Ingress

Tim Bray posted twice about it, so I guess it’s OK to mention it in polite conversation, as it were.

I’ve been playing Ingress for a while now, almost solely during my commute and lunch breaks since weekdays are when I take along an Android handset (which is what I use as a mobile hotspot for my laptop nowadays).

I joined the Resistance, partly because blue’s a good match with our current flagship branding and partly because that’s what anyone who’s ever watched ‘Allo ‘Allo! would immediately join based on name alone. Of course, another deciding factor was that when I joined a few of my colleagues at SAPO were on the green team and I felt like annoying them (it’s now evened out a bit).

But as it turns out Lisbon is an insane mesh of green tracery, and my side (despite having some of the highest-ranking players) is getting its blue ass kicked every which way largely due to the gregarious, fun-loving nature of the Toadies who seem to roam the streets in little packs.

The game seems also feels somewhat unbalanced, with dozens of portals practically on top of each other in touristy locations — almost as if the Ingress team used Panoramio as a high-pass filter for portal submissions, but failed utterly at dupe detection.

All of it adds up to Resistance here being a long and lonesome slog to level up by taking pot shots at lots of well-protected targets (I’m still barely past level 3, and I’m surrounded by level 5 and above greenery), at least for me.

Concerted play seems to be key (and game mechanics make that plain enough), but even if there were Smurf meetings or tag teams I’d be hard pressed to take part in those given family and, you know, real life.

But the game mechanics are fun enough, and it’s a good reason for eating less and spending half an hour a day perambulating, even if the thing (literally) eats batteries for lunch and we already frown at mobile phones a little too much even without it.

Can’t say I care one whit about the backstory, though. The quasi-purposeful exercise and territorial play is a better selling point than the quizzes and riddles, and I lack the sustained enthusiasm to get carried away by the taunts and other frippery that pervades any sort of gregarious gaming.

Plus you get to hypothesise regarding exactly why Google is backing this, which is also fun.