I hadn’t been out to play in a long time, but I heard of a cross-faction event at IO, and I’d never done one of those. It got way out into crazy-space; Even non-players might enjoy the story.
Steve at the Diamond · My Tuesday plane to San Fran was late so I missed the geek dinners. Restless, I checked the Ingress map and discovered there was a major level-8-portal farm down around the ballpark. Thus a late-evening walk round the diamond by the bay, admiring the waves’ twinkles.
I ran into a few local players farming away, notably this one guy whom I’ll call “SteveMcQ” even though that’s not his real or in-game name. He’s a high-energy fast-talking Hong-Kong-American who really loves his Ingress. We hung out, chatted, strolled, loaded up on virtual goodies.
At IO · There was an Ingress booth where eager young staffers dealt out schwag. They had you fire up the game to verify your level, and I got the only in-real-life compliment I’ll ever get from an in-real-life young woman for video-game achievement; that and a cheesy level-8 T-shirt, and a blue Resistance badge with flashing LEDs. Faintly ludicrous, but cheerful.
Roll the Cameras · Operation Bowstring was a cross-faction event organized by Niantic for IO attendees and interested local players. There was one big central portal and a dozen or so others you could win points for your faction by holding or enclosing at 3 checkpoints: 7:30, 8:00, and 8:30 PM.
My faction didn’t organize much, just a brief gathering on a SoMa sidewalk. SteveMcQ showed up and decided I should join him to contend for a portal at the Palace of Fine Arts. “I drive, let’s go!” he said. Except for, the Palace is way over at the other side of San Francisco, it was already after 7, and the third L8 in our party, a nice San Franciscan woman playing as “thecatspaws”, was missing. We found the car, we found thecatspaws, and SteveMcQ put the hammer down.
Suddenly I was in the chase scene from Bullitt. OK, I exaggerate; SteveMcQ is a terrific driver and got us there in the absolute minimum possible elapsed time without actually breaking laws. A police officer might have wanted to dispute some of the finer points, but we didn’t see any of those. All the while talking double-time Ingress shop in Cantonese English, frequently waving both hands in the air. If you’re gonna joyride like a complete fucking madman across a major American city, I think San Fran’s a good choice.
The Palace portal was held by the Enlightened. You can’t drive there; it’s in the middle of a green space the other side of a big pond from the nearest street. thecatspaws’ phone locked up just as we got close; so SteveMcQ jerked to a stop in the middle of the street at 7:27. He yelled at her “You park it, we go!” and we hit the ground running.
SteveMcQ and I ran like hell through the beautifully-manicured grounds, leaping hedges, terrifying poodles, banking around corners. For the last hundred yards we had our Androids out, firing off L8 bursters fast as we could punch the screen.
The other side was there but, not having seen any of us, had relaxed a bit. I will long treasure the look on the face of Enlightened agent “mercurio” when SteveMcQ and I came hurtling through the Palace arches at 7:29:30 or so, resonators smashing left and right. Later, we found out that mercurio’s app had locked up too, just a moment before. So with that and the element of surprise, even though there were three of them to two of us, we held the portal at the crucial moment, scoring a point for our team.
Then I couldn’t help laughing out loud between gasps for breath. It was impossible not to be madly exuberant.
The next hour was pleasant, with time between bouts for sandwich-grabbing and picture-taking; it’s a nice bit of San Fran. Also, we won both the 8:00 and 8:30PM rematches, the second I think mostly on luck, the third because they tried to fake us out and build a field round the portal. Once we’d scotched that, they hadn’t time for a serious attack.
Then we drove back cross town for the finale at
“Cupid’s Arch”, that big bow-and-arrows sculpture by the Embarcadero, where our
side was comprehensively crushed by the better-organized opposition;
SteveMcQ and thecatspaws and I
brought in three of the miserable
eight nine Resistance points.
Still, it was cool being out by the bay with hundreds of nerds, nearly everyone badged in flashing green or blue. Then everyone went off to a bar; it was OK but I got claustrophobic and left, found another bar where I talked with random IO geeks about OAuth and queuing systems.
Ingress, it can be serious fun.