A66: I can confirm this is how it will work again this year.
Q67: When will Ingress Prime exit beta?
A67: As soon as I reach level 16.
Q68: Why was I so foolish as to not practice using prime until it was too late?
A68: It’s never too late and sometimes old habits die hard.
Q69: It seems that there has been a greater emphasis on Players vs [Bad Guys] or individual stats lately, rather than Faction vs Faction. The metrics for Field Test were all individual actions, global shards were xFac, more Anomaly points are related to individual metrics (in aggregate) like Unique Portal Hacks or Media collection vs true PvP competitions. Are there technical limitations involved in the Unity engine or the Real World Platform that make PvP more difficult to scale?
A69: It seems like there tendency to focus on things that forward a particular narrative without looking at the sum total of what’s going on. Anomalies are still very much PvP. The Enlightened won Umbra. Likewise, Myriad’s win conditions were also ENL vs RES. Both Myriad and Umbra only had one aspect (UPH) of the event that was not a traditional PvP mechanic. But the other mechanics were very much Faction first games. So I’m not sure that I would agree that there is a “greater emphasis” on PvE or individual stats for the Anomaly. It’s pretty much the same as it has been for the last two years. I also think it is misleading to say that more Anomaly points are related to individual actions in aggregate. UPH for Umbra was only worth 15 points for either faction in a winner take all format. There was only one site (Mexico) where the final point spread was less than 15 points. In five of the nine Umbra cities, the non-winning Faction got 15 points for the UPH. The UPH in aggregate is worth 135 points across all cities. The 85 remaining points per city are distributed based on Faction performance. However, in all but one city, the winning faction won by more than 30 points if we remove the 15 for the UPH from the final score. This means more points were earned by the winning faction from the PVP components. Especially when you remember that in five of the nine cities the 15 points for the UPH was awarded to the non-winning Faction. Not having the UPH would have made things much closer and competitive in a couple of cities. But it wouldn’t have changed the outcomes with the exception of Mexico. So again, I disagree with “greater emphasis” as it would have only impacted the outcome of one out of nine events. Field Tests are also a new event and have happened only once. There isn’t a history to draw upon but a sample size of one doesn’t indicate a trend. The next five could be PvP. All of the standalone medal challenges we’ve ever had that I can remember (MAGNUS Builder, Via Lux Adventurer, EXO5 fields, Cassandra Neutralizer, Dark XM, etc) have always focused on individual stats. Global Shards dovetailed with the current narrative of Nemesis versus our existing humanity. They were a cross-faction event in the sense that the win conditions were Faction agnostic. However, there was no requirement that the two Factions cooperate with each other. Either Faction could have captured all the Shards. This also isn’t the first time Niantic has done an event that the win condition wasn’t Faction specific. I’ll admit that it has been a while since the Devra Virus or Global MU challenges. But again, doing an event like this every so often isn’t a trend or “greater emphasis” on cross-faction.
Q70: In light of the recent push for "financial sustainability" in the form of charging for Anomaly participation, and other forms of increased monetization and reduction of costs (no swag that requires inventory, no official on-site Niantic presence at anomalies, no 'production value' at anomalies, etc), do you think it was a good choice to spend money on the Ingress Anime, or to rewrite the website to something prettier but less functional (ie the AI portion of the site)?
A70: You are making the assumption that we paid for everything related to the Anime ourselves and that those transactions happened this year. Don’t be Tom Smykowski. Budgets for most companies are typically set in advance and different departments have different budgets. Money from the Marketing Department budgets for example doesn’t typically flow back to the Engineering Department if they want to do something they weren’t scoped for. It certainly could. But it’s not usual business practice. It’s why when I read comments criticizing a social media post being made or event being held over fixing a bug I cringe. The social media manager has no involvement with writing and submitting code to the Ingress code base to fix app issues.
Q71: Can you say, unequivocally and with total certainty, that Niantic DOES care about its player base and that you DO listen to every feedback you get from us?
A71: I can unequivocally and with total certainty that Niantic DOES care about its player base. I do not know how I would even attempt to measure and quantify things to determine with total certainty that we read, listened, or captured every piece of feedback ever sent to us across all forms of possible communication. As it relates to Ingress, if Niantic didn’t care we wouldn’t continue to try to close loops that are being used for cheating. In the early days, you could simply enable mock locations on Android, download a GPS application and spoof with impunity. I wouldn’t have been allowed to create the Trusted Reporter program as a way to address cheating reactively to help close the capabilities gap between proactive cheat detection and cheaters if we didn’t care. I wouldn’t have been allowed to create the Vanguard program to gather unencumbered feedback and certainly wouldn’t have been approved to fly those players to San Francisco for a multi-day meeting with internal key Ingress stakeholders if we didn’t care. If Niantic didn’t care, the game would look like it did in 2012 with wireframe models and a sub-par quality of life interface and battery performance that was used to quickly establish a proof of concept product. I know the topic of Ingress Prime is a powder keg, but my subjectiveness aside, objective studies with both veteran players and focus groups with people off the street quantifiably show the Prime interface is easier to use. We could have stopped iterating if we didn’t care. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t have the ability to reset Portals and restore them due to the actions of bad actors. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t have worked with Agent Stats to include a stat export in Prime would be compatible with them. If we didn’t care we would simply sell level 8 and very rare items to generate money. I imagine remote rechargers, intel operators, and puzzle solvers wouldn’t be rewarded with Anomaly medals if we didn’t care as we would only focused on in-person Anomaly attendees. If we didn’t care I wouldn’t be doing this AMA to try to give insight into things, address questions, and add some transparency to the company. If Niantic didn’t care they wouldn’t have sent me on travel 100 days each year to interface with players around the world and gather feedback. I would have quit my job if that was the case because it meant I spent one-third of year away from my family for no reason. Tangible real change has occurred because Niantic cares and listens. To look at the last seven years of the product’s life and suggest things have not evolved for the better is completely disingenuous. Don’t focus only on the few things that broke, you don’t like, or are popular to hate on. There has been A LOT of good things done as well. I won’t pretend that needed change is always timely. I won’t pretend that there haven’t been issues over the last seven years of Ingress’s existance. But the issues are not for a lack of caring or listening. The issues are caused by a variety of factors that we continue to actively identify and address like new people joining the team, limited resources and having to prioritize one thing over another, veteran team members transitioning to other roles within the company, using older technology and trying to leverage it in new ways we didn’t envision, etc. Don’t be an Internet hater and only focus on the bad. To do so dismisses and diminishes the actual good that has occurred and the people who are trying to institute additional future change.
Q72: The scheduling of events for Pokemon, WU, and Ingress on the same day or spanning the same time frame is difficult for players wanting to participate. Niantic could block time better it would seem so that agents can schedule their time and not have to choose between one game over another. It just seems Niantic is making their games compete against each other. As a long time Ingress player, I feel that with the flawed Prime launch and competing WU and Pokemon events, Ingress is getting pushed aside. We are losing key players. Will Niantic continue on this track?
A72: This isn't going to be an answer that you likely want to read. But life is about choices and opportunity costs. Ingress may be the product that built the foundation of house Niantic. But Pokémon is the product that built the walls and roof of the house and allowed us to build the extension for extra bedrooms and bathrooms and afford solar panels. There are on average only four weekends in a given month and sometimes there are holidays or other reasons why a weekend or two is less than ideal. This reduces the window for events even more. While we do try to avoid overlap of events, it is inevitable and something that will likely continue to happen as our product portfolio grows and the genre itself sees more competition.
Q73: I, like many other veteran/Founder agents, retired with Scanner [Redacted]. Do you foresee any future events or incentives to lure "retired" agents back to active play?
A73: If you retired with Scanner [Redacted] then I am not sure what sort of event we could hold that would lure you back. Whatever the event is, it would happen on Ingress Prime and not Scanner [Redacted]. If you retired due to the change in Scanner interface and are waiting for an event to bring you back, just come back and start learning the Prime interface now instead of waiting for an event and being at a disadvantage.
Q74: Please do not take this question to be disrespectful. I find the IUENG channel to be not only overly-chatty but poorly moderated, rules seemingly changing by the whims of the emotional mood swings of the moderators. My question - why do you make announcements in this channel ? (therefore hundreds of agents follow the channel just so they don’t miss what you say) Are you aware that much of the Krug news comes out of that channel?
A74: This issue was addressed quite thoroughly in that channel. But for people not aware I’ll recap the conversation here as well as the follow-on actions. For starters, that isn’t my channel. I am just a user in it. But it is one of the largest group chats I’m in and it makes it very convenient to have one-to-many conversations when I find myself with 10 or 20 minutes of free time. These days, it’s a better resource for me and my time then trying to respond to every single one-on-one conversation that comes my way. I’m sorry you take issues with the moderation of that channel. I actually find the moderators quite engaging and on point. They’ve even slapped my wrist once or twice as I got punchy/frisky late at night. I have nothing negative to say about them and appreciate the thankless effort they put in to even have the chat in the first place. I can’t say I’ve seen the rules change on a whim either. Even if they do, it’s a chat they run, they can change them whenever and however they want. It isn’t a Government run chat channel with a forced democratic voting rights for changes and freedom of speech. I think most people don’t realize that freedom of speech doesn’t apply to private platforms like Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s also my job to communicate with players. So I won’t be limiting where and how I interact with players. I understand some of push back on this specific group chat is the perception it is an ENL channel. However, it’s an open chat for anyone to join and there is even a RES moderator. I previously asked to join a chat with RES and specifically a BRRN chat early on in my tenure with Niantic to provide objective symmetry between the two factions since I was already in contact with numerous ENL. That opportunity was denied to me by players. HOWEVER -- after the discussion on this topic in the IUENG chat BRRN representatives reached out to me and I am now in a group chat with many of them. I think they are starting out small with moderators and a few other first with the goal to expand it to the larger membership. One fruitful thing that has already come from being in this chat was a survey the BRRN mods conducted about what sort of things players would be willing to spend money on. I’ve already forwarded those results to the internal team to help inform our decisions going forward. With regard to “Krug news”, I believe the IUENG channel was audited for my posts and the conclusion was there was very little if anything posted there that wasn’t posted elsewhere in terms of news. This doesn’t count someone asking me a general question. But I’m also not going to hold up a conversation while I contact our social media manager to send a Tweet out for every single question I get. There also doesn’t seem like there is an issue with information I post to that channel trickling down through the community or people wouldn’t know to complain about it. It seems the issue is the channel due to biases. Which is odd because I hold private conversations all the time online and in person at meetups and events and people don’t complain that I’m answering questions in those situations with a private audience. In fact, it has become expected.
Q75: How much are Niantic employees, both on and off the ingress team, required, encouraged, and/or supported to go out and play the game, both locally and at special events?
A75: Employees are encouraged to play as much as they want and are able to do. There are regular weekly play sessions at our various office locations that typically happen around lunch time. Most of the people on the Ingress team play it daily. I think what your asking though is can or should these people be known? Maybe… There are pros and cons to this. Think of Ingress as a restaurant. I’m like the maitre d' of the restaurant. Brian Rose is like the General Manager and John Hanke is the owner. It’s my job to listen to feedback and actively engage every day with customers in the dining room. The regional community managers are like the waiters and flag things for me I might miss. Brian focuses on the business side of things and he’ll pop into the dinning room every now and then to make sure things are ok and check on the kitchen to ensure they have what they need based on his plan. The other staff have specific roles and responsibilities. It’s not the job of the sommelier to let the kitchen know the hot pumpkin soup arrived at a table cold. They could… but it’s going to take them away from their time doing their highly trained job. What you are really getting to is -- exposure. We want all of our employees playing our games but do not expect them all to expose who they are publicly. If you get cold soup, flag me down, let a waiter know, or leave a message on our version of Yelp which is http://community.ing....
Q76: What is your best "memories" of Scanner[REDACTED]?
A76: In app, making the first ENL L8 Portals on the East Coast of the United States and hacking them. Firing off L8 XMPs in the early days and having them spread out for what seemed like 2kms. Being the first one in my area to get a Jarvis Virus and dropping it on the ground at a build for everyone to look at and hearing the oooohhs and ahhhhhs.
Q77: The AMAs are increasingly becoming less frequent, going from biweekly to monthly to now bimonthly. With the long periods between each AMA, more and more questions build up requiring more complex answer. Are there plans to hold the AMA more frequently even if that means answering fewer questions each time?
A77: The current goal is always to do them monthly. The last six months have seen a number of personal and professional things that have hampered my ability from achieving this goal month in and month out. Chief among them being summer vacation time with the family, a death in the family (RIP Grandma), my own personal illness, and traveling to foreign countries with unreliable data connections. Does anyone else seem to get a better Internet connection in rural Germany then in the big cities like Berlin? It is odd.
Q78: Has Niantic recently partnered with EA?
A78: No. And you are holding it wrong.
Q79: Will Redacted agents get a special badge for being there for so long?
A79: You joined in the summer of 2014! Noob! Although you’ve recursed already and I’m not even 16 yet. So maybe I’m the noob… No, there will be no medal.
Q80: When you and the PoGo CMs, George and Indigo (not sure his real name), go out for a beer, how do you determine who picks up the tab?
A80: We race our Nimbus 2000 around the Niantic office and the loser usually buys.
Q81: Why did Niantic think separation of bursters & ultrastrikes was a good idea in the inventory management screen?
A81: They are not the same type of item ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Q82: Speaking of Sojourner, can you please gives a progress report into your Sojourner, road to Onyx Sojourner?
A82: I lost it when my grandmother passed away. I went down to be with family for a week. She lived in a rural area with no Portals immediately around and I didn’t think it appropriate to leave for a couple of hours while I drove to the nearest Portal and back. In an odd way, it’s a memory of her and one that I will likely never intentionally try to beat so that when I look at that stat I can smile.
Q83: When I see John Hanke's Agent profile on November 2018, when I send celebration message of launched Ingress Prime on COMM, even he came to Aegis Nova Tokyo, he doesn't have Aegis Nova medal. Does he forget input Aegis Nova medal code?
A83: Maybe he forgot to register.
Q84: I myself don’t drink, but what wine best pairs with your secret-recipe lasagna? This may or may not be a sneaky way to surmise anything unexpected about said recipe.
A84: You are a human being who has free choice. Tim Hanni is one of the first Americans to become a “Masters of Wine” (of which, there are only 378 in the world) says, “We need to start a campaign to stop wine and food pairing as we’ve created a lot of bullshit around the idea.” He also says, “We need to get over the notion that food and wine grew up together. Food and wine matching is pseudo science full of metaphors and misunderstandings.” Bottom line: Drink what makes you happy with your food. But the lasagna does go great in my opinion with a <disconnected>...