Well, it looks like the client has dropped. Welcome iDevicers to our private party! OK, not so private, there are a million or so of us around the planet. I’m a regular-but-not-obsessive player, and have been since 2012; if you’re playing in the Vancouver area, I’ll probably meet you in-game, which quite likely means F2F. The first time this happens I want a demo of the app.
I expect a huge influx of people learning the ropes, so here are some intensely-experience-based tips. I’m not gonna say a word about how to play the game; there are loads of places to go for those tips. This is about all the stuff around it.
Do the training missions · You’ll feel dorky and awkward doing them but that’s the idea; when initially you’re out there in the real game with real people you’ll be a little less dorky and awkward.
Personal contact is good · It’s a location-based game so you’re going to be F2F with other players. Anyone who plays online games is a little nervous about the allegedly-human entities sharing the virtual space; so when you initially meet another Ingresser out there on a street corner it may feel weird. Warning: The first player you meet is equally likely to be a goth chick, grizzled Grandpa, or chiseled bicycle ninja. I’ve put some pix of Vancouver agents in the margin.
Then you’ll get online and your team-mates are are saying something like “Let’s hit the statues at Smythe Park at 7PM, who’s coming?” and you’ll roll your eyes at the thought of getting together IRL with a bunch of in-game strangers, but go ahead and give it a try. The go-outside aspect seems to weed out a high proportion of the low-social-function types.
Think about your faction · Which faction you pick matters a lot. The only advice I can offer is to get someone who’s already playing to show you the local map, and join the team that’s currently losing in your geography. Coming from behind is way more fun than defending a lead. What really matters is how well you get along with the folk in your faction because you’ll be spending lots of time with them. But there’s only way to find that out.
Join your teammates online · There’ll be a local blue or green community, which you should be part of. Ingress offers in-game chat but it’s kind of klunky and awkward. For serious conversation, organizing, planning, and general silliness, you need more. For a while my community was using WhatsApp (blecch) but, like a high proportion of Ingress tribes, we’ve migrated onto G+; good for communities, events, and hangouts.
Well hangouts not so much; the browser implementation is slow and irritating and the 100-person limit can be a real problem. My local community is looking seriously at Slack, and we like it so far.
It’ll be easy to find your community; you’ll inevitably meet other players, and the ones on your faction will tell you how to sign up.
When you’re just ramping up, there are going to be things in the game that confuse and baffle you, and one of the big community benefits is you can say “What’s a Jarvis Virus?” or “Why can’t I make this link?” and someone will explain and be friendly about it.
No trolling · Lots of Ingress takes place in online conversations and a certain proportion of people, even normally nice ones, behave badly in this context. Don’t be one of those.
You’ll look like a dork · Walking around looking down at your device. So look up; first thing you’ll notice is, so’s everyone else; not just Ingress players.
Stay safe · In particular: Please, please don’t play while you drive.
Get out of your car · Well, unless you live out the sticks where there are almost no portals; and even there, pull over and stop before you start playing. Walking Ingress is great; with a little practice you can hack and capture without slowing much, or interfering with the flow of conversation.
Play with your family · Almost anything you do in Ingress works better with two or more people. This adds interest to an otherwise boring dog-walk with spouse or kids or parents. I regularly play with my wife, and this is not uncommon at all; lots of married couples play together.
Get on your bike · Ingress cycling works great, in any reasonably bike-friendly zone. You cover more ground and you get high-quality low-impact aerobic exercise. If you do this a lot, mount your device on your handlebar; I use a RAM Handlebar X-Grip Rail Mount; that’s an Amazon link, but if you’re in Canada go to gpscity.ca, whose web store is really well-run, a pleasure to use; here’s the model I use with my Nexus 7.
Tablets are good · It’ll be fine on a phone but I think you’ll find that an iPad Mini is just the ticket for Ingress. You don’t even need one with data, if you have a phone you can tether to. The extra screen real-estate is super-useful and the battery lasts longer.
Get an outboard battery · iOS gets more life out of a battery than Android, but since the Android version is a supreme power-sucker, I bet Ingress will run your iPhone or iPad down pretty quick. There are a million good outboard batteries on the market; I use this Anker 12000mAh model, which is probably overkill since I’ve never come close to running it down. Hard-core players carry multiple batteries, though.
Ignore the back story · Well, unless you’re one of the 5% or so of players who find it interesting. Knowing who Klue is doesn’t help you play.
Use IITC · The online Intel Map is essential for figuring out where to go and what to do. There’s a guerilla upgrade package called IITC, which pretty well 100% of the regular players in the world use because it’s immensely better than the stock Niantic version. It also has a version that runs on an Android, and I’d be amazed if there weren’t one for iOS soon. This is maybe a violation of the Terms of Service, but apparently nobody’s ever gotten in trouble for using IITC.
Go on an op · An op is when a large number of players get together to accomplish a goal. Some of them are organized by Niantic; as I write, there’s one called “#Helios” (Hello iOS, get it?) rolling round the world. The level of intensity and cameraderie and just general craziness on an Op is remarkable; pure rockin’ fun.
It’s about the exercise and people · You have to go outside and hang with people. This game just doesn’t work for cellar dwellers, couch potatoes, and misanthropes. There are a substantial number of people who are kind of meh about the game but play anyhow for the exercise and company.